Category Archives: Self Care

The Easy Way To Rest When You’re Exhausted

by: Asheritah Ciuciu

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

I eyed the bright numbers on the clock telling me I’d be lucky to get four hours of sleep that night. Hitting “send” on my paper, I stumbled into bed, murmuring, “Once I graduate, then I’ll be able to rest.”

But over the years that followed, that midnight promise morphed to match new seasons:

“Once I meet this work deadline, then I’ll be able to rest.”
“Once our baby sleeps through the night, then I’ll be able to rest.”
“Once the children are in school, then I’ll be able to rest.”

Those refrains pushed me out of bed every morning and kept me working late into the night, until one day I found myself at our kitchen table, head in my hands and sobbing the words “I can’t do this anymore.”

I was exhausted.

And from talking with older women, I knew they were repeating the same worn refrain, merely aged to match their own challenges:

“Once we pay off the mortgage …”
“Once the kids leave for college …”
“Once we retire from our jobs …”

Women of all ages and stages are chasing rest, but that coveted rest eludes us all.

In a moment of clarity, I realized that rest won’t arrive on the other side of “someday” because, no matter how much we get done, there’s always more left to do.

Wiping my tears, I cried out: “God, I need You. I can’t do this anymore.” And in His kindness, God reminded me that we’re not the first generation to struggle with such things, nor are we alone.

In fact, 2,000 years ago, Jesus looked at a crowd of women and men just as exhausted as you and me, and He said:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV).

Jesus doesn’t tell us to wake up early and go to bed late in order to hustle our way into His Kingdom. Quite the opposite. He invites us to lay down our heavy burdens and find rest in Him.

What does that look like in real life? I developed an easy-to-remember R.E.S.T. acronym to guide me toward Jesus when I feel overwhelmed, and you can use it too:

  • R: Recite God’s goodness. The next time we find ourselves hustling, let’s pause to praise God for who He is and what He’s already doing (see Psalm 103:1-2). What can we thank Him for? Let’s start there.
  • E: Express your neediness. Then we get honest with God about our struggles and sins, casting our burdens on Him because He cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7)
  • S: Seek His stillness. Next, we take time to “be still, and know” that He is God (Psalm 46:10a, ESV). We quiet our hearts to listen to His still, small voice. Is there anything He wants to say to us? Are there any burdens or to-dos He’s asking us to lay down?
  • T: Trust His faithfulness. Finally, we declare our confidence that our good God, who began a good work in us, will be faithful to complete it. (Philippians 1:6)

We don’t have to wait for that elusive “someday” to experience God’s rest. The gentle and humble Jesus opens wide His arms, and He says, “Come.” Today, just as you are, come.

Is God Your Source of Encouragement?

By Victoria Riollano

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6

En·cour·age- to give support, confidence, or hope to someone.

Many of us are looking to be encouraged or supported.

We look to family.
We look to pastors.
We look to our friends.
We look to self-help books.
We look to influencers.

We look to man to give us that boost that will change our lives and perspective. However, at some point your friend will decline your call, your books will get lost, and your pastor will disappoint. This is the sad reality of life. Eventually, you will have to dig deep and find your encouragement from someone who cannot fail you… EVER!

In 2017, I learned very quickly that our source of encouragement must come from the Lord. The year started off seemingly normal. However, just three weeks in, my father-in-law passed away. Following this, my husband became severely ill as well. Thus, the person who was typically my source of encouragement was grieving and in need of physical and emotional support. Even more so, many of my personal relationships with friends had started to fade. I found myself in need of someone who could encourage me. Being a military spouse far away from home only added to this frustration of needing someone to stand alongside me. Amid all the trials, I was isolated and had very little strength to continue. 

It was during this time of my life, I realized how much I relied on other people to be my source of hope and encouragement. When all was stripped away, and I had no family, friends, or the support of my husband, I realized how I had not leaned on God as much I had pretended to for so many years. This took me on a journey of asking, “What would it look like to depend on God for my encouragement?” In other words, what would happen if God was the source of my hope and joy? I learned day by day that if I could shift my perspective on who God is and allow Him to be what keeps me going, I could get through the most difficult times of my life.

Let’s reconsider the word encourage. Encourage…or IN-courage! The truth is when someone “encourages you” they are really giving you that extra needed push to walk “in courage.” They are helping you to be fearless and keep going when you want to give up. In order to move forward and be successful, you have to learn that true encouragement comes from withIN! This is where God comes in to shake things up.

He says… Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

In other words, your courage comes from knowing that He will never leave you or forsake you. Your courage comes from knowing that everything that happens will work out in the end (Romans 8:28). YOUR courage comes from knowing that no matter what you are going through the Lord has a plan (Jeremiah 29:11). Your inner courage comes from knowing that the Lord is on your side.

When we have this viewpoint, we can walk confidently in any situation. We can know full well that even when everyone and everything fails, you serve a God who sees you and who has a plan. Although God has created us to be in a community, we recognize that others do not dictate our hope. Our friends now become a resource, not our source. God is the source of our encouragement. The bible is now your personal love letter and instruction book for the midst of every trial.

It took the hardest time of my life to realize this important aspect of who God MUST be in my life. However, in learning to trust God and look Him above all else, I gained such confidence. Even more so, I was able to help my husband through his low times. The key, however, is I was able to direct Him to the Lord versus just being dependent on me. I was able to remind him that his ability to get through those hard moments will be found in God’s presence. Thus, looking to the Lord for courage and directing others to do so, puts the ball in God’s court to bring peace and support. 

Truly, there is nothing more refreshing than having God lift you up! May you be encouraged in the Lord.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Get the Power to Go after Your GoalsBy Rick Warren

“We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it” (Proverbs 16:9 The Message)

Proverbs 16:9 says, “We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it” (The Message).

You get to plan the way you want to live, but only God gives you the power and energy to actually experience transformation. Why? Because God provides the three things you must have to reach your goal and change your life.

1. You need God’s Spirit to empower you.

You need God’s help to make changes you can’t make on your own. It’s not based on willpower. It’s based on God’s power. It’s not based on trying. It’s based on trusting.

Zechariah 4:6 says, “‘You will not succeed by your own strength or by your own power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord All-Powerful” (NCV).

Zechariah 4:6 by My Spirit say the Lord, Bible Postcard |

2. You need God’s Word to guide you.

The Bible is the owner’s manual for life. The more you read it, study it, memorize it, and meditate on it, the more successful and fulfilled you’re going to be in life.

When Joshua was given the great dream of taking over the Promised Land—a goal that would take him the rest of his life—God spoke these words to him: “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8 NASB).

3. You need God’s people to support you.

You will not be able to reach your goals on your own. It takes a team to fulfill a dream!

A crowd can’t support you, but a small group can. The people in your small group know when you’re sick, when you’re having a tough time, when you need a break. You can share your goals and successes and failures, and they will rejoice with you and encourage you to keep going. You’re going to need that when you make the right kind of goals and pursue them wholeheartedly.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped” (The Message).

A Prayer for Those Who Grieve at Christmas

By: Dena Johnson

“The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10 NASB

I’ve spent the last eight months doing everything I can to keep my faith strong, to trust God. But this week, I am losing the battle. I am collapsing under the weight of this year.


The last few days, I find myself simply falling apart. I can’t hold back the tears for another moment. I can’t put a smile on my face and pretend I am doing just fine. I can’t hold in the grief that is filling every inch of my being.

Perhaps you understand. Perhaps you too feel as if this year has been a nightmare, destroying your peace and security. Perhaps you feel as if your very life is crumbling, collapsing. Perhaps you can no longer hold in the tears, no longer pretend everything is just fine.

If you are consumed by grief this Christmas, you are not alone. Can we just take a moment to pray?

Lord Jesus,

I am so overwhelmed. My heart is heavy, burdened. The losses this year are crushing me, overcoming my peace and joy. I know you tell us you are close to the brokenhearted, but I don’t feel you. I feel lost, hopeless, abandoned.

I know this is a season, a season that has a beginning and an end. But right now it feels like it will never end. I need hope, hope to believe you will truly restore me, strengthen me. I need hope to believe you will one day have me put together and on my feet for good. I need a vision of the future you have for me, a future of hope and blessings from you.

It’s so easy to become distracted, to focus on the many losses I have experienced. Forgive me. Help me to put my thoughts, my attention on you. Help me cling to you, to your word, to your promises. Help me be fixed on you because I know it’s the only way to enjoy your perfect peace.

As I walk through this holiday season, give me a fresh glimpse of who You are. Help me remember the suffering You experienced as You watched your Son on the cross, a gift given just for me. Help me remember with joy and wonder the amazing gifts we have simply because you gave, a precious baby born that Christmas morning. Help me focus my heart and mind on Immanuel, God with me.

You are my hope, my only hope, for Christmas and every day on this earth. May I always carry your hope with me.

In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

A Prayer for When you feel Empty

Prayer for When You Feel Empty
By: Kristine Brown

“Lord, You are my portion and my cup of blessing; You hold my future.” – Psalm 16:5 HCSB

A dry, parched land stretched out before them. Hagar and her son Ishmael had used up the last of the water given to them by Abraham before he sent them away (Genesis 21:14). Discouragement saw opportunity and came calling. With no water in sight, Hagar knew they couldn’t survive. So she set Ishmael under a tree and walked away.

She couldn’t watch her only son suffer this way. No water, no future, no hope. The emptiness of the water skin reflected the emptiness of her spirit.

Uncertainty and emptiness often walk hand-in-hand. Our concern for the unknown causes us to try and fill our questioning hearts with answers. Find solutions. Because we long to fill the void with something that will satisfy. And the more we try in our own strength to fill the void, the emptier we become.

Only one thing will fill the emptiness when life’s battles leave us depleted.

“Lord, You are my portion and my cup of blessing; You hold my future.” Psalm 16:5 HCSB


Hagar had forgotten God’s promise to fill her cup with abundant blessings. Ishmael would have a future, greater than anything Hagar herself could’ve planned. But she needed to trust God to be the portion to fill the emptiness with the fullness of His presence. “Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well full of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.” (Genesis 21:19)

When we remember to turn our focus to our everlasting Father and seek Him as our portion, He supernaturally becomes whatever we need to fill that void. It may be strength to face another day, joy in a time of loss, or peace instead of panic. Whatever we need, God is the sustaining portion.

If you’ve forgotten to ask God to be your portion lately, take heart. Then take your uncertainty to Him. Let’s begin with this prayer, and find satisfaction as God fills our cup with blessings today.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Your precious Word. Thank you for the encouragement it brings me in difficult times. Lord, I’ve been sensing a void lately that I can’t quite explain. It seems like I’m facing one thing after another, and when I look at my struggles I feel empty. Hopelessness and discouragement threaten me. Help me to remember that You are my portion. You fill my cup and are the only One who will satisfy my parched soul.

Help me hold onto this truth. Your Word says in Psalm 16:5, You hold my future. I can rest in knowing even in my uncertainty that You are in control, and You have good plans for me.

Psalm 73:26 assures me that You are “the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” When I’m tempted to search for temporary things to fill the void in my heart, help me recall this verse. You are my portion. Not only today, not only tomorrow. Forever.

I pray as You fill my cup to overflowing, I will discover the strength, joy, and peace that comes from You alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Growing Weary?

Prayer to Not Grow Weary in Doing Good
By Tiffany Thibault

And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. – Galatians 6:9-10

If it isn’t fun anymore, give up. If it isn’t easy, give up. If it isn’t exciting, give up. Walk away. Do what makes you happy. Your happiness and your needs are what really matter at the end of the day.

This quitting attitude is a staple in a society that lacks perseverance.

While our culture screams at us to focus on our needs, this verse tells us to serve others, to not give up, to take every opportunity to do good – to everyone.

When we accepted Christ as Savior, as the Lord of our life, we became His vessels. Galatians 2:20 says: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. As we devote ourselves to studying the scriptures and following the Lord each day, we become more holy, which allows us to reflect on the Lord and enables us to share His love with everyone.

As you think about each area of your life, where are you becoming weary? Are your co-workers difficult to work with? Is your spouse not a Christian? Are your children rebellious? Are your relatives causing you great anxiety? Is your neighbor being difficult? Have your friends become distant or negative?

Galatians 6:9-10-sq

In every single one of those areas, in every single situation that you are walking through, our Bible verse tells us to not grow weary. We are not to give up. We are to face each new day with the promise that in due time we will reap good if we keep on doing good to everyone whom God has placed in our path.

How does “doing good” look in your daily life? Maybe it’s simply interjecting a positive remark when everyone else is critical. Maybe it’s keeping your mouth shut when you would rather lash out. Maybe it’s walking away from the gossip. Maybe it’s sitting next to the person whom everyone else ignores. Maybe doing good is a meal, a card, a phone call, even when you don’t feel like it. Maybe doing good is encouraging someone. Maybe doing good is just praying for that person. Maybe doing good is putting what you want aside to spend a few moments giving someone else your attention.

With the Lord’s help, we can have all the strength that we need to just keep on doing good to everyone, and not to grow weary or give up. Since Christ is living in us, we can know that no situation is beyond His power or is even out of His plan. He will work in us, through us and for us in every situation that we face today, if we do not give up.

Dear Lord, 

Thank you that you are in my life, that you are working in all my situations today. Please give me the strength that I need to be able to do good to everyone that I will encounter today. Help me to reflect your goodness to those around me. Help me to see opportunities where I can be the good today to whoever needs it. Help me to not focus on what I think I need, but to see that you have placed me right where I am today so that I can do good to someone. Help me to trust you as I encounter those difficult people, and show me how to do good to them. Lord, give me strength to not grow weary in doing good. 

In Your Name I pray, 


31 Days of Bible Prayers

How to guide and enrich your daily time with God

by Bob HostetlerPosted in Bible Resources, Jul 19, 2021

31 days of prayer

One of my favorite ways to pray is to follow a 31-day plan that gives my prayers more purpose and focus. For example, I’ve long prayed 31 biblical virtues for my children (and now my grandchildren) that developed into a prayer resource and even an iPhone/iPad app called “31 Ways to Pray for Your Kids.”

Another favorite way to pray is to use prayers from the Bible, repeating God’s Word back to Him in praise, petition and thanks. 

So, here’s a fairly new list that combines both of those approaches with 31 days of Bible prayers:

  1. God, have mercy on me, a sinner (Luke 8:13 NIV).
  2. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV).
  3. Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise (Jeremiah 17:14, NIV).
  4. God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life (Psalm 51:10, The Message).
  5. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long (Psalm 21:5, NIV).
  6. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 17:8, NIV).
  7. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well (Psalm 139:14, NIV).
  8. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:13, ESV).
  9. Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain (1 Chronicles 4:10, NIV).
  10. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I (Psalm 61:2, NIV).
  11. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us—so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations (Psalm 67:1-2, NIV).
  12. You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high (Psalm 3:3, NIV).
  13. Keep me safe, my God, for in You I take refuge (Psalm 16:1, NIV).
  14. Let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor (Exodus 33:13, NLT).
  15. Not my will, but yours be done (Luke 22:42, NIV).
  16. I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds (Psalm 9:1, NIV).
  17. You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance (Psalm 32:7, NIV).
  18. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me (Psalm 19:13, NIV).
  19. May the God of hope fill [me] with all joy and peace as [I] trust in him, so that [I] may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13, NIV).
  20. You have helped me, and I sing happy songs in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 63:7, CEV).
  21. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you (Psalm 51:12, NLT).
  22. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus (Acts 4:30, NLT).
  23. May your blessing be on your people (Psalm 3:8, NIV).
  24. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation (Psalm 118:21, NIV).
  25. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you (Psalm 25:21, NIV).
  26. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14, NKJV).
  27. O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! (Daniel 9:19, NLT).
  28. Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble (Psalm 119:165, NIV).
  29. O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches (Psalm 104:24, KJV).
  30. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4, NIV).
  31. We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign (Revelation 11:17, NIV).

Let these prayers guide and enrich your daily time with God; you may find the Holy Spirit bringing these to your mind often—sometimes at the most crucial moments.

Tips for when the command ‘do not be anxious’ is hard

Even when the Rev. John Stephens quotes the Apostle Paul’s writings in Philippians 4:6 that say, “Do not be anxious about anything,” the Houston area pastor recognizes the struggle.

“One of the hardest commands is not to worry about anything,” says Stephens, senior pastor at Chapelwood United Methodist Church in Chapelwood, Texas. “Worry is constantly deconstructing us, fragmenting us. We are distracted and scattered.”

Although anxiety is an understandable byproduct in a world that has been living with the coronavirus pandemic for more than a year, as well as other global disasters, some United Methodist pastors say it’s possible to limit or eliminate the fear and worry that threaten many.

“People think peace is when all things get resolved,” Stephens comments. “That’s not what peace is. If you’re just talking about the circumstances changing, then that’s relief. Peace is a state of being and only God can give peace.”

The Apostle Paul prescribes prayer

So, where does that process begin and how? Scripture tells us, in the second part of verse 6, “…by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

“I think Paul is giving us a prescription for taking the worry and getting us to the peace, the oneness and the unity with God,” Stephens teaches.

When Stephens talks to his congregation about prayer, he usually directs them to a couple of types of praying: centering prayer, which can involve praying Scripture (also called Lectio Divina); and contemplative prayer, which involves sitting and listening to God.

The purpose of the prayers, he says, is to “move yourself out of the way.”

In addition to praying, the apostle also suggests, in verse 8, to redirect your thoughts, writing, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

“Paul wasn’t a psychologist, but there is all of this science about (your brain’s) neuropathways and how changing your thoughts can change your neuropathways,” says Stephens, adding that he believes Paul is telling us to think positively.

Seven tips to combat fear   


Focus on the positive

Find a reason to laugh

Take up a new activity

Turn off the news

Revisit something that comforts you

Create a to do list

Look for the beautiful

Focusing on what is beautiful and good is how the Rev. Donna Pritchard chooses to combat worry.  Whether that’s a flower blooming in her yard or lines from her favorite poems, the senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in Portland, Oregon, uses this coping mechanism to stay connected with God.

“These are signs of God’s creative presence in this world right now,” she shares. “Just because we’re experiencing life in a new, strange and difficult way, does not mean that God is not with us. We need to remember that this moment is still God’s moment.”

Just laugh

In addition to looking at the positive in the world, Pritchard finds ways to laugh every day.

“Don’t forget the power of humor. Particularly at a time when people may be acutely aware of the pain in the world, it helps to say there are reasons to laugh,” she explains, adding that laughter benefits a person’s immune system too.

The Rev. Matt Hall comes at this topic through the lens of recovery. As the associate pastor of recovery ministries at First United Methodist Church in Maryville, Tennessee, — and as someone in recovery himself – Hall understands fear and its pitfalls.

“Something that I continuously tell folks is that the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety,” he says. “The opposite of addiction is community.”

In the absence of physical community mandated by state and local governments, Hall works to keep an emotional connection through online meetings, regular phone calls and other creative means, such as Netflix viewing parties.

Personally, he’s come up with his own list of ways to push through the solitude so that it does not lead to fear.

Try something new, revisit something old

“I’ve taken up cooking,” Hall shares, noting that he’s never had the time to do that before.

“This is a great opportunity to try new things,” Hall suggests, saying that trying something new without an audience has advantages. “When’s a better time – and safer place – to fail than when confined to you own house?”

While Hall may be taking on new experiences, one way he is combating worry is by eliminating other things.

“I’m being very intentional about not following any news outlets,” Hall says. “I feel like any breaking news will come to me one way or another. It isn’t healthy for me to be bombarded by it.”

Instead, Hall turns to items that have brought him comfort during past difficult times, such as books.

“I’m revisiting Bob Goff’s ‘Love Does,’” he says. “It’s one of two books I own on my Kindle. I’ve probably read that book 20 or 30 times.”

Of course, prayer is part of Hall’s prescription too.

“As I’ve prayed for God to take away the fear, then I do something,” Hall shares. “In my own personal experience, I’ve found that my prayers are better when coupled with actions on my end.”

Actions, for Hall, include making a daily to do list, which always consists of a list of 10 people to call.

“If they are in my phone,” Hall says, “I believe they are in there for a reason and that reason may be to call and say, “Hello,” today.”

Note: This article and the opinions from United Methodist pastors are not intended to replace medical advice. If you are experiencing depression or prolonged bouts of anxiety, please seek help from medical professionals.

Crystal Caviness works for at United Methodist Communications. Contact her by email.

When Your Spirit Starts to Fade By: Maggie Meadows Cooper

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of the Lord stands forever.”  – Isaiah 40:8

Last summer my family went and picked up leftover pieces of sod for our backyard from a local sod farm. We put the pieces together like a puzzle: a little brown, a little yellow, and some bright green mixed in for good measure. And as I sat admiring our work, the Lord showed me something.

Each of those grass squares, when cut off from their lifeline-roots and water, are left to die in the scorching heat. Some of the pieces that had just been cut were still green and damp. Those cut a little earlier were yellowing and dry, and those cut the longest ago were brown and brittle. The ladies at the farm assured me that the yellow pieces could be brought back to life with water and care…that their roots would grow and bring vibrant life back to them. And, y’all, as I thought about it, I realized that I have felt like one of those yellowing pieces recently.

This is so like our walk with the Lord. When we are rooted and grounded in the Word, spending quality time in fellowship and prayer, we are filled with Living Water, green and bright and vibrant. And even if we pull up roots for a time…we can stay green and full for a little while…we can fake it ‘til we make it. But the longer we are away from the Word, we start to yellow a little. We begin to fade in areas, maybe, where others can’t see, but we can behind closed doors. Our joy, our peace, our love, our kindness and gentleness… even our faith can start to fade.

But here’s the beauty…we can get all of that bright vibrant joyful, hope-filled abundance back, y’all! We just have to take care with what we sow. We have to grow our roots down deep by sticking close to those who are close to the Lord, who will speak truth and lift us up and away from the things of this world! We need to drink up the Living Water and not hold back. We need to be patient in the waiting of reaping a harvest. We can’t give up, no matter what this world or the people of it throw at us.

I share this for all of you who may be in this place. You may have been cut off…you may not be full. You may be in a really dry, hard place. But I am here to tell you that the Lord is there with you, urging you to come back to Him and let Him be your fulfillment in this world. He sees you and knows right where you are. Look for Him and He will be there. If you are green and bright and in an amazing place with the Lord right now, come alongside your friends and offer His love and comfort and encouragement for those who need it, because one day you may need them to return the favor.

Check in on your people. Pray for the Lord to give you wisdom and discernment for those who may be fading right before your eyes. Dig in the Word. And drink up the Living Water that only He can give.

“I rejoice in your Word like one who discovers a great treasure.” – Psalm 119:162

Dear Lord,

Forgive me for wandering from you and your Word. Draw me back to you and the Life that only you can give. Help me to resist the things of this world and keep my focus on you alone.

In Your Mighty Name,

10 Ways to Take Time for Yourself

While this list is given with those in pastoral leadership in mind, it is a very comprehensive list, and one that can be adapted to anyone, regardless of if they are pastors or not.

Many pastors struggle to stay sane because they’re operating under the handicap of a flawed philosophy of Christian leadership,” from Self-Care for the Weary Pastor.

Are you a member of the club: The few who do the majority of the work at your church — especially now in these demanding times?

As a church leader, it’s imperative that you take care of yourself. Unfortunately, that goes against the grain for many pastors and ministry servants who feel on call 24/7 and feel guilty for needing time off. Even Jesus needed solitude, and he encouraged his disciples to get away for a break.

So, here’s your permission — and a few self-care tips. Take time out for you this week. Note: These tips should be adjusted for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. Take a timeout. Church leadership is challenging. If you find yourself increasingly frustrated, depressed or stressed, put yourself in timeout. Find a nice, quiet spot alone, and leave your phone behind. Shut your office door. Sit in the car. Hide in the bathroom. When there, close your eyes and take several deep breaths, say a prayer, tense and relax your shoulder muscles and roll your head and neck. It’s amazing what a difference five minutes can make.
  2. Leave for lunch. Everybody deserves a break (breakfast, lunch or dinner — depending on your hours). The busier the day, the more important it is that you take one. If at all possible, leave the church. You don’t have to go far. If you don’t want to eat out, pack your lunch and go to your car in the parking lot, a local park or food court to eat. Have your spouse or a friend meet you, but make it a rule not to talk “shop.”
  3. Move that body! Finding time to exercise is hard when your schedule is already full, but exercise offers many emotional as well as physical benefits. Even mild efforts are helpful and can help prevent burnout and fatigue. If time is an issue, try parking farther from the church or walking around the parking lot once every time you enter or exit the building. You might also consider walking to a colleague’s desk versus sending an email.
  4. Be natural. Fresh air, scenic views, warm sunshine on your face … through God’s design, our bodies seem to naturally recharge whenever we venture outdoors. Yet, all day, every day, many people only step out of one structure or vehicle directly into another. With the portability of technology today, there’s no reason that work can’t be accomplished outside just as well as inside. So, plan the next staff meeting under your picnic shelter. Sit under a tree to do your Bible study. Be creative!
  5. Maintain a hobby. Reading, sewing, shopping, building, baking, taking pictures — whatever you like to do, do it! You can’t just say you have a hobby, you need to spend time maintaining it. At least once a week, block out time on your schedule to do the things you love.
  6. Reward yourself. Treats aren’t just for children. Even the most serious no-nonsense adult enjoys a reward. Purchase a variety of small items that you consider indulgences, things that you really like but wouldn’t normally purchase for yourself: candy, a gift card to your favorite coffee shop, gourmet cookies or hot cocoa packs, a special body wash or hand soap. Pick up several items and then tuck them away at home and at the office. When you’re having a particularly bad day, pull one out and enjoy.
  7. Create memories. Good memories help carry us through rough times. Make a point to create lots of them. Spending time with the people you love builds emotional reserves that help you get through those busy, chaotic days that never seem to end. Keep pictures of good times and loved ones on your phone or desk to remind you of good memories.
  8. Worship and praise. No amount of service can take the place of worship. Prioritize not just Bible study time but worship as well. Instead of taking calls when you’re in the car, play worship music. Play praise music while you are getting ready in the morning. Sing hymns when you’re alone in your office. Sing the Doxology as you wash your hands. If you are a pastor, schedule a week when you don’t have to preach but can listen to someone else’s sermon.
  9. Get away. You may think that everything will fall apart if you aren’t there, but you will fall apart if you’re there too much. At least once a year, take a vacation or staycation. Delegate someone else to be in charge, and get away. If you can’t afford a long trip, take several day trips. Plan ahead or be spontaneous, but avoid at all costs being sucked into work. Turn off your phone. Unplug your computer, and just relax for a while.
  10. Eat, sleep and maintain balance. You know what you need to do. Eat right. Get a good night’s rest. Get a physical every year. Follow health and safety recommendations. Take care of yourself. There’s only one of you! Set an example for your team and family and encourage them to lean into similar practices. By establishing an environment that supports self-care and wellness you’ll feel more at ease in taking time in the future and in helping those around you to do the same.

These steps are even more important in light of the recent COVID-19 restrictions. While church buildings may be closed, pastors and church leaders are having to work harder than ever to meet the increasing needs of their congregations. Finding creative ways to encourage spiritual growth and unity, to combat loneliness, to visit the sick and to minister to the hurting is proving even more stressful under isolation practices.

Since the needs of your congregation are likely to continue to grow during this trying time, you must remember that self-care is important. However, it won’t happen without effort. No matter what your profession or ministry, it’s easy to get caught up in the rat race of life. Don’t be deceived into thinking that you’re more godly if you work yourself to death.

Be intentional. Schedule time for rest and relaxation. Work as hard at taking care of you as you do your church. Your church needs you, but they need you to be healthy and well — emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. Author: Tricia K. Brown

Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash