A recovering worrier….

by Nancy Howell

 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.

Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.

Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.

It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. 

Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)

Hmmm….read that again, sisters.  That passage, so beautifully translated by The Message, gives very simple directions. Don’t fret or worry…”

Hello.  My name is Nancy.  I am a worrier.

Let me rephrase that–I am a recovering worrier.  Much like other addicting habits of indulgence, worrying is hard to wrestle free from.

I should know, I’ve struggled with the addiction of worry the majority of my life.

Worry nags at you, whispering quietly, “You’re not good enough…”  “you’ll never finish this project on time”  “you’re unprepared, per usual!”

My spouse was not a worrier.  In fact, he remains the most laid-back, easy going, put together person I have ever known.

Whenever he would sense (or hear) my angst, he had one response:  “Sweetie, worrying doesn’t do you any good.  Nothing productive comes from worry.  Do your best, let it go, and always remember ‘EGBAR’….Everything’s Going to Be Alright!”  And with that, he’d go on his merry way.

Sometimes I swear I could hear him whistling a happy tune as our conversation concluded.  Throughout our years together, during particular situations he simply would look into my eyes, smile and say, “EGBAR.”  He knew I needed reminding.  And it helped.

After his death, I didn’t worry about anything.  Call me crazy (and you wouldn’t be the first!), but for months I was on auto-pilot.

Looking back, I realize I didn’t worry because I was bathed in God’s light.  I felt as if my boys and I were being carried around on the most comfortable mattresses possible, with nothing around nearby to touch or harm us.  We were completely surrounded by prayers, protected from the world.

Unfortunately, that total feeling of comfort and protection did not last.  I began to relapse back into old habits, worrying about our sons, finances, major life decisions, future goals,  life in general.  I no longer had Mark alongside me, whispering “EGBAR”.

I struggled to leave the worrying at God’s feet, praying for answers to questions nagging at my soul.  As I cleaned up my kitchen late one night, I glanced at the plaque prominently displayed by my sink.  Given to me by Mark’s special angel, his ICU nurse who lovingly cared for him during his last days here on earth, it quotes Philippians 4:13.

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God makes it so simple.

Why do we have to make it so hard?

“Instead of worrying, pray…”

Give your petitions and worries to God, fashioning them into prayers.  Your concerns matter to Him.

Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down…”

I’ve often read that the absence of fear is faith.  Faith is believing that God will bring you through whatever situation you are in.

As widows, we come to God’s throne in many different circumstances.  Some of us struggle with loneliness, while others may be financially strapped.

Some have to uproot and move to strange new surroundings, soon after losing our significant others.  Others are left alone with child rearing responsibilities.  And believe me, it takes both a mother and a father when possible to raise a child in the way that God wants.

Whatever our personal situation, our spiritual circumstances can be the same.  Have faith, not fear.  Allow your Heavenly Father to tote your heavy load.  His shoulders are strong and He can handle whatever you put at His feet.  “everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down…”

If the absence of fear is faith, I want to proclaim that the absence of worry is trust.

The absence of worry is TRUST.  As my sweet husband told me countless times, worry doesn’t do anyone any good–except the devil.  He is behind your worries.  He is the one whispering you aren’t capable.  He is the one causing you to lose sleep as a dozen different issues run through your mind.  Don’t give him the satisfaction.  There’s only One that can silence him–God.

God is beside you.  Regardless.  He is simply waiting for you to TRUST Him to take your worries.

Remember, there’s nothing that our God cannot do.  Surrendering, trusting, giving your burdens to Him, even in the midst of enormous grief and shifting sand, can free you.  Free you to be what God wants you to be.

He has a plan.  It may not be the plan you wanted, but it’s a plan, nonetheless.  Leave your worries at His feet.

“It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life..”

In worry’s place?  Trust.  Pure, loving, simple, and soothing.

EGBAR, dear sisters.  If God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are for us, who can be against us?

Dear Father,

I praise Your name for the ability to take all of our worries.  Help us let go of them.  It’s hard to let go, walk away, and not try to pick them back up.  That’s where trust comes in.  We trust You to handle the worrying part.  Transform us so that worry is no longer the center of our existence.  We want You to be the center.  Continue to bless each and every sister that struggles with turning worry into trust.  It’s an ongoing process.  Thank You most of all for Your patience as we give You our all.   In Jesus’ name I ask it all,  Amen.

How Do You Hold Thoughts Captive?

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5

bracelet   We all have those days–when you are trying to give it your all.  You know you’re blessed.  Yes, you’ve lost your best friend, but God has blessed you in so many ways.  Maybe with your children.  Maybe with friends.  Maybe He’s provided for you, or given you options for a new life. Maybe it’s simply the peace of knowing He is in control and that your salvation is safe with Him.  Be sure that’s there, because knowing He died for you helps you remember that this grief is only but a moment in the short time we have on this earth, and the reality is the everlasting joy He will give us in eternity! Here’s a tip my boy gave me–place a bracelet on one arm.  Every time wrong thinking creeps in your head, stop what you are doing and move the bracelet to the other arm, meanwhile shifting your thoughts to God’s thoughts–remembering His purpose for you, the work He has for you, the goodness in your life, and your thankfulness. When you start to think, “wow–I lost so much when I lost my husband,” try to remember the Gospel.  It’s all about surrender.  In order to have salvation and everlasting life, there is only one requirement–that we die to all we think we’re entitled to here.  We surrender it all the Christ, Who Himself surrendered all to the cross for our sake. If you think you’ve lost, think for a moment all what Christ lost.  His friends, his supporters, His popularity, His comfort–to the point of suffering a more grueling torture than any of us can imagine.  And then finally, His life. And as you move that bracelet, shift your thoughts from what you have lost, to what He gave up, to finally what He gave you in exchange–salvation, new life–including a new life here with purpose! Meanwhile, to fulfill His purpose, we need to bend our minds to obey God’s thoughts not the enemy’s. My older son took the bracelet a step further. “Mom,” he said.  Try putting the bracelet on your ankle– that will really make you stop and rethink your thinking!” Ha Ha!  Now there’s a thought! What works for you, sisters? Hey, God. Can you help out my sister who is struggling today?  Can you give her some techniques for how to actually take Your suggestion to hold every thought captive?  Perhaps some of us in the community of widows have more ideas that can help her and she’ll come across them in these comments.  I give this request to You, knowing You have each of us sisters in the palm of Your hand.  Amen.

A Feast

  • by Guest Blogger Jill Byard

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies

Psalm 23:5

Sometimes in the midst of my circumstances I forget the real lasting power of the cross.

Like a solar eclipse, my troubles cast a dark shadow, blocking the hope of the cross. It’s hard to see the light behind my circumstances. Events which were no fault of my own put me in unfriendly circumstances of confusion.

Staying here in the shadow is what the enemy is banking on me doing. In his desperation for my heart, he tries to outshine the hope of the Son. He dances on broken hearts like they are the main attraction; just waiting on us to acknowledge his ability to eclipse the cross—his huge ego craving recognition.

When he starts this tap dance on my heart, I pull out the above verse. It gives me hope. I have read or heard it spoken about many times, but recently a bible study speaker described the feast He prepares with such a powerful visual image that it remains stamped on my brain. I think about it daily. Our God, our Father, giver of all things, is preparing a feast for us right now.

feastA FEAST!

I am not talking about a drive thru dinner you grab at Mickey D’s. He’s talking a catered affair dripping with every delicacy imaginable!

Think fourth of July celebration times infinity! And the clincher to the whole feast is that the enemy is going to have to sit and watch all of us enjoy all of God’s plans.

No longer are our broken hearts the main attraction but the power of the promise that the cross offers; NEW LIFE!

In 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us how Christ wins over all this sting of death. In 1 Corinthians 15:57, he says victory will be through the Lord Jesus Christ.  2 Corinthians 4:18 describes the things that are unseen as eternal.  Don’t look at the seen—these the we see here will fade away, and the unseen remains. Paul is talking about the sting of death. We all know the pain that the sting leaves for the family, friends that have been left behind. That sting too has the ability to cast shadows.

Oh dear sisters in Christ, look what will come as a result of the real power of the cross—how satan will be so thwarted. Our life on this earth is but a mist. When I feel the lies—“there is no end to my circumstances” and “my life has to be lived in the shadows”, I will stop and remember that those shadows will never ever eclipse the power of the cross. He chose to give the gift of the cross for all our dark shadows. I’m going to choose to live in the glory of the cross everyday.

I wanted to share these lyrics with you. They always give me such hope. It is the last song of Les Miserables when the characters who have passed are singing in heaven. I love it so very much. It inspires me.

lesDo you hear the people sing? Lost in the valley of the night. It is the music of a people who are climbing to the light. For the wretched of the earth there is a flame that never dies. Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. They will live again in freedom in the garden of the Lord. They will walk behind the plough shed, they will put away the sword. The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward! Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me? Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see? Do you hear the people sing? Say do you hear the distant drums. It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes!

(click on the photo to hear these lyrics being sung!)  Epilogue chorus from Les Miserables.

Dear Father,

Help me to walk in the glory of your gift everyday. Thank you for your gift. I want to live in the power of all your promises. Your life is more than just a story. It is hope for all our tomorrows.

How to Handle a Bad Day – Part Three – “Act as if”

by Kit Hinkle

I mentioned on Monday that today I would offer a little bit deeper incite on turning around a bad day.  I’ve covered this earlier on A Widow’s Might using a series I titled “A Bout with Doubt”. It’s a five part series, and if you struggle with trying to get yourself out of a pattern of discouraging thoughts day after day, please try reading it.  The five parts have an introduction, and four steps to fighting your self-doubt: recognizing habitual tears, observing the habit, replacing the habit with truth, and giving yourself freedom to grieve honestly. Reading through them might bring you something to help you bring yourself into brighter days.

Some twelve-step programs to all sort of recovery (alcohol abuse, codependency, overeating, enabling alcoholics, addictions) use not only the twelve steps but some helpful little catch phrases to remind its members of some healthy habits to help them with recovery.  Even though grief is natural and not the same as an addiction or behavior we have to stop, excessive worry and anxiety which can sometimes be the root of a bad day is not natural and from God, and learning to stop it can help you.

If your bad day started with waking up late, or some circumstance that set you back, perhaps it’s worry or anxiety, or perhaps it’s guilt or anger or lack of forgiveness that keeps you from having the positive attitude you need to get your day back in line.

Here’s a catchphrase that these twelve step programs use…. Act as if. Now please be careful to understand that “Act as if” means within obedience to God above.  Here’s how it works.  You’re having a bad day.  It got started because something made you feel inferior/guilty/inadequate/lonely/hurt.  Whatever it is you’re feeling is causing you to freeze up—paralyzed by your obsessive thoughts over your feelings.  You can’t seem to stop yourself and you can’t push ahead.

On Monday, I described a path to dealing honestly with what’s bothering you—usually what’s bothering you is a lie from the enemy and surrendering to God and inviting the Holy Spirit to clean house can cleanse you so well, you’ll feel dynamite after you’ve faced it!

On Tuesday, I recognized that sometimes we’re just at that point where we’re not ready.  Maybe you just need time to heal.  Maybe a distraction can help, so there are funny movies and videos that will help you through that rough time.

Today, I want to offer another tool—“Act as if”.  You can’t do it forever. Eventually you must surrender what’s bothering you to God in order to move on.  But sometimes you need time. I think of it like waiting for that scab to form so that the wound can heal on the inside.  For me that was a few years.  In the first year of losing Tom, there were certain feelings I wasn’t ready to face straight on. But the pain—oh the pain!

“Act as if” means take whatever negative obsession is causing you anxiety and paralyzing your day and reverse it.  If you’re feeling lonely and unmotivated, what would you do if you weren’t lonely and you felt a surge of motivation?  Clean your house?  Start a workout plan? Learn how to apply makeup like a professional? Get a new hairstyle? Clean out your garage?

Then, you simply “Act as if”!  You get up, move yourself to the garage, and no matter how hard it is to start to organize and clean, you do it:  one item at a time, until you suddenly look around, and your garage is… wow!  Clean!  Suddenly, you feel a bit better, don’t you?  You acted as if you weren’t so down, and now you feel better!

I did this over and over in the first year after losing Tom.  I have to tell you, my friends wondered about me. I think they expected me to sit and be sad all day every day.  And I did sit and I was sad many, many days.  But truth is, God placed in me a desire to be productive, and it makes me happy to be productive.  So I learned that when my sadness got me down for too long of a period and I was going day after day of bad days, I had to stop myself and “Act as if”.

Please know, ladies.  I occasionally try to put in my posts a caution.  All of us go through our loss differently.  Many widows LOVE being motivated by ideas of how to move forward.  If you are in a place where you feel led to spend time praying and healing in a slower way, and your not wired in a way where getting out and doing things makes you feel better, perhaps this isn’t the way God’s called you to heal for the moment.  It’s a tool, among many that God gives us along the way.

Blessings and I pray for lots  of better days ahead for you!

What to do with a Bad Day

by Kit Hinkle

Try remembering something. An ache in your heart can sometimes be a lie from the enemy…

It was one of those dog days of summer, and I was tired.  Tired of widowhood.  Tired of handling all the responsibilities of the four children with no spouse to help. This time I had the added frustration that I had come within weeks last spring of marrying someone I thought would whisk me out of this predicament only to find in the eleventh hour something new about him that made me take pause and listen to God speaking into my heart, telling me this wasn’t going to be right for me or the boys.

Have you had bad days?  Everyone’s circumstances are different. Kids or not–losing a love or losing a job or missing your husband, or a disagreement with a friend, sometimes events just put you in a fuddle. I can only use my experience as an example, and I hope it offers some help to how you might approach a bad day, no matter what your circumstances.

Here’s what I thought that day—Google will help!  Try googling how to fix a bad day.  You’ll find so many pieces of worldly advice, and perhaps sometimes they work—exercise, eat chocolate, call a friend, meditate, count your blessings, help someone in need.

Believe me, ladies, I’ve tried them all.  Here’s the deal.  While the world’s answers might offer temporary help, there’s only one complete healing answer to turning a bad day around, and it’s Christ.

If you exercise, those endorphins will kick in and pick you up for a bit, and perhaps you’ll feel a bit better about your body, but eventually the endorphins fade, and if you’ve then eaten the chocolate, you’ll feel like you’ve undone what you accomplished for your body in the workout!

Calling a friend sometimes helps, but I’ve found I’ve had to be careful about the friends I call. Will she want to stew with you on your problem?  Will she try to complain about hers? The question isn’t really will she help you up or keep you down, but is she wise enough to direct you where you should be turning—to Christ?

Then there is meditation. If you interpret meditation as prayer and concentration on Scripture, that’s great, but please, sisters, be careful if you have fallen into the ill-advice of others who’ve guided you into transcendental meditation, a practice started by the Hindus and Buddhists where you empty your mind.  Christ is clear (in Luke 11:24-26) that a mind emptied can invite demonic spirits to hop in and upset you more.  In meditation, don’t empty—fill your mind and heart with the Holy Spirit—then let Him clean house in your brain.

Counting your blessings. I do it every day, beginning with the four smiles that greet me every day and thank me for being their mom!  Sometimes, I want more.  I just get in that funk where yes, I’m happy they are healthy and happy and life is good, but something has gotten under my craw. How do I get that thorn out of there?

Even helping someone else—be careful.  Is your motivation to feel self-satisfied?  It works, believe me, even on that dog day in summer, I helped myself to a dose of soup kitchen duty and found myself briefly lifted.  But even as I ministered to the homeless, the nagging ache just wouldn’t go away.

Do you know what finally worked?  Trying all of those things and failing and getting to the end of myself and landing on my knees in my bedroom in tears before God, and admitting my inability. “Lord, I’ve tried everything,” I cried. “I can’t do it.  I can’t get this awful feeling of disappointment out of me.  I’m just so tired of it.  Can you remove it?  Can you please send your Holy Spirit and just fill me with hope and joy and gratitude?

If you haven’t experienced what came next, you might find it hard to believe.  Trust me sisters, this wasn’t the first time.  This surge of peace just blew through me so instantaneously; it knocked me off of my knees and flat on the floor!  I lay there for a moment wondering what just happened. Then I realized.  It’s gone—that ache, the thing that was getting under my craw.  Not minimized, not set aside for the moment, but gone.

You know that gnawing that you feel about an issue? When it’s truly gone, you know it this way—somehow you’ve figured out that the gnawing thought you had was a lie. That’s what happened at that moment.  I couldn’t, no matter what I did, believe that thought that just a few moments before was causing me anguish.

But moments earlier, and the entire day before that moment,  I simply couldn’t remove the lie that was killing my peace and killing my day.  Only the Holy Spirit could. And when I got to the end of trying everything humanly possible to remove the lie and discovered I couldn’t do it myself,  I finally turned to the One who could.

Try remembering something. An ache in your heart can sometimes be a lie from the enemy. My ache of disappointment that I couldn’t marry the man I spent over a year investing my energy in came from a lie–that things would have been hunky dory if only he hadn’t revealed the deal breaker. I stood up, and everything was clear as that day when I made the decision not to marry that gentleman. Rather than a lonely structure, my house suddenly looked like a beacon of refuge for my kids because here in my house, I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). I can choose to show my kids how to walk their faith and know how much Christ loves us.  I realized how unbelievably blessed I really am, and my energy level soared—for real, because it was based on truth.  God’s truth!

Here’s the prayer I used to invite the Holy Spirit in to rid me of an anxious lie.

Father God, I’m a wreck.  I don’t get it—I’m not always like this, but somehow I’ve gotten myself so focused on what I wanted to happen which didn’t.  I’ve taken my eyes off of You, and I’m feeling the result.  I’m so sorry.  I’ve tried everything to get this ache out of my heart—everything but ask for Your help.  Maybe I needed to do everything else first, just to begin this heartfelt prayer and really mean it.  But I do, Lord.  I sincerely want Your Holy Spirit guiding me, pulling me out of my wrong thinking, replenishing me with Truth.  You’re so good, Father God, and I know You love me.  Can you please just rid me of this awful obsession over what didn’t go right for me and put me on Your solid ground?   Amen.

Come back Wednesday where I’ll write more about how to replace the enemy’s lies with His truth and give yourself a good day every day!

The noise… Where’s the noise?

Four boys at summer camp for a week.

I looked forward to this all summer and this morning it’s here!  I’m supposed to LOVE this! For the first time in my five years since losing Tom, I’ve got the house to myself for a full week!  Woohoo! The prayer time I’ll have with God. All the projects I’ll get done!  The writing!  The organizing!  The…

. . . silence

Ladies, that first day after the kids flew off on their adventure, I climbed the walls, asking myself, “why is this so hard? Can I really do this alone?” And…

Is this what it will be like when they grow up and move out?

I know all about the enemy and his plans to derail me from my purpose.  I did have a purpose—I have goals to meet this week with uninterrupted time.  I won’t be tempted into calling friends and filling my time with social calls. In my early years of grieving that was appropriate. Now I move forward.

So the enemy steps up his game.  Regina calls. “Come hang out by my pool with me.”  Oh that’s tempting. She’s so godly and full of wisdom.  Maybe for just a little? No, child. This is your time to focus.

Okay, God.  I’m back to my purpose.

Then Ellen calls, “You don’t have the kids this week!  Let’s have coffee!”

Oh, Ellen is so incredible.  The mission work she does and her love for her four adopted children with special needs.  If she can carve time out of her crazy schedule for me, how can I say no? Because I’m asking you to, my child.

Okay, God. Back to my purpose.

Ladies, I just wanted to share with you this moment when I feel so inspired by the Lord to walk forward, alone, without the crowd around me, to complete a work He has for me.  To pull away from the noise, and not be deterred from His plan.

I know there were times when the Lord wanted me to hold back, mingle with the supportive crowd, and take in nourishment.  And there are times when He’s asking me to reach out to encourage others. And then there are times when He’s asking me to step forward alone, and continue on His plan for my day with Him and only Him.

Try it sometime, you might feel what I felt after even just one day of forcing myself to walk alone with only God speaking to me throughout the day–serenity!

There’s a neat poem written by a secular poet, Tanya Davis, encouraging you to learn the art of being alone.  This is what my week feels like.  I’m relearning the art of being alone.

I hope that somehow the Lord speaks to you through my experience today.

Blessings, sisters!

 

Love letter

My dear daughter,

Yes, I am here.  Even when you don’t feel me.  Even when you don’t see me at work, I am right there. My strong hand rests in the small of your back, gently urging you forward.

My tender eyes gaze into yours even as you stare into the impossibility of your future.

This has been a difficult season, I know.  I have been there for every question, through every tear and each cry of desperation.  I am with you.  I go before you.

Don’t ever doubt that.

I have seen you at church, offering me all that you have.  Whether a voice raised in praise or a hand clenched to stifle tears, I see your sacrifice and it is beautiful to me.

I am there at your dining table, as you try to recreate normal for your family during a simple family dinner.  Know that I am there in the empty chair, gazing at you with eyes of love.

And on birthdays and holidays and school performance days, when the remembering is yet a little harder, know that I am especially close.  I hear your cry of ‘it’s not fair’.   I know, precious daughter, I know.

Know that I am at work, making something beautiful.   The dark spaces in the tapestry of your life simply serve to reflect the light of who I am.  Many will be drawn to you because they see me in your life. And see that, in spite of it all, you still believe. There is much that will not be understood this side of heaven.  Stand on the promises in my word.  They are the only sure foundation for your ever shifting emotions.

I love you. I love you. I love you.

Your heavenly Father

“Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.”  Deut 33:12  NIV

Belittled

By Samantha Reed

Belittled

By Samantha Reed
www.Fieldsgold.blogspot.com

The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
~Phil. 4

Like a firefly trapped in a Mason jar. Stiffled, I peered out, watching others’ dreams come to pass. My own on a shelf next to me.

Little by little, my happy-go-lucky heart flickered. Sadness cupped his hand over what little light was left as I acknowledged outloud the depths of my disappointment.

Extinguished. Exhausted. Expectant no longer.

“I’m so sorry your dreams are dashed,” my friend offered. “Wish I had known sooner how difficult this disappointment has been for you. Woulda been an honor to walk it out with you.”

“Thanks. But a broken heart is silly. Especially in light of others’ pain.” Our friend’s husband had just passed away. Who was I to be sad about a mere break up?

Silenced by unworthiness. Belittled by doubt.

Years of wisdom, scrolls of mercy, flashed in her eyes.

The beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them.
~Bonhoeffer

She took my hand and we journeyed back. To a time when she lost her children. And someone told her to check her pain at the door. To keep it in perspective to others’ pain.

She took my hand and we journeyed back. To a time when the Lord ministered healing from the grief of empty arms and empty cribs. He rocked her tight, shielding her from the daggers of false words by careless hearts. Pain was acknowledged and given a name and sifted through, not simply tucked in a dark corner.

She took my hand and we journeyed forward. “Your pain is genuine. This valley is real and you have to walk through it to get out. Don’t belittle your grief.”

She granted permission to acknowledge the ache and loss. Drastically different than her own, yet no less honest. Not till that moment did I realize I was holding my pain at a distance, shunning it for perceived absurdity. I needed her words.

And while it’s true that

It is wisdom that realizes:
I cannot expect anyone to understand me fully.
~Brennan Manning

We were created to at least give an effort to be understood. While our main hope and healing hinges on the Lord alone, it’s vital we share our journey with others.

Is it perhaps time to ask for help out of your valley? The grace of others settling in the valley with us is needed at times. Counting stars during the long, dark night of our soul is more comforting with others beside us. The first ray of light often is glimpsed by them anyhow.

No one could hear the whole counsel of God in isolation.
~Richard Foster

Friend, no matter what other voices have said, your pain is valid. Seasons of pain come. And they also leave. Don’t miss that last part. Pain is not meant to linger indefinitely. Often we need a trusted companion to walk us through it. Someone who will undo the lid on our Mason jar. And fly next to us, out of the valley.

Going Deeper

A few years ago I read Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner by Wendy Blight. Hope, joy, faith and trust were brutally ripped from her in a violent hour. She made her way through the valley she was pushed into and encouraged me out of mine as well.

This summer, Melissa Taylor is leading an online study of Hidden Joy. Friend, I pray you’ll consider walking out of your valley with the girls going through this study. No matter what the source of your pain is, I trust you’ll find hope and healing in this study. Click here for more info and to join.

Also, we’d love you to join us in our series of leaving the hurt behind. Jump on board by clicking here!

Beautiful

By Danita Hiles

Precious sisters —

Whether you are reading this with hope…
or through tears…
whether your journey through the valley has just begun…
or has settled into a routine of sorts…this truth remains.
You are beautiful.
You are treasured.
You are loved.
You are His.
Turn up your speakers and bask in that.

Who Is Responding?

By Danita Hiles

The place: Target dressing room….two nights before a family vacation.

The players:  One exhausted mama, one hormonal high schooler and one hungry third-grader.

The scene:   Trying to find a few key clothing items to take on the upcoming vacation.

The mood:  Stress!

Stress between sisters, stress with the shopping experience, stress coupled with feelings of failure that this should have been done sooner, stress over the struggles with sizes and prices, stress of peer pressure and expectations.   Not to mention the anticipation of yet another single mom trip and all the details which that entails.

I sat on the floor in the middle dressing room, a daughter on either side of me in their own rooms.  Tensions were high and things were not fitting or too pricey or simply just wrong for what we needed.

Needless to say, our collective manna for the day had long since been depleted.

We really should have all been home in comfy pjs, eating soup and listening to something relaxing.

Instead I sat under the unforgiving fluorescent glare fitting room lights hoping for a fashion miracle to emerge from either side of m e.

Siblings with short fuses quickly began to take out their frustrations on each other…and then on their mama.  Does that ever happen in your house?  I was headed down the slippery slope of a first class mama meltdown when I heard it.

A voice from above.

No, before you get all excited and super spiritual, it wasn’t the Lord…you know the voice, it was the lovely lady from the Target PA system.

“Target team members’ her silky tones inquired, ‘Assistance is needed in the Ladies department…who is responding?

And again she calmly asked, ‘Assistance is needed in the Ladies department…who is responding?’

Funny how I’ve heard that expression hundreds of times during my Target adventures but this time it was personal…. screamed to me:  Assistance is needed…who is responding?

Sitting in a dressing room, full of frustration, who is responding?

Faced with pouty children and sulky sales clerks, who is responding?

Feeling sorry for myself and my single-mom life, who is responding?

Is it a tired, cranky mama who just wants to get home?

Or is it the Jesus-loving girl who wants to be a blessing and shine her light, in spite of the current drama life is dishing out?

There are an awful lot of things I can’t control.

But I can choose how I respond.

Colossians 3:12-13 is the best dressing room advice ever:   ‘Therefore choose to clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other in forgiveness.  And over all this, put on love.’

Sitting there on the dressing room floor, I came face to face with my own ugly attitude.  Sigh.

It was time for one tired cranky mama to step aside.  This Jesus girl has got to try some new things on.

I reached up for some compassion and put it on, pulled over some humility and wrapped it around, grabbed some patience and slipped it on for size and covered it all with a giant cloak of love.

And guess what?  When mama’s attitude changed, the stress disappeared.

Funny how that works.

Never did find the perfect outfits for vacation.

But it just didn’t seem to matter anymore.

What about you….when life gets messy, who is responding?