Are you extremely tired and frustrated, lately?
Have you been feeling overwhelmed and stressed by the demands of your daily life?
You are not alone.
Today, I share a glimpse of my own experiences dealing with life as an overwhelmed Mom. It's an excerpt from my 15 day devotional, Refresh and Refocus - a simple reminder that when everything seems to be falling apart around you, start with God...
Immediately, he adjusted the windows, allowing me some fresh air as he pulled the car over.
The sudden turn of events caused us to forget the argument as we shifted our attention to helping me feel better. Intuitively, I started to use breathing techniques I learned over the years and soon I felt myself getting calmer.
Later that day, as I thought about what happened, it dawned on me that I had just experienced my first panic attack.
I was puzzled and bewildered because “things like these” didn’t happen to "people like me". I simply didn’t get panic attacks. Panic attacks were reserved for people who were constantly stressed and didn't have their lives under control.
For sure, this pregnancy was to blame.
For the first time in my life, I was overweight and struggling to move myself from place to place. I was exhausted from lack of sleep since my sides and hips were enduring constant pains. I was constantly vomiting and unable to keep any food down.
My body had become my worst enemy.
I had endured enough of this roller coaster of a pregnancy.
Feeling broken and helpless, I could hardly function.
Didn’t God see that this was too much for me to handle?
Hesitantly, I approached my Father. I was feeling guilty for neglecting my relationship with Him over the years. We would talk often enough but I had lost the habit of bringing my needs to Him.
For a long time, I tortured myself with thoughts that He would be unwilling to help me since I hadn’t been consistent in seeking Him or loving Him.
He, however, pulled my thoughts to the life of the psalmist, King David, who had also been blindsided, repeatedly, by tumultuous life situations; who had turned away from God’s principles in moments of weakness.
David understood that in God’s eyes he was always loved. He understood that His mistakes could never separate him from God. He learned that when he was feeling most disturbed and troubled, God was his best Helper.
He, like me, felt the compulsion "to draw nigh unto God" in times of adversity.
Psalm 34:18-20 (NIV)
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
He protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.
Reflect & Journal
Identify a moment in your life when you first noticed that you were on a path to being overwhelmed or when you first had a meltdown that came out of nowhere?
How did you feel?
How do you think God felt about the situation?
Father, today, I draw close to you because I am feeling extraordinarily overwhelmed. I feel burdened, tired, confused and alone. As I am reminded that you are never far from me, help me to be willing to come to You when I feel this way. Help me to know that even when our relationship has deteriorated, Your heart is always positioned towards me. Forgive me for walking away from the comfort of your love.
For more excerpts from my devotional, Refresh and Refocus, sign up here.
If you would like to find out how you can take some small but intentional steps to get your energy back and start doing the things you love again, contact me to learn more about my online spiritual rejuvenation retreat. You can also learn more here.
I would also love your feedback on what you have read. Email me here or leave a comment below.
A few weeks ago, my son and I went to an FC Barcelona soccer event in New York City.
For convenience, we opted to travel via Grand Central Station in NYC.
On our way home, about fifteen minutes before our train was scheduled to leave, I needed to use the restroom. One was fairly close to where we were waiting, but as I approached the area, I saw that the line was too long. There was no way I would be in and out of that space in time to catch the train.
As I looked over at my son with a really disappointed and forlorn look, communicating that I didn't think my need to use the restroom was that urgent after all, I caught sight of an older man who was patiently trying to get my attention. He was eating a meal at the table just across from my son.
"There is another one at the top of the escalator", he said, vigorously tilting his head to direct me. "Hardly anyone uses it. You will be in and out before you know it."
I thanked him profusely and dashed to the top of the escalator to find it exactly as he described. Within a few minutes, I was back to thank him again.
Smiling really widely, he proceeded to introduce himself to me in more detail, telling me he was a veteran.
I started to notice for the first time that he looked a bit disheveled and dirty, when I heard him say,
"I am homeless and I hang out around here so that I can get food from the garbage bins."
My heart sank for a moment. Here he was, with practically nothing, armed with a smile and warm conversation - cheerfully engaging me. He was willing to help me at the tip of a hat, yet, he is eating other people's leftovers?
I have always had a roof over my head and food to eat. However, some days I struggle to be civil to my own family, what's my excuse?
I started to dig into my pockets and purse to see if I could find some money to help with food or anything, but all I had was seven dollars in cash. I gave it to him.
By now, I became aware that the time was ticking and if I didn't say goodbye, we were about to miss our train. We were also hungry but wanted to eat in a less expensive venue and didn't want to exceed our budget for the morning's events. We needed to leave.
We wished the old man all the best then hurried to catch the train.
I, however, was unexpectedly pensive the entire trip back. I kept wondering how $7.00 could realistically allay the stressors of anyone who doesn't have food or a place to live.
Should I have gone to an ATM machine and given him some more money, taking the risk of missing my train; losing the value of our pre-purchased tickets?
Should I have broken the budget and bought a meal right there and take the time to hang out with him? Maybe, find out more about what kind of help he might really need?
It was then that the Holy Spirit brought to my memory, the story of "The Good Samaritan" (See Luke 10:25-37). Honing in on the point that the story has become very cliche to many of us Christians. Its power totally lost on us as we get caught up in our busy and self-centered lives. For a moment, it dawned on me that the Spirit of the Lord has been wooing me towards awareness in this area of my life for some months now.
Lately, I have been encountering many people with a variety of needs that seem bigger than my perceived ability to help them. But it isn't that I am not able to help them. The challenge for me is that when I calculate what it's going to cost me to help, I decide that it is way beyond what I want to give up.
In retrospect, I am being forced to accept that there are some seasons of my life where
I get into a comfortable space and I only want to give when it feels easy.
Because I have given enough already.
I am too tired...
I am too busy...
Yet, God keeps drawing me to the notion that real loving involves being willing to help others even when it costs me more than I intend to expend. Real loving requires me to pause, even when I am busy - to see people and their needs; to listen to God's voice as he directs me how to help.
Sometimes, when I am required to help, it's going to be hard. I know this.
Too often, I find myself thinking twice about sacrificial giving. Losing valuable moments of learning how to love like Jesus did, and ultimately missing God's call to live a life of sacrifice in simple, everyday ways.
Do you sense that God is also motivating you to give more than you normally would?
Have you been listening and how have you answered His call?
Join the conversation below.
Share some of the ways how you notice God encouraging you to give more?
Until next time,
If your prefer to chat via email you can reach me here.
Now, there's a question I find myself asking more frequently than I should.
The last time it reared it's ugly head, I quickly retorted with a firm and memorable response that has stuck with me ever since.
"Ok, Kareen." I said to myself, as patiently as I could.
"I am going to say this to you as nicely as I can.
Do you eat every day?
Do you sleep every day?
Do you breathe every day?"
After a very long and deliberate pause...
Believe it or not, there was actually a time in my life,
when the notion of avoiding prayer, was NEVER an option in my life.
It didn't even come to my mind.
I used to talk to God about EVERYTHING!
You name it, I would say it.
I remember when I was in the fifth grade in elementary school and I got into a fight with another student. She ripped the pockets off my school uniform! Ugh! If you could only see my reaction in living color...
I was totally enraged. In those days, any uniform-wearing Jamaican child knew that if you showed up on your parents' door steps with any aspect of your clothing out of place, you were surely in for a remarkable beating! Or, was that just for the poor kids?
Needless to say, I was mad and I couldn't wait to get home to have a very firm conversation with God about how I was going to resolve the issue of the torn uniform and to find out if He was excited about the way I gave this girl "a good beating" for doing the wrong thing.
So, yes that's just a tiny example of the length and breadth of my conversations with God as a child.
But as you may have guessed, the nature of my prayers
soon became more complex the older I got.
The more complex the life issue, the more difficult the conversation.
And, by the time I became a teenager, some days, I just did not feel like talking to God. I was too angry at Him; or too disappointed or hurt.
When it got so bad, that it hurt too much to be away from the one Person I truly considered to be my Best Friend, I would just sit with Him and cry. No words. Just tears.
Many times, I would simply walk away and go about my day, as usual. Feeling trapped that I didn't want to be with Him but felt equally lonely without Him. Sigh.
These days my prayers are sometimes still the same. But now, more than ever, I crave to be in God's presence. Our relationship has mellowed beyond friendship, I have finally gotten to the place where I cannot live without Him. My life genuinely makes no sense without Him.
I have come to appreciate that Jesus' rhythmic approach to prayer
is not a suggestion of how one's prayer life should be.
It was a necessity. For Him to live life the way He did, He had to be in intimate contact with God several times throughout the day.
He said there was absolutely nothing He did without His Fathers approval. (See: John 5:19-20, John 5:30, John 8:28, John 12:49)
How did He know if the Father approved or disapproved? He stayed completely connected to the Father through regular communication with Him by means of prayer.
How could He survive some of the encounters He had on earth, with the people He had to deal with? You may have already seen, in Matthew 21:12-13, that Jesus got angry sometimes, just like you and I.
We all know that people did "stupid stuff" around Him all the time. So what do you think stopped Him from doing "stupid things" that pushed people away from Him?
It was prayer.
Being in communion with His Father always, kept Him from yielding to circumstances that could deteriorate His relationships with others, we call them temptations sometimes.
So, if Jesus prayed to sustain every aspect of His life, why shouldn't I pray?
Join the conversation below. Tell me what are some of the things that make you hesitant to pray? In what ways do you find yourself avoiding God?
Until next time,
If your prefer to chat via email you can reach me here.