How to survive when the to-do list is too long, plans fall apart, and life is too much


Oh, friends, I had ideas and plans for what I wanted to write to you this week. Encouragement to still your heart in preparation for advent. You are always on my mind. I still hope to write those posts, but they won’t come today as I’d planned.

My plans. God is working with me on my plans. You see, I hold real tight to those plans and ideas. My hopes and dreams. They are good desires. Desires to make Him known.

I grab those plans, those desires, and clench them tight in my white-knuckled fist. Caressing my hand ever so gently, He begins to loosen my grip. One finger at a time. He could rip my hand open and snatch those plans right out of my sweaty palm. But He doesn’t. Because He is patient, loving, and kind.

I shared a little of how last week derailed us. Almost daily doctor visits with my middle son for unexplained knee swelling. Last Friday I was scheduled to talk to a MOPS group. Thursday was planned to be my day of preparation, yet Thursday had us on our knees asking God for healing and direction between racing back and forth to doctor offices. Thoughts of preparing for my talk went out the window. What a blessing, honestly.

I was forced to lean into Christ. Like a little girl leaning into her daddy, resting on him.

This week I’m trying to simply breathe. Just breathe. And catch up. Catch up on a week of life that was placed on pause. And it started happening again. The girl who was leaning into God only days earlier sat upright pulling her shoulders back, shaking out the wrinkles from her clothes. There is work to do. Plans to make. So much to do. So much depends on me doing it. My plans.

The plans and ideas found their home again in the palm of my hand. My fingers began to close one at a time. Slowly so I wouldn’t notice what was happening. Clenching those plans, plotting out the course. Before I realized what was happening, the plans were held securely against my chest. Until He began prying my fingers back gently, one by one.

I’m speaking again tomorrow. I’d planned a preparation for today. A day to catch up on housework and settle my mind and heart for tomorrow. And then my oldest son came home sick last night. Very sick. Plans derailed. I felt my fingers release the tension simultaneously. As my mind grumbled to God all the ways I couldn’t handle everything on my plate, He patiently listened as He always does. Then I began listing off all the ministry items that must get done. And how they were supposed to be done tomorrow. MY ONLY FREE DAY THIS WEEK, GOD, REMEMBER. It was as if I thought God would hear me better if my plans were holy in some way. See God I’m doing this for you. But you are giving me more than I can handle.

Sometimes no matter how slow we try to live life, no matter how intentional we try to be, life will dish out more than we can handle.

And I heard Him. Clear. Your whole life is ministry. Give me your plans.

Right where you are is your ministry. Right this very moment.

Standing over a toilet holding a wet rag to my son’s neck. That’s my ministry. Unloading the dishwasher while the rest of the house sleeps. That’s my ministry. Filling up water bottles and doling out vitamins. That’s my ministry. Stopping to pray for a friend. That’s my ministry.

Friends, it is hard sometimes to remember that right where He has us is where we are to fully be.

I passionately want to make Him known. But making Him known might not look so big moment by moment. Making Him known might look pretty insignificantly tiny. Making Him known might look like wiping a nose. Making Him known might look like cleaning a toilet bowl. Making Him known might look like lunch with a co-worker. Making Him known is the tone of voice I use with my husband. Making Him known is the look I shoot to my child. Making Him known is the biting of the tongue when sin threatens to whip the ones nearby. Making Him known comes in all shapes and sizes.

Ministry is where we are.

Ministry isn’t always doing. Ministry is sometimes being. Being present. Being available. Being built up by Him to be what and who He desires us to be.

Lord, let me not look past the ministry right beneath my feet. Let me not fail to see that part of my ministry is being who You created me to be.

I wish I could tell you that I learned this lesson and went happily about the mundane duties that tend to overwhelm a day and a life. But I didn’t. I fell apart. Again. And, friends, it was ugly. The ugliest it’s ever been. You can ask my husband if you don’t believe me. You can ask my children.

The enemy chuckled as he watched me attempt to do it all on my own. He watched me pack it all in waiting for the moment of combustion. You see at times I just want things to get better so I can move on. So I can get back to my plans, my agenda. But at times, God keeps me where I don’t want to be so He can work something out of me that doesn’t belong. He has me in places that hurt right now. Places that scare. Places that fatigue. Places of discomfort.

So today I surrender. I lean. Again. I exhale into His shoulder and bury my head.

He has plans for us, my friends. They may look different than the plans we hold in our hand. We likely can’t do it all on our own. So we lean.

When we lean into Him, He steadies us. He paces us. He fills us. He breathes life into what feels dead.

After one of the ugliest mornings of my life, I clung to my Bible, and I leaned into His word. And this is what He had for me today. Does he have this for you too?

Ephesians 3:16

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.

I’m leaning so He can strengthen my inner being with the power of His Spirit.

Lean into Him today. Like a little girl leaning into her daddy. Just lean into Him. Place those plans in His hands and surrender it all. Any other way is just too exhausting. Trust me, I try. Lean into Him today.

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