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.

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Some people have neatly put together living rooms. As I look around mine, it is a collection of mismatched furniture. I have an off-white love seat. I have a brown leather ottoman and chair. I have two recliners of slightly different tans-one a hand me down leather one, the other a soft microfiber design.

I think they come together okay, but I’m not one for interior design. I am more about what’s practical. If it still works, then why replace it?

Mismatched furniture. Slightly used. Heavily used. Each piece has a different story, a different origin yet it all comes together to create my safe place of home.

I am reflective this morning in my quiet living room filled with mismatched furniture. My thoughts are on people, the events of our world.

What about people? You and me? Do we accept people who are different from us? Those whose stories don’t match ours? 

I think of Jesus and how he reached out to those whom society called misfits and outcasts. He welcomed them, gave them hope and healing. It didn’t matter if they were mismatched from those whom society said were the acceptable group. Do we do that? Do our churches do this?

In times like this as our country braces for the uncertain impact of Hurricane Irma, there is one thing I am certain about. Tragedy brings us together. It won’t matter who is different or who is an “outcast” because Irma will not be selective. 

We need each other. Life is hard. 

I have been on my knees. I am burdened for Florida and others in the path of Irma and Jose who follows close behind. I have friends and family in Florida. Those in Texas are still recovering from the aftermath of Harvey. There are forest fires and earthquakes.

God never promised life would be easy but He has blessed us with the community of others to come together to support, encourage, and lift up one another despite our differences.

Maybe we’re not so different after all. We all have hopes and dreams. We all have fears. When mismatched people come together to lift each other up, He is there in the midst.

Let’s pray for others and lift one another up. Life is hard. We don’t have to do it alone. God never leaves our side. Reach out and love those who are hurting and need someone to be there. 

Bring some hope to a hurting world.

#prayerchangesthings

Living Stones

To linger here for just a few more minutes…

I love mornings tucked under a blanket with tea or coffee in hand. It is my quiet time to reflect on life and the Word before the day begins.

Last night, we attended our county Fair. The weeklong event draws upwards of 300,000 people to our small community. We walked the fair, visited with people, and rounded to our favorite fair food vendors. It was too much for me…the noise and crowd…I just wanted quiet. My husband and I agreed that the older we get, the less we enjoy crowds.

So, this morning, I am especially enjoying the quiet. In between devotional books to guide my morning time with God, I started to read 1 Peter and found myself fixated on the second chapter…living stones.

Stones can be used to build something up. Stones can also be used to tear someone or something down. We don’t usually think of stones as having living qualities, but figuratively, I like this analogy.

Stones. Are we living stones… building up others and encouraging them? If Jesus is the cornerstone of our lives, then we should be the living stones to share his goodness with others. First Peter 3:15…but sanctify the Lord your God in your hearts and always be ready to give defense to everyone who asks you for the reason for the hope that is in you. 

Today,  may we be living stones sharing the love and hope of Christ with others!!

Also, if anyone has suggestions for a devotional, please let me know. I just finished reading Draw the Circle, the 40 day prayer challenge, for the third time. I like devotionals that challenge me, are filled with spiritual truths, and incorporate Scripture reading. If you have not read Draw the Circle, I highly recommend it!!


God, grow me…

I should have anticipated this might be a hard week. I should have expected it would not be easy. As I struggled and wrestled through some difficult issues last weekend, I found myself at the one place I know can make all the difference…on my knees.

I prayed through these situations last Saturday in the quiet of my home. I felt uncertainty. I felt like a failure. The tears flowed freely as I prayed, “God grow me.”

I kept praying through the weekend and as the week started. I prayed. I’m​ not going to sugar coat this…it wasn’t easy. The anxiety was at an all time high. I woke up in the middle of the night with anxiety. I have learned, though, what to do when the anxiety strikes. I pray through Philippians 4:6-7. It helps the breathing to calm so I can I sleep and so the dark clouds of doubt do not overshadow peace.

As I worked through the issues, God was there. In the midst of my anxiety, He was there. Anxiety tries to tell you the worse thing possible. It tries to blind you from all the positive things around you. I know. I have lived in the land of anxiety.

This time, I decided I would not stay in that land. I would pray through the anxiety. I would take ownership. I would share my reflections, my ah-ha moment with someone. I did. God extended His grace. God answered my prayers​ and continues to answer my prayers…God, grow me.

What does it mean to be a better person? People say this a lot…but what does it mean? To be a Godly leader, a good mom and wife, and a loyal friend…so much truth is found in Proverbs. 
For me, this concept of being a “better person” is grounded in “God, grow me.” It is being open to His teaching, His loving discipline, and His revelation of areas in my life where I need developed and refined.

I told my amazing leader that growth is painful. She provided a much different perspective for me in her response…”Growth is exciting.”

She’s right, so right. 

Tonight, something I saw something on Facebook related to my issues from this past week triggered an anxiety attack. I wasn’t staying there. I prayed. My friend prayed for me. I went for a walk. I filled my soul with life breathing words of truth through the music flowing from my headphones to my ears to my heart.

Yes, God’s grace is so sweet. Dear friend, don’t give up. Stay the course. Stay very, very close to Him. And don’t be afraid of growth…it is so exciting. It may seem slow. It may be subtle. If God is in the midst of it, it is worth celebrating!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 NIV
Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you. Psalm 37:5 NLT
You see, when God gives a grace gift and issues a call to a people, He does not change His mind and take it back. Romans 11:29

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.