Abba Loves Me When I’m Tired

 

Do you ever have days … weeks … months when you’re tired?  The past two weeks I’ve been waiting for my energy to arrive.  Still waiting.

I’ve been exercising, eating right, getting sun, working, sleeping well … why, Lord?  It’s easy to get discouraged when life isn’t going the way I plan!  As I wait on Him and learn to accept with thankfulness my temporary weariness, I can rest in the One Who made me, saved me, loves me, and keeps me. 

I treasure this picture of my Dad and me (above).  Whenever I am with him, I feel loved, safe, and encouraged.  In an infinitely greater way, my heavenly Father loves me, and His power is infinite – while ministering to me at my level.  Oh, the wonder of it!

I invite you to join me in praising the all-loving One, Who knows and cares.  We can rest in Him!

To weary Moses, God said (and forevermore promises to stay with all of His children):

“My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’”  Exodus 33:14
 
 
With the overwhelmed King David (the man after God’s own heart) we can pray:
 
“Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer.  From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy.” Psalm 61:1-3
 
 
“My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Psalm 73:26
 
 

The prophet Isaiah declared to Israel, and to us:

“Have you not known?  Have you not heard?  The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.  His understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31
 
 

Jesus promises:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
 
 

The writer of Hebrews found refreshment and courage to continue on, by focusing on the unchanging character of our wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ.  We can, too, because:

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

 
“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

Ten "Going Crazy" Tips

“Call the Funny Farm!”  Not if, but when is the last time you were in a position of confusion, exhaustion, discouragement and/or grief, and you felt someone must quickly provide emergency intervention?  If you’re like me, it was as recent as yesterday or this morning. Stressful moments, from mildly irritating to incredibly difficult, come to all of us!  They can sneak up as a complete surprise.  They can also be predictable.  Can you relate to some of these?

  • Full schedule
  • Homeschooling (especially on wet or cold days after we’ve been inside for too long!)
  • Times of transition
  • Weddings
  • Holidays
  • Illness or injury
  • Hormones
  • New member in the family
  • A time of loss
  • Financial strain
  • Job tension
  • When disappointed by people or circumstances
  • When we sin against or disappoint people 
  • When we receive bad news
  • Reorganization at work or church
  • During a move/remodel
  • Etc!

How do you deal with your craziness? It really is a good thing that our lives aren’t completely trouble free.  If they were, where would our need be for God?  You’ve probably heard these before, but I’m praying that God will use something here to encourage you, dear Sister!  Here are a few of my favorite “Crazy” tips:

1.  Rest

As soon as possible do whatever it takes to get much needed rest.  My two boys, six and four, are pretty much beyond naps.  Yet, we still have a 1 1/2 hour reading/quiet time in the middle of the day.  It is helpful for everyone.  My six-year-old actually looks forward to it!  If you are anything like me, everything seems much worse when I am overly tired.  And my exhaustion can be a sign that my priorities are out of kilter.  My doing too much can be attibuted to my own pride. 

Whenever necessary (not more than once per day :)), get your kids occupied with a good video and go to your room, close the door, put on your MP3 player or a good set of earplugs, lay flat on the floor and stretch your arms above your head while breathing in and out slowly.  Here is one of my helpers:

“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2


2.  Eat

It really can be as simple as taking time to nourish ourselves.  My tendency is to crave chocolate and potato chips, but these usually make me feel worse.  At the risk of sounding like your mother, eat well and drink lots of water.  Grill some chicken, make a salad, grab an apple.  Go through a drive-thru and buy a salad if you can afford it.  Indulge in the food you are craving, if you must.  But, don’t go overboard, and don’t resort to splurging as a daily escape from reality.  Popcorn is a calming snack, as is a banana.  I love it that when Elijah was tired, afraid, and discouraged God did not berate him and condemn him.  God isn’t condemning us: let us not condemn ourselves.  Enjoy some of God’s good gifts – eat!

“Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan.  And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.’” I Kings 17:2-4


3.  Remember you are in a spiritual battle.

Too easily I forget that I am a soldier in a spiritual war.  I’m sure that my forgetfulness, and the ensuing consequences, makes Satan very happy.  We should expect daily battles!  You think your temptations regarding food isn’t part of your spiritual battle?  What was Eve’s first spiritual battle about?  Yet, what we are really fighting against is far more gigantic than people, circumstances or food:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age” Ephesians 6:12


Would we go to the hottest site in Afghanistan unarmed?  No way.  Give me the largest tank and a wide selection of the most accute bombs available.  So then, how can we expect to face spiritual battles unarmed?  There is no option here.  We must eat, we must breath, we must be in God’s Word!  Especially during days of pressure, weakness, doubt, and possible depression, begin the day by putting on the armor of God, by reading and praying through Ephesians 6:10-20 (you can read it by clicking on the link below):


And, remember, we are on the winning side.

“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” I John 4:4

We must take time to read God’s love letter to us and . . .

4.  Pray

We cannot begin to estimate the power of talking to God.  Pour out your heart to Him!  If writing is your thing, grab a pen and paper or a computer and write your prayers to God.  It will help you to get it out of your system and leave it with the One Who has the power to work 24/7 for your good and His glory.  If you write it down it will also help you gain perspective on your problems.  How precious that our almighty God took on flesh and came to this wicked world.  He cried our tears, sharing our sorrows:

“We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15,16


5.  Talk to a godly friend. Ask for help! 

One of the highlights of Sunday is talking briefly with a friend at church about how we can pray for one another throughout the coming week.  And I can’t remember the number of times I have sent emergency emails or Facebook messages to ask sisters to pray for me.  It is an immediate relief to be reminded that we are not alone.  Don’t worry that you will be bothering someone (unless this is the 5th time you’ve called them today!). 

I do want to stress GODLY friend.  Not perfect (there aint any!), but growing.  Who is a godly friend?  One who is going to love you, show you grace, not judge you . . . but, also someone who is going to tell you the truth and not just what you want to hear.  Call the friend who listens, cares, and points you to Jesus.

We recently heard Todd Wilson, of FamilyMan Ministries, speak to our local homeschool parents group.  He spoke of a woman who called his wife and asked if she could come over to talk to her.  They started with small talk, but soon the conversation got deeper.  The visiting woman, one of whom Todd said we would all look at as the ultimate godly woman, quoting Scripture and giving glory to God, shared a personal hurt with Todd’s wife.  She told of a time two years before when she had been studying her Bible and her little girl kept interrupting and trying to get Mama’s attention.  The woman grabbed her little girls wrist too hard and broke it.  Since then the mother had been in agony.  As she shared her burden with this godly friend, she was able to breath and move on.  Todd’s wife didn’t condemn her, but instead told her things like, “Oh, I am so sorry!  Any one of us could’ve done the same thing!  I know you didn’t mean to do it.” (Todd even humorously admitted wanting to share some personal experience/not-so-good advice, “I understand . . . I’ve often felt like I wanted to break every bone in my child’s body!”)  Finally, this Christian sister was able to move on with her life.  Sometimes we just need to confess our mistakes or sins to a godly friend.

“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16

6.  Forget the past and move on. 

If your stress has to do with your past (twenty years ago or yesterday), God wants you to forget it and move one.  If you need to apologize, write the letter, make the visit, or pick up the phone.  Even if people are hesitant to forgive.  God is always ready to forgive us!

If you have been sinned against and are constantly plagued by bad memories, practice giving these burdens to God – the more you do it the easier it will get to give them over to Him and not grab them back.  If you are obsessing, ask God to change your mind and literally get up and move into a different room and do a different activity.  A Christian counselor recommended this when I was obsessing about death after a close call, and it really helped me.  It is so refreshing when we can look forward to the future, entrusting our past and our future to God’s excellent care!

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14


7.  Plan something to look forward to. 

We women have the privilege of serving the people in our lives: cooking, cleaning, driving people to appointments, cards, listening, etc.  But we get worn out and need to be recharged.  Get out your calendar and look for the first free space – plan a date with your husband or a friend.  If other people are too busy, plan a date for yourself – go out and get a coffee or ice cream, read a favorite book, sit by a beautiful lake and soak in God’s beauty.  And do it without feeling guilty!  God gives good gifts to His children!  He gave Jesus so that we can live more abundantly.

“And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.  So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.” Mark 6:31-32


8.  Claim your blessings. 

Reminiscent of Ann Voskamp’s wonderful book One Thousand Gifts, simply sit down and start writing down all the things you have to be thankful for.  Your list of “bad things” is much smaller than the “good things” . . . and you’ve probably realized why I set apart “good” and “bad” to remind us that our point of view is terribly limited.  What may seem bad to us may be what God is going to use to do amazingly good things in our lives.

Ask God to help you be thankful for where you are right now, including all the yucky stuff.  He can and will give strength to help us be genuinely thankful for trials. All we need to do is ask and wait on Him.  God highly treasures our sacrifice of praise.

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15

9.  Cry and Breathe

Just a couple days ago I let it all out in my room, boo-hooing and doing some much needed grieving.  I felt so much better afterward. Crying purges!  It rids our bodies of toxins. Crying is part of what God has given to help us release some of the pent-up emotional pressure.  These verses are probably familiar to you, so I want to share them in a translation other than the NKJV to give another perspective.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 (NLT)


If you are not a cryer, take a brisk walk, work out, release that stress somehow (and I don’t mean hurling a pan over your husband’s head!).  And as our sweet more mature friends gently remind us, “This too shall pass.” 

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

10.  Pick One

Think of five people you know who are going through a trial right now (not including yourself).  Plan how you, or you along with your family, can do something simple and special for him or her. 

If you have a neighbor who just broke her arm, offer to rake her leaves.  If you have a friend who just went through surgery, take a meal or a happy balloon over with a favorite coffee.  Fresh flowers can be an extravagant gift making people feel loved, but most women I know prefer plants that aren’t going to die (unless they have thumbs not even close to the color of green and are thankful that after a short while their flowers die naturally 🙂 ).

I have a friend who has been suffering with depression. Just a phone call meant the world to him and helped him to be brave enough to seek the help he needed.  I praise God that He used little ol’ me to help a brother in need, and at the same time get my mind off my own troubles.

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10

I hope something in this list will help you during this crazy time of life!  The best thing to remember as women on God’s mission, we are not alone, and God is lovingly continuing the good work He started in us.

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:5
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'” Isaiah 41:10
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”  Philippians 1:6

God of Mountains Topples Walls of Fear

 
“I will lift up my eyes to the hills— from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1

From the breathtaking mountains of Colorado . . . back down to the foothills of Mount Neverest (laundry).  I didn’t want to come home.  I wanted to stay there and stare at God’s art work all day, every day!

What did I come home to, besides lots of dirty clothes?  A busy autumn schedule, a spiritual battle, and a wall of fear . . . it looms over me. 

  • How am I going to ____? 
  • What if ____ happens? 
  • I don’t feel good about ____.   
  • Am I going to be able to be ____? 
  • Am I ever going to be content with an imperfect life and house?  
  • What about my friend’s hurts? 
  • What if ____ happens to my family?
  • What if my dreams for Women On God’s Mission are too big? 
  • What if I’ve bitten off too much with my schedule?
  • How can I continue to make the 45 minute commute to church 2-3 times per week? 
  • Do my goals match God’s plans for me? 

Fears like a dripping faucet nag at my heart – that loved ones who do not believe in Jesus, as the Way the Truth and the Life, will lose their opportunity with God. And fears for precious friends facing persecution around the world . . . on and on, the walls of fear could rival the Wall of China.

Thankfully, peace is not inextricably connected with time, place, vacation, God’s beautiful creation, nor with anything I do or don’t do! C.S. Lewis said, “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.  There is no such thing.”  Where God is, there is peace.  Even in the midst of hectic real life!  I thank God that He uses these fears to draw me to Himself.  If I had no fear, there would be no need for God. 

“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:15

If I am carrying fears around, I am accepting a “gift” from the father of lies, Satan.  After I lift off the enticing wrapper I drag around a back-breaking, heart-wrenching, rash inducing time bomb.  Through me Satan disrespectfully flaunts a small victory in the face of his and my Creator God, while he designs to do everything he can to destroy me, my family, and any godly influence from my life!  In contrast, our wonderful God sweetly yet powerfully assures, “I have it all under control.”  He calms the storms around me, giving me freedom to breathe, freedom to sleep sweetly, and the assurance that He is working on ___ and ___.  God understands!  God cares! 

Are you in a fearful place?  Surgery is scheduled, your biological clock is ticking, you lost your job, your baby has cancer, loved ones are moving away, your house won’t sell, your husband is being called up for another tour of duty, you don’t know if you are on your way to heaven when you die (see above under Lovely Links to get help), your very life is at stake in a land where there is no freedom of religion . . . whatever it is, Satan would love to tie us up in ropes of fear – he wants to snuff out all of the big dreams that come with following a big God!

Like my Indonesian sister in Christ told me tonight, “I just need to meditate more on His word and draw myself even closer to Him. This cloud of uncertainty and doubt has been a thorn I need to get rid of FAST!” 

And when we are too weak to cast off our fears, He can and He will!  Will you kneel with me right now and commit our fears to God?  He has all the answers we need.  He is the answer.  Pray and watch the walls topple.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” Isaiah 41:10

Cry Out to God

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:13-14

This morning I had a rare opportunity to read, pray and talk to God alone at a park.  A sweet friend had invited my boys over, and I savored every moment of God and me time.

I’ve felt drained lately, more so than usual.  The past two years, around this time, we were preparing for our exchange student daughters to come.  From the moment their planes touched down, we were off and running, seemingly non-stop, for two 10+ month intervals.

In June with my Ghanian daughter Ama, just a few days before she left

After two action-packed years, I feel my body and emotions wavering between shock and recovery mode.  And I am grateful for the good memories as I put my feet up, this time blissfully uninvolved with the local high school schedule.  Although, there is a tinge of boredom in the air . . . how do we go back to “normal” after ultra-activity?

God is using this time in my life to help me reevaluate.  As I was sitting at the park enjoying the amazing book Even God Rested: Why It’s Okay For Women to Slow Down by Kim Thomas, I was curious when my heart was particularly alert during the chapter about anger.  I listened for God’s Spirit to speak to me as I reviewed those who have wronged or misunderstood me: ____ = forgiven, ____= forgiven, and down the list I went.  Then a most unexpected turn of events – I sensed God was showing me that I had not forgiven myself!  And all this time I have been stewing about those other people. 

“Forgive yourself” possibly sounds like a talk-show diagnosis.  Challenged by a wise friend who asked me the biblical basis for this, perhaps it would be better to say I accept God’s forgiveness and no longer condemn myself.  In case you are interested, here are some thoughts we discussed:

  • Colossians 3:13 – “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye,” . . . The Greek root word “heautou” (one another) refers not only to others, but also to ourselves.
  • Berating myself for past failures and sins has only prevented me from living in God’s forgiveness/being fully who God wants me to be. Living spiritually is seeing myself through God’s eyes: Sinful, yet FORGIVEN. Therefore, it is my own pride and stubbornness not likewise to forgive what God has already forgiven.  
  • Hebrews 9:14 – “…how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” 
  • Ephesians 4:32 – “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”  Even though I am a sinner, God gives me the choice to forgive or not forgive other sinners.  Do you think Saul/Paul needed to stand with God forgiving himself for his violence against his new brothers and sisters in Christ? At least he probably had to remind himself, when nightmares plagued his conscience, “I stand forgiven in Christ, therefore I shall not live in the past, condemning myself.”  I have the privilege of saying with Christ, “Sara, you are forgiven … go on in God’s grace.” 
  • Romans 8:1,33 – “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit . . . who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.”  GOD justifies – I cannot justify myself nor anyone.  Accepting His full and free forgiveness – it would be disrespectful of His sacrifice to continue to condemn my forgiven self. 
  • In John 8:9-12 Jesus tells the woman caught in adultery that He nor any other man condemns her, and then a very important “Go and sin no more.”  Why?  “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

It seems to me that holding onto the guilt is connected with pride . . . as if something I can DO will justify myself.  I am thankful that I do not have gigantic baggage – God protected me greatly.  And some of the things I have struggled with are sins of omission or the sad happenstance of not knowing that someone I love was being abused.  “If only I had known, I would’ve helped them!!” 

Another part is accepting God’s sovereignty.  I am just not that big!  He works through our sins and mistakes for good in our lives and in the lives of others – He breathes life into dust and brings the dead to life.  Hallelujah!   

Tonight, while all this was soaking in, and right after I shared with Tim the release God gave me today, I was contacted by one of the people on my forgiven list.  It was like a bright cherry on top of a sundae, reminding me that God can open channels which once seemed impenetrable. Thank You, God, for working faithfully and patiently with Your children!

If you are in a place of exhaustion, confusion, or just plain needing a recharge, I highly recommend Kim’s book.  And as soon as you can, cry out to God and go to a quiet place, prepared to listen to Him.  What you think may be the reason for your struggle may be completely opposite of what God is trying to teach you.

I’d like to close with something my wonderful friend Kay gave me yesterday: “Psalm 23:2. He doesn’t LET us lie down in green pastures because we usually don’t do that of our free will (we’re too busy). So He makes us lie down. So thankful He does that for us. THEN, after He does that, He leads us to the quiet water and THEN He refreshes our soul. “

How To Get Better ZZZzzzzs


Do you have trouble sleeping peacefully through the night like I do?  For me the cause can be a busy mind, not wanting to slow down (party time!), worries, or a physical ailment.  I know this problem can either wear and grind, tempting me to whine and grouch at my family.  Or, it can draw me to God in prayerful dependence.
God has a purpose in sleeplessness and restlessness.  That purpose is greater than our need for sleep.  One of my favorite poets, George Herbert (1593-1633), imagined what may have occured when the triune God planned our creation.  I love this ancient poem:
The Pulley
When God at first made man, having a glasse of blessings standing by;
Let us (said he) poure on him all we can:
Let the worlds riches, which dispersed lie,
Contract into a span.
So strength first made a way;
Then beautie flow’d, then wisdome, honor, pleasure:
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that alone of all his treasure
Rest in the bottome lay.
For if I should (said he)
Bestow this jewell also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts in stead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature:
So both should losers be.
Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessnesse:
Let him be rich and wearie, that at least,
If goodnesse leade him not,  yet wearienesse
May tosse him to my breast.
George Herbert, 1633

There are many practical ideas to help one sleep better.  I’d love to hear what works for you! Here are a few I’ve picked up along the way:
Don’ts
– Don’t eat after 7 p.m.
– Don’t be too active just before you need to sleep (walking or stretching is okay).
– Don’t eat dairy products late – they take at least 4 hours to digest.

Do’s

– Ask God to relax your mind and help you sleep.
– Turn off the TV and computer at least one hour before bed time.
– Exercise (earlier in the day)
– Keep your room organized and beautiful = a restful oasis.
– An idea from my Dad: beware of pride – your ideas aren’t so important that they can’t wait until tomorrow. 🙂
– For a mind that won’t slow down, listen to the radio on low volume all night.
– Have a regular bed time, and don’t deviate from it more than 30 minutes on the weekend.
– Read or do something that relaxes you, saving a Bible verse for just before you nod off.
– Try lettuce tea.  Pour a cup of boiling hot water over a handful of lettuce in a mug, and let it steep for 30 minutes.  I’ve tried this once, and it was amazing how it relaxed me.  One of my friends quipped, “It worked for Peter Rabbit!”
– Journal before bed.  This especially helps me if I direct my entry to God, telling His all that’s on my heart.
– Pray down your mental list of needs, remembering not just your needs but the needs of others.
– To relieve your mind, keep a notepad next to your bed to jot down thoughts.
– Quote Bible verses you’ve memorized.
– List your blessings by going through the alphabet, or list characteristics of God and thank Him for Who He is: Almighty, Beautiful Savior, Counselor …
Rest isn’t a right – it’s a gift.  Let “The Pulley” of restlessness draw you to God.
“I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”  Psalm 4:8