A Quieted Spirit

Aww…much needed time away. I am spending my birthday weekend with my husband on a little getaway from home. I am presently enjoying this view from my window seat in our hotel. 

As I listen to the water flowing, rather rapidly due to all the recent rainfall here, I am appreciating this time to quiet my soul. I have shared with you about my struggle with fear and anxiety. Last weekend, my friend made me this beautiful photo book filled with Scripture to calm my anxious thoughts. On the cover, was this verse Zephaniah 3:17….the Lord will quiet you with His love.

My mind is often not quiet. I attended a marriage retreat with my husband a few months ago where the speaker talked about a female’s mind running as though there are multiple apps going at the same time. Yup, that’s me. There is the work app, the fear app, the things I need to do for my kids app, the did a tornado hit this house while I was at work app, my dog needs more insulin from the vet app, did I really forget toilet paper from the grocery store app…you get the picture. My mind is seldom calm.

The past several months, my mind has been and continues to be opened to truths about myself. Things like worry, fear, and anxiety…I am beginning to understand where they come from and the depth of their control in my life. God is placing people in my life and situations to allow me to work through these. Thankfully, He is a patient and loving Father. 

I believe that once you open your heart to God and are willing to be vulnerable to Him, He will work in your life. Growth takes time and involves your willingness to be vulnerable, transparent, and open to what He is trying to say to you through situations and others.

As a co-worker apologized to me this week for something, she said this… truly being sorry requires a change in behavior. I am going to change my behavior.  Such truth rests in her words. A change in behavior also includes a change in thinking.

When I feel my mind begin to race with the “what ifs” and the “should haves,” then I need to quiet my mind.

One way I am trying to change my thinking is this….growth is not painful but rather exciting. Growth over time increases our faith and brings us one step closer to who we desire to be as disciples of Christ. Instead of me working so hard to change me, I am realizing I need to pray, listen, and trust God for His guidance in this…one step at a time, one thought at a time. I am learning to believe a quieted mind despite life’s craziness is possible. 

What Scriptures help quiet your mind?

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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.

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.

A melting soul…

Anxiety is a tricky thing.

A simple thought can quickly escalate into a full blown fear. The what  ifs  grow into a vast array of irrational fears and our minds believe that something horrible is on the horizon.

I spend a lot of time in the Psalms. I came across a passage in Psalm 107 in the NKJV that describes for me the power anxiety tries to have over me.

…their soul melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits end. Psalm 107:26-27 

When something is melting, unless someone intervenes, it will continue to melt. An ice cube on a sidewalk on a hot August day does not stand a chance.

When I am experiencing an anxiety attack, that is how I feel…like my soul is melting. Everything feels out of control. 

What am I learning?

Most of life is out of my control. And, that’s a good thing. It takes a lot of pressure off of me and reminds me to focus on letting God be in control.

Psalm 107 is all about giving thanks. It goes on to read…

Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Psalm 107:28-31

I love this passage. They realize they are in trouble so they cry out to God. He listens and calms the storm. He quiets their melting soul and brings them to a place of rest and safety.

Although my circumstances may not change, I trust that when I cry out to God, He will calm and quiet my anxious, melting soul. He provides. He protects. He quiets the storms within us with His peace.

Focusing on His goodness and mercy and thanking Him for taking care of me helps me focus on who is in control. 
Four times in Psalm 107 it shares that the people cried out to the Lord in their troubles and He delivered them out of their distresses. He delivered his people and He is still in the business of delivering us from our distresses. Sometimes, not as quickly as we would like and often not in ways we anticipated, but He listens and He delivers. 

Our response should be praise… replace a melting, anxious soul with a soul spilling over in gratitude.

This advent season as we prepare for Christmas, remember that God can calm an anxious, melting soul. 

Quiet yourself before Him.

The Smallest Step

When life throws difficult situations at us as it will, sometimes we find ourselves thinking if only….

If only I had a different  …..

If only I had more ….

I read a great article from Family Life about coping with anxiety. The article pointed out that having more of something or having a different something will not fix the issues we are anxious about. 

Sure, having more money might help “fix” an immediate financial need, but there will always be another financial need that arises. Maybe a different job will remove you from a negative work environment, but your new job will include negative people who you will have to deal with.

The reality is that worries and anxieties are not fixed by “mores” or “differents.” 

As I walk my journey of overcoming anxiety, I am learning that the only thing that truly helps my anxious thoughts is to release my fears to God and allow His peace to fill those spaces.

For me, this means praying. A lot. It means writing down my fears so I can see them for what they are… usually things out of my control. It means memorizing Scripture. It means trusting a friend who I can share these feelings with. 

Mostly, it means accepting that my smallest step of faith in trusting God is enough.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. Psalm 56:3

31 Days of Gratitude: Fridays 

It has been a long week. I have missed a few days of my 31 days of blogging, but I have been spending time in His Word, journaling, with friends, and in prayer and reflection.

This Friday morning after a long work week and one long day ahead of me, I am reminded that He walks ahead of me, with me, and alongside me on this journey.

I am grateful for Fridays…a breather from the busyness of the week.

Let’s have a Faith over Fear Friday trusting that God is walking ahead of us, with us, and alongside us.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9