Just Keep Swimming

2016 was a tough one for us. We experienced the highest of highs with the birth of our third child and the lowest of lows as we grieved the loss of Marty’s Dad. In between those major life events was a whole lot of day to day hard slog.

The kind of hard slog that when you wake up in the morning you open your eyes and let out a big sigh as your brain begins to process what the day holds and what energy it’s going to take physically, mentally and emotionally to get through it. The weight of the day is heavy and the length of it stretches long and all you want to do is pull the covers over your head and hide from it all!

Can you relate?

2016 was also the year that the movie ‘Finding Dory’ was released about the vibrant, beloved blue tang fish with short term memory loss. Taking my kids to see the movie gave me the timely reminder in an upbeat little jingle to
“Just keep swimming,
Just keep swimming,
Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.”
I wonder how many of you need that reminder and encouragement today?

I just kept swimming and I got through 2016. I’m a survivor and if you are reading this then so are you! Birth and death gather people, and the outpouring of love, support and practical help is humbling and appreciated, but I want to be clear that I’m not celebrating surviving those two major life events, this is about celebrating surviving the 363 other ordinary days in the year. that started with a sigh and ended with an exhausted fall into bed.

I want to share with you three things in my morning routine that helped me just keep swimming through 363 ordinary hard slog days last year.

1. Jesus
2. Coffee
3. A shower

Every morning (after the sighing and burden weighing) I pulled back my curtains and saw the view of the mountains that I was lucky enough to have from my bedroom window. Every morning I looked at that view and reminded myself of Psalm 121 in the Bible.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains,
where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip,   
he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm  
he will watch over your life;

the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Another sigh, but this time with a glimmer of hope and gratitude as my soul was refreshed and my courage began to stir.

Every morning as I drunk my morning coffee I would try to read my Bible, but living in the hard slog is not conducive to concentration (and it does take a few minutes for the coffee to kick in!) so it wasn’t about studying chapters it was about being encouraged and strengthened by verses. Finding the life giving drops of water for my parched soul.

So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

Hebrews 12:12-13

(Resource note: I find ‘You Version’ Bible App very helpful and also the ‘First Five’ App from Proverbs 31 Ministries.)

Another sigh, but filled less with despair and exhaustion as hope, strength and courage continued to build.

Every morning as I took my shower I would use the opportunity to clean my attitude and my mindset not just my body. As I stood under the hot water I reminded myself,

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning.
Lamentations 3:22-23

I claimed those new mercies and prayed for strength, patience and wisdom.
No more sighing, just a decision and resolve to live the day well.
BraveGirl pants on, courage stirred, ready for the day.

If this is resonating with you right now and you are in the midst of a day to day hard slog then this is what I want you to know…

• This season won’t last forever, it’s not always going to feel like this. Hang in there!
• You are actually stronger than you think you are and can handle more than you think you can. You will get through this!
• Make sure you look for the moments, search for the good things no matter how small and they will give you just enough encouragement to keep swimming.

So keep swimming my brave friends!
Let God and coffee strengthen you for the day, come out of the shower with a clean attitude and mindset as well as a clean body, put your BraveGirl pants on and stir up your courage. You got this!!!!

With love and courage,
xx Steph xx