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When you feel overwhelmed: just do the next thing

Let’s have a little pep talk, shall we? I need it - perhaps you do, too?

Life at our house is often a blur, but the last couple of weeks have been frenetic. Our biggest ministry event of the year, followed immediately with a sudden three day road trip. Then, still several hours from home, we received a call from Job and Family Services - we brought home our newest foster baby, another newborn baby boy, the next morning. And just to make it more exciting, baby-arrival day was also our five year old’s birthday, I had a speaking engagement on Saturday, and our kids were participating in our church’s Christmas concert.

Homeschool was shelved for the week. Doctor appointments, errands, laundry, paperwork, and all manner of other little details came crashing in. And oh yeah - we have a newborn in the house. And it’s Christmas.

What’s a girl to do when life gets more than a little crazy?

Here’s a pep talk I’m giving to myself for the upcoming week, some pointers I need to remember.

  1. Spend time with God. Everyday. I know you feel like you don’t have time. But if you have too much to do to spend time with Jesus… don’t you have too much to do to NOT spend time with Jesus? {Remember - You aren’t enough. He is.} Turn on those Christmas lights, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and crawl into the arms of our good Father.

  2. Make a list. If you just feel ambiguously stressed you worry about things that aren’t a big deal and forget the things that are. Write it down. You’ll feel better. {Relying heavily on my Daily Planner!}

  3. Prioritize. Look at the list and decide what’s essential and what’s not. Aim for the essentials and then re-evaluate if you have time at the end of the day.

  4. Breathe. The more you tell yourself how suffocated you should feel by your schedule the more challenging it is to just slow. down. and. breathe. It’s not the end of the world if all of those little things on the list don’t get done. Take your worried thoughts captive. Are you focused on truth? Does your reaction match the size of the problem? If not, hard stop - pray. Think. Breathe.

  5. Let it go. As my friend Cindy Bultema recently reminded me, I don’t have to do it all. Christmas cards? Cookie exchanges? Parties? Homemade dinners? Pinterest perfect hand-crafted decorations and perfect gift wrap? If you enjoy it and you feel relaxed and at peace doing those things - dive in. If it doesn’t bring you peace, if you feel stressed, stretched, overburdened - let it go. I needed Cindy’s reminder this week. At our house, this means saying no to multiple Christmas parties, picking up an occasional fast food lunch when we’re out running errands, and ordering pizza for dinner. Maybe more than once.

  6. Take a shower and get dressed. Put your shoes on if it’s a particularly challenging day. I’m always tempted to stay in my ripped yoga pants all day when we have a newborn and my sleep schedule reflects the fact that we have a newborn. Get dressed. You won’t be worried about a friend or social worker stopping by. You can go get the mail, sign for that package (let’s hear it for online Christmas shopping on weeks like this, yes?!), and run a quick errand without realizing you haven’t showered in 4 days and you look half dead.

  7. Say yes to offers for help. It takes a village to raise a Kristi. It takes a village to raise you. We need Jesus, and we need community - there is a great strength from living life in close contact. On weeks like this, God has taught me to humbly say “yes, please” when friends offer to step in and help. May I bring you dinner? Yes, please! What can I do for you? Watch my kids, please! Can I pick up something at the store for you? Yes, please! And if no one's offering, ask them.

I’m thankful that life doesn’t always run at this pace. But, sometimes it does. Start your day with Jesus, and as Elisabeth Elliot would say - just do the next thing. His grace is enough.


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