What to Do When Your Life is on Fire

I grew up knowing exactly what to do if my clothes caught fire. Stop. Drop. And roll.

With all the emphasis of this practice, I fully expected that at some point, surely before I turned sixty, some piece of clothing would spontaneously combust.  I have spent much less time than I anticipated in contact with open flames.

What was lacking in my early education was the much more useful and more frequently needed counsel on what to do when my life was on fire! Fortunately, God has clued me in on that remedy.

Stop. Drop. And reflect.

As we read through the Bible, modern readers must be struck by how often God led the nation of Israel to pause so they could recap what had just taken place. God instituted feasts and celebrations, Jubilee years, and a weekly Sabbath, so that reflection was woven into the life every God-focused person.

Previous generations lived lives that provided more opportunity to pause and consider events. Walking, sitting by fires, cooking by scratch, hanging laundry, rocking on porches, reading, sewing, or playing musical instruments were all activities that allowed for time to think.

We may do these activities now, but they’re usually accompanied by podcasts, news alerts, notifications, tweets, updates, and twenty-four-hour news channels. Media pours information into us so quickly we’ve come to believe it’s normal to run on information overload. Even if the media is Christian radio, podcasts, sermons, and Christian talk shows, too much of anything overloads our wiring and pushes us to spontaneous life combustion.

Stop. Drop. And reflect. Pause all the noise. Drop to your knees before God. Consider your life.

There are some fairly effortless ways to weave this into our days. I’ve been exploring them in the past several years. Finding that simple practices embraced become foundational habits that support a depth of life that prevents existential fires and spiritual meltdowns.

D.A. Carson wrote, “People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.” These opportunities for daily, weekly, monthly, and “occasional” reflection are simple ways to realign life before it gets too far off track.

  • Daily walks. These can be as short as 20 minutes or as long as your schedule can tolerate. I begin each day walking an hour on my treadmill, but it can be done at noon or at day’s end. I spend at least a portion of each walk with no incoming media or music. I simply invite God to consider the upcoming day with me, praying through concerns or over people who come to mind.
  • Observing a Sabbath. From sundown to sunset the next day, observe the day of rest. Worship. Fellowship with God’s people. Enjoy a book, a nap, a leisurely stroll, a fireside chat, or a hike in the forest. Reflect on the week before. Consider the week ahead. Invite God’s perspective on your priorities.
  • Calendar Contemplation. I use a planner designed with space for monthly reflection on major happenings of the previous month. This reflection takes about fifteen minutes but it’s a great check in for keeping me on track. My weekly schedule is something I undertake seriously and prayerfully. I create an “ideal” template which includes time for prayer/Bible study/rest/worship/and walking. This template keeps me honest when I look at my commitments and to-do list for the coming days.
  • “Occasional” Recaps. I also use occasions to draw simple timelines and remind myself what has transpired in the past year, five years, or decade. This past weekend I turned sixty. That felt like a “wow” birthday. It’s been a decade of extreme transitions, so I wrote a brief reflection. It was a worthwhile exercise that increased my appreciation for the good God brought about and for all that He can pack into a short time. I share it here to inspire you to do the same.

Do you want to prevent your own life from going up in flames? I urge you today, to Stop. Drop. And reflect.

Reflection on a decade: To say the years from 50-60 were eventful is like saying the moon is a handy nightlight. I’ve had gains and losses, travels and lockdowns.

Highlights: Graduating our youngest from homeschool, college, and into the world and becoming her friend. Graduating our oldest from college and enjoying his friendship. Meeting (and adoring) our oldest’s true love. Falling in love with our first two grandsons who arrived with her. Watching my son embrace step-fatherhood, find his calling, and become an adult I rely on as a friend. Enjoying every minute of having creative, funny, kind grandsons who are now 12 and 14! Yikes. Dancing at our daughter’s wedding, loving her husband who we’ve known since he was 14, merging families who are old friends, and welcoming our third grandson (first one from a starter kit). Watching my girl step into womanhood with grace and realize so many of her dreams, including a farm.

Helping my dad through his major life transitions – first into retirement and then all the way home to Jesus. Hours and hours of this decade with him sitting at the fire station or in the living room, listening to stories, laughing, watching M.A.S.H, and creating memories.

Launching two careers simultaneously – one out of necessity and service (helping families in crisis) and one out of calling – publishing four books, working on number five, and speaking across the country. Adding a third career (coaching) during COVID! Coming home to the church where I grew up.

Enjoying the deepening and strengthening of a marriage that had some rough years but now has hit its stride. Watching my husband find his calling in craftsmanship and woodwork. Rob creating a writing room for me in the middle of his restoration project.

Meeting and ministering alongside so many incredible writers, speakers, pastors, editors, agents, publishers. Meeting and interacting with many amazing Christian men and women through speaking and through the blog. It was fun to meet some celebrities, but my best memories are the men and women working everyday ordinary lives to testify to the truth of Jesus.

Winning awards. Receiving promotions. Impacting families so they can stay together and be stronger. The support of firefighter friends through the worst moments of my life. The deepening of lasting friendships.

Gaining confidence. Losing fear. Gaining insight. Losing insecurity. Gaining momentum, perspective, and everyday joy. Finding my voice. Losing the need to please everyone.

Lowlights: Facing loss. Experiencing life-altering trauma. Drastic changes in loved ones. Dad’s diagnosis. Dad’s accident. Rob’s MS diagnosis. Losing family. Financial strain. Friends moving out of state or home to glory. Moving into Rob’s restoration project (still missing a lot of ceilings and walls). Gaining 50 pounds through life and stress. Surviving a pandemic. The shutdown of all speaking events. The growing divide in our nation. The spiritual battle facing the church. Losing Mojo and laying Rascal to rest. Whew!

But there is this – Jesus has been present and faithful through it all.

And now 60: While this feels like quite a number, I still have so much to learn and to do, so many people to love, so much to say.

I feel like this is a great decade to lighten up – lose the stress weight, sort through the possessions, let go of all that weighs me down and holds me back from stepping fully into the freedom Jesus secured for me on the cross, laugh more, and release what I cannot control.

A decade to use every breath and every opportunity to testify to the truth of Christ, to His relentless love, to His faithfulness, and to the certainty that He will return to take us home.

A decade to walk unhurried with God into the next chapter with the man I love, children who are our friends, grandchildren who bring us joy, and friends walking the same road toward God’s great heart, our home. And to be a beacon, a signpost, a voice in the wilderness to all who are walking a wider road that does not lead home.

“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, ‘Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” Hebrews 10:35-39

And now – onward.

 Tell me friend. Reflect on your last decade and share it in the comments below. Stop. Drop. And reflect.

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    The Conversation

  1. Helen says:

    How wonderful to hear striking similarities of my past decade, also culminating with my 60th year! Once again, your words remind and challenge me to stop, drop, and reflect on the Author of my very life, and on my commitment to the One who equips me with purpose and faith.

  2. Doris Campbell says:

    Thank you for this beautiful tribute to your 60th year which includes insight for all of us. God has gifted you with the gift of writing and sharing your thoughts. Blessings.

  3. Susan Schreer Davis says:

    In the last decade, I’ve undergone 10 surgeries. 8 major orthopedic operations. One to correct double vision. And one minor polyp removal. The cutting, rearranging, and long lasting scars reflect a similar divinely guided inner breaking and molding. Today I sit with a view of spring green and pink azaleas and choose me. I’m not completely sure what that look likes, but I’m determined to figure it out.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Lost my dad a year ago still trying to get through it. 1 daughter married 1 engaged. My son still trying to decide. Graduations new jobs and opportunities

  5. Maureen says:

    So thankful for you! Thank you for sharing a bit of your journey! You’re an inspiration, pointing others to Christ! I am one of many who is blessed by you. ❤️