Like a Yo-yo by Beth Smith     Part 2: What to Do

Okay, I’m a yo-yo. So now what? How do I begin this trusting God thing?

The Bible is full of stories of God’s yo-yo people. They obeyed God until things were good (up), then turned away (down). Then they would worship him (up). Then they would worship idols (down). Psalm 78:37 (AMP) says: “Their hearts were not right or sincere with Him, neither were they faithful and steadfast to His Covenant.”

Are we any more steadfast than the people of the Bible? Probably not, but here’s more good news. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NIV).

Romans 11:29 (AMP) tells us that God “does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.”

Yea! God does not yo-yo! He doesn’t love us one minute and reject us the next. He doesn’t call us to belong to him then, when he sees what yo-yo’s we are, decide to cast us away. God is always steadfast. His Word is always trustworthy. God and his Word—these are our only hope for relief from the yo-yo syndrome.

We know what to do mentally and spiritually. Trust him.  But what else can we do to exhibit our steadfastness? Paul wrote, “Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer life, being both alert and intent in your praying with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2 AMP). We need to pray, not once-in-a-while, not just when we’re needy, but all the time. That’s something we can do.

Paul also wrote, “And so brothers of mine, stand firm! Let nothing move you as you busy yourselves in the lord’s work. Be sure that nothing you do for him is ever lost or ever wasted” (I Corinthians 15:58 PHILLIPS). Has God directly or through his Word told us something we should do (or not do)? Let’s jump on it. Let’s be quick to obey.

Are you wondering whether or not God has good works for you to do? Check this out: “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2: 10 NIV). This can be good news or bad news. The good news is that God has prepared us and made us able to do the work he desires us to do. The bad news is that if we aren’t doing them, there’s a lot of stuff not getting done.

Isn’t it great that God can change us and use us as he himself breaks that yo-yo mess? We’ll never be perfectly steadfast this side of heaven. But the next time we feel ourselves “unwound,” or dropping to the bottom, let’s say what Psalm 42:5 (NIV)  says, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”

Photo by Geometric Photography on Unsplash

Like a Yo-yo by Beth Smith Part 1: The Don’ts

Once a few years ago I found a bag of yo-yos on sale for a remarkably low price. Why? Because they didn’t work at all.  I bought them anyway and gave them to some of my friends as a reminder that a “Yo-yo Life” doesn’t work either.

Because we’re human, we all suffer from the yo-yo syndrome. We feel

  • good, then bad;
  • happy, then depressed;
  • fearless, then afraid;
  • loving, then hateful;
  • confident, then anxious.

What do we do about these ups and downs? Sadly, we often do something like the old song says, “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places”. We turn to alcohol or drugs or food or screen binging or shopping or…anything that will satisfy our senses and numb our feelings. We need to get that yo-yo up! But none of our strategies last, so down we go again.

The ups and downs of life are a part of reality. We can’t run away from life anymore than we can jump out of our own skin. So, what are we to do? God is the only lasting answer. We must trust him with everything, and turn to him for help when the yo-yo is dropping instead of turning to short-term solutions.   

When we’re down, we tend to say, “Well, I guess I just need to try harder.” Ah, but here’s some great news. It’s not the trying, but the trusting that does the trick. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths.” The God who saves us by his grace is also the God who is powerful enough to sustain us and to keep us steady, to stop the yo-yoing up and down.

(To be continued…)

Photo by Geometric Photography on Unsplash

As My Parents Age

As My Parents Age, by Cynthia Ruchti, is a terrific book. If you have parents who are over 70, consider picking up a copy. If you hope to someday be over 70 yourself, consider picking up a copy.

Today, though, I want to depart from my usual theme and tell you about some of the instructions I’ve now given myself, having watched the aging process assail my parents.

Take care of your skin. Dry skin is fragile skin. Fragile skin can tear and bleed and hurt. A good moisturizing soap and lotion may seem unimportant now, but it’s an investment in your future comfort.

Take care of your feet. A pedicure every once in a while may seem frivolous, but it’s also an investment in your “old person feet.” And, no, you don’t have to get your toenails polished.

Take care of your teeth. You know the routine. Floss. Brush. See your dentist. You want your teeth to outlast you. A century or so ago they seldom did, and we all tend to live longer now. So, be warned.

Take care of your weight. You think it’s hard to keep your BMI in a reasonable range now? Just wait until taking a run—or even a long walk—becomes impossible. Moderate your eating habits now so that you’ve created the habit you will so dearly need later.

Take care of your attitude. If you tend to panic or complain now, you’re going to find it nearly impossible to keep your perspective in old age. Life just tends to get more difficult. Do yourself, and perhaps more importantly, your younger loved ones, a favor. Learn to be happy for what you have, to trust the lord in all things, to rejoice, and to be at peace.

As the years creep up, KISS  more. Keep It Simple Stupid. That sharp brain of yours will probably dull a bit. So, as time goes on, make your life a bit less complicated year by year.

Enjoy your blessings! Notice what your younger self is able to embrace. Make memories. Love and be loved. Fill your happy bucket with enough to last you if and when life becomes limited.

And, now, please, those of you who have learned other essential tips, please, please, weigh in in the comments section. We all need to know what you know!

Photo credit: michelle dot com via unsplash.com

Shut Up and Dance!

I’m a Straight No Chaser fan. Last week, I was listening to their music (thank, you, Alexa) and heard their rendition of “Shut Up and Dance.” It made finishing up my household chores way more fun. Last night, I played it for Steve, and we danced to it right there in the kitchen. Today, we both had it stuck in our heads.

The words of that song are a surprising reminder of how we are to live as followers of Christ.

Don’t you dare look back. Yesterday is passed. Our sins are forgiven. We are to forgive the past hurts others have inflicted on us. While these are obvious truths God intends for us to live by, we all need to be reminded: Don’t look back.

Keep your eyes on Me. Me, meaning our loving lord. When our focus is on the Lord, we become aware of his all powerful presence, affecting our attitude and our actions.

You’re holding back. What are we to hold back from the Lord? Nothing! Confess all. Submit all. Give all. Obey all. Enjoy all.

Shut up. Okay, we don’t think of God as saying “Shut up.” But that’s just another, albiet slightly rude, way of saying “Be still.” Or, “Stop babbling on about your fears, worries, and hesitations. Start trusting our Almighty God instead.”

Dance with me. I used to talk about God giving me marching orders, but that phrase—cold and unfeeling—was never the right one. He does ask us to dance with him. Make no mistake, our Lord is to be the one leading—always. Are we often uncertain, wondering what the next step will be? Sure. Nevertheless, our lives with him are to be intricate and beautiful as we seek to follow his ways.

Here’s a link to that popular song, part of which has become a hymn of instruction and praise for me. I hope you’ll never hear it the same way again!

Straight No Chaser – Shut Up And Dance [Official Audio] – Bing video

And if you want a little more. Read on:

Phil. 3:13 “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

Oh soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Oh turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace


Helen Howarth Lemmel, 1918

Grumpy or Grateful?

Last week, I heard one of my wise kids say to my grandchildren, “Just because you can’t have something you want doesn’t mean you get to be grumpy about it.”

Those youngsters have pared down the rhetoric. Now they say, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit!” Thrown any fits lately? Gotten into the “grumpy gimmies” about your lot in life? Lest you think an occasional pity party is okay, check this out:

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 106:1).

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4).

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (1 Chronicles 16:34).

And then this quote, uncredited but repeated by Jan Karon in The Mitford Bedside Companion: “In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.”

SO, when life doesn’t give you what you want, deny yourself the easy choice of grumping about it. Choose, instead, to be thankful, because the Lord who loves you really does know best.  Gratefulness can make the difference in your day!

photo credit: Ben White via Unsplash.com

A Song in My Heart

A magazine editor once interviewed a successful author and asked, “What makes for a good story, one that will draw a large audience?”

The author’s answer, simple and pointed, was, “Trouble. Trouble. Trouble.”

I’ve never been one to spend a lot of time perusing the daily news. So much of it is full of “trouble, trouble, trouble.” It’s what sells. It’s what keeps us clicking on links or tuning in. While a lot of the morning news doesn’t really apply to me, it can still pull me down. I’m back to curating my input, filtering it through this faith-filled reminder:

 I never face trouble alone, and I have plenty of reasons to go through my day with good cheer.

It helps to keep a song in my heart. Here are a few of my favorites. Take a look today, or turn on your own faith filled tunes. Don’t let the morning news trouble you without filtering it through faith.

  • “Happiness Is the Lord”
  • “I’m So Happy and Here’s the Reason Why”
  • “Trust and Obey” (for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
  • “Oh Happy Day”

And just to convince you further of the importance of song:

  • From Ephesians: “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord .”
  • From Colossians: Teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
  • From Isaiah: Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.”