The Smallest Step

When life throws difficult situations at us as it will, sometimes we find ourselves thinking if only….

If only I had a different  …..

If only I had more ….

I read a great article from Family Life about coping with anxiety. The article pointed out that having more of something or having a different something will not fix the issues we are anxious about. 

Sure, having more money might help “fix” an immediate financial need, but there will always be another financial need that arises. Maybe a different job will remove you from a negative work environment, but your new job will include negative people who you will have to deal with.

The reality is that worries and anxieties are not fixed by “mores” or “differents.” 

As I walk my journey of overcoming anxiety, I am learning that the only thing that truly helps my anxious thoughts is to release my fears to God and allow His peace to fill those spaces.

For me, this means praying. A lot. It means writing down my fears so I can see them for what they are… usually things out of my control. It means memorizing Scripture. It means trusting a friend who I can share these feelings with. 

Mostly, it means accepting that my smallest step of faith in trusting God is enough.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. Psalm 56:3

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Blind Faith 

Just a little over a year ago, this was my favorite terrier Franklin.

Now, he walks with blind faith. 

Diagnosed with diabetes a few months ago, he is blind now. This morning, my husband called his name. He cocked his little head up in the air trying to discern where the sound was coming from. He took a step and crashed into the wall. My husband took a hold of his leash and called his name again. Franklin followed the lead of the leash and was able to walk outside without running into another wall. He followed with blind faith. 

With our guidance, he trusts us to lead him in his blindness.

Trusting God and walking in faith is like that. When we were in the midst of the adoption process for our son, I clung to Hebrews 11:1. 

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1

I walked day by day trusting with blind faith that God would carry us through the journey to our son. I was able to trust Him without knowing the end result even as we experienced crazy delays and missed our son’s fifth birthday.

Walking in blind faith does not mean walking blindly. Walking in blind faith means taking a step forward and then another. They can be small steps, but it means being able to move forward without seeing the end of the road. It means listening to the voice of truth and silencing all the other voices that scream out…the doubts and fears. It means staying in the Word and believing the truth of God. 

Just as my dog walks in blind faith following the guidance of the leash as we lead him, we can walk in blind faith trusting God and following His lead without knowing where the journey will take us. 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Looking Back

Sometimes, we become anxious about the future. Other times, we dwell on the past. We may wish things were the way they once were or we might perseverate on how we could have done something differently.

I have been working through my anxiety struggles. I find that I worry about the future…I play over past events over and over. Neither one of these are healthy. While self reflection is essential for personal growth and planning for the future is responsible, anxiety can wedge its way in quickly. 

I am learning to combat fear and anxiety with prayer and Scripture. Another thing that is extremely helpful to keep my focus where it needs to be is by consciously choosing an attitude of gratitude.

One of my favorite verses is this one:

Do not worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. Philippians 4:6

I have shared about how I like to break down that verse and pray through all the things weighing heavy on my mind and heart. Big and small. 

It is in this verse that I am reminded that looking back on the past can be a really good idea.

 When we take a moment to reflect on all the ways God has answered our cries for help, carried us through trials and tribulations, and answered our prayers with grace in ways we could not have imagined, then there is a sense of peace and reassurance that He will not forsake us now through these present day struggles.

Another important lesson in this is the attitude of gratitude. A heart full of gratitude changes everything.

Gratitude has nothing to do with our circumstances and everything to do with who God is.

We praise Him because of who He is. We trust He will carry us through this journey called life.
This Thanksgiving season, I’m not sure what you are struggling with or if your heart is heavy or overflowing with joy. Maybe your path is rocky and uncertain and the way ahead so unclear. Take a moment and look back. Remember how God has carried you before. Focus on His goodness. Share with others what you are grateful for. Tell someone how much they mean to you. Trust that God has greater things in store than you can imagine. 
When we can’t see the road ahead and we choose to trust and be thankful along the way despite the twists and turns, we realize how much He can bless our mess when we have a grateful heart.

Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for all of you who take a few minutes of your day to read my reflections. 
Choose gratitude. ♥

Sometimes, you just need carried 

Life can be just plain hard. It can be exhausting. You might feel as though you can’t go another step. Sometimes, you just need someone to carry you through the struggle.

Last night, my husband and I decided to take advantage of the unseasonably warm evening and go for a walk. I decided to take our 9 year old diabetic terrier mix who is blind. He lagged behind us, something totally new for our walk experience. We weren’t sure if he was trying to follow in our footsteps or what, but he stayed behind us. 

As we walked, the wind picked up some. Thirty minutes into our walk, the rain began to fall. My husband crossed the street thinking I was behind him. I was not. My pup in his blindness and limited ability to interpret the world around him, was in no hurry to cross the street. He was more worried about the fact he was getting wet, very wet. As the rain poured down harder and traffic came towards us, I decided I would stay on the opposite side of the street from my husband until I could cross at a more opportune time.

My pup and I walked, me picking up speed, him still lagging behind. As we crossed an intersection with a car waiting for us, my pup stopped. He took his claws and dug them into the concrete and refused to go another step. He was spent. 

He was wet. He was scared. He was tired. I leaned over and scooped him up. My twenty some pound dog needed carried. I rescued him. He nuzzled up against me. I met up with my husband, and we took turns carrying Franklin home.

Sometimes, when life is too much, you just need carried. It’s like the Footprints in the Sand poem. God carries us at our weakest moments. He promises to be with us.

He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms. Isaiah 40:11 NLT

Yes, sometimes like my pup last night, we just need someone to carry us.

Trust God to carry you. Truly trust Him. Then, you can rest in His peace as you walk the valleys of life. 

The Little Things Matter

It was such a simple thing. As I walked into Walmart early yesterday morning before my commute into work, I was on a simple quest to pick up some diapers for our surprise diaper shower for a co-worker. A name tag in the parking lot caught my eye. An employee on her way into work…maybe a few minutes late, maybe hurrying in with her hands full, had dropped her name tag. I picked it up and handed it with a smile to the first cashier I encountered.

Nothing major. No heroic deed. Just simple stuff here.

I headed towards the baby department and selected some diapers. It has been a while since I purchased diapers. I had forgotten how expensive they are!! I grabbed some baby wipes and a gift bag and headed to the checkout.

The cashier was pleasant and very chatty for the early morning. I smiled at her. Then, I noticed that her name matched the name on the name tag I had rescued.

I think I found your name tag.”  

She smiled, began thanking me, and then shared her story of her struggles the past few days. It was her first day back to work after being off after her grandmother had unexpectedly passed away. I listened feeling as though she needed to share, knowing she appreciated the simple act of kindness of a stranger taking the time to return her lost name tag. She told me to have a great day and be safe in the fog.

As I walked out of Walmart with my diapers, I couldn’t help but feel God had used me in that moment. I was blessed by my interaction with this cashier. I think most of the time, it is the little things, the little ways that have the power to impact people’s lives the most. 

I know that has been true in my own life. A simple unexpected comment of appreciation or support. A pop a staff member buys me just because she knows I am tired. A text message from a friend that says just thinking of you and praying for you. A random act of kindness from a stranger.

Our words and actions are power.Simple everyday things can mean everything to someone.

I believe God is whispering to us and providing opportunities to reach out to others, connect us in both big and small ways for His glory.

We are blessed when we bless others in both big and small ways.

In what ways have little things hugely impacted your life?

The Circle Principle 

The speaker at the Weekend to Remember marriage retreat held up a rope and then tossed it on the floor and stepped inside of it. He cautioned us all…”you might be tempted this weekend to think about all the things that need changed about your spouse, but I want you to focus on the person inside the circle: you.”

Very, very good words. I took them to heart. I applied them, and I looked inward at my own heart, my own attitude, my own actions, my own shortcomings. It truly was powerful. 

Then, we came home and stepped back into reality. We went to work. I was determined to let the life changing experience of the weekend to infuse itself into my everyday life. 

As I walked through the day, I prayed over moments of frustration and anxiety although it was a fight to not slip back into old thought patterns of anxiety. I repeated words of Scripture of His promises to carry me through.

Later, as the work day ended, I learned of a situation involving people. I listened. My mind jumped to my own judgements. And just like that, I was reminded of the circle principle. It applies to more than just my relationship with my husband.

What if we focused less on our judgement of others and more on our response to them? We can’t change people. We can’t always change situations. What we can do is change our response. We can respond in love, in kindness, in compassion. We can turn those initial judgements into powerful prayers. 

We can focus on changing the person inside the circle and extend grace to those outside the circle.