Taking Care of Each Other

I’m honored to be writing for (in)courage today, sharing my heart about friendship and learning to receive care from those who love us. The article starts below, but you can link straight to (in)courage here!

Our value is not found in what we do but in  whom we belong to. www.annswindell.com

It had been a particularly difficult week, and after a short trip to visit my parents, I was dreading the return to “real life”—a life that I loved but one that currently felt like more than I could handle. We were trying to get our house on the market—a house we would already be losing money on—and had experienced multiple setbacks. I had been sick, the bitterly cold winter was relentless, and my daughter was having trouble sleeping. I was tired, emotionally shot, and worried about our finances with the house.

Still, I had to return to my life, difficult or not. But when I turned the key to our front door, what I found surprised me. It was cleaner than I’d left it! I opened a card on the table and discovered why: my friend Katie had cleaned, left dinner in the fridge, and stuck notes on surfaces throughout the house—notes that reminded me of my value in Christ and His love for me.

I was overwhelmed.

Because I felt—how else can I say it?—I felt taken care of. There is no other way to articulate why Katie’s actions meant so much to me. She had cleaned my house—the house I felt responsible to clean. She had provided dinner for my family—the meal I felt responsible to cook. And she had reminded me that my value was not in what I did, but in whose I was—Christ’s.

As a wife, mom, and teacher, most of my days are spent taking care of others. I rub backs, prepare meals, kiss cheeks, tie shoes, wash dishes, mentor students, write checks, grade papers and give lectures—along with a hundred other things. I can guess that you do numerous things, too. You may not be grading papers or preparing meals, but you’re probably caring for others somehow. You’re probably taking care of those around you.

I think that, as women, we are used to being the nurturers, the ones who take care of others.

But how often do we let others take care of us? How often do we ask others to take care of us?

Please click over and read the rest of the article here, at (in)courage! You can also sign up here to receive free daily encouragement from the writers of (in)courage, right in your inbox! 

 

When Life is Too Hard and Too Much

The last seven days have been, I think, perhaps seven of the hardest consecutive days in my life. I imagine there will be harder days ahead, and I trust that there will be grace and energy for those days. But I cannot think about those days now. I think about women who walk through much worse than I have and much less than I have, and I have learned that comparison is a trap and a lie. We all walk with our own pain, and no one knows the depth of that pain except for Christ himself.

When life is too hard, Jesus will meet you there. More at www.annswindell.com

The short of our long week is that we were all very sick, and my husband was so sick that I honestly thought, at one point, that I might be losing him.

It has been hard. It has felt too hard. It would have been a hard week if sickness was the only thing we were walking through, but it has also been hard because this upheaval has come in the middle of everything else changing–the last week of my beloved job, our send-off at church, multiple house showings, and interviewing for new jobs in a new city. I have so many emotions bubbling and so many thoughts swirling just because we are moving away from home. But with the reality of life and death on the table, things have felt, just, too much.

And I have prayed and wept and stared at the darkness in the night. It has been too much. I am coming to find that all of life is too much for me. The weight of raising children in this difficult world? Too much. The stress of doing any job with meaning and purpose? Too much. The work of keeping a marriage vibrant and beautiful in trying seasons? Too much.

All of it. Too much.

I cannot carry any of it. At the end of the day–even at the beginning of it–I am weak. I am unable to do anything truly good on my own.

But my hope for this past week–my hope for any week, really–has been this:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [Romans 5:6-8]

I never have to be strong for Christ to love me, to save me, to heal me and help me. The Truth whispers to my heart that God’s power is actually, surprisingly, drawn to weakness. He loves working through weakness. He loves being with me and meeting me in those places where I feel broken and unable to move forward. He is with me. He is enough.

He loves doing the same for you. If you feel tired and worn down and like life is too hard and too much, his love and presence is enough for you. He is with you. You are not alone. 

I have found such peace in Jesus in these hard days. Not because he is giving me answers or perfect circumstances, but because he is giving me more of himself. More of his presence. More of his hope. And I am experiencing, again, that He is enough. He makes what feels too hard a load that I can carry, because he shoulders it with me. He makes what feels like too much a lighter weight, because he carries it for me. 

I threw up my hands this week, in worship and in sorrow. Both are gifts to Jesus, because he knows the cost of my pain.

And he knows the cost of your pain; he knows what is too hard and too much for you. It doesn’t matter if what you’re going through is easier for others. He understands. It is hard. It is too much.

And yet, Jesus is greater. He is kinder. And He is enough.  Throw your hands up in your suffering and in your worship, and let Jesus meet you in that place with his Word and his presence and his love.

He is with you. You are not alone. He who has already died for us in our weakness–He is the same one who will also give us what we need to walk through another day, another week, another year. He will give us more of himself. And that is enough.

May you know his presence and his peace this week. May you know his love.

Trusting God When Life Changes

Trusting God When Life Changes: The Joy of Walking with Jesus. www.annswindell.com

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