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7 Staples: Soul Food for Stressful Seasons

Strained, stressed, and sweaty, I was standing on the August-hot sidewalk, trying to maintain a cell connection with the doctor. The call had already dropped twice . . . this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The events of that summer were not what we’d expected!

Expectations vs. Reality

Sometimes our expectations and plans don’t cooperate with life!

The first week of summer, my husband felt a recurring pain in his upper back. He didn’t worry about it until his left arm and hand began to go numb—symptoms of a heart attack, which is usually a game changer. After several tests and appointments, my husband was diagnosed with a herniated disc, which, thankfully, was treatable. We tried all kinds of treatments. Our medicine cabinet looked like a pharmaceutical vending machine, the smell of natural oils rubbed on his back filled the house; we went global in an attempt to find healing relief.

Summer became intense, juggling my husband’s crippling pain, doctor appointments, and hospital tests; my son Jon’s summer schedule; our work; my daughter’s new engagement and wedding plans; and our three older kids’ work and travel schedules. Caught up in trying to control it all, I neglected to connect with the Lord, the one who controls it all anyway. I often forget that quiet stillness with my Savior calms my soul; thus it calms life too.

Driving home, I asked the Lord for His grace and help. I kid you not, before I arrived home, this text came through on my phone:

The wonderful news is that My hand touches you, behind and before, protectively! You literally can’t hide from Me—not an action, a thought, an idea, or feeling. I made you wonderful and know every one of your days. You are extremely valuable and precious to Me! I think of you constantly, and when you wake up, I am still with you. Sweet daughter, let Me lead you today. I am your up close and personable God! Full of grace! I go out of My way to meet you! My name is the LORD/Yahweh, the One who hears your cries and comes to save, deliver, and restore! I love you.

My friend had no idea what was happening in our home, but God did. I was quickly reminded of a profound practice in cultivating intimacy with our God: lectio divina (a Latin phrase meaning “divine reading”). Lectio divina is the practice of reading a passage of Scripture, pausing to prayerfully reflect on each word, and allowing the Holy Spirit to minister truth through the process of contemplation.

Rarely does life cooperate with our expectations. In our frustration, we become scattered and stressed; being still is often the last thing we think of doing. But our souls need to be fed first; from there, God strengthens us to do what we cannot do on our own.

Let Me Hear from You

I encourage you to pick one or two of these passages, sit with them in quietness, and feed your hurried soul for a few moments. A full soul is a happy soul; let me know what filled you with peace this next week.

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For Peace:
Exodus 14:14 “The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”
For Strength:
Habakkuk 3:19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength!
For Justice:
Lamentations 3:59 You have seen the wrong they have done to me, LORD. Be my judge, and prove me right.
For Despair:
Psalm 42:5–6 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!
For Trust:
Isaiah 26:4 Trust in the LORD always, for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock.
For Trials:
1 Peter 1:6–7 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine.
For Care:
Romans 8:38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.