Sleepless Nights—My 4-Step Solution

Eyes wide open, I turned to look at the clock on the nightstand, 2:18. I groaned, “Not again, why in the world am I awake at 2 in the morning? That’s the third night in a row. There’s nothing I can do at 2 a.m. to fix any of my problems, so why am I awake?”

Sleepless nights. We all have them at one time or another. Sometimes we’re awake because of pain, or hunger, or some other physical reason. More often, it’s our own mind, our thoughts waking us up, keeping us awake.

Just this week, I read not one, not two, but THREE different posts on Facebook from friends who struggled with not enough sleep.

In 2 Corinthians 11:27 the apostle Paul writes, “I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” (NASB)

Awake in the middle of the night, I know there’s not a thing I can do to solve any of my problems. I’m not at work to earn money to pay bills, the household chores have either been done or must wait so I don’t wake my husband, and it’s certainly the wrong time to consult with any friends who might be able to help.

It’s just me.

Well, it’s me AND God.

I used to ask, “Why am I awake?”

But now I turn to my 4-Step solution for these sleepless nights. Mentally, instead of dwelling on the things I cannot do at 2 a.m. I,

    • Praise God for His amazing creation
    • Share thoughts of gratitude
    • Pray for the people whose names come to my mind
    • “Cast my cares” upon Him

Without fail, every sleepless night I take the opportunity to do these things, when I do  fall asleep, I rest well and waken refreshed, ready to meet the challenges of the new day.

The next time you’re confronted with a sleepless night, spend that time with the Lord. You won’t regret it.

It might even become the most productive part of your day.

“I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night. I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely,” Psalm 16:7-9 (NASB).

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Self-driving Cars, the Way of the Future?

News reports of self-driving cars (presently with limited autonomous features) provide positive and negative information.

Image by Adam Pialasik from Pixabay

Negative

The technology is still in some initial stages and all the “bugs” haven’t been worked out yet

Wrecks occur

Positive

Advancements are being made every day and there are projections for fully autonomous vehicles in the future

The possibility of fewer wrecks because distracted driving will no longer be a factor

What does this mean for us?

Instead of driving our attention could be on getting work done, i.e. a mobile office for everyone who needs it

We could attend to our children and participate in family travel games

Maybe napping would even be an option

How does a self-driving car operate? I think it would work something like this—

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Similar to On-Star® technology there would be computer monitoring with signals transmitted by satellite

Remote access would allow us to turn the car on, have it drive over to the curb to pick us up (how convenient THAT would be), program in our destination and away we go

Now ponder this

A satellite that we can’t see, touch, or hear, operating far away providing the directions of

      • When to go
      • Where to stop
      • What road to travel
      • How to avoid dangers by guiding us around other vehicles and obstacles

Autonomous vehicles on the road require us to trust our lives to computers and the satellites. Not always a bad thing. I mean we do have On-Star® and Alexis, right? The results provide evidence that it could work. Albeit, not perfectly.

But let’s go a step deeper, or maybe I should say Higher

God, whom we can’t see, touch, or hear, provides us with directions for

Image by FotoRieth from Pixabay

      • Life choices
      • Moral decisions
      • Wisdom when faced with obstacles
      • Relationships enveloped in love

If we’re willing to trust ourselves to the technology of self-driving vehicles how much more can we trust ourselves in the perfect being of God. The evidence of creation proves the care and detail he takes in his work.

Maybe it would be awesome to have my car drive itself to pick me up without me walking through a downpour halfway across a parking lot.

But what is even more awesome is having God as my driver. He has a plan, knows where I’m going, and sees the path of travel. He guides me through the obstacles of life.

If you’re ready to trust technology to guide you, will you trust God as well?

“For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, Nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him,” Isaiah 64:4 (NASB).

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Clear Trails, God’s Path

Hurricanes and summer storms uprooted trees. Branches fell. Torrents of water created gullies where there used to be a sandy trail.     Clear trail_now a gully

One of my favorite trails to ride my horse became impassable from one end because of the huge tree that lay horizontal. Hollow, dead, crushed at one end.

Clear trail_no longer

The clear trails are those which are bush-hogged, trimmed, maintained with care and attention. The trees stand tall with limbs shading the path. These trees protect the horseback rider, or hiker, from the blazing summer sun and offer a lovely carpet of leaves on a brisk, fall morning. Clear trail_favorite (2)

As we travel these paths we can savor the beauty of creation. Birds, sunsets, flowers, and floating butterflies are there for us to enjoy.

To remain clear the paths must be tended. Fallen branches might need to be moved out of the way. Grass and weeds have to be bush-hogged and trimmed.

The trail blocked by the fallen tree was no longer passable and the other end of it lay uncut and overgrown with weeds. In a similar way, if we ignore God’s path it will become overrun with the fallen branches of sin, and the weeds of indifference will block our way.

Imagine the joy and beauty we experience when we allow God’s Word to bush-hog our hearts!

“All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies,” Psalm 25:10 (NASB)

 

 

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One Like No Other

Shattered, broken, shards strewn everywhere. Whether it’s a dish that crashed to the floor, or overwhelming tragedies in life, still—shattered.

Drowning in debt, the loss of a loved one, or relationships falling apart often leave us feeling broken, useless, unworthy. Sometimes the broken dish can be repaired with some glue but usually it’s swept up and thrown into the trash. Devastating circumstances can cause us to trash ourselves, others, give up on any repair.

 

Yet, there is hope.

God uses these same challenging circumstances to mold us like a potter molds a lump of clay.

A potter places the lump of clay on a wheel and sets the wheel in motion. The clay is thrown in ever spinning circles. The potter’s hands encircle the clay, applying pressure in just the right places to form the shape he desires.

Sharp tools carve out designs, provide special features, help each piece become unique.

One like no other.

Our circumstances, good and bad, become the pressure and the tools in the Lord’s hands as He shapes us into the person He desires.

One like no other.

Just when we think that all is lost, hopeless, God reminds us that He is the Potter, and He’s not finished yet. He squeezes us, remolding, pinching off a piece here, and smoothing over a rough patch somewhere else. He changes us in a “do over.” To make us—

One like no other.

“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand,” Isaiah 64:8 (NIV).

 

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One Like No Other

Shattered, broken, shards strewn everywhere. Whether it’s a dish that crashed to the floor, or overwhelming tragedies in life, still—shattered.

Drowning in debt, the loss of a loved one, or relationships falling apart often leave us feeling broken, useless, unworthy. Sometimes the broken dish can be repaired with some glue but usually it’s swept up and thrown into the trash. Devastating circumstances can cause us to trash ourselves, others, give up on any repair.

 

Yet, there is hope.

God uses these same challenging circumstances to mold us like a potter molds a lump of clay.

A potter places the lump of clay on a wheel and sets the wheel in motion. The clay is thrown in ever spinning circles. The potter’s hands encircle the clay, applying pressure in just the right places to form the shape he desires.

Sharp tools carve out designs, provide special features, help each piece become unique.

One like no other.

Our circumstances, good and bad, become the pressure and the tools in the Lord’s hands as He shapes us into the person He desires.

One like no other.

Just when we think that all is lost, hopeless, God reminds us that He is the Potter, and He’s not finished yet. He squeezes us, remolding, pinching off a piece here, and smoothing over a rough patch somewhere else. He changes us in a “do over.” To make us—

One like no other.

“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand,” Isaiah 64:8 (NIV).

 

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Coffee – A Life Lesson

Coffee.

Rich, dark, aromatic.

I open the container of coffee and inhale the perfume of one of my favorite fragrances.

In anticipation I wait for the brew to finish [stopped and went to make coffee] so I can enjoy the flavor of this delicious liquid.

It’s strange that such a delightful treat results from filtering water through the gritty bits of crushed coffee beans. Gritty bits that are then thrown away or used for compost.

Whether using a drip maker, old-fashioned percolator, French press, or even an espresso machine the same technique applies – We FILTER the coffee and the result is a pleasant beverage.

Which leads me to ponder this —

I filter my coffee, but do I filter my words?

Is what I say pleasant?

Delightful?

Or instead do I share the gritty bits?

We can use this filter from Chapter 4 of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (verse 31, NIV)

And brew delightful relationships

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (verse 32)

 

 

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The Greatest is Love

Oh no, Lord. Not again. I breathe in silent prayer for the young man who staggered up to my counter at the store. Father, I don’t know if this boy is drunk or strung out on drugs. But You know him Lord. You know what problems he faces, the struggles. You even hold the answer. Please help him overcome whatever holds him captive.

“How can I help you.” The young man asks about our Western Union service. I finish his transaction and watch while he walks away. Still not steady, but walking. I pray for his mother too.

We’re told, “pray without ceasing,” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NASB) and that makes sense with the many opportunities to pray for others. For deliverance, for salvation, redemption, health, finances,

For peace….

At the store I also see many reasons to praise God for the love and grace He provides.

But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love,” 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NASB). Some translations have the word love translated as charity and this love is evident in the tiny grocery store as customers give to others—

The leather-clad biker who leaves his change, a $20 bill, to the young mother with a toddler and an infant, standing in line behind him.

The woman who pulls out her debit card to pay the remaining $7 for a college student’s purchase so he doesn’t have to choose what food to put back.

The man who reached into his own pocket for the change needed to cover the elderly man’s meal.

People who struggle to feed themselves and their own family yet pull out a $5 bill to purchase prepackaged groceries for the local food pantry.

The cashiers who put a handful of change from their own purses at their register, just in case somebody comes up a little short.

The director of a faith-based thrift store who arranges with the grocery manager to pay the bill of a family enduring hardship.

These things demonstrate the greatness of America. It’s not the politics (which often leave us disheartened no matter what viewpoint we hold) but the people. Their love and their prayers.

Our Love.

Our prayers.

Our Father.

… put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, …
“Whatever you do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father,” Colossians 3:14-17 (NASB).

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Loose Terminal = No Power

Saturday my husband and I ran errands. We got into the car to leave the first stop and head to the second. The car wouldn’t start.

Nothing. Not even a click.

He looked at me, I looked at him, he said, “Go see if someone can give us a jump.” I got out of the passenger seat to go back inside Sonic to get help while he tried again. It started before I reached the restaurant door so I climbed back into the car.

Weird.

I finished at the credit union (Saturday hours are great), got back in the car. It wouldn’t start. Again nothing.

My husband got out, opened the hood and started checking things. I sat in the driver’s seat to test it when he asked. He wiggled this, adjusted that, but since all his tools were home, we still needed to get there. One final adjustment, he signals me through the windshield to turn the key. This time it started. Next few errands will have to wait for another day. We needed to get the car home before we got completely stranded.

In the driveway at home, Tony checked the car again, turning the key in the ignition.

Nothing.

He pulled his tools out of the garage and went to work. He found a loose battery terminal.

photo courtesy of Pixabay

Loose terminal = no battery power to the engine components.

The day before, Friday, I read 1 Chronicles, Chapter 13 about David moving the ark of the covenant. He didn’t follow the instructions God gave on how it must be transported, and bad things befell the men who were moving it.

“David was afraid of God that day, saying, “How can I bring the ark of God home to me?”
2 Chronicles 13:12 (NASB).

On the surface these two events are not related, yet how many times do we limit the power available to us, the power of God Almighty, because of our fear?

Fear is like a loose battery terminal. It impedes the flow of energy. It prevents us from drawing upon the power of God. Of course, we can’t manipulate God, but we can tighten our connections.

And just like my husband needed his tools to tighten the battery terminal we need our tools, the Scriptures, to keep our connection to God, and His power.

Update. The car is running fine.

Lord, how many times do I limit the power available to me through You by letting fear control my behavior instead of doing things Your way? Help me to learn from David’s mistakes and not repeat them.

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Holding onto God

I work in a grocery store. I’m amused by the man (usually it’s a man), who will shop without a cart or basket. He hunts for the items he needs, gathers them into his hands, tucks boxes under his arms and makes his way to the cash register. Sometimes blindly, as he can’t quite see over the load he’s carrying. His hands are full!

At the register he sets and sometimes drops, the boxes/cans/bags on the conveyor belt. Many times, he breathes a sigh of relief. Whether it’s because he’s grateful he made it without dropping anything on the floor or because THAT chore is finally over, isn’t always clear.

I watched an infant reach up to her mother from the seat in the shopping cart, crying. Mom reached out to take her child in her arms, but the little girl’s fists still clenched the toys she held. Her hands were full!

Last year, I was in a similar situation but instead of boxes, cans, bags, or toys, I juggled worries over financial problems, nervousness over a job interview, and concerns over moving decisions. My hands were full!

I cried out to God. I knew He heard my prayers, but I couldn’t see the answers. My arms were overloaded with anxieties blinding me to His Presence. I cried out louder, then I realized—Holding onto God is easier when there’s nothing else in your hand.

Are you holding on to too many things? Is God reaching out to you, but your hands are full? We often hear the phrase “Let go, and let God…” but do we truly “let go?” If you’re struggling or juggling too many things remember it’s easier to hold onto God when there’s nothing else in your hand.

But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,” Joshua 22:5 (NIV).

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Feeling Trapped? Just Whinny.

 

photo credit pixabay.com

A horse whinnied.

I dashed into the house, set my coffee cup on the counter, grabbed my keys, stuck my feet into my boots, and raced out the door to the barn.

I called out to my son as I left, “Reecie must be trapped in a stall again.”

As I crossed the arena toward the pasture gate, I could see all three of my horses grazing at the back of the pasture. Nobody was stuck in a stall this time.

What the …? Who whinnied? And why? My questions went unanswered. Expecting food, the horses started walking toward the barn. I fed them a small lunch and refilled their buckets with fresh water. After cleaning an area of the barn, I put hay in front of each of them. Gave them a stroke in their favorite spots—Holly’s shoulder, Reecie’s face, behind ChaCha’s ear and headed back to the house.

A horse called. I responded.

A HORSE called, I responded.

Huh, a horse CALLED, and I responded. When I heard the horse, I didn’t stop to wonder if it was my horse, a neighbor’s horse, did it really need me, was it talking to other horses. I just went.

How much more does God respond when WE call? Even better, He knows who calls, and why. He shows up to attend to our needs, to offer comfort, to be there when we need Him.

Feeling trapped? Just whinny. God hears.

“But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself; The Lord hears when I call to Him,” Psalm 4:3 (NASB).

 

 

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