Lorri Dudley

Be moved. Be changed. Love because you are loved.

Page 2 of 15

pile of books

What’s Next?

I just submitted my third manuscript, The Sugar Baron’s Ring, to my editor. The temptation is to sit back and relax for a bit, take a breather, but if I do, I’ll fall behind. It’s time to start researching and plotting for the next series. The ideas are already spinning in my head, calling to be put to paper.

What’s the harm in relaxing for a bit?

Why not sit back and enjoy some rest? After all that work, isn’t it deserved? The Israelites were warned about lagging behind in Deuteronomy 25: 17-18, “Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind.”  

It sounds good, but breaks have been to the downfall of many. I’ve run and co-led many church groups over the years, and I’ve learned to cringe when I hear someone say, “Let’s take a break.” It sounds like a great idea—a chance to regroup, reenergize, gain a fresh perspective—and those reasons are not wrong. However, what tends to happen is complacency creeps in, and the group never ends up regrouping. Plans fall to the wayside, while distractions keep us from our purpose.

But what about burnout?

candle burned out

It does happen. Burnout is a thing. I’ve experienced it, but it tends to happen when I take on all the weight and responsibility myself. It’s when I take my eyes off God’s purpose and start to impose my demands and expectations, that I spin myself into a frenzy and grow weary. 2 Corinthians 10:13 says, “We, on the other hand, will not boast beyond our proper limit, but [will keep] within the limits of our commission (territory, authority) which God has granted to us as a measure.” If we let God set the boundaries and our capacity, we won’t experience burnout. Right before Christmas, I had two deadlines, company coming, a book launch, the implantation of brand-new software systems at work, and still more Christmas shopping to do. When I thought about all I had to get done, I would freeze-up and panic instead of accomplishing anything. Yet, when I told myself, God always finds a way to get it all done, I relaxed, put my head down, and focused on finishing my next task. And you know what? God multiplied my time. He got it all done, and I had a great Christmas.

The view from the front is better than in the back.

When we lag behind, we not only risk getting picked off, it becomes harder to see God’s vision. But, if we keep the pace that God has set for us, our view doesn’t get blocked. There’s a lot more ahead of us to see. I’ll even go so far as to say that when we see the big picture, we won’t remember our weariness. We’ll easily keep the pace because we’ll want to get to the destination.

Spectacular view of sunrise in the mountains

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Soccer celebration

It’s Go Time!

Baby feet

My book baby is out in the world.

Let the heart palpations begin. We’ve all been there: leaving an interview, finishing a tryout, turning in an exam, hitting send on a proposal. Our nerves tingle and our stomachs flip over in hopeful trepidation.

But then the doubts creep in.

I’ve woken up at 4 am for the past four nights. I can’t say what woke me up, but as soon as I did, my brain started working overtime listing out all the things I need to do, reviewing all I’d forgotten, and berating myself for the mistakes I couldn’t reverse.

I was under attack.

Maybe it was because of the early hour, but it took me a bit to realize I didn’t need to lie there and listen to my thoughts. So, I fluffed my pillow, prayed, and left things in God’s hands.

There will be resistance to seeing your dreams fulfilled, but a bump in the road isn’t anything to a God who can move mountains. Seeing my dream in print was a long time in coming, but it was the process that challenged me to grow. I am a firm believer in learning vicariously, so here are three key things I’ve realized:

  1. It’s more effective to be the vision than just to cast the vision: It’s easy to tell others, “Don’t give up,” but the most significant impact was for my children to watch mom face adversity and to see me keep trying. They saw the tears, the stress, and the doubts but witnessed me over and over sit back down at my computer and keep typing. “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.” – Proverbs 24:16
  2. Trust God despite the outcome: Whether my book flies off the shelves or sits there gathering dust, I’m going to remember what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said to King Nebuchadnezzar as they were about to be thrown into the furnace.  “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).  No matter what, I know God will work all things according to His purpose, and that’s what allows me to sleep at night.
  3. It’s the strength of others lifting you up that gives you a grand perspective: I can’t tell you how many times an encouraging email kept me writing, or my kids praying for me, or other people’s excitement that boosted my own. I will be forever grateful to all the friends, family, church members, and wonderful souls (some of who I haven’t even met face-to-face who’ve carried me on their shoulders). Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Thank you for cheering me for during those times when my legs ached, I grew winded, and the finish line seemed impossible to reach.

My race isn’t over. I may have only gone a few laps, but it’s because of you that one foot continues to move in front of the other.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and may God bless you! 

Football or American Soccer celebration

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New Year's 2020 fireworks

2020 Vision

black and white eye with iris in color

The human eye is amazingly complex. Charles Darwin, in his Origin of Species[i], claimed something so detailed and flawless as the human eye to have been developed by natural selection seemed highly absurd. The complexities of the eye are why retinal scans are increasingly being used because an iris has 256 unique characteristics, whereas a fingerprint only has 40. The retina’s unique pattern of blood vessels isn’t even the same in identical twins.

The human eye can a resolution of 576 megapixels compared to the 7 megapixels of the iPhone 7, according to scientist Dr. Rodger Clark, and the average eye can see a million colors and over 100 different shades. Even with all this detail and remarkable intricacies, there is still a broader perspective we often overlook.

Sight is what you can see with your eyes open. Vision is what you see with your eyes closed. – Pastor Devon Frye

The New Year is a time when we pause and try to gain a bigger picture. The planners of us set-out their resolutions for 2020. Businesses strategize over hiring needs, financial budgets, and profit trends. Those of us hoping to shed a few pounds resolve to head to the gym or pass on sweets.

How many of us set our resolutions on a whim? I admit I’ve done it, until a few years ago, a friend of mine had our small group type out our goals for the year—the first and foremost being a spiritual goal. It gave me pause. Here I thought I could jot down a few quick aspirations, but why hadn’t I asked God what His plans were for me? Where was God trying to grow me? To whom was He calling me to reach?

Disney Castle

Walt Disney looked at a swamp and saw the world’s greatest theme park.

What potential does God see within you that you may not see yourself? Inviting God into your plans can rock your world. The first thing I realized is that His vision is bigger and reaches farther than I could ever imagine. My sight is limited, but God’s is unlimited. Some of God’s goals for me seemed insurmountable like writing a book. Others were small, like checking in on some friends he brought to my mind. However, at the end of the year, when we sat down to review our goals, I got to see how God stretched me and how a goal I thought was insignificant extended from a ripple into a massive wave.

I’ve struggled with doubts about not being able to meet expectations. In the past, I’ve skipped setting goals because it was difficult to face not hitting them, or I set easy ones so I could check the box. But our God isn’t a God of the mediocre. He isn’t into settling. He says in Isaiah 43: 18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

There were some goals I didn’t accomplish, but God gave me grace and reminded me of Zechariah 4:10, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” The following year I hit that goal and then some.

Now is a great time to ask God into your plans. Pray. Ask Him to show you His aspirations for you in 2020.

How is God going to grow you in 2020?

New Year's 2020 image by Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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[i] Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle For Life (New York: The Modern Library, 1993), p. 227.

Girl under Christmas Tree

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Girl making list under the Christmas Tree

“Is it time yet?” A gallon of Redbull doesn’t compare to Christmas anticipation. The merry gentlemen may be resting but the holiday electrifies little children as they countdown the weeks, days, and eventually hours.

My legs used to wiggle under the covers, and my ears strained for the sound of jingle bells or reindeer hooves on the rooftop. My brother refused to sleep until the moment of Christmas arrived. He’d call out, “Is it time yet? Is it Christmas?”

If you enjoy sleep, Christmas Eve at my house was not the place to be. We’d rouse our parents every fifteen minutes to see if it was time to open presents. By the time morning arrived, Mom would drag her sleep-deprived body out of bed and stumble to get a cup of coffee. Dad would get their revenge by making us wait at the top of the stairs while he checked to see if Santa truly paid a visit.

The anticipation was almost our undoing. Permeant smiles fixed on our faces, and the occasional nervous giggle burst through our lips. Our hands gripped the railing and our feet danced beneath us, ready to bolt the moment we were given the okay.

Are we looking for the return of God the same way?

Matthew 24:42 and 44 says, “Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming… You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Are we prepared?

Do we wait with expectancy, or have we become complacent like the foolish bridesmaids from Matthew 25:1-4? “The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.”

Are we staying awake with anticipation?

Sleeping Santa

Matthew 25 continues: “The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 
The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.”

Are we ready for the banquet or late for the party?

The decorations are set, dishes prepared, and table arranged for a wedding feast. Jesus awaits his bride. Are we anxiously anticipating the day our Bridegroom arrives? Are our oil lamps full? Have we set our hearts right?

As we prepare to celebrate Jesus’s birth, let us not forget the reason He came.

And that He’s coming again.

Girl with lamp waiting expectantly

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The Duke's Refuge book cover

It’s the Final Countdown

The Duke's Refuge book cover
Less than a month until The Duke’s Refuge will be available. Preordering for paperback copies will be available in the next few days.
Christmas Mall Shopping

The count down begins. Two weeks until Christmas. Thirteen shopping days left. Seven or less if you’re ordering online with delivery. We have our who-to-buy-for lists, a pile of Christmas Cards that we still have to run to the post office and buy stamps to mail, and presents to wrap (but the good scissors keep disappearing, and so we get desperate and start using kiddie scissors much too small for our fingers).  Then there’s always that one person for whom you forgot to purchase a gift. The one that springs up at the last minute. With a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, you dash down to the nearest store, whether it’s CVS, the grocery store, or the gas station and grab anything that looks like it might be somewhat thoughtful. You try to play it off, “Oh, well I remembered that one time when you had a hankering for Slim Jim’s, so I just wanted to make sure you never again went without.”

Christmas can be crazy and unnerving, but things haven’t changed in a couple thousand years. It was much the same the night Jesus was born.

Bethlehem bustled with people pouring into town. The census drew men, women, and children from far and wide. Relatives laid out blankets on the floors and rooftops to accommodate all the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who were forced to visit by a decree of the King. Vendors worked overtime to sell their wares, not wanting to miss out on the opportunities provided by the influx of customers. Innkeepers made up beds in every alcove and crevice to accommodate guests. They were much too busy seeing to the demands of their current patrons to make room for a poor couple. Overwhelmed and understaffed, they didn’t have time to care for the needs of a teenage girl about to go into labor or notice when a messiah was born in a nearby barn.

They didn’t miss it because of their evil acts or because they were bad people.

They missed it because they were too busy.

Stained Glass Manager Scene

Life doesn’t slow down or stop around Christmas, it only gets busier, but I don’t want to miss the miracle and blessing of Christmas. I can get caught up in the demands and the hustle and bustle as much as the next person, so I have to make an extra effort to pause and remember why we celebrate. I have to set aside moments to seek God and soak in the true reason for Christmas.

A savior was born.

God took on human form with all its frailties, infirmities, and weakness, so that we could understand the depths of His love, the extreme measures He would take, and how much he would sacrifice not to be separated from His beloved children.

God stepped down from His royal throne and curled up in a dirty and dank manger, so we may call ourselves His children and know His peace and joy for all eternity

Come, Lord Jesus.
Our Immanuel
God with us.

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Snow angel

Getting Unstuck

Snow angel

I should have called the Guinness Book of World Records.

I had made the longest human snow angel. It wasn’t intentional. I thought I was being efficient looping my arm through the dog leash and carrying the laundry basket inside in one trip. Where I went wrong is that my dog was a 140-pound bull mastiff, and geese often passed through our backyard. One minute I was walking toward the house, the next my clean laundry was flying in the air, and I was being dragged through the snow for at least 15 yards. Fortunately, I didn’t break my arm, but I sported some ugly bruises.

Sea turtles laying in sand

Pastor Leonardo Sales of Brazil spoke about a time he received an underwater camera and headed to the beach to take pictures. He spotted a turtle crawling back to the ocean and decided to wait and take its picture underwater. However, on the turtle’s way, it got stuck in a hole and couldn’t get out. Exhausted and tired, the sea turtle struggled to pull itself out. While the pastor waited for the turtle to become unstuck, he thought, what a dumb turtle, she can’t figure this out, she is so slow and clumsy. After an hour or so, he gave up on the turtle and packed his camera. But before he left, the turtle, thanks to the help of some benevolent beachgoers, made its escape and reached the tide. Pastor Sales barely had enough time to retrieve his camera and take her picture before she swam away into the deep. The pastor realized that the turtle wasn’t dumb. It wasn’t slow. It wasn’t ugly. It had just been stuck in the wrong place. It had been impeded by the sand, but once in the water, it was beautiful, graceful, and surprisingly quick.

Sometimes we too get stuck. We loop our arms into the wrong idea, plan, or person and are dragged through yards of consequences. Or we find ourselves in a pit carrying too much weight to pull ourselves out no matter how hard we struggle. It feels helpless, exasperating, and hopeless, but that is a lie.

Remember who you are.

Sea turtle swimming

As Pastor Sales discovered, once unstuck, once set free, the sea turtle glided through the water in all its glory. We must remember who God says we are. We are His glorious and beautiful creations. We are His children, and He loves us fervently and passionately. Enough to pay the hefty price of His son to set us free. There is no pit deep enough to keep us from his love. Not even the darkest past nor the gloomiest present can keep us trapped and separated from our God. He will meet us where we are and light our way. He will be our shield and our strength.

Remember, we are not victims. We are conquerors.

Romans 8:37-39 says: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Remember, you are loved and you are valued.

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” – 1 Peter 2:9.

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Man holding up boxer's arm

Who’s Holding Your Arms Up?

Man holding up a boxer's arm
Painting of Blackfoot Native Am. Indian by George Caitlin
Blackfoot – Painting by George Caitlin

The ratio of embattled warriors to men, women, and children stood 2 to 1. As the Indian warriors entered the Pilgrim camp with five deer slung over their shoulders, I can imagine children’s play screeching to a halt and mothers pushing their youngest behind their skirts. Pilgrim Edward Winslow wrote that ninety Wampanoag warriors and 53 Pilgrims attended the first harvest feast later to be recognized as the first Thanksgiving. The pilgrims had barely survived their first year in the new land. Over half of their members had succumbed to disease, malnutrition, or the harsh elements of a New England winter, and those are the ones who somehow survived the rough sea voyage to America.[i]

drawing of Pilgrims

I’m certain the tension must have been thicker than the gravy that first Thanksgiving. There were cultural differences and a language barrier. However, the Pilgrims, humbled by a rough winter, relied on these new, unexpected friends. They wouldn’t have survived without the Indians’ help. The Indians taught the Pilgrims where to fish, better ways to stay warm, and how to plant corn and other local crops, and what better way to show their gratitude after a bountiful harvest than with a feast. Things must have relaxed a bit after the initial awkwardness wore off, for it’s written, the feast lasted three days with games, events, food, drink, and good cheer.[ii]

We can’t do it in our own power.

It’s hard to ask for help. Pride raises its ugly head, and we think we’ve got this or we can muster through. But why go it alone? Is it because we’re embarrassed to be seen as weak? Needy?

Even Moses, called by God and considered one of the most important religious leaders in history, needed help. The Amalekites had heard of Egypt’s defeat at the Red Sea and decided to take advantage of it’s neighbor’s weakened condition. However, a weary band of homeless Israelite wanderers traveled between the Amalekites and their target. The weakened travelers seemed easy pickings, so the Amalekites attacked the Israelites. God aided the Israelites. As long as Moses held up his hands with the staff, the Israelites assumed the advantage against the Amalekites.[iii]

I don’t know about you, but my shoulders start to ache if I keep my arms raised for an entire worship song, which is only four to five minutes long in length max. Moses had to keep his arms raised for an entire battle. His arms must have quivered, then shook, and succumbed to a full-on tremor. As soon as, he let them ease down a bit, the Amalekites started to win.

Enter Aaron and Hur.

Aaron, Moses’s brother, and Hur, his friend, saw Moses’s arms shaking and how each time they dropped, the Israelites began to lose. They knew their friend needed help, so they brought over a rock for Moses to sit upon, and then they helped hold Moses’s arms in the air and keep them steady until the sun set, and the battle was won.[iv]

I don’t know whether you look back on this past year as one of victory or one of barely surviving, but all of us need to take a moment and count our blessings. If we can pause in search of the best pumpkin pie recipe or turkey baking method, and be grateful for those people who’ve come into our lives. Those who’ve helped to hold us up and keep our arms raised. Those who’ve passed on a word of encouragement when we needed it, or allowed us an opportunity, or helped us to survive in a new situation or even a new land.   

Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for our friends and families. It’s a time to turn to the person seated to our right and left and let them know how valuable and precious they are. It’s a celebration of the victories God has given us and a time give Him the praise, and the best way to do that is to show hospitality and generosity for those in need.

Happy Thanksgiving

[i] Gingrich, Newt. Host. “Thanksgiving – Carving an American Tradition.” Newt’s World Podcast. Gingrich 360. 11/24/19. https://www.gingrich360.com/productions/podcast/.
[ii] “The First Thanksgiving, 1621,” EyeWitness to History, http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/thanksgiving.htm (2010). iii Exodus 17:8-13, English Standard Version.

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woman frustrated by tech

Becoming an Overcomer and Not a Casualty

You know you’re under a book deadline when…

  • You’ve moved a pillow and blanket to your office.
  • Your plants are wilted and begging for water.
  • Your kids are eating cereal for breakfast—and supper.
  • Your husband’s putting spray-can whipped cream in his coffee because we ran out of creamer four days ago.

It may be comical, but I’m grateful to my family for their sacrifices so I could hit my deadline. I hit the send button at 8 pm on Friday the day it was due.

Finishing isn’t easy. It takes grit, endurance, and persistence.

There are times when the finish line looks out of reach. It’s when the self-doubts plague us, and everything becomes hard. When things that are supposed to make your life easier, decide to test your endurance.

There is nothing that tests your patience like the labyrinth of phone system prompts. They are meant to direct to the proper department but always end up re-routing you back to the beginning. The poor ladies in my office quickly leave for their lunch breaks when I start screaming into the phone: “Operator… Customer Service… Representative… Help… Let me talk to a human, please!”

Man yelling at phone

I love technology. I wouldn’t be able to be a writer if it weren’t for computers, spellcheck, and grammar check. Sometimes, however, I feel like technology likes to mess with me. It taunts me when things that have always worked suddenly give an error message or decide to no longer show up. It seems to usually happen when I’m in a rush and need something quickly.

As isolated events, these little things aren’t a big deal, but when they compound piling up on top of one another, to the point, you’re so distracted by all the small technical issues you forget what you were trying to do in the first place. Frustration rises until it’s teeming over the brink ready to spill out your eyeballs, or even worse, explode from your lips.

How do we keep from letting our frustrations get the best of us? How do we keep from throwing up our hands and walking away when it feels like everything is conspiring against us? How do we become an overcomer and not a casualty?

“I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10

Paul understood what it was like to have obstacles stacked against him. He’d been arrested for preaching about Jesus and thrown into jail for several years while the Jewish and Roman leaders decided who had jurisdiction. Eventually, Paul was shipped off to Rome, but on the way there, a huge storm kicked up, and he became shipwrecked near the island of Malta. If all that wasn’t enough, after swimming to shore and lighting a fire to stay warm, a poisonous snake jumps out and bites Paul’s hand.

Coral snake

Paul, however, shook off the snake and eventually continued onto Rome, where in Acts 28 it says, “He [Paul] proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!”

I can hear the satisfaction in Paul’s words in 2 Timothy when he says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness… and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” Paul persevered through trials that make my issues with tech and phone auto attendants seem like eating cake in the park. He’d be the first to tell me to shake off the snake, stay strong in weakness because God has a plan, and to focus on the importance of finishing the race.

We might run out of energy, strength, confidence, but we will never run out of God.

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My fearless middle son on the jungle gym

How to Lose Control and Like It.

My daring middle son on the jungle gym.

Danger doesn’t find my kids. They seem to seek it out.

A knock sounded on the door. My kids were watching a movie upstairs (back when they were ages 7, 6, & 4) while I cooked dinner. I sighed and turned the stove down. It had to be a salesman, peddling insect yard treatments, or a person soliciting votes to run for local office. I planned to shoo them swiftly away, so I didn’t burn supper.

I swung the door open with a tight expression to find a middle-aged man nicely dressed, standing back from the door by a good distance.

“May I help you?” I said in a clipped tone.

He glanced up, then back at me and shifted his weight. “I—ah—just wanted to let you know your son and his two friends are on the roof.”

I blinked while his words registered. I felt my eyes widen, and my stomach rose into my chest. Footsteps and small voices sounded on the landing behind me. I spun around and stared up at two curious little faces peeking through the railing. My voice pitched a couple of octaves higher. “You were on the roof?”

Their smiles evaporated.

The man at the door cleared his throat, bid me farewell, and hustled back to his car. I called out my thanks, my voice, this time, sweet as pie. I should have invited him in for dinner. I should have kissed his feet for taking the time out of his busy commute to stop and tell me my children were in danger. How many other cars had seen the kids and just kept driving?

I mounted the stairs two at a time and entered my room to see the open window and screen that led to the farmer’s porch roof. I popped my head out. The concrete sidewalk below the porch loomed like a gravestone. I searched for my oldest son, but he wasn’t outside. The youngest two pointed to the bathroom.

I yelled through the door. “Were you on the roof?”

“I was in here the whole time.”

My jaw clenched as my initial panic switched over to anger, knowing my oldest was the only one who had the height and dexterity to remove the child locks from the windows. 

My boys climbing the wrong side of the stairs
My older boys climbing the wrong side of the stairs

There is only so much control we have over a situation.

I want to protect my children from harm. I do what I can to keep them safe, give them rules and boundaries, put child-locks on the windows, turn on a movie, so they’re not underfoot while I cook dinner, risking serious burns, but there was and will always be something I don’t think of, something I can’t control.

It’s this lack of control that causes me anxiety. It wakes me up in the middle of the night with my heart racing, wondering what if… why didn’t I… I should have…

The helpless feeling sucks me into a dark place. I want to hold tight to my illusion of control and think of more ways to protect my family and our wellbeing, but the problem is just that—its an illusion. There have been so many days when I’ve kneeled on the bathroom floor crying out to God. I’ve failed them. I’ve messed them up for life. I’m not qualified. I don’t know enough.

It’s those times when God speaks into my heart. My love never fails. I’m in control. I will cover your faults. I will stand in the gaps. Cast your cares on me.

God doesn’t expect me to be perfect. It’s a ridiculous pressure I’ve placed on myself. God says, Trust in me and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

I don’t know what happened to the nice man that stopped. I pray for God to bless him every time I remember this story, and I thank God that he sent him to protect my kids. Now, when I wake up in the middle of the night worried, I say a prayer for God’s protection and whisper to myself.

“God’s got this.”

My youngest stuck under the table
My youngest stuck under the kitchen table

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Dancing woman

Get in Rhythm

Fall trees

I have a love/hate relationship with fall. New England is picturesque when the leaves change. The smell of burning wood from fireplaces permeates the air. We go apple picking and drink cider. However, it’s a tense time because New Englanders, like squirrels storing nuts, know we have a limited time to finish projects before we’re blasted with piles of snow.

I’ve helped my husband in the home improvement industry for years, and the most demanding people voice their complaints right when the weather turns. I suspect it has something to do with procrastinating all summer. They’re panicking because they want their home fixed before the first snowfall.

Whatever it is, life gets crazy. Deadlines, school projects, homework, business meetings, budget planning, fall sports, there are a million things that must be done yesterday, and they’re all screaming for attention. We run with our shoulders wrenched up to our earlobes, trying to subdue whichever problem wails the loudest.

Can we find peace in the madness?

Woman Dancing - UpSplash photo by Todd Trapani

After picking up one son from football practice, I was rushing to fix dinner so my family could eat together for fifteen minutes before I have to drive my other sons to youth group. An Ed Sheeran song, Barcelona, played in the background, as I chopped veggies. I’m a lyrics person (I tend not to notice the guitar riffs which pains my husband who plays the electric guitar), and a verse stuck out, “Get lost in the rhythm with me.”
I’m certain Ed Sheeran meant to lose yourself in dance to the music, but my heart heard a verse from The Message Bible, get lost in the unforced rhythms of grace.

Matthew 11:28-30 says: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me, and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me, and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

The stress of crazy customers, demanding bosses, and piles of homework may not go away, but that doesn’t mean we need to be stressed. We can relax into God’s rhythm because His yoke is easy and His burden is light. It doesn’t mean our workload will disappear, but we’ll find joy in our labor. We’ll catch our stride or find the zone. We can take a breath, knowing God won’t give us anything we can’t handle. He’ll multiply our time or bring others alongside to share the load.

Even if the world around us is screaming, “I’m stressed!” we can let God recover our lives. We can relax, enjoy the opportunity before us, and say, “I’m blessed.”

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