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Two weeks ago, my oldest daughter had her first baby.

Ten hours later my mom called to tell me the paramedics had taken my dad to the hospital and he was in ICU.

The next day I learned the baby (Jones Ryan Healy, 8lb 9oz) had jaundice and would need to stay an extra day for treatment and observation. Hours later, dad was moved from ICU to a regular hospital room.

To say I experienced emotional whiplash would be an understatement. To complicate matters, I was unable to be with either my daughter or my dad, due to COVID restrictions still in place here in California.

It’s been said that life isn’t really peaks and valleys, but more like train tracks where good and bad, joy and pain, co-exist, side by side.

Certainly, my experience 14 days ago was the best of the best and the worst of the worst. Generally, we experience less emotionally charged versions of my 24-hour drama, but it can take its toll on us, just the same.

For instance…

We have a great lunch with a dear friend at noon but have an argument with our spouse at six.

We feel successful at work but feel like a failure as a mom.

We start the day feeling rested and ready to go; we end the day feeling exhausted and ready for it to end.

See what I mean? Train tracks.

What can we do to stay on course emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually so we don’t go off the rails?

Here are 3 things that helped me, and continue to help me:

  1. Open the Bible

The great temptation when life tosses us from one extreme to the other is to believe we don’t have time for God. The truth is, when we face turmoil, we need God more than ever. The simple act of opening my Bible and reading for even a few minutes grounded my topsy-turvy emotions in a way nothing else did, or could.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” (Psalm 19:7)

  1. Stop Worrying, Start Trusting

I’ll be the first to admit this one is hard for me (although it’s a little easier when I’ve opened my Bible and aligned my heart and mind with God’s truth). However, one scripture kept coming to mind when I had no idea what was going on with my loved ones and was powerless to help.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than them? Can any of you add a single hour to your life by worrying?” (Matthew 6:26-27)

Every time my mind started the worry-spin-cycle (as it did frequently) I kept thinking, Remember what Jesus said. My loved ones are more valuable to God than I know. Worrying about them cannot help them and will likely take away any small slice of peace I possess.

  1. Pray When I Can; Know God Prays for Me When I Can’t

Prayer is simply talking to God. The beautiful thing about being a believer is that we can talk to God anytime, anywhere, about anything.

When God hands us highs we should thank Him for the gift. And, when life gets hard, we should ask Him for help. Because prayer connects us with the Almighty, All-knowing, All-loving, All-sufficient God, we’re never completely powerless, even when it feels otherwise.

But, in real life, there are moments we find ourselves so overwhelmed we can’t utter a coherent sentence, let alone form a prayer. This has certainly been my experience more than once in the last few weeks!

What then?

The Holy Spirit takes over; He prays for us.

This is perhaps one of the most beautiful demonstrations of God’s tender love and care for us: When we are weakest, He steps in.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything with prayer, petition and thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

The knowledge that the Holy Spirit was praying for me and for my loved ones, even as I slept, or when I felt too distracted to pray, comforted me when I needed it most.

Sweet friend, I don’t know what you are experiencing in your life right now. I suspect that you, like me, live with the tension of highs and lows, promise and pain.  It’s my prayer that my simple words born from my experience will help you stay the course on the train tracks of this thing we call life.

You are loved,


PS. I’d love to connect on Instagram @donnaajones. And don’t forget to listen to the podcast!  You’ll find “That’s Just What I Needed” everywhere you find podcasts.


More than a Bible teacher, Donna is a self-described Bible explainer. A colorful storyteller who combines Biblical truth with real-life anecdotes, her messages not only help listeners understand God’s Word, but most important, grasp how to live it out in real life.


  • France says:

    God has been showing me this message in several ways recently. Thank you for sharing it, too. I think I say it each time I leave a comment, but your writings are so relatable and very encouraging, thank you! Congratulations on your beautiful grandbaby! And hope your father is doing better.