Archive for the ‘Frustration’ Category

Photo Credit: cellar_door_films via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: cellar_door_films via Compfight cc

Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you’re a failure no matter what you do? Or how about one where you walk away defeated every time a certain person speaks to you? Or maybe you’ve been in one where you feel like you’re just hanging on for dear life and are afraid to let go for fear that you will fall further than you can get back from. I can honestly say I’ve been there. In fact, I can think of at least one situation in my life right now where I feel like that.

The question I have at times like this is, do I give up or do I hang on? The reality is, I could do either one. And either could turn out for my good because there are good and bad to both decisions. Currently, I have a situation whereby I have to decide if I need to stay where I am at or look for a change. That’s difficult for me because I have invested a lot of time and effort into this situation. I have worked hard and have had a lot of successes. There was a point when I woke up wanting to be a part of this situation.

Those days have passed. So now, I have to ask myself, do I stay or do I go? Do I survive or do I live? Do I give up or do I let go? That last question might seem like I’m asking the same question twice. But I’m not. Giving up means I stop trying. I just give up and let things fall as they will. Letting go means, I make a choice to walk away. I’m not giving up; I’m choosing a different path. Giving up means I probably stay in the situation that is defeating me. Letting go means I look for an opportunity to learn and grow and change – and hopefully be built up.

Right now, I feel sometimes like all I do is survive. I do what I have always done because it’s what has worked for me in the past. I’ve probably mentioned I like to stay in my comfort zone. That’s because I know it works for me. The problem is, I think I’ve become stagnant. And that is probably part of the reason I feel frustrated and defeated all the time. I’m tired of doing the same thing, expecting a different outcome. That never works for me (duh!). Instead of things getting better, I fall further and further into defeat until eventually, I either am forced to get out, or I fall so far I can’t get myself out.

I no longer want to survive. I want to live. I want to grow. I want to be built up and build others up. I do not want to stay stuck in a place where there never seems to be a win any longer. I no longer want to be in a place where I feel like I’m a failure every single day of my life. I no longer want to listen to all the things I’m doing wrong (and believe me there are lots of them). I want to hear what I’m doing right once in a while. I’m tired of dwelling on the negative. I want to hear and see the positive.

So, the question I pose to myself today is: “Are you going to give up or are you going to let go?”

Your turn! Have you ever been in a situation where you spent each day feeling defeated? What did you do (or are you doing) to better that situation? Do you think there’s a difference between giving up and letting go? I’d love to hear from you!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo Credit: Mundoo via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Mundoo via Compfight cc

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost an entire week since I left New York. How time flies when you’re busy, right? Anyway, I had intended to keep up with my blog while I was there, but got a little busy after the first couple of days. In fact, I did more driving in that week and a half I was in New York than I do in six months (no joke). It was a lot of fun, and when it came time to leave, I found it quite difficult.

While I was there, I went to visit one of my brothers and his family. I decided that I was going to stop off at my uncle’s house to see my grandmother on the way there. So, I got the address, and general directions, but I figured I’d be fine. After all, I had my phone, which I use for GPS all the time. There was one small problem with that plan – when I hit the little town of Pitcher, the signal on my phone was gone. And I don’t mean it was just slow or spotty. It was completely gone. I freaked out just a little because I had no idea how much I relied on my phone until I didn’t have it to rely on any longer. I pulled over, and tried to get it to work, but to no avail. So, I started driving in what I was assuming was the correct direction, thinking if I could just go a little further, I might get my signal back. In the meantime, I had someone behind me, who was probably getting quite irritated at the crazy lady driver in front of him. So, thinking I’d get out of his way, I pulled into the drive of a church – all the way up to the grassy parking lot.

Now, if you know anything about New York in March, you probably know that it can be cold or warm, snowy or sunny, or any combination of weather. On that day, it happened to be warm and sunny. And when it gets warm, a grassy parking lot is not exactly the best place to stop. See, I, in my infinite wisdom (or lack thereof), stopped on that grassy lot, and tried to figure out how to get a signal on my phone. Within a few moments, I realized it wasn’t going to happen, so I tried to leave. To my horror, the car didn’t want to leave. It was stuck in the mud. I tried for probably a good 20 minutes to get out of that parking lot on my own – making things worse with each passing moment. Finally realizing that I wasn’t going to be able to do anything about the car on my own, I decided that I was going to try to find someone home. So, I knocked on the door of someone across the street. She was quite friendly and gave me some ideas – which probably would have worked for someone other than me. In the end, she and two other people came over to help me get out of the mud. My car and sneakers were covered in mud. The situation seems quite funny now, but at the time, I was frustrated and annoyed and ready to just throw in the towel.

See, while I was trying to get out of that mess on my own, I was praying. I was asking God to get me out of the mess I had gotten myself into. In fact, at one point, I believe I even asked Him why He’d allowed me to get stuck in the first place – as if I hadn’t made any decisions on my own. I had been so focused on relying on my phone, that I forgot to rely on the only one who is able to be relied on at all times. Now, I believe God sent those people over to help me. I truly do because I don’t even know where two of them came from. I only talked to the one lady, but three people came over to help me. And in true small-town fashion, we stood around talking and laughing at the situation afterward. But the moment that could have ended in more frustration didn’t end that way. It ended with me feeling blessed by three people whose names I don’t even know.

I believe God was answering my prayer before I even thought to pray it. I believe He orchestrated events to allow me to learn something. This is what I learned that day. I need to stop relying on myself and everyone else so much. I need to rely more on God. I worry too much about what is going to happen and forget to rely on God. I am so busy trying to control everything that I forget that I don’t really control anything. I whine and complain about the bad stuff instead of remembering Romans 8:28 that tells me that God “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (NASB). I forget that He can use even being stuck in the mud to bring about something good in my life.

In the end, I made the rest of the trip to see my grandmother and my brother and his family with no further issues. But I walked away with a lesson that I hope never to forget. Even when I feel stuck in the mud, God is there, and He is working things out for my good. I don’t have to stress and whine and complain. I can rest in His promise that He is there with me, through everything. And HE is in control.

What about you? Have you had times when you felt like you were “stuck in the mud?” What do you do in those instances? Do you try to control more or do you let it go and trust it will work out?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

 

By Chris Sardegna

By Chris Sardegna

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I like things my way. I make plans all the time, and when things don’t go the way I planned, I get a “little” upset. I’ve gotten somewhat better over the years, as I have come to realize that not everything is going to go my way, but those little frustrations still arise when things don’t go quite right. That’s when I find I have to be careful. My tendency at those times is to whine, complain, explode or any combination of those. And when that happens, I want to just stop what I’m doing and quit. I wish my first response were to take it in stride, but most times, it’s not.

For instance, this morning, as I was running, my app decided to kick me out mid-run. Now, I was having a good run this morning, and it really irked me that my app stopped working. I couldn’t get it to let me back in, and boy was I mad. I had a few choice words to say about my phone and the app at that point, and they weren’t ones I am willing to repeat. I’m not proud of myself for those moments, but those moments do happen. At that point, I almost said, “Forget it! I’m done running today!” Thankfully, I’ve come a long way from where I was a few months ago, so this little setback didn’t stop me from going forward. So, instead of quitting, I just finished my run. I knew when I had started, so I knew when I was supposed to run until, so there was no reason I couldn’t finish. But that one little frustration almost made me throw in the towel.

The truth of the matter is, there are always going to be things I can’t control. My plans are always going to have unexpected things thrown at them, and that’s OK. In fact, Proverbs 16 has a lot to say about man’s plans. I think the one that sticks out to me the most is Proverbs 16:9: “A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps” (NASB). I can make all the plans I want, but if that’s not where God wants me to be, I’m probably not going to end up there. In some ways that’s a frustration. I mean, I want things to go my way. I make all these plans, and they’re good plans. So, why would God want me to go a different way than what I planned? But on the other hand, it’s also a comfort. I don’t have to worry if things don’t work out the way I planned because God is directing my steps. I need to trust that He knows better than I what is in store for me. He has His own plans and purposes for my life, and as a follower of Him, my job is to follow where He leads. That’s comforting because it means I don’t have to figure it all out on my own. I am never alone on this journey. I always have a Helper who is ready, willing and able to direct my steps.

So, as I go forward on this journey through life, my goal is to become the type of person that takes the unexpected and looks for the opportunity in it. I don’t just want that to be a one time thing. Rather, I want it to become a characteristic of mine, so as I make my plans, I am striving to become flexible, resilient and willing to change direction if necessary.

How about you? How do you handle the little frustrations in life? Are you like me, and like to have things your way? Or are you more open to things going a different way?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo by Wolfgang Moritzer

Photo by Wolfgang Moritzer

“This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24 (NASB)

As I was going for my morning run today, I was praying for God to give me a message – to show me something that I could think on and share. I do this often because I don’t want this to be about me and my accomplishments, so much as I want to point the glory to my Everlasting Father, who is the one who gives me the strength, knowledge and ability to do the things I do. But sometimes, I find myself losing sight of the fact that He is the one in control, and I try to manage everything on my own. When that happens, things tend to fall apart because I am relying on my own strength instead of His. And then, I complain about the things that go wrong or fall outside of my control. So, as I was running this morning, the verse above came to mind. At first, I didn’t quite understand why it was so important, but as I ran and thought on it, it became more clear to me.

See, today was not a pretty day outside. It was gloomy, cloudy and windy – not really a morning one would call beautiful. But, as I meditated on that verse, I realized something. A day is not beautiful just because it’s sunny and warm. It is beautiful because God made it. I noticed what this verse did not say. It did not say, “Rejoice in the sunny days.” Nor did it say, “Rejoice in the day because everything is right.” No, instead it says, “Let’s rejoice and be glad in this day.” Why? Because “the LORD has made it.” That brought a whole new perspective to me.

If you look into the context of this verse, the Psalmist talks about the Lord’s loving-kindness and deliverance from the enemies that surrounded him. The situation that he found himself in was not the best of circumstances, but instead of whining and moaning that things were not going his way, he chose to say, “I will rejoice in this day that the Lord has made.” And that made me think. Every day, I have a choice. I can choose to whine and complain about the events and circumstances I find myself in. Or, I can choose to realize I am in those circumstances, but trust in the Lord’s ability to handle the situations I find myself in – and rejoice in the fact that I know He will deliver me.

Paul told the Philippians to, “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4a NASB). In fact, he found it so important that he repeated himself, saying, “again, I will say, rejoice!” He doesn’t say rejoice only when things are good. He says rejoice always. And that is hard because my natural tendency is to complain about how things don’t go my way. But, I believe that if I choose to rejoice even when things don’t go my way, I will have a different outlook on things. Life is going to bring trouble, trials and sadness. And it’s OK to grieve and even be down, but in the end, I have to decide, am I going to trust that God is in control and rejoice in the day He has given me, or am I going to dwell on all that has gone wrong, and whine, moan and complain?

I don’t want to be that girl who whines and moans and complains. I want to be the woman who trusts God enough to know that He has my life in His hands, and that no matter what happens, He has the ability to turn it all for good (see Romans 8:28). So, along with the Psalmist, today I say, “This is the day the Lord has made, I WILL rejoice and be glad in it!”

What about you? Do you, like me, have a tendency to whine and complain about your circumstances? Or are you the type of person who rejoices in the day that you have been given? What helps you to remember to rejoice when things seem to be going all wrong?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Have you ever been in a situation where you know you should give something up, but you find so much enjoyment in it, that you hold on for dear life? It’s as if that item or situation or whatever it is just grabs hold and won’t let go, right? As you can probably tell, I’ve been there.

This past Friday a few of my friends and I started the Daniel Plan Bible Study. During our session, we watched a video at the end about the foods that we have in our pantries. The hosts were sharing the items to keep and those to get rid of. At one point, they held up a jar of peanut butter. Now, they didn’t say to get rid of peanut butter altogether, just that certain peanut butters are just not good for you because of all the “extras” that are included – many of which are really just poison. I have to admit, my favorite peanut butter is Peter Pan Natural Roasted Honey Creamy peanut butter. In my opinion, it is THE best peanut butter in the entire world. I’ve tried to find something to replace it, but it holds a place in my heart that no other peanut butter has ever been able to touch. So, the moment I heard the words come out of the host’s mouth, I said, “I am NOT giving up my peanut butter!” Basically, I was saying, I’d rather keep eating that item that has “poisons” because I was not willing to part with something that probably isn’t all that great for me in the first place.

That got me to thinking. How often am I like that with my sin? How many times do I say, “I know I should give this up, but I’m enjoying it so much, I just can’t?” How many times have I continued to live in misery, knowing what I was doing was wrong, but feeling powerless to stop it? How many times have I given up what was best for me, to hold onto that sin? How many times have I said to God, “I’m so sorry, God. Help me to let this go and do better?” How many times have I turned right back to that sin?

Matthew 26:41 says, “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (NASB). Granted, I know that this verse is Jesus talking to the His disciples, who had fallen asleep while He had gone to pray in the garden before his crucifixion. But it still applies. How many times has my spirit been willing to let something go, but the weakness of my flesh has taken over? I know I’m not the only one here. Even the Apostle Paul had something to say about that in Romans 7:14-20, when he says, “For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flash; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me”(NASB). So, I want to do what is right, just like Paul did, but somehow, the sin that still resides in me tries to take over. It’s frustrating and painful to admit that no matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to stop doing the things I know I should not.

The good news is that it’s not my power that has the ability to change things. God’s power has the ability to transform my life. There is nothing I can do past, present or future to change my nature. God already provided for that when He sent His Son. He works all things for good to those who love Him and are called to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Paul goes on to say in Romans 8, that if God is for us, who can be against us (vs. 31). He continues,He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:32-35, NASB). Did you catch that? “He didn’t spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all.” And that same Son that was delivered for us, NOW sits at God’s right hand, interceding for us! How amazing is that? That alone would be enough, but Paul didn’t stop there. He went on to say in verses 37-39,But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NASB).

In Romans 7, Paul talked about how he did the things he didn’t want to do, and didn’t do the things he did want to do. When he gets to chapter 8, he’s now reminding us, that we are “more than conquerors,” not because of anything that your or I could do, but because God gave His Son to die for our sins. Because of this, I now have Christ’s power in me, which means, I have the power necessary to let go of the sins that I have been holding onto. I don’t have to try to find it within myself. I need to look to my Savior. I need to remember who gave everything for me and is still there just waiting for me to lean on His power.

So, going back to the peanut butter, I realized that holding onto something bad for me when I was trying to do something healthier was probably not the best decision. So, the peanut butter is gonna go. I don’t want to hold onto the things that are bad for me. I need to let them go and move to something healthier.

What about you? What “peanut butter” are you holding onto in your life? Is there something you need to let go of in order to fully appreciate the power of God in your life? Perhaps, it seems like it’s too hard. Remember, you don’t have to do this on your own strength. Because of Jesus, you are already a conqueror.

From the first time I read the description about the book Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst, I wanted to read it.  As a woman who has many _240_360_Book.955.cover“unglued” moments, I was interested to learn more about how I could avoid reacting to my feelings or when others got under my skin and learn more about how I could respond when my feelings started to rear their ugly head or when I felt like someone was walking on my feelings.  I was not disappointed.  I am so glad that I got the opportunity to read this book because it opened my eyes to areas where I need to improve, but more than that, it gave me practical ways I could actually make progress.

From the words I read in chapter 1, “Feeling unglued is really all I’ve ever known.  And I’m starting to wonder if maybe it’s all I ever be.” (pg 14), I was hooked.  I know that feeling.  I could relate to that feeling.  What followed was a call to “imperfect progress”, to give myself hope that I could make progress, and that imperfect progress is still progress.  Throughout the book, Lysa shares her own experiences and how the principles she gives in this book have helped her to make imperfect progress.  

What I love about this book is how transparent Lysa is with us.  She doesn’t try to make herself seem like this perfect woman who has it all together.  She’s real and authentic, and she candidly writes about how badly she sometimes has responded when someone “bumped up against her happy.”  Because of this, I was more open to reading what principles she put in place to help her to respond better to those who got under her skin or in situations where her feelings were starting to control her actions.  She reminds us that even though we cannot control everything that happens in our days, we can control how we think about them and how we act in response to them.  This is so important.  

She not only gives principles for how to more appropriately respond to those who get under our skin or when our emotions get in the way, but she warns against labeling ourselves.  How often I have put a label on myself (or let others put a label on me), rather than choosing something different?  

Overall, I highly recommend this book to any woman who feels like her emotions are in control of her actions.  I feel like I walked away with sensible, practical ways that I could start to respond in a way that would help me to promote peace, while at the same time not invalidating my own thoughts and feelings.  I found that her examples were easy to relate to and that they added validity to her premises.  This is an excellent read and a good resource for learning to make “imperfect progress.”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com®book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before stumbling. Proverbs 16:18 (NASB)

There are days when I wish I could get a “do-over”.  I’m sure you probably know what I mean – the kind of day when you start out wrong, and it all goes downhill from there.  Often when I have those kinds of days, it often as a result of my feeling of pride – though the results are never something I am proud of.  I get into this mind-set that I have done so well, I can keep doing it on my own power.  The reality is, when I do well, it’s never by my own strength.  I don’t do well because I “resolve” to do well – my resolve always waivers.  I do well when I let God work through me.

This morning was one of those mornings when I wish I could have a do-over.  I don’t know if it was a result of being over-tired, being frustrated, or a combination of both.  Regardless, I handled things badly this morning.  I’d just been telling a couple of people earlier this week how well it had been going with me and my kids – how we hadn’t really had any shouting matches, how we were handling things much better, etc.  Then this morning comes – and I fall apart.  I lost it over nothing really.  I yelled at one daughter for running behind and not being responsible, and basically acted like a spoiled brat who wasn’t getting her way.  I yelled at both of my daughters for yelling at each other.  (I know, great example I am setting, right?)  I yelled at both for being rude and irresponsible.   And I did all this in the course of about 15 minutes.

And afterward, I felt small.  I felt like a failure.  I feel like a failure.  I want so badly to get it right, but I just keep messing it up.  And in the end, what ran through my mind, what whispered in my ear was, “Pride goes before destruction.”  Yep, that’s about right.  My pride definitely brought destruction.  It brought destruction of the peace in our home.  It brought angry words and destroyed my ability to communicate effectively with my kids.  It destroyed my well-being – bringing me to a place of tears, pain and regret.

Proverbs 18:6 & 7 says, “A fool’s lips bring strife, And his mouth calls for blows.  A fool’s mouth is his ruin, And his lips are the snare of his soul.” (NASB)

Those were hard words to read this morning.  I didn’t want to admit that I had been foolish, but I had.  My words were my ruin this morning.  And sometimes I wonder if they will always be my ruin, if I’ll ever learn.  I feel like, I take 3 steps forward to take 2 steps back.  But I read something this morning that gives me hope.  Lisa Terkeurst writes in her book, Unglued, the following:

“Imperfect changes are slow steps of progress wrapped in grace….imperfect progress.”

She goes on to share an entry from her journal that talks about how it’s OK to have setbacks and need do-overs.  What struck me was that she used the exact word I had been wishing for, “do-over.”  It’s like God spoke to me in that moment and said, “Karen, I know that you’re hurting, and your heart is in pain.  I know that you wish you had done differently.  I know that you feel like a failure.  But Karen, it’s OK to make mistakes.  You’re human.  What’s important is that you learn from those mistakes.  Keep moving forward.  Don’t give up.”

And in that moment, I had hope.  I had hope that just because I keep messing up, doesn’t mean I am not making progress.  Just because I’m not getting there in the time frame I wish I could, doesn’t mean I will stay in this same spot.  I need to keep getting back up and keep trying.  It doesn’t make it OK that this scene happened this morning.  I still need to deal with whatever comes from that and make things right with my kids.  But I don’t need to dwell there with that mistake.

Do you have times when you wish you could have a do-over?  Do you sometimes get frustrated and feel like everything is falling apart?  Do you struggle with this too?  I would love to hear what you do in these moments and how you have made progress.  Share in the comments below.

~Until Next Time!

Karen Signature