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How Life Gets Easier

Praise God for brokenness and his mysteries and little hot-pink sticky-note reminders — for that’s where I found freedom.

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I suppose I’ve always liked to control things — to plan my career or vacations or schedule my day in half-hour increments, for efficiency’s sake.

It was a gift, I thought, this mapping out of my life so I didn’t waste time reaching my goals. That was until I found myself in the emergency room unable to breathe at age 25. I squeezed my husband’s hand so tightly his fingers pulsed as the doctor told me a football-sized tumor entangled my lungs. And to complicate the situation more, I was six weeks pregnant with our first child.
You can’t control that.

Not your health.

Oh, you can eat organically and exercise obsessively and take practical steps to prevent disease, but sometimes when you least suspect it, disease happens.

Curled into myself on the couch, fatigued and fearful of what the future held for me and my unborn baby, I did the only thing I could: I prayed with great sincerity that God would heal me from my cancer.

But he didn’t.

No matter which prayer position I tried or what health tactic I dabbled in, my disease deflated me. One afternoon, a sharp, stabbing pain shot through my chest and an uncontrollable cough gurgled out. It grew louder and rattled deeper inside my core. With no other options, no other way out, I started chemotherapy during the second trimester of my pregnancy.

The person who once found great comfort in controlling her situations couldn’t heal her disease or protect her baby or make sense of all the uncertainty surrounding her life. I didn’t like this new reality very much, because it meant surrendering control.

I had a sneaky suspicion this wasn’t a coincidence.

One thing was certain, staring sickness in the face changed my goals. I no longer cared about becoming successful in my career, or being debt free, or if my house resembled a Pottery Barn catalog. I just wanted to live long enough to hold a healthy baby girl, maybe see her ride a bike, and if I was really blessed, watch her walk down the aisle.

Perspective is a beautiful thing.

A month into my treatments, I was still calculating the outcome of my situation when a good friend had the guts to say, “Once you realize you’re not in control, life gets a whole lot easier.”

Well, hello wisdom.

I needed this little gem of insight typeset on a hot-pink sticky note, plastered to my bathroom mirror as a daily reminder.

Let go.

Stop taking God’s job.

Stop being a control freak and take a breather.

Internally obsessing about the outcome helps no one and left me miserably fretful. I wished a nifty toggle switch were embedded in my brain so I could flick it off and not think about the unanswered questions in my life. Only, I wouldn’t fully learn this lesson of releasing my issues for years — a decade to be exact — because I went on to battle multiple life-threatening illnesses.

I can say now with confidence that the sweetest hours of my life came in the morning when I lay face first, calling out to God, asking him to carry me another day. Every trial deepened my relationship with Jesus, and each time God revived my weakened body after the doctors shared a grim report, my faith expanded to a new level of understanding — a level my limited mind could never explain.

Maybe that’s why he tells me in Proverbs 3:5 to trust in him with all my heart; not to depend on my own understanding. This faithful obedience required me to temper my obsessive-compulsive brain and accept the mystery of his indescribable power. He can’t show up and receive credit if I’m calling all the shots.

By my ninth medical emergency, my weakened will finally told the Lord, “Either take me or use me; I’m yours now — fully. Whether in sickness or in health, I’ll alter my life according to your Spirit’s internal nudges.”

Surrendering all is another beautiful thing.

That simple act of releasing control alleviated a lot of pressure. Praise God for brokenness and his mysteries and little hot-pink sticky-note reminders — for that’s where I found freedom.


Enter to Win a Copy of “When God Intervenes”

Want to hear more of Dabney’s story? Enter for a chance to win a copy of her new book, When God Intervenes. You can read more about it here on Amazon or over at Dabney’s website.

godintervenes

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Dabney Hedegard is a writer, speaker, and professional patient. In addition to writing for the Good News newspaper, Dabney speaks at churches, MOPS groups, and women’s conferences. Her memoir, When God Intervenes, released July 2013 (Tyndale House Publishers). She lives in South Florida with her husband and four children. Visit Dabney at dabneyland.com.

17 Comments
  • Erin

    I can so relate to this!! I’d love to win:-)

  • I’d like to win the book!!

  • Rebecca

    Whether I win a copy of the book or I purchase a copy, I have to read this. The excerpt has me intrigued. I love to read about God’s workings in this world, and the ways that He reaches people so that He can reach even more people.

  • Debbie

    THANK YOU FOR SHARING!

  • Rachel

    This book is truly amazing. Glory to God!

  • Enter! Enter! Enter! I have already read the book & it is wonderful! You will be blessed!!!

    Joanne

  • Joanie Baumgartner

    Pick me! Pick me! I can’t wait to read Dabney’s book! She is an amazing lady and such a witness for the Lord!

    • Congrats, Joanie! You are the winner. I sent you a message via Facebook.

  • Sarah M

    i LOVE this devotional& i’d love to win!

  • Jil K

    Oh! This is such a wonderful giveaway and I can so relate to being a control freak! Can’t wait to read it :)

  • Hope I win! I o have the book and did read it but I have marked it everywhere! I would love to give a copy to my daughter-in-love!

  • Courtney

    Dabney, thank you for sharing your story! I, too, like to plan every second of everyday! Lately, I’ve been dealing with some health issues, and have been trying to control that, too! Thank you reminding me that I need to totally surrender to God and allow Him to use me instead of feeling sorry for myself.

    I would love to read your book!

  • Maria Weber

    I would love to read this book and share it with my prayer group.

  • Krysten Burlage

    I’d love to win – heard your book is awesome :)

  • christabel

    Iwld love to read this book,where can i get it please

    • Hello,
      When God Intervenes can be found at your local Barnes and Noble or online at Amazon, B&N, Lifeway, or any other online bookstore.

      Blessings,
      Dabney

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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Articles

He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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How Life Gets Easier

by Dabney Hedegard time to read: 3 min
17