Tag Archives: planning

Creating White Space (Guest Post)

Open day planner with red ribbon marker and fountain pen.
Image by Sophie Janotta from Pixabay

Creating White Space

by Steph Beth Nickel

How do you feel when you open a book and see a solid page of text with virtually no white space?

More importantly…

How do you feel when you open your schedule and see virtually no white space?

Do you feel overwhelmed just thinking about it?

What can you do to overcome the overwhelm and avoid burnout?

Here are eight suggestions:

  1. As a Christian, prayer is always the best place to begin.
  2. Divide your To-Do List into three categories. The three I use are Yes!, Maybe, and Would Be Nice. Be careful how many things you list in your Yes! column. I would highly recommend adding Downtime (in ink) to your Yes! column every day. Go for a walk. Read a book. Listen to a podcast. Don’t let things you’ve always wanted to do end up in the Would Be Nice column week after week.
  3. Take a look at your Procrastination List. Offload any of the responsibilities you can’t realistically accomplish in the near future. Add (and complete) at least one remaining item to each week’s schedule until the list is cleared. When I cross something off my Procrastination List, it feels as rewarding as crossing ten things off my everyday list and energizes me to get back to the day-to-day.
  4. When creating your To-Do List, be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you have the luxury of creating your own schedule and you have more energy in the morning, complete the tasks that require extra energy and brain power before lunch whenever possible.
  5. Remember that no is not a bad word. We’ve all been in situations when someone asked us to do something that would only take an hour or two, but it felt like the proverbial straw that would break the camel’s back. It’s okay to decline. I know this is true, but I’m still learning to apply said truth.
  6. When asked to take on a responsibility that you would really like to accept, ask yourself what you can remove from your schedule instead of trying to shoehorn in the new task.
  7. Make use of the Auto Responder on your email and let people know that you will be incommunicado when you’re on vacation. Resist the temptation to check in. True Confession: While I love making IRL (in real life) connections, my phone has become this extravert’s connection to the outside world, and I have to be extremely disciplined when it comes to setting it aside.
  8. As you get older, it will likely become evident that you can’t accomplish everything you dream of. While this can be discouraging, it can also help us determine our highest priorities and create a To-Do List that mainly includes those things we would regret not accomplishing. For example, those dishes really can wait until morning. Playing a game with your family, meeting an old friend for coffee, or sitting down to work on that book you want to publish are likely more important.

Create white space in your schedule—and guard it diligently.

Take it from someone who, for the most part, loves to spin “all the plates”…

Sometimes it’s best to tuck the majority of those plates in the cupboard—at least for now.


Photo credit: Jaime Mellor Photography

Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance editor and writer and an author. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at stephbethnickelediting@gmail.com.

You’re invited to visit her website: http://stephbethnickeleditor.com/.

You can join her Editing Tips Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/418423519384351.

Prioritizing Your Goals (Guest Post)

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Prioritizing Your Goals

by Steph Beth Nickel

Now that January is drawing to a close, you’re likely reconsidering the goals you made at the end of 2023 or the beginning of this year. I know I am.

Instead of giving up entirely on those goals we haven’t yet achieved, it may be time to prioritize them. Of course, there may be those we have to set aside, but the answer could be to 1) categorize them, 2) prioritize them, and 3) choose one small step toward each goal we want to achieve.

I have goals in the following categories. You may too. I have prioritized them, although they are all important.

  1. Spiritual
  2. Physical
  3. Emotional
  4. Relational
  5. Financial

I also have goals that don’t necessarily fall neatly into one of these categories. For example, some of my writing will allow me to earn money, but not all of it will. To an extent, my volunteer responsibilities fall into the spiritual, emotional, and relational categories—and, indirectly, into the fifth category as well.

I very much enjoy Emily P. Freeman’s The Next Right Thing podcast and journal. These resources, among others, have helped me to break down big goals into smaller, more achievable ones.

As a Christian, my ultimate spiritual goal is to become more Christlike. For the first time in a long time, I’ve committed to making my way through the entire Bible this year (I am incredibly thankful for the audio versions of the Bible). Another goal is to use a prayer journal 5-7 times per week. (Thanks to Tracy Krauss, who created the Thirty Days of Targeted Prayer journal. I use it daily.)

I have yet to begin exercising, but doing so 3-5 times per week is my #1 goal in the second category. The odd thing is that I actually enjoy exercising. I just have to get started.

As an extravert, it’s important for me to spend time with friends and family. These times of connecting build me up both emotionally and relationally. Something as simple as watching a TV show with my hubby in the evening brightens my day. (Listening to audiobooks and podcasts also makes me feel connected to others.)

My hubby will be retiring at the end of the year. Therefore, it’s important that I continue to bring in funds so we won’t notice the loss of income as dramatically. This means taking on writing and editing jobs that come my way and completing the two books I’m currently working on so I can get them into the world.

These are my current goals and the steps I’m taking toward achieving them. Please note: Some days I spend more time vegging and watching YouTube videos than I do working toward my goals. I am definitely a work in progress. I’m far better at creating a list of goals than actually achieving them.

How about you? Have you prioritized your 2024 goals? What one step are you taking to achieve your top goal?


Photo credit: Jaime Mellor Photography

Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance editor and writer and an author. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at stephbethnickelediting@gmail.com.

You’re invited to visit her website: http://stephbethnickeleditor.com/.

You can join her Editing Tips Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/418423519384351.

Less is More? (Guest Post)

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Less is More?

by Steph Beth Nickel

I’m writing this at the end of October. I will let you know in the comments how I did with my goals for November.

Prioritize your current WIP (work in progress). Make room on your schedule. Keep your appointments with yourself the way you would with anyone else.

These are all good pieces of advice.

However…

You are a unique individual, a creative.

Sheer willpower and including my two current works in progress on my schedule have not been enough to keep me writing.

While it isn’t surprising that spending four days with my coauthor and working exclusively on her second memoir got me back into the groove of working on Keep Looking Up, what happened recently goes against conventional wisdom and fuels me up even more.

I was going to sign up for NaNoWriMo again this year and commit to working on my YA speculative fiction novel, which I’ve been working on off and on for several years—yes, years. Instead, I have committed to FlashNano. The goal: write 30 short stories in 30 days.

Am I crazy? Possibly…

However…

There are times in my life when the more I take on, the more motivated I am to work on projects I’ve neglected for far too long.

I recently wrote a 1400-word short story to submit for possible publication in the InScribe anthology that will be published in 2024. Whether it’s chosen or not, I’m pleased with how it turned out.

Because I wrote “Love Your Enemy,” I’m primed to work on Deb’s memoir and the YA novel as well as dive into the adventure of writing more short stories.

Of course, I’ll have to focus on my goals in order to accomplish them. I’ll have to add them to my daily Action Plan (aka my To-Do List). I’ll also have to set aside other things that I won’t have time to accomplish.

But by the end of November, I should have many more words written and polished. And as a writer, I’ve come to realize that none of the words we write are wasted.

Here are six reasons I’ve come to this conclusion:

  1. Practice may not make perfect, but it does make us better writers.
  2. Working on a new or different project can help us get unstuck with our current work(s) in progress.
  3. The more we write, the more it may fill the writing well or charge our writing battery.
  4. When we write works that seem to flow from us, it may give us the wherewithal to get back to those projects that we find tedious and uninteresting. (Most writers have to work on this type of project from time to time—or frequently.)
  5. We may end up publishing a piece we originally wrote just for fun after we revise and polish it.
  6. A piece we write may spark a longer work that gets picked up by a magazine or book publisher or one we choose to self publish.

So, I’ve found that, with writing, less is simply less. And more? Well, the more I write, the more I’m motivated to keep writing.

How about you? Do you need to focus on a single project, or does writing unrelated pieces motivate you to get back to those works that you’ve been neglecting?


Photo credit: Jaime Mellor Photography

Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance editor and writer and an author. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at stephbethnickelediting@gmail.com.

You’re invited to visit her website: http://stephbethnickeleditor.com/.

You can join her Editing Tips Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/418423519384351.

Re-evaluating Resolutions (Guest Post)

Steps leading into a wooded path.
Image credit: Steph Beth Nickel

Re-evaluating Resolutions

by Steph Beth Nickel

You may not call them resolutions. You may call them goals, aspirations, or dreams.

Whatever you call them, the end of January is a great time to revisit those decisions you made about what you wanted to accomplish in 2023.

Revisit Your Goals

Pull out that list you made as 2022 wound down or as 2023 dawned.

If you didn’t make a list, why not do so now? Include at least one thing you would like to accomplish this year in each area of your life. Now’s the time to let your imagination soar. It’s okay to squelch those condemning voices that tell you that you might as well give up before you begin.

Break Down Your Goals

Want to write and publish a book this year? Awesome!

When there are 12 shiny new months stretched out before us, that goal may seem easily achievable. If you’re like me, you may push back getting started because a whole year sounds like a long time. After all, many people are self-publishing far more than one book a year.

However, if you break down the goal into each step that you need to accomplish, you’ll realize the year will fly by and you may just be motivated to get started TODAY.

Some of the steps include writing the first draft, self-editing the book, having the book professionally edited, revising the book, having the book proofread, revising the book again, hiring a cover designer and a book formatter, determining on which platforms you will release the book, launching the book, promoting the book…

Each of these steps can be further broken down into even smaller steps.

Suddenly, a year doesn’t seem like much time at all.

Fight Discouragement & Celebrate Success

At this point, writers have a choice.

We can give into discouragement, throw up our hands, and scrap our goals altogether.

Or…

We can complete the task of breaking down our goal of writing and publishing a book into small doable tasks and place them on our schedule.

It may take us more than a year to release that book, but with each bite-sized goal crossed off our To-Do List, we will be one step closer.

Don’t wait until you upload your completed manuscript; celebrate each small achievement. Small doesn’t mean insignificant.

Stay Motivated

Easier said than done, you may think.

Thankfully, although the writing itself is a solitary endeavour, there are countless resources and communities available to keep you on track.

You can…

Read skills development books.

Read well-written books in the genre you’re writing in. (Some authors prefer not to do this when they’re in the process of writing their own book, but it’s good to know what reader expectations are and determine the elements you want to incorporate in your own work.)

Join a social media community that will spur you on and motivate you to write.

Attend events online or in person that will fill your creative well.

Connect with a fellow writer and become accountability partners for one another.

These are only a few of the possibilities of things that may keep you motivated.

Just a word of warning: Don’t fill your time with these pursuits instead of writing.

Give Yourself Permission

So, now that we’re at the end of January, let’s give ourselves the permission to do the following:

  1. Dream big.
  2. Break down our big goals into doable tasks.
  3. Take longer than we’d originally planned to achieve our goals.
  4. Keep working toward our goals one step at a time.
  5. Seek accountability from individuals and communities that will encourage and motivate us to keep writing.

Photo credit: Jaime Mellor Photography

Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance editor and writer and an author. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at stephbethnickelediting@gmail.com.

You’re invited to visit her website: http://stephbethnickeleditor.com/.

You can join her Editing Tips Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/418423519384351.

Looking Back, Looking Ahead (Guest Post)

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

by Steph Beth Nickel

“Finish strong.”

We’ve all heard it. We may even be overjoyed with what we’ve accomplished this year.

Or not…

On her podcast, “The Next Right Thing,” Emily P. Freeman acknowledged the goal may not be to finish strong but simply to finish.

Let’s wrap up 2022 on a positive note—even if we didn’t achieve everything we wanted to in 2022.

First, let’s look back so we can look ahead with clearer vision.

Let’s ask ourselves the following questions about the past year:

Did I achieve my goals for 2022? At least some of them?

Did I take strides forward—even small ones? With regard to my physical health? My emotional wellbeing? My relationships? My writing goals?

Did I overcome procrastination—at least some of the time?

Did I change course when I recognized I was no longer moving in the right direction?

What goals do I want to carry over into 2023? And what goals do I want to set aside?

As we look to the year ahead, let’s be kind to ourselves.

Let’s consider the following questions as we look ahead to the new year:

What goals am I carrying over from 2022?

What would I say is my #1 goal for the year? For the first quarter of the year? For January?

Are there things I need to set aside, even if they’re incomplete?

How can I prevent those persistent dreams from always sinking to the bottom of my list of priorities?

How can I factor in white space in my schedule?

The term Simple, Not Easy has come across my screen from several sources. This is my phrase for the coming year.

This is how I plan to implement my Phrase of the Year:

Choose quarterly goals. From there, break them down into monthly and weekly goals.

Schedule in adequate white space: downtime and time to rejig when things don’t go as planned.

Commit to the incomplete and ongoing tasks I’m carrying over from 2022.

Be willing to set aside tasks when they are no longer moving me in the direction I believe I am to go.

Prayerfully consider new opportunities that come across my path. Just because I can doesn’t mean I should.

How does looking back help you determine your goals for the days ahead?

What’s your #1 goal for the first quarter of 2023?

Do you have a Word or Phrase of the Year?


Photo credit: Jaime Mellor Photography

Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance editor and writer and an author. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at stephbethnickelediting@gmail.com.

You’re invited to visit her website: http://stephbethnickeleditor.com/.

You can join her Editing Tips Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/418423519384351.

Excuses vs. Reasons (Guest Post)

Signposts: One arrow says "one way" and the opposite one says "or another".
Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Excuses vs. Reasons

By Steph Beth Nickel

Do you scold yourself when you don’t get everything done on your daily To-Do List or when you don’t achieve everything you’d hoped to achieve?

Beating yourself up about it rarely, if ever, gets the job done.

However, we all must be honest with ourselves and evaluate if we’re making excuses or have legitimate reasons for failing to cross everything off our list.

Excuses include the following (just ask me how I know):

  1. Watching “just one more” episode of a show we’re enjoying…or, at least, tolerating.
  2. Scrolling through our newsfeed for “just a few more minutes.”
  3. Thinking, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” (Trust me; I put the PRO in procrastination.)

On the other side of the coin are legitimate reasons for not achieving the things on our list:

  1. Something truly urgent comes up that demands our immediate attention.
  2. Our expectations of ourselves are unreasonable.
  3. Our physical and/or emotional well needs refilling.

These are only a handful of examples, but you get the idea.

And now for the good news!

Whether you’ve been making excuses or have perfectly good reasons for what you do or don’t get done, there are ways you can silence that finger-wagging inner voice:

  1. If you make a To-Do List or simply record deadlines and occasions you don’t want to miss, prioritize your list. What is time-sensitive and something you must/really want to remember? To make sure you don’t miss anything important, write it down somewhere you will check often—whether in a paper planner or on an app.
  2. While it’s important to take other people’s feelings and ideas into consideration, be careful not to allow their priorities to influence your schedule unless those priorities line up with what you believe to be God’s plans and purposes for you.
  3. Be reasonable. There are only so many hours in the day, and you’re only one person.
  4. If you don’t achieve everything on your list, be honest with yourself. Did you have legitimate reasons, or did you find yourself making excuses?
  5. If you find you’re making excuses, choose ONE to work on until it’s no longer a default. Don’t try to eliminate all the excuses at once, or you’ll simply become frustrated and scold yourself even more.
  6. Get into the habit of making an Accomplishments or Victory List. Record what you get done and regularly review the list. It will help when you’re tempted to become discouraged. (Include household chores and running errands. It may feel like you’re getting very little done, but an itemized list will put that misconception to rest.)
  7. As believers, committing our day to the Lord before we get out of bed, praying over each task, and laying down what we did or did not achieve before Him each night will make a huge difference in how we create our To-Do Lists. It will also help us keep our focus where it belongs and will make us more sensitive to His leading.

Be positive. Be patient. And be prayerful.


Photo credit: Jaime Mellor Photography

Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance editor and writer and an author. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at stephbethnickelediting@gmail.com.

You’re invited to visit her website: http://stephbethnickeleditor.com/.

You can join her Editing Tips Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/418423519384351.

NaNO? NaYES! (Guest Post)

NaNO? NaYES!

by Steph Beth Nickel

Most of you are likely scratching your head.

What on Earth does that title me?

Well, those of you who are writers have likely heard of NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write 50K words in 30 days.

Crazy? Some may think so. But thousands of people all over the world are sharpening their pencils and limbering up their keyboarding fingers.

Although I have participated in the far more flexible Camp NaNo a number of times, I’ve never taken the plunge and actually signed up for NaNoWriMo. All that changed this year and I’m diving in.

Sh! Don’t tell anyone, but I hope to make significant progress on a story I’ve had in mind for a very long time. The point of the challenge is to write the first draft—or close to it—of a new novel during the month of November, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I really want to write My New Old Life.

So how can I set myself up to “win” NaNoWriMo? How can you set yourself up to achieve your goals—whatever they may be?

Learn from those who’ve gone before. (Tweet this.)

Although it may feel as if you’re alone, there are those who have gone before you, who know what you’re facing, be it an exciting new challenge or a heartbreaking situation.

I’m so thankful for those who have gone before, who know the pitfalls to avoid, who know how to plot a course (or a story), who know sometimes you just have to “feel the feels,” as the saying goes.

I would encourage you to learn from those with a positive attitude, who are further along on the journey. I have listened to some NaNoWriMo veterans on YouTube who shared great advice. I have also listened to some who share more about what went wrong. That’s not necessarily helpful or encouraging.

Plot out the journey—at least the highlights.

For the most part, I’m known as a pantser in writing circles. Come to think of it, I kind of live life that way as well.

I love paper planners and journals. They enable me to dream and pretend to be super organized. But I’m the kind of person who doesn’t mind getting to the end of the day not having checked everything off my To Do list. In fact, I can’t remember a time I actually accomplished everything I’d set out to do on any given day.

But when it comes to crazy big goals, like writing 50K words in a month, some plotting comes in handy. If I know the major plot points I want to hit in the story, it will keep me moving in the right direction.

And if we know the major points we want to hit along this journey called Life, we will have a better chance of achieving our goals as well.

Plan to succeed. (Tweet this.)

While it’s okay to participate in NaNoWriMo and write 30K, 20K, even a few hundred words—after all, it’s more than we had written at the beginning of November—it’s best to go in planning to win.

And that’s the way it is with other things in life as well.

I’ll never have a clean, organized home. So why bother trying? They’ll never hire me for that job. Why even apply? I’ll never be thin. Why bother eating healthy and exercising?

It’s so easy to give up before we even get started. Let’s set ourselves up to succeed instead and take one step at a time in the right direction.

Don’t give up when things don’t go as planned. (Tweet this.)

We all know that it doesn’t matter how carefully we schedule our day or plan our life’s course; things will always come up that have the potential to derail us all together.

While we may have to reconsider our plans and dreams, it doesn’t mean we have to abandon them altogether. We just have to be willing to reprioritize as needed, and, as Christians, we must believe the promise in Romans 8:28, that God is working everything out for our good.

Fireworks image with the words, "Celebrate the victories -- no matter how small."

Celebrate the victories, no matter how small.

Many NaNo participants set up a reward system for achieving word count goals during the month of November, the more words, the more extravagant the reward. This kind of system keeps some pressing on.

Whether or not you choose to reward yourself when you make progress toward your goals, it’s a good thing to celebrate in some way. Too often we become discouraged when we don’t achieve our ultimate goal, when we don’t cross off everything on our To Do list.

Let’s celebrate the “small” victories in our life—and in the lives of those around us. (Tweet this.)

===

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

The Best Laid Plans (Guest Post)

The Best Laid Plans

by Steph Beth Nickel

Have you ever made extensive plans only to have them go sideways?

I know I have—and I’m pretty sure the same is true of you.

Isaiah 55:8-9 gives us some insight as to why this is. These verses say, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (ESV).

I know there are many reasons our plans don’t work out the way we intended, but I am certain God is involved and will keep His promise in Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (ESV).

I remember one incredible summer several years ago. Our finances were beyond tight and we really didn’t know what the future had in store. But I had spent hours in God’s Word and prayer and I could honestly voice the following realization:

Lord, if we have to be on the verge of bankruptcy for me to remain this close to You, then please keep us there.

Humanly speaking, we would rather avoid unemployment, illness, and broken relationships. But these and other struggles can result in tremendous spiritual growth. This is why the Lord commands us in James 1:3 to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.”

He goes on to say, in verses 3-4 to say, “For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

As Christians, we believe this on one level, but we find it hard to “count it all joy” when our plans crumble at our feet. It’s easier to look back and rejoice after we’ve seen how God was at work in the situation. But what if we could look ahead with confidence, knowing God will fulfill His promises?

Last weekend I left my hubby in Toronto for a weeklong stay. He was to have two hernias repaired (which he did). I had plenty on my To Do list and had no idea I would begin to miss him before I even left the clinic parking lot.

I am not typically a worrier and don’t mind sleeping alone, but that first night I woke us from a very troubling nightmare and was not at all impressed. (It might have something to do with reading a mystery novel before bed, but we won’t talk about that.)

What did the Lord bring to mind? That I ought to pray for those going through far more challenging circumstances: a lady who just lost her husband of many, many years; a relative in her late 30s who is dealing with throat cancer (and she’s never smoked a day in her life); friends whose marriages are in serious trouble …

Will God work these situations out for good? He will.

Does He use things I wouldn’t have planned to bring about His purposes in my life? Absolutely.

As His child, you can rest assured that He will do the same for you.

And as we make our plans, let’s do so prayerfully, asking God to have His way in our life, knowing His plans are higher than ours.

Tweetable

God’s ways are higher than ours. (Click to tweet this.)

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

Guest Post: Do Not Be Anxious about Anything—Even the Good Stuff

Do Not Be Anxious about Anything—Even the Good Stuff

by Steph Beth Nickel

In times of heartache and worry, I’ve often quoted Philippians 4:6-7, which says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (ESV).

On September 2, I will be boarding an airplane with my hubby and our daughter. We will be taking our first trip across the Pond to the land of our ancestors. You see, my eldest son is getting married next to Loch Earn in Scotland, which will be followed by three days on the Isle of Skye (pictured) and various day trips.

Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye [image courtesy of pixabay.com]

As I write these words, I’m very conscious of my breathing and my heart rate. Am I anxious? I guess I am. Am I afraid to fly? Not at all. (And hey, I’ll have hours and hours to read. Bonus!) Am I worried about meeting new people? (If you’ve known me for say—five minutes or so, you’ll know the answer to that one.)

Do I have issues with my future daughter-in-law? Actually, we get along really well. At Laura’s request, we went shopping for her wedding dress when she and my son were visiting for my hubby’s surprise 60th birthday party in March. And she found the dress in a local store I hunted up online.

Why be anxious?

Having purchased our tickets online (with a lot of back and forth and missed telephone calls, but that’s another story), I have to trust that there will be a place for us on the flight—three places preferably. I also have to trust that we will have all the necessary documents and will clear security—on both sides of the Atlantic—without incident.

Have I done my homework? Yep. Have I made an all-inclusive list of things to pack in our checked luggage and in our carry-on, of things to wear and things to have readily available? I actually started packing over two weeks before the departure date. Have I booked my daughter’s transportation home from the airport? I have. (She has to return after a week for work. Dave and I are staying for another seven days.) Hey, I’ve even watched a YouTube video on bundle packing. (If you are planning a trip, it really is a “must watch.”)

Even as I mentally check off the things I need to do, I’m still a little anxious. Can I flip a switch and experience instant calm? Well, not exactly, but there are certainly things I can do.

What to do when we’re anxious:

I can do what the Lord instructs in the passage I shared earlier. I can pray and thank Him for this amazing opportunity.

I can rest assured that He will fulfill His promise and grant me the peace that passes understanding, a divine peace that guards both my heart and mind. Wow! What a promise!

And a number of weeks ago I made a tremendous discovery. It’s like a game actually, a mind game called “Worst Case Scenario.” Based on the reason for my anxiety, the worst thing I can imagine is that we would get to the airport and not be allowed on the plane because of a mix-up with our tickets. (Yes, I know there are even worse scenarios, but they aren’t the possibilities that are troubling me.)

The question is do I trust God? Do I really trust Him? Do I know that everything that comes into my life is filtered through His love? Do I know that He has all the details worked out, even those that haven’t even crossed my mind?

As I ask myself these questions and come to the conclusion that the answer to each one is a resounding yes, I can take a deep breath and leave it all in His hands.

Beyond that, I think it’s about time I memorized the entire passage, Philippians 4:4-7. Those preceding two verses read like this: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand” (ESV).

Tweetable: God has every detail under control. There’s no need to be anxious.

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Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.