27 October 2014

Can't Fall Asleep? 5 Things You Can Do

Over the last few months, I've had trouble sleeping sometimes.  It's a long story, and I'm still working on finding a solution for the benign heart rhythm issue that keeps me awake from time to time, but I'm beginning to realize that sleepless nights don't have to be wasted.

Normally, I'd spend the time on worry and frustration, or generally trying to solve the world's problems without success.

But thank God for being in the business of helping us form new habits, right?  Because now, rather than facing my bedtime with uncertainty, I'm learning to leave even the amount of sleep I get to Jesus.  (You saw that, right?  The word learning?)

Here are the five most helpful things I've found over the last few months to reduce my worries and fears, and to help me rest in mind and body.  I hope they help you, too.


In particular, I've begun reading the Psalms when I can't sleep.  I read them on my phone, so that I don't have to get up, go in the other room, turn on lights, and therefore wake myself up even more than I already am.  And you know what? 

I've been amazed at how many of the Psalms have to do with sleep, or with resting in God alone.  I've actually chosen to highlight all these kinds of verses in purple (you know, a purple heart message from God when my heart isn't quite beating in its normal rhythm), and now if you were to open the Psalms on my phone you would see purple scattered through almost every chapter.

What a huge encouragement when you can't predict when sleep will finally take over and you'll drift off into dreamland!


Sometimes when I'm lying awake at night, it's my prime time to worry.  Since I'm lying in bed trying to sleep, there's nothing I can do about any of the things I'm worrying about, either.  

Prayer is a great way to turn our worries, one by one, over to Someone who can act on them, night or day.  Whether I'm worried about situations, people, natural disasters...you name it...Jesus is always there to listen and strengthen.

I've had many friends say that when they're awake at night, God will bring a specific person to mind to pray for.  If that doesn't happen, it never hurts to lift up family and friends one by one, committing them to the Lord's care.

Think Thankful Thoughts

Forcing myself to remember all the things God has been doing in my life puts my mind and body at rest like nothing else can.  The more I think of that I'm thankful for, the more thoughts of gratitude come to my mind.  

It's like one thankful prayer, however simple, plants the seed for another one, until I have a whole garden full of beautiful, restful thoughts.  

Seize the Day

Many times there are things we're doing during the day to contribute to our wakefulness at night.  Consistent problems falling asleep may be coming from our daytime habits, and it's always a good idea to evaluate where we are with our health practices by asking some simple questions. Our answers can tell us a lot--if we're honest!

Here are some things I'm trying to ask myself consistently.

Am I getting good nutrition, in proper amounts?  Am I avoiding things that aren't good for me (whether junk food or other even worse substances)?  Am I eating at ideal times of the day, or do my meals leave my stomach working too hard at night when it's time to sleep?

Am I exercising consistently?  Am I drinking enough water to stay hydrated?  Am I getting sunlight (to help with melatonin and vitamin D production)?  Am I breathing fresh air?

And of course when I look at rest, sleep is not the only thing to consider.  If I'm filling the day to the max (way too easy for me to do), and not giving myself margins and breathing room, it's no wonder that my mind would keep me awake at night.

Sometimes, though, there are things happening in our bodies and minds that need more evaluation.  If that's the case, we can use the daylight hours to keep moving forward, a step at a time, toward finding a solution to whatever might be ailing us. 

Trust in Jesus

Perhaps the most important thing we can do when we can't sleep is simply to trust in Jesus.  

Indeed, all our Psalm reading, praying, and thinking thankful thoughts are designed to re-establish and strengthen our trust in Him, and everything we do to seize the day will fall flat unless it's directed by our trust in Him.

Something I've done a few times recently, when I'm not sure how bedtime will go for me, is to just tell God, ahead of time, that I trust Him with my life and health.

Even if I end up awake longer than I'd like.
Even if there's no instant cure.

I'm simply inviting Him to be in charge of my health, my sleep, and my life in every way.  If that means I read a lot of Psalms one night, I know I'll be blessed.  If that means I go to sleep right away and enjoy the rest I'm hoping for, I know I'll be blessed by that, too.

Because either way, Jesus is still the One holding my breath in His nail-pierced hands, and I can't think of a better place for my life to be.

24 October 2014

I Will Restore, Saith Our God

"That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; 
and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten..."

"...and that which the cankerworm hath left 
hath the caterpiller eaten."  Joel 1:4

"Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:  And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.  Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God?"  Joel 2:12-14

"Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things.  Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.  Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.  And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil."  Joel 2:21-24

"And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.  And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.  And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed."  Joel 2:25-27

22 October 2014

Home-made Applesauce

There's nothing like a few jars steaming on the counter, their lids popping, sealing shut, to make me feel all cozy, homey, and well established.  

I love it when company comes over, and I can pull out a jar of home-made applesauce, and make them feel pampered.  

I love coming to those two perfectly round jars in my collection, the ones my mom gave me, which she had in her collection because they somehow came from her parents.  They are my two favorite jars, hands down.

I love putting in a few hours' hard yet simple work, with a good sermon on in the background, or a delightful husband to talk with while the chore gets done.

I love counting how many jars I've filled so far, and figuring out how many I get to enjoy every month for the next year.

I love washing everything up and getting beyond the mess when I know I'm done.

Maybe God smiled, then, knowing how much I love all these things, when He knew apples would be on sale at the grocery store the same week I would feel especially transplanted in this place where it's October and eighty degrees.  Maybe it was simply His plan to give me rooted feelings, reminding me He's a good Gardener still, ready, able, willing, delighted, not only to give me a home, but also to be my home.

{If you've never made applesauce or done any of your own canning before, applesauce is a great and easy place to start.  I'd recommend simply visiting the Ball Canning web site for recipes, recommended supplies, and more.}

20 October 2014

When Earth Looks too Dry

Studying the Sabbath school lesson a couple of weeks ago, these words jumped out at me:

"Our world bombards us with doubt and skepticism; no one is immune. All we can do is pray our way through it, remembering God's faithfulness in the past and trusting Him for our future."  (You can find that week's lesson here.)

Actually, those words didn't jump out at me precisely, because I was studying in Spanish.  Nonetheless, since that was the week full of extra craziness in the U.S. and world news, that day's lesson was particularly encouraging for me.  

Because when it feels like the world is falling apart around me and drying up so much that no life could possibly continue to flourish here, I really can look at what God has done for me before, go to Him in prayer with my concerns, and via the memories and the prayers commit to trusting Him afresh for my future.

You know what I see when I pray that way?

New life springing up in the least expected places.  Courage in my own heart where before there was none before.  Renewed perspective.  Readjusted priorities.

That day in the Sabbath school lesson, we were studying what James says about those who ask in doubt--you know, when he gives us that age-old, beloved promise that God will give wisdom to all who ask in faith without finding fault (see James 1:5, 6) but follows it up by warning us not to doubt the promise.

If we do doubt, he says, we'll just be tossed by every wave in the sea, and on top of that we won't obtain the promise.

And so I renewed my commitment to live in faith instead of doubt, whether the world around me is bleak or bright, looking ahead to that city with foundations where all is life and light.

I know several of you have commented here recently about studying the Sabbath school lesson.  What days or lessons have stood out to you lately?  I'd love to hear about them!

06 October 2014

Happy Songs of the Birds

It had been a while.  

Sure, we found ways to survive the heat-laden days of summer, getting fresh air in shorter stints closer to home.  We took delight in our garden, marveling day by day at its nourishment for body and soul.

We just hadn't gotten out.

You know, out where you can't hear city noises, out where you might not see another human except each other but even if you do they're out for the same reason you are, out where the birds don't have to compete with car alarms for the air waves.

This Sabbath, we simply did it.  Gathered up our water, bug spray, camera, and reading materials for the car ride, and got out there. 

Something somewhere was blooming full and free, spreading its sweet scent over the whole earth, it seemed.  I couldn't breathe in enough of it.

I couldn't capture any of the thousands of butterflies at a resting place, either, but that's a different thing altogether.

Those words we read in the car echoed through my mind in the quiet by the lake side as we walked its entire perimeter.  Words of hope, encouragement, admonition--stay strong in the Lord, don't worry, go straight to Him for direction, and He'll give it to you every time.  (Very loose paraphrasing, of course.)

By the end of the loop, I was more refreshed and ready for renewed service than I'd been in a long time.

"The things of nature are God's blessings, provided to give health to body, mind, and soul.  They are given to the well to keep them well, and to the sick to make them well....Nature is God's physician."  White, Ellen G.  Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 77.

"Seeing the flowers, plucking the ripe fruit, listening to the happy songs of the birds, has a peculiarly exhilarating effect on the nervous system.  From outdoor life, men, women, and children gain a desire to be pure an guileless."  Ibid, p. 86

01 October 2014

What We Ate: September Edition

We've got a lot going in the garden right now.  September is our rainiest month, and this September has seen even more rain than usual, with more than eleven inches. 

You can see some of our starts ride around on my sled on wheels for now, because that makes it easier to quickly get them out of the hard rain, which could flatten them in no time if given the chance.

See the basil hedge (next photo)?  It's well above knee high now, and we can harvest at least once per week.  In my September report on what we ate from the garden, you'll see basil is a frequent feature.  You can look at the actual list of what we ate each day at the end of this post, but for now I'll just tell you some of the ways we enjoyed the produce.


We have three main ways of eating basil:  as pesto (vegan and delicious!), as part of a chunky fresh pasta sauce or salad (tomatoes, roasted garlic and onion, olive oil, lemon juice, and avocado being several of the other main ingredients), and dried as a seasoning.  But this month?  We even got creative and experimented with an orange, pineapple, basil smoothie.  Which wasn't terrible, but not our favorite!  We've also had plenty of extra basil to make pesto ahead and tuck away in the freezer.


We use parsley in everything from stir fry to tofu to its own "parsley cilantro salad", as we call it, but originally developed by a friend as a gluten-free tabouli salad.  I haven't managed to have enough left over from all these favorite meals to dry yet, but there are several plants growing nicely, so I'm sure I'll have enough to dry soon.

You can find my favorite ideas for using eggplant here.

Eating something from the garden every day was just one of our fall garden goals.  We've also been working on adding nutrients to the soil everywhere we can, as well as getting flower seeds and starts ready to put in for the bees.

Right now we're adding grass clippings to the soil as a mulch every time we mow the lawn.  When we spread the clippings around the eggplant bushes, we noticed an improvement in the plants within two days.  The grass clippings are a good quick source of nutrition for the soil, since they don't take very long to decompose.  That in addition to a few bags of manure here and there is making a big difference for our dense, clay-filled soil.

We had so much fun eating the produce from our garden every day, and we'll be keeping that up during October.  There's just no delight like the delight of picking leaves and fruits from your own plants, and bringing them in to make a meal, even if your garden produce is only a small percentage of the meal.

Want to see what we ate day by day?

1.  Guajillo pepper.  2.  Basil, parsley.  3.  Basil, parsley.  4.  Parsley.  5.  Basil.  6.  Basil.  7.  Basil.  8.  Basil.  9.  Basil, okra, eggplant.  10.  Basil.  11.  Basil.  12.  Guajillo peppers.  13.  Basil, guajillo peppers.  14.  Parsley.  15.  Basil, parsley.  16.  Parsley.  17.  Parsley.  18.  Basil, oregano, thyme.  19.  Basil.  20.  Cayenne, basil.  21.  Basil.  22.  Basil.  23.  Basil.  24.  Basil, parsley, okra, eggplant.  25.  Parsley.  26.  Parsley.  27.  Parsley, guajillo peppers.  28.  Guajillo peppers.  29.  Guajillo peppers.  30.  Basil, parsley, eggplant, okra.