Tag Archives: anxiety

Beholding Beauty

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I’ve been doing a lot of ocean listening, star gazing, and remembering. I’ve been remembering how big the ocean is and how much bigger it’s Creator must be. I’ve been remembering how many stars I can see each night barely touches the beginning of how many we cannot yet, in this moment of time, see. I’ve been listening to the tide come in, and watch it go out again, just to return yet again, and I’ve wondered, does anything really change? I’ve enjoyed watching the dawn of a new day. My soul has danced with each sunrise, unique in it’s own push and pull with the clouds and sea, wondering what show will be displayed that morning. (What a marvelous event to have a front row seat to!) Surging through my being was the hope of a new day, a new beginning, as light pierces darkness. I’ve also longingly witnessed day turn into night, bringing forth its own beautiful nature that I can’t seem to get enough of. Light and dark. Sunrises and bright twinkling starlight. Light and dark. Once again I find myself convinced, it takes both to behold beauty.

So what is beauty? Why do I long for it so? How can I bring it? Embrace it? Then I remember that the greatest light in the darkness is Jesus. I remember that He has called me by name,and I answered, “My life is Yours Lord, send me!” But how and why was I able to? It was because of others who had heard about Him and received His great love, and were shining their light into my darkness. Now that the Light of the World lives in Me, it’s my time to bring light into other’s darkness. What could be more beautiful than that?

Isaiah 52:7 proclaims,”How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!” As beautiful as the stars in the night sky or the sun breaking night’s darkness, ushering in new beginning are to us, our feet going out to bring His light into the darkness in anyone’s life that we are connected to, is so entirely beautiful before the Lord! Light and darkness. It takes both to behold beauty.

This beauty of the oceanfront changes me. It changes my demeanor, my thinking, my hope for the future. It beings me peace and tremendous joy. God’s beauty poured out through us into the world, has similar but vastly greater effects on anyone who can see it, and begins to find themselves longing for it.

Tide comes in, goes out, and comes in again. Does anything really change? I’ve truly pondered that, and I arrived at a resolve, its us who change. We change all of the time, but it’s only by wisdom that we steward our change by choosing to be transformed through God’s Word, yielding to His leading and authority. Change is always happening, even though many things occur without fail, many things do not. I’ve decided, I want to be the change. I want the light I carry to pierce darkness with such power, that not only a new day, but  entirely new creations are made.

2 Corinthians 5:17 encourages us, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away; behold, the new has come into being.”

Lord, as the beautiful sun you have created breaks darkness and brings us a new beginning, allow me to so reflect your Son, to pierce darkness and cause a new beginning in other’s lives. May my life shine as bright as the stars in someone’s darkness bringing the relief of beauty to a soul long sickened with grief and suffering. May I not fear darkness, but rejoice in an opportunity to shine Your tremendous light into it.May I take courage to share the dark seasons of my soul that led me to this Great Light to encourage the hurting, God is not afraid of your darkness! May Your great love flow through me so purely, that all the old will be washed away as the tide goes out. May the rising tide coming in bring FREEDOM. I see You everywhere I look. I feel you in the breeze. I hear you as these waves roar with power. And I’m lost for words by Your might and Your beauty. All I can utter is, I need You Lord! Help me! I love You! In Jesus’ name I ask these things, Amen.

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Shame is a Liar

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Have you ever tripped over shame? One minute you’re fine, all is good, and the next you are swirling, having a hard time remembering anything true, and you just feel……That’s indicator number one- you begin being held captive by thoughts that are purely emotional. Play gets pressed on the shame tape, beginning these cyclical thoughts of how much you aren’t, how much everyone else is, and what you’ve wasted, maybe you start looking for someone to blame, and soon there you are, beat up and exhausted. Done. You might hear at the end of this battle you believe you’re losing: “Now look, you’ve even wasted this time, you loser!” YUCK! Shame is a liar!

I went through a bought of this hard earlier this summer. It seemed like everywhere I looked, everyone was doing better than me in every facet of life. All I could hear in my mind was how much I was lacking in comparison to everyone else. I felt alone, stupid, empty, and ashamed of being me. Indicator number 2- comparison. Comparison will always lead to death. A slow, horrifyingly painful, murder scene of who you truly are, what you’ve been called to do, and the gifts you bring to the world. Satan comes to steal- and comparison is a crafty con-man who needs to be caught and sentenced for LIFE!

So how do we catch this con team of shame, swirling emotions, lies, and comparison? The Lord has given me a arsenal, that I am hoping will be helpful to someone else.

1) STAY IN GOD”S WORD! The only was to discern a lie, is to know the Truth. And God promises, the Truth will set you free. This will feel like the last thing you want to do when you are feeling so bad about yourself, but its the first and most important thing you can do to stop the lies from having a place in your mind.

2) Journal with Jesus. Sounds simple, but this one step has proved to be one of the most powerful, freeing, aspects of my life. For me, I simply pour out my heart on the page, sharing it all with Him (He knows it all anyways, no use trying to pretend with God!) And then I ask Him, “What are you saying about this? What is true? Would it please You to share anything with me?” Then, I just start writing what I hear. I do not worry at that time, if it’s just me making it up, or if it is really Him. I just freely write what I’m hearing in my mind. I then ask Him to confirm what was Him, through His word. And He does!  There is no pressure to get it right, to be a perfect listener. He is so much bigger than our need to be perfect! He promises, “If you seek me, you will find Me!” So drop the perfectionism, and just seek.

3) Thanksgiving wins the war! I actively offer thanks to God! I look all day for what I can be giving thanks for! And I consider and pray for others all around the world who might not have as much to give thanks for as I do. THAT IS POWERFUL! Is your health fading? Pray for others who are suffering to! Is your money tight? Pray for the poor and needy and hungry around the world. Are your loved ones not following Christ? Pray for them, and for the nations where Christianity is unlawful. Look up, give thanks, consider then entire globe- cry out to God for your needs, and the needs of others!

4) Worship! When my thoughts are being attacked, and I can’t seem to slow them down. Worship usually unlocks peace, which unlocks gratitude, which unlocks JOY. From a place of Joy, by worshipping the God who IS in control, which means I don’t have to be, then I can begin to gain some victory over my thoughts, and fix my mind on only what is true, as we are taught to in Philippians 4.

5) Community. Pursue friendships with people who have God’s opinion of you. Know who is truly in your corner. Cultivate relationships that are deeply meaningful and spiritual. Not sure how to start? Find a small group, and start studying the Bible with other believers. Pray for God to send you the right friends. Pray for the friends you have. Humble yourself and ask for prayer and for help from friends. He will provide these gifts as you follow Him. We are part of One Body, and we all need each other!

If today, play has been pressed on the shame tape in your mind, let me encourage you right now, press stop. Tell God that you desire to get rid of that tape all together. Ask Him to open your ears to what Holy Spirit is saying over you and about you. Ask Him to show you His truth in His Word and through the saints in your life. Choose that today every time the tape tries to play again, you will meditate on a scripture,  sing worship songs, offer thanksgiving, ask others to pray for you, and pray for others around the world.

Shame may come armed with some friends, but you have The One True God, King of Heaven and Earth, The Most High, Almighty God with you! He wins the war! We are victorious in Him! He cares for you! And we will triumph together! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Tenderhearted??

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Philippians 2:1 Are your hearts tender and sympathetic?

I mean, honestly, it depends on the moment right? My heart might be tender and sympathetic if I just heard about a horrible, sad, occurrence that took place somewhere in the world. However,  if I just waded through the immense stress of the check out line with two small children, where the person in front of me had nine thousand coupons and it just happens to be the cashier’s first day, by time I get to my car, chances are my heart won’t be super tender.

Hmmmm. So what’s that about? Is my heart tender and sympathetic? What about if I get the opportunity to be offended? Or horrified? Or disgusted? Or inconvenienced? Or maybe all of the above? Lord, are you requiring that my heart always be tender and sympathetic? How is that even possible?

Pursuing this truth caused me to consider what the opposite of tender and sympathetic would be. Cold? Disconnected? Unforgiving? Hard? Unapproachable? Impatient? What do you think of when you consider the opposite? As I contemplated these words in relation to my heart, I began to understand the question the scripture begs more.

What is going on in your heart? “Pay attention to what triggers you to act opposite of Christ. This is where you need Me.” Oh, I see, this is not an opportunity to shame myself for (once again) not measuring up, falling so short of the standard. In fact, nothing the Lord calls us to, is that at all. Instead, each standard is only the sincerest beckoning to run to Him. Without Him, we cannot reach any standard of RIGHT, it’s only with Him and through His blood. But the good news, the very best news is, He never tires of lifting us up, carrying us through, reminding us, and encouraging us. He is faithful.

I asked Him for more. He showed me, Colossians 3:12, “Since God chose you (I mean we could stop right there! What a JOY!) to be His holy people, whom He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” As I meditated on this scripture, I was reminded of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit out of Galatians 5. Relief swooped in, I am called to clothe myself in who He is, but I don’t have to find it alone. I prayed, “Holy Spirit, fill me up afresh, I choose to put You on, so that when the world sees me, they will really see You. I need You more now, than ever before, and I know tomorrow I will need You even more.”

Sometimes, the enemy wants to aggravate us, to sidetrack, and distract us from what Jesus has called us to. Most often this will come through some opportunity to be offended, hurt, enraged, depressed, or totally overwhelmed. I choose to see that attack as a tip off: Ohhhhh, I have an important mission today, so my enemy wants me defeated. Then I use that to fuel my fire for this world knowing they are LOVED through and through, by Love, Himself.

My resolve will be modeled after Jesus’, as we find in Hebrews 2:2, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.”

I have a goal, to make Jesus by living for Him and with Him.  I will continue to study how Jesus did it by being connected to the Father in utter submission to His Will. I will continue to model my steps, my choices, and my beliefs,

after His. I will finish my race with endurance, by receiving all the Heavenly helps available to me. And with YOU! We will triumph together in Christ!

 

Not afraid of the dark

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I found myself thinking, “I can’t do this.” And I heard the reply within my spirit, “But I can.”

I knew immediately that Holy Spirit was ready to help me. He wasn’t ever expecting me to go at life apart from Him. He is not disappointed in my limits, or my humanness. He made me. He sees me, He knows me better than I know myself.

I listen to the words being read from Psalm 139, “but even in the darkness, I cannot hide from You. To You the night shines bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to You.”

As I hear those words, I consider how often I try to hide when it gets dark. I hear the lies that I can’t be Debbie Downer, and that they are all so sick of my sad story, my pain. But the truth is, God is not afraid of the dark. He will not avoid the dark seasons of the soul. He is ever near.

A friend told me, “Lately, I’ve been thanking God for laments.” To which I instantaneously replied, “I welcome laments from others, but generally despise them coming from me.” She said, “He doesn’t just welcome them, He delights in them.” With those words my heart stopped beating for a second.

Can you believe that? As I contemplated on that thought, I chose to believe it. God never tires of hearing from me. He knows me better than I know myself.  In fact, He lives inside of my heart. He is truly the only One who can fully KNOW me. Why wouldn’t He delight in me opening my heart to Him, even if when I open it what comes out is sorrow?

Psalms 56:8 says, “You keep track of my sorrows. You have collected all of my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.”

I asked, why? Why would You collect tears? If they are that important, maybe there is something powerful in them. I imagined God pouring out our tears into the gardens of our hearts, it was the very substance that brought tremendous growth, delivering incredible fruit.

As it continued, I saw my tears being poured out into the hearts of my children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren. I found myself understanding, just slightly more than before, why my life seems to require so many. Peace and resolve settled in.

Therefore today, I continue to give Him plenty to collect as an offering. I will lament to the Lord if the need arises. I will not try to hide. I choose to ask Him for help. He is showing up, and I’m finding relief.

Resolve to choose joy while simultaneously experiencing what I need to, to be real. Joy doesn’t have to look like happy. Joy is believing in my great salvation in Christ Jesus, and all of it’s benefits, which will never change due to earthly hardships.

Romans 8:18 encourages us, “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.”  Joy unspeakable, not hiding in the dark, being genuine, and asking for help. Today will be victorious and my future looks brighter than I can imagine. Praise the Lord!

Just a little more, and then……

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I’m hungry. I’m hungry to create something. Something that matters. I find myself desperate to be a part of something beautiful. To create beauty. To join in. To be a part. I want to write something that will change the world as we know it. I want to paint something that will heal a broken heart and bring the walking dead back to life. I want to be great! I want to do something inspiring and amazing.

I cry out to God! Here I am! Send me. But its more like waving my arms, as in, don’t forget me. I want to be used mightily. And He smiles, turns me around, and shows me the life I already have. He shows me how He has called me and sent me. He sent me to be his wife, and their mother, their teacher, their friend, their daughter, their sister, their confidant. I am called. I am called right here in the place that I’m already in.

Why doesn’t it feel like it’s the GREAT I desire? Why does it feel so insignificant? Why do I always feel this sense of wanting something MORE? It like a constant nagging, that even though I can’t put my finger on it, what I have is not enough. Discontent. Exhaustion. dissatisfaction. He reminds me that all I have right now, began in a place of prayer. I asked for this life, for these callings. And He answered.

You see, I believe this “not enough” sickness is a ploy from our enemy to steal our joy. To steal our moments, to steal our hope. I believe that, at least for me, comparing what I am called to, to what others are called to, is one of the most exhausting parts of this cancerous not enough plague. I have decided to declare war on not enough. I have decided to embrace what I have in my hands and heart, and offer it up to God in thanks.

I choose today to sow my whole self into what is already before me. I choose to no longer wait for the great. I choose to put my full weight into the great that is now. Today, exactly where I am, exactly what I have and what I don’t, is enough. I will honor God by honoring all of the ones He has entrusted me with.

Father, please keep turning me around to see the beauty of the life before me. Help me to guard my heart and mind from thinking everyone else has it better, or simply just easier, than I do. Help me to rejoice in the beauty that is my life, status quo. I trust You with my life, with my present and future. Thank You for covering my past. I admit that all I need more of, is You. Bless me with Your presence and truth all day long today, my daily bread. I see you, and I want more of You. In Jesus’ Mighty name I pray, Amen.

Rush rush rush

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Rush. Rush from wake-up to the gym. Rush from wake the kids up to get the little one  off to school. Rush from the school to back home to homeschool the bigger one. Rush to pick up the little one. Rush home to make lunch. Rush to have “quality time” before nap time. Oh, I have to work during nap time, rush to get that all set up. Oops, the house is a wreck, quick quick, hurry hurry, clean it up before anyone comes. Rush to clean up after work, and then to get them fed. Laundry, oh theres always laundry. Did you really just spill the entire container of ____________. No we don’t glue that to walls! Now where is my magic eraser? Little brother has a stinky diaper. Is this day over yet? Wait, now I have to prepare for tomorrow. Rush to get it all ready. Rush to fall asleep so I don’t start tomorrow tired.

Rush. Somehow, it has become my lifestyle and I did not even notice the switch. You see, I am not a natural rusher. I like to go slow and take my time. Like so slow, and usually in the left lane, and I make rushing people even more stressed than they were. (It’s ok if you hate me a little more now. I get how bad that habit is. I’m in process people!) Usually, I allow things to go undone so I can cherish the people in front of me (because like all of you incredible multitasking women,God did not give me that gene.) I tend to play on the floor with my kids, create art, build towers, play silly games, and be in the moments. This is the only way I know to be.

But something happened this week. My husband took my older child with him, so I did not have to rush home and get school started. I dropped my little curly headed cutie off, said my, “Good Morning, how are you,” to all the women I wished I had time to get to know, and began rushing back to my vehicle. That’s when the Holy Spirit nudged me, “Where are you rushing to?” I literally just stopped walking, and realized, I had no where to be. (Sure I could always find plenty to do, but nothing I particularly HAD to do at a certain time.) He continued, “Go back to that woman you wished you had time to get to know, and see how she is doing.” So I did, and we had breakfast,and we cried a little (maybe I cried a lot) and it was like finding hidden treasure. I began to ask the question, “Jesus, what’s with this rushing stuff?

He gave me this acronym:

R-esisting

U-seful

S-tillness

H-abitually

He began to show me that He has been trying to teach me to be, “Patient in trouble, and always be prayerful.” Well I’m learning that to me, trouble is anything that feels dangerous because it’s out of my control, which happens to be (ahem) L-I-F-E. So be patient in life, and always be prayerful? He began to show me that rushing through all that has to get done, is a (dangerous) way of coping with the fear that you will fail at it all. He began surrounding me with women who were feeling led of the Lord to “remove a plate,” in their lives so they too, could slow, and release the overwhelm a little. So the next question was a simple, natural progression: What is stillness then?

S-avoring

T-ime

I-nstead of

L-osing

L-ife

So now I’m returning to the land of allowing the Holy Spirit to have control over my moments. I have a plan, but its flexible. Lord, here is what I think I’m doing today and who I am doing it with and for, but You get to write this story. In the midst of these important pieces being handled, if You want to send me help, help me to accept it. If You have a divine interruption, help me to recognize it and let go of my control. If I can let go of something to be more available to my moments, show me and give me the courage I need to lay it down. Help me to let go of the notion of failure/success like those are my only two options. Help me to see, admit, and embrace, that it’s always both. I’m growing, I’m becoming, and that is beautiful.

So friend, I’m not sure if rushing has snuck its way into your life too, but I want to encourage you to ask the Lord. Ask Him to show you where you are missing the beautiful in order to not fail. Or if you are being drained dry anywhere and He wants to fill you up. Maybe see if you need to slow and learn the relief of stillness. I am actually being amazed by how much more I “accomplish” when my rhythm and pace matches the Lord’s. There is no life to be found where He isn’t present, so I’m officially done trying to race ahead of Him. Join me?

Rejoice

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Eyes open, first thought, I’m still tired. Next, oh well, you must keep marching on. Then, ok- I have so much to do, where do I even begin? Upon rising and brewing up hope for energy in a cup, I begin- already feeling behind. My whole day seems in the deficit. Not enough. Not enough energy, time, patience, self-control. All I see is lack. Everywhere. I hear the ‘shoulds’ in my mind. My children should know better. I should have exercised more. My house should be cleaner. Maybe I should be working. Should I wear this? Should my marriage be more? Should I serve others more? Should I have said that? I’m plagued, worn down, depleted. Day after day, the exhaustion, the frustration, just piles. I don’t even have energy to sort my piles. The piles eventually become a mountain. The mountain becomes hopelessness. How did I get here? How do I get out of this? Is this just normal life? Am I ever going to feel good again?

I sit with Jesus, and I say, “Lord, why do I always feel exhausted, frustrated, running behind? Is there hope for my future? Can I make a change? Is this what life will be like from now on?”

He showed me that He has poured out into my life blessings of every kind. He has given me salvation, life, health, food, shelter, friendship, love, hope, purpose, amongst many other things. He said that it was His delight to pour it out over my life, but that He cannot make me rejoice in it. He cannot make me actually enjoy, notice, celebrate, or rejoice in all that He has freely given me.

OUCH! As I heard this from the Lord, tears silently streamed down my face. I realized that, just like the Israelites, the Lord has provided abundantly for me and yet, I still find things to grumble and complain about. My heart broke and I repented before the Lord. I asked for grace to cover my selfishness and sin.

Repentance has two parts, turning from is first.  Turn from any destructive activity, belief, or motive that is less than the Truth. Then, turn towards something true, constructive, and motivated by love for ourselves and God.  My very next question, as I dabbed the tears from my cheeks, what how Lord? How do I replace my grumbling and complaining to rejoicing? What am I called to rejoice in? All I know to do, to find the answer, is search the scriptures.

First things first- He showed me that the word rejoice actually means to make oneself glad. It’s an action. It is up to me. None can make me glad but me.

Next He showed me was that the Scriptures call us to rejoice in the Lord, in our salvation, and in the righteousness we have been given in Christ, which makes having an intimate relationship with the Father possible. That alone, in my heart, is plenty to rejoice in for all time.

Finally, for my practical application, He gave me this scripture:

Deuteronomy 12:7

“There also you and your households shall eat before the LORD your God, and rejoice in all your undertakings in which the LORD your God has blessed you.”

I have to share that as I read this passage, my current perspective on the undertakings I’m tending to was in stark contrast to what this was calling me to. I was feeling like, “I have to ………” You can fill in the blank. Now as I read these words I saw that the things God has trusted me to tend to were actually blessings and to be rejoiced in doing. So my perspective shifted from I have to, to wow- God trusted me to do this.

He reminded me of all of those times I prayed, “God use me. Send me.” And showed me right now, this is the answer to that prayer!

I’m definitely not declaring that I never have bad moments or days, but I can say I believe this key of rejoicing is turning around my anxiety. Now a morning might look like this:

Wake up- Thank You Lord for another day of life. I have a lot on my plate today Lord, I admit right now that I will need You to do any of it well. Would you go with me and help me? Brew my coffee and anticipate what treasure He has for me in His Word that morning. What truth will I have to cling to as I live a life unto Him that day?

After my time with Jesus, the tape begins playing in my head of not enough. Now I am equipped to take whatever is not enough yet, and give thanks for it and ask the Lord to bless it. To thank Him for what I do have, and to hopefully expect an increase. In my rejoicing, the thoughts that used to defeat me, now lead me to prayer.

In the undertakings I’ve been blessed with, I’m so often aware that I alone am not enough. He has called me live a life beyond myself so I would need Him and others. Living out what I am called to leads me to relationships, which require love. The call on all of our lives is to love God and love others. I need Jesus, and I need you. And now, I rejoice in that! Join me?