Coffee Talks

Saturday morning coffee with a friend whom I haven’t seen in a while… exactly what I needed.

I met this friend in the midst of a challenging work environment where we both worked closely together to make the best out of a difficult situation. To reflect where we are both now and the journey we have taken to reach this point was encouraging. It was so encouraging to share with one another our growth and to have a shared frame of reference from where we began.

I love how God intertwines our stories with the stories of others. Relationships matter. Sometimes, they have the most unlikely of beginnings. Sometimes, they form in the most difficult moments. God knows who we need when we need them. So many of my friendships have been connections where I can truly reflect and know God placed that person in my life for a reason.

Conversation over coffee is sometimes exactly what you need.

This verse has been comforting to me this week…The righteous person will have many troubles, but the Lord will rescue him from each one. Psalm 34:19

Rescue doesn’t mean life isn’t hard, but it means God is with us and will help see us through. I believe the gift of friendship is one of the ways God rescues us.

My conversation with my friend this morning reminded me the many ways God has rescued me and carried me over the past few years.

Sometimes a cup of coffee with a friend helps put everything back in perspective.

When is the last time you set up a coffee or dinner date with a friend? Maybe it’s time.😊

***two unlikely friends***

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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.

Reminders of Grace

Ever had a moment where you were suddenly so very aware of how much you really have changed and grown?

That’s what I love about journaling. You have your written story you can look back on. Tonight, I was searching through a notebook I have written Scripture in. During a difficult time in my life, this book was my lifeline. It reminded me I was not alone. Not once. Not ever.

As I made my way through the book copying down favorite verses for a scripture box, I came across this:

How amazing is this? Coincidence that I should stumble upon this as I write 31 days on grace? I don’t think so.

Almost two years ago I wrote this. It was shortly after I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and was fighting the exhaustion. I was working a stressful job with only a few weeks left before I would embark on a new chapter in my life with a different organization. 

Despite the challenges I faced, I knew to cling to His grace. It is still what steadies me and pulls me through the difficult moments.

Since the almost two years that I penned those simple yet profound words in my Scripture journal which were really lessons for my soul, I can recall countless moments of grace.

Tonight, I worked on a scripture box filled with words of His promises of love, mercy, peace, hope, and grace. Tomorrow, I will take it to work to sit on my desk. As a visual person, it will be my tangible reminder He is always with me. In moments where I need steadied, I will have His words at my fingertips to remind me that I am exactly where He needs me.

for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go… Joshua 1:9

How big is your God?

Recently, I had a conversation with someone who told me that at her age, she was done growing. She did not see any need within herself to continue to grow.

It struck me as very sad and very prideful. I think that when we stop thinking we have opportunities to grow then we resign ourselves to a place of stagnant stuckness. We become stuck with the mindset we are enough. 

Having read Draw the Circle, the 40 Day Prayer Challenge, by Mark Batterson three back to back times, I decided I needed to start something new. My friend bought me another one of Batterson’s books…In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. 

This morning, I read something about growth that really captures the essence of growth…”the more we grow, the bigger God should get. And the bigger God gets, the smaller our lions will become.” Mark Batterson
God is bigger than my fears. God is bigger than the barriers that seem to stand in the way of my dreams. God is bigger than my problems. God is bigger than the people who oppose me. God is bigger than anything or anyone I face.

In the midst of trouble, conflict, or anxiety, do I allow God the Glory to be bigger than all the odds that seem stacked up against me or do I shrink back in fear?

We all face lions in our lives. 

For me, the lion last night was the anxiety that awoke me from my sleep. Taking the advice of a dear friend, I pulled out my Bible and began to read the Psalms. This morning, I praised God for His peace and my ability to fall back asleep last night.

In the book of Joshua in chapter 1, three times in verses 1-9, Joshua is instructed to be strong and courageous. The Lord your God goes wherever you go.

Life is not perfect. There are obstacles out there. Not everyone is kind. Hurricanes are real. Jobs are lost. No, life is not easy, but when you have trusted God with your life, He goes with you. When we trust God with the challenges we face, He presents amazing opportunities for us to grow. If we are open to growing, He will grow us.

How big do you allow God to be in your life?


Never Alone…

Yesterday morning as I sipped much needed coffee and waited for the rest of my group to arrive, I did one of my favorite things-people watching. 

People in for their morning jolt of caffeinated energy. Men in business suits. One man who I overheard sharing with his friend that his wife was mad at him. A nurse grabbing food before her long day. 

All this hustle and bustle in and out, so few able to take time to leisurely sit down and enjoy their morning. 

Me, taking the luxury to enjoy the few minutes before the rest of my group arrived.

My mind wandered to many thoughts, one being the culprit cause of my recent sleeping challenges.

Anxiety.

What is the root behind anxiety? 

Fear.

Fears of failure, messing up, losing something or someone…and so on. When those fears take root, they grow. They begin to feel so very real. The heavy breathing, the racing heart, waking up in the middle of the night, or not even being able to sleep at all.

Been there, done that.

Why do so many of us allow fear to consume us?

We live in a world filled with so much uncertainty. The one thing that remains the constant is Christ. He is our Provider, and our Protector. He loves us so much.

I attended Day 1 of the Global Leadership Summit yesterday. As I listened to these great leaders, I was reminded of so many important things. Failure is not always a bad thing. The willingness to be vulnerable can be a catalyst for success. Change hows into wows.

What was reinforced for me is the importance of connection, transparency, and openness. Great leaders are humble and learn from mistakes. They nurture and bulid up others.

They don’t rest in anxious thoughts.

What fears do you have? I hear so many people share that they struggle with anxiety. Understanding our fears and the reasons behind them is powerful. It helps open our hearts to true change.

I want to be a leader whose eyes are open to my growth opportunities.

The most reassuring thing of all? Life is far from perfect, but we are never alone. When anxiety sets in, He is right there to meet us where we are and carry us through.

I am looking forward to Day 2 of the Global Leadership Summit. To learn more, check out…Global Leadership Summit

Exposed

I am on vacation. So, why, oh why does my body insist on me being awake at 6:30? 🤔 And to add to this, there is a time change so it was really just 5:30 when I popped out of bed, mind already racing with thoughts.

We are staying in a restored farmhouse tucked away in the woods. Our friends whose son is also from the same orphanage as our son are here with us. It is a great time of fellowship with family and friends.

I find that I best disconnect from my day to day life in places like this. I need to be in the nature, away from the noises of the world. 

This morning, sleep is eluding me so I have escaped to the basement. Here, it is quiet…just me and my thoughts.

Down here, I look up at the ceiling. Everything is exposed. Nothing is hidden.

Have you ever felt like this? My friend and I have talked about feeling as though our lives are being peeled away layer by layer much like an onion. As I pray to grow closer to God, things about myself, areas in my life, suddenly feel very exposed.

The definition of expose is to make something visible. When things and areas in our lives become exposed even if just to our own awareness, it can leave us feeling vulnerable. Typically, I think most people would agree, this doesn’t feel good. When we feel emotions of guilt, shame, anxiety, weakness…it doesn’t feel very comforting. 

I came across this passage in the Psalms…

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Point out anything in me that offends you,

and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24

The psalmist was inviting God to search his thoughts, to expose anything of offense. Why would he ask this knowing God already knows? I believe when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, when we willingly invite God to examine our hearts and lives, I believe He will expose areas in our lives that may feel much like layers of an onion being peeled back.

I look up at the open ceiling again. I can see the light bulb. I see wires, a nail, a cobweb. Nothing is hidden from my sight. 

Are we willing to be this transparent with God? With others whom we trust who can help us grow? 

Feeling exposed isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is what we do with these feelings that makes all the difference in our lives. When we understand how our behaviors and feelings impact our motivations and actions, then we can understand and begin to make changes.

For example, being told I second guess myself by someone initially upset me, but as I prayed and reflected over it, I have been able to see and understand the reasons I have second guessed myself and to now change my thinking.

Being brave enough to confront our areas of exposure in our lives can open doors to some exciting opportunities for personal, professional, emotional, and spiritual growth. Keeping a prayer journal, having a prayer partner, and spending time with God in spaces where you can disconnect from the flow of life even if just for a few minutes, will help funnel exposure into growth.

Are you willing to invite God to search your heart and thoughts? You don’t have to walk this journey alone.

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