How to Talk Back to Your Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

October 26, 2012 | 23 comments

She was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Come to think of it, we both were.

The day downright stunk. That’s what.

At night, we leaned back into her bed pillows, shoulder to shoulder in the purplish dimness of her lamplit room,  both of us staring up at the ceiling.

Lydia rested her head back into her palms and let out her breath in one long exhale.

“Mom,” she sighed. “It went like this…”

She recalled her forgotten school snack, the mixed-up questions on her science quiz, the angry stack of homework on the kitchen table. She was worn out, stressed out, bummed out and burned out. Not to mention the fact that P.E. was super-boring.

Sometimes, life in the fifth grade can be hard.

“I hear you,” I told her. “My day had rotten parts, too.” In my mind, I cataloged them:

I had nearly forgotten to submit midterm grades for my college journalism students. I slammed into a deer with my Acadia. And I allowed myself to listen to hoarse whispers of the enemy.

While I was working on my book manuscript, the enemy had uttered just one question, “What will people think of you?” Sometimes, that’s all the enemy has to say, and within seconds, my old nature runs away with it, doing the rest of the work. I second-guessed whole chapters, feeling a sick, knotted feeling in my stomach. I doubted my writing ability. I pondered worst-case scenarios, imagining my heart sitting naked on, subjected to a star-rating system.

And then, I remembered: My God is bigger than all that. He is bigger than our fears, our darkest nights, our worst-case scenarios and our intimidating stacks of fifth-grade math. God is bigger than Amazon.

Our fears can’t be ignored; they have to be confronted, with words of life.

So, I spoke life into my heart. I talked back to my fear. I chewed fear out, that’s what. I told it, out loud, that it had no business here. And then I put fear in the time-out corner, asking the good Lord to stand guard.

And then I waited for the promise of tomorrow, of God’s new mercies, coming on the dawn.

In the bedroom, I told Lydia about Lamentations 3:22-23.

“In the Bible, it says that God’s mercies are new every morning.”

“What does that mean?” Lydia asked.

“It means that God has a fresh batch of love waiting for us on the other side of this night, Lydia. God is giving us a do-over, a chance to try again. Tomorrow.”

Tomorrow came. Sure enough, the sun rose. In the stink of our week, Jesus made tiny miracles. Lydia had a great day, and mine wasn’t half-bad either. I snatched back my heart from the bony fingers of fear. I gave it another time-out. And God stood guard, over my heart.

And I know, it doesn’t mean the sun will shine tomorrow, or that all my anxieties will magically disappear forever. Life will continue to deliver hard-knocks, and heartaches and the heaviness of our humanity. But I know what to do to get through: I speak life. 

Last night, on the way home from piano lessons, the girls asked me to play one song over and over again: “Speak Life,” by TobyMac. We cranked it.

And at bedtime, when I tucked Lydia in, as we reclined back on her pillows again in that purple-lit room, she said her favorite part of the song was this: “Mountains crumble with every syllable.”

“It’s like, with one word, you can change everything,” she said.

Yes, Lydia, we can change everything with one word.  We can “speak life” to our deadest, darkness nights. We can speak life into the hearts of hurting friends. And we can speak life into the no good, horrible, very bad days.

And life is spelled like this: C-H-R-I-S-T.

{The song that we’re singing here on the Lee farm this week ….}

(Email subscribers can click here to see the song video…)

Resource for you: Holley Gerth’s words were so helpful to me this week. You can read her post here: “It’s Ok if you’re scared silly…”

by | October 26, 2012 | 23 comments


  1. Kristi

    Jennifer, what a great post! Oh girl, you and I are on the same wavelength!! My post today was about fear too!!

    I’m praying right now for God to remind you of who you are in Him and to strengthen your resolve and remember the calling He placed upon your life. And friend, He is the equipper!! Have no fear!

    • dukeslee

      Bless your heart, Kristi! Thank you for those prayers. I wish I could hug you.

      Wait, I’ll try here …. Reaching, reaching, reeeeeeeaching through the screen … (((Kristi))). There we go! It worked! 😉

  2. Nancy Franson

    This was perfect for me today. I sat down to talk with God this morning, feeling restless and discouraged. Hard things seem to keep piling up in the lives of people I love. This was my morning reading from The Message:

    It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

    I ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory–to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him–endless energy, boundless strength! Ephesians 1:11,18-19

    These words spoke life to me this morning, so I just thought I’d share them with you.

    And I love the image I’ve got of you and your girls repeating this song on the way home from piano lessons 🙂

    • dukeslee

      That rocks! Thank you, Nancy. I’m feeling those words. Loving it!

      They pair nicely with some verses that the lovely Michelle DR shared yesterday: “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

      Thank you, Nancy. Love you!

      (And yes, we rocked it out on the way home! TobyMac is so fun!)

    • dukeslee

      Thank you for all the help with the time-out. 🙂

  3. michelle derusha

    We are here for you, cheering for you, praying for you, loving you!

    {and I LOVE that picture with the light coming through the cracks. Man, that’s good}

  4. ro.ellott

    Yes..we dont’ need to stuff our fears but face them and speak truth into those dark places…we have been in a battle for sometime…the enemy coming hard after my daughter…she is fighting…but she.. well and I …can be battle weary at time…music has help so much…when words are gone…music can fill the silent places…speak truth right into a heart.
    So thankful you are there speaking right into your daughter’s heart…it breaks my heart how many children go to bed with fears and hurts with no one to speak this kind of love and truth to them.
    thanks for these timely words…and write on…write on boldly…knowing God has called you…He will defend you~ have a great weekend~

  5. kd sullivan

    Thank you for reminding me to never run at my with my mouth shut, but with my mouth wide open and filled with the life which is His Word.

  6. Dawn

    Jennifer, this is a fantastic, most happy, very excellent remedy for any horrible, no good, very bad day.

    Jude 1:20 — You just did that!

  7. Megan Willome

    You’re sure God’s bigger than Amazon? Because Amazon is, well, Amazonian. (just kidding!)

    I’m feeling very afraid this morning, both personally and professionally. Problem is, my fears are not unfounded. Keeping on anyway.

  8. HisFireFly

    yes, Yes, YES!!!!!

    I need this, I know so many more who need this!

    Bless you all Jennifer!

  9. Lori

    ……heart sitting naked on, subjected to a star-rating system.” If it is, ours will be sitting right next to you Jennifer! Great post for my not so good morning. Lori

  10. Dawn

    This is needful today. Thank you. I need to really take hold of the speaking life…will listen to the song. But know God is saying to me: grace my daughter. Let your words resemble mine…grace. Thanks!

  11. Linda

    I’ve been having a hard time keeping up with blog posts (the commenting part) these days Jennifer. But I have been here 🙂
    I just wanted you to know the Father put you on my heart this morning – to pray about the writing of the book.
    I’m praying sweet friend.

  12. Meredith Vander Zee

    This is so very great, as I too, struggle with feeling “qualified” in different areas, namely ministry. BUT, as I pray often, knowing God is my master is enough. His mercies of each new day remind me that, yes, through his guidance, I am qualified. I am enough. How absolutely freeing. Thank you for your writings. I love your style! I’ll put my naked heart next to yours if it means being His hands and feet. You are awesome. You have gifts that deserve to be used. Thank you for being you.

  13. Cheryl Smith

    Girl, you are SO on the right track!

    He spoke and the world was ordered. We are created in His image and are to speak those things that aren’t as though they are. I’ve been listening to two songs lately that drive this point home: William McDowell’s “Nothing happens until something is spoken. Speak the word and every chain will be broken.” And Bethany Martin’s, “I speak to the mountain and I say, ‘Move! Do you know how big my God is? Do you know how great my God is?”

    Your girls are getting important truths, early!

  14. Jennifer@Adam's Rib

    Joy comes in the morning. I believe He gave us that reminder for such a time as this when days’ ends are almost unbearable. (Ignore that start system! Listen to God’s rating instead).

  15. Diana Trautwein

    Love this, Jennifer. Nice to commiserate with our girls from time to time, isn’t it? Even better, however, is your technique of speaking against the lies, the fears OUT LOUD. I firmly believe in the power of the spoken word, especially when offered in the name and through the power of the Living Word. I advise directees to talk out loud to those negative voices quite regularly, actually. There is something about hearing the equivalent of, “Get thee behind me!!” that feels empowering and freeing. You can almost see that enemy scuttling away, tail tucked between his legs. :>)

  16. Sandra Heska King

    I love picturing the two of you pillowed in the purple with your heads in your palms crumbling those mountains with every syllable.

  17. Kathie

    Thank you, Jennifer!

    “And then I put fear in the time-out corner, asking the good Lord to stand guard.”

    I will not be forgetting that!

    “We can “speak life” to our deadest, darkness nights.”

    Amen and amen!!

  18. Nancy Ruegg

    ‘Loved the imagery of putting fear in the time-out corner, giving it a good, firm talking-to, and then asking God to please stand guard. I picture Him with his sword unsheathed, ready to strike down fear if it dares move! “The Lord will punish with His sword, His fierce, great and powerful sword” (Isaiah 27:1a). Thanks be to God! And thank you, Jennifer, for reminding us of this truth.



  1. New Mercies Today!! | The White Stone - [...] How to Talk Back to Your Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day [...]

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