5 Tips for the Overwhelmed

The number one word I hear from students during this last week of class before finals is this: overwhelmed

I’ve been there! I am there! Here’s what I’ve learned after 25 years of completing large, overwhelming tasks like writing a dissertation and many books. I was a student for over 20 years. I know what you’re feeling!

Try these tips: 

1. Break each task into smaller parts, and make a checklist of small things to accomplish. For a paper due, for example, write the outline, finish paragraph one, etc. I woke up early today, overwhelmed with work, and I made a simple list to help my mind stay organized. 

2. Write down every concern in a prayer journal and describe what makes you most fearful about failure or not doing your best. Then what? We’ll still love you. You’re still wonderful. God is still in control. I’m doing this right now! Sometimes the overwhelming feeling is about fear of something else. 

3. Prioritize what matters most, and save that task for your most alert hours. Do easier work when you’re most tired or least motivated. I’m planning on correspondence tasks later today when I’m more tired; this task takes less mental energy. 

4. Remember your goals and why you’re doing what you’re doing. Remember the joy and privilege of work! Remember the blessing of it! Rejoice in the work ahead! I’m thanking God right now for teaching, grading, and parenting tasks. 

5. Return to the simplicity of the Spirit-filled life. Read Philippians 2:13: “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” I also love Isaiah 26:12: “Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” I ask God to empower me this day right now! 

So for an overwhelming day, move through the hours with some structure (lists), some self-reflection (prayer journal), some prioritization (hard work when you’re fresh and energized), some reiteration of your goals and joy of working (gratitude), and dependence on God (Spirit-filled life). 

Have a wonderful day! I’m praying for the overwhelmed today. 

Share

Turn on All the Lights

To prepare for the Warm Welcome as my daughters arrive home from school, I rush around the house, waking it up with lights, candles, a snack, and music. But mostly, it’s the lighting. Turning on the lights creates that feeling of a grand entrance into some new space of joy and cheer.

As I’m turning on the lights–the lamp on the piano, the one behind the chair in the corner, the overhead one, the kitchen, and the little side table lamp–I realize that there’s something about turning on the lights. Shadows scatter. Hidden things come out of hiding. Now, we can welcome what needs to come inside.

I think about welcoming the Holy Spirit into every part of my life, of turning on every light in every dark corner. I think about what I do that welcomes God, and I prepare my heart like I prepare the home each new afternoon.

PS: For those of you counting, I know I didn’t post Live with Flair yesterday! I actually forgot for the first time since March 2010. Besides that one day in Kansas when I couldn’t post about the wind turbines, I now have two days (at least two days; I’m not sure!) I haven’t posted: that one day in Kansas and the Sunday I just forgot.

What was I thinking? The whole day, I couldn’t wait to begin reading Tozer’s The Crucified Life. That’s what I thinking and perhaps what I might have written about. I was also thinking about how much I love being a student and my upcoming courses I’m taking this summer for part of my staff training with Cru. I was thinking about friends undergoing trials, about whether I had enough in the refrigerator for school lunches all week, and about an upcoming trip. So that’s what I would have offered up at Live with Flair!

Share

Almost, But Not Yet

I walk back to where I know the vernal pond appears each spring. I carefully peel back the thorns and prickly growth from my pants. The forest feels so wild and overgrown today, like autumn and winter offered no discipline, and the wilderness grew unrestrained.

I see it.

How does it come? How does it know to appear?

The salamanders, frogs, ducks, and what I’m hoping are turtles return and lay eggs. In just a week or so, you’ll look into this pond, teeming with new life in the form of croaking frogs and more slithering salamanders than you could ever count, and you’ll stare in wonder at what was once not here at all.

I love vernal ponds!

I peer into the water. Everything’s in place, but no living thing has yet come. Soon! For now, it’s so quiet, so still and reflective, and so peaceful. I balance on a fallen log high above the thorns and prickles and recall a girlhood by water. I keep thinking I’m way too old for this. I put one foot in front of the other on the log.

I do not fall.

Instead, I know I’ll be back to see what inevitably comes in this season of wonder, rebirth, and joy.

 

Share

Within Four Limits

I teach so many Penn State students who intend to devote their lives to the healthcare field. I read their papers. I ask all about new research. I listen to their wisdom.

The teacher becomes the student of the students.

They all report the same four things about what we know works best for physical human thriving. It’s not a mystery. It’s not some obscure, difficult thing. Over all the years of research and all the varying kinds of fad diets and breaking news about health, these four essentials remain unchanged about what our bodies require.

  1. The right amounts of sleep.
  2. The right amounts of calories.
  3. The right amounts of water.
  4. The right amounts of movement.

I think about keeping these four boundaries around us, like a beautiful perimeter inside which our physical health thrives. My students challenge me to consider abundance within limits, like Living with Flair has always attempted. I think about planning for better, more consistent sleep. I think about awareness of food and planning better to stay within a good calorie range. I think about how to hydrate instead of drinking massive amounts of coffee. And I return to the daily walk.

Share

There She Goes

Today my older friend from church calls to read a passage of scripture just for me. She reads from 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 in her 85 year-old voice that’s recovering from an illness.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God. 

She reminds me that she loves me and that she doesn’t have to try to serve God at her age and in her state. She just calls people, sends them books (the one she’s picked out next for me is Tozer’s The Crucified Life), and lives out the truth of 2 Corinthians 2. God always leads us in triumphal procession. God always uses us to spread the fragrance of Christ. We don’t need to worry about this. We don’t need to try.

My friend concludes the conversation by reminding me that some people don’t understand Christ’s righteousness. “Can you believe it?” she says, astonished that people walk around not knowing Him. And then she’s off to call someone else to encourage, to mail a book to someone else, and to pray for whatever anyone needs.

There she goes, spreading the fragrance of Christ.

 

Share

On Its Way to Someone Else

I hear a powerful quote from Dr. Todd Ahrend that sends me spinning with urgency, possibility, joy, and purpose. He says, simply, “Salvation has come to us because it’s on its way to someone else.”

Salvation has come to us because it’s on its way to someone else.

I remember again all the precious souls around me and how God’s love and appeal flow through me, always, to them (2 Corinthians 5:20). I remember again how whatever I’ve learned and have been given now bless and mean something for someone else (2 Timothy 2:2).

I picture God’s blessing and power coming to me for you. For them. 

I think of all who have gone before me and every spiritual mother and father I’ve known who God used powerfully in my life. Salvation was on the way to me through them. And now, it’s on the way to you.

Share

Announcing a New Bible Study and An Invitation for You

Great news! My new Bible study on Ephesians is coming June 6th! This study invites women to consider living in seven new ways and to connect with God and one another through sharing Savior Stories (instead of Shadow Narratives).

I focus on the seven most important verbs in Ephesians from each chapter: included, chosen, seated, strengthened, renewed, filled, and proclaiming. I just love this study! I wrote the kind of study I would love to participate in myself; it’s designed to foster authentic connection with God and others. And it provides some vision and training regarding writing and speaking, so women know how to share their Savior Stories with others in their communities.

To help promote this study, would you consider joining the Launch Team for a free book, fun gifts, sharable images for social media, and behind-the-scenes book news before the big release day in June? Sign up by Sunday at https://goo.gl/forms/a8u2XHmf4u6hMsYI2 . You can also read more about the Launch Team at that link.

I cannot wait to connect! Feel free to share this post!

Share

Our Savior

Happy Easter! He is risen! He is risen indeed! 

What a Savior who loves us like this! He transfers us from the domain of darkness and into His wonderful kingdom of light. 

He conquered sin and death, and Easter rises in our hearts today and every day. 

This is all we need. This is who we are. 

Share

New Ways of Seeing

My dad hands me a pair of high powered binoculars to examine the birds at the feeder across the yard. I zoom in with perfect clarity on the bright yellow and black America Goldfinches and linger awhile. 

I close my eyes and listen to the songs of a dozen kinds of birds in the woods behind the house. 

I consider carefully new ways of seeing. Such a beautiful world! 

Share