How to Respond When Everything is Going Wrong

When everything in life seems to be going wrong.

When as soon as you finish one trial, another one starts.

When even good things in your life fill you with fear because of past events.

How do you proceed?

It’s okay to be real. 

In this world of picture perfect Instagram accounts.

Or those over sharers who make you feel as if you should have nothing to complain about.

There is a real you. You don’t have to share it with everyone. You don’t have to shout your troubles from a rooftop. You do need to share with someone.

“I was terrified that if I let my struggles and true emotions show, God would be disappointed in me. Fear held me back and held up the corners of my smile, like strings on a puppet.” – Holley Gerth via You’re Loved No Matter What

Something’s got to give.

For most of my life, I put on the external facade. I was like a puppet on a string. I was strong and didn’t show my emotions because I thought I shouldn’t. I was a junior in college and under a ton of pressure with my upcoming marriage and finals, my step-father Bud warned, “Something has to give. It might be you.”

I didn’t fully understand it at the time. And years later when my doctor told me that stress was a factor in worsening physical symptoms, it was another warning. When we internalize all of our worries, our thoughts, our fears (and those of others if we have a burden bearing personality) without any release, it will come one way or another.

For some of us, our stresses come out in anger. Others it’s tears. Some bury themselves in work so they don’t have to be alone with their thoughts. Many turn to entertainment, Some of us have physical symptoms – migraines, joint pain, digestive problems or fill in the blank. Others turn to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain. One way or another, something’s got to give. Don’t let it be you.

 What’s the solution?

When my kids were little, I helped them all memorize Psalm 100. It is such a beautiful word picture.I will enter His gates with Thanksgiving in my heart.png

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good;

    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations. -Psalm 100

 

You may be wondering why I am bringing up thanksgiving and praise when we were talking about disappointments, fears, trials, burden bearing, and stresses.

If you want to enter into God’s presence, complaining and negative words won’t do.

You can’t be grateful and negative at the same time.

Thanksgiving is the key to entering God’s yard.

Praise opens the inner courts into God’s presence.

 Search for Truth.

Find scriptures that apply to what you are going through. Write them down. Study them.

Journal your thoughts and prayers so you can move from emotional to logical thinking.

 God does not waste pain or suffering.

This is both my favorite point and least favorite. Is that possible? When the cup of suffering comes my way, I’d like to say “pass.” But, that’s not realistic. We all have pain and suffering. Being a Christian doesn’t make us immune to suffering. It’s what we do with our suffering that should be different.

Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God. – 2 Corinthians 1:4

God comforts us so we in turn comfort others.  We are like a toddler who rocks a baby doll because she was rocked when she got a boo-boo.

When trials come our way, we are told to rejoice (James 1). We may not be able to rejoice and be grateful for the distress, pain, or suffering. We can rejoice in the midst of the suffering. We can enter the gates of God’s house with thanksgiving. We can enter His inner courts with praise. Praise His attributes. He never changes. While everything in our lives constantly changes, He is constant.

 

 

When Things get Tough, Should We Reroute or Stay the Course?

Recalculating

Hubby and I were on a road trip. We pulled into a gas station and our little GPS panicked. In a British accent, she yelled, “Recalculating! Recalculating!” It quickly changed to a more placid “Rerouting” once we turned around.

That’s often what I do. I hear God’s voice (through His Word) and I walk forth in obedience. A mountain rises up the distance. I break forth in a run, full of obedience and hope. I climb that mountain. Then another mountain waits in the distance. I climb it as well. After the twenty-fifth mountain, I yell – RECALCULATING!

Rerouting

Do you (like me) tend to want to reroute when things get difficult? I was hoping for fruitfulness, not a continual sacrifice of myself. I begin to doubt, rely on my own strength and then follows the spirit of control. Because of trauma in my past, my home base is sometimes control instead of Christ.

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Control or Trust. You can’t have both.

Trying to control circumstances only leads to disappointment.  Control doesn’t solve the problems, climb the mountains or satisfy. Trusting in the Lord, no matter what the outcome is relief. It shouldn’t matter how hard we must buckle down to be obedient. That’s our chief end, to be obedient to and glorify God.

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” – Psalm 84: 11

I don’t need to Reroute, I need to Dig in.

I don’t need to reroute. I need to press in. I need to dig into God’s Word. I need to praise into His presence, to trust that He is in control, and that He will give me the strength to climb the next mountain. Climbing the mountain or trying again in obedience is creating endurance in me. It’s allowing God’s strength to work in me.

When things get difficult…

When things get difficult, we must do hard things. There I said it. I don’t like it. My husband had to listen to my cries of “rerouting” the other evening. I’ve hit obstacle after obstacle in this short year. I’m not complaining, I’m just reporting. I’m okay with a few mountains (not literally) because I can do them in my own strength-ish. What gets totally uncomfortable is when obedience requires strength, abilitiies and resources that I don’t have. When I am in postition of helplessness, Christ can do the work. I can’t take the glory. All glory and honor belong to Him.

“I don’t think the way you think.
    The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
        God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
    so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
    and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
    and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
    producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
    not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
    they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.- Isaiah 55: 8-9

If you are in the midst of some difficult circumstances, hold fast. Don’t reroute. If you are walking in obedience, God will do the work. You may not be able to see what He is doing right now. Often the work is internal. He’s working on our hearts. We want to see outward signs, but He wants us to trust Him for the outcome, no matter what that is.

Circling the Mountain

While I was giving my husband a status update on some circumstances, this analogy hit me. When we circle the mountain, complaining, measuring, planning or whatever it is we do to avoid obedience, we just make a deeper trough. The mountain then appears to be larger and we sink into mud. We walk ourselves into a pit of depression. We glorify our difficulites instead of depend on God’s strength. Our trust is in our ability. We are doomed to fail when our ability is all we have.

Blessed Hope

God promises to give us strength to carry out His will. We have: immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His [active, spiritual] power working in us (Ephesians 1:19). Our hope is not in our circumstances, but in His power working through us to fulfill His purpose for His greater honor and glory. Don’t reroute. Climb that next mountain.

Let me leave you with this quote from Hind’s Feet on High Place:

“O Shepherd. You said you would make my feet like hinds‘ feet and set me upon High Places“. “Well”, he answered “the only way to develop hinds‘ feet is to go by the paths which the hinds use.” 
* Our Back to Basics Series continues next week! Catch up on it, by starting here! 

Mind, Mood, and Attitude Show Notes

It’s easy to have a great attitude when life is great. What about when everything is going wrong? How do you keep a great attitude then?

On this week’s episode of The Whole House Podcast, Diane Tarantini and I share some of our Job syndrome stories as well as what God taught us through them.

  • Whether it is physical, financial or emotional circumstances, we can learn to ask God to change us in the midst of the crisis.
  • Often, just doing the next thing in the midst of the circumstances teaches steadfastness.
  • When physical sickness or an injury limits what we can do physically, we have to watch our emotional response.
  • When our negative emotions are in overdrive, we can quickly form toxic responses.
  • It takes 21 days for certain protein changes to happen in the brain, – for the new memory to become self sustaining and for the old memory to be broken down.

It takes three cycles of 21 (63) days to completely form a new thought pattern.

  • By day 7, the protein connection holding the memory in place is a bump shape, day 14, a lollipop, by 21 it is a mushroom. YOU must repeat the 21 day cycle three times for a thought to become automated.

Awareness is the process of bringing thoughts into captivity.

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Our signals come from two sources:

  1. External- 5 senses.

  2. Non conscious- metacognitive (your memories).

You have to develop disciplined thought lives, and part of that is increasing awareness of what you are allowing in your mind. Be aware of the signals coming in and understanding the internal environment of your mind.

When you think, you also feel. When you think a thought, you also bring up an attached emotion.  Emotions and feelings are different.

Attitude is a state of mind – a thought plus its attached emotion. Attitudes influence what you say and do.

If the attitude activated is negative, then the emotional response will be a negative or stressful feeling.

If the attitude is positive, the feeling will be positive. Your attitude will be revealed no matter how much you try to hide it. So, you say, “I’m in a bad mood.”

Research has shown that mental practice -imagination, visualization, deep thought and reflection produces the same physical changes in the brain as would physically carrying out the same imagined process.

 

Brain scans show that the parts of the brain activated by action are the same parts activated by simply thinking about an action. This shed new depths and understanding for the scripture – Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”- Hebrews 11:1

 

As young women, we often live our lives as if our energy is finite. We  live as if we have unlimited energy and we hit our thirties, forties and fifties and realize we begin to have major health issues. If you are young, you can learn the lesson now- 

You can’t do everything, but you can do one or two things well.

It’s best to practice making choices now before stress and physical symptoms crop up. If you choose to do what is essential now, your body will thank you later. So will your family. If what is essential to you is God, husband and children, then the things outside of this scope are not essential. If you have the mindset that you can do it all, you will eventually face the consequences. If you use the measuring stick of what is truly essential for you today, the consequences will be positive tomorrow. 

As a young stay-at-home Mom, I used to volunteer for things thinking – this will only take an hour. In truth, with the driving, planning, preparing and getting out the door, the hour turned into four or five. When I returned home, I was tired and cranky. I had used all my reserves for someone else. What was essential? What was my priority? My family. My little children who had no idea why I was not happy or why church stuff made me unhappy.

It was a disservice to God, first of all for me to say yes when my insides were saying no (quietly) and I reasoned it away. It was, and still can be a disservice to my family because my witness to them became – God, church, and all of that just makes people cranky. My attitude was not one of gratitude.

My kiddos are grown now. This doesn’t mean I suddenly have unlimited energy and time. I still must choose what is essential. I also have the added limitation of several immune system disorders. With that in mind, I must choose ONLY what is essential for me, not what others say is essential. I have tried that route. It only ends up affecting my body and no one else’s.

Once my energy envelope is empty, my mind, mood and attitude suffer and I have no one to blame except myself.

The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the non-essentials, and then removes the obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. — Greg Mckeown

Many of the aspects of our mood and attitude we have control over. We can say “no” when we mean it. We can strip our calendars of things that we know are not our “best yes”.

We don’t have to do everything. We should never take on responsibility in order not to hurt someone’s feelings. They can take care of their own feelings. If whatever it is isn’t your primary responsibility is, let it go.

 

 Here are some of the resources mentioned on the show:

Dr. Caroline Leaf

Urban Woman Syndrome

You can listen to the podcast here:

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Make sure you sign up here to follow us by email to get your free gift and receive notifications of a new post, plus our monthly newsletter!

 

 

Marcy Holder and Heart Connection 101

Marcy Holder joins Kathleen for a lively discussion on what happens when women are overwhelmed with the issues of life. Marcy is a Spiritually-Focused Personal Coach. In January, Marcy is hosting a four-week growth opportunity for women drowning in the details their lives who want to love their people well and live from a place of purpose but experience anger and anxiety they just can’t seem to shake, symptoms of heart disconnection. Grab a cup of coffee and join us!

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Untitled design (2)Untitled design (1)From Marcy:

In Heart Connection 101 you’ll learn how to cultivate growth and deepen your faith by connecting with your heart.
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My own journey to connecting with my heart helped me sort through emotional and religious baggage that kept me from loving my people well and living a life of purpose.
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Every Friday in January, I’ll send you a video sharing examples and principles that helped me reconnect with my heart. You’ll also receive printable materials for reading and personal reflection. I’ll be available for email support or you’re welcome to work through the material privately. On January 30th @ 7:00 we’ll do a group wrap-up zoom call. You’ll also receive several fun printables and a playlist to encourage your journey.
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I’d invite you to message me with questions or more details.
Life can be overwhelming, busy, and messy but when it comes to choosing, Relationships Matter and Lists can Wait. Our relationships with both God and the people we love most become healthier and more rewarding when we’re connected to our hearts.
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 You can find more info and sign up here!

You can follow Marcy on Instagram here.

Stay in Your Lane to Fulfill Your God-sized Dream

Have you ever sat back at the end of a day, a month and year and felt unsatisfied or fulfilled with your life? It’s not that you don’t have blessings, or some good things coming your way, there is just something inside that says, I would really love to fill in the blank.

Maybe you have a God-sized dream and you don’t want to say it out loud because someone might hear you and hold you to it or worse, laugh at you. But your dream is there, deep inside just waiting to be birthed.

May I tell you a few things that help us live out the vision God has placed within us?

1. Define your dream.

Often we don’t live out our God-sized dream because we don’t define it.

We might say some vague things such as:

  • I would like to help people.
  • I enjoy being a servant.
  • I love encouraging other people.

Those are great things to do. We should all aspire to do those. What is it that you love to do that makes you lose yourself? You lose track of time. You are so energized and engaged that you have no idea that four hours have passed. For me, it’s writing, research and teaching.

Once you answer that question-

What is it that you love to do that makes you lose yourself? 

Then you can define your dream by writing it down into something measurable.

I’m going to encourage women through teaching a Bible study.

I’m going to serve by opening up a food pantry for the community.

I’m going to practice hospitality by hosting a monthly coffee in my home.

Now, take your statement and break it down into steps that you can walk through and check off your list. Don’t be intimidated by this part. We often skip this step because for some reason we just think they will magically happen for us because we want it to.

God can open doors for us, it’s true.  In order for God to open a door, you have to drive to the building, so to speak.

God may redirect you a few times during the defining phase. It’s okay. It’s all part of the process. Taking the step to define your dream/vision is one step closer to doing something. Do something, lest you do nothing. Stay in your lane.png

2. Stay in your lane.

I think many of us (myself included) would sometimes rather coast in someone else’s lane and watch their God-sized dream come to fruition. It’s fun to be the helper and cheer someone else on until you reach the top of the mountain peak and realize your mountain is on the other side of the valley. All of the accolades for your friend will not fulfill your purpose. I get it. It’s scary putting ourselves out there and saying, “I want to write the book, not be on the launch team for the 100th time.” It sounds selfish to say we have dreams (I’ll get to that in a minute).

I would never say don’t help your friends. That’s a great investment of your time. Just make sure you drive in your own lane more than your friends’, neighbors’ and everyone shouting at you to join their cause. There’s a reason.

God gives you sufficient energy to do what He has called YOU to do, not what every lady in your church is doing.

God is not responsible for the physical and emotional consequences when you drive out of your lane. You will never arrive at the destination of your God-sized dream if you are driving aimlessly.

I’m preaching to the Guire here. For years my life was ordered by what all the other church ladies and my friends were doing. We were doing great stuff, guys! Serving and encouraging. Blessing others. My problem? I used my energy envelope on that good stuff and then was too exhausted to do my real job well. For awhile that job was exclusively mothering, homeschooling and running a co-op. When my kids got a little older, God directed me to start writing. After doing all the other good stuff, I had nothing left. No energy to write. Nothing. And that was not God’s fault. Or the other ladies. Or the church’s. It was mine. All mine.

3. Your dream isn’t selfish. It’s not about you at all.

Read that one more time. Often we don’t pursue our God-sized dream because we think it is selfish. If your God-sized dream is to run away to a tropical island and sip fruity drinks all day, then maybe it is. The truth is, I have never met a woman who hasn’t had a big dream. It takes time for us to own up to this because we don’t want to seem as if we want to make a name for ourselves. That’s not what God-sized dreams are about. They are about taking something that you can’t possibly do on your own, and giving God the glory every step of the way.

Your God-sized dream is about other people. It’s about God’s plan being lived out on this earth because you are obedient.

Years ago I was taking an online memoir writing class. Things were going great. I felt as if my writing was getting better. The teacher seemed to think so. She wrote me some encouraging words. I was feeling pretty comfortable with her…so, I told her my God-sized dream of helping a million orphans and of a vision I had. She told me I seemed unhinged and not to put that in my memoir. (*Just a note- don’t tell everyone your God-sized dream, not everyone gets it). If my God-sized dream includes helping orphans, is it really about me? Nope. Just like your dream. It’s about the people on the receiving end.

I’m sure you have a God-sized dream. It may be staying home and raising kiddos (that was mine for a season and then they grew up). It may be hosting a Bible study, writing a book, serving at an outreach, or fill in the blank. Take some time today and write down your dream. Make some measurable objectives so you can start driving in the right direction. If you, like me, know what your dream is and you need to get back in your lane, start putting up some boundaries. Many times, saying “NO” is the best thing you can do. A “Yes” that is accompanied by frustration, whining, complaining and dragging your feet the whole way is not producing any good fruit. And remember, your God-sized dream is not about you.

  • Thanks to Amy Breitmann for the “stay in your lane” idea!