Uncategorized

Reader’s Question: Overcoming Difficulty

Here is a question I get from young and old alike: how can we overcome difficulty? Failed marriages and broken relationships. Financial strain and poor health. Disappointment and shame. We will never rub shoulders with someone who hasn’t experienced some kind of pain or struggle in life. Knowing that we each carry burdens and sorrows, the question deserves careful thought.

How can we overcome difficulty? I think of a time in David’s life that roiled in pain and trouble: returning home after several days away, he discovered his city burned and all the women and children carried away. (See 1 Samuel 30:4) “Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep.” Have we ever cried until we couldn’t cry anymore? If this wasn’t bad enough, the people then talked of stoning David because of the tragic loss of their homes and families. Everything David knew and cared about was gone-his house burned down and his wives and children kidnapped and then his own people wanted to kill him! How did David overcome this tragedy? “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” (v.6)

He strengthened himself in the Lord. David got with God. In the middle of confusion, weeping, and pain, David turned his broken heart toward God. He reminded himself of the goodness of God. He remembered all the times that God provided for him and protected him. He fed his heart with hope in God. David then asked God a very direct question: should I pursue this troop? God answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.” (v.8) David trusted that he heard God right and he went after his enemies and recovered all that had been stolen.

Do we have difficulty in our life? Are there broken relationships and discarded dreams? Are the struggles of daily life sometimes too much to bear? We must strengthen ourselves in the Lord, dear friend! How do we do that? Just like David, we remember the testimony. “Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart! Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.” (Psalm 119:2,24) Do we see it? Blessing rests in keeping His testimonies. The testimonies of God are a delight and our counselor. Remembering all the good things God has said and done throughout our lifetime as well as throughout history will strengthen our heart in the day of trouble.  Our hopefulness anchors in the God stories we share and remember. They will be our delight and they will give us strength to follow what God says.

Do we have a testimony of God’s goodness in our lives? If not, take someone else’s! That’s right, take someone else’s God-story as our own, because if He did it for them, He will do it for us. Let the testimonies in scripture become delightful counselors. Relive those God encounters—remembering who God has been and what He has spoken —and we will be strengthened in the Lord. God alone has the encouragement, strength, and direction we need to overcome our difficulty.

*A personal side note to this: Psalm 119 WRECKED me this week. I cried my way through this psalm as God opened my eyes to His wonderful truths hidden in these verses. This psalm is an alphabetic acrostic divided into 22 stanzas with eight couplets in each stanza. All the couplets in the first stanza begin with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, aleph; the couplets in the second begin with the second letter, beth; and so on to the end of the poem. This appears to be an expansion of David’s Psalm 19:7-11. Wow, God’s Word never gets old. I hope you get wrecked by His love this week!

For more good stuff, check out my book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassionanywhere books are sold. Keep those questions coming and feel free to share my blog with anyone who might need an encouraging word!

Uncategorized

Monthly Mashup #4

Welcome to my monthly mashup! These are some of the things I’ve enjoyed or pondered this month:

An app/TV show I’m enjoying: The Chosen. Maybe I’m late to the party, but I am obsessed with this show! “The Chosen is the first-ever multi-season TV show about the life of Jesus. Created outside of the Hollywood system, The Chosen allows us to see Him through the eyes of those who knew Him.” Very simply, download The Chosen app onto your phone and play it on your TV. I think you can also subscribe to The ChosenYouTube channel. There is nothing smarmy about this show – it is absolute fire and you will love it! Watch your response to Jesus grow in affection and discover insightful conversations with everyone viewing the show. Already a fan? Post in the comments your favorite episode!

Goals I’m pursuing: building playfulness in my life, along with better overall strength and agility.  Why do we as grownups forget how to play? Several simple additions to our yard have introduced a fun way to move through my day. We have a rope swing right out the front door and a contest within our family to see who can swing out and land the furthest away. I run at it at least three times a day! We also have aspens laid out horizontally to form a balance beam maze. Whenever I need a break from the computer, I just run on the balance beams. Yes, I have completely wiped out and bruised more than my pride but I am seeing my balance improve. All of us probably have a park nearby, a beautiful hike, a beach, or someplace that we can run and play. When life feels too serious, try skipping!

Makeup and Skincare products I really like: I use two products that land on opposite ends of the price spectrum. I love everything e.l.f. cosmetics makes. When my daughter first started working for e.l.f. she brought all kinds of products home to try out. I couldn’t get over the quality and simplicity of design—sponges, brushes, primers, brow pencils, all fun and affordable. I really like e.l.f. and I seem to get something new every time I run by the store. Not in stores, and on the pricey side of skin care is a company called Saranghae.  www.lovesaranghae.com Saranghae is a skincare company that “simplifies the complicated world of Korean beauty.” The complete 5-step routine feels pretty darn fantastic. (These are not paid endorsements, by the way.)

A quote I’m living right now: “Where the deer bound, where the trout rise, where your horse stops to slather a drink from icy water while the sun is warm on the back of your neck, where every breath you draw is exhilaration – that is where the Aspens grow…” (From Peattie’s Natural Histories)

Next week marks one year of blogging and a year since my book, Gracious Living was published. Let’s celebrate the milestone together next week as we talk about the power of Consistency and doing hard things. Blessings to you and have a wonderful week! 

Uncategorized

Beautiful Resilience

I am a proud survivor of this year’s family camping trip. You remember I mentioned a glorious trek into the Emigrant Wilderness last week. Perhaps I should have printed T-shirts with a giant mosquito on the front and the simple statement “I survived Wood Lake 2020.” I thought the hike to our campsite was twelve miles. I had water for about that much. Turns out it’s more like sixteen miles but who’s counting? (Uhh, me actually)

It was so 2020! This must be the year of doing hard things. I didn’t realize the altitude would affect me so greatly. My feet blistering wasn’t quite in my plan, either. I got worn out, honestly. Then the mosquitoes took it to a whole new level of uncomfortable. But maybe life is feeling that way for many of us: a whole new level of uncomfortable. The economy, marriage, parenting, working from home, feeling lonely have worn us down. Are you struggling my friend?  Maybe the road you are on has taken an unfortunate twist. But once you head into that wilderness there’s just no turning back now, is there? You may find in the strenuous journey that you emerge a different person: stronger, wiser, more compassionate, and flexible.

Here’s the scripture that carried me through that sixteen-mile hike: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, persevering in prayer.” (Romans 12:12) I figure that if the apostle Paul can write this admonition as one who suffered much, surely it can nourish and support me with my daily struggles. Seriously, when your marriage aches with pain and baggage, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, persevering in prayer.” Are medical issues weighing heavy on your heart, my friend? Are you wondering if anyone sees your life? Whatever struggle, whatever long ass journey you are on, be joyful in hope, don’t give up! Be patient in difficulty. Persevere in prayer. When this truth is your compass, the strength of God guides you. He will surely answer the cry of your heart. With each step, be joyful in hope, another step, patient in affliction, more steps, persevering in prayer, step by step. Joyful in hope. Patient in affliction. Persevering in prayer. As the trail grows steep so does your hopefulness. Resilience is invigorating. People will wonder at your patience and strength of character. Prayerfulness will steady your life and create a beautiful culture all around. The bottom line is love. When we are joyful, persevering, and prayerful we are actually loving ourselves, loving others, and even loving God.

On the journey, I had people cheering me on. I hope you do too. Either way, you are a proud survivor. Keep moving forward! Resilience feels great and it looks good on you too. Romans 12:12 is a guide; let it direct you no matter how long the journey. When you overcome difficulties this week, congratulate yourself on hanging in there! Appreciate what God is carefully crafting in your life.

***

Do you need resources right now to come alongside your spiritual journey? Go to MargaretAllen.org to get Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion.