Stop Planning

Just Stop Planning

Just stop planningWhat? I’ve written a post on How I Plan For Hard Days, and Planning With Passion. Now I’m telling you to stop planning? Well, yes. Sort of. But it’s not quite the contradiction that it sounds, so stay with me here.

I’ve already told you I’m a planner. But what I may not have shared is how I over planned. For years I planned way too much. I was very hard on myself when I couldn’t live up to my expectations. As my health worsened, it all got worse. I stayed frustrated with myself, and overwhelmed with life.

Friends and family had been telling me that I needed to slow down, but I didn’t seem to know how. If I could do something to help, I couldn’t say no. But then I started having to cancel appointments, beg off of time with friends, and get out of commitments because I was too sick or exhausted to follow through. Satan had a field day with that one! I was giving him ammunition to use to attack me, and I didn’t even realize it.

Then came the crash. I slowed down some after my first miscarriage, but we were on deputation, and I had to keep going. However, after the second and third miscarriages, I physically could not go on anymore. I had to take time off of deputation. There were days while still traveling with my husband that I didn’t make it to church because the migraines were so bad I couldn’t stand and the rest of the pain had escalated until it was all I could feel. I had hit a brick wall. You don’t want to get there. Trust me. You just don’t. If you’re heading that direction (or already arrived), what do you do? Here’s what I did:

Just Stop!

The Solution: Stop! Just stop over-committing. Stop saying yes to everything, when there was no way I could do it all. I had to give up some things I really wanted to do. I had to say no to some things so I could say yes to the most important. I still have to say no so I can say yes to the most important things.

Just recently I had to disappoint someone because I couldn’t keep up. I had started teaching a young lady piano, with the understanding that we’d do it until it didn’t work for one of us. It didn’t take long until I knew I couldn’t keep it up. I was having too many bad days and missing too many Bible studies and Sunday mornings. I had to choose. I can’t commit based on what I want to do. I have to commit (conditional on my health) to what I am capable of. And at times that is depressingly little.

Priorities

What is the most important thing you have to accomplish? What is the second? Writing these down made a huge difference for me. I was able to identify my priorities. Everything else came after – if there was any energy left. I don’t always like having to put aside things I want to do, people I want to help. But if I don’t, I won’t be able to do any of it.

I was having to cancel quite a few Thursday night Bible studies with a dear friend. It seemed by the time Thursday night rolled around, I was exhausted and in pain. This Bible study is supposed to be a priority, but I was missing it much too often. My solution was to schedule nothing after my Thursday morning Bible study. If I feel really well, I will do some writing or office work. I do no laundry on Thursdays. Absolutely none. I found that if I do, I use up my energy and there is none left for the study. Most weeks I rest all Thursday afternoon.

We have a Bible study Wednesday morning in a neighboring village. It’s a long morning and I have another Bible study Wednesday night. I rest Wednesday afternoon. I must. I want to clean my house or do print shop work, but I cannot. I have to say no, so I can say yes to the studies. I am learning to guard my priorities. This is even harder to do when we have company and I want to be hospitable, but I must plan easy meals, rest while visiting, and even excuse myself to lie down in the quiet for a little while.

Rest

Rest. I have started adding rest in my planner, giving myself a reminder to rest. Wednesday and Thursday afternoons are not the only ones set aside for rest. Every afternoon (except Monday) in my planner I have rest scheduled. Monday is our family/rest day, so I usually have plenty of time to rest that day. On the other days, I make sure I lie down at least 30 minutes to give my body a chance to recharge. If I have an evening study, I rest longer. If I’m having a rough day, I sleep more. Sometimes when we have company I get less rest, but I always try to get away a little while. I have found that company understands, and no one seems to go away disgruntled that I rested while they were visiting. They probably appreciate the opportunity to get away and rest a while too.

This is a recent addition. I used to just rest in the afternoons when I hit a wall. Hitting a wall hurts! I can’t wait that long. I have to rest so I don’t crash. Just this week I crashed anyway. It wasn’t from lack of rest. It is just part of having chronic Lyme Disease. Because I had shifted my thinking, It wasn’t so hard to just plan to rest until I was able to continue.

Create Margins

Bro. Paul Chappell talks about living with margin in his book, Stewarding Life. I lived without margin for more than 10 years. It nearly destroyed my health. Now I plan rest. I add margin to my life on purpose. I set aside times when I schedule no work and no studies. My only plan is to rest as needed.

When I started doing this out of necessity, I hated it. I felt like I was wasting time. I have found that I actually get a lot more done now. My mind is (sometimes) clearer. I function better. Some (many) days I have to work a little, rest a little, and repeat. To my surprise I get quite a bit done – more than when I push until I drop. I really recommend this book if you find yourself running on empty more often than you like. Creating margin in your life is just part of this very practical book.

Start planning now to rest. Plan to say no to some things so you can say yes to the most important. What is most important in your life? For me, it’s God, my husband, and ministry. In ministry, it’s teaching Sunday School and Bible studies. I must say no to many things so I can say yes to my relationship with God, my relationship with my husband, and the ministry God has given me. What do you need to say no to today? What do you need to stop doing so you can have enough time and energy to do what is most important? Then the most important question is: Will you stop? Stop so you can start living life with the purpose God has for you.

Stop Planning

Planning With Passion

Passion PlannerUPDATE: 

Soon after posting this, a friend informed me that Passion Planner’s founder and CEO openly supports Planned Parenthood. She told me of a social media post of her outside of Planned Parenthood, promising to donate $1 for every “like”. I emailed Passion Planner and asked if the company donates to Planned Parenthood. An employee replied that as a company, Passion Planner funds have not gone to Planned Parenthood. Even so, with the owner so openly supporting a group that kills babies, I cannot recommend buying from them. The planner ideas here still work, but I will probably be changing my planner out with another printable. I may even create my own. Keep an eye out for a post about that.

I’m doing a series of practical posts to help when you struggle with chronic illness, especially when that illness flares unexpectedly.

I recently wrote on How I Plan for Hard Days. Today we are looking at one aspect of how I plan: planners! Those handy things that have driven me crazy for years because I would plan, but my plans always seemed to fall through and my planner was a mess of marked out hopes.

So, how do you use a planner when you know your week (or month) won’t turn out like you want? First, I’d like to look at some planners, then I’ll share how I use mine.

What I use to Plan

I love planners, but most of them don’t work for me. I cannot count how many I’ve bought, downloaded, printed, and discarded because they didn’t work for me. Below are two planners for you. The first is one I’d love to try, because it looks like it just might work for me. I’d love to know if you’ve used it, and how it worked for you. The second is the planner I’m using now.

Living Well Planner

I love the look of Ruth Soukup’s Living Well Planner, but I’m living in Africa now, and mail doesn’t always arrive. I’d hate to spend money on a beautiful planner, but never get it. It’s really not in my budget now either, but one day I want to try it. It looks amazing. If you’ve used this planner, please leave a comment and let us know how you liked it.

Passion Planner

Right now I am using Passion Planner. I really do like it. A lot. It also works for me because by sharing it on social media, I got a free download, which I could print myself. Since shipping stuff here is a problem, the download option is wonderful. I am using the 2017, and just downloaded the new 2018! I also have an undated copy, just in case I need it. If you would like to try before you buy, go to their Download Page and follow the instructions there. All you have to do is Share, Email them the share screenshot, and get a password to get your free download.

This planner has a place for to-do list (personal and work), a blank section you can use for anything (Space of Infinite Possibility), and a block to write in the focus for the day and focus for the week.  You can order the undated planner on Amazon, or the dated planners on the Passion Planner website.

Arc Notebooks

Putting it all together: When I print out my planner, I put it in a Staples Arc Notebook. I love these things! I may one day do a whole post on how I’ve used (and plan to use) these handy notebooks. They are completely customizable. I have this Junior size book that I use for my planner. I print it, punch it with the handy punch (link below), and pop it in. If I make a terrible mess of a page, I can reprint it and replace just that page. Although, I hardly ever do that now that I’ve changed how I plan.

Here are some of the accessories I use with my notebook:

Colored dividers: These let me separate my planner and easily find my note pages, blog idea page, etc. This keeps me on track. Without dividers, I can never seem to find where I put things. These are tabbed, so I can find the right section immediately. You can get the dividers alone or you can get this accessory pack. Keep an eye out for my post on Arc Notebooks. I’ll going to let you in on how I’ll be using these for our furlough next year too.

Sticky Tabs: I love these because I can flag any page to go back and find it easily. I can also use them to mark each month making it easy to go to the  monthly calendar. If I have something I want to do, but don’t know when I’ll get to it, I put it on a sticky tab, so I can move it to next week if this week doesn’t work. I can use a regular sticky note, but these are small, and more durable.

The Punch: I love this! It works on both Arc and Levenger notebooks. I used this to punch my planner so I could use the Arc notebook. I also make my own customizable inserts, making my planner uniquely mine. You can only punch 2 pages at once, but it’s portable and easy to slip into a bag.

They also have a large punch for if you want to punch 8 sheets at once. It’s a bit more pricey, but good if you’ll be doing a lot of organizing and punching. I’ll put more about that in another post.


There are several other accessories I’d like to have one day, but I’ll save those for the post on the Arc Notebooks alone. These are the ones I use in my planner.

How I Plan

This is the best way I can plan at this time. This may change as time goes on, but for now, this works best.

About once a week I block off the “set-in-stone” portions of my week. This includes church, my time with God, my evening routine time, etc. I also pencil in any scheduled Bible studies for the coming week. I realize even these may be changed if I wake to a killer migraine or really bad day of pain, but they are the “do if all possible” parts of my week.

For everything else, I only add daily tasks and appointments as I work on my to-do list each day – after I see how much pain and energy I have. I may pencil in a few things I hope to accomplish that week, but I truly plan each day after I see how that day is going. You just have to adapt with chronic illness.

I often have Bible studies cancelled or rescheduled, and many times my work planned for the afternoon after a study will fall by the wayside because I ran out of energy. When this happens, I just cross through those and reschedule. Because I plan most of it daily instead of weekly or monthly, there is less crossing off, and I follow my schedule more.

Some weeks I put the menu in the Space of Infinite Possibility. Some weeks I put in a verse or quote from Sunday’s sermon that I want to think on all week. At other times I write really important to-do items in large print so I don’t forget it. There are so many possible uses for it.

I am thinking of starting to use sticky tabs to “pencil in” those tasks I hope to accomplish, but I don’t know how the week will go. If this works better, I’ll update you and let you know.

How Do You Plan?

Now that I’ve shared my planner and planning strategy, I’d love to hear from you. What planner do you use? How do you use it so you can work around unpredictable health or life? What tricks do you use to plan for those hard days? Join the conversation so we can learn from each other.

Stop Planning

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

Amazing grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

How many times have I sung those words without realizing the wonderful truth behind them? On my hardest days (either physically or emotionally), these words are enough to lift my spirits and give added strength. Because God’s grace truly is amazing. And vast. All-encompassing.

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear,
And Grace, my fears relieved;
How precious did that Grace appear
the hour I first believed!

Saving Grace

Ah, that sweet and precious saving grace. I do not deserve it. When I think that I deserve an eternal hell, but Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price for my sin, it overwhelms me. Only His grace could give someone like me eternal life, and a walk with Him while I live on this earth. I grew up in a preacher’s home.

When I was young, I prayed a prayer and for a few years I held on to that prayer. If I prayed the words, I was okay with God, right? I was not okay. When I was 11 years old, I realized I had prayed a prayer, but I had never truly understood my sin and need of Jesus Christ’s payment for my sin. I was trying to be good, praying, and hoping. It was all in vain. That night I cried out to God, and was truly saved. Grace. Undeserved favor. What about you? Have you trusted Christ alone for your salvation? If you haven’t, or have questions, please contact me. I’d love to tell you more about this saving grace.

Grace for the Valleys

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come,
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

Saving grace overwhelms me. Grace in times of trial sustains me. It’s above and beyond. Not only did He save me from my sin and eternal death, He continues to give grace whenever I need it. I don’t deserve it. That’s why it’s called grace. I fail Him so often, but He keeps giving grace.

Some of my favorite verses are Hebrews 4:15-16.  “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

The King of Heaven invites me to come before His throne boldly. He assures me of His welcome, and encourages me to come ask when I need grace to help. That is a serious perk of being a child of the King.

Grief and physical pain are burdens that are hard to carry. They weigh us down. Pain slows us, grief drags at us, fatigue overwhelms. It’s hard. It also draws us to the Saviour for help, if we let it. In times of trouble, I have choices. I can run to the King, or curl up in myself. I can trust God, or I can blame Him for not fixing things my way and in my time. What choice will you make today?

Public domain

What is your favorite hymn for hard days? Share it with us in the comments below.

 

Stop Planning

How I Plan for Hard Days

I Used to Plan

I used to be a “get it done” kind of person; the kind of person who liked to plan ahead. For years, I worked hard, pushed myself, and did what had to be done to finish any project or work. I even pulled a couple of all-night “shifts” to finish projects that needed to be done in a timely manner. It was hard for me, when I found myself unable to keep up the pace. I was still young, so why couldn’t I work like I had in the past? Why did simple jobs leave me exhausted and weak? Then came the miscarriages and the Chronic Lyme Disease diagnosis. My limitations now made sense, but they were still hard to accept.

Some time after my third miscarriage, a friend sent me some information on some health supplements that helped me immensely. After being on them for a couple of months, I had energy and more stamina than I had in years. Yay for Plexus! I was so excited. Then my lovely energy was gone. It simply vanished one day, and I woke up exhausted. The disappointment only lasted a couple of days because I discovered I was pregnant again! I didn’t mind the exhaustion, I was growing a baby, and that’s a lot of work.

Within  a few short weeks, I had miscarried again. I was devastated. As I healed, I waited for that energy and stamina to return, but it didn’t. Instead my Lyme Disease flared and I was worse. Two more miscarriages followed. I couldn’t seem to recover. I went off the Plexus to see if it was even helping. Boy was it! Within days, I was nearly bedridden. So the supplements were helping, I was just in really bad shape.

How Can I Plan?

I am doing better than I was, but I still struggle. I want to go back to planning and scheduling, but how do you plan when you don’t know if you’ll wake up feeling great, so-so, exhausted, or in too much pain to moveFor me, the answer is “very loosely.” There are some things I plan every week. I may not get to do them, but I plan them. I plan knowing that this is a best-case-scenario plan, and there’s a strong possibility that I won’t get to do all I expect to do.  Other things I plan only on a daily basis, seeing how I feel first.

I’ll be looking at some things that have helped me in the next few weeks. Here is a sneak peek at a couple of items I’ll be reviewing:

  • Make Over Your Mornings
  • Staples Arc Notebooks
  • Menu Planning – to plan, or not to plan

I hope you’ll join us as we look for ways to plan for hard days. Will you join the discussion? What are your secrets for planning with chronic illness or fatigue? I hope you’ll share with us so we can all learn.

Stop Planning

Increase Your Faith

increase-your-faithIn the middle of trials, it is easy to find our faith weakening. We don’t intend for this to happen, but as the sickness, heartache, or trouble drags on, it can take its toll on our faith, as well as our bodies and spirits. We must be vigilant to make sure this doesn’t happen. But what do you do when you realize it has already happened?  How do you renew faith? Can we regain it? Are we able to strengthen it?

Yes! Not only are we able to, but God’s word gives instructions on how to increase or renew our faith.  It’s quite simple. Read the Bible. Listen to it. Sing it. Quote it. Listen to extra sermons. Immerse yourself in Scriptures. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17. Listen to the word of God today.

Ask God to increase it! Do you remember the father that brought his possessed son to Jesus? He had already brought him to the disciples, but they had no help for him. He brought his child to Jesus, begging for help. Jesus said, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” I love the man’s reply, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” It sounds like his faith is weakening a bit. He believes, but he feels compelled to ask God to also help his unbelief. Lord, strengthen my faith. When we need anything (even faith), we only have to ask our loving Father.

We can also increase our faith by remembering what God has done in the past. 1 Samuel 30 reminds me of this. David and his men return from an unsuccessful attempt to go to war. They arrive home to they find the city burned with fire, and the women and children taken captive. It’s a bleak day, made even darker by the people talking of stoning David. I love the end of verse 6, “…but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.” Having read the rest of the records of David’s life, I can only think of one way David might have encouraged himself in the Lord: to remember, and recount, God’s faithfulness up to that point.

When our faith is weak, or gone, we can always remember God’s faithfulness. Recount to yourself all of the blessings you can remember. Intentionally remember how God has delivered you, and provided for you, in the past. Count your blessing.

Read biographies of Christians. I have often seen my faith increased when I read stories of Christians who struggled, but saw God do mighty things. Reading of God’s faithfulness to others is just as encouraging to me as remembering His goodness to me in the past. What is your favorite biography? If you don’t have one, ask your friends and pastor to recommend some. You will also find links to a few great biographies on the Resources page of this site.

What will you do to increase, or restore, your faith today?

steps-to-increase-faith

Stop Planning

Be Content and Praise

You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.”

Being content...even when God doesn't give us what we want. Be content & Praise!I used to teach a kindergarten class at church. With children ages 4 and 5, there were often tears, whines, and sighs when they didn’t get what they wanted. They didn’t want that for snack. They wanted the toy someone else got, or they didn’t want the color crayon they were given. We would remind them, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.” We were doing our best to teach them to be content. Be thankful for what you receive.

But I Wanted…

As an adult, I have to go back and remind myself of this lesson. It is so easy to get discouraged and out of sorts when we don’t get what we wanted. When my sister-in-law married my brother at 18, and gave birth to their first child at 19, I was upset that God had given her what I wanted before He gave it to me. (Yes, I was that childish.) It was my dream to marry right out of high school and have 6-12 children. Why did God give her my dream and leave me wondering what He was doing in my life?

As I keep up with friends and family on social media, I often see pregnancy announcements, birth announcements, and all the other milestones that come with having children. The temptation is there to grieve because God has given them what He has denied me. I didn’t get what I wanted. They got what I wanted. When I think about it, it’s still quite childish if I give in to this temptation.

Not What I Wanted

When I was growing up, I wanted to marry a preacher and have a dozen children. I also wanted to be like my mother and grandmothers. They were strong, hard-working ladies. Most of all, I wanted to be godly. I wanted to be a praying lady like my mother and grandmother. As I began miscarrying babies, I lost sight of those last dreams. I focused on the other dream that was slipping through my fingers.

Therefore be Content

Scripture teaches us that we should be content. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Paul did not have all he wanted. He had been persecuted, imprisoned, beaten, and generally mistreated. Yet he had learned to be content.

The most straightforward command to be content is found in Hebrews 13:15. “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” We are to be without covetousness and be content with what we have. Ouch! If I don’t have children, I am to be content. If I am thousands of miles away from family, I am to be content. When God chooses not to give me good health, I am to be content. This is not if I feel like it. It is not optional. It is a command.

So, today when I see my niece’s baby bump, when I see friends and family post pictures of their children and grandchildren, I am to be content. I still grieve, but I am also to be content.

What tempts you to be discontent? Will you let it win, or will you obey Christ’s command and gain the peace and joy He promises?

 

Stop Planning

Books to Encourage

Books to Encourage: Books I read (and want to read) to help through the hard times.I’m always looking for ways to be productive, even when I’m physically down. There are days that I don’t stay on my feet much. Fatigue or pain send me back to bed before I’m ready. Being a bookaholic, I have found one way to be productive is to read! I always have a list of books I’m trying to get around to reading. There are practical books to help me be more organized and productive. Some are books to help me grow in my walk with God. Others are biographies, books to encourage, etc. When I can’t clean house or do the other work I have planned, I like to try to read one of the books on my list. So today I’m going to share a few books with you. Some have been a blessing, and some I’m looking forward to reading.

Before we get started, let me say that some of the links in this post are affiliate links. That simply means that if you buy anything through these links, I get a commission from Amazon. I only recommend products that I use and love. I do not advertise for Amazon, just for the sake of advertising. The affiliate links are marked.

Now, on to the good stuff…BOOKS! I love to read. When we moved to Africa, the hardest thing for me to get rid of was my books. Not being able to bring a vast array of “real” books with me, I brought my Kindle Fire (affiliate link).  I actually have the 7″, but we just bought Rob an 8″. That’s because today we saw Amazon had a Black Friday sale and they’re pretty cheap. Now we just have to wait until someone comes to visit in a couple of months. (Sigh) I still love to hold an actual book in my hand, but books are not as easy to come by here, so I am thankful for my Kindle. However, my dream is to one day have a real library, stuffed with real books. (A gal can dream, right?)

Books I Love

Besides my Bible (the best book of all), God has used some good books to help me along the way. Here are just a few of them…

One of the great books that helped me when I was having one miscarriage after another was a book by Cary Schmidt. Off Script (affiliate) was written about Bro. Schmidt’s experience with cancer. It’s about what you do when your life “goes off script”. How do you respond when your life takes a turn you never expected, nor wanted? This book was so encouraging to me, and I go back and reread it from time to time. A friend loaned it to me, and I read it the first time in less than a day. Then I went back and reread it slowly. I just recently read it again. Bro. Schmidt also taught this in a conference somewhere and I ran across the audio recordings. You can listen to Part 1 here and Part 2  here for FREE.

The Burden Bearer (affiliate) by Bro. Paul Chappell was another book that God used when I was trying to keep up with everything while struggling with health and loss. This was especially helpful to me because I have a tendency to over-commit and berate myself when I can’t do it all. I tend to take on burdens God never intended me to bear. We either gave our copy away, or stored it. I need to get this on Kindle, so I can read it again.

Evidence Not Seen (affiliate) by Darlene Deibler Rose is an incredible book. Darlene Rose spent four years in a Japanese prison camp in the jungles of New Guinea. When I get discouraged, this book does two things. It reminds me that my situation is not nearly as bad as Satan is telling me. It also reminds me of the awesome power of my loving Heavenly Father. This is another book I’ve read again and again.

The First Gardener (affiliate) is one of the few fiction books I will recommend. I have no idea why I bought this book. I was only getting free books during this time, I had never read anything by this author, and I had no earthly reason to buy it, but it kept showing up, and it drew me in. So, I bought it. Wow. I had just miscarried for the first time, so it really struck a chord with me. But it wasn’t just that the book was about infertility and loss. (Nor because it is set in Tennessee and I lived in that area for several years.) It’s about God cultivating our hearts, and our decision to let Him have His way, or to struggle to get our own way. It is one of the few fiction books I reread.

Books on my Wish List

These are books on my to-read list or my wish list (I don’t have them yet, but I plan on getting them). If you have read them, please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

In Desert Places: What Happens When Unlikely People in Unlikely Places Encounter the Presence of God (affiliate) “This book is the true story of God’s incredible work in desert places. It tells of real people, unlikely people, who saw God transform their deserts by His grace. These stories tell of the numerous works God does in desert places…” (Excerpt from the book description)

Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy (affiliate) “Gratitude is a choice. If we fail to choose it, by default we choose ingratitude. And once allowed into the heart, ingratitude does not come by itself, but with other seedy companions that only succeed in stealing joy…” (Excerpt from the book description) I need to choose to be grateful. It is a choice, and I need to be more purposeful in this area. I’ve heard great things about this book, and I am looking forward to reading it.

Living Life Beyond Your Capacity (affiliate) is high on my to-read list. Because, let’s get real here. Living with chronic illness means everything is beyond my capacity. I look forward to reading this one. If you have Kindle Unlimited, this book is free now.

A New Song (affiliate) is written by a pastor’s wife. This was recommended to a group of ladies in ministry as a good resource. When my Lyme Disease was at its worst, I struggled with depression. It wasn’t terrible, but it was a constant companion. I know now that it is common in Lyme patients, and it probably is related to the inflammation in the brain. One of the things that kept me from slipping into an abyss that some slip into was the Psalms. Book description: “Often described as a dark, lonely pit, depression is a common struggle in our world today. Everyday there are many Christians who are struggling to get out, stay out, or lift someone else out of the pit. The struggle can be immense but there are answers in God’s Word. Journey through the verses of Psalms 42 & 43 and discover a plan to win your fight with depression.”

Share Your Favorites

This is just a few on my lists. I hope some of them are an encouragement to you. What is your favorite book, or other resource, that has helped you through your valley? Please leave a comment below. We’d love to see what God has used to help you. It just might help someone else. If you read (or have read) one of the books listed, let us know in the comments below.

God bless you in your journey to praise in spite of the pain.

Stop Planning

The God of the Valley

The Battle

nature-landscape-wallpaperI love the story of 1 Kings 20. The chapter begins with Benhadad, the king of Syria, bringing war and threats to Israel. He’s completely confident that he is going to win this war. No one, not even the God of Israel, is strong enough to stop him. Ahab, the king of Israel, follows the instructions of the man of God, and God soundly defeats the Syrian army with “a great slaughter”, according to verse 21.  Benhadad’s advisers think they have the answer. The problem is that they fought Israel on the hills. Surely Israel’s gods must be the gods of the hills. So, we just have to fight them in the valley.

They think they have it all figured out, but they don’t know who they’re dealing with. Verse 28 reads, “And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the LORD, Because the Syrians have said, The LORD is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the LORD.” God is about to prove to everyone involved that He is indeed the God of the hills, but He is the God of the valleys too.

Is God Big Enough?

Sometimes we are like Benhadad’s advisers. We hear stories of God giving victory, giving peace, or bringing someone out of their valley. We read of God giving the barren woman a child. Someone gives a testimony of God healing those who were past medical help. What about that person who was completely hopeless, but God gave them a job, saved them, or worked some other miracle in their life? Yet we think God may do for others, but He isn’t doing for us. We stop short of saying He can’t, but that’s what our heart is telling us. We think God is the God of their valley, but not of mine.

I have heard stories of God healing those with Chronic Lyme Disease,and Satan asks me why God doesn’t heal me. We have met so many people that were struggling with infertility, but God had given them their miracle baby (or babies). Yet our arms are still empty. The enemy tries to get us to believe that God can, and will, work for others, but not for us. What horrible, wretched lies he tells!

Truth

The truth is that God could heal me, give me children, and give me the energy I once had. And He can do it today. God can heal you. He could have stopped your loved one from dying. He could have saved your job or given you a better one. God is able to change your circumstances in an instant. He is enough. What He has done for others, He can do for you.

God is also wise enough to know that giving me healing, children, and energy may not be what I need today. He knows that trials and heartache bring me closer to Him. Our God is able to use the darkest days in our lives to make us more like Christ and reach others for Him. He is wise enough to know what I need, powerful enough to give it to me, and gracious enough to give me joy and peace in the midst of less-than-my-ideal situations. I can trust Him. You can trust Him too.

Stop Planning

Strength for the Day

It doesn’t matter if it’s physical strength needed for work, or spiritual strength to endure the trial; God is the only One who can give us the strength we need.We are preparing for a team to come help with outreach. We are excited, and just a wee bit overwhelmed. Well, I am overwhelmed. My husband is just amazing. It never fails that right before company, a trip, special meeting, or other “big thing”, I get sick. I’m not really sure why this is. I’ve even been paying attention to make sure it’s not just because I overdo it. It’s just one of those things. I run out of strength for all the tasks ahead of me.

This past week has been a bit rough, so I asked some friends, missionary ladies, to pray for me. I have been praying that God would give me strength for the work that needs to be done. For the last few days, I’ve woken in bad shape. I fully expected to not get anything accomplished.

Imagine my surprise when I look back over these past three days and see that I’ve caught up on my dishes, cleaned my kitchen, done 2 loads of laundry, sorted bedding for the group coming, made bunk beds (That’s an amazing feat even if I’m not sick! Ugh), cleaned out a closet to make room (and organize so I can find what I need), and a few other bits and pieces. How is it possible? Strength for the day. God answered prayer, and gave me the strength I needed for the tasks of today. He didn’t give me strength for all I wanted to do, but for all I needed to finish.

It doesn’t matter if it’s physical strength needed for work or spiritual strength to endure the trial. God is the only One who can give us the strength we need. There were days it seemed He didn’t give the strength I needed. But I realize now that those were the days He didn’t want me to accomplish anything, He only wanted me to rest in Him.

What are you facing today, Friend? Is your load heavy? Or your grief overwhelming? Does your pain seem unbearable? Do you wonder how you will ever make it through? Remember that our strength comes from the Lord. He sometimes does give us more than we can bear, then invites us to cast all our care upon Him. Because He cares for us.

God hath not promised skies always blue
Flower strewn pathways, all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labour, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.
-Annie Johnson Flint

Stop Planning

Light Affliction?

“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:61-18

light-afflictionMy Bible study this morning included 2 Corinthians 11: 23-28 and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. As I was reading and studying, I was struck by Paul’s words, “our light affliction”. I had just read the verses in chapter 11, where he recounted his sufferings. He was given 39 stripes 5 times, beaten with rods 3 times, stoned, shipwrecked 3 times, spent all day and night in the deep, imprisoned, cold, hungry, weary, and in pain. Yet he calls it “our light affliction” when encouraging the Christians at Corinth. How could all of this be considered light?

The key to it is in verse 18, looking not at the things which are seen (temporal), but on the eternal. These afflictions we endure now are indeed light, when we look at them in the perspective of eternity. The times of extreme pain that left me bedridden for days are nothing in the light of eternity. Going through 6 miscarriages was overwhelming to me, until I began looking at it with the right perspective. The spiritual perspective.

In the flesh, these things are not light. The pain, fatigue, heartache, the empty arms…Paul’s excruciating pain, exhaustion, imprisonment…they are hard. They hurt. We feel weak and wonder if we’ll make it through. Yet we’re not to walk in the flesh. We’re to have a heavenly perspective.

Never Forget

God has given such victory to me, but it is so easy to slip back into the old ways. All I have to do is let my focus slip back to me. Stop being thankful. Stop remembering that God is working in me. Forget He wants to use me. Forget He loves me, and gives me His best. All I have to do is forget that this life is just a tiny vapor, and it will be worth it all when I see Jesus.

So today, let’s remember that the pain we endure, the heartache, the betrayals, the weight of ministry, whatever we are enduring, it’s just a light affliction. One day we will look on our Saviour’s face, and it will seem like nothing. We’ll be thankful for this affliction, because we will see how God used it in our lives.