Behind every smile…

I like to think I look like everything is okay.

I like to smile, and put on the front that I am fine.

Having an autoimmune disease will do that to you.

Most days, I am okay. Most days, that smile is genuine. Some days, though, there is a quiet strength behind that smile.

We spent a lot of time this past Sunday at church talking about our thoughts. Truly, what we choose to focus on in our mind impacts our choices and response to our world around us.

I just had a conversation with my son. I reminded him that everyone is fighting a battle of some sort. People often act in a way they do because they are trying to project an image that they have it all together.

So, I smile because I want to keep pushing on. I am a fighter. My quiet strength is founded upon my belief that God has a plan for me. I trust that He will carry me through every challenge.

I don’t talk about my ulcerative colitis often. It’s just part of my life. I don’t allow it to define or control my life. I am grateful my UC is mild compared to so many others. I am so incredibly tired in my current season. Fatigue is an unwelcome friend to UC. Yet, I push on because I have life to do- goals, dreams, and well…dishes to do, laundry to fold, bills to pay. So, I smile and push on.

Every smile has an untold story behind it.

Your mind is a powerful thing…be careful of your thoughts you entertain. They impact you greatly.

My favorite quote to leave you with….In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

What favorite quote, saying, scripture inspires you?

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Believe

It’s been almost two months since I posted last. I needed a hiatus of sorts. Life was coming at me fast, and I needed to stop and catch my breath.

In the course of these past two months, I have changed jobs and taken a step of faith. I’ve come home in a sense, returned to my roots of discovery, to the place where I first realized my calling to long term care. I have had to close doors so I could embrace new beginnings. Grief of endings is a real process, one that I also had to embrace.

I have witnessed the workings of healing and redemption in some challenging situations in my life.

I have taken time for me. To reflect. To rest. To breathe. To reconnect. To rediscover. To catch my breath.

I am choosing to believe to expect the unexpected. I am choosing to believe that with faith nothing is impossible. I am stepping out in faith to trust God that this journey is uniquely mine, but I am not meant to travel it alone. He is with me every step of the way.

Have you ever looked back at your life and wondered how you ever survived that struggle? Have you ever been completely awed when you realize all the connections of your life have been orchestrated?

I’m so grateful for every experience in my life even the hard times. Especially the hard times.

I am choosing to believe this year.

What is your word for the year? What are you choosing to believe in?

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

Grace in Broken Places

Scroll through Facebook or Instagram and if you allow yourself, it is easy to fall into the trap (and lies) that everyone else has his or her life together and well, you’re just a hot mess.

I’ve been in this place. I think we all have in one way or another. My life hasn’t exactly followed the trajectory of events I had planned.

I had a rough day recently. Work issues. Family issues. Feeling as though I am getting sick. Those feeling of anxiety, worry, inadequacy, insecurities all wanted to creep in causing my sleep to be restless.

I read a post this morning reminding me to start my day by offering it to God. Read here

It was the reminder I needed to stop and remember who is always in control. Grace is found in those broken places and spaces in our lives. We aren’t called to fix everything when everything feels out of control.

When I think back on my life to those times of struggle and then reflect where I am now, I can see the growth and lessons I learned. Whether it was through life as young parents, illness, financial issues, our son’s adoption, or countless other moments of feeling uncertain, afraid, or broken over the years, God’s grace has seen me through.

Keep trusting. Keep listening. His grace fills all your broken places.

#write31days #grace

Grace Giver

I think this is all part of the test, Tammy.

These were the words spoken to me by our chaplain at work. He was referring to my struggles with the IT issues and having to reschedule a portion of my licensure exam.

The night prior, I had made the decision to extend grace towards the representatives on the other end of the phone. It certainly was not their fault I was in this situation.

After eight phone calls, I was definitely feeling frustrated, but I felt God asking me to be a grace giver. And, I knew my son was listening, too.

I am in a book study group reading Because He Loves Me:How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life by Elyse Fitzpatrick.

On the day of my test as I waited for two hours to see if I would be able to take my second round of tests, I read ahead in the book, grateful I had tossed it in my car. In chapter three, she talks about the concept of spiritual amnesia. She provides some real life everyday examples…a late repairman, a child who failed the spelling test, an overcrowded freeway… everyday encounters with life. She provides examples of grace responses and self-righteous responses.

This really stuck with me. I would say how ironic that the very place I read this would become the root cause of my extreme frustration just a short while later only I don’t believe in irony. I think God orchestrated the occasion.

I need opportunities to extend grace just as much as I need to recognize my need for grace.

So, maybe Pastor, you’re on to something…maybe there’s more to the test than what I anticipated.

And that, my friend, is a very good thing.

#write31days #grace

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.

Who do you say He is?

Who do you say I am?

This is the question Jesus asked his disciples. He wasn’t interested in what they thought other people defined Him as. He wanted to know who they defined Him as. (Matthew 16:13-15)

Our pastor asked us to close our eyes during the sermon. We were to ask ourselves that question. In the quiet of the church, with my eyes closed, I dared to ask myself that question.

Rescuer.

Jesus is my Rescuer. As my Savior, He has rescued me from the depths of hell. He has rescued me from the storms of life. That’s not to say I haven’t endured the storms, but He has walked with me to the other side. And most often, He rescues me from myself.

How often are we slaves to the bondage we enslave ourselves to? The pain of our past. Bitterness. Anger. Fear. Anxiety. Complacency. Unworthiness.

What is enslaving you?

As I sat by myself enjoying some much needed quiet time, I glanced down at my feet dangling in the water.

What did I focus on?

The chipped off paint from my nails. Life chips away from our feelings of completeness, worthiness, and beauty. Just as the chlorine stripped away the paint, we allow the irritations of life to strip and chip away at us.

So, yes, Jesus is my Rescuer. He rescues me those feelings of unworthiness, of failure, of fear…

When the world screams that I should just give up, throw the towel in, walk away, be knocked down, surrender to defeat…He whispers to me that He is right with me in the midst of every storm, every failure, every feeling of defeat and inadequacy that I feel. He knows those hopes and dreams deep in my heart. And, He knows the fears that surround them.

I am stronger from the struggle.

When I can analyze not internalize and self reflect for my growth and spend 1-1 time in prayer, yes, I know I will be okay. The struggle is real and the battles seldom cease, but Jesus is my Rescuer.

His promises are true. He sustains and carries me. He anchors me.

I challenge you to ask yourself…Who do you say He is?