how to survive in an out-of-control world

I recently heard someone say that they’ve experienced the seven-day trial of 2021 and they’d like a refund.

The world has changed so rapidly in the past year. It is cause for concern, fear, and even grief, as we ponder the effects of those changes not only on ourselves, but also on our children and grandchildren. Our nation has been transformed in ways we don’t recognize and never thought possible – or at least never thought possible -in such a short amount of time. Things are chaotic, tumultuous, and turbulent.

For survivors of 2020, 2021 has started out much the same, and the struggle to put one foot in front of the other and forge ahead can be a challenge.

What can we do when things seem out of control? Here are some suggestions:

Pray often. Prayer is critical, and not a once-a-day event. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 reminds us to “pray without ceasing”. The good news is that God is available to hear those prayers 24/7 without fail.

Immerse yourself in the Bible and hide His Word in your heart. If our Bibles were taken from us tomorrow, would we have enough of it hidden in our hearts? What if we made it a goal to dive deeper into the precious words of Scripture more often and more fully than we ever have?

Church is crucial. Fellowship with other believers is essential. Make both a priority.

When things are stressful and unmanageable, focus on God’s promises. (I will be posting another installment of The Scripture Series on God’s Promises in the coming weeks).

Be selective about which headlines and articles you read. Hibernating, avoiding all happenings in the world around us, or playing ostrich is never a good idea. We need to be aware of what is going on in our world, but not take it to the extreme. Read from sources you know are based on honesty, not on an agenda.

In addition, be vigilant about what you allow into your mind. Not everything you read or listen to is true. More importantly, not everything you read or listen to is pleasing to God. Practice discernment.

Engage, but don’t make it an idol. I am a firm believer that Christians should engage in politics. In a world that, among other things, seeks to attack religious liberties and deems the killing of the pre-born acceptable, we need to stand for the right to worship God and for the value of all life. And we need to elect those who will do the same. If something grieves our Heavenly Father, it should grieve us. Contact your local, state, and federal legislators. Run for office. Pray that God would place godly men and women in positions of authority. Just remember to not allow politics to consume you.

Avoid the lure of constant 24/7 social media. While there is nothing wrong with social media (I will be the first to tell you that I love social media and have accounts on several platforms), the key is not to allow it to become an idol or something that takes you away from the important things of life. Checking it a few times a day is fine. Being tethered to it isn’t.

Turn off the cell phone/computer an hour before bedtime. Finish nightly duties, then spend the remainder of your time before bed reading the Bible. I guarantee you will find peace.

Don’t suffer alone. Spend time talking with a mentor – a spiritually mature person who can pray with and for you and help you navigate the ongoings of this chaotic world with a focus on the Lord.

Speaking of family, cherish the members of your family. Love them well, appreciate them, cling to them, and realize they walk through the same challenges in this topsy-turvy world.

Spend time listening to godly podcasts. My family and I recently had the discussion with some friends that we have all been hungrier than ever for godly counsel. Bible-focused podcasts that put God’s Truth above all else provide encouragement and remind us in Whom we place our faith.

Journal your thoughts, worries, and concerns – then turn them over to the Lord.

Take care of yourself. Do your best to eat healthy foods, get sufficient sleep, and find time to exercise. Go outside and soak up sunshine, even on a chilly day. It will do wonders for your mood.

There is hope. Our lives, while affected greatly by the world around us, are not defined by it. Rather, they are defined by the One who holds the seat of highest honor today, tomorrow, and eternally. May we not only continually and permanently fix our eyes on Jesus, but also rest in our Heavenly Father’s arms where peace reigns.

___________________

Other posts on this blog that you may enjoy:

the importance of new beginnings

the importance of perseverance

for such a time as this: finding stability in an unstable world

28 verses for uncertain times

15 verses for strength in challenging times

you might be a homeschooling mom if…

the importance of teaching our kids to think for themselves

Movie Monday: Flying High for the Glory of God

Movie Monday: Unplanned

For such a time as this: finding stability in an unstable world

As a kid, I remember after a long day of playing outside, I came in and turned on the TV. Flipping through our three channels, I came across a black-and-white re-run of The Twilight Zone. Intrigued, I watched it for a few minutes. While it never became my “cup of tea” to watch continuously due to the fact I’m not a sci-fi/fantasy fan (although 3 out of 4 Zellers are) and I watch, read, and write only stories with happy endings, the show stuck with me.

All these years later, it feels as though we have stepped into the Twilight Zone. Things are just bizarre. It leaves me wanting to change the channel.

Things are scary right now. Our nation is in turmoil, a crisis that leaves (if we’re honest) even the most faithful with a moment or two of uncertainty.  When we return our focus to Him, we are reminded of a few key things:

God is bigger than all of this. Bigger than nefarious evildoers, communism, socialism, hatefulness, division, wars, diseases, illnesses, viruses, and all the other truly frightening things in this world. And He always walks with us through those daunting times.

He was not caught off guard. God wasn’t asleep or having afternoon tea on the patio when these frightening events began to unfold. To the contrary, He knows all that has occurred and will occur throughout history.

We are here for such a time as this. Just as Esther was placed in her role to help her people, we are placed in our role at this precise time in history. Sure. I think it might be neat to have lived in the late 1800s/early 1900s, or another time period, but that’s not where God has placed me. Or you. We are here through Divine appointment. He never makes a mistake or bemoans the fact that He allowed us to be born when we were born, rather than 10 years, 100 years, or even 1,000 years earlier.

Jesus gave His life for us. Time may be short, or He may tarry for another 400 years. No one knows except God. But before He returns, we have our work cut out for us in the here and now. To tell others about the saving faith found only in Jesus Christ and the eternal life they can have when they put their faith and trust in Him. To love the Lord with all our hearts, souls, and minds, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Yes, even those challenging “neighbors”.

We need to be an encouragement to each other. In the past couple of weeks, I have seen some discouraging folks out and about bringing others down, rather than building them up. Instead of spewing hateful rhetoric or division, let’s rally around each other and support each other. And never, ever forget how important fellowship is (Hebrews 10:25).

He is our Protector and our Refuge. Seek Him and rest in Him.

There is a happy ending. For those of us in Christ, it ends well. I’m personally not keen on what may be an arduous and troublesome journey between here and the end when I see my Savior face-to-face, but as Christians, He promises to go before us, be with us through the journey, and to carry us safely home when our time on this earth is done. Hopefully, that’s decades away for all of us, but we do have that reassurance that this story has a happy ending.

So, my friends, hang in there. Keep your focus on Christ and know that if He is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)?

Other posts on this blog that may interest you:

13 verses to comfort the weary soul

13 ways to help someone going through a rough time

10 ways to help your kids choose good role models

who are you behind the screen?

the importance of gratitude

Movie Monday: Indivisible

28 verses for uncertain times

Life can be a road of uncertainty. Current events have been a definite testament to how things can change in an instant. Fear and discouragement can easily envelop us and take up residence in our lives, even with our best efforts. Thankfully we don’t have to navigate these unsettling times alone.

Amidst the anxiety and fear that grips us during these uncertain times, we must keep our focus on the only One who can give us peace and comfort when all seems lost. The only one – our Savior – who is our true refuge in these turbulent days. Pray for our nation. For each other. For truth and justice to prevail. And remember, for those of us in Christ, this is not our home.

In this installment of The Scripture Series, be encouraged by the following 28 verses found in the precious pages of Scripture. They are the Lord’s promises that we are never alone, that He goes before us, that He is our shield and our comfort.

Other posts in The Scripture Series that may interest you

12 verses to encourage the burdened heart

11 verses about God’s unfailing love

10 Bible verses to start off your day

13 verses to comfort the weary soul

scriptural antidotes for fear

the importance of Christmas

The importance of Christmas

One of my favorite modern Christmas songs is This is Christmas by Kutless.  The words in the chorus are thought-provoking and profound:

What is Christmas?
If there never was a Savior wrapped in a manger
What is Christmas without Christ?

Indeed. What if a Baby, who would grow to be the Savior of mankind, was never born?

nativity scene 2.jpg

For one, we would definitely not have the Christmas holiday. There would be nothing to celebrate.

I, for one, love the whole idea of Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving, my husband gets a calorie-burning workout hauling the numerous bins of decorations from our Christmas closet up the stairs. He then heads outside to set up “Wally and Eva,” our two laser light devices that shine brightly all over the front of our house and garage.

There is joy in shopping for presents for my family and mailing packages to my extended family in several different states. The delight my daughters and I find in baking delicious goodies for our neighbors and close friends and delivering them a few weeks in advance is an event we look forward to each year.

Christmas chex 2 (2).png

And don’t even get me started on Christmas music. Let’s just say my Christmas playlist somehow mysteriously (or not so mysteriously) found its way into playing two days before Thanksgiving. Nope, I just couldn’t wait. And I seemed to run even farther and faster on the treadmill while listening to that Christmas playlist.

All of those things in and of themselves are fine. It’s when we replace the real meaning of Christmas with temporary things – and put our focus solely on those things – that we find ourselves in error.

Anything can become an idol – anything that we make more important than God. Can Christmas presents, decorations, food, tinsel, and laser lights become idols?

Absolutely.

Especially presents.

Or add in the busyness of this time of year. The pressure to live up to expectations to create the holiday a certain way for others, as well as ourselves, can become a stress-fest.

Or the debt that we manage to accumulate while finding all those perfect presents for everyone on our gift list.

Do we even remember – and take time to realize – that the perfect present is right before us? The gift of eternal life. Something that will far outlast anything in our temporary world.

So I’m reminding myself this year that it is all about the Savior that was born in the manger. It is all about that Baby that was born on earth and grew to be a man who would give His life for all mankind. A brutal death with the sins of the world on His back, Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice.

For me.

For you.

For us all.

backlit-black-cross-161089.jpg

This holiday season, let’s make Christ the ultimate reason we celebrate.  Let’s place Him in His rightful place of importance. Ahead of the trees, the food, the presents, the Christmas music, and the laser lights.

And let’s do more than celebrate Him. Let’s show our gratitude for what He has done for us. Not just on December 25, but on every day of the year.


Other blog posts on this blog you may be interested in reading:

8 great Christmas gift ideas for wives

Thankful for the small things…

All Things Christmas: Favorite Movies of the Season

All things Christmas: favorite songs of the season

14 things for girls to consider before dating

15 verses for strength in challenging times

the importance of respectful disagreement

13 verses to comfort the weary soul

Every person you see, whether the grandma at the grocery store, the elderly man at the doctor’s office, the young couple at the restaurant, or the teenager on the bike path – everyone has a struggle. Even if it’s not visible from the pasted smile they offer as you pass.

This year especially has promoted a deep sense of weariness, a fatigue and longstanding exhaustion that leaves our souls longing for comfort. For peace. For relief from the burdens that weigh heavily upon us.

But there is a cure for that weariness. A cure for that burden that bows our shoulders and tempts us to forget the One who can offer that cure.

God’s love is most importantly revealed through His Son’s sacrifice on the Cross so we could have eternal life. His promises are written within the pages of His Word. He knew we would be weary travelers through this life and He offers us this hope and reassures us that we can have peace in Him and that we never walk alone.

Below are 13 verses to comfort the weary soul.

Other posts on this blog that may interest you:

the importance of living out your faith

thankful for the small things

10 ways to help your kids choose good role models

11 verses about God’s unfailing love

the great toilet paper caper

5 ways to jumpstart your writing project

4 ways to reconnect with your spouse

mom-approved movies listing

15 verses for strength in challenging times

There is a lot to disagree on these days, but there is one thing we can likely all agree on…this year has been a challenging one.

In more ways than one, stress levels and anxieties have risen. Hope has taken a backseat to despair. Happiness has given way to frustration. Optimism has turned into negativity.

Thankfully, for those of us in Christ, this is not our permanent home. When the day-to-day events turn turbulent, we can turn to the One who loves us and cares about every minute detail in our lives. His promises remind us that His love is steadfast. That He will carry us through the rough waters of life, that when we are burdened, He will take that load from us and take it upon Himself. Jesus is our strength, our anchor, and our stronghold.

Next time you need a boost of strength for these challenging times, flip through the pages of God’s precious Word and find the peace tucked within.

Other posts on this blog you may enjoy:

the importance of perseverance

13 ways to help someone going through a difficult time

10 Bible verses to start off your day

7 ways to inspire others

Movie Monday: Unplanned

the importance of respect

My daughters and I went on a 15-mile bike ride today. During our ride, I noticed someone had spray-painted graffiti on the underside of a bridge.

We don’t have a lot graffiti in our small rural town, and when it does appear, it is usually covered up quickly (an excellent way, according to experts, to help prevent more graffiti).

The graffiti by the spray-paint “artists” brought to mind the destruction of property we are seeing on a daily basis in our country. Homes and businesses destroyed. Looters, people burning the property of others, and the list goes on.

When did we get to the point that it was all right to destroy the property, livelihoods, and lives of others?

When did it become all right to, just because we disagree with someone, their beliefs, or their actions, to outright deface, damage, destroy, or demolish their personal property? When did it become acceptable to ruin government property?

Property isn’t the only thing at risk. More disturbing is the general lack of disrespect for parents, other authority, older people, the handicapped, police officers, and people in general. If someone disagrees with someone, it no longer is enough to state your opinion calmly or courteously; there are now more damaging ways to make sure an opinion is heard. Injuring, harming, and even killing people no longer shocks us as much as it once did. We’ve become jaded to the horrific antics of those seeking revenge or acting in pettiness because something is not the way they want it.

Disrespect can stem from bad parenting, learned behavior, hatefulness, anger issues, etc. However, it is ultimately the perpetrator’s fault for their actions. No blame should be placed on others for evil behavior.

How can we teach our children to respect others?

Set a good example. If you are disrespectful to others, from the grocery store clerk to your employer, your children are bound to follow that example, no matter how many times you “tell” them to do the opposite.

From an early age, teach your children the importance of manners. “Please” and “thank you” are far too sparse in conversations these days.

Teach them to be generous and avoid selfishness. Putting others first is a critical component of avoiding self-centeredness.

Set an example for them on how to interact with those with whom you disagree. Role play ideas and encourage them to humbly and kindly state their position when it differs from yours.

Impress upon them the importance of honesty. Honesty and respect go hand in hand. Not too long ago, a friend of ours had her mailbox run over by the neighbor’s visitor to the neighborhood. Rather than admit to backing over the mailbox, the visitor denied it and lied to the police, even though there were witnesses. An easy solution would have been for honesty from the one who ran over the mailbox, a plan to have it repaired, and forgiveness. Instead, dishonesty got the crook off the hook.

Reiterate the importance of treating others how we would like to be treated. A good habit for all of us to remember is to ask ourselves before each action, “Would I like that done to me?” If the answer is “no”, then we shouldn’t be taking that action against others.

Remind them that not everyone is worthy of their respect. However, even so, we must remember that lashing out with destruction on someone’s person or personal property is never the answer.

Above all else, teach them to love and honor God. Respecting and revering our Lord is paramount to loving and honoring others.

Even if your children are no longer young, it is never to late to teach them the importance of respect. And as adults, it’s never too late for us to remember – and exemplify – that importance as well.

Other posts on this blog you may be interested in reading:

the importance of life

the importance of honesty

the importance of priorities

14 things for girls to consider before dating

Movie Monday: Signed, Sealed & Delivered Home Again (movie review)

Movie Monday: Invincible (movie review)

6 suggestions for getting through the rough times in life

6 suggestions for getting through

There is no problem God can’t solve.
There is no promise God can’t keep.
There is no prayer God can’t answer.
There is no person God can’t save.  ~ author unknown

I have no idea who wrote the above quote, but it’s a truthful statement that applies to anything life throws at us:

There is no problem God can’t solve – The husband who just lost his job and has no idea how he’ll support his family.  God can solve the problem of unemployment.

There is no promise God can’t keep – The teen who’s all alone and depressed with nowhere to turn. When God says He’ll never leave her nor forsake her, is that a promise she can trust? His promises in His Word are trustworthy.

There is no prayer God can’t answer – The bad news he just received that he has cancer. Does God hear the prayer that’s being sent for courage to endure and for the healing of an illness? He hears our every prayer.

sick man

There is no person God can’t save – The spiritually single woman who longs for her husband to know the saving grace of  Jesus Christ. No one is beyond God’s saving grace.

So what can we do when faced with the difficulties of life?

Here are some suggestions for getting through those particularly rough times.

1. Spend an abundant amount of time in prayer. I have found in my own life that the times when I’m going through difficulties are the times when I grow in my relationship with the Lord. I am reminded anew to surrender to Him, lean on Him, and put my hope in Him, in every situation.

2. Draw upon God’s Word. During a particularly rough time in 2007, I drew great comfort from Psalm 91.

Psalm 91 4To this day, it remains my favorite chapter in the Bible. Here are some other verses to lean on during the troubles of life.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. ~ 1 Peter 5:7

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. ~ Matthew 11:28

Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you. ~ Psalm 55:22

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. ~ Psalm 46:1

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. ~ Psalm 121:1Psalm 121 1For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. ~ Isaiah 40:29-31

3. Reach out to and rely on a friend, someone who’s faith is strong and someone who will be there for you for the duration of your situation. It’s true that you find out who your true friends are when you’re going through a difficult situation. That type of friend will be there for you through the good times…and the bad.friends4. Seek assistance from your pastor, one of the elders, or your Bible study leader. Many churches now have Biblical counselors who apply the Word of God to the hardships of life.

5. Ask for prayer support. One of the biggest blessings is our church’s prayer chain. Ask for prayer support from those you trust and who are committed to interceding for you.

6. Think of a way to bless someone else. The quote that states “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” is definitely a good one to put into practice.kindness2Sometimes life’s challenges seem overwhelming. You wonder if God is really there and if He truly cares about what you’re experiencing. He does care. Very much. And He loves you so much that He sent His own Son to die for you.

Don’t give up hope. Reach out to Jesus. Cry out to Him. Trust in Him. And depend on Him.

Friend, He loves you so much.

Other posts you may enjoy:

the importance of relying on God

12 verses to encourage the burdened heart

10 suggestions for dealing with the corona virus situation

Movie Monday: Where Love Found Me

Movie Monday: Indivisible

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