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Harder Than it Had to Be

My daughter, Olivia, ran a half marathon last weekend for World Vision. She worked really hard to do it and I am one proud Mama! When she signed up last spring, she was not a runner. At all. She pushed through an injury and time constraints to be at the start line this past Sunday.

As I watched the runners, I thought to myself how hard this must be! Harder for some than others though. Some of the participants made it look effortless while others made it look, well, just really hard.

Last week, I talked about the Whole30 and it made me think of a quote I had seen about the program. ​

​It puts things in perspective. Don’t you think?

Olivia ran a half marathon because she was passionate about the cause she was raising money for. There was also the bonus of how she benefited physically and mentally in the training. It was her choice to do it and it was hard, but I think she would say it was well worth it.

When I think about my drinking years, I realize I made life much harder than what it needed to be. I remember leaving early in the morning for that first Ride4Life to Texas. Family and friends had come to see us off on our 1,100 mile cycling trip. While my husband and I listened to the pastor's devotions for all of us, my mind was screaming, “I can’t do this!”

My whole life was a lie and this particular morning was a prime example. Why? I was so hungover that morning. I had spent the last few days trying to drink away my fears. After a summer of abstinence, while training for this trip, I had given in to fear and tried to quiet the voices that told me I could not do this. So I drank. A lot. Yeah, that really helped. NOT! I made it so much harder than it needed to be.

Definitely one of the stupidest things I have ever done. Did it turn out ok? Yes, God definitely had my back. And not only brought me through that day, but the entire trip. I felt stronger each day. Talk about a miracle! Even though I had made it much harder than it had to be, it was my choice.

So, what about the hard stuff we have no say in? I was out running errands, and I ran into two different people that have recently gone through some truly hard things. One had lost a spouse and the other had a child fighting cancer. Now that’s tough. No one signs up for that. Still, they were smiling and able to talk about what they were going through. They shared their story with me as a living testimony of God's faithfulness, which is exactly what He wants us to do. He promises He will give us all the strength we need.

It made me think about the hard stuff I have been through that I didn't raise my hand for: losing my brother and watching my parents bury their son, the pain of my daughter going through a miscarriage, my addiction, hurting myself and my family.

Those are definitely the top three. In the midst of all that, we have also lost parents and grandparents and had other hardships. No matter what the circumstances were, God has seen us through.

Whether it is just hard or we choose to make it hard, it does not matter to Him. He never leaves us. I know a lot of people in my life right now are going through some hard stuff. I can 100% see the difference in how they are handling it as they stay close to God in those extra painful days. They carry a sense of peace and hope. It’s when the devil gets ahold of our thoughts and we say, screw it, that things go from bad to worse quickly. It doesn't take long for fear to get a stronghold!

I read a devotional that was all about the yoke of Jesus. It's fitting with what we're talking about here.

Come to Me,

all of you who are weary

and find life burdensome;

I will refresh you.

Take My yoke on your shoulders

and learn from Me,

for I am gentle and humble of Heart.

You shall find rest

because My yoke is easy

and My burden light.

-- Matthew 11:28-30

I always thought that meant Jesus took our yoke, took our burden from us. But it doesn’t. Have you ever seen a yoke?

“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” It is meant for two, not one. He comes alongside us in our burden, the hard stuff.

When I was struggling that first day of that bike trip, I prayed all day, and I mean ALL day. He didn't say, “Oh, now you need me.” He said, “I’m here. Let's do this together.”

When I wanted answers for my hurting children He said, “You don't need answers - you just need to trust me.” When I screamed, “Why me, why am I the addict?” He said, “Don't worry. I’ve got this. Wait and see.” In the death of my brother, He simply asked me to learn from it and trust, “Don’t carry this alone, my child. Let me join you in this yoke of pain.”

In the midst of trial, I no longer cry out, ”Why me God?” Instead, I ask to feel His nearness and show me what my next move should be.

Things have been pretty good around here in Hoppenland and I try every day to simply have gratitude in that. This peaceful time I am in, gives me a chance to reflect on the hard stuff. I’m no dummy though, there will be more hard stuff in this life. But I have made a conscious decision not to live in fear of the future.

I choose to live in the same place each day and when those tough times hit, I am prepared to stay with Him in it. To seek His face with a teachable spirit. I know that on the other side of every tragedy and loss there is something He wants to show me. But if I stay stuck in grief and anger and am not open to seeing it, I never will.

“No matter how bad things are, you can always make things worse.”

― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

For me, that would be alcohol. I cannot rely on alcohol when bad things happen. I was under the impression that it would always make things better, but we all know it always made things worse. I need to be prepared and have a plan as to how I'm going to deal with almost anything. That plan always starts with God, not alcohol.

It's simply how He works. So, what's your hard stuff? Marriage? Wayward child? Abrasive friend? Death? Disease? Alcohol? Weight? School? Those are not listed in order of importance or a gauge of any kind as to what’s harder. It matters not to God. He is there for any and all of your hard stuff. Why don’t you ask Him today for help in whatever your stuff is? You know, surrender it.

Peace on your weekend,



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