Sometimes a day comes blinding me like a sand storm, tearing at my mood, my very soul. On a day when my to-do list is so long it seems only perfectly executed choreography will get it all handled, it feels like my heart could jump out of my chest. I feel light headed, unable to corral my thoughts. Like a car stuck in mud, the harder I push on the gas or crank the steering wheel, the deeper I get mired down. What a horrible feeling. 

The worst part about it is even when I get through the list and pull things off I am left worn out and unable to enjoy any sense of accomplishment. At the end of a day like that I am poured out, wrung dry and empty. I think, “why in the world did I put myself through such anguish?” and I am unable to answer. My better self answers, “it wasn’t necessary”.

Please whisper to me, “I have had days like that, I understand.” Thankfully, oh so thankfully, those days are fewer and far between now and even when the overwhelm threatens to suffocate me with its chest crushing sensation I can nearly always quell the feeling of desperation. It only took me 63 years. But it does not have to take you anywhere near that long.

What changed? Certainly not circumstances. All of us wrestle with a list too long, a day too full, demands too heavy and still only 1440 minutes in a day. Never any more than that, no matter what.

What did change then? I did. But I did not do it by myself. That would have been impossible. So what did I do? I added more things to my to-do list. Very simply I got control of my time by spending more time up front each day asking Jesus to organize my list and orchestrate my activities. I changed channels on my thoughts from “good God, it’s morning” to “Good morning God!”

Think about that car in the mud. The first thing you do to get out is to shift into low gear. When we intentionally shift into a lower, slower gear we move through the day more mindfully and efficiently with fewer scattered thoughts. If that doesn’t work, we get help. Psalm 46:1 teaches “God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble”. Just stop for a moment, actually stop and whisper a prayer, “Help me Jesus”. He will never fail a sincere plea for help; in fact He is always glad you called.

Learn to differentiate between what is necessary and lasting and what will be quickly forgotten. A relaxed and joyful wife, mother or hostess will be much more memorable than a perfectly appointed home or magazine-worthy meal presentation. Dare to try it- lower your expectations a bit, push a little less and see what happens. The relief will be enormous and it is unlikely anyone will notice or remember anything other than how wonderful it was to be with you.

If you strive for anything, strive to have more of a Mary heart in our Martha world. For someone like me, a card-carrying workaholic, it has been the toughest battle I have ever fought but I feel as if victory is at hand. You have to buck the system a bit but the rewards are enormous. One more thing;  when we slow down and stop to see things as they really are, we see tiny wonders and miracles everywhere, even in the most mundane, chore-filled day and with God’s help, you will find your way through the most difficult times.

Seeing this beautiful photo  reminded me of lyrics from a song years ago. “At the end of the storm, there’s a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark……You’ll never walk alone.” That is a promise you can always depend on. Blessings to you!

Betty Streff

Betty Streff began her career as a customer service representative for a large corporation in Omaha. Four years later she found herself to be a farm wife in a small rural community with limited opportunities for women. After a humbling self assessment, she listed her assets as talents for sketching, sewing, and the natural ability to strike up conversations with complete strangers. Using these and her optimistic nature, she began stitching up some bibs and pillows for a craft show, who wouldn't? Over the next 25 years she became a serial entrepreneur obsessed with studying faith, spirituality, leadership, motivation, and management as she developed her businesses. Betty has spent the last few years working in corporate America in the hospitality and manufacturing world and she continues to immerse herself in the study of what makes people tick. The explosive growth in the relatively recent science of positive psychology fascinates her. Betty devours everything she can find on the subject and is especially intrigued with people who thrive no matter the circumstances and in discovering ways that happiness and optimism can be learned. She is currently exploring ways of sharing and cultivating the exciting possibilities with both individuals and businesses. She and her husband Steve have been married 45 years and are blessed with 2 incredible daughters, 2 fantastic sons-in-law and 6 amazing grandchildren.