12 verses to encourage the burdened heart

12 verses to encourage the burdened heart

Life is hard. Things don’t always go as we’d like. Discouragement, disappointment, fear, and anxiety can overtake us at a moment’s notice. Everyday we are faced with trials, hardships, and frightening news about the world around us. What should we do when faced with these feelings?

Everyone, at one time or another, needs to be reminded of God’s love and that He never leaves us.

God’s Word has much encouragement for the burdened heart. Here are 12 inspiring verses of God’s promises to be with us and give us comfort no matter what life tosses our way.

Isaiah 66 13

Jeremiah 29 11

1 Peter 5 7

Psalm 91 4

Philippians 4 13

Psalm 29 11

Psalm 46 1

Psalm 147 3a

Psalm 46 10a

Psalm 23 2-3a

Psalm 55 22

Isaiah 41 10

 

Other posts in The Scripture Series you may enjoy:

11 verses about God’s unfailing love

scriptural antidotes for fear

10 Bible verses to start off your day

Should we cancel 2020?

should we cancel 2020

I recently printed off our camping list. As I gazed at the things we would need (some I can’t even find in stores anymore) a thought struck me. I already miss the “olden days.”

Olden days as in the era I grew up in? Olden days as in the 1800s where I like to place my characters for my historical books?

No. Olden days as in last year. 2019.

A friend of mine said he wished we could erase 2020 from the history books. His comment gave me pause. What if what we are facing at the present lasted forever?

Should we just cancel 2020 altogether? Maybe start over?

One thing 2020 has taught us is that life can change on a dime.

One minute we were going about our days waiting for spring and the next minute we faced the news of a dangerous virus, sheltering at home, businesses closed for the foreseeable future, unemployment, isolation, and a toilet paper shortage. Simple freedoms we took for granted slipped away before we even had a chance to notice. Social distancing replaced hugs and handshakes and masks became the new great divider.

Fast forward to riots, violence in the streets, cities burning, the taking of innocent lives (including children), civil unrest, and unparalleled division. Personal safety threatened.

The issues that struck fear to our very core struck us in ways that escalated heart rates, blood pressure, and the peace we longed for.

For those of us in Christ, we know this is not our permanent home. We have an enduring hope, knowing this craziness we are experiencing is but a blip on the radar of history.

When all history – and not just 2020 – fades away into the distant past, one thing will remain.

Take His hand. Revel in His peace. Cling to the One who gave you life and who gave His life for you. Our hope is in Him.

So while we can’t, and shouldn’t, delete 2020 from the history books, we can look to the One who will never change. Whose love endures forever.

Isaiah 40 8

Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider.

looking to homeschoolSummer is going fast. Before we blink, it will be time to again think about the upcoming school year. With the current COVID issues, some schools aren’t slated to open this fall. Others will open with strict cautionary measures.

Time and again, I’ve heard from several parents who are considering (or have made the decision) to homeschool, which raises the question: what things should you consider if you are contemplating homeschooling this year?

#1: Motive. People homeschool for many reasons. Some of these include:

COVID – this wasn’t a reason until this year, but it’s becoming a common reason for deciding to homeschool.

Religious reasons – parents want to be able to raise their children in a school that allows God to be at the forefront.

The freedom to be able to instill their morals.

Their child has experienced a negative situation at their public school, for example, bullying.

To be able to teach their child at a rate above what the public school teaches.

To be able to teach their child at a pace needed for a child with special needs.

The child has other health issues that would be better served by a home education.

More freedom during the school day in all arenas of daily life.

Ability to choose and tailor school curriculum to specific learning styles. (A one-size-doesn’t-fit-all education).

A more efficient school day.

And many, many other reasons.

What is your motive for homeschooling your child? It’s critical to examine those motivations to better equip you for this decision.

#2: Children’s learning styles. It’s helpful to learn your children’s learning styles. There is a thorough explanation of seven different (some primary, some secondary) learning styles on the Homeschooling Mom blog. The styles include visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (which most of us are somewhat familiar with), as well as, reading/writing learner, mathematical/logic learner, social learner, and solitary learner.

Most children are mix of one or more styles. If you are in tune to what style(s) your child is, you will be better able to teach them. Neither of my children share my learning styles, but if I was to teach in one of those styles, I likely wouldn’t be effective. As a homeschool parent, you have the ability of being able to teach in whatever learning style(s) your child falls into.

#3: Curriculum. One of the concerns I have heard from people considering homeschooling is that they won’t (i.e., aren’t educated enough/don’t have qualifications) be able to teach their child in certain subjects. Let me reassure you that there are so many curriculum choices, some that are even self-grading, that this challenge will not be as big of an issue as it could at first seem. Co-ops are also helpful for this.

A little reminder: you have been teaching your child since their first days. Who better qualified to continue teaching them?

Seek out those who have already homeschooled or who are currently homeschooling and ask what curriculum they use. Be prepared to change your curriculum if it doesn’t work. I’ve done that many times with my girls. We have the freedom to choose what will work best for our children, and if something doesn’t work, there are many other choices.

Be willing to think outside the box. For instance, maybe your child who doesn’t much care to write can give some oral reports for history class, rather than writing a report of what she has learned. Or if you have a child who loves to write, perhaps doing a novel in a year would be just the thing to add to her English curriculum.

Some of my choices for high school curriculum can be found here.

One final note: curriculum can get pricey. Keep in mind that you can purchase used curriculum at a fraction of the cost.

#4: Your support system. If you are going to homeschool, you will need a support system.

A support system begins with your spouse. If your spouse is not on board, it will be an uphill battle. I’m thankful my husband (our principal, math, woodworking, and science teacher) has been on full board since we began homeschooling many years ago.

You’ll also need the support of other family and friends. Homeschooling can be difficult and lonely at times, and their support will be invaluable.

The support of online Facebook groups is also helpful. We have a local group for which I am an admin, and it has been a great place to bounce ideas off each other, find upcoming events and field trips, and even buy used curriculum. I am also the member of numerous national Facebook homeschool groups, which provide a different and even broader range of opportunities.

Find a mentor mom, someone who has been there, done that, and survived to tell the tale. We have several of these in our local Facebook group. Their experience and advice have been priceless.

Local co-ops are also a great place to find support.  I taught a homeschool P.E. class for seven years to upwards of 40 teens and tweens during our busiest years. I also taught Constitutional Literacy and Biology Lab. During those times of teaching, and the times when my daughters attended other classes, I was able to reinforce those bonds with other homeschooling moms and dads.

#5: Be mindful of electives. One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that our children have a wide variety of electives. My oldest daughter took a woodworking class with her dad as the teacher. She built me a birdhouse, built herself a dresser, and assisted my husband in redoing the counters and moldings in our kitchen and bathroom.

My youngest daughter takes a quilting and sewing class from a friend. This has enabled her to sew a skirt, two quilts, and a host of other smaller projects.

#6: Don’t worry about socialization. This is a huge concern for people who don’t homeschool. Between church youth groups, volunteer projects, sports, co-ops, and fair/4-H projects, homeschooled kids are more than socialized. The difference between being socialized as a public school student and being socialized as a homeschool student is that the parent chooses how they want their child to be socialized and who they want their child to be socialized with. This eliminates negative influencers and incorporates positive role models and interaction with every age group.

#7. Use this time to build relationships with your children. My absolute favorite thing about being a homeschool mom is the relationships I have built with my daughters. For example, each day, I bring a topic to the table during breakfast, where we discuss it (no topic/question is off limits). We’ve had some great discussions about the things that concern them most.

In addition, being together more often than the few hours they would be home were they public schooled has allowed us to grow closer. I wouldn’t trade that closeness for anything.
Time with KidsNo matter if you decide to homeschool, or what homeschooling method you choose , offer your decision to the Lord. Ask that He guide you, direct you, and help you to glorify Him in your choice to homeschool your child.

 

Other posts on this blog that might interest you:

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

5 fun summer activities for kids

outside-the-box homeschool ideas

10 good things that could come from the corona virus pandemic

10 suggestions for dealing with the corona virus situation

Movie Monday: Unplanned

 

 

 

 

the importance of living out your faith

the importance of living out your faith

A friend recently told me a very inspiring story. When she first moved across the country for a new job, Lynn wasn’t sure what to expect in her new town. Her first Sunday there, she headed to a church, hoping to fellowship with like-minded believers and find a church home in the process.

No one welcomed her. No one said “hi.” No one even acknowledged her presence. And this was a small church.

Throughout the week, Lynn visited a local business. A woman who worked there invited Lynn to her church. “And I’ll be waiting by the front door for you so I can show you around,” she told Lynn.

Sure enough the woman was there. She showed Lynn around the church, introduced her to others, and encouraged her to come back the following week.

Lynn did.

When Lynn was diagnosed with breast cancer a short time later, the congregants of her new church drove her to her chemo appointments 95 miles each way, brought her meals, mowed her yard, and prayed with and for her. All with only knowing her a short amount of time.

She told me with tears in her eyes that these precious brothers and sisters in Christ had become her family.

Another friend, Sarah, in another town recently went through a nasty and unwanted divorce. Betrayed, broken, and hurt by the man she still loved, she stumbled into the church she had attended with her husband for the past year, sobbing and asking if someone would please pray with her. The secretary looked perplexed and called for one of the elders in the building. Rather than praying for her, he suggested she find a divorce support group, then ushered her out of the church.

Sarah has yet to find a new church home.

A blog post on how churches should welcome and support fellow believers?

On the contrary. Rather, my blog post is one about how important it is to live out our faith.

We, as Christians, have been given an important responsibility. To love Jesus and to love His church and to share the Gospel with nonbelievers.

Here are some suggestions on how we might better live out our faith.

Be the light. Sure, we hear this phrase often. But what does it mean to be the light? Consider the following verses:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:14-16

“For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” ~ Ephesians 5:8

Ephesians 5 8

We are to stand out from the rest of the crowd. We are to show our light and be able to give an answer for the hope that lies within us (1 Peter 3:15). We aren’t to blend in and look like the world, but to look like one of His. Yes, there truly is a difference between us and someone who doesn’t proclaim Christ.

Definitely a tall order in a world that puts a high emphasis on things that are anti-Christian.

Be a doer, not just a talker. When we say we will pray for someone, we need to take that promise seriously and not just say it, but follow through and do so. Prayer is important and effective. People are hurting and struggling with a multitude of issues, from grief to serious illness; from job loss to homelessness; from addiction to the difficult road to recovery.

Reach out to those around you. Our world moves at a dizzying pace. We are ever consumed with busyness and a focus on our ourselves. What if we instead took the time to care for those less fortunate? To help someone in need of help? To lend a listening ear? To ask someone how we can serve them, and then offer to follow through with their request? To be a giver rather than a taker? Jesus consistently reached out to the less fortunate. He loved others with genuine passion. When we serve others, we serve Him. (Matthew 25:40-45).

In today’s world, it’s not always “popular” to be a Christian. We are encouraged to dim our lights or even put them out completely. Rather than follow the world’s demands, let’s  vow to live out our faith daily with the confidence that we are called to a higher purpose and live for Someone greater than anyone on earth.

As someone once said, “You may be the only Jesus some people see.”

it is impossible to

 

Check out these other blog posts:

the importance of perseverance

the importance of authenticity

Movie Monday: Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Road Less Traveled

surviving shingles – part 1

Movie Monday: Chronicle Mysteries – Recovered

movie monday chronicle mysteries

If you love suspense movies, Recovered, the first movie in the new collection of Chronicle Mysteries series, is just the ticket. Set in small town Pennsylvania, Alex McPherson (played by Alison Sweeney) makes it her goal to solve a cold case while keeping the audience of her well-followed podcast informed of each development.

No one knows what happened to Alex’s friend, Gina, after a car accident on a fateful night 20 years ago. Can Alex solve find the missing pieces to the puzzle? Why does someone not want the truth to be found?

Alex uses The Harrington Chronicle, a newspaper owned by her uncle, as her landing spot where she conducts research for her project. There, she meets the leading man, Drew Godfrey (played by Benjamin Ayres).

Those who are accustomed to clean suspense movies (Sue Thomas, F.B. Eye, Signed, Sealed, and Delivered, and Garage Sale Mysteries to name a few) will not be disappointed with this newest series starring Alison Sweeney.  For those of you movie buffs, you may recall that she also starred in the Murder, She Baked mystery series with leading man, Cameron Mathison.

Recovered is an enjoyable movie with twists and turns, adventure, humor, and, of course, a bit of romance. It’s perfect for a family night movie and contains nothing objectionable; however young viewers may be frightened by the car wreck scene (nothing graphic) and a duel with the bad guys.

I give Recovered a five out of five stars for those 10 and up. I can’t wait to watch the second installment!

 

 

Other posts on this blog that you may enjoy:

Movie Monday: Beautifully Broken

Mom-Approved Movies Listing

Movie Monday: God Bless the Broken Road

Movie Monday: Free Burma Rangers

proud to be an American

surviving shingles – part 2

surviving shingles pt2

Thank you for joining me for part two of my experience with shingles. To read Part One, please go here.

Today is Day 20. My rash is nearly gone in some places and scabbing over and fading in others. The shingles journey is definitely not for an impatient person (the average length is 3-5 weeks). Every day, I rush to the mirror to see the progress God is making in healing my body. He has brought me so far. Just a quick glance at the pictures from those first days is evidence.

I still have intermittent pain and now my scabbed-over rash has started to itch. But I am doing so, so much better.

There are several things I’ve learned about this illness. Again, I am not a medical professional, so please be sure to check with your doctor before trying any of the listed items.

Use a cold compress. Placing a cool (not frozen) compress on the rash several times a day has worked well for me for pain management, especially in most recent days.

Wear loose and comfortable clothing. After this journey is over, I will definitely never again take for granted being able to wear whatever I want.

Make an appearance. Since shingles can make you feel so lousy, an important thing I have found to do is to be sure to get dressed, fix my hair, and put on some makeup each morning. This can do wonders for your esteem when you already feel crummy.

Do things to take your mind off the pain. As a writer, more than anything, I have been yearning to work on my current novel. Unfortunately, due to the location of my polka-dots (as I call my shingles) it’s difficult (but getting easier!) to sit in one position for long. However, writing takes my mind off the shingles, as does reading, watching a movie with my family, listening to my favorite Christian music playlist, and spending time sitting outside in the fresh air, surrounded by my flower pots (added bonus).

Continue to gradually build up to where you were before that fateful day. In my first post, I mentioned that I was walking each day and doing minimal stretches. I have worked my way up to walking further and to twice a day with plenty of rest in between.

Today, for the first time in three weeks, I actually took this one step further. As a group fitness instructor, I was on the schedule to teach my cycling class today. With my doctor’s permission, I taught class – low impact for me and the usual high impact for my class. For the rest of the week, I will take it easy and continue with my walking. Next Monday and Wednesday, I again teach. I am hoping by gently easing into teaching again, I will be able to progress and not regress.

Keep clinging to God. The odd thing that I have discovered about shingles is that you can feel better for a portion of the day and then zing! The pain reminds you it’s not yet gone for good. My pain has definitely been alleviating and I find myself taking less Tylenol than when I first started, but at times (especially at night) it rears its ugly head again. It’s a good reminder to me to continue to cling to God for comfort and strength as He continues to heal me. And just to humbly add – I have had a few tearful moments through all this, so if you’ve had some of those moments too, you’re not alone.

Psalm 145 18a

Be careful about what you allow into your mind. Trust me on this one, as I’m also talking to myself when I say this. There are some nasty things that can happen with shingles. Don’t be an internet warrior and go looking for them. Instead, at your doctor’s visit (or subsequent phone call with a nurse or other medical professional), ask what things would necessitate an emergency or, at the very least, a return visit to their office.  They will temper their response so its helpful, but not scary. By Googling things on our own, sometimes we can find the worst of the worst. This doesn’t help. It only causes anxiety and fear, something we need to avoid, especially since stress makes shingles worse. Curious about something? Have a trusted family member look it up for you and see if it even applies to your situation.

Continue to get lots of rest. Oh, but there are so many things I need to be doing right now! Yes, I’m definitely behind on many things, but my family graciously reminds me that I’m not going to get better if I don’t rest (very hard for this active girl!). Even if we’re feeling better, we need to continue to take it easy. Our bodies will thank us for it.

Have a good support system. I am so grateful to have a family who cares about and for me. Not only do I have an amazing immediate family, but my extended family reaches out to me daily to check on and encourage me. They all, in addition to my church family, have been praying for me. We can never collect too many prayers.

So what do you do if you live alone? I would encourage you to connect with family members, friends, and/or your church. No one should have to go through shingles alone.

Pray fervently. I have prayed for four things consistently during my shingles journey. They are that no one else in my family would get this (especially my parents and other older relatives), that I would heal completely and not have the permanent pain that can affect some shingles sufferers, that God would change me through this for the better so that I may be used mightily for His Kingdom, and that He would be glorified through this (sometimes) frightening trial. Prayer is effective and it works.

Shingles are just bizarre. The burning, tingling, zapping, throbbing, intense pain is like nothing else. Big thanks (not!) to the reactivation of the varicella-voster virus, the one that gave us chickenpox when we were kids. It makes the top 10 lists of the most painful conditions, gives us several weeks of grief, and then, in some cases, can re-emerge (ummm, no thanks!).

So as I conclude the almost three-week mark, thank you again for joining me. Continue to hang in there. We will get through this!

 

Other posts on this blog that you may enjoy:

surviving shingles – part 1

outside-the-box homeschool ideas

Movie Monday: Beautifully Broken

the importance of new beginnings

 

 

proud to be an American

proud to be an american

Our country is definitely in turmoil.

Things have changed radically in a short amount of time. But as we celebrate the Fourth of July – Independence Day – it gives me pause to remember that no matter what has happened, no matter how divisive our country has become, I am still – and will always be – proud to be an American.

I’m still proud to wave Old Glory in its permanent place on the front of my house. I’m still honored to say that I am a resident of a country that was founded on principles of freedom that has a history of patriots giving their all for a noble cause. Some of those patriots paid the ultimate price. I’m still filled with gratitude when I remember that some who sacrificed are my own relatives who came back with scars and permanent disabilities after fighting to keep us free. May their sacrifices never be in vain.

Yes, we live in challenging times. My girls are growing up in a country that is substantially different from the one in which I grew up in. But there is still so much good in our nation if we are willing to look for it, instead of listening to those who would seek to destroy our country both from within and from the outside. There is still so much to fight for. So much worth uniting for and preserving. So much worth praying for.

This is truly the land that I love.

When my great-great grandparents arrived at Ellis Island from Sweden in the early 1900s, they made the right choice to take a chance on this new land of freedom and opportunity.

“My country ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty”…may God continue to “shed His grace on thee”.

Happy Fourth of July. Have a blessed and safe weekend!

4th of July 1

 

Other posts on this blog you may enjoy:

every life is valuable

tiny miracles

Why I’m proud to be an American

16 must-haves for your next camping adventure

surviving shingles – part 1

surviving shingles pt1

The most unexpected thing happened to me recently.

Totally unforeseen, unanticipated, and totally not on my radar.

As a matter of fact, I thought the soreness I felt a day before the onset was due to overdoing it while lifting weights or spending too much time at the gun range with my husband.

My diagnosis begged an answer to  the question: aren’t I too young for shingles?

Apparently not.

If you’ve ever had shingles, you know that it can be some of the worst pain you will ever experience. It’s a burning, searing, stabbing and unrelenting pain that gets a grip on you and doesn’t let go.

For those of you who have had shingles or are perhaps going through them right now, I hope this blog post offers you some comfort.

2 Corinthians 1 3-4

I am not a health care provider or a medical professional; the following items are merely things that have worked for me as I continue down this trek of surviving the shingles virus. Please check with your doctor before trying any of the following suggestions to be sure they are right for you.

Cling to God.

My first night with shingles was a nightmare. I still wasn’t sure of my diagnosis, only that instead of sleep, a pain like I’d never known invaded the left and back sides of my neck and my collar bone. Tears streamed down my face in the middle of the night, as I sought peace while calling upon comforting Scripture verses. I prayed that God would help me with whatever was going on, as my sweet husband clutched my hand and prayed over me. I’m not sure how people make it without the Lord during times of trial.

Get diagnosed.

My oldest daughter and I Googled rashes (by Friday morning, I had four blisters) and came to the conclusion I had shingles. My chiropractor confirmed it when I headed to his office for an adjustment in hopes of helping the unrelenting pain. By Friday afternoon, my blisters had multiplied from my left upper chest up around my neck, my jawline, my upper arm, and around the back of my neck and into my hairline. The fatigue and flu-like symptoms, including a sore throat, ear pain, and fever, added to my discomfort.

A few hours later, I was in my primary care doctor’s office with a prescription for Valtrex. While I am one who tends more toward natural therapies, taking the Valtrex soon after being diagnosed was a very wise decision. I have also been taking Tylenol and Ibuprofen for the pain.

Realize shingles affect everyone differently.

Some I have spoken to have said their shingles weren’t too severe, but for the majority I have talked with, their shingles were a horrific nightmare they don’t soon want to remember. And no, it doesn’t just attack the elderly. Three people I know shared with me that they had succumbed to the shingles virus while in their 20s.

Get rest.

There is no way around this one. You have to rest when you have shingles. Even if you have a mild case, get lots of rest and take time to heal so there are no complications. It’s said that this virus can last 3-5 weeks, and for some people even longer.

Do an assessment.

As I mentioned previously, shingles were not on my radar. How on earth could a healthy girl like myself get it?

Well…apparently stress can contribute. So I decided to do an assessment. Besides the many hats I wear: wife, mom, homeschool mom, author, volunteer, group fitness instructor, blogger, etc., I had also had some pretty serious stress in the past six months. In mid-January, my oldest daughter and I came down with the worst flu we’d ever experienced that lasted a month with lingering fatigue continuing an additional two weeks. Job furloughs and unemployment, a dental procedure that included an allergic reaction, a huge door swinging shut on me for a book project I had poured my heart into, and my youngest being rushed to the ER for what appeared to be a stroke added to my list of stressors. (Turns out she was having a horrific complex migraine – her first ever – and hopefully her last).

So do an assessment of where you’re at with stress. Covid-19 and all the upheavals currently taking place in our world are enough to cause anyone a sleepless night.

Be healthy.

In an effort to fight this virus, I adopted and continued with a list of healthy things I would be doing in the coming weeks. Some that have helped me are the following:

Supplements. Multi, C, E, D, zinc, B complex, and a good probiotic can be super helpful. For Optimal Daily Amounts, my personal go-to book is The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book by Shari Lieberman and Nancy Bruning.

Foods. Vegetables and fruits, such as sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, red/black grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, berries, avocados etc. are all good choices. Avoid anything inflammatory, such as junk food, refined foods, and sugar.

Water. Stay well-hydrated.

Time with God. Spending time in His Word and a vibrant prayer life is a must for me. I am so dependent on His mercy and grace.

Prayers. I put myself on my church’s prayer chain and collected those prayers along with the faithful prayers of my immediate and extended family. Prayer works.

Sunshine. Plan on getting 10-15 minutes a day, preferably surrounded by nature.

Exercise. Gentle stretches and a short walk are a good start to building up to where you were before shingles.

Hugs. Studies have shown that hugs boost the immune system. My family is awesome about helping me fill my hug “quota” for the day.

Chiropractic care. It’s a good way to strengthen the immune system, and if you are fortunate to have a good chiropractor, he/she can be a wealth of information.

Just say no to stress. That includes taking a break from social media and the toxic news that currently surrounds us.

Sleep. A full night’s rest can be a challenge with the pain, so be sure to give yourself permission to take naps as necessary.

Don’t get discouraged.

I will humbly tell you that discouragement has knocked on my door a couple of times during this trial. As an active person not accustomed to not being busy, it has been difficult to not have the energy to do anything. And the pain? There is something called neuralgia that can stick with you long after the shingles are over. The thought scares me to death since my own sweet mom has severe chronic pain and is wheelchair-bound.

All this to say, discouragement will find you if you allow it. The second you take your eyes off Jesus, despair is there ready to accompany you through the day. Don’t let it.

discouragement - mom

Return your focus on our Lord and His promises. Remember Peter when he took his eyes off Jesus that day during the storm? He sank. We sink when we take our focus from the One who loves us so much He gave His Son for us.

To be continued…

I am officially on Day 13 of my shingles journey. I wish I could say I am completely healed. That I have no more neck, shoulder, and ear pain. No more fatigue.

But that’s not the case. While it has relented somewhat and I continue to get stronger everyday, I still have a ways to go. The pain and fatigue are ever present. But I’m hanging in there and am relying on God’s faithfulness to see me through this ordeal.

So all this to say that if you are going through shingles right now, hang in there. We will get through this!

 

 

 

 

5 do’s and don’ts when interacting with someone going through a difficult time

5 do and donts

Sometimes it’s challenging to know what to say and how to interact with someone going through a difficult time. Our well-meaning words and gestures can sometimes have the opposite effect of what we intend.

Here are five helpful tips for the next time you reach out to someone experiencing a tough situation.

  • Don’t share horror stories.

When Kara began to have pregnancy complications, most of the women who reached out to her offered valuable advice. However, one woman, who honestly thought she was being helpful, shared about all the difficulties she had while being pregnant, some were downright frightening. Unfortunately, such commentary only caused Kara to become more anxious.

Do be encouraging.

If someone you know is going through a health struggle that you yourself have been through, seek to be an encourager. Rather than sharing about the fearful things you experienced, listen with a heart full of empathy. “I can understand how you feel, as I’ve been there. Is there anything I can do to help you through this painful illness/disease?”

1 Thessalonians 5 11

  • Don’t share “too  good  to be true” stories.

Conversely, be aware that not everyone’s situation mimics yours. When Simon became ill with the worst case of influenza he’d ever experienced, it was difficult for him to be laid up and unable to do his job as a personal trainer. His cousin, while likely trying to be optimistic, shared that a guy he knew healed in a far lesser time than Simon was taking to heal and had fewer complications.

Do be compassionate.

Remember that not everyone heals in the same manner or in the same time frame. Our bodies have all been designed differently, and some bodies heal more quickly or more slowly than others. Rather than offer comparisons, offer to run errands or ask in what way you can assist.

  • Don’t put on the guilt trip.

When Mike lost his job and struggled with depression, a well-intentioned neighbor offered the unsolicited advice that if only Mike had a stronger faith, he would already have another job and would certainly not be dealing with depression. Mike began to doubt his faith and struggled with the question of why God hadn’t helped him with the depression or in finding another job so he could support his family. The guilt trip caused  him to slink further into despair.

Do offer to pray with and for someone who is struggling.

Offer to listen, without judgment, when someone facing a trial needs to talk. Even those with strong faith can have struggles, suffer from depression and anxiety, and go through serious trials. In Mike’s case, offering to keep an ear out for job leads would have been much more helpful.

  • Don’t force your “remedies”.

Laura’s breast cancer came as an utter surprise. She’d always figured she was in good health and had no cancer in her family history. Working with a wide range of medical professionals, Laura began a treatment course that she felt, after much prayer, was best suited to her. “While most people were supportive, I did have a couple of people who thought that if I would just try their supplements or oils, I would be healed in an instant. While I have always been one to try a more holistic approach to illnesses, this situation was a bit different for me, and I tried a mixture of conventional, as well, as holistic therapies. When someone is struggling with a serious, possibly even terminal illness, it never helps to force your remedies on them with unrealistic claims that may not work.”

Do give an open-ended suggestion.

Many times, those of us who truly love the health field and are knowledgeable about certain issues are eager to offer a single solution as the only way. While there is definitely nothing wrong with sharing your wisdom and confidence in remedies you have found helpful, your method of delivery is key. Supporting the person in their choices is imperative. If you do have an alternative idea, phrase it in a thoughtful and less insistent way.

  • Don’t make it all about you.

When Melinda’s husband suffered a heart attack with a lengthy recovery, she never expected to be at odds with a friend over it. “My friend told me how hurt she was that I wasn’t there to help her move into her new house. There just wasn’t anything left of me to give. I was already caregiving for my husband and managing all of my regular household duties, along with a full-time job. I know she was hurt that I wasn’t able to give her the assistance she needed, but it came off like it was all about her.”

Do make it all about them. When tough times arrive, whether it be health issues, a divorce, loss of a loved one, or loss of employment, people need to know you care. They need to know that you are praying for them, looking out for their best interests, and will do whatever is necessary to partner with them in getting through the trial.

Theodore Roosevelt

Before you talk with someone, pray that God would guide your tongue so you can offer truly helpful advice that will encourage and not hinder. When tough times arrive, the best blessing you can give is to let someone know you are there and are praying for them.

 

Other posts you may enjoy:

13 ways to help someone going through a difficult time

10 ways to help your kids choose good role models

Movie Monday: Free Burma Rangers

Movie Monday: Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Road Less Traveled

5 things moms need

 

6 things to do in these crazy times

6 crazy times

It’s definitely a crazy (and scary!) world we live in at present.

Everywhere we turn, there’s footage and news of horrific violence. Innocent lives taken. Businesses ruined. Cities destroyed. Some of it is even happening in our own towns and cities. The America we love is no longer the same. What can we do?

Pray fervently that God will heal our nation. Pray for wisdom for our leaders. Pray  that they will make godly choices in the governing roles to which they were elected or appointed.
Reach others with the love of Christ. The world is watching and is desperate for hope. Let’s not waste the opportunity to show people that the hope they yearn for can only be found in Jesus. We need to be an example of Christ and be the light in an increasingly bleak world.

Reach out and help someone in need. Whenever we take the focus off ourselves and our stress, and place our focus on another, it benefits everyone.

Strive for unity. No, we aren’t always going to agree on everything, and frankly, it would be pretty boring if we did. However, when we disagree, we can do it respectfully. Satan loves division among Believers. Don’t give him a foothold.

Take a break from the media. It can be toxic, and who needs the elevated blood pressure? However, we should not be ostriches with our heads in the sand either. We do need to be aware of what is going on in the world around us. Just in a balanced dose.

Remember that God is sovereign. As I mentioned during the height of the corona virus, this unrest we are seeing in our nation did not catch our Lord unaware. He is our refuge. Our strength. Through Him, we can have peace. And it’s not just a superficial peace, but a real and abiding peace.

Most of all, keep our eyes on Jesus. I am reminded of the time Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and he sank. When we turn our focal point on the Lord and with His help keep it there, we will never sink.

Hebrews 12 2a