Feeling Weary?

Tired Woman

Every so often my passion for helping others just kind of sizzles out in an exhausted sigh.  It raises all sorts of uncomfortable questions at a time when my brain and body are begging for a break.  The questions, however, are necessary if I want to figure out why I’m feeling so tired.

Here’s my “go to” list of questions:  Am I happily serving others or am I doing some inner complaining?  Am I tired physically?  Spiritually?  Emotionally?  Is this burnout or a season of discouragement?  Do I base my serving others on the response I get short term?  Am I too results oriented?  That old buzz word, “co-dependent” flashes through my mind and I have to do a quick check to assess it.  Am I compulsively serving?  Is it feeding a need in me?   Exactly why am I serving others?  And what exactly have I been doing lately and is it stuff I’m really wired to do?

I went through this just a month ago.  It was the beginning of December. I groaned as I looked at my to do list.  I wanted to throw in the towel on everything, even the good stuff.  I didn’t have the energy or the desire to do any of it.   And I didn’t want to spend the energy going over all those questions, either.  Then I came across this.  Let me rephrase that.  Then I came across this, again:  “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Funny how this verse keeps popping up in my life. I’m pretty sure I was in my twenties the first time I picked up this particular clue phone and it’s rung often since then.  It was time to answer it yet again.

It took a good two weeks to contemplate all the questions and figure out why I felt so weary.  Actually it wasn’t a what but rather a who. Someone who had reached out to me for help was being rather unkind. I realized I was looking at temporary results based on someone who had other issues in their life that weren’t about me at all. Though the issues affected our relationship, there was no need for me to take it personally.

I acknowledged my hurt feelings, prayed about the relationship and put the person and their issues in God’s hands. I forgave them, and was able to let it all go. The weariness went away.

Which brings me to today.  I just returned to Chicago from D.C. after spending time with my daughter’s family.  I was able to help out as they welcomed their latest, a healthy baby boy.  It was a gift to be invited into their home and their lives for the better part of two weeks.  I’m so proud of my daughter’s efforts as a military wife and mom to their three children. She continues to amaze me as I watch her bloom and grow.

My time there resurrected all kinds of memories of raising my own kids, and honestly, they were tough memories.  Life with kids is a constant ebb and flow of wills, spontaneous laughter, daily disasters and joyous milestones. There are tedious chores and tender feelings and lessons that are only learned the hard way.  That goes for parents and for kids.   And, I’m learning, for grandparents! But that’s another post…

I came home with a strange mixture of exhilaration and exhaustion.  I wasn’t quite sure what that was all about until I read my Bible this morning.  In Luke 8, verses 43-47, is the story of the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years.  She touched the edge of the cloak Jesus was wearing and was instantly healed.  “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.  “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”  The woman, seeing she couldn’t go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet.  In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and had been instantly healed.  Then Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace.”

I love this story for several reasons, the first being that Jesus persisted in wanting to see her, know her, hear her story.  He really cared about her. That’s love.  That is exactly what He has done for me.  He seeks me out.  He wants to hear directly from me what I’ve been going through.  And He heals my heart, over and over.  You know, I hope, that He cares exactly the same for you.  He wants to look in your eyes, know you and hear your story and pain and heal you and love you, over and over, again and again.

I also love that the woman shared the intimate details of her illness, regardless of the people around them.  She knew she could trust Him.  She was so grateful that she let nothing hold her back, not the crowd, not the social mores, nothing.  That is so inspiring.  But what struck me today was the power part, how power left Jesus.  I’ve always wondered about that.  How did He know power left him? (Power in this instance means inherent capacity to carry something out.)

Today I finally got it.  I gladly served my daughter and her family, but in giving to her, it took from me.  I was tired.  The same goes for my situation back in December. Giving takes from us and gives to others. In the process we lose power. We get tired. We feel worn out. And that’s okay. That’s what giving does when it comes from the heart. That’s what love is, that’s what love does.

But there’s more. After Jesus healed that woman, He continued on that day and raised a little girl from the dead. Just a few paragraphs later He sent out His disciples and “gave them power {that same kind of inherent power – ability} and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.  He told them, “Take nothing for the journey — no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt…”

Our ability to move forward comes as He provides.  We just have to show up. Say yes. Here I am. Send me. Which is what I did with my daughter. I showed up, not sure exactly what I could do that would help the most. Turns out it wasn’t the cleaning or watching the kids or any of the things I intentionally did that helped the most. It was who I am, the way I’m just wired to be a calming influence that meant the most to her. That, I can tell you with the utmost truth, is not something I can do on my own. That is simply a gift God has given me. He gave me that to give to her. He knew what she needed. Seeing that happen brought tears to my eyes.  Though I doubted my ability to be enough for her, God made me enough.  Showing up, giving, may come with a cost to us. But the most meaningful gift to others is Jesus shining through us.  Knowing that is both rewarding and exhilarating.

I had to smile as this all began to fit together when I read those verses today.  God began preparing me for my trip a month ago when I had absolutely no energy to serve anyone. He knew what was ahead and what I was meant to do.  Once again, He has my back, just like He has your back right now. He keeps preparing us, encouraging us, and giving us what we need to do the work before us. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a really good verse:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9


Beautiful You!

Do You See Yourself as God Sees You?

Do You See Yourself as God Sees You?

Timing is everything, and three things happened in the last, rather difficult week that led me to connect the dots and realize afresh a truth I sorely needed.

First, my son Nathan shared a post on Facebook by Dove, the maker of beauty products, titled “Real Beauty Sketches” with the tagline, “You are more beautiful than you think!”  They filmed an experiment which consisted of an artist rendering two versions of a woman’s face without seeing her.  The first version was the result of a woman’s self-description; the second version came from another woman who tried to describe to the artist the first woman’s face.  The second version was more accurate, with softer, more gentle features. The faces looked happier as well, more peaceful.

I love the fact that my son (he’s 26) posted this on his timeline.  Men are so aware of how critically women perceive themselves.  This bothers him, and it bothers me, too. Especially when I hear young people criticizing themselves.  The older I get the more I see how absolutely beautiful youth itself is.  The glow of young skin, the vitality and health that radiates with or without stunning features.  It’s all in perspective – and wouldn’t my mom just love to hear me say that after all the complaining I did in my youth!

Second, Turner Classic Movies (the one channel I want on a deserted island – that happens to have cable!) had a snippet showing Sydney Guilaroff as he talked about dancing with Greta Garbo.  Curiosity led me to Google, and I learned that Sydney was the man I’ve been looking for my entire life.  And when you hear who he was, you may realize you’ve been looking for him, too.  I must tell you, however, before you get your hopes up, that Sydney died in 1997.  I’m a bit disappointed, though my chances of meeting him were nil.

Who was he?  Oh, just the genius behind the “look” of all the Hollywood Stars.  As in, Marilyn, Liz, Greta, Ava, Tyrone, Clark, Lucille, Claudette, Joan, Norma, Vivian, Hedy, Harlow, Marlene, Greer, and the list just doesn’t end.  He had the gift of studying a person’s face and creating a look just for them or for their latest role.  A snip here, a part there, a curl, a twist, a bang, a color, and the stars looked amazing and the world scrambled to recreate their looks. The best stars wouldn’t dream of doing a film without Sydney to do their hair and with good reason.  He brought out their best.  He made them unique.  He saw the hidden and brought it out for all to see.  He affirmed them.  All this because he saw their potential.  Ah yes, I’ve often wished to find a budding Sydney at a local salon that I could afford! (No offense to my amazing stylist, Heather, whom I love dearly!)

Third, I had lunch yesterday with a most delightful woman.  She’s in her early eighties, and just as smart and vital as I recalled her to be twenty years ago.  She sat down at her piano and magnificently played refrains of beloved hymns, hymns that are a healing balm over my tired, wounded soul.  Her hands are extraordinary as they play; the notes resounded with depth and layers and joy and beauty that made my heavy heart simply fly as notes soared and dipped.  But what made me weep was the beauty of this aging woman – still strong in her faith, still using her gifts and blessing me so richly with them.

You see, as I saw the beauty in her, as she put her hands on the keys and I felt the incredible beauty of her music, I realized anew that this is how God sees me when I use my humble gifts.  As I saw the fullness of her faith in God and her love for Him as she played music more to Him than to me, I felt stronger in my faith.  As I saw God using her at 83 to bless me and heal me, I felt affirmed in my desire to be useful to Him, too, despite my own weaknesses.  

I walked away from our time together renewed, strengthened and encouraged in many, many ways, none of which she did intentionally.  How she would have described herself and her actions and how I’ve described them would create two completely different pictures. Funny thing is, she told me that I significantly encouraged and blessed her – in ways I didn’t even realize.  True story.  I was floored. Two women, who God brought together, blessed each other at just the right time in just the right ways just by being who God has already created us to be.

And so I connect the dots…when I’m discouraged I become so much like the women in the Dove experiment, only I’m minimizing, critiquing and creating a distorted image of who I am on the inside.  God – God! –  has studied not just my face but my very heart and soul.  He snips discouragement, parts my path from hurtful people, adds curls of encouragement just when I need them, twists that bad into good, adds some bangs and surprises, colors my vision with hope and faith and I realize I am affirmed and loved by my Creator.  He placed that potential in me, He does all He can to bring it about, and all I need to do is be faithful to Him and to who He’s called me to be.  As I do that, He brings about the healing and joy and relationships I need.

I thought I would pass this encouragement on to you, just in case you struggle with your inner image sometimes, too.  You are so beautiful in His eyes!  He studies your face, your heart, your hopes and your disappointments.  He wants to heal you, too. He has placed potential in you and He alone knows how to bring it out more fully and more beautifully than you have ever dared to hope.

Who needs a marvelous hairstylist, or even Dove beauty products and their affirmation, when our very souls are crying out for affirmation?  Only the One who created our souls can truly affirm us.  And that is only done through the powerful work Jesus did on the cross, so that our souls can be cleansed from our sins and made beautiful, white as snow, righteous and lovely, complete in Him.  And that is just the beginning of our transformation – for He who began a good work in you and in me will be faithful to complete it – which means He’s actively at work in us and through us always.  The ultimate makeover is ongoing.  Who you are is a beautiful work in progress!  He looks at you and sees you with all that potential, and yet loves you just as you are today.  Trust Him when He says He loves you so…..much!  

One last thing – go bless someone with who you are – you may be exactly the encouragement they need today, because you are beautiful indeed!

The Mentor Me Series – Step Four – The Action Plan

MentorMeKickOffThe Mentor Me Series – Step Four – The Action Plan 

Today we go deep, to where the rubber hits the road.  I love this part!  So, let’s open in prayer, follow up on what resources you’ve chosen and then get to work.

“God, thank you so much for the heart of_______.  They’re here, looking for answers and willing to do the necessary work.  Direct the process, every step of the way.  Give us wisdom to know what to do and the ability to go deep and follow through even when it might be difficult.  You, as our Shepherd, promise to guide us.  We trust you to do that now. In Jesus name, amen.”

Now, to follow up on last time, tell me about the resources available to help you.  Did you chose one?  Why that one?  How did it help you?

Okay, now let’s focus on setting up your Action Plan!  Remember when you knew what you wanted – and you simple went after it until you got it?  That time when nothing held you back?  Sigh.  I know, I remember when I did that, too.  How I wish I could bottle that determination and pull it out when needed.  Theories abound on what flips that switch in us, and frankly, they’re pretty good.  Psychologists have boiled it down to something like this:  if you really want it, you’ll do the hard work to get it.  If you fall short, it’s because you only think you really want it but there’s a deeper motive you’re not willing to face that keeps you from attaining it.

Sometimes life is so full of difficulties that going deep is simply not an option.  For example, your loved one is diagnosed with cancer and needs you more than ever. You delay your goal to get a promotion at work until they’re better.  No wrong motive there.

But let’s go even deeper.  What if you’re willing to delay it because you know the real reason you haven’t been promoted is because you often arrive late to work? You resent your boss and being late is your way of letting her know you’re not happy. Emotionally, it will take a toll on you to face your motives and deal with the difficulties with your boss.  I get that.  However, consider the benefits of being honest about your real motive and addressing it.  In the light of truth and honesty, you may see how the energy you’re spending on an unhealthy work situation can be freed up so you’re there 100% for your loved one.  Plus, deal with the issue with your boss now and you’re in a better position for that promotion later.

Motives.  I keep using that word – have you noticed?  Why?  Because motives motivate.  Merriam-Webster defines motive as ” “something (as a need or desire) that causes a person to act”.

Please take a few moments and let that sink in.  Motives motivate us to take action.  

What motivates you?  Your desire to be loved, your desire to be a certain way, to be perceived a certain way, to do this, to not do that, to obey God, to defy God, to gain something?  Consider both internal and external factors that determine your motives.  Ask yourself if you’re motivated by someone else, either in being like them or in making sure you’re not like them.  How do societal values affect you, or the values of your friends, or enemies, or family?

1.  Make a complete and honest list of what motivates you in life.  Make this list for your eyes only so you’re able to be as thorough and as honest as possible.

2.  As you look over your list, take it one step further.  After each motive, ask yourself “Why does this motivate me?”  Keep asking why until you’ve identified as many of your personal motives as possible.

3.  When you’ve run out of answers,  look over your list.  Read it through several times.  Make truthful adjustments, and then consider that this is who you are.  

Now that you’re clear about who you are, what do you think of yourself when you see this on paper?  Is this who you want to be?  Your motives and attitudes shape your responses to life and your choices in life.  Change them, and you change yourself.  Make different choices, have different responses, and your personal history is altered forever.

Our motives and the consequences of our motives strongly affect us and those around us.  Prisoners of war are clear examples of the freedom men and women have to chose their motives and attitudes when every other freedom has been denied. Amidst inhumane suffering, many prisoners chose to be motivated by the hope of seeing their loved ones again.  They see the bitterness and evil in their captors, so they’re motivated to be the opposite of that.  They chose to trust in God’s love for them despite the terrible things happening.  Their endurance motivates their fellow prisoners to endure.  How prisoners cope in the future, upon release, is often determined by their motives and attitudes during their imprisonment.   They are a powerful example of how our motives shape both our present and our future.

4.  Identify the motive behind your one clear objective in being mentored.   If by any chance you’re still not clear on your motives behind your objective, write a list of pros and cons.  In your list of pros you’ll see the benefits – which come from your motivators.  Go ahead and name them.  Are you happy with your motive?  Is it enough to move you forward?  If yes, go on to the next step.  If not, you either need a new objective or a new motive.  Which will you choose?  

5. Brainstorm:  Create a list of actions you believe will bring you closer to your goal.  Get them all out on paper.

6. Now, put them in order.  You’re creating a step by step Action Plan to reach your objective.  

7. Put a realistic time frame around your Action Plan.  Make it challenging but not disheartening (not too long or too short).  Each time you accomplish a step, tell yourself what a good job you’re doing.  If the step isn’t successful, but you gave it your all, tell yourself you at least tried – that’s a “little win”.  

8.  If you find yourself stalling out, this last step is for you.  a) Give a copy of your Action Plan to someone who will hold you accountable. Follow up with them regularly.  If they fall through, you’re still responsible for your plan, not them.  Be honest about the motive that’s holding you back.   b) Identify that one thing you really don’t want to do. Now, go do it.  Don’t think about it, just do it.  Get that monkey off your back!  Your sense of accomplishment will be off the charts!    

Step 4 – Action Plan – My Contribution:

The rubber’s hitting the road.   I’m stepping up my prayers for you because in many ways, this is make it or break it time.  You’re either going to do the work, or revise your objective or motive, or delay the work.  Or, worst case, you’ll walk away altogether.  I don’t want you living with regrets or unfinished business. You’ve done a lot of work to get to this point and I’m committed to hitting the road with you, running shoulder to shoulder in spirit, with my head up to face the changes that come so I can encourage you when it gets tough and rejoice with you as you accomplish your goals.  

I’m also hoping that by seeing yourself honestly and clearly, you’ll become more intentional about the choices you make in all areas of your life.  If you’re having a hard time admitting your motives, I’ll be praying that you’re open to asking God to help you with this.  He knows where you’re motivated by wounds from  painful experiences.  He knows the choices you make that keep those wounds concealed and the consequences on you and those around you.  He also knows the motives that are just plain not good.  We all have them at times, and we all need forgiveness for them and the hurtful behavior that comes from them.  I’m hoping you don’t go hide in shame, but rather bring them to the light so they don’t run your life anymore.   God’s in this with you for the long term, at a deeper level than I can possibly go, and I hope you see the incredible love and forgiveness He has for you through Jesus, and how I represent in just a small, small way, the fact that He wants the best for you and is cheering you on, always!

The Finish Line – our final and very special step – is coming next. Meanwhile, run well, my good friend, run well.  

A Poem and a Prayer, For You


Today, I want you to know I’ve heard you.  What you’re going through, it’s rough, really rough.  So, this is for you:

I Heard You

Just want you to know
I heard you.
I know you’re hurting.
Your marriage is troubled,
Your health is precarious,
You’ve been through a great deal,
Financially it’s rough.
You’re facing more,
With less of everything.
You’re not sleeping well,
Eating well, living well.
You’re not sure what to do.
In fact sometimes you’re downright
You might mention these things
And then talk about trivialities,
They are good distractions
I know, I heard.
I just want you to know,
Jesus heard you, too.
As much as I love you,
As much as I’ve prayed for you,
He loves you even more.
As you breathed in pain
And exhaled fear
Before you even voiced it,
He said, “I heard you.”

Dear Jesus,
Please give______ peace today, your peace that passes understanding. You see their fears, their pain, their questions. Help them to be open to you, to your gentleness and kindness, your desire to heal them in their innermost places where they let no one else in. Touch them in some real way, may they have no doubt that you love them. Give them faith, give them hope. Please, Lord Jesus, give them hope, hope in you alone. May they know your love, the only pure and completely trustworthy love on this earth. And if the only love they see today is from me, then let them see you in me. Teach me how to love them even more today, that they may love you, trust you.
I put them tenderly in your hands, Lord. I trust their situation to you and your ways, which are far above my understanding. In Jesus name I pray, amen.