Keep Your Eyes Ahead

I have an hour commute to work and generally take the toll road because it is so much faster. As a result, seeing  state troopers is a normal occurrence for me. I am not an overly fast driver so I rarely fear speeding tickets.

The other day, though, I saw a state trooper make a quick turnaround in the median. The car followed behind me for miles, exit after exit. I was not speeding, but nevertheless, I found myself looking back in my rear view mirror every few minutes. I realized as I did this, my palms were sweaty and my heart rate a little faster.

Why?

It turned my thoughts to how we often look back and allow the fears of our past mistakes and failures to hold us hostage to the future God has promised us. I thought of Lot’s wife who looked back and was turned to a pillar of salt in the book of Genesis.

I am extremely thankful that I did not experience the same results as Lot’s wife for looking back, but I am thankful for God’s reminders of His promises in everyday life moments.

I needed to not fear anything as I drove to work that day. Instead, I needed to keep my eyes focused ahead on the promises God has in store for me.

 Our past can teach us lessons, but we need to keep our eyes focused on what is ahead.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. Philippians 3:13 NIV

Yes, sometimes it feels like we must strain and keep pushing forward, but keep your eyes on God, and He shall lead you through all the rocky waters of life.

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?

What if…

It’s one of those mornings where no one but me has to be up early. My husband has the day off work, and school is closed for my son today. 

In the mostly quiet house except for the off and on barking of our dog, I really don’t mind these days of being awake in solitude. My mind does a lot of thinking during these mornings.

The other day, I wrote about “keep fighting.” The next day, my devotional was about fighting, and it really resonated with me. It’s important to fight through the struggles of life and keep our eyes on God. But, here’s another thought to add to this whole fighting thing….God loves to fight for us.
The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm. Exodus 14:14

Stay calm? During hard times?? This is definitely something I continue to learn. It is becoming a little easier everyday. The whole expression of “let go and let God,” it really holds a lot of truth in terms of peace.

When I am discouraged, before I know it, my mind wanders to this world of “what ifs.”

What if I had chosen another career? What if I hadn’t changed jobs? What if we had moved so many years ago like we had planned? The list can go on and on.

But, here is another question…”What if I am exactly where God needs me to be right now?

Life isn’t easy, but it is during the most difficult moments that we can experience the most growth.

On this Good Friday, I reflect, what if Jesus would have been spared the pain of everything He endured on the cross for us, for you, for me? 

That is a what if I don’t want to think about because the answer would change everything.

Thankfully, that’s not how the story goes. Jesus died so that we may live. His death and Resurrection change everything. He died on the cross so we can live in His truth and promises.

Instead of worrying and “what iffing,” I need to let go and let God. He will fight my battles. Just stay calm, trust His promises, and rest in His peace.

What if we worried less and prayed more?

Prayer can move mountains. 

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.

Elder friends

I have friends of all ages, but I especially treasure my friendships with my elder friends who share so much wisdom with me.

I lost a dear friend this week. At 95 years, she lived a very full life. As I reflect on her life and our friendship, these thoughts come to mind…

  • She always believed in me.
  • She supported my writing dreams.
  • She was always so giving.
  • She didn’t sweat the small stuff.
  • She lived life to fullest.
  • She forgave.
  • She lived her Christian faith.
  • She loved her family and friends.
  • She never wavered in her faith.
  • She accepted the things she could not change.

I have so, so many memories. My heart is sad, but as my friend and I prayed with this dear friend just a day before her death, we told her, see you in heaven. I will miss her dearly, but she has left a lasting impact on my life that will continue to inspire me.

As I am reading my devotional this morning, this verse captured my attention and made me think of my dear friend.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

Cherish your friends… Especially your elder friends.

#elders #friendship

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.