How many times has this happened to you? You’ve planned out your whole day, every minute is strategically orchestrated for maximum productivity, and you know that when your feet hit the floor you’re going to get stuff DONE!
And then, something happens that throws a complete wrench in your plan, and all those hopes and dreams of epic effectiveness go screaming out the window. Been there. Many times. Being a type A, ESJF Myers Briggs girl, this is always a tough one for me. I love to have a plan. Flying by the seat of my pants does not bode well for my mental sanity. In the past, when some type of roadblock thwarted those perfectly laid out plans, it would send me into “tilt mode” like a robot stuttering and smoking as it short circuits.
But over the past few years, I’ve learned a strategy that has helped me cope when MY plans get thrown off the rails. It’s called TRUST. That seems a bit ambiguous, you say. Let me explain. There are three things that I do when I plan my day that help me avoid frustration when things don’t go as I planned.
Surrender Your Day
This is uber important! As soon as you begin your day, surrender your plans to God. I often pray, “Lord, I want your will to be done, not mine.” Luke 22:42. God knows how the day is going to unfold before we do, so give all your plans to Him before it even starts.
When we put our lives in the hands of our Heavenly Father it’s essentially saying, “Jesus, take the wheel”. (Thank you, Carrie Underwood.) He gives us free will to plan our days, dream, work, and play. And I’ve found that when I surrender my day to Him every morning and let Him direct my steps, it gives me so much peace.
Look at Roadblocks as Opportunites
It’s not an if, but when roadblocks will come in our day. Just this past week I scheduled my whole week to have a relatively light Friday by packing in a bit more of my duties and work toward the beginning of the week. I was SO looking forward to having a Friday to myself, with kids at school and the dog at daycare, to go for a hike or relax and read a book. I don’t schedule these kinds of days for myself enough and I finally did it. I was pumped.
But then I was playing with our dog and I noticed a couple of stitches were poking through her skin from a recent surgery she had. These were internal stitches, and I could tell they were bothering her. I emailed the University Veterinary School that we been taking her to versus our local vet (because her surgeries were pretty serious) and asked what they recommended I do. They said I needed to bring her in so those stitches could be removed. No big deal, right? Well…their office is located almost three hours away. Hmm….. The only day I had available to take her was my gloriously free day on Friday. Doggone it. Literally.
Not a huge deal, I know, but I was disappointed and honestly, a bit annoyed that I would now be spending the entire day in the car. But then I remembered to change my thinking and look at this roadblock as an opportunity. I asked myself, “What are the positive things that can come from this and how can I use this time by myself in a fulfilling way?” I ended up grabbing my favorite chai tea drink to go, got in the car with the pup, and used those hours to listen to praise and worship music, talk to God and pray outloud. For six hours! It was awesome!! I can’t remember the last time I’ve had the chance to do that. I saw it as an opportunity to “slow down” (at 70 miles per hour) and just be with the Lord. He obviously wanted some one-on-one time with me, and I so needed it with Him.
Step back and try to look at those hiccups in your day as opportunities. Maybe it’s getting stuck in a long line at the post office when you have an appointment in five minutes. There might be someone next to you that needs a warm smile or an encouraging conversation. Be open to the possibilities when your right turn becomes a U-turn.
Trust that God Has YOUR Best Interest at Heart
Lastly, trust that God wants what’s best for you! I believe that He sees and knows SO much more than we could ever know. He may be protecting you from something you’re not even aware of. That canceled meeting you’ve been trying to get on the calendar for weeks may have just protected you from a massive multi-car pile up accident on the highway. You just don’t know. But God does. Trust that He is guiding you and protecting you in areas that we may never see. Don’t get angry when things fall through or plans are ruined. Instead, have a mindset that says, “There’s reason for this, and I’m going to trust that God’s got it. He knows what’s best for me and I trust that He will work this out.” Then ask, “How do you want me to pivot God?” He’ll show you, and I would probably be pretty safe to say that you may even see how things worked out better in the long run.
There are so many verses in the Bible about trusting God with His plans for you. Here are a few of my favorites.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
The plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Psalm 33:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9 NLT
“My friend has just been diagnosed with breast cancer and I want to give her a basket of gifts to brighten her day. What would you recommend?” Having been the person with the cancer diagnosis, I get asked this question quite a bit, and it’s such a sweet question to get. Loving on someone when they are going through a difficult time is so appreciated. I’ve been there.
I thought I would share some of the gifts that I found helpful, that were either given to me or I discovered on my own. Any of these options could be given individually, or creating a nice gift basket with a combination of things is lovely too.
When I was going through chemotherapy I drank a LOT of water. I felt that drinking water was key for flushing out the toxins in my body, and it seemed to help with my energy level. I didn’t want to drink anything out of plastic that may contain BPA, and chemo made my taste buds act a little wacky, so stainless steel bottles didn’t work well for me either. Instead, I found these amazing glass bottles made by BKR. They are covered in cute silicone sleeves that protect the glass, and make them easy to grip. They have all different sizes, but I prefer the largest version which is the 1L size.
The one thing I felt I could control while going through treatment was what I ate. I also seemed to feel better when I consumed small meals multiple times a day, and that included snacking. Healthy snacks like pistachios, mixed nuts, pumpkin seeds and dried fruits always hit the spot. I avoided sugar, but if that’s not an issue for your recipient, then I recommend a couple of dark chocolate bars preferably with a cocoa percentage of over 70%. I love the Theo brand. They have a great variety of flavors that are very unique!
Everyone loves to feel pampered, especially when they aren’t exactly feeling their fabulous self, so personal care products that don’t contain harmful ingredients or allergens are a wonderful gift. I personally loved the Beautycounter Cleansing Balm because it was the only thing that helped my super dry skin, which was a side effect of chemo, feel moisturized again. A tube of the hand cream is great too for keeping hands hydrated and smelling nice at the hospital while getting an infusion.
I found that I got chilly when I was getting my chemo treatments and the warm blankets the nurses provided (while very thoughtful) were a bit stiff and sterile feeling. A family member gave me a lightweight blanket that I took with me every time I went to the clinic to sit in the infusion chair, and not only was it much cozier, but it gave me some comfort from home.
I was terribly nervous when I went in for my first treatment. All of the unknowns of getting chemotherapy was a bit overwhelming, so I brought a small container of lavender essential oil with me. The calming smell was also very soothing and the nurses liked it too!
This book is a must! I can’t tell you how helpful this devotional was for my journey. It contains short daily devotionals that are incredibly encouraging and always seem to be very timely.
I think anyone going through breast cancer would love these jammies. I had a double mastectomy so after surgery I wasn’t able to lift my arms above my head for quite a while. I lived in button up shirts and pajamas for weeks. This brand is lovely and the pajamas are so soft and classic looking. I’m still a fan!
When I was first diagnosed, I felt very alone and I desperately wanted to hear someone else’s story of victory over this disease. There are a lot of wonderful books out there, but I struggled with finding one that shared what it looked like to lean on God throughout this trial. Because of that, I felt very strongly to write my story in hopes of helping other women who may find themselves in the same place I was. “I Have Two Words For You” is a real, raw, look at my fight with breast cancer, and I intentionally share how Jesus never left my side. There’s a bit of humor in it too!
Everviolet is a beautiful company founded by a breast cancer survivor. This company designs and offers intimate wear specifically for women who have been through this journey. Each piece is crafted keeping in mind the physical challenges that we face having had reconstructive surgery. Their robe, in particular, is beautiful, feminine and a great gift for someone to enjoy not only at the hospital but at home.
Many times, the last thing I wanted to think about was cancer, so it was refreshing to lose myself in a great magazine. Whether that was one from Real Simple, where I could immerse myself in pretty kitchens and recipes, or a fashion magazine like Vogue, dreaming of feeling “normal” again, any fun magazine was a highlight for me.
Oftentimes the first thing someone wants to purchase for a cancer survivor who is, or will be, losing their hair is a scarf or a head covering of some type. This is a tricky thing. Losing your hair is such a devastating and personal thing and every survivor approaches it differently. Before you purchase a scarf or a hat of some sort, make sure you really know the person and have talked to them about how they are going to address this issue. Someone might LOVE a soft beanie hat, yet someone else might think a beanie will make them look “sick” and would prefer a gorgeous scarf. I recommend talking it over with your friend first if you want to go this route. If you do choose to purchase a head covering, I got a few of mine, mostly for sleeping, at Head Covers Unlimited. I primarily wore scarves and preferred ones that were long, lightweight (poly or cotton) and not silky/slippery. I found a lot of mine at TJ Maxx, or Target, but H&M has some inexpensive ones that are pretty too.
I was one of those people that decided if I was going to lose my hair, I wanted to at least have some fun with a few sets of fabulous earrings. It was my way of still feeling put together and “pretty” in spite of how I really felt. I found some wonderful ones on the JCrew website!
Smoothie Recipe Book
Fueling my body with healthy food was a priority for me and smoothies always seemed to hit the spot. I could get a lot of nutrients jam packed into one little drink and it was a way to combat any nausea early on in my treatments. Breast Cancer Smoothies by Daniella Chace, was one of our family’s favorite books, and we still make a lot of these recipes today.
These containers are great for taking that smoothie on the go, or to the hospital for a treatment. Again, it’s glass, fits in a car cup holder, and comes with a wider straw!
Cut Veggies with Hummus Dip
Going through chemo treatments can be exhausting and simple tasks that seemed effortless before can now seem insurmountable. Simply cutting up some fresh veggies and making a little hummus dip/veggie plate for someone is a great way to help. It’s healthy snacking made easy!
A dear friend gave me a print out of a great selection of Bible verses that focused on healing. I was very conscious of “speaking life” over myself while I was going through treatment, and declaring God’s promises for me over my mind and my body. I really believe it helped me keep a positive attitude and it gave me so much peace!
This one may be a no brainer, but I loved taking a pair of soft socks to the hospital on treatment days. Again, anything that made the experience feel a little less cold and institutional was just good for my psyche.
If you’re reading this blog, you’re AWESOME. It means you care and want to serve someone you love by helping make their trial a little less hard. Thank you for being a support system. As someone who has been on the other side of that love, I can honestly say that you are making a difference in someone’s life. So thank you.
I love a good tradition, and especially when I see how it enriches the lives of our kids. We have a tradition in our family that as a mother, is definitely one of my favorites. It’s the daddy-daughter breakfast tradition.
This ritual began with my father years ago, and now we have adapted it into our family. When I was in grade school my dad designated Wednesdays as “breakfast day”. He and I would leave the house a little earlier than normal before work and school, and head to a local greasy spoon restaurant that smelled a bit like old wood and bacon. Every week I ordered the same thing, a gigantic, plate sized pancake with a mound of butter in the middle large enough to sink a ship. And boy, did it taste good.
The motivation for going to breakfast was not the food, although it was always a treat. The intention was time alone with my dad and for us to have an opportunity to purposefully connect.
When my girls were in kindergarten we started the tradition in our home. Once a week, my husband began alternating which daughter he took to breakfast before school. Six years later, they are still going to the same restaurant, and the tradition continues.
There are many aspects to this tradition that make it meaningful. When the girls were very young it made them feel special and valued. The fact that their daddy would carve out this time for them before his busy workday made them feel like a princess. And as a kindergartener anything that was different from their normal routine felt like they had just won the “advanced-toddler lottery”.
As time went on, and their maturity level grew, so did their breakfast conversations. These one-on-one times became an intentional place for my husband to “check in” on what was going on in their lives. It became a private place that each of the girls could talk without feeling “honed-in on” by their sibling. And being an only child, I had NO idea how important this is for siblings.
Andrew has also used this time to share life lessons and teach them things he’s learning through his relationship with God or in his business. It’s his time to drop some wisdom nuggets that are personally designed for each one of them.
These regular “dates” have also created a pattern of familiarity for the girls, and they know there will always be a scheduled time that they can intimately connect with their dad. It has built a level of trust between them and is building a foundation of communication that is key as they grow up.
But I think the most important benefit of this tradition is the connection that he as a father is building with his daughters. Yes, the bond between a mother and a daughter is wonderful and so important, but the benefits of a strong relationship between a daughter and her dad are huge. When a young girl feels valued, loved, and protected by her father, she is less likely to search out love and acceptance in the wrong places when she’s older. This is our hope and our prayer for our girls.
I understand that it might not be possible to do weekly breakfasts out at a restaurant, and that’s okay! There are so many other ways that this tradition can be modified and still have the same great affect. Maybe it’s a weekly hike, or bike ride. It could even be dedicated time at the local playground. It’s about getting creative and simply setting aside that time. Undivided, intentional time in a one-on-one setting is so life-giving for your kids.
So every morning, when it’s breakfast day, my heart bursts when I watch my husband and one of my daughters walk out the door. Who would have thought that a good foundation could be built, one pancake at a time?
I’ll be honest, I had no idea that God had a name other than “God.” At least I’ve never used a specific name when I pray to Him. Usually my prayers begin with, “Lord” or “Father God”, but up until this point I’ve never called God by His name. And truthfully, I’ve never even thought that there could be another way to address Him, until now.
Before I go into what His name is and why it’s so important for us to know, I want to talk about the power of names. When we develop relationships with people, one of the first things we do is learn their name. If we truly want to engage with someone and connect on a genuine level we need to remember their first name and be intentional about using it.
Think about the people you are the closest to in your life and how strange it would be if you addressed them using generalities. For example, wouldn’t it be awkward if everytime a married woman’s husband came home from work, the wife greeted him with, “Welcome home, husband,”? Or what about the mom who picks her kids up after school and says, “How was your day, first born child?” This would feel SO bizarre!
We don’t address our loved ones this way because it feels incredibly impersonal. So why do we do this with our God? If we know His name, why don’t we use it? But what is His name?
According to Exodus 34:5-7, Yahweh means “merciful and gracious”. This is the character of God. He is merciful and gracious! When I learned this, it changed the way I think about my interaction with Him. It helped me understand that He really loves us and wants to pour out his mercy and compassion on us!
I recently had a situation where I leaned into this concept, and it involved our family dog. Our 18 month old puppy developed a severe infection and we had to drive her to a teaching hospital hours away. We dropped her off and were told that she would most likely not survive the night. My husband and I began praying and I cried out to Yahweh, my gracious and merciful God. I asked for His mercy and compassion on our sweet pup, and I called out His character. The next morning we were given news that even the doctor couldn’t explain. Our dog had made a miraculous recovery, literally overnight!
Because I knew God’s name, I felt more in tune with His character and His will for our lives. I prayed into WHO He is and it changed my entire approach in this situation. Now, please know that I’m not saying this is some “magic secret sauce” like rubbing a lamp and getting wishes granted from a genie. It definitely doesn’t work that way. But it is a way to begin seeing God as your friend, your companion, and someone that you’re on a first-name basis with.
That is His desire for us. He wants us to have an intimate, personal relationship with Him and that means spending time in His word and praying (talking) to Him daily!
I challenge you this month to use His name, Yahweh, in your prayer time and begin thinking about Him as your friend. When you KNOW Him, it opens the door for a type of intimacy with your Creator that will richly bless you!