Friday Fatigue

One week back to work, and I am tired. 

Sigh…And I can’t really say, “I need a vacation”… I just had one!!

During these early morning hours, I choose to start my day in the Word. The past few days, I confess that I have jumped right into work stuff as soon as I was awake and then listened to my devotional in the car on the way into work. Perhaps, I have had my priorities shifted.

If Jesus walked on water, then certainly God can hold me through these challenges of day to day living. I have made some small changes in my schedule already, and I have faced opposition. Being busy is what I know. I am learning my need for rest.

Our church is in the midst of a prayer challenge and we are reading Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson. I am committed to praying and believing deeper that God cares about all the details of our lives-the big and small.

God cares about my tired. God cares about my sense of feeling overwhelmed. He doesn’t leave us in the middle of the ocean to drown. As in the movie The Shack, when Mac starts to walk on water, the character Jesus looks at him and says, “This works better if we do it together.”

So, I need to do my tired with God. He wants my honest, tired prayers. I am choosing to believe God can carry me through the tired. He who moves mountains can certainly make a way for tired souls. 

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You’re not the same person…

You’re not the same person…Those are the words I heard a few days ago as I sat in my counselor’s office. Encouraged by a friend a few months ago, I decided to see someone to help me work through my anxiety.

I went a few weeks before Christmas and that first visit was very uncomfortable. I don’t particularly like to talk about myself. I answered his questions and listened a lot that first visit. When I left that night, I told my friend, I am never going back. The next day, I found myself using some of the ideas he had shared with me about anxiety. I decided maybe I could learn something. So, I made another appointment.

I think God wants us uncomfortable sometimes. When we are too comfortable, we can become complacent with the way things are. As uncomfortable as I felt sitting one on one with someone talking through my anxiety, I realized that I was willing to endure this uncomfortable feeling in order to move forward. Complacency with anxiety was not a place I wanted to rest and remain.

I have poured myself into the Word the past few months. The hour morning commute is a great time for prayer 1-1 with God. I listen to praise and worship music. I have committed to memorizing Scripture. Mark Hall from Casting Crowns said at the concert I attended…(paraphrased)…When you are in the middle of a storm, you are not going to recall a verse you have never read. In other words, pour yourself into the Word, so you have the words stored away.

So, I have decided to be uncomfortable and go back to my counselor. Each visit is a little easier. He has taught me several things…
1. Give yourself permission to let go of things and not rehash them over and over.

2. Rename your beliefs. When anxiety strikes, I can now call it what it is and pray my way through it. (Philippians 4:6-7)

3. Be okay with knowing I did my best.

4. Take time for me. Breaks are important. I am worth it. Breathe.

5. Quit second guessing myself​. Make a decision and be okay with it. If it ends up not being the best decision, reflect, learn from it, and move on.

So, as I sat in his office the other day as the wind gently blew in through the window of the upstairs office, I felt a sense of peace and calm which have grown to replace the intense uncomfortable feeling. 

You’re not the same person you were a few months ago. You seem more relaxed.”

Those words were a breath of fresh air to my soul. He’s right. I am not the same person. Do I still have times of anxiousness? Yes. Do I still find myself second guessing myself? Yes. But, I can work through these things. They do not have the power over me they once did just a few short months ago.

Sometimes, you may not see the progress you are making. Sometimes, it takes someone else to recognize it in you to remind you that you are a beautiful work in progress. God’s beautiful work…He is not finished with you. He is writing your story. No matter where you are in life, every story has a beginning.

One Lovely Blog Award

Hello and happy Saturday morning! It is a bittersweet morning as I enjoy the quiet moments of the morning before my family is awake knowing that my vacation time is coming to an end. That being said, I am trying to finish some things up before I jump back into the day to day busy routines of normal life.

One of the things that I want to do this morning is to take a few minutes to thank a wonderful blogger for nominating me for the “One Lovely Blog Award.” This award is all about honoring and supporting one another in sharing our stories with each other. Talasi Guerra over at  Braver than Before    has graciously chosen me as one of her recipients for this honor. Her blog has offered inspiration to me and reminds me that I am certainly not alone in the struggles and journey over anxiety and fear.

As part of the One Lovely Blog Award honor, I am asked to share seven facts about myself.

1. Mornings are my absolute favorite time of the day. I will willingly sacrifice sleep for some quiet time during the early still hours of the day. I love to spend quiet time with God and read, write, and reflect over coffee or tea before the rest of the world is awake and moving.

2. One of my passions in life is serving older adults. I have worked with older adults in some capacity since I was a freshman in high school. I have always had a close relationship with my grandparents. I love the wisdom and stories that elders have to share.

3. If I had to choose mountains or the beach, as difficult as this decision might be, I think my heart is in the mountains. There is something peaceful and quiet about the beauty of the mountains.

4. I started this blog as an avenue to share about my frustrations and hope with my food related issues but realized that my journey of food issues had much more to do with my spiritual growth than simply learning about healthy eating. I discovered quickly that I am not a food blogger.

5. I married at the young age of 18 to my high school sweetheart. We have been married almost 20 years and are still learning things about each other. It’s been a good life and it grows sweeter with time.

6. I love music. Although I can’t sing well, I listen to music much of the time. I have also been known to have new “favorite” songs every few days and then listen to that same song over and over…

7. I love dark chocolate…the darker the better. 🙂 But as much as I love chocolate, Jesus is the absolute love of my life. Without my faith and relationship with Christ, I would be lost. He provides hope and healing daily.

And now for the honor of sharing some of my favorite blogs that have inspired me and encouraged me in this journey of life. I nominate the following blogs for the “One Lovely Blog Award”…

Heartandsoul974

Hand Washed Grace

Fearfully Made Mom

Beauty Beyond Bones

Help Me Understand

Girly Christian

Quiet Confidence

My Parallel Life

Bloggers, if you choose to accept the One Lovely Blog Award and pass it along, you will find your instructions below:

  • Thank the person that nominated you and leave a link to their blog
  • Post about the award
  • Share 7 facts about yourself
  • Nominate at most 15 people
  • Tell your nominees the good news!

#onelovelyblog award

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday Words

I have really enjoyed my little piece of quiet stillness in the mountains these past few days. I have enjoyed lazy mornings, time to relax and reflect, the beauty of nature, witnessing hope in healing from the fires, and time with those whom I love.

Simple moments matter. Sometimes, doing nothing is the something that you need most.

As I bid the mountains farewell, I want to share some great words with you that have been staring back at me each day here in this cabin retreat.

Have a great day. I challenge you to choose a phrase from the picture and live those words today. As for me? I will strive to listen to others with my whole heart.
Have a great Wednesday. Make the best of it!

Beauty from Ashes

The perfect vacation for me is a quiet escape to the mountains. As we spiraled a narrow winding road up the mountain to a cabin retreat, I breathed in the sense of rest I knew would be mine to cherish the next few days.

The area of the Great Smoky Mountains is near and dear to me. My parents first introduced me in my junior high school days, and I fell in love with the majesty of the mountains. I introduced my husband when we were dating, and he instantly fell in love with the area, too. Since we first said “I do” at a mountain chapel, we have made several trips to the area through the years.

This particular year, our hearts are saddened and joyed at the same time. Back in November, Gatlinburg suffered from a forest fire. As we drive through the area and see the remnants of the damage, I am reflective of beauty from ashes. 

On our peaceful horseback ride this afternoon, several blackened trees marked the sides of the trails. Driving through the town and adjacent roads, burned buildings still beckon to be repaired. A few former attractions and hotels remain closed. For the most part, though, Gatlinburg is alive and well. The area has rallied together since those horrific days and rebuilt beauty from the ashes.

I saw this on a hotel sign…”God bless Gatlinburg and America.” Another sign read simply “Mountain Strong.”
Isaiah 61:3 reads…To those who have sorrow in Zion, I will give a crown of beauty instead of ashes. I will give them the oil of joy instead of sorrow, and a spirit of praise instead of no hope. Then they will be called oaks that are right with God, planted by the Lord, that He may be honored. Isaiah 61:3 NLV

As I read this passage, Gatlinburg could easily be substituted for Zion when I think of the situation of the forest fire. In any situation that seems hopeless, God can make beauty from ashes. When we trust Him to transform the situation, hope replaces despair and all the Glory goes to Him.

Gatlinburg will always have a special place in my heart, and I am humbled by the reminder of God’s power to create beauty from ashes in all things.
#gatlinburgfires #greatsmokymountains

Confused Flowers and Brokenness

I’m in a bit of a slump. I’m not sure why or how I found myself here. I think I am simply tired and exhausted on so many levels.

Yesterday, it snowed in my neck of the woods. The spring flowers are confused after the unseasonably warm February days. As I looked at my neighbor’s slumped over yellow flowers blanketed by snow, I thought, that’s just about how I feel.

Broken. Defeated. Tired. Confused.

Like the flowers pushing forth and attempting to spread some sunshiney joy and then unexpectedly set back by a little snow… It feels a bit like, well, life. Things are going well, life happens, and then you feel defeated, discouraged, drained.

A passage from Psalms flashed through my mind as I snapped the picture of the flowers.

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. Psalm 51:17

And, just like that standing there shivering in my driveway looking at my neighbor’s pathetic flowers​, I was reminded that God welcomes our brokenness.

Perfectionism is not my purpose.
Sigh. How often I forget this and try to aim for something I can never attain. 

No wonder I am tired.

God honors our broken spirit. I find that a lot of the time, I overthink, I work too hard, I push myself too much.

The answer isn’t working harder. It is trusting God more. Listening. Accepting that I can only do so much in a day. It is learning to be okay with knowing that I will never make everyone happy. 

I try to pray during my commute into work. I pray that God will help me through whatever comes my way. He already knows what I will face. My response to it is my choice. 

My current situation? The slump I am in? I think I am tired. Life is filled with pressures and expectations. Sometimes, a snow storm can beat down the flowers, but that isn’t the end of the story or the end of my story.

God is working. We don’t see the details, but He is paving the way. 
But forget all that-it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?  I will make a path through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19

God honors your broken spirit. There’s always hope for the spring.

Redefining Vacation

My cousins and I were having a conversation last weekend about our views of what vacation should entail. They named off sightseeing, shopping, amusement parks…Those kinds of things. My thoughts on vacation are much different. My children are older, so I don’t feel the need to entertain them as much on vacation.

Vacation growing up was cramming as many sights into as few days as possible.  I love that my parents have taken me to so many states. I appreciate the experiences I have had.

My husband has given me another view of vacation, though, and it has been a true gift. He has taught me the value of rest and doing nothing. Sure, we enjoy taking in the sights especially natural beauty such as Yellowstone, the Great Smokey Mountains, and beaches, but we enjoy simply resting. I have learned to be content sitting by the beach or leisurely riding a bike. I find peace in rocking in a wooden rocker on the deck of a mountain cabin with my morning coffee and devotions.

Life is busy and fast paced. It is busy physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Vacation provides time to detach from the daily bustle, to reconnect with family and friends without the typical distractions, and offers an opportunity to be still.

To settle my soul before God.

I long for quiet. For moments of stillness. 

I don’t desire glamorous vacations with cruise ships and exciting ports with activities. I crave quiet. Simple moments of laughter over board games with my son. Slow paced mornings over the Word with coffee.
I need to learn how to capture the moments of stillness into everyday life. 

I need to give myself permission to rest.

I am looking forward to a few days away in a few weeks. I am looking forward to the seclusion of a mountain cabin. I am looking forward to time with my family and friend. I am craving quiet and stillness.

The definition of vacation is an extended period of recreation. I am exchanging the word recreation for rest. 

Vacation is less about seeing the world and more about reconnecting with my world. 

Our extended weather forecast looks rainy. I know weather forecasts can change daily but I am fine with rain. I am looking forward to reading, writing, board games, laughter, cooking together, sleeping in, conversation, and morning coffee and devotions on the deck. If we never leave the cabin, I will be fine.

Jesus acknowledged the importance of quietness. 
Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn’t even have time to eat. So they left by boat for a quiet place where they could be alone. Mark 6:31-32 NLT

If quiet rest is important to Jesus, then it should be important to me.

Learning to rest is a journey I am on. I encourage you to find your own journey of quiet rest.