Use These 5 Strategies When Life Gets Overwhelming

Life isn’t easy. It just isn’t. It is stressful. It is messy. Relationships can be trying. We all have our cross to bear. However, there are days, weeks, and even months when it feels like so much “stuff” is being dumped on us we start to feel like we can’t take it anymore. There is an expression that came from somewhere that says that God doesn’t give us anymore than we can handle. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me, there have been times when it feels like He brings me pretty close!

When Life is Overwhelming

Image by talibabdulla (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

In the past, when  hardships  and struggles and “life” happened, I would get so overwhelmed – almost unfunctionable. Depression would set in and I would feel like I am stuck in the muck forever. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen any more. I still struggle but I am able to use these strategies to help me cope. Now, you may not get overwhelmed with life, but if you struggle or have to deal with long-term challenges, I encourage you to try out some of these pointers and see if they help.

1. Know You Are Not Alone

Everyone struggles and goes through rough patches. Again, everyone has her cross (or crosses) to bear. So, even if other people don’t “get” your situation completely, all of us can all relate to having to deal with difficult circumstances.

Now, knowing this doesn’t change your personal situation, of course. However, knowing you aren’t alone can be comforting. Growing up, and having mild cerebral palsy, I was bullied a lot. I still remember how alone and lost I felt. I didn’t think anyone would understand what I was going through and yet, I wasn’t alone. So many young people were bullied in my youth, and sadly, there are many people (young and old) who are still bullied today.

So, believe me: No matter what you are going through you are NOT alone.

2. Step Away From The Situation

It is extremely difficult to be objective when you are so close to a situation. If you can, even for five minutes, walk away. If you can’t walk way, take a minute or two to close your eyes, say a prayer and/or count to 10. BREATHE. BREATHE. BREATHE. BREATHE.

Even better, if at all possible, get away for a couple of days. Everyone needs time to recharge and re-center themselves. It is a great way to get a new perspective on the situation.

Realistically, though, that’s probably not going to happen, especially if you are a caregiver to someone. Still, there are other ways to “get away.” Can you get up earlier for some quiet time or steal some quiet time in the evenings? Can you use some downtime to journal or pray?

For me, as an introvert, I need a certain amount of quiet and alone time. When I am going through a difficult time or when life gets extra busy and noisy. It is critical for me to take some time to sit in silence and process everything that is going on. This is particularly true when I am going through stressful times.

3. Beware of the Comparison Trap

Comparing ourselves is not only a waste of time, it is a waste of our emotional and mental space. It is also very misleading. When we compare ourselves to other people, it is tempting to think that someone’s life is better than ours. We read what people post online and assume that they have such a great life. Or, we talk to acquaintances and hear all about the good things they are doing and we fantasize about having their life.

Well, guess what? What we don’t see is the “behind the scenes” of their lives. Or the reality of their lives. People are selective of what they post online and will not normally post the ugly. Even when they do, it is usually “packaged” in a way that makes them look good. No one wants to look bad in front of people, online or otherwise.

The same is true about our “in real life” friends and acquaintances. We can’t see what is behind closed doors of their lives. We don’t see the arguments or the craziness that may go on.  Unless they share their ugly with us, we don’t know about it.

Here is the deal with comparison: It only adds to your problems. It causes discontent in your mind and in your heart. It can cause bitterness and jealously. It robs us of our peace. Comparing ourselves to others sows the seeds of discord. Believe me, it is not worth the time and effort to compare ourselves with other people.

Going back to my younger days, it was so easy to fall into the comparison mode. My parents, and my family, did not treat me any different than anyone else because of my cerebral palsy. But, there were still some things I couldn’t do because of it and there were things that I had to do because of it (such as special exercises). I would so easily fall into comparison mode and feeling like life wasn’t fair! In my eyes, everyone else was smarter, prettier, or better than I was. How silly of me! It wasn’t true, of course, but because I was too busy comparing myself, I didn’t realize that. So, with some tough (but much) love, I say to you: STOP IT. 🙂

4. Talk to Someone

Whatever you are going through, talk to someone you can trust. It can be your spouse, a priest or nun, a friend, or even a life coach. If the situation is serious, or long-term, consider getting some professional counseling. If it is appropriate, get involved in a support group. There is no shame in taking steps to change your life or to find healing. Getting the help you need is brave and courageous.

I am not going to lie. This is a difficult step for me. Like my mother always told me, I have a tendency to hold things in. Sometimes it is because I don’t want to be a “bother” or sometimes it is because I’m afraid of being misunderstood or rejected. It is scary and hard to be vulnerable. BUT, there is also power and grace in opening up and talking to someone. When you talk to someone, that ‘thing” that guilt or fear or shame or whatever it is, loses its power over you. When you open up to the right person, it is freeing!

Anxiety is something that I have dealt with most of my life. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to get some anxiety counseling. I wish I had gone sooner! I got some greater understanding about myself and the disorder and I got some practical tools to help me face the anxiety when it comes.

Word of caution: Be specific and honest about what you need and are looking for. If you are just looking for someone to listen and let you unload, tell her. If you are looking for advice and/or a solution to your problem, tell her. Let your confidant know ahead of time what you want and need from her. it will save time and help avoid misunderstanding. You will get the most out of your time together if your mutual expectations are clear.

5. Get Some Practical Help

If you can afford it, consider hiring someone to handle the many little things that crop up so you can focus on the important stuff.  You can pay someone to clean your house, to run errands or to babysit your kids. Seemingly small things can build and build until they become overwhelming big things; therefore, if you have someone do some of those tasks for you, it can bring some margin and breathing room into your life.

What can you do if you can’t afford to hire someone? Do a swap with a friend or neighbor. Barter. My son has to do a certain amount of hours of community service for his Confirmation prep. Maybe there is a preteen  in your area who also needs do some community service and would be willing to rake your leaves or mow the lawn or do little jobs for you for free. Get creative.

Oh, and if you have kids, don’t forget to put them to work!. Remember: It may be your responsibility to get things done but that doesn’t mean it’s your responsibility to actually do the work. Kids of all ages can, and should, be doing some amount of chores. And most of them will do extra in exchange for a little cash or treat. Again, be creative in coming up with ideas.

Now, I realize this suggestion seems a little silly or out of place. HOWEVER, when you are going through a difficult time – be it physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, or any combination of those – anything else adding to your stress or compromised mental state can feel insurmountable or overwhelming. Therefore, if you are going through a stressful situation or you are burdened in any way, please give this suggestion a fair consideration. It may make a huge difference for you as it has for me.

In fact, all of these strategies have made a difference for me. They still make a difference for me. It doesn’t matter if I am going through a big difficulty, like the death of my cousin, or something small, like my son being uncooperative during his school time, I always fall back on these strategies to get me through. And my prayer is that you, too, will use these pointers and that they make a difference in your life.

Know that you are in my prayers! God bless.

The Lord is My Rock

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2

Whew. This has been a challenging summer so far. I was sick with bronchitis most of June, and recently my husband came home from the hospital recovering from pneumonia. Then there as been some financial challenges and other challenges.

The Lord is my Rock

Image by Simon (2017) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

I feel like the Lord is sending me test after test after test. And, I don’t think I am alone. Someone shared with me that she sometimes doubts if God is watching over her when she feels like the world is falling apart around her.

Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever wonder if God is letting you flounder your way through life? It can be frustrating so frustrating.

What is helping me is constantly reminding myself that God does have a plan and a purpose for my life, even when I can’t see what that is. I also try to hold fast to the promise in the above scripture quote. God is my rock. God is my fortress. God is my deliverer. I just have to remember that God’s timing isn’t my timing and I need to remember to trust.

Have you ever heard of putting your name into bible verses? It sometimes gives a new perspective and a reminder that God is a personal God who is look out for each one of us as if we were the only person on earth.

For example:

The LORD is Carol’s rock and Carol’s fortress and Carol’s deliverer, Carol’s God, Carol’s rock, in whom Carol takes refuge; Carol’s shield and the horn of Carol’s salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2

Now it is your turn. Replace my name with yours. Know that no matter what you are suffering or dealing with God is with you. He loves you and He will bless you in His own unique way.

Next Steps

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“The Glory of God is Man Fully Alive”

“The glory of God is in man fully alive.”  — St. Irenaeus

That quote is from Saint Irenaeus whose obligatory memorial we celebrate today. It is a powerful reminder of what God wants for you.

God wants us (YOU) to be “fully alive!” He doesn’t want you to just get by or to live a reactive life. He wants you to live a life of joy, peace, and confidence. When you live a fulfilling, faith-filled, and joyful life, you give God glory! That doesn’t mean a life without difficulties or challenges, but it does mean that God is with us no matter what.

"The Glory of God is in Man Fully Alive"

Unfortunately, sin exists and robs us of living a life that is fully alive. When we sin or live a life of sin we rob ourselves of God and we rob God the opportunity to shower His grace on us.

Some people thing that the 10 Commandments and the precepts of the Church cramp their style or that they are “good people” so the rules that don’t apply to them. That is completely not true. God gives us the commandments and the precepts of the Church so that we can live in true freedom – not the “I can do whatever I want” kind of false freedom.

But guess what, God loves us so much that when we do sin, we can make things right with Him through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Confession the gift where we can confess our sins, receive forgiveness and grace and begin to life a life that is fully alive once more! You don’t have to wait for Advent or Lent to go to Confession either. You can receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation on any given Saturday (or by appointment).

I encourage you, if it has been a while since you have been to Confession (or have recently committed a mortal sin), to get to Confession. I promise you, you won’t regret it. 🙂

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P.S. If you are looking to live a fuller, more intentional life, and can use some accountability, let’s chat to see how I can help you.

Memorial Day

I want to thank all our troops (and their families!) who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. During your festivities, please take a moment to say a prayer for them. Don’t forget those who are still mission in action or prisoners of war. May God’s mercy be on them all.

Happy Memorial Day

Should Your Teen Watch “13 Reasons Why?”

13 Reason Why is a Netflix T.V. series based on the book by Jay Asher. It is about a teenager who commits suicide and leaves behind a series of tapes explaining  why she made the decision to end her life.

Should Your Teen Watch "13 Reasons Why?"

Talk about this series has been going on all over the place, online and offline. There has also been some questioning and debate as to whether it is appropriate for teens, and if so, how young is too young?

In full disclosure, I have not personally watched the show, nor do I plan to watch it. It is not the subject matter, per se, that is the problem; it is the graphic nature of the show that keeps me away. Still, I think I have read enough and talked to enough people to lay out some pros and cons so that you can come to you own conclusion as to whether the show is appropriate for your teen or not.

PROS

1. It Explores  Important Topics

Over the last few months, I have been hearing about suicide more and more. It feels like it is becoming an epidemic of sorts. In fact, I recently heard of an eight year old who took his own young life because of bullying. This is heartbreaking. It needs to be discussed and the underlying reasons behind the suicides needs to be addressed. People must learn the warning signs and get those in danger some help!

Each week of this series is centered on one tape and one reason why the young girl decided to kill herself. And in doing so, it touches on other important topics such as bullying, rape, etc. These are things that must be talked about and we must help our young people find ways to deal with them in healthy ways.

2. The Characters?

Truth be told, I had a hard time coming up with another positive, other than the fact that it covers important topics. I decided to add the characters as a “pro” because several people have told me that they found the characters to be relatable, if not stereotypical. Other people have told me that the characters are too stereotypical and not really relatable at all. Go figure. I guess you will have to make up your own mind with this one. 🙂

CONS

1. There is no mention of God

Yes, this world has become so very secularized that God is taken out of almost every area of life, especially T.V. Thus, it is no surprise that it is the same here. I mention it here, though, because faith (or lack thereof) colors a person’s perspective and that is particularly true for people who contemplate suicide.

Life with faith is still difficult but a life without faith is near impossible. God doesn’t promise a perfect, easy life, but He does promise us heaven. And He does promise us a life where He is with us every step of the way. When a person of faith faces difficulties, hopefully he or she can lean on God and get the help to work through those problems.

Therefore, when a person doesn’t have faith, they don’t have that layer of support. They don’t always know who to turn to for help because they feel alone. I know for myself, before I turned to the Lord, when things were hard, life became very, very dark. I turned in on myself and there were times when suicide was an attractive choice. (I do thank God I didn’t make that choice!)  For a person without faith, every little thing can get compounded in the mind and internalized by the person.

I get the sense, from people I’ve talked to, that this is similar to the girl in the show. Even when she went for help she felt misunderstood and there is  no faith baseline to guide the girl.

2. It is Very (Too) Graphic

It shows everything. Many adults that I talked to had to turn their heads during the rape scene and the suicide scene in particular because they were just too “in your face.” One woman I talked to said she wasn’t sure if she was going to watch the last episode or not because she didn’t want to watch the suicide scene.

3. It is one-dimensional.

A couple of moms that I talked to mentioned that, although the show covers important topics, it is superficial. It doesn’t go in depth, especially in regards to the girl who killed herself. One mom in particular said that there is no discussion about the girl’s mental state or any kind of mental illness that came into play in regards to her decision. Apparently, this is also an issue with several mental illness and suicide prevention groups.

My Recommendations

1. Watch the Program Yourself First

Only you can decide whether or not your child is mature enough to handle the nature of this show (or the book). If you do decide to let your teen watch the show, feel free to fast forward during the graphic scenes or skip specific episodes altogether.

2. Watch the Program WITH Your Teen

Even if you think your teen can handle the show without you, please watch it with her. They may have questions, or they may not be able to handle some of the situations as much as you may think.

3. Talk about each episode

Don’t just watch the show and leave it at that. Ask questions. Go deep. Even if your teen is hesitant, don’t shy away from discussing what is going on and why they are going on. Talk about the characters’ reactions to various events. Talk about the mindset of the individuals, especially the young girl who committed the suicide.

One other note: be prepared to let your teen react the way she/he reacts. Your teen may open up and share things that may surprise or shock you. Say a prayer to the Holy Spirit and allow him to work/speak through you to your teen. Who knows, maybe this series – and the discussions that flow from it – may wind up being a time of growth for you and your teen (and strengthen your relationship with each other)!

Have you watched the series? What do you think about it? Have you let your teen watch the show? Why or why not? Please share in the comments. I am truly interested in other’s opinion about this series. More importantly, I am very interesting in learning how this series may (or may not) help our young people sort out the complicated issue of suicide.

P.S. For the record, my son is 12 so I won’t be letting him watch the show. Of course, that probably doesn’t surprise you. If I’m not going to watch it myself, I am not going to let him watch it. {smile}

What Are We Teaching Our Children?

I purposely do not get political online (or publicly) and I don’t plan to now; however, I feel called to share my heart. The events that have transpired since election day has been alarming and heartbreaking. It is also aggravating. (Warning: mini-rant below)

What are we Teaching Our Children?

What I am referring to is the rioting and violence that has erupted since Trump was elected. I am referring to the over-dramatic response by many, especially our young people – and not-so-young people. Over the weekend, I heard about someone who was verbally attacked just because she asked someone if they were okay (because the person looked upset and as if she had been crying).  I also read about a young boy who was bullied and yelled at by an adult because he voted for Trump in a mock election. On top of all this, you can’t go on Facebook or other social media site without being bombarded by anti-Trump news, protesting and riots.

So, I can’t help but wonder what we are teaching our kids. What is going on when college classes are being canceled and counseling services are being offered for those “adversely affected” by the election? Seriously? Are we really raising a generation of infantile, indoctrinated people with an entitlement mentality?

How about teaching our children about how democracy works? Or, how about we teach them that they can’t always have what they want when they want it? How about teaching them that there is disappointment in life and give them tools for dealing with it more maturely? How about we teach them how to accept defeat graciously. I see what’s going on and it looks like a bunch of babies having temper tantrums just like my son sometimes does when he doesn’t get his way!

Now, don’t misconstrue me. The disappointments and anger of Clinton’s supporters are real. They have a right to their opinions, and feelings. They have a right to be respected and their feelings are valid. And, they have a right to express those feelings. Just like anyone else. At the same time, however, those feelings need to be expressed in better and healthier ways. How is rioting and destroying property helping anyone? How does beating up people or ridiculing people with different opinions (especially those who voted for Trump) make a difference? Those actions will not change the results of the election.

If the Republicans or conservatives did half of what is being done, there would be no media coverage. Or if there is, it would be to bash them for not accepting the results. There is a huge double standard here.  But our young people! They have witnessed some the worse anti-Christian behavior, including Christian against Christian.

What example are we giving our children and young people when we slam each other (with our words, and sometimes fists)? What are we doing by allowing our schools to indoctrinate our children with anti-democratic (and revisionist) rhetoric? Why aren’t we teaching our children to have a strong work ethic and empower them to become productive members of society who can think for themselves? Why aren’t we helping them to learn to listen to and respect perspectives and opinions different than their own?  We owe them that much. We owe ourselves and our future that much.

The world isn’t going to implode or explode because of the outcome of the election like the over-dramatic babble would like us to believe. We owe it to Trump as our new President to give him a chance, as we had to do with Obama. And guess what? Many of the events and problems which the left / Clinton and Obama supports are so afraid of have existed long before Trump ran for President. Division, discrimination, economic problems, and other issues shamefully existed before Trump and some things even got worse in Obama’s administration (Obamacare has crushed my family financially & coverage-wise). So, for our kids’ sake, we need to take a deep breath and start thinking with our heads. We can’t let fear control our lives.

Besides, we may not know what the next four years (and beyond) will bring but we know that God is control. Therefore, I have hope. I have faith in the power of God. I know that no matter what happens we are in His hands. Our children are also in His hands. So, I will continue to pray. I will pray for President-elect Trump, all our leaders, for our children, and for those with whom I differ. I will pray for those who have rioted and have caused havoc this past week and I will pray for their victims. I will even pray for the media and Hollywood elite who are so far misguided and out-of-touch with common America it isn’t funny.

So, I will pray, pray, pray. Will you pray with me?

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Tweetable: What Are We Teaching Our Children?

You are Loved

Are you going through a difficult time right now? YOU are LOVED.
Are you feeling lost, abandoned or confused? YOU are LOVED.
Are you feeling angry, rejected, or lonely? YOU are LOVED.

You are Loved

Even when others reject you, neglect you, or disappoint you, YOU are Loved beyond measure.

Truly, you are loved more than you know. You have not been abandoned. You are not alone. In your darkest days, God is with you, even if it doesn’t seem like it. As St. Paul writes, nothing can separate us from God.

We may separate ourselves from God through sin or by ignoring Him but He NEVER separates Himself from us.

So, if you are struggling or going through a difficult time, take courage. Trust in God. Believe He is there. Know that He loves you.

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And, yes, if all is going well for you, if you are happy and “living the good life,” God loves you too! Remember Him, thank Him, and know that he shares your joys as well as your sorrows!

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Tweetable: You are Loved

Is God’s Love Enough?

Has God ever punched you in the face? Not in the literal sense, of course, but in the way that you hear something and it just changes everything for you?

Is God's Love Enough?

Image by brunoabdon (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Well, He “punched” me about a month ago. I went to confession and when I was done telling my sins the priest says (among other things), “When we sin we are, in effect, telling God that His love isn’t enough for us.”

BOOM!

For some reason, those words rocked me to the core. “Of course, God’s love is enough! I go to Mass, I pray, I go to Confession regularly. I profess Jesus as my Lord and Savior and try to do right by him. Heck, I even have a blog to encourage other women with their walk with the Lord! Of course, His love is enough!”

BUT, is it? Really?

By definition, sin is a rejection of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states,

Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,”123 knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.”124 In this proud self-exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.125 (1850)

Thus, when I sin, I choose self-love, self-wants, and self-desires over God’s love. So, yes, when I sin I am telling God that His love isn’t enough. I am telling Him that my immediate self-gratification and my self-will is more important than His Holy and loving Will for me.

Thankfully, God’s love and mercy is bigger than my self-love. He knows my hearts, all of our hearts. He knows that we are small and petty and foolish and yet He loves anyway. He knows that we will reject Him – are sins nailed Jesus to the Cross! – and He continues to choose us anyway.

Since that confession, I’ve tried to remember those words. When I am tempted to impatience, anger or other sin, I try to remind myself that God’s love is enough. I don’t have to choose impatience or bitterness, or whatever. It hasn’t been perfect. I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded. But, guess what? That’s okay! His love is even enough for my failures!

God’s love is enough for you, too.

Whatever you are going through right now, try to think of those words. Are you suffering or in pain? God’s love is enough. Are you struggling with bitterness, anger or hatred? God’s love is enough. Are you lonely? God’s love is enough. Are you out of work or facing financial problems? God’s love is enough. I promise, no matter what you are going through, God’s love is enough.

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Tweetable: Is God’s Love Enough?

P.S. Know that I pray for my blog readers daily! If you have a specific intention you want me to pray for, don’t hesitate to let me know.

ALL Lives Matter

The senseless tragedies of last week are weighing on my heart. It feels like our world is going crazier by the second. When will we realize that every person is created in the image and likeness of God and should be treated with respect? When will we start to “judge” people by their character and not by the color of their skin, or race, or how they walk, talk, or dress or any other external attribute?

All Lives Matter

Image by Passagere (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

And where is God in all this? Honestly, I have no easy answer. I wish there was no evil. Heck, there are times when I wish there wasn’t free will so a person could never choose to harm another person. However, I choose to trust. I choose to believe that God will bring good out of these horrible events.

Of course, it is easy for me to do that. I’m not the one directly affected by the shootings. I’m not mourning the loss of a loved  one. I’m not the one who was shot and killed. So, I’m praying. I’m praying for the repose of the souls of all who died last week. I am praying for the families who are mourning and demanding answers (rightly so). And yes, I am praying for the shooters and their families. I am praying for all who are affected by harmful actions of others.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You for the Prayers and an Update

Well, I didn’t plan on having a mini blogging break, especially so soon after Easter but I guess it was God’s will. It has certainly been a crazy couple of weeks! First of all, thank you for the prayers while my husband was in the hospital. He is home and doing much better, thankfully. He has to change his diet and get more exercise (don’t we all!) and follow up with a specialist.

With him out of the hospital, I was able to enjoy a trip to Virginia that was planned a long time ago. I went two of my friends and it was wonderful. However, with all that was going on, blogging fell by the wayside, but I think I can now get back on track. I will be posting the saints and feasts for May early next week, as well as the bible study. I also have lots of ideas for posts and I am hoping to start a Periscope series soon! Of course, all of this will be according to God’s will.

Jesus, I trust in you! So thank you again for the prayers, they mean so much!