This is Brave.

It’s fall finally, and the leaves are falling. As I walked Quill this morning, the reds, oranges, and yellows lay scattered in a disorganized leaf array making me grateful I have no trees in my yard.

I walked this morning to clear my head. It is my Saturday morning ritual, and one Quill has come to know and expect.

Anxiety is a real thing. If you have ever suffered an anxiety attack, then you know the strength it takes to pull yourself out of one. You must find coping skills.

Walking is my therapy. Music. Quiet time with God in solitude to calm the voices in my mind. These walks are my peace. They recharge me.

This morning, I stopped at a bench. My favorite walking path, an old railroad track transformed to a walking path nestled between trees. Quill calmed, sat obediently beside me as I journalled on my phone note pad app. Then, we walked some more.

I know many people who function with anxiety. They are successful people-professionals, teachers, administrators, mothers, fathers, students. They are thriving, sometimes surviving, but they are brave people. Pulling yourself, pushing yourself, and refusing to give in to anxiety is an act of bravery.

The word fear is in the Bible so many times. God knew we would face fear and anxiety.

As I walked today, I reflected on the leaves. The disorganized chaos they create as they fall. Life with anxiety can feel like that, but I must keep walking and keep pressing on.

My thought for the day-be nice to people. Extend grace everyday in every place. We never know the journey a person may be taking.

Here are some of my favorite verses to help me walk through the anxiety and press on. I hope they bring you hope and peace.

#write31days #grace

Advertisements

Comfortable with Uncomfortable

I remember sharing a thought with a friend once…I don’t think God wants us comfortable.

In the valley of comfortable is the land of complacency, stagnation, and indifference. I have been there more than a few times.

In Joshua chapter 7, after experiencing a great victory, the people face a defeat. Joshua laments, Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all-to deliver us into the land of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will You do for Your great name?

How does God answer him? Get up!!

How easy do we forget our victories when we are faced with challenges, defeats, and mountains??

I am not comfortable now. I am being stretched and challenged. More than once recently, I have felt God telling me to get up when I felt knocked down.

This morning, I can smile. I have had some challenging days, but I have sensed the Hand of God all over my life. Little things have caused me to step back and smile. Progress not perfection. Seeing my son interact in such caring ways with residents. Positive interactions with the staff and residents. Allowing myself to take feedback, reflect, and be willing to grow from it instead of internalizing and being defensive.

Sometimes in the midst of struggle, it can be hard to find the light in the desert.

The light is there. When we keep our eyes and thoughts fixed on God, it keeps our focus on where it should be. My friend, I don’t know what your life looks like, but if you are feeling uncomfortable…trust God to use your situation to stretch you and grow you closer to Him.

Tired, that’s me!

Tired. That’s me right now. So, tired in fact that I am doing this Friday Minute Friday (#FMF) post on Saturday because I was simply too tired to do this Friday.

I had to chuckle a little when I saw the word for Five Minute Friday was tired.

I work at a faith based organization and every morning our leadership team starts our morning meeting with a devotional and prayer. Yesterday ( Friday), the devotional was about taking care of ourselves. A few of my coworkers looked at me to which I responded with a laugh….”Stop looking at me!” It is well known that I often do not sleep more than six hours a night.

Everyone knows I am tired. I push myself. I work hard. I don’t rest and relax well.

Last night, I had a quiet house to myself. I couldn’t focus on a movie. My attention span is such that I don’t do well with doing nothing.

Sigh….no wonder I am exhausted.

How fitting the word of the week for #FMF would be tired.

So, I know this but what do I do with this? There is quote that reads something like this…if you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always gotten. No change in behavior means no change in outcome.

This verse comes to mind….

It is useless to get up early
and stay up late
    in order to earn a living.
God takes care of his own,
    even while they sleep.[a] Psalm 127:2

Maybe I need to take some cueing from my furry friend. He plays hard but rests well.

Quill

Anyone else have difficulty resting and relaxing? What helps you?

Sometimes, Grace isn’t so easy…

Maybe it’s the rainy day. Or maybe it’s because I am tired and haven’t been sleeping well.

Or maybe sometimes, grace isn’t so easy.

I am writing, reflecting on grace, but here I am right now in this moment finding myself wondering…why is this so hard?

Why is it so hard for me to accept the gift of grace from others? And even more so, why is it so hard for me to extend grace to myself?

I am quiet tonight. Reflective. 

Unexpected grace extended to me when really I wasn’t expecting it. It would have been easier for me to hear…you messed up, you made a mistake, how could you not….you get the idea.

It is so much more difficult for me to receive grace from others than it is for me to extend it.

And extending it to myself? Even more difficult.

It is easy to slip back into the performance perfection based expectations I hold of myself.

This often seems to happen to me as I am in the midst of something bigger than myself.

This morning, I read this: “Here is the great irony about opportunities. They usually come disguised as insurmountable problems.” Mark Batterson, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.

And maybe, just maybe, that’s exactly the place to find grace. Even if it isn’t so easy.

Do you find it hard to accept grace?

We’re Not so Different…

Today, I am tired. It was one of those nights where you just lay there and try to will yourself to sleep.

I pushed through the day. Many of those surrounding me were doing the same thing. It didn’t help that the weather was somber and rainy skies.

Towards the end of the day, I had an interaction with someone which made me realize something. 

We’re not so different.

As I listened to her make a completely irrational statement and follow it with, “I guess that just comes from the anxiety,” I couldn’t help but think, I get it. I get it.

Max Lucado defines fear as something that sees a threat whereas anxiety imagines a threat.

It often takes only one thing to trigger the anxiety before it spirals into a volcano of what ifs.

It’s really not the easiest way to live. 

I know. I’ve been there. And to be honest, every day is a concentrated effort to decide that I will not live like that.

How have I traveled this far to a place where peace comes easier and sooner?

By the grace of God.

Last year, I was just beginning this journey to battle anxiety head on. Click here to learn more.

The past year has definitely been a journey. I have realized that men and women, young and old, rich and not so rich suffer from anxiety.

We’re really not so different.

God meets us where we are and loves us as we are. He is opening my eyes and heart to a willingness to be vulnerable with safe people. 
Anxiety is a journey, but He promises to be with us for the duration of the journey. 

That alone should bring some peace.

And my interaction from earlier? I simply reassured her, smiled at her, and let her know everything in that moment truly was okay. It’s so wonderful that I can now be a source of steady and calm encouragement for others who struggle with anxiety, too.

That is only by the grace of God.

Unforced rhythms of grace

As I drove home from a very long day at work, I listened to the end of a recorded sermon from one of my favorite pastors.

The message focused on being worried and upset. The scripture she taught from is a passage near and dear to my heart because it hits so close to home in terms of what I struggle with.

  • Luke 10:38-42 Now as they were traveling along, Jesus went into a village. A woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet and kept listening to what he was saying. But Martha was worrying about all the things she had to do, so she came to him and asked, “Lord, you do care that my sister has left me to do the work all by myself, don’t you? Then tell her to help me.” The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha! You worry and fuss about a lot of things. But there’s only one thing you need. Mary has chosen what is better, and it is not to be taken away from her.”

Martha, Martha, Martha.

I can relate to Martha. I am the busy one. I find it hard to even sit still and watch TV with my son without doing something else with my hands… folding laundry, flipping through my phone, sorting through the mail…you get the picture. 

In turn, I find myself holding those same expectations of others. It’s like I expect people to be busy all the time. 

As I listened to the close of her message, something captured my attention deeply.

She talked about being still, in His presence, in the unforced rhythms of grace.

Unforced… obviously means to not force something

To take that one step further, it means to be free….

Rhymth…a strong repeated pattern

Grace…the undeserved favor

When I think of it all wrapped together, it comforts and amazes me. 

And to be completely honest, convicts me.

Why?

I find it so much easier to wrestle in the unrest of anxiety and fear instead of rest at the feet of Jesus. I ask Him to please take my burdens, but I so easily take them back as I play through the game of what ifs and conjure up a multitude of circumstances.

In the famous words of Dr. Phil…. how’s that working for you?

Um, well, actually not so well. 

What if instead I chose to rest at the feet of Jesus like Mary?

How different would my life feel if I trusted in the unforced rhythms of grace?

As anxiety tugs at the deepest places within me, I ask myself those very questions.

What if I trust Jesus with my worries and fears enough to let Him keep them instead of me trying to take them back to hold onto them just a little while longer?

Could I finally find the quiet I yearn for in the unforced rhythms of His grace?

I believe I could. And you can, too.

It’s a sweet surrender…a little more dying to self. If we choose to trust Him, He promises to be right there with us.

Rooted Trust

What do you root your trust in?

For He shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will it cease from yielding fruit. Jeremiah 17:8

Those two words jump out at me…fear and anxiety. 
I heard a pastor reference this passage and I have been reflecting and praying over it.

It’s not about our circumstances. Life is messy. It is about our response and where we root our trust. We don’t need to fear the situations that complicate our lives (the heat) because God can and will use these situations to produce good things in our lives. We need not be anxious when life feels like it is falling apart (the drought), because God sees the whole picture and is working in our lives.

It is easy to trust when things are going well, but this verse reminds me to keep my faith rooted in God despite my circumstances.

He can create good stuff in my life.