4 things I want to leave in 2019

As I stare at 2020 I realize there are things I want to leave in 2019. Leave for good. This decade has been a hard one. It has been marked by financial strife, personal health issues, relationship problems and more moves than I would like to count.

As I reflect on what the decade has taught me there are some things that I want to leave in behind and not visit again.

By God’s grace this next decade will be the beginning of my life.

Strange statement seeing as I’m 44.

Obviously not new at this going around the sun thing. However, I have let life drag me along on this journey rather than taking charge and charting my life according to God’s will for me.

I’m done settling for less than God’s best for me.

Here are 4 things I am leaving in 2019

  • Self-doubt. I am a Child if the King, an heir with Christ. As such there is no reason for doubt to enter in. I will trust.
  • Quitting. If you want change and growth you cannot keep quitting those things that are stretching you. Fear is not a reason to stop. Growing weary is not a reason. What others think about it is not a reason. Keep going.
  • Intolerance of others. I expect more from some than they can give. I judge too harshly…not out loud, but in my mind and it affects my ability to love well.
  • Fear. I have lived most of my life in fear. Worry over what I cannot control. I am relinquishing this area to God and trusting in Him that I will overcome.

I’m not going to pretend that there will not be hard things to come in 2020 or even in this new decade as a whole. However, I know that with a change in perspective and a change in attitude that this next year and decade will be better than the last.

Through prayer and planning I aim for this decade to be God focused, kingdom minded, and light filled. How can it be anything else when my eyes are turned towards Him?

I am ready to begin my life now. Welcome 2020!

Relax, de-stress & take hold of God’s best

Can I be really honest here?  I am NOT good at de-stressing.  I don’t do REST well.

I’m really great at creating checklists, completing tasks and just getting stuff done.

Out the door by 6:30 a.m. to work, come home, cook, clean, run errands, play with the dogs, fall in the bed. Do it again tomorrow.

Why Not REST and DE-STRESS?

Just sit and be still for awhile. Admonishment from the hubby.

Take time to relax, go to the beach. Advice from my mom.

And she’s not wrong…I live 30 minutes to an hour from MULTIPLE beaches.

My excuse for not resting…for not unwinding and ridding myself of stress?

I have too much to do…I’m busy.

REST is as important as work.

One of the Core Values of our women’s ministry at my church is REST.  Therefore, as a leader I am earnestly working on improving in this area.

4 Things to help you de-stress and relax

Here are a few things I have found to be tried and true…to get me focused back on Him, settle myself into a place of calm, and just be.

  1.  PRAY. This always calms me down, no matter how out of control I feel.  Drawing close to my Father this way means peace in my heart. And sometimes that prayer is is simply silence. Just to sit and bask in His love for me is everything!
  2.  READ. Not just my Bible, although depending on what is stressing me, it is my first pick. But when I just need to zone and not think about things for a bit, I usually turn to one of three book types: faith-based, history (Civil War, Native American, Revolutionary War) or mystery books. Reading is my happy place – I have always, always loved a good book and even more I just love words.
  3.  GO OUTSIDE. Take a walk, or just sit on my patio. Take in nature. Consider all of the beautiful things the Lord has made. It never fails to calm me.
  4.  WATCH/LISTEN. Watch an uplifting movie (think Hallmark or inspirational films) OR listen to uplifting music. Taking my mind to a more positive place that allows me to decompress from stress. Inspirational music especially helps shift my focus from me and the busy I’ve allowed to cramp itself into my life. 

Relax, de-stress and take hold of God's best

Give God top priority

De-stressing and taking time to let go and loosen up reminds me that HE is the reason for everything and that all I do is to be done to His glory.

If too many other things are screaming for my attention it is time to let some of those things go. I only want to pursue His best for me.

And if I feel I cannot take relax time, de-stress, time, unwind and be with Jesus time, then He cannot give me those best things. I won’t have room.

I hope one of these will be helpful for you as you learn to de-stress better.  

Anxiety and God

Anxiety and God. This topic is one I’m trying to get more comfortable talking about. I’m learning how to define it in my life and how to normalize it for those around me.

And I’m learning how to cope with it.

I used to think that people who dealt with this particular issue just needed to get over it. Perhaps they needed to pray harder.

Then, what I was not able to understand in others, began to happen to me.

Anxiety.

Though mine was triggered via a traumatic event, looking back over my younger years, I can see traces of it throughout my life.

Anxiety’s Effects

Social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety are the two types I deal with.

Add these to a list of other chronic illness issues and life can feel really overwhelming some days.

Just getting dressed and getting out the door can feel like an insurmountable task.

Two choices emerge here. Let anxiety defeat me. Or let my God help me defeat it!

God’s Power In Us

We must remember that the power of the Holy Spirit, the very power that raised Jesus from the grave…LIVES IN US!

No matter how hard the day gets, I know that He is able. His word stands. His promises are true.

And that is my landing place. The safest space I know.

Anxiety and God

Scripture To Beat Anxiety

Here are some of my go-to verses when the anxiety tries to displace the light:

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” ( 1 Peter 5:6-7 KJV)

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6 HCSB)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6 HCSB)

“But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain.Selah” ( Psalm 3: 3-4 HCSB)

“I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, Lord, make me live in safety.” ( Psalm 4:8 HCSB)

Standing in the shadow of the cross, my world shines brighter.

Yours can too.

FREEDOM in the midst of Mental Illness

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If you deal with mental illness of any type, you know that feeling of being trapped.  Chained. Locked up in your mind.

Which leads to being locked up in other areas of your life.

Your heavenly Father does not intend for you to be a slave to ANYTHING.  He has paid the price to ensure your FREEDOM!

Is Mental Illness in the Bible?

And yet, even in the Bible there are stories of those who dealt with anxiety and depression. David. Elijah. Naomi. Job. Jeremiah.  I mean, come on, he was known as the “weeping prophet”!

In Psalm 34:18, David writes “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed” and in Psalm 69 he writes, “my eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to act.”

When Naomi returned to Bethlehem she said, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”

After having won a triumphant victory over the pagan Baal prophets, Elijah goes on in I Kings 19:4 to wish for his own death!

Imperfect people in an imperfect world facing trials, temptations and tribulations.

Just like me. Just like you.

Now, is where you might expect me to say “with Jesus you can overcome”, and while that is true, our human understanding of overcoming may not look like God’s understanding.

What do you do when “healing” doesn’t come?

Mental Illness is not like a cold, or the flu, or a stomach virus.  Often there is no 100% cure.  There is medication to manage the symptoms, counseling to manage the emotions and behaviors…but it is not a process that has an end.  It is a life-long journey for most.

So where does this “freedom” I  mentioned come from?  If you cannot be completely healed of this disease, how do you break away from the chains?

Here are 4 things I have found helpful in my journey:

  1. Worship in the whirlwind. Rather than focusing on the brokenness, focus on Jesus. Play your favorite worship music, sing to Him or simply sit in silence as you reflect inwardly on His goodness and grace.
  2. Stay in the Word. Reading your Bible is one of the best ways to combat feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and depression. Scripture reminds us of His promises, of His faithfulness. (Revelations 21:4 and Psalm 27:1 are two of my favorites!)
  3. Remember the battle is the Lord’s. He fights for us. And the fight is not just in the physical…it is spiritual.
  4. Talk about it. Not just to your counselor. To a trusted friend. To your pastor. To yourself…journal your journey. More people in the church need to hear about others struggling so we can get rid of the stigma around this.

Your FREEDOM is waiting!

God accepts you as you are. Jesus died for you while you were still apart from Him as a sinner. You. Are. LOVED.  Your mental illness cannot take that away from you.

And that love is where you will find your freedom. He can handle your pain. Your tears. Your anger. Give it to Him.  He will give you rest.

P.S. – Please get help if you are dealing with depression, anxiety and especially suicidal thoughts.  (National Hotline 1-800-273-8255)

If you have been diagnosed, please continue your treatments in addition to the tips given here. One is not a substitute for another. Work with your doctors, counselors and your Lord for your best results.

 

 

5 Important Promises When Everything Seems to be Wrong

I wrote this 4 years ago, after a 9/11 remembrance ceremony…

Goodnight my dear, lay down your head and drift away to dreamland
No fear here though we don’t forget we don’t dwell in sorrows
Tears made wet this sleepy space 14 years ago this night
Awakened to a new morn where the light did not shine as bright
Normal is not as it once was yet normalcy is regained
Bitterness lends way to a gentle pain
So close your eyes and know that there is safety to be found
Yes, peace and comfort, love again on this earthly ground
Store treasured memories in your heart to glimpse from time to time
The place where love and great loss were forever intertwined.

When we remember this event, do we simply pause on that date as so many did yesterday, then go on unchanged and untouched? 

Do we read a few stories, peruse a few updates on survivors and what they are still suffering through, and think “Wow, that is so sad”, yet, return to the everyday of our own lives, not really feeling much regarding the sorrow of these “others“?

We should never wallow in the pit, however, remembering what took us there and how God brought us out is important as there are lessons in those moments not to be missed.

Here are 5 Important Promises from God learned while in a “pit moment”:

  1. He will restore us.
  2. He will never leave us nor forsake us.
  3. He will make us overcomers.
  4. He will comfort us.
  5. He will sustain us.

Today’s headlines may not be about 9/11, as that day has been marked in passage for another year.  However, trials and tribulations abound in this fallen world where Satan roars about looking for someone to devour.

We will continue to experience dark times…yet when we run to the light of the Lord Jesus Christ we let that light of His glory shine through us in all the broken places.

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We gain healing, understanding and yes, even joy, when we stand on His promises.

Whatever you are going through today, rest in His arms knowing without doubt that He has your best interest in mind.  He is a good Father to His children and He is constantly at work on our behalf.