“ARISE, GO FORTH AND CONQUER!”

At 5 AM, the alarm jarred me from a deep sleep. My mind raced ahead into my day with rapid-fire images of the multitude of responsibilities that waited for me at the office – and when I got home at night. My first thought of the day was, “I can’t. I can’t do this…I don’t want to do this.” That scenario played out for what seemed like a never-ending cycle. That was certainly the case in the first years after my husband died, but it was also a familiar theme of the last decade of my career. I was ready for retirement ten years before it became a reality. When I look back, I wonder how I made it through. Then I remember… My work as an Addiction Counselor, Social Worker, and Hospice Grief Counselor was meaningful and rewarding. The problem was that there was just too much work to be done, and not enough time to do it. The fact that I circuit-rode a five county area, often in wintry weather with hazardous road conditions, didn’t help. Even a rigorous self-care program was no match for the level of stress I experienced.  What helped me through? I started each day by the side of my bed, on my knees, with this simple prayer: “Lord, Show me your will for me today and give me wisdom and strength – and willingness – to do it.” After a shower, I listened to Praise & Worship music as I put on my make-up. It helped turn my thoughts in the right direction. Once my morning routine was complete, I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed to my favorite chair to spend time with God in earnest. After reading a portion of Scripture, I chose a verse to personalize and write as a prayer in my journal. Deuteronomy 33:25, 27 might look like this: “Lord, Thank you for your promise to give me strength equal to whatever this day holds. Let me feel your everlasting arms underneath, holding me up.” After my time with God, I was ready to “Arise, go forth and conquer!”* Just as my iPhone needs recharging each day, I still need a spiritual recharge before heading out into my day. I may be retired, but I am not ready for the rocking chair! Now that I have time and energy, I am pursuing my dreams of expanding my speaking and writing ministry, Holy Ground All Around. I need God’s wisdom and strength as much as I ever did, so I still start each day with time with God. Do your spiritual batteries need recharging? Do you ever wonder how you will make it through the day? Allow for time with God – even 10-minutes in the morning will help get your eyes off your problems and onto the solution. God is with you and for you. He will give you everything you’ll need to face the day ahead. A few minutes alone with Him will enable you to “Arise, go forth and conquer!” Today’s Challenge: Set aside at least 10-minutes for time alone with God. Read his Word. Ask Him to show you His will for you; then ask Him for wisdom, strength – and willingness – to do it. * From “The Passing of Arthur” by Alfred Lord Tennyson, Idylls of the King, 1859 –...

STRESS – IT’S SPELLED C-H-A-N-G-E

Seasons come…and seasons go. In a few days we will mark the passing of summer and move into autumn. A part of me wants to cry, “No-o-o-o!” I grieve each year when it’s time to hang up my swimsuit. Although the forecast is for rain and temps in the 50’s and 60’s this week, I’m in denial, holding on to the hope of one last dip in Lake Superior. My summer company is gone. The dead stocks in my flower garden tell me it’s time to let go of the season. The geese have sealed the deal – they are slipping out of town in the early morning hours, aiming their V’s south. Their honks of good-bye are always poignant, so unlike the raucous announcement in spring that says, “We’re back!” I have a cabin reserved for the Fall Women’s Retreat at Gitche Gumee Bible Camp. There is a blush of first color on the trees – a promise of the glory to come. Soon I will remember, “That’s right, autumn is my favorite time of the year!” Give me one warm, sunny Indian summer day, and I will be wishing the calendar would stop there…but it won’t. Just when I’ve come around to reveling in autumn, a fall wind storm will strip the trees bare – an omen of the winter ahead. Winters in northern Michigan come too soon and never pass too quickly. We joke that we have four seasons: Early winter, mid-winter, late winter, and next winter! It isn’t so much the seasons themselves I struggle with. It’s change. For most of us stress is spelled c-h-a-n-g-e. Think of it: a change in our health, finances, jobs or schedules can result in stress. If it’s true that “The only thing that remains constant is change,” no wonder we feel stressed as often as we do! Change can be a positive thing, but even good a change involves loss. I retired three years ago. That was a very positive change! But I miss the camaraderie of my co-workers, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the paychecks and health benefits! Change is always a process of letting go of the old and getting on with – and even embracing – the new. The challenge is to do it gracefully. I admit I have been prone to kick and scream over many of the changes that have come my way in life. Just knowing a change was coming was often a source of stress. I am not alone. Many of us find a false security in the status quo. Perhaps we would experience less stress with change if we took heed to the ways and words of some of the saints of old: • Solomon said: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). • David declared: “But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘My times are in your hands’” (Psalm 31:14, 15). • Daniel proposed: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons…” (Daniel 2:20, 21) • The Apostle Paul stated: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12,13) Change is as inevitable as death and taxes. Our lives would be less stressful if we would ask God to help us trust Him with the times and seasons of our lives. Today’s Challenge: Are you in the midst of a season of change or anticipating one? Ask God to help you weather this time gracefully. Trust Him to give you the strength and wisdom you need for the transition. Express gratitude for knowing that your times are in His...