How to Handle Hard Days

“It’s been a hard year.” I hear myself say this and hate that it rolls off my tongue. I’m so tired of that being my perspective.

It’s been a couple of months and I’m still sorting through things in my soul. It has been a hard year. It has also been a wonderful year.

Trying to get out of the “hard” mindset has brought me back to a tool the Lord gave me a few years ago.

This is where I was then and frankly have been again:

First I feel or think something ugly.

Then I beat myself up because

  • I know better.
  • I’ve dealt with this.
  • I didn’t think I was like that.

Then it gets really good because I can beat myself up for beating myself up!

Sound familiar? I hope not, but I suspect for some it does. Not you? Great! Maybe reading will help you understand a friend who falls into this dreadful, downward spiraling trap.

Reaching out for help wasn’t helping. I would feel worse instead of better. Looking through too many dirty lenses to see help or truth perhaps?

THERE’S CONFUSION.

Why am I feeling this way? Why do I keep thinking that? Why am I here again? I thought I dealt with this. I had a strategy, what was it? Why can’t I change? What am I missing?

THERE’S CONDEMNATION. 

You’ve been teaching people, challenging people to walk victorious and look at you! You should know better. You DO know better. Look at what a mess you are.

THERE’S HOPELESSNESS.

This will never change. I will never change.

Through that stack of dirty lenses and massive cloud of lies the Lord gave me an idea I want to hang onto. Maybe you can hang on to it too.

I live each day with my Father.

Focus. Authority. Thanksgiving. Hope. Encouragement. Rest.

FOCUS:

Where have I set my attention? My affections?

AUTHORITY:

How do things change when I remember Jesus has given me all authority in His name?

THANKSGIVING:

Reflect and acknowledge the goodness of God, the greatness of His character.

HOPE:

Where is my hope? People? Things? Desired outcomes? God alone.

ENCOURAGEMENT:

Asking Father to speak. He is always encouraging.

REST:

Where do I find rest? In His presence is joy, peace and rest.

No matter the circumstance remembering, choosing, abiding with the Father makes it better.

Nothing changes when I remember I am seated with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Yet everything changes when I remember.

Nothing changes in my circumstances because I draw close to Him. It doesn’t have to.

I change when I draw close to Him. I find peace. I find rest. I remember He is bigger than it all. I remember He is good, beyond my understanding, beyond my seeing. He is working, always for my good. He has called me to rest. (Matthew 11:28)

I’ll explain each of these keys and how I am learning to use them to frame my day in future posts.

As I wrote out this process with the Lord I could feel stress leaving and peace growing. I often reread it during hard times of the day.

I live each day with focus, authority, thanksgiving, hope, encouragement, and rest.

Please share how you handle hard days.

Leo the Lobster: It’s TIme to Grow

I’ve been posting about changing our perspective on pressure or stress in our life. I’ve shared how pressure is for our good, our growth and a practical process inspired by a lobster to partner with pressure. I shared three examples I’m walking through with pressure from sin, wounds, and opportunity to grow.

In this post I’m sharing a story. I hope it is enjoyable and encouraging.

Leo the LobsterLeo the Lobster: It’s Time to Grow

Leo is a young lobster who lives with his Dad and Mom at the bottom of the sea.

Leo likes to swim and play. Leo loves Jesus.

One day Leo notices his shell is getting tight. Each day it gets a little tighter. It gets so tight Leo cannot play or swim.

“Mom, Dad, my shell is so tight! I feel like a giant octopus is squeezing me all the time.” Leo explains.

“You’re a growing lobster. Of course your shell is getting tight. You are getting ready to lose your shell. This is a special time.” Dad says.

“That sounds scary. I’ve never been without my shell.” Leo says. “I don’t want to be eaten by a cod!”

“You are wise to know your shell keeps you safe.” Mom says.

“Leo, you were made for this. You can only do the things you were made to do if you grow. You will learn more about who you are and your Creator, too. God loves you and He is always with you.” says Dad

“That helps a little.” says Leo, still unsure about losing his shell.

“Leo, you go into a cave. A cave no cod can get in. You will stay there until your new shell is ready.” Dad explains “We can go look for a cave tomorrow.”

Dad and Leo look for a cave. They swim slowly because Leo’s shell is so tight.  “This is a nice cave.” Dad says “No cod can get in here.” Here Leo can shed his shell and watch the other creatures swim by without being seen.

Leo doesn’t want to stay at the cave. He asks his Dad to stay with him.

“Sure I can stay with you, Leo.”

Inside the cave Leo starts to be afraid. He thinks “Maybe shedding my shell isn’t a very god idea.” Then he remembers what his Dad told him. “Leo, you were made for this. You can only do the things you were made to do if you grow. You will learn more about who you are and your Creator, too. God loves you and He is always with you.” Leo begins to climb out of his shell.

When Leo is out of his shell he is a little scared. He starts to ask lots of questions. “Is it really safe?, How long will this take?, What will it be like?, and Will I even like my new shell?”

As Leo waits he runs out of questions. Leo begins to hear the Lord, his Creator. Leo hears the Lord in verses he remembers and songs he sings. Leo begins to hear the Creator in his heart. Leo hears how much he is loved, how special he is.

Leo enjoys his special time with the Lord. He learns the Creators voice in a new way. Leo learns for himself that he is never alone. Leo doesn’t notice his shell is growing and getting hard.

One day Leo doesn’t hear the Lord in the same way he has been. Leo wonders why. He starts to get worried and upset. “God, you said you’d always be here. Where are you now?” Leo asks.

Leo hears the Lord in his heart. “I am always with you, Leo. You don’t always need to be here.” Leo realizes his new shell is all grown and hardened. He can go home. Leo can go back to swimming and playing. Leo also knows the voice of the Lord, his Creator, and His love for him like never before.

Leo swims home thinking his Mom and Dad were right. This was a special time. “The next time I start to feel that pressure I will remember it’s time to grow.” Leo was even looking forward to it.

I’m thinking of making this a children’s book. It still needs refining so I would love to hear what you think and if you share the story with a child what did they think.

What is a story you love that teaches a great lesson? Comment below.

An Invitation to Grow

Did I really just say, out loud, that I think I could teach online courses and make good money at it!?!

It’s been a swing between “I could totally do this.” And “There’s no way I could ever pull that off!”

I’m feeling pressure. Like the lobster I’m being invited to grow.

Here’s part of my process (because I’m still in it) of shedding my shell to grow… If you’re wondering why I’m talking about lobsters check out this post.

An Invitation to Grow

Humble yourself before the Lord.

Father I humble myself before you. I want to obey and honor You. I don’t want my doubts, fears, or wrong thinking to stop me from saying yes and obeying immediately.

Ask Him where the pressure is coming from.

I feel pressure to be teaching online courses. It’s a desire to make money, to be a blessing, be obedient. I feel You are telling me it is something I am supposed to do. I feel pressure because I don’t always believe I have anything to offer. Can I really charge people for sharing what I’ve learned? Can I manage to get a course done without neglecting my family, my home, and myself? Questions of my capability in so many areas. Pressure about asking my family to sacrifice for my crazy ideas. Fears of letting them, myself, customers, and most of all You down.

Shed your shell – be vulnerable and honest with the Lord

I don’t trust that I’m hearing You clearly. I don’t trust myself to follow a plan and be successful. I’m not sure about asking my family to help me.

Begin to grow a new shell. Ask Him “What do I do now?”

Continue healing your soul. Keep exploring with Me the wounds that are bringing so much pain around this. You know your healing is more important to Me than your performance. We’ll move one step at a time as you are ready.

Stay hidden in His presence until your new shell is grown

Strategy – Read the books and follow the steps for healing your soul.

Knowing to step back into His presence if you find yourself out of it – seeing your shell isn’t grown yet.

Learn the difference between fear and leading. I’m feeling pressure, some of it I need to embrace and allow it to nudge me to be brave. Some I need to cast down because it is not from the Lord. In learning to cast down the negative pressure I am also growing my shell, growing to a new level of discernment and bring my thoughts under submission to Christ. A lie or thought rooted in fear must submit.

Thank you for reading!

Please share where the Lord inviting you to grow or how your stay in His presence under pressure.

Let Pressure Push You to Healing

I’m an emotional wreck. I can’t think. I can’t hold back the tears and this intense ache.

A clear thought breaks through the suffocating emotion.

This hurts way more than it should. This is just normal teen stuff. They want to be with their friends. It’s a really busy season.

Why is it hurting so bad? What is it I’m really feeling?

I’m feeling SO rejected!

Rejection and I go way back. Way, way back. That’s why this hurts so bad. It’s time to heal.

Let Pressure Push You to Healing

I’m feeling pressure, stress, from other’s choices. I feel rejected. A crazy thing about feelings is I can feel rejection without ever having been rejected. This isn’t about blaming or figuring out who rejected me. It’s about me examining the wound with the Lord and receiving His healing so I can deal with current events as just that – current, present – not clouded and confused by past wounds.

Looking at pressure like the lobster, it’s time to grow.

  1. Humble yourself before the Lord.

Lord, I come before You knowing You want my healing, You want my heart as broken as it is. I ask You to show me my part. I submit to Your loving direction for where to go from here.

  1. Ask Him where the pressure is coming from.

Where is this intense emotion coming from?

This pressure is coming from rejection in your past.

  1. Shed your shell.
    • Identify the wound. Is there a specific memory? What is your earliest memory of this wound or this feeling?

I have so often felt rejected, not good enough for many reasons.

  • Identify any lies you believe because of this wound.

I was too sensitive, too quiet, too smart, too naïve. I am rejectable. There is something uniquely wrong with me. No one wants to spend time with me. I’m no fun.

  • Forgive anyone you need to forgive. This releases them from your judgement. It does not say what they did was okay. It also releases you from the sin of unforgiveness which leads to bitterness.

I forgive those who have rejected me including myself (you don’t need to read my list 😊). I release them and myself from my judgement. I pray blessings and the experience of the Father’s love for each of them.

  1. Begin to grow a new shell.
    • Receive healing for your wound.

Heavenly Father, I receive healing for my wounds of rejection.

  • Ask for the truth for any lies.

What is the truth?

I made you exactly as I want you to be. Being or felling rejected in the past does not mean you are rejected now. I will never reject you. You are accepted in Me and can handle any rejection or feelings that come.

  • Practice believing them, thinking them, speaking them, imagine how you would act if you believed the truth and act that way.

When I believe I am accepted by the God of the universe I can love without fear. I can see where I lack skills to handle emotions and learn them.

  • Ask Him if there is anything He would like to tell you.

Is there anything You want to tell me, Father?

I love you. I not only accept you, I chose you before time began. I paid for you with the life of Jesus. I will never reject you. Be patient and stay in the process of healing.

  1. Stay hidden in His presence until your new shell is grown
  • Ask for strategy for how to stay hidden while you grow. That may include certain songs, journal, a book, study, or a new relationship.

I am reading a couple of books, following their steps for healing and learning skills I lack. I started a Bible study for encouragement, growth, an accountability.

  • Knowing to step back into His presence if you find yourself out of it or feeling more pressure – seeing your shell isn’t grown yet

When feelings of rejection rise up I spiritually step back into His presence and His acceptance.

I would love to hear from you.

Please comment below if this is helpful.

Please ask if you have questions. Messages on Facebook are good, too.

How to Partner with Pressure

I like peace. I like easy.

As a lobster grows its shell becomes too tight putting the lobster under pressure. When life is bringing pressure on me I want it to go away. Yesterday.

The lobster follows the design of its Creator and goes to a safe place like the cleft of a rock. In the shelter of the rock the lobster sheds the shell that has become too small and grows a new, larger shell.

When life brings pressure I’m learning to take shelter in my Rock.

If I am being continually transformed from glory to glory my shell is going to frequently get too tight. I can complain about the pressure, wish it away, ignore it, and … miss out on what He has for me in this area of growth.

Instead of seeing pressure as a negative I can recognize it and say “Okay, time to grow!”. I can be intentional in asking the Lord for His strategy, His lesson, and who He wants to be for me. I want to come humbly before Him and shed my too tight shell. I desire to stay hidden in His presence as my new shell grows.

I like things cut and dry, black and white. I want to see the process as clearly as a lobster shedding one shell and growing another.  Instead I can feel pressure from many different sources for many different reasons, all at the same time. I can have multiple spiritual, mental, or emotional shells in various stages.

Knowing the time frame and the outcome – that wouldn’t require faith. Without faith I cannot please Him.

How to Partner with the Pressure

  1. Humble yourself before the Lord. This can be difficult but it is so much easier than having to be humbled.
  2. Ask Him where the pressure is coming from. I think there are three sources of pressure, each requiring unique responses.
    1. Sin/disobedience – our choices
    2. Wounds – other people’s choices
    3. An invitation for more or need for maturity – God may invite us, the enemy may attack and God will use it for our good if we are walking in His purposes.
  3. Shed your shell. Be vulnerable and honest with the Lord
  4. Begin to grow a new shell. Ask Him “What do I do now?”
  5. Stay hidden in His presence until your new shell is grown

When has being under pressure caused you to grow?

2017 Top 5

Happy New Year! I pray your holidays were a time for connecting with people you care about and the God who loves you more than you will ever know.

For my first post of 2018 I want to reflect on 2017 and my blog in general. I’ve been faithful and absent and a mix of both over the years.

2017 Top 5I started this blog in 2012 for 2 reasons.

1.       “They” said as an author I needed to build a platform. You know “they” that knows everything and has unending lists of things that “need” to be done to be successful.

2.       I felt I had something to say that would benefit others.

I’ve pretty much gotten over #1. For now platform building is organic and entirely in God’s hands.

I began to explore #2 again this summer. What do I have to say? Who wants or needs to hear it? I am still asking those questions. I thought looking back at the posts of 2017 would offer insight. What did I say that you responded to? Who’s reading? Why?

What Do I Do With Halloween?The most popular post surprised me. It was What Do I Do with Halloween? I guess you were curious!

Culture of EmpowermentCulture of Empowerment comes in next. I look at how excellence can be a trap for perfection and prevent growth. Empowerment builds a culture to learn and succeed.

4 Steps for Fighting Fear: The Journey4 Steps to Fighting Fear and 4 Steps to Fighting Fear: The Journey both made the top 5. I gave one 4 step strategy to fight off fear and a glimpse into what that looked like for me as I battled fear of my baby not breathing.

Love and Trust are Not the Same

Rounding out the top 5 was Love and Trust are Not the Same. I explore what it looks like to love someone I don’t trust with my heart.

I would love to hear from you.

Did any of these posts speak to you?

Did your favorite not make the list?

Why do you read?

What would be helpful to you?

A Prospering Soul

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.  3 John 2

A Prospering Soul
As I’m praying about 2018 this verse keeps showing up and coming to mind. So I thought I’d take a closer look. I looked in Strong’s Concordance.

John wished above ALL things for his disciples to prosper! That’s kind of a new concept. And wish is a poor translation. The Greek word means pray. He prayed for them to prosper and be in health.

Prosper: to be successful; to lead by a direct and easy way

He prayed for them to be successful. He prayed for them to be healthy. Above all things. And all here means – all. Being successful and healthy was important. John was praying for it to be reality in the lives of the believers he was writing to.

The definition of being lead by a direct easy way is intriguing, too. Verses about valleys being raised up and mountains made low come to mind. He will direct our path. Our yoke will be easy. Our burden light.

Health: sound, well, be in good health

Being healthy is key to being successful. Jesus healed so many people. Clearly good health was important to Him as well.

Soul: breath, the life or spirit that gives you life; seat of feelings, desires, affections, aversions

John doesn’t just pray for them to be successful and healthy. There’s a catch of sorts. He prays they prosper as their soul prospers. How does a soul prosper?

That’s my focus for 2018. A prospering soul.

My soul includes my emotions. To be successful a direct, easy way to manage my emotions to be prospering. That sounds wonderful to me.

I’m searching out practical ways to experience emotions and deal with them. I’m not imagining only happy, fun emotions – all emotions.

Healing from past hurts from bad things that happened and from good things that didn’t are part of the process, too.

My soul includes my thoughts. I’ll be intentionally rooting out thoughts that are not God’s thoughts and replacing them with His thoughts. Mindsets that prevent prospering will be replaced with Kingdom mindsets.

What does a prospering soul look like to you?

What steps do you take to prosper your soul?

4 Steps to Peace When Peace Seems Out of Reach

4 Steps to PeaceGlory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14 KJV (emphasis mine)

The angels proclaimed peace and good will to men on the earth over 2000 years ago. Looking at the headlines or your own circumstances it may seem they were wrong. Peace seems so elusive. So out of reach.

The angels weren’t wrong. Peace came. Peace remains. It’s ours. He is ours.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 KJV (emphasis mine)

This child who’s birth we celebrate each December is peace. Jesus, the Prince of Peace who promised to never leave us. We are constantly accompanied by peace.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Galatians 5:22 KJV (emphasis mine)

This peace lives in us. The Spirit comes with all its fruit.

So why don’t we feel peace? How often are you in a conversation with someone and one of you is not really in the conversation? Just because Jesus is with us it doesn’t mean we are engaging with Him. His presence doesn’t guarantee we experience peace. We must choose to connect, to engage.

4 Steps to Peace When Peace Seems Out of Reach

  1. Remember who’s you are, the Prince of Peace.
    • The promise of peace came with good will. The news that God is not mad at you should bring peace in any circumstance. He is unchanging. If He declared good will toward the people of the earth 2,000 years ago He still has good will toward the people of earth today.
  2. Remember who dwells in you bearing the fruit of peace.
  3. Give to God the things that are His to hold, the things interfering with your peace.
  4. Release peace

Jesus, thank you for being my Prince of Peace. Thank you for coming to be my Savior and my peace. Thank you for sending Holy Spirit to grow the fruit of peace in my spirit. I release to you all the things that concern me, all the things I can’t control – which is everything 😊. I will obey and not fear. I release the peace you have given me in Jesus name.

How do you find your peace?

How to Say “Yes” to the Impossible

As I looked back at the story in Luke this December I realized Mary is not so unlike me.

The angel came announcing Mary had the Lord’s favor. He immediately continued with “Do not be afraid.” Obviously Mary was showing signs of being afraid.

I fear.

The angel explained what God had planned for her, for the salvation of nations, and for the eternal Kingdom of the Messiah. Mary got stuck at the first part.

I miss the important parts of what He says the first time, or several.

“How can I have a baby? I’m not that kind of girl!”

I question.

The angel tried again. He didn’t scold for her question. He answered. He gave evidence. He reminded “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” [Luke 1:37 KJV] or stated another way “For no word from God will ever fail.” [Luke 1:37 NIV]

Mary believed. She responded with a “Yes”. Mary submitted without fully understanding.

I love that! NO word from God will EVER FAIL! What a promise!

I believe. I say “yes”.

The Lord is patient with our doubt and questions, even our fear. He also doesn’t leave us with them.

God answered Mary’s question, not with more details. He answered with encouragement, reminders of who He is and what He can do.

I believe this so quickly encouraged Mary to agree because she knew her scripture. She knew the faithfulness and character of her miracle-working God. She was able to agree with the angels proclamation. “Yes, anything is possible with my God.”

So how do you say “yes” to the impossible?

  • Ask your questions.
  • Set aside your fears.
  • Remember who you are saying “yes” to. What impossible things has He already done in your life? Meditate on the impossible things He recorded is scripture. Go back and remind yourself of who He is. Remind yourself of what His word is on the subject.

Remember His word that will NEVER FAIL.

Say Yes to the Impossible

‘Tis the Season

“This season doesn’t look anything like I expected.” Homeschooling three high schoolers and raising an infant was never on my list of expectations.

“I thought I was supposed to be leading women and writing books. None of that is happening.”

'Tis the SeasonDecember is a time of preparing for Christmas. For me it is also for reflecting on the past and preparing for the future. As I was reflecting on things the Lord was speaking to me two years ago I had both the reactions above. As I reflected a little longer He reminded me of what I am doing and though it doesn’t look like I expected, I am doing what He said I would be doing.

I may not be leading women’s ministry like I was a couple of years ago but I’m leading women through relationship, writing, and my Facebook group.

While I’m not working directly on a book I have started writing regularly on my blog. Any writing helps and gives me connection with readers and a place to offer value.

My season of life with an infant and teens isn’t working quite like I expected.

I’m having a hard time determining what to expect. I think that may be where God wants me for now. Trusting and resting in Him not in my sense of having things figured out. Maybe to have a season defined by relationship to Him instead of my doing.

Yes. That is my season. A season of drawing near, leaning in for His whisper. A season of asking for direction for each step rather than checking in every day or once a week.

What is your season?

Where do you see His faithfulness to work in you what He promised, even if it looks different from you expected?