How to Sleep Tight When Stress is on the Loose

With my daylight hours filled with job searching and seeking God’s direction for my future, I find myself fighting for a decent night’s sleep. Just because the lamp turns off doesn’t mean my swirly thoughts will.

I discovered some night-time routines that help me settle my mind and set myself up for a restful night.

When I neglect my routines, my body, mind and spirit toss and turn all night. If I do sleep, I end up hashing out my worries and insecurities in my dreams, which only makes them seem bigger come morning. I wake up frustrated, exhausted and in pain.

But when I invite Jesus into my evening hours, He eases in His peace and inches out my worries.

Here’s what’s working for me.

Remember God is God and I am not.

One of the last things I do before bed is take my little Riff out for one last tinkle on a tree. As I stand in the grass waiting for him do his thing, the brilliant star display pulls my face heavenward. Something about that stunning sight settles me. The God of the heavens is the God of my heart.

The same stars shone in King David’s day when he penned these words: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3-4 NIV)

Who am I that God would give me a second thought? Yet I am always on His mind. When I exchange His peace and rest for tossing and turning, I am essentially saying that He can’t handle my problems. That my wisdom is supreme to His. That He is not who He says He is.

Even on the cloudiest of nights, I know those stars are up there. I know my God is here and handling things. So, while Riff waters the daisies, I lift my eyes up and pray, “I trust You, God.”

Express gratitude.

I mentioned in a previous post how counting gratefuls helped me shake off a bad case of the blues. I can’t emphasize enough how powerful this practice is. Ann Voskamp wrote a compelling book about it. If you haven’t read it yet, please move it to the top of your book stack. Just this week, Ann shared on her blog a living, breathing example of how counting gifts kept a woman living when her circumstances felt like certain death.

“When you are dying of thirst, passively reading about water quenches little; the only way to be quenched is to actually get a cup and drink. We have to do more than read and think and plan, we’ll have to do something.

You’ve got to open up your mouth and swallow.

You’ve got to taste and see He’s good —

God isn’t asking us to earn His love. He’s simply asking us to turn towards His love.

You’ve got to taste His love.

You’ve got to grab a pen and count gifts. You’ve got to look for the glory and hunt for the grace and seize beauty in ugly and laugh brave and defiant in the dark and you can lose everything but nothing can steal Jesus and He is enough and you have got. to. live.”

Gratitude is appropriate all day long, but bedtime is my favorite time to pour out my thanks to God. Many nights, I fall asleep with “Thank you, Lord for…” on my lips. When gratitude fills my final thoughts, I go to sleep thinking of all I have instead of what I don’t. It makes all the difference.

Say goodnight to my questions and concerns.

Trouble is a part of life for all of us. Money trouble. Job woes. Chronic illness. Relationship problems. Societal decay. No life is problem-free, and problems don’t fade away when the sun goes down. At some point, we have to say, “Night night” to our troubles and lay them down. Trust me, they’ll still be there come morning… right there with God’s new mercies.

Tarry with truth.

As part of my quest for a renewed mind, I’m trying to read more. Right now, I’m reading Max Lucado’s new release, Glory Days. I sleep much better when I lay down the i-phone and close out my day turning paper pages. God meets me on the pages of Christian books. He reminds me I’m not the only one with questions. He challenges me to make connections between human stories and biblical truth. He reminds me I’m a writer with a story to tell. Often, the truths I glean from the book I’m reading free-flow into my running list of gratefuls.

Friend, it is possible to sleep tight when stress is on the loose. Here Jesus say to your weary heart, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 ESV). It really is that simple.

Lord, because You never slumber, I can sleep in peace (Psalm 121:3-4). “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8 ESV). I trust You, Lord, and I thank You for being trustworthy. My life is in Your hands both day and night. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN

Is Jesus invited into your bedtime routine? How do you prepare for a restful night? 

 

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A Prayer Against Human Trafficking

I have a confession to make. I only watch the Super Bowl for the commercials. I barely know the difference between a touchdown and a time-out. This Super Bowl Sunday, I’ll curl up under my sister’s Green Bay Packers blanket and listen to her hoot and holler. Since her Packers aren’t playing, Karla hasn’t yet decided for whom she’ll be hooting and hollering.

The Super Bowl isn’t all fun and games.

Super Bowl Sunday and other huge sporting events are not just about the sports. Such events are big-business for sex traffickers.

The thought of young people forced into prostitution to satisfy the ugly greed of their pimps and the putrid lust of their paying customers makes me sick. And furious. And, for just a minute, I felt helpless.

But no Believer is helpless against evil. We can pray.

Lord,

When You look at the condition of this world, I wonder if it reminds You of the days of Noah.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled (Genesis 6:5-6 NIV).

We need help, Lord. 

Daily, young people sink into a dark world of captivity where their innocence is destroyed and their dignity is stripped.

Set the captives free.

Open the eyes of citizens everywhere, including me. Give us the compassion and courage we need to take action. To ask questions. To reach out. To pay attention.

Set the captives free.

Speak truth and hope into the minds and hearts of these broken, exploited human beings. No matter what kind of lies their captors spew, assure them they are worthy of love and freedom. Assure them they didn’t do anything to deserve their exploitation. Assure them that someone is searching for them and praying for their safe return.

Set the captives free.

Statistics say that runaways and foster children are especially vulnerable to falling into the clutches of human trafficking. Please, Lord, rescue them in advance. Bring loving people into their lives to help them see past their current pain so compounded pain can be avoided. May Your angels patrol the night, Lord, sending innocents to safety before evil can snatch them up.

Set the captives free.

The victims of human trafficking are not the only ones enslaved. The captors are shackled by sin. Many of them are so embroiled in the industry of evil that even if they wanted to get out, they wouldn’t know how. As long as they have breath in their lungs, there is hope for redemption. Open their eyes to see the ugliness of their thoughts, words and actions. Whisper, “Come to me,” to their blackened, hardened souls. Just as the Apostle Paul went from murderer to missionary on dusty Damascus Road, these doers of evil can change (Acts 9). Pull them from their spiritual prison cells not just for their sakes but for the sakes of every exploited, enslaved person in the world. Transformed traffickers can be powerful soldiers in the battle against human enslavement.

Lord, please…by Your powerful hand…bring human trafficking to an end.

In the name of Jesus, who died to set our souls free,

AMEN

Will you join me in praying against human trafficking?

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