Comfort in the Uncomfortable

What does it mean to be comfortable to you?

 Comfort is a warm fuzzy blanket, a book in my hand, a warm mug of coffee or tea, and a quiet house.


Of course, those cherished moments are just that, cherished moments. To be comfortable​ in the day to day existence…What does that look like?
I told a friend once that I don’t think God wants us to be comfortable for too long. During that particular time in my life, I had just left a long-time job to try something new. This “new” was different and very uncomfortable.

I believe it is during these challenging periods of life that we experience the most growth. I realized that even when my job was hard, I could find something to be grateful for. Believe me, I’m definitely not trying to sugar coat anything or be “Pollyanna” about this…Some days finding something good in a difficult day was, well, hard.

Some days may be like a typical dinner conversation with our son…

Me: “Jay-R, how was school? What was the best thing that happened today?”

My son, with a smile on his face as he gets ready to take a bite of food, “It ended.”

 Maybe some days​, you are grateful to have just made it through yet another day. 


My prayer into work has become a prayer of “God I have no idea what I might face today, but I say yes to whatever comes my way because I know You will be right there with me.”
Greater trust. Overcoming anxiety one moment at a time. Glimpses into what really matters to me in my life. All lessons in the uncomfortable.

Yesterday morning I read this in my In Touch devotional by Charles Stanley…“We must accept that God’s priority for us is transformation into Christ’s image and not necessarily comfortable circumstances.”

Paul shares in Philippines 4:11…

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 

Times of plenty, times of less. Times of sickness, times of health. Times of comfortable, times of uncomfortable.

Finding comfort in the uncomfortable….Perhaps this is on my mind so much as I reflect on the message of Easter. Christ endured the greatest “uncomfortable” for me, for you, for us. He was ostracized, ridiculed, beaten, mocked, and hung to die a pain staking death. Why? So that we can live a life full of His grace, His love, His mercy, His peace, and His hope.

Is comfort possible in the uncomfortable?

I think it is when our hearts are open to what He is wanting to whisper into our souls. 

My friend, all things are possible through Him.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

How about you…Where has God spoken​ to you in the uncomfortable?

Keep Fighting

Sometimes, I feel so knocked down by the stuff of life…Work stress, so much to do at home, exhaustion…The list goes on.

Sometimes, I just feel so defeated. I feel like a failure. I know we all have bad days. Bad days can morph into all kinds of negative thinking if we let them.

When I was in fourth grade, my dad came with me to a young author’s event at a local university. I remember being so excited to go and that my dad was with me. I came home with the book It Wasn’t my Fault by Helen Lester. I love the story because the young boy has an egg dropped on his head. He tries to find someone to blame but ends up realizing that maybe he was to blame after all. Instead of turning the blame on him, his new animal friends try to stand behind him and make the best of the situation.

Walking the Christian life is a lot like that.

We make mistakes. Things don’t always go as we plan. We feel like failures sometimes. God doesn’t waste anything in our lives. He can and will use everything to grow us and increase our trust and dependence on Him.
For we know that all things work together for good to those who love God who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

It often isn’t big trials that seem to get me down. My faith has carried me through some pretty big challenges in my life. For me, it’s the everyday stuff that drags me down and threatens to defeat me. Difficult situations and people at work. Not feeling well. A cluttered house because we are so busy. Taxes still to do ( I have a week yet 😉). 

This “stuff” weighs me down. Then, God speaks to, encourages me through one of the most precious voices in my life. My son.

We were driving home recently, and I asked him if he knew what spiritual warfare was. He proceeded to tell me about how this was the theme of his recent youth retreat. We talked about praying through those difficult times and trusting God. He looked at me and said, “Mom, you’re a fighter. You always fight through stuff.” 

Thanks, son. I needed to be encouraged.

Maybe the morning moments of reading my Bible are noticed. Perhaps our nightly prayer together matters to him.

Little acts of faith create big faith. 

Maybe I can fight through this one more day with God leading me. And then one more day. Someone is watching me fight my battles, and he’s taking note.
We never know when our faith might resonate in someone else’s life

 Keep fighting. Eyes are watching.

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.

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.

Is there anything good about Anxiety?

Anxiety is a battle. If you suffer from anxiety, then you understand that battle.

What if you gave that anxiety to God and quit looking at it as a bad thing?

I just finished reading The Anxious Christian…Can God Use Your Anxiety for Good? by Rhett Smith.

The concepts, ideas, and messages in this short little book have been life changing words for my once very anxious soul. The book is now filled with highlighted sections and my scribbled words in the white spaces of the margins. 
Page 101…When you finally acknowledge your own anxiety and face it for what it is, then you enter into that reimagining process as God takes your anxiety and helps you follow Him into the places He is calling you toward. He is calling you into a relationship where your anxiety is dependent on Him and not the things you do. (Rhett Smith)

Over the past several months, I have discovered that being open with people whom I trust about my anxiety, seeing a counselor at the advice of a friend, pouring myself into prayer and God’s Word, and reading helpful things like this book, have really carried me and guided me on my journey over anxiety.

There is such healing power in truth and understanding. As my eyes are opened to the “why’s” behind my anxious thoughts, then it is easier for me to take a step forward and not become stuck in a place of anxiety.

If you struggle with anxiety, I encourage you to read this book as part of your healing process over anxiety. Yes, anxiety is still a part of my life, but it no longer defines me. When I feel anxious thoughts coming on, I turn them over to God.

God really does care about our anxieties and He can and will use everything for His good in our lives, even anxiety.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

#anxiety #healing

I’m a Mess…

“I’m a mess.”

She uttered those words as though something was wrong with her. I looked at the woman standing beside me and reassured her that in someway or another, we are all a mess.

Everyone is fighting a battle of some sort.

There is a song by Citizen Way called When I’m With You….  
These are the things that I need to pray cause I can’t find peace any other way. I’m a mess underneath and I’m just too scared to show it. Everything’s not fine and I’m not okay.. 

The song goes on to say that when he is with Christ, then his real person can break through .

This song has been a huge source of comfort for me. The truth is, we are all fighting our own battles. 

The other night while playing games, my son was beating his dad and me in an intense game of Spot It. He was laughing and then said, “I need a day to feel okay and today ain’t that day.” Granted, this was in the context of losing his winning streak, but his quote has been on my mind a lot.

A lot of days, we don’t always feel okay. Whether it is worry, stress, illness, or anything that threatens to steal our joy, we certainly have a lot of reasons to not feel okay.

Thankfully, God’s love and peace and joy in our life is not dependent upon our circumstances. It takes trust to say, Okay, God, I don’t feel okay, this doesn’t feel okay, but I am going to trust You

This is where I am.. learning day by day, moment by moment, to let go of my desire to control and try to fix everything and just be okay with not being okay and trusting God instead of allowing worry and anxiety to take over in my mind.

It is a work in progress. I am a work in progress.

We are all fighting battles of some sort. We all have days when don’t feel okay. We all have days when we feel like a mess.

Trust God. Be kind to others. Listen to them for you may be the person God uses to shine some joy in his/her life. And, likewise, there are people God places in our paths to brighten our days when we don’t feel okay.