Are you struggling with overwhelm? I’m definitely in it with you, friend!
I’ve noticed a growing number of us struggle to keep up with the blistering pace of modern life. Technology has blessed us with convenience, but cursed us with hurried hearts. And combined with pandemic overload, we’re all swimming in a sea of sharks ready to attack our peace on a moment’s notice!
One way we can prevent overwhelm is by creating boundaries. We can set boundaries with our time or with family and friends. Are you missing sticky notes from your paper planner or snapping at family and friends frequently? That might mean it’s time to set some boundaries in your life.
“But how?” you ask.
Admittedly, it isn’t easy. When we set boundaries to protect ourselves, sometimes they encroach on or offend those around us. But that’s when we have to rely on God’s leading to help us navigate that inevitable tension.
He taught us that boundaries keep us safe and protect us from harm. He is the vine and we are the branches (John 15:5). As branches, to thrive and produce fruit, we must be pruned to prevent overgrowth, disease, and death. We are also dependent on Him for our sustenance, as water and nutrients can only reach the branches via the vine.
So, for us to thrive and survive, we are meant to be cut back. Likewise, as Christ’s image-bearers, we are meant to mirror His example and prune our own lives. Clipping our calendar commitments might actually be an act of worship. Saying “no” to another invitation might be God’s whisper to spend more time with Him. Not responding right away to that text could give you time to pray about your response and better mirror His love.
When the pushback to our limits comes from the loud world around us and even some well-intentioned people we love, if we put Christ first, we’ll find that standing firm is worth any temporary pain. If we cling to His life-giving love, perhaps we’ll see that the boundaries others might deride actually bring us closer to our Source, our Creator, and our Guide. And friend, that’s a cure for overwhelm we can trust every time, everyday.
Hi Friends! Thought I would share this little nugget from my instagram microblog with y’all today! I hope it helps heal your heart and brightens your day! If you like quick reads, feel free to follow me on instagram for more!
If we’re honest, growth is forged through trials. And trials are definitely not my jam. I’d rather run from the pain they produce than dig in my heels and persevere.
But our trials prove purposeful if we pivot from our present pain to the future strength we’ll gain…
Hi friends and faithful readers! Yes, I’ve been gone for quite a while, but the pandemic has inspired me to get back to writing again! I’d love the chance to encourage you during these tumultuous times if you’ll join me.
And what better way to kick-start my blogging return than to share some exciting news JUST FOR YOU?!
Drumroll… I’m doing a GIVE-AWAY!
But first, here’s a little about it…
Do you suffer from “hurry sickness?” Treat your soul to the brand new book, Growing Slow: Lessons on Un-Hurrying Your Heart from an Accidental Farm Girl by Jennifer Dukes Lee! With her unique grace, humor, and warmth, she shares her personal struggle with a life hustled to exhaustion, but rescued by living fresh perspectives rooted in faith. Through Scripture, her “growing slow” life on an Iowa farm, and poignant personal stories, she takes you by the hand and guides you toward peace. This book will give you the tools you need to BREATHE in a harried world where hurry reigns. I pray it heals your heart as much as it has mine!
Thoughts careen off the corners of my mind faster than I can capture them. What do I need to do tomorrow? What do the kids need from me? What is urgent and not? What is my husband’s schedule? What help do I need from my parents? What’s priority for work?
As I pull the covers up tightly, I beg God to stop my thought barrage so I can catch some much-needed sleep. To place me in His sweet embrace so sleep will soothe my shredded mind.
Does this happen to you too? Your day is done, yet your mind is mulling. You long for sleep, yet your thoughts flail aimlessly like the tentacles of an angry octopus…
This is when I try to seek God’s whispers of self care. To obey His call to rest and slow my pace. I ask my in-dwelling Holy Spirit to cover me with calm and patience so I can care for myself and others in a way that honors Him. I don’t always succeed, but when I do, it opens the door to great gifts!
The beauty of complying with this call is the fruit patience produces. Invite patience – this beautiful fruit of the spirt – into your life. Allow God’s timing to rule over the world’s. Even better – patience can produce another fruit of the spirit: peace. (Galatians 5:22)
You’ll be amazed at what can happen once patience, and then peace, prune back your excess thoughts and the anxiety that accompanies them.
Here are five ways I’ve found patience can produce peace…
1. Inner peace – Inviting patience to preside over our lives produces an inner peace. It reminds us to take a breath when we feel anxiety and “rush-mode” coming on. To slow our thoughts and capture one at a time. To recognize that multi-tasking is actually a myth, as science shows our brains can truly only tackle one task well at a time. To forgive ourselves for forgetting the five thoughts that wandered into the wilderness of our minds.
2. Peace with others – When we are more patient with ourselves, we become more patient with others. We realize that the same thoughts racing an Indy 500 through our minds are running through everyone’s minds! That we all are desperately trying to catch up with our thoughts and that some just happen to escape the holding pin of our imperfectly human minds! That we all can be a little kinder and gentler with each other, knowing the battle we all face inside.
3. Clarity of thought – When we recognize our minds are treadmilling, our hearts are racing, and our breath is beyond its normal pace, it‘s God’s invitation to slow our thoughts, capture one at a time, and seek God’s grace to catch the ones that most honor Him, while leaving the others behind for now. Once our minds, hearts and breathing have slowed with God’s help, we find that He has provided us with a beautiful white space on which we can create His masterpiece. We enter a highway of thought motivated by His way, light and truth. One that is unfettered by the ways of this world but infused with the gifts God has for us.
4. Ability to hear God’s voice – Once we’ve accepted the call to clarity of thought in line with Christ’s, we’ve course-corrected our soul’s steering wheels, and we’re ready to ride alongside God. Clearing the clutter of our minds allows us easier access to our indwelling Holy Spirit, where we can curl up and let Him guide us down His path. Down a path where His voice shines brighter than any worldly worries coming our way.
5. Focus on eternal peace – When God’s voice is the loudest one in our minds, we’re sure to win. With His guidance at the helm of your heart, your guaranteed destination is Success Lane. Not success as the world would see it – but better – success that will lead us down the path to eternal peace. To a place beyond our wildest dreams where all the hurt, pain, and tears of this world are gone forever. Where peace abounds and love presides. Where hearts connect and divisions disappear. Where ultimate peace and patience reign.
Christ invites us to “learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” (Matthew 28) I’m in! Want to join me as we invite Him in to pace our race? Let’s embrace patience so we can seek His incomparable peace!
Make a comment on this blog post or on any of my social media and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Into the Deep: Diving into a Life of Courageous Faith by my super sweet friend, Lauren Gaskill. The winner will be notified by Tuesday, March 26, 2019. Good luck!
About this powerful and restorative book: Be prepared to be inspired, moved, and empowered by Lauren’s message! She leads us through her real life faith struggles with unabashed honesty, humor and warmth. From times when she professed to have less than a mustard seed of faith to learning to fully embrace Christ with steadfast courage, she offers empathy, inspiration, scripture, and practical steps to deepen our faith walks so we can live out the courageous faith our hearts desperately need and desire!
Lauren’s ministry: Learn more about Lauren’s exciting work as the founder and President of the nationwide ministry, She Found Joy! I’m honored to have been invited to work alongside her and the talented She Found Joy team! We invite you to join us for one of our Ladies Night Out events where Lauren and her ministry team provide a special evening of worship, food, fun and fellowship! See you there as we cross the country to a city near you! In the meantime, tune in to our weekly Podcasts and get all the latest She Found Joy updates by visiting our Facebook Page!
“You’re going to have an ulcer by the time you’re 20.”
Across the pitted black lab bench, my favorite seventh grade science teacher lovingly declared my future downfall. With wounded heart, the little perfectionist in me continued to white out three lines at a time and re-draw blue binder paper lines with a ruler. I remember thinking, Why would anyone do anything without the intent of a perfect outcome?!
Over thirty years later, life’s storms have tossed me enough to know that perfection is an illusion, but I still fall into the trap of seeking it. As an Enneagram 3 – The Achiever – when I stress, I strive. I’m blinded with an overwhelming need to control. And worse, I’m deluded into thinking that I can actually control everything around me. I turn up free will to max volume and think that God must be on vacation today. I forget that He is beyond my understanding and that multi-tasking takes on new heights on His watch!
How about you? Do you post a “Kick Me” sticky on your own backside when you do a drive-thru dinner for your kids? Or maybe you internalize the voice of a boss, parent, friend, or loved one who always said you weren’t enough? Or you punish yourself for how messy your home has become even though life crises have crushed you for months?
I think we can all agree that this type of thinking sends us down a slippery slope to a place where insecurity, pride, and competition reign and relationships wither. Insecurity is at the heart of perfectionism. Feeling inadequate feeds our need to be recognized. We convince ourselves that striving for perfection will earn us the fame we seek. Pride also fuels perfectionism. It’s our human way of pretending we are God and believing the lie that we are fully in control of our destiny. And competition, while it can be a healthy motivator when viewed properly, can be an insidious beast when we ditch connection and compassion at the expense of winning. Bottom line, perfectionism flouts scripture and sets us against God’s Word.
And this is where I raise the flag of IMperfection in all its glory. I know, you’re looking at me sideways with a crinkled forehead! But just try embracing it instead of fighting it every now and then. It might feel REALLY wrong at first, but eventually, you’ll see God’s truths shining through your initial frustration. Instead of flogging yourself for going through the drive-thru for your kids’ dinner, say “I made sure that my children were fed tonight, despite a crazy day.” Instead of believing your boss’s cruel criticism of your year-long project, say “I really did try my best and I know that there were also good things about my work.”
Eventually, you’ll realize that imperfection is actually the gateway to God’s grace. The place where He meets you in your pain and suffering and lifts your eyes heavenward. Where he reminds you that He is the only One who can fill the hole in your soul you tired to fill with perfectionism. Where He says to you, “You will never be perfect on this earth. But when you’re frustrated with your shortcomings, come to me and I will be your comfort.”
Now, I’m not saying that we should all just give ourselves over to mediocrity and poor work ethics. Rather, instead of striving for an unattainable perfection, we work toward excellence. In Holley Gerth’s book You’re Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect, she explains that on earth, perfection isn’t realistic or healthy, but rather, “excellence is doing what you can, with what you have, where you are, as you are. It means given your circumstances, your limitations, your abilities, and other factors, you’ve done what you can to do well.”
By trading in perfectionism for excellence, we actually trade up in our up-side-down Kingdom. Christ longs to send our suffering souls a life vest. He is clearly on the side of the imperfect…
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
At the end of the day, Christ is the only One who is perfect. He is the only One truly in control. When perfectionism attacks, we believe our free will trumps Christ’s sovereignty. Then we skip into the enemy’s territory. Into a wasteland that will leave us treadmilling toward soul exhaustion. Toward a never-ending finish line that continues to stretch into the hazy distance as our weary souls stagger toward nothingness.
While we’re on earth, we are being perfected – becoming more like Christ – but we’ll never be fully perfected until we’re called to our heavenly home (Philippians 1:6). Perfectionism will only divide us from the deep relationship that Christ seeks with us and strangle our relationships with one another. It says“I’m better than you. I’m determined to win. You’re not enough.” And in return, Christ says,“You are all equally loved. You are all my beautiful and unique children. You’re always enough for me.”
Make a comment on this blog post or on any of my social media and you’ll be entered to win a copy of the freshly-released Freedom!: The Gutsy Pursuit of Breakthrough and the Life Beyond It by Jennifer Renee Watson.The winner will be notified by Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Good luck!
About this empowering and encouraging book: Jennifer’s words will move women to shake off the shackles of their pasts to live in the true freedom only Christ can provide. With her trademark and self-professed “sweet and snarky” Southern-girl style, she tackles tough issues with just enough humor to help us toward healing, while still honoring our pain. This book is a true gift to a tired girl’s soul!
I have an aversion to mess. It curls my toenails. It gives me heartburn. I snap my eyes shut to “mess making” commercials because they tempt me to hurl myself into the TV and say “STOP – DON’T DO IT!”
So for this girl who was voted “Most Organized” in her graduate school class, I’m seriously struggling with my new mess. What does it look like? A bird’s eye view would reveal my serious health issues with a side of special needs parenting on steroids. In short, I’m a tad stressed in my mess.
I know we all have mess. I know life only gets messier, but for me, the messier it gets, the more frustrated I get. I want my life to be like checking off clean, neat boxes on an online form. No blurry edges, no smears – both aesthetically pleasing and efficient.
Newsflash to self: “Life isn’t that way!” Perhaps I was spoiled by a relatively “mess free” beginning to my life? Maybe it set an expectation that life should always be a walk down Perfection Lane?
Perhaps you remember that moment when your life changed from clean screen boxes to messy streaks and struggles? Maybe your struggles started early in life? Maybe your struggles are behind you but leave their impression on the pages of your memory? Maybe they never end and stain your daily life, bleeding off the page of your sanity?
I’ve been quiet over the last year and a half. My life has honestly been more overwhelming than I care to share. Even now, I struggle to write this. I stress over what to share and not. The thought of hurting anyone in my life by sharing this doubles my soul over in pain. I wonder whether you’ll think me indulgent in my distress or see something of yourself in my struggle. I wonder if you’ll think I use the word “struggle” too much! I can’t decide how much to share because I’m still trying to process my new reality, and I fear your opinion of whether I’m handling it all well or not. With everything I do, I consider whether it will cause me more pain. I run like a mad woman from anything that might cause me an ounce more pain! I know, I’m a “pain chicken!”
All that stress aside, I think I’m supposed to share my mess. For selfish reasons, I think it helps me heal. But what I love most is that sharing my mess invites you to face yours with me. And when we face our mess, we can find our way to freedom in Christ.
Although I am wrestling with Christ and my faith now in a BIG way, one thing I know is that each time I return to Him, He is always there for me with loving hands of forgiveness. Even after all the offensive questions I’ve asked Him lately! I forget His gifts constantly, and try to strive without Him, but each time, I run out of gas. I find myself in a heaping pile of tears and self loathing, because only He is enough to take on my pain and my mess.
So, I’m trying to hand my mess over to Him. Want to try with me? Let’s try not to forget that He is always there for us, even when we have sought solace in life’s pleasures to seal off our hurting hearts and His love.
He can handle our mess. Even better, He molds it into a beautiful sculpture of hope that strengthens our souls. Please help us all remember this when we sink into suffering and self indulgence threatens to steal us from His embrace! That is my prayer for you, me and us all today!
“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
Most of the things we need in order to be most fully alive never come from busyness. They grow out of rest. – MARK BUCHANAN
I can’t keep up!
The laundry, dishes, errands, extracurriculars, doctor’s appointments, homework, lunches, backpacks, school activities… it all comes at me like a freight train on a treadmilling loop.
It has all become so overwhelming that I’ve instituted something I call “rest checking.” Each week, I scroll through my calendar until I find an “opening” for rest. Until I find it, I feel my throat closing up a little with each passing busy, congested, over-productive day. Once I’ve found it, I find release… physically, mentally, spiritually.
But isn’t it sad that we have to search for rest? Shouldn’t it be a given?
Apparently, not in Western culture. We’re expected to bake cookies for our kiddos’ benefit while conference-calling and cooking dinner for our family… and squeezing in a folded piece of laundry while dinner’s in the oven.
I contend that we were made for rest – literally. Aren’t we made in God’s image? And didn’t God, the creator of the universe and Lord over all – even smartphones on which we pack our e-calendars – rest on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2)? Does the Bible say to stay busy until you run yourself ragged? Is this how we should honor Him?
Last time I checked, no! Although He warns against idleness, His example clearly supports a balance of work and rest (Proverbs 31:27; Genesis 2:2).
We all need time to physically rest, to spiritually rest, to fill our tanks.
If we don’t rest physically, our immune systems are depleted and our neural circuitry is overwhelmed. We get sick and anxiety and depression strike. My kids will tell you that I become an over-stimulated ADD mommy-monster!
If we don’t rest spiritually, we become raisin-souled – displaying anti-fruit-of-the spirit qualities like crankiness, harsh judgment, and narcissism.
Why are we determined to idolize busyness when it can wreak such havoc?
First, let’s examine why we became so busy. The American Dream is a fantastic thing, but I’m afraid we’ve chosen the Extreme Games version. What started out as an earnest and worthy ode to working hard and making something of our lives has morphed into a perceived obligation to “work hard” at everything we do… even rest. Heaven forbid we not schedule a “leisure activity” during that 45 minutes between gymnastics and choir practice.
Further, our culture commonly advises us to schedule everything, including rest! I’m guilty! But scheduling itself can be exhausting!
When I try to make a doctors appointment these days, aligning my schedule with the office’s is as simple as a root canal. Each week, I’ve had to add a list called “calendar additions” to my To Do list. Scheduling seems to dive-bomb me incessantly… Sometimes I just want to duck and cover and let the “scheduling bombs” fall where they may.
And sometimes I do… I turn off my smartphone, power down my laptop, tell the kids and hubby that I’m taking a nap… But even then, my mind races… I struggle to stamp out my brain’s blaze of baseline to-do-listing… Then I have too much in my brain to enumerate or mnemonic into memory… So inevitably, my smartphone lures me from beneath the sheets and I’m recording all the things that I need to do, but shouldn’t be adding to my list because I should be resting…
What I should be thinking is “I should follow God’s example to rest.” I should put down my smartphone in the name of the Lord. I should ask Him to wash over me. I should pray. Because how can we forge a meaningful relationship with God without resting in prayer? How can we fulfill His deepest desire to have relationship with us without resting in prayer?
And this brings me to how Christianity is being eroded by our busyness. How many times have you found yourself too tired to drag yourself out of bed to attend church or bible study? How many times do you have an extracurricular commitment for your precious kiddo that conflicts with your church or bible study? What do you choose?
I bring this up not to be accusatory, but rather to illuminate my own struggles. I’m so fried from over-scheduling that by the time I get to God time, this girl is nap-bound. I reason that society will judge me less for missing church or bible study than missing my child’s gymnastics meet. And so I’m back to worshipping the idol of busyness over God.
The irony of it all is found in God’s offer to give us rest! He so clearly wants to give it to us, and even longs to fold our tired souls into his warm embrace. Just take a peek at Matthew 11:28: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” We just have to listen and go to Him. He is there waiting.
So, I’m now on a mission to promote rest. For God, myself, for moms, for dads, for friends, for we weary American Dreamers who built this country on trusting in God, but who have lost Him to busyness.
How do we start? Maybe the next time someone asks what you’re up to, say you’re enjoying resting. Resist the urge to say “I’m so super busy and feel like I need a vacation.” Consider saying “yes” to God and “no” to busyness. I promise He’ll notice… And maybe even bless you with that nap you’ve been looking for!
1. How have busyness and rest influenced your relationship with God?
2. How can you invite more rest into your life?
I’m a mom of three who loves to encourage women, study the bible, make meaningful connections, and have deep conversations! I’m a lover of all things fuzzy (especially blankets), long walks on a warm summer afternoon, and great reads. And… I struggle with early morning bus schedules, housekeeping, and managing tween angst… among other things!
Like many of you, I have also survived life-altering experiences that have rocked me to the core. These experiences have forged the cornerstone of an exciting and deepening faith. And that burgeoning faith is the genesis of this blog!
Although I’ve only lived a little over four decades, like many of you, I’ve lived several “lives!” Seasons of great celebration and achievement, but also seasons of despair and desperation.
I pray this will be a comfortable space where we can share our latest “mom mishaps” and survival skills, but also our deepest yearnings, all through the lens of the greatest One above.
Here’s a taste of what’s to come…
Lessons in “Mom Humility” – What do we learn through our children’s struggles?
Compassion, Not Comparison – Why can’t we moms just cheer each other on?
Vulnerability Bridges – Why do we feel pressured to deny our hurt?
Good Enough – When perfectionism strikes, what can we do?
Turning Them Over – When should we turn our children over to God?
I want to hear from you!
Tell me which topic(s) above you’d like me to blog about first! Send me your response either by commenting below or on the CONTACT page!
Swing back soon and be sure to click on FOLLOW to subscribe!