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.

Blessings in our Mistakes

It happened so suddenly. It was a simple daily task. Washing dishes. I needed music. Perhaps, I should have heeded to the warning voice that suggested that setting my cell phone in the windowsill above the sink full of soapy dishwater was possibly a recipe for potential disaster…but I didn’t. Instead, I set the phone there and listened to music as I scrubbed the sink of dirty dishes.

It slipped…I am not sure why, but my phone ended up swimming in the soapy water. I rescued it and dried it and all appeared fine. Hours later when I went to plug it in to charge it, all was not well. The phone shut off and would not hold a charge.

Life without a cellphone is….quiet.

On the way to church yesterday morning, I asked God…what good can come out of a cellphone damaged by water? All my earthly mind could think of was $$$. And being inconvenienced.

During church after the sermon, the pastor gave everyone 60 seconds of silence. (Do I see a theme in my life lately??) It was in this moment of silence that God reminded me that good things can come from a cellphone damaged by water. He cares about everyday things in our lives. In the words of one of my friends…God can fix our mistakes.

So, in what ways are my eyes being opened by a water damaged cellphone?

  • The love of my husband…no judgment, no what were you thinking…Nope, just, “Honey, it’s a cell phone. We’ll get it fixed or get it replaced. No big deal.”
  • Patience. Life can be lived without immediate gratification at our fingertips. It really can.
  • God is a jealous God. What exactly does this mean? Jeremiah 29:13 promises, You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart. How distracted have I been by my phone?
  •  In my desire for quiet, I can attest to this…life without a cell phone is quiet.

My phone is in a cellular repair shop awaiting a new battery. Fortunately, the repairman says it looks like my phone did not suffer water damage beyond the battery being shorted. Leaving my cellphone at the repair shop felt a bit, well, unnerving like leaving my third child behind. I know…dramatic, but it just goes to illustrate how dependent I have become on it. Yes, there are many wonderful things I can do on my cellphone including using my BibleGateway app, but it also has become a huge source of distraction, a source of mind numbing apps when my brain is tired after work, and a blockage from meaningful conversation with others. Just scan the people eating at any restaurant. I know I am not alone.

So, yes, by the end of the week, I will once again rejoin modern society with a cellphone. But, I hope the lessons I am learning from a week without a cellphone will change a few things in my life…communication, relationships, being more intentional with my time.

From Galatians 5:22-23 The Message…But what happens when we live God’s way?  He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard-things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to  marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Six months ago, I would have defined living as God’s way as doing the right thing, being obedient…all my responses driven by things I could do. Now, I see living God’s way as living a surrendered life. Not a perfect life. Not a life free from mistakes. A life that says here I am God, I am Yours, use me, shape me, grow me.

What happens when we live God’s way? He opens our eyes to the blessings in our mistakes.

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Sometimes, you just need carried 

Life can be just plain hard. It can be exhausting. You might feel as though you can’t go another step. Sometimes, you just need someone to carry you through the struggle.

Last night, my husband and I decided to take advantage of the unseasonably warm evening and go for a walk. I decided to take our 9 year old diabetic terrier mix who is blind. He lagged behind us, something totally new for our walk experience. We weren’t sure if he was trying to follow in our footsteps or what, but he stayed behind us. 

As we walked, the wind picked up some. Thirty minutes into our walk, the rain began to fall. My husband crossed the street thinking I was behind him. I was not. My pup in his blindness and limited ability to interpret the world around him, was in no hurry to cross the street. He was more worried about the fact he was getting wet, very wet. As the rain poured down harder and traffic came towards us, I decided I would stay on the opposite side of the street from my husband until I could cross at a more opportune time.

My pup and I walked, me picking up speed, him still lagging behind. As we crossed an intersection with a car waiting for us, my pup stopped. He took his claws and dug them into the concrete and refused to go another step. He was spent. 

He was wet. He was scared. He was tired. I leaned over and scooped him up. My twenty some pound dog needed carried. I rescued him. He nuzzled up against me. I met up with my husband, and we took turns carrying Franklin home.

Sometimes, when life is too much, you just need carried. It’s like the Footprints in the Sand poem. God carries us at our weakest moments. He promises to be with us.

He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms. Isaiah 40:11 NLT

Yes, sometimes like my pup last night, we just need someone to carry us.

Trust God to carry you. Truly trust Him. Then, you can rest in His peace as you walk the valleys of life. 

Let go and let God

Sometimes, I am a slow learner…like in the case of worrying…but I’m finally getting it, finally realizing that of all the things I can do, worry is probably the least productive use of my time.

Worry doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change the situation. It doesn’t move anything forward. It only adds to the anxiety, the list of what-ifs.

Let go and let God means to let go of worry and let God handle it.

My life is full of a lot of things I could worry about right now. A lot.

Yet, I am sitting here…peaceful. Wow…what a difference a year makes.

As much as I was not happy at that moment, having a friend point out to me how much I was worrying over a situation last June has been life changing.

I have learned to pray, to surrender, to release whatever is weighing me down. Let go and let God truly has meaning for me.

I have lost enough sleep. Wasted enough time fretting over things that have never happened.  Tried to figure things out on my own too many times.

Sigh…a sigh of relief. My friend, you don’t have to carry those worries any more. Pray over them and offer them to God. Trust the One who loves You so much. Let go and let God. And then breathe….God’s got this.

And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

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Mother’s Day Reflections

Last Sunday, my husband and I taught the Junior and Senior High Sunday School class. We attend a small church and know all the kids personally in the class. It was a timely lesson with graduation approaching as we discussed the gifts and works God is doing in us and through us.

One of the questions in the guide that I asked the kids was this…who do you think should finish the work that God has started in you?

Silence as they thought. Then, one girl responded, “We should.”

As we talked through it, we reflected and worked through that answer to that question. God gifts us with abilities, talents, gifts….but honestly as I continue to learn, He simply requires our heart, willingness, and obedience. I remember a saying from a sermon I heard years ago… God doesn’t need our abilitites. He needs our availability.

On this Mother’s Day, this is my prayer for my children…that they understand, that they trust, that they believe that with God all things truly are possible if we only trust and step out in faith and obedience.

God will finish the good work He has started in us.

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

A great way for me to hold onto the faith that God is working in me and through me is by journaling. When circumstances fall apart and life seems to be crazy, recalling His work in my life keeps me grounded.

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I know my children are watching me. They are observing my reactions to the unexpected events in life that have the potential to throw my life way off target. In these moments, I know it is more important than ever to cling to my faith. To trust. To obey. To hold on tight.

Because He will finish the good work He has started. He’s a good, good Father.

 

 

 

 

His Grace Covers me….even at Costco

Yesterday was one of those days. When you spend your day working with people, some days are guaranteed to be well, more emotional than others. Yesterday was one of those heart-wrenching emotional days at work. And, it was a looong day. So, by the time I arrived at Costco, I was spent emotionally, physically, and mentally, and I still had a 40 minute drive home. Thankfully, it was a Monday, and Costco was not very busy. (This meant fewer samples when I was starving and hadn’t eaten dinner, but plus side, fewer people, shorter lines).

I picked up all my items as well as several items for my work. The friendly cashier reassured me that she could ring everything up and then subtotal the two orders to allow me to pay with two different payment sources. Fine, that would work. I paid for my personal order. Then, I pulled out the prepaid debit card to pay for the order for my work. Oops…I hadn’t realized I needed to activate the card. The cashier told me no worries, go ahead. So, I activated it. She then very kindly reminded me that I needed a pin number. I apologized again…because now I needed to call the number on the prepaid debit card to set up a pin number. While I was doing this, she patiently and kindly offered to move the lady’s items who was in line behind me to the next aisle so she would not have to wait. She explained to the lady that I was having card issues. (Actually, it was my lack of preparation considering I had not pre-activated my card, but I appreciated her choice of words). Finally, I had a pin and paid for the items. The cashier was so kind, so patient with. Sure, it probably helped that it was Monday, and lines were non-existent, but perhaps she could read how tired I was, on the brink of tears-just ready to be home with my family and eat dinner that was waiting in my slow cooker. This cashier could have provided a totally different experience for me if she had been impatient or short with me.

I thanked her, and as I walked away, I thanked God for allowing me to experience grace at Costco. After a long, emotional day at work, I needed this grace, and He knew exactly what I needed when I needed it. God’s like that. He takes care of us and always provides a lesson…He never lets go of us.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”          2 Corinthians 12:9

In our weakest moments, He is our strength. He will carry us through. His grace is enough. Even at Costco.

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Encouragement for Anxiety

Worry breeds anxiety. This may sound crazy, but I never thought of myself as a worrier until my best friend pointed that out to me…less than a year ago. My grandmother was the worrier in the family, not me. As I  took a step back and let my friend’s words sink in…. “you might be the biggest worrier I know”….I realized, okay, maybe she has a point.

I just read something on Facebook the other day that reflected on how worrying about things that might happen actually causes more stress and fear than actually facing what we fear.

Losing a job, financial concerns, paying for college, health, the list goes on and on…things that might happen, things that I am in the middle of, trying to figure out…so, what’s a girl to do, a now self-professed worrier???

Turning to the Word, I have found two passages that really, really help me when I feel worry and anxiety.

S0, here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life-your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking around life-and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.    Romans 12:1 MSG

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That passage encourages me so much. God truly cares about every detail in my life-my drive into work, my interactions wtih others, the everyday stuff that can threaten to drag me down, my comings and goings. I remember doing a Bible study group with some ladies from my church. We were reading through a book, and the author described a situation where she had prayed to God to help her find the perfect dress for an event she needed to speak at. The author struggled with acceptance of her body image as well as some financial struggles. I’ve never forgotten that…it really resonated with me. God cares about the little details of our lives when our lives are surrendered to Him so our hearts can be open to receive His blessings.

The other passage that I have found extremely helpful to break down and pray over is this:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.             Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

I find it helpful to break down these verses and pray over them. I tell God what I need. Then, I reflect on the ways He has already worked in my life, and I thank Him for  all He has done, trusting that He loves me and will carry me through.

One other thing has been very helpful in changing my perspective. During some difficult months at a challenging job in a challenging environment, I kept a gratitude journal. Each day, I looked for things that happened that were positive. Day by day, this became easier and my list grew longer each day.

Yes, our days will be filled with trials, bad news, difficult situations, but God cares about every detail in our lives and  wants us to pray over everything. And, a little gratitude can go a long way! The promise of spring really does come.

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