Do the Next Thing

 

Life is feeling fairly uncertain this week.

The tenant we hoped would be evicted by last weekend remains, with no plans to leave. Our landlords are making some poor choices and not dealing with the situation with the seriousness and the swiftness that we feel are necessary. A run-in with the tenant the other night left me shaken. I try to keep from thinking about the health hazards we are being exposed to in our home. My husband would prefer me to stay inside, rather than start my gardening or take the kids out to play in the yard, just to be on the safe side. Visits and phone calls from the police have become the new norm.

And we are left sitting here, praying something will happen quickly and evaluating how long we stay and wait, and when and if we decide to move on (a decision which we hope to not have to make, as we have generally been quite happy in this house and had no plans to leave yet).

When I awoke yesterday with a painful pinched nerve in my back, the hopelessness seemed to settle over me distinctly. I hunkered down on my couch with a hot water bottle and I anxiously allowed my thoughts to explore all of the "what-ifs" of the situation. I was left feeling scared, uncertain, sorry for myself, worried, angry, and completely out of control.

Yet, God was guiding my day and my heart. Here are three very good things that happened yesterday:

1) Soaking in the Word of God

"For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith– that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever, Amen."

Ephesians 3:14-21 (bold mine- some thoughts that particularly stuck out to me as I read)

2) Talking to a good friend who gets me, and who was able to help me talk it out, clear my head and refocus.

3) Her reminder to "do the next thing" (read this beautiful poem, if you've never read it before or just to be encouraged). There's so much right now that I can't change and have absolutely no control over and no knowledge of how the situation is going to take shape as the days and weeks progress. I feel a bit stuck as I consider what to pour my time and efforts into (ie. is spring cleaning or planting more seedlings even worth it?) What I can do is look around me and do the next thing that needs to be done. A few examples from yesterday afternoon:

  • sort the laundry and start a load
  • put away the remaining few Christmas items that got missed during my 1st trimester, post-Christmas slump :)
  • water all my plants
  • put dress up costumes on my children and take gorgeous pictures of them having a blast together
  • make myself a fruit and greens smoothie (the advice of another good friend :), then sit down to relax and work on my blog while all the kids napped/rested
  • make a yummy dinner to enjoy with my family and our guests

It was amazing how simply writing a list of some of the things that I could do and putting myself to work doing them helped to lift my anxious thoughts, and how good it felt to focus on something productive! God was so kind to care for my needs in so many ways yesterday, and I feel much more encouraged and hopeful today. He is far bigger than this situation, and completely worth of my trust.

How have you been encouraged during times of uncertainty? Do you also find it helpful in these situations to just "do the next thing"?

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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Comments

  1. I know you posted this a while ago, but I had to say that the reminder to “do the next thing” has been running through my head over the past couple of days. I’ve been feeling so impossibly overwhelmed and behind with the move, but that simple phrase has helped tremendously. It propels me forward just one step, and then the next one, and then the next one. I just wanted to say, “thanks.” :-) (P.S. So glad your tenant worries are over!)

  2. I will pray for you. Uncertain times are so difficult. I hope you can find some peace in all of this. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Thank you for sharing your heart. This really ministered to me tonight. Praise God that His love for us surpasses all circumstances we may be presented with and that we are always able to trust Him!

  4. Your post reminded me of one I wrote recently about focusing on the choices we still have, even during hard times, when we feel like some choices may have been taken away. I loved the poem you linked to! So beautifully written. I think “Doing the next thing” is just what I needed to hear today. Thank you!

  5. I’m sorry to hear things are still not going well. I think the “do the next thing” advice is some of the best I’ve been given since my husband left for Iraq. It gets me through many a day with my four small kiddos!

  6. Praying for ya over here :o)

    I love that poem…just re-read it and speaks such peace to my heart even in times of calm.

  7. Oh Stephanie I’ll be praying for you. I can only imagine how stressful that is for you.

    Laura {{hugs}}

  8. So sorry to hear how things are progressing with the tenant. I have been in a similar place and know how stressful it can be, while pregnant and with young kids. But you are right to look to the Lord for strength and for guidance! He never fails us in answering prayers and meeting our needs! You are doing a wonderful job in the stewardship of all that He has entrusted you with so be encouraged. Just consider this a “fire” (my 6yo dd calls any trouble or trial “just a fire, Mommy – to get the yuckies out of me and make me like Jesus”) and cling always to Jesus. Take time to find ways to relax so that you don’t drain your adrenals or exhaust your pregnant self.
    Jer. 29:11 is also my very favorite verse…
    Blessings,
    Andrea

  9. Melissa Buskell says:

    Oh, and I just thought I’d mention, I only just put my Christmas stuff away yesterday. lol.

  10. Melissa Buskell says:

    Hey Steph,
    Just want you to know you guys are in our prayers! I’m sorry you guys are going through all that. I can definetly relate to the feeling out of control with an uncertain situation (and being pregnant!) Up until two weeks ago, I was basically given a 50/50 chance of my baby living, as from 10 weeks on until 18 weeks (I’m now 20 weeks as well) I bled everyday. I totally know what you mean about needing to focus on the now and trusting the rest to Him. A verse that has been an encouragement to Nate and I is Jer.29:11-I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you… Just want to mention also that I have quite enjoyed reading your blog in what has been a very secluded last few months for me. ;) It’s hard to trust in God’s character enough sometimes to just let stuff go, but I’m so thankful for what God has taught me through this recent trial. Anyways, just thought I’d share. Hang in there ;) Please let me know if there’s anything I can do.
    Hugs,
    Melissa

  11. Stephanie, my thoughts and Prayers are with you and your family right now, as I have been in a very simmilar situation myself. It sounds to me like you are doing the right thing by laying your burdens at the feet of Jesus and meditating on His Word. Please don’t get to discouraged, as you are with child. God WILL reveal the next step to you in due time, and He will be with you and yours whatever that step may be!

  12. I wanted to share something with you that I have been meditating on lately. I hope that you are encouraged:
    Psalm 16: 7-11(Amplified)
    “I will bless the Lord, Who has given me counsel; yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand. I shall not be moved.
    Therefore my heart is glad and my glory (my inner self) rejoices; my body too shall rest and confidently dwell in safety.
    For You will not abandon me to Sheol (the place of the dead), neither will You suffer Your holy one (Holy One) to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore”.

  13. Jennifer C. says:

    I have found myself meditating on this verse lately, “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:11 Just remembering that He gently leads us and loves us helps me through difficult times.

  14. I am right there with you!!

    We have had a family tradgedy in the last few weeks and the outcome is very uncertain. I have NO control over what happens, how lives will be changed, or what has happened in the past. I have felt helpless, hopeless, anxious, fearful and a bit depressed at times.

    When I find my thoughts driffting to the “what ifs” I have to remember that God has His hand in all things. That He is the one in control and that I pray for and want His Will to be done. Even if that means that what happens is “the worst case scenario”.

    I too rely on “doing the next thing”, even if that means making the bed, putting on my shoes, playing with my kids, hugging my husband. When I find myself in these kinds of situations I also like to “Keep things simple” and to lay my burdens at the feet of God!

    Hope things get better with the neighbor situation!!