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What Grief Can’t Do

November 30th, 2013

 

Grief.

We feel it when we lose someone we love, when we’re betrayed by someone we trust, or when life is turned upside down by circumstances out of our own control.

Grief hurts.

Grief changes us.

There’s many other things grief can do.

 

Grief can overwhelms us, making it difficult to complete the simplest of tasks.

 

Grief can consume us, causing every thought to somehow wander back to our pain, our sadness, our feelings of injustice.

 

Grief can anger us, providing a sense of entitlement to our fits of rage and our feelings of bitterness.

 

Grief can depress us, making us feel so down and out that even leaving the house becomes a huge chore.

 

Grief can frighten us, stirring irrational fears and unhealthy anxieties.

 

Grief can stalk us so that we feel as if we can never escape its presence.

 

There are a lot of things grief can do to us.

 

But, there’s one thing grief can NEVER, EVER, EVER do –

 

Grief can never stop us from waking up and facing the next dawn.

 

We may find it incredibly painful and difficult to put our feet on the floor and believe we have a reason for pressing on,

but grief can NEVER stop us from trying to live in spite of our heartache.

 

What’s the secret to facing dawn even when your heart is broken?

 

Here it is:

 

Get up anyway.

 

Yes, that’s the secret.

Nothing fancy.

Nothing complicated.

And definitely nothing magic.

 

When life is hard, you have one choice to make every single morning.

You can either face the day or hide from it.

 

Grief may scare you, overwhelm you, anger you, depress you, or consume you,

but it cannot STOP you.

 

SO……..

Get up scared.

Get up angry.

Get up sad.

Get up consumed.

Get up overwhelmed.

 

BUT GET UP ANYWAY.

 

And every time you choose to face a new dawn,

you will find yourself one day closer to the One who longs to carry all of your pain.

 

Get up,

Look up,

Cry out,

Reach out,

and

Know that God smiles when, even though your heart is broken, He looks downs and sees you FACING DAWN.

My prayer is that when you find yourself struggling to face another dawn, you will choose to turn to God for your strength.

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Click HERE to order your copy of Facing Dawn:  A Morning Devotional for the Brokenhearted,

a journey through my early grief after losing Nick and a place to share your heart as you journey through your own.

Half of the proceeds from this book will be used by the Nicholas Yancy Nischan Foundation to help the lost and hurting find peace and purpose in their pain.

 

Thank you for praying for our family today as we faced the dawn of the five-year anniversary of Nick’s death.

We faced it,

and

We embraced it.

 

God was with us every step of the way.

He’s with  you too!

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Embracing Today

November 28th, 2013

 

It’s Thanksgiving Day 2013.
I’m sitting on the floor in my childhood bedroom and lots of memories are dancing in my mind.  
I rearranged this room probably 100 times as I grew up. 
I loved turning on music, cleaning every corner of this room,
moving my bed and dressers to new places, and then surprising my
 mom with the new “look.”
I’ve done thousands of sit-ups on this floor. 
My sister and I use to agree to do a certain amount before going to bed.  
Years later, we’ve both confessed to doing more than we said we would. 
Sibling rivalry even included exercise.

After I moved away, my brother moved into this room so it changed from pink to blue.
I can still imagine the flowery wall-paper that covered one wall and my Holly Hobbie comforter.
There was safety in the walls of this room.

Now this room is my mom’s sewing room. 
Nothing in this room is mine other than the furniture we passed through the family and the suitcases on the floor.
Olivia, almost 16, is asleep in my old bed.  
She’s quickly going to be all grown up and reflecting on her own childhood just as I now reflect on mine. 
What memories will she carry with her?
I hope they’re good. 
I hope she one day sits on her bedroom floor and has good memories of giggling friends and late-night silliness. 

I’m thankful today for a home that prepared for me for anything but an easy life. 
I’m thankful for the foundation my childhood gave me for facing painful losses and many scary and uncertain days. 

I’m thankful I was taught to turn to God for strength and hope in a world that often feels much less safe than this bedroom. 

Today, while full of opportunities to be thankful for and reflect on the past, 
is also an opportunity to create new memories with those we love.

I am determined to do just that today even as my heart is filled up with many things that could make today sad and difficult.  

I’m thankful for my childhood bedroom floor. 
I’m thankful for times to just sit and reflect on how faithful God has been for so many years. 

But I’m also thankful for a new day and new chapter and new opportunity to share His love with those I love so much.  

God was with me as I grew up. 
And He’s with me today. 

For that I am most thankful. 

He’s with you today too!

Have a happy Thanksgiving day as you reflect on the past – both good and bad – and as you spend the day sharing His love with those around you.  

God bless your day!

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A Pre-Thanksgiving Confession

November 27th, 2013

 

One of our cars broke down half an hour from home last night.

Tim has to venture there today to figure out what’s wrong.

 

My hair color dripped onto one of my most favorite t-shirts.

(I knew I should have changed before starting this monthly project!)

 

A toilet overflowed upstairs at our house this morning……

 

AND

 

I’m in a kind-of cranky mood!

 

There’s something about confessing everything that’s on my mind that frees me up to face the ugly parts of “real life,”

so I decided that before I tried to move on with all of the day-before-Thanksgiving “setbacks” in our home, I would take a minute to get my ugly out.

 

So here it is.

 

And I feel better.

 

You might be having a fabulous day!
I hope so!!

 

But if your day is a little less than great,

just know you’re not alone!!

 

 

Praying your Thanksgiving is full of special memories,

cars that work,

hair color that doesn’t drip,

and toilets that flush properly!

 

I love you all so much!!!

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If Life Were a Stage

November 26th, 2013

 

Holding their scripts, the row of second graders prepared for their reader’s theater performance.

One girl, unable to contain her excitement, periodically hopped in place as she grinned ear to ear.

 

After a short discussion about using strong speaking volume and an expressive voice as they read their lines, I asked the students,

“What else can you do as you read your lines in order to keep the audience interested in the story?”

 

Several students raised their hands and offered ideas.

“We can make different faces.”

“We can use our hands when we read.”

“We can look at each other.”

 

And then the smallest boy in the line,

the boy with the softest voice,

raised his hand.

“We could sing our lines,” he said.

 

I smiled and replied,

“Why, yes you could!”

 

As the play began, this particular little boy had been assigned the role of “Narrator One” and, sure enough,

he sang every single line throughout the entire play.

 

Without missing a beat, he carried the story along with perfect pitch and a calm singing voice, captivating all who were listening.

At the end of the play, we cheered for all the actors with a big round of applause as they bowed and grinned.

 

As I reflect on the fun day I had last week with a class full of second graders,

I am drawn to the memory of this small boy.

 

As I sit here this morning thinking about God as our “audience,”

I wonder what draws Him into our life stories?

 

If life were a stage,

what would He long for in our performances?

 

I have to think that a voice of praise would please Him most in a world filled with violence, anger, fear, and so many other troubling emotions.

 

Today, as you journey from one place to the next,

try captivating God’s attention by lifting your voice to Him.

 

Carry your story along, no matter how difficult life may become, with a voice of praise.

 

He’s watching, and His applause is the only applause we really need.

 

Psalms 147:1

Praise the LORD! For it is good to

sing praises to our God; For it is

pleasant and praise is becoming.

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What If Today Is the Day?

November 25th, 2013

 

Monday mornings can seem anything but exciting.

Weekend events often leave us feeling a little tired,

and sometimes the thought of another week of same old
“same old” just isn’t enough to kick us into high gear.

 

But…….

 

What if today is the day that something is going to happen that will change everything about tomorrow?

What if today is the day that you are going to say just the right thing to someone who needs a little encouragement and somehow God is going to use a tired you to enliven a weary someone else?

What if today is the day that God is going to place you in just the right situation at just the right time to be the difference, the answer, the sign someone is pleading for in prayer?

 

I wonder how Philip felt when an angel appeared to him and told him to go south to a desert road.

Surely he wondered what in the world God could possibly have in mind as he began his journey to a barren stretch of land.

 

I love that when Philip heard the command, he immediately started out on the journey.

He didn’t question the angel.

He didn’t complain.

He didn’t hesitate.

 

Acts 8 simply says,

“So he started out…”

 

I have to think that Philip was praying as he journeyed toward this desert road.

I have to think that he was watching all along the way for a sign.

I have to think that he was praying for God to show him why in the world he was journeying toward a desert road.

 

And I especially love that before he even arrived at his destination,

God used Philip to change someone’s life forever.

 

The whole story is in Acts 8:26-35.

In the story, it says that as Philip was “on his way,” he came upon an Ethiopian eunuch who was reading the book of Isaiah.

 

Philip  was told by the Spirit to “Go near the chariot and stay near it.”

As Philip approached the chariot, he simply asked the eunuch if he understood what he was reading.

 

This opened the door for a powerful conversation in which Philip was able to share about Jesus.

 

Eventually, Philip and the eunuch passed by some water,

and the eunuch asked Philip to baptize him.

 

Philip is then taken away miraculously to an entirely different location.

God had used Philip “on his way” to the desert road rather than waiting until he arrived there.

 

The story ends with these words about the eunuch,

“he went on his way rejoicing.”

 

Today, as we venture into another Monday,

what if God has plans to use us “on our way” from one place to the next?

What if He plans for our encounter with someone to end with them going “on their way rejoicing?”

 

Maybe it’s a bus ride to work or walk down a hall from one office to the next or a phone call with a friend or relative or an encounter with a student or co-worker that will be the “on our way” moment or our day.

 

If every one of us determines that today is the day we will be open to God’s leading as we are “on our way” from one place to the next,

can we even imagine how this world could be transformed?

 

Today IS the day.

 

We are all “on our way” somewhere.

 

As we journey through today, let’s ask God to open our eyes and ears to the world around us so that we can share His love with a world that needs Him desperately.

 

Let’s all determine that today IS the day that we, like Philip, will send someone “on their way rejoicing” because we have allowed God to use us “on our way.”

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Our Home and My Christmas Prayer

November 22nd, 2013

 

Tim and I decided to have a technology-free evening,

order dinner out,

turn on Christmas music,

and dive into our attic in search of Christmas treasures.

Five hours later,

we sat down.

We still have wreaths to hang outside and ornaments to add to trees,

but I wanted to share a little holiday spirit and love from our home to yours as the season seems to be quickly upon us.

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Praying this prayer today.

 

Lord, You are the reason for every twinkling light throughout our home.

Your love is what fills us with Christmas peace even when many things in our lives don’t seem so peaceful.

The undeserving gift of Your Son is what compels us to give generously to others throughout the holiday season.

Father, our Nativity sets only hint at the wonder of the first Christmas night.

Help us feel the wonder of that most Holy night in a very real way every day of our lives.

Help us enter the next month of life with a new and heightened sense of Your presence.

Help us let go of the worldly tendency to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and stress of holiday shopping;

and instead, help us create more special memories with people we love.

Help us fill our calendar with events that allow us to share Your love rather than events that cause us to feel distracted from the true meaning of the holiday season.

Father, this morning I see faces of so many that I love so deeply.

I even imagine people reading this prayer in other countries who I may never meet until Heaven,

and I ask you, Lord, to bless them all today.

Cover them in Your grace and mercy.

You are the One true and living God.

We are thankful for the chance to live for you every single day.

Comfort those who are hurting.

Calm those who are stressed.

Bring peace to those in the middle of chaos.

Bringing heal to those who are sick.

Help us all to accept the journeys You have placed us on even when the path seems rough, uncertain, and scary.

You promise to go before us on unfamiliar roads.

You promise to make rough places smooth.

As we sit near the twinkling lights of our Christmas trees,

may we constantly be aware of how near You are to each of us.

You are the reason we join in this holiday season.

You are the source of our Christmas joy.

Thank you for sending us Your Son,

the Prince of Peace,

our Savior.

In His Precious Name I Pray this Prayer,

Amen

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When You Need a Lift

November 21st, 2013

 

I love that God cares about us in such a personal way that when He hears us cry out to Him,

He turns toward us and listens.

I love that when we admit we are stuck or weak or frail,

He reaches out and lifts us up to a “firm place.”

I love that when we are in a rut and we will feel trapped,

He can step in and put a new song in our mouth – freeing us to praise Him.

I don’t know what your day holds,

but I do know that He who holds you has this day covered in His love and mercy.

I don’t know how messy life is for you,

but I do know that no mud, no mire, no mess is too big for God.

Don’t try to do today alone.

Cry out to Him.

And patiently wait.

He will hear you.

He will listen.

And He will lift you up to a firm place.

A place where you can confidently face anything this world throws your way.

Trust Him today with everything that is on your heart.

He loves you and He cares.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.

Psalm 40:1-3

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Pulling Christmas Out

November 20th, 2013

 

I use to start playing Christmas music in early October.

Decorating the house for the holiday season by Evan’s birthday (which is today) was a definite accomplishment.

I loved having the house, inside and out, filled with lights and the Christmas spirit in time for his birthday party every year.

Nick’s last holiday season we went over the top with outside lights and inside trees in early November.

I wanted Nick to enjoy every single ounce of holiday spirit he could.

 

Time has passed though.

Nick isn’t here to get excited about Christmas with us.

All my other “little ones” have grown into teens and twenty-somethings,

and I find myself talking about when I will “pull all the Christmas decorations out.”

 

There’s something about the word “pull” that sounds like work,

and I don’t want to feel this way.

 

I love the Christmas season.

 

I love sitting in a dark room with only the lights of the Christmas tree blinking near me.

 

I love long evenings with Christmas movies that make me laugh or cry or both.

 

Today, I’m letting go of the word “pull” and looking for a new word.

 

I want to dive into the Christmas decorations.

 

I want to go head first into my attic and hunt for treasures to sprinkle throughout my house.

 

I want to embrace the season because it truly is the only reason I can face my daily life with Hope and Joy.

 

I carry Christmas with me all year long because Jesus is more than the reason for the season.

He is the reason for my life, my joy, my smile.

 

So, I’m officially DONE with the phrase “pulling Christmas out.”

 

Today, on Evan’s 24th birthday, I am celebrating not only the gift of his precious life but also a transformed way of facing the holidays.

 

Be watching for Christmas photos of the Nischan house.

I’ll be diving into the attic soon!

 

If there’s a part of your life that seems hard right now,

challenge yourself to replace the hard words with new, energized, purposeful words and face your situation with a new mindset.

No matter what you’re facing today,

whether it’s something as routine as decorating for the holidays or something as painful as dealing with grief,

you have the power to face it with strength, courage, hope, joy, and determination.

 

But “what you think” has to change before “how you act” will change.

 

Proverbs 23:7a

For as he thinks in his

heart, so is he.

(Amplified Bible)

 

Praying for you today.

Praying you can transform your heart, your mind, and your thoughts,

so that you can live victoriously knowing you do not face today alone.

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For some reason, I love the story of Thomas.

I love that one of Jesus’ original disciples,

a man who had walked with Him, ate meals with Him, heard Him teach, and watched Him perform miracles

couldn’t jump on board with all the excitement of the other disciples who excitedly proclaimed,

“We have seen Jesus!!”

 

I love that He needed more evidence.

I love that he was honest enough to say this out loud to his closest friends,

 

“unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were,

and put my  hand into His side, I will not believe it.” (John 20:25)

But the part of the story I love most is this:

Jesus appeared to Thomas and allowed him to not only see the nail marks but also touch them.

 

Jesus provided Thomas with just what he needed in order for him to exclaim,

“My Lord and My God!”

 

Jesus went on to say,

“Because you have seen me, you believe.  Blessed are those who have not seen me and yet have believed.”

Do you ever feel like Thomas?

Do you ever think, “I need more evidence.”

 

Don’t be afraid to tell God how you feel.

 

While our belief today has to be based on faith, I do believe God is willing to provide just what you need in order for you to have a personal encounter with Him.

 

Ask God to make Himself known to you today through nature, through people, through events.

I love to pray that prayer every single day.

 

I love to ask God to open my eyes to His Presence all around me.

 

Ask Him to show up in your life today.

 

Like Thomas, you will find yourself exclaiming,

“My Lord and My God!”

as you journey through life with Him instead of searching for Him.

 

Praying your day is filled with personal encounters with Him who loves you most!

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The Most Important Question

November 18th, 2013

 

Stumbling over toys and blankets, I made my way to the ringing phone on our kitchen wall.

“A job opportunity, and they thought of me?” my mind filled with a sense of significance it had not felt in a long time.

Someone thought I was capable of doing something that extended beyond changing diapers.

For whatever reason,

I needed that phone call on that particular day.

 

As I hung up the phone, I looked down at my t-shirt and sweat pants, a normal “uniform” for my “career,”

and I wondered if God was calling me out of my day-in-and-day-out sea of laundry, tears, and Fisher Price entertainment.

 

I sat for a minute and considered the option.

I had been a reliable babysitter to several friends over the years.

Surely God would provide a reliable one for me.

 

This was a big decision, though, and I knew I needed wise counsel.

Tim was in the middle of a busy day at work,

so I knew his advice would have to wait until evening.

So I thought of my friends and pondered who I should call.

 

As different friends came and went from my mind,

I could almost hear each of their answers before throwing out my question.

To work or not to work outside of the home?

 

I settled on a friend who I knew would speak more than what she personally thought was right for me.

I settled on a friend who I knew would challenge me to think deeply.

Then I called and poured out my heart.

 

After I was done talking,

she didn’t offer advice.

She didn’t say,

“Well, this is what I think you should do.”

 

She asked one question.

 

She said,

“What are you looking at right this minute?”

 

As I looked in front of me, I saw Evan in his high chair,

baby food encircling his mouth which was forming the cutest grin.

 

I told her what I saw,

and she asked me one more question,

 

“Do you want someone else taking your place with this view?”

 

I looked again and Evan’s big eyes met mine.

It was as if he knew what I had been asked,

and in that moment my sweat pants and t-shirt became designer clothes and my lot in life became my profession.

 

I was called to be home, and it was okay.

 

Finances weren’t always easy as our kids grew up.

Many weekends our excitement was going to KMart to buy a new puzzle with some of my babysitting money and then working it as a family.

Looking back, I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world.

 

 

As I reflect on that specific  memory,

I realize how important it is to turn to the right people when looking for advice.

 

Pilate was faced with a life-altering situation when Jesus was brought before him by the Jewish leaders.

These Jewish leaders hated Jesus, and they wanted Pilate to hate Him too.

 

Pilate found no fault in Jesus,

but he turned to an angry crowd with his dilemma and asked,

“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?”

 

The answer wasn’t pretty.

 

“Crucify Him!” they shouted over and over again.

 

Because Pilate turned in the direction of this crowd,

Jesus’ fate was set in stone.

 

I wonder if he looked back on that day and wished he would have turned to a different audience with his question.

 

In life, we are often faced with tough decisions.

 

Who we turn to for advice makes all the difference in the world.

 

Whether you work outside the home or stay at home,

you can be an awesome parent.

 

But there’s one question that will matter for eternity.

It’s the same question Pilate asked over 2,000 years ago,

“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?”

Turn the right direction for your answer.

It will change everything about your life.