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.

 

 

Three Things to Expect if You Host Thanksgiving

Do you find yourself hosting the Thanksgiving feast at your home this year?

*Warning – Do not read this post if you don’t have a sense of humor or understand the gift of sarcasm.

Not sure what to expect? Use this handy guide to help!

  1. Expect people to come to your home and complain about how full they are from the last three stops. Yep. True. You may have spent the week cleaning things you don’t normally clean like your oven (on the inside) and making sure all the closets look neat. You may have prepped, shopped and baked for the whole week while the guys are out hunting. And to top it off, you probably baked cinnamon rolls and made coffee for everyone that morning. You’re wearing nice clothes, you set the table and you have make-up on. What’s the thanks you get, a complaint? If you expect it, maybe you won’t be so shocked and slap someone. Just think, it only means more turkey for you, plus when that overstuffed relative tries to play speed scrabble with you, he won’t be able to think straight and you’ll win.
  2. The person who starts the political discussion will disappear and park himself in front of the football on TV while everyone else continues to discuss. True story. It’s okay. Politics will probably come up with family together. The important thing to remember is being in total agreement with each other on issues of politics, theology, child rearing and fill in the blank isn’t the qualifier of being part of the family. Just ask God. How many of His kiddos got along? Or take it one step further, he’s got a batch of the Hunter/Allen/Craven/Guire/ family members in heaven that didn’t agree one bit in the political, theological or fill in the blank arena.They sure liked to discuss the topics though. If your family likes to have discussions, just have some guidelines. No fist fighting (just kidding, not really). Our boundary is when people start yelling, Jerry shuts it down. It’s a pretty firm rule. *Just a note, if someone brings up abortion, adoption, human trafficking or anything to do with kids from hard places, I’ll be sure to blubber. It’s okay. It’s all part of the family experience.

You will have a fresh batch of memories at the end of the day

3. You will have a fresh batch of memories at the end of the day. Even the worst Thanksgiving moments become written in the family history. No one will ever forget when someone dropped the whole turkey, told the joke that no one got, listened to Grandpa say, “Did I ever tell you when…?” for the 500th time. Those normal, irritating. loud, innocuous moments are treasures. Store them up for the years you don’t get to see everyone. Save them to retell when Grandpa is no longer with you. Do the turkey crafts. Drink the coffee and talk about everything under the sun. Go for the walk after dinner. Throw the football around the yard. Fill your memory bank this Thanksgiving.

I know hosting at your home is hard work. I can say this from personal experience. I took over hosting over twenty years ago when my mom died. It’s hard work, but good work. I love having family here. If you are hosting today and you’re exhausted, leave the dishes for a moment. Take a few deep breaths. Smell the smells. Watch the animated conversations. Hear those kids running around the house dressed in their pilgrim and native American costumes, chasing each other with plastic forks? Drink it all in. Savor it. And if no one else says it, “Thanks for hosting this year! You did a great job!”

Peace in the Process and Thanksgiving!

kristin hill taylor head shotKristin Taylor is guest posting today, visiting from kristinhilltaylor.com. Kristin is the author of Peace in the Process

The same year my middle-child Ben was born and adopted into our family, our small group from church started a tradition. I’m not sure we knew it was going to be a tradition, but this group – equal parts kids and adults – gathered around a table for a Thanksgiving meal.

That was 2009. And, actually, Greg and I didn’t get to go because Ben was born on that Monday afternoon. We brought him home Tuesday afternoon, just hours before they had our first Thanksgiving. Not only did we not go, but my friend Sarah – who had a boy just shy of a month old – made the green bean casserole I was supposed to bring. And then our friends brought us plates overflowing with delicious food. We weren’t at the actual table with them that first year, but we were with them and they were with us.

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Community works that way.

Four years later, we still gathered around the table for a Thanksgiving meal, and it was when I broke out my china plates for the first time. For more than eleven years, that china has been sitting around, supposedly waiting for a “special occasion.” Truth be told, I was persuaded to register for the china and really wouldn’t regret had I not added it. But I have it. And I decided having it sit there was pointless.

Really, everyday community is a special occasion.

We’re not technically in an official small group with these people, but they are our community. Together, we’ve mourned and prayed and dreamed and hoped and planned and played and cheered and cried and laughed.

My girlfriends even washed, by hand, the china plates I probably would have put in the dishwasher. They’re into the ordinary details like that. They’re helpful like that. We’re in this life together like that.

In 2013, I snapped a picture of the nine kids who ranged in age from seven months to seven years and were gathered for the Fifth Annual Thanksgiving with Friends. I noticed Ben being part of the group in his school uniform, little blue shirt. He was a day old when this group first gathered around a table, literally, to give thanks for how we gather around the table, figuratively, with each other in our daily lives. He’s grown up knowing those other kids who surround him on the couch and their parents. He’s grown up in community.

In 2016, the kid contingent had grown to eleven for our Eighth Annual Thanksgiving with Friends. I still didn’t have a clever name for the gathering, but we still had each other, even though one family had moved several hours away. That was the year we traded the china for paper plates – and nobody cared.

God made Greg, Cate, Ben, Rachel, and me a family. But He’s expanded our family because we’re part of His family.

Truth be told, this community amazes me. God built community around me with these families and others when I wondered if it would happen. He surprised us with community in a town I wasn’t sure would be able to offer us new friends. Some friends have moved. Other friendships have changed with the normal rhythm of life. We’ve made new friends and kept the old.

 

Thankfully, that community continues to happen right here around my table.
*This is an excerpt from Kristin Hill Taylor’s new book, “Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family.” Kristin believes in seeking God as the author of every story and loves swapping these stories with friends on her porch. She lives in Murray, Kentucky, with her husband and three kids and shares stories at kristinhilltaylor.com.

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Book link – bit.ly/PeaceInTheProcess

 

National Adoption Month Winds Down

The month of November is winding down, the holiday week of Thanksgiving fizzles out at the tail. It’s the best of times of some and the worst for others. For some, two seasons burst forth a spring of new beginnings with new  life and the winter of souls, with loved ones missing at the dinner table.

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It’s not truly winter, according to the  calendar, but the ground is frozen, frost sparkles on the freshly raked grass and the leaves lie in piles at the edge of the wood or smolder in fire pits, smoke rising in a vapor. We often think of this season as the end of the harvest, a time to gather with family and be thankful. It’s fitting that National Adoption shares this month. There is a great deal to be thankful when it comes to adoption, but like this season, it come with a death of sorts, a loss. There is a sting in death, just as we lose a loved one, a child eligible to fostering or adoption has lost something, a parent, a sister, a brother, acceptance. We long to reach through eternity and grasp the flesh and blood hand of the one who has gone before us, just once more and so do they.

I close the computer while ‘friends’ on social media duke it out over politics, race and religion.

The social orphan knows this fight. The red-faced anger. He has heard it while he hides in his bedroom closet or he is locked away in a cellar. His parents, ruled by fleshly passions cannot or will not parent with love and consistency. They abuse or worse, neglect which says to the child, “you do not exist.”

Blue lights in the dead of night. A social worker. A garbage bag filled with the sum total of his life, the old familiar disappearing in the rear view mirror. A new, strange live begins in a foster home, orphanage or institution.

 

Survival is the name of the game. The child becomes stuck in the first of Glasser’s five needs, survival. He circles through the broken cycle of attachment and it falls short.

Loss. It is his life. He waits, maybe not for a family. He doesn’t have a strong supposition to support the word family. His loss is real. He still longs for the love, the hug, the flesh and blood touch, the approval, acceptance of those who bore him, yet, it doesn’t come.

He is shuffled from home to home or stays in an orphanage until he ages out.

He is there today, waiting. He has a banner on social media, advertising his need. National Adoption Month. Stories in a feed. And yet… he is real.

In this season of thankfulness or loss and longing or both, shut down the social media arguments. People are hurting, longing for safety, for home.

You can be that safe place. You can be home. That’s what National Adoption Month is about-giving orphans homes.