November Thankful

November 2

I am thankful for things I take for granted. I am able to breathe, see, hear, speak, taste, feel, walk, have all my body parts, have a roof over my head, food to eat, drive a car, work a job, use running clean water, electricity, have a healthy family, clothes and shoes, an education, the privilege to vote, freely speak, read the Bible and pray in public. There is more to add to this list. In honesty, despite how emotional or anxious I may feel in a day, I can be thankful for something.

The Promise to I Made to Myself on Another Year of Life

I don’t feel I have ever been a competitive person. (Okay, I’m definitely a sore loser, when I play my husband in Scrabble and “accidentally” knock over the board 🤣 when he is winning or when the L.A. Kings play and lose-a lot.)

I enjoying seeing others succeed. This world does not reward my mindset. As I am one year older today, I decided that my life belongs to God and whatever He plans for me, is what I need to finish. I still have dreams of being a published writer. If it happens great, if not, then everything will still be okay.

The story of “The Tortoise and The Hare” has been with me my entire life. That story was on my birthday in the 365 day story book, I had as kid. This morning, on my birthday, it was on my daily meditation.

So, today I surrender and accept it now.

Focus on What Matters

#163 Blog Post-Focus on What Really Matters

“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” Proverbs 4:25

Our minds conjure up some strange thoughts sometimes. These thoughts can become beliefs and take control of our lives. It is best to take a few moments and reevaluate what matters.

A couple of months ago, I was in a doctor’s office waiting room with my daughter. There was a family who came out after the doctor’s office. The parents were discussing their 6-year-old twin sons’ appointment. The father bragged to their mother about how their boys were in the 95th percentile for height. He went on and on about how tall they maybe when they hit adulthood.  

Children’s development is a popular topic of conversation amongst parents. I remember when my daughter was younger, all of those milestones and percentiles seemed so important. Many parents loved to brag how their child learned how to walk or even read before most. My daughter was born three full weeks early. It took a while for her to catch up on some of these milestones. I used to get scared that she was slightly behind. It dawned on me one day, would this even matter when any of it would occur? Would she be at her college graduation, and they would announce how she learned how to read at age three or walked at ten months? Of course not!

This comparison game tears us apart. When we get caught up in everyone’s accomplishments, we lose sight of what matters. Are our children healthy? Are they becoming more independent and making the right decisions? Are we living in the moment and have gratitude for the beautiful things in our lives? Do we remember how God has carried us through difficult times and set us free from sin and shame?  

Our lives are temporary. Life moves so quickly. The writer Gretchen Rubin said, “The days are long, but the years are short.” If someone cuts you off in traffic, they won’t matter to you tomorrow. If your child learns a skill after the rest of their classmates, the child still learned it. What is your focus on today? It may mean different things to people, but that focus should help us not hurt us. For me, seeking God in my life’s details helps me focus on what matters.

Lesson Learned: Adjust your focus to what matters.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for comparing my life to others. Thank you, Lord, for life, you have blessed me. Help me know what is worth my thoughts. Thank you for everything I take for granted. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

I’m Just Not Feeling It and That’s Okay

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. -Psalm 40:1-3

 

My mentor told me that from ages 38-52 years old, many go through a life change. I imagine this change to be amazing, a chance to become what God created me to be in this life. However, it doesn’t feel that way. It hurts — a lot.  

 

There are many things I used to enjoy that I don’t anymore. There are relationships I have had with friends that have ended. Many of my interests aren’t interesting to me anymore. Right now, I do not know what I want or like, and that frightens me. I usually love writing; except recently, I haven’t had a desire for it. It scares me because this is what I want to do. In the past few months, I wanted to give up. It feels like a midlife crisis of some sort. But one thing I know is that God is faithful, and there is a reason for all this change.

 

Sometimes I wonder, “where are you, Lord?” Even King David, in the book of Psalms, wondered where the Lord was in his times of grief and despair. David was faithful, though. Me, not so much. When I am in the midst of change, it is hard to see the outcome. The enemy comes and distracts me from what I should be doing to get there. 

 

I feel pressure to perform and to pan every second of my life.  But, I cannot know until I try and even possibly fail. Failure isn’t always a waste of time. It can also be the opposite of regret.

 

If you feel like giving up, please do not! Doubt and worry are the enemy’s tools for stopping us from attaining God’s purpose for us.  I want things done quickly and easily. But God does not ever do anything in a hurry. He moves in His timing. May you take shelter in the mighty arms of our God.

 

Lesson Learned: Change is inevitable and necessary. Allow God to work it out.

 

Prayer:

‘Dear Heavenly Father, help me in my times of need. Give me endurance and energy to make it through tough times. Thank you for your protection. May your will be done. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

How to Manage Anxious Thoughts

“We destroy thoughts and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

What do you do with your thoughts in times of uncertainty? Are they helpful or harmful? Unfortunately, my thoughts have been unhealthy.

Those anxious thoughts affect me mentally and physically. I can feel my body sink into pain and suffering. My imagination runs wild with every bad scenario it creates. Those around me feel my tension.

A few months ago, I had to let go of a friendship. I had many trepidations throughout the relationship that I had been used and manipulated. Somehow I thought I was the source of the problems. Thankfully it was brought to my attention that it was them, not me.

After our last conversation, I had a lot of anger because I was unable to say what I wanted to say. For the next couple of weeks, I thought about this person. These thoughts woke me up in the middle of the night. In the day, I would get so upset and feel that anger burning in my face and stomach. It was not healthy.

How I Chose To Manage The Anxious Thoughts

As I came to terms with the lost friendship, I saw this quote from Dr. Caroline Leaf from her book, “Switch on Your Brain.” “As we think, we change the physical nature of our brain as we consciously direct our thinking, we can wire out toxic patterns of thinking and replace them with healthy thoughts.” So, I made a decision. Every time I thought of this person, I said, “I choose to forgive them, and I wish them well. And I am thankful I do not need them in my life.” I said this countless times over the next few days. The thought of them faded, and my thoughts were not held captive anymore. I felt light and free.

I wish I could say, I never think of this person anymore, but once in a while, I do. Now, I make that choice not to dwell or ruminate over them. It is not worth it. I have people ask me when we will reconcile. If God wants me to change the relationship status, then so be it. But I know now is not the time.

Life changes are beyond our control. People or things move in and out of our lives, whether we want them to or not. We can retrain ourselves. It is worth the hard work to take every thought captive.

 

Lesson Learned: Take those thoughts captive and dwell on the better things.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, I chose to forgive those who have wronged me. I release that burden onto you, Lord. Forgive me for any pain I have caused on others and myself. I take every thought captive and chose to focus on you, Father God. Heal the wounds and fill those voids with your love, grace, and mercy. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Accepting How God Created You to Be

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”  Psalm 139:13

Every day, they are messages that bombard us that we are not enough.  Our bodies and faces, material possessions, or bank accounts need improvement.  We see advertisements for products that could improve every area of our lives. Instead, we have emptier wallets and growing dissatisfaction.

We are unhappy due to the comparison game.

In college, I took a walking exercise class.  I made two friends in the class. We would talk about college, boys, and our plans when we graduated.  Both young women were pretty. I was suffering from an eating disorder at the time and wished I could look like either one.  

They would always talk about their encounters with men.  I did not want my dating life to resemble either one of theirs, but I figured if I looked like either gal, I would have a date.  One of them was petite and blond named, Jenny. Everywhere we walked, strangers would stare at her or try to talk to her. She would giggle and flirt back.

One day at the end of class, another fitness class was finishing up.  Jenny said, “see that woman over there? I think she has the perfect body and I would do anything to look like her.”  I said, “are you kidding me; you’re just fine the way you are! You have guys coming to your beck and call.” She said, “well, I don’t like how I am. I prefer to look like her.”

When we deny God’s will for us, discontent grows in our lives.

Her statement caught me off guard.  How could she think that way about herself?  But here I was, doing the same thing. I didn’t like myself and wanted so desperately to change.  I would have given an organ to look like and weigh the same as Jenny. So many of us women believe, we are not enough and we need to lose a little here, enhance over here, dye our hair, erase some forehead wrinkles, or rejuvenate some other areas.  It is an endless, horrible path.

Last Sunday in church, my pastor said something that reminded me of our discontent with our lives.  He said, “You only have one race to run. A call upon your life that has been ordained by God.” When we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we must allow God to fulfill His will for us.  We are disappointed when we don’t have what someone else has, and we complain about how we want better. God knows what we need.

Accept God’s Will for Your Life.

When we accept that God is in control and has a will for our lives, we can finish that race, strong.  We don’t need to be discontent with ourselves. The changes we may have to make are our actions or behaviors, so it aligns with the will God had ordained for us.  We are all valuable and have a purpose and a plan for our lives. May we listen and accept that plan as God reveals it in our lives.

 

Lesson Learned: God made you.   Accept how God created you to be so that you can carry out His will in your lives.  

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the plan and purpose you have for my life.  Show me what that plan is so that I may carry it out. Help me finish the race well. Let me be your hands and feet.  Forgive me for comparing myself to others. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

A Mini Manifesto on How to Handle Anxiety

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 

Our thoughts can give us hope and renew our faith.  In dealing with anxiety, depression, or fear those negative thoughts can destroy our well being.  If you are stuck in that negative thought pattern, it becomes a habit to think the worst. We can defeat ourselves before we even try.

I understand that I must let go of things that are out of my control.  However, I never knew how to do that. People say, “just let it go.” But we all know, it is not so easy.

I have embarked on the process of becoming a more healthy person, especially mentally.  I have come to learn how to let things go. There are several things I have actively pursued in trying to let go.   Thankfully, I am beginning to see a good outcome.

 

A Mini-Manifesto on How to Handle Anxiety

 

#1 Prayer and Meditation

A therapist suggested to me that I use meditation to ground myself and learn how to be more aware.  As a Christian, I fought the practice of meditation because a lot of the experts in the field study other religions.  But as the anxiety affected my daily life, I decided to try it.

My medical insurance offered on their website, meditation practices.  There was a woman who narrated the practice. She didn’t sound weird, never used any religious tones.  It was about breathing and grounding myself. Then, I researched and learned about apps that have guided meditation.  I found Headspace, Calm, and Abide. Abide is a Christian app, while the other two are not. I cannot tell you, how much meditation has changed my life.  It has helped me become more aware, to stop those racing thoughts, and even helped me to pray with focus.

Another thought I carry with me in times of despair is that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did not suffer and die on the cross for us to live fearfully and in a constant state of panic! Jesus wants us free from that burden and bondage.

I usually wake up in the middle of the night and begin to think about all the bad stuff around me.  I think of every possible scenario of how to attack anything wrong that could come my way. This thought pattern would keep me awake for hours.  One night, I woke up and thought about something. About a minute into the negative thought, I realized, there is nothing I can do about this at 2:00 in the morning, so the best thing I can do for myself is fall back asleep. Honestly, I surprised myself with that thought. I knew that meditation was helping me.

 

#2 Being Kind and Gentle with Oneself

My inner voice can be a real jerk.  I know this stems from fear of failure and perfectionism. Our perception becomes clouded from social media. We see friends/people’s good sides, fake and inflated, and we become dissatisfied with our life.  Dissatisfaction is the purpose of advertising and marketing. Hate where you are at because something new is better and leave no room for contentment.  I had a friend say to me, “if I spoke about myself the way you speak about yourself, you would be so mad at me.” We can be our own worst enemy. I realized that most of the things I am upset about, will not matter in weeks, months or years.

 

#3 Deepening Your Relationship with God

Relationships take work.  We can pray to God like He is a genie fulfilling our every wish and command or we can learn about God through reading/studying The Bible, worship, and prayer.  We fill our lives with other things that we think will help when God is waiting for us to turn back to Him. However, my faith increases when I remember all that God has done for me.

 

#4 Self-Care and Therapy

Self-care is different for everyone.  It has been suggested to me to take a bubble bath and get a pedicure; I’d rather not.  I would much rather be in nature alone or take a day to rest. Regularly, I see a therapist and a physical therapist to help my mind and body.  There is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself. If you take care of yourself, then you can take care of others. Remember in an emergency on an airplane, put your oxygen mask on first, then assist others.  The same goes for taking care of yourself.

 

#5 Find a Creative Outlet

Hey, all you artists, singers, writers, and dancers, etc.!  Find a hobby or dive deep into your talents. It feels cathartic to me to write.  It helps to get it out into an art form.  If you have trouble finding your inner artist, I highly recommend this book, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.

 

#6 Forgiveness

Unforgiveness will eat you alive if you don’t address it.  Learning to forgive is difficult, but I found a way to do it.  Forgive and forget isn’t plausible in every situation; there are different levels of forgiveness.  1.) A person can forgive and remain in contact with the person and move on past the issue together. 2.) A person can forgive but never speak or see the person ever again because they died or they are dangerous.  And 3.) a person forgives, interacts with them but keeps a solid boundary. Jesus’ ministry is about reconciliation. When you drudge up the past, gossip about the person, or always think about the sin, it will not serve you well.  Your body will feel like it is re-living the moment again. Take the time to work through it, and God will heal your heart.

 

#7 Help in the Moment of the Attack

An anxiety attack can feel like you are about to die.  Your entire body goes into fight or flight mode. Your breath is shallow, your heart races, you sweat, and experience pain and loss of control.  There are a couple of ways that I learned to calm down the anxiety attack: cover your left eye and breathe and the other is to ground yourself by engaging in your senses.  

There is something about covering your left eye that stops your brain from engaging in the attack.  Your left eye controls the right side of the brain as the right eye controls the left side of the brain.  When the left eye is covered, the right side of your brain takes over, and your analytical side comes through and sees the situation for what it is.  You are probably not in immediate danger. After a few slow cleansing breaths, the feeling should reside.

If you feel an attack coming on but still feel like you are in control, start to engage all of your senses.  First, look at something around you that seems pleasant.

Take a moment to look at it and see the joy it brings.  Find something to smell that is pleasant. Just note the scent, but don’t dwell on it.  Listen to sounds you hear around you, people talking or laughing, a bird chirping, footsteps.  If you have access to a taste, like mints in your pocket or a piece of gum, savor it. I have used, Bach’s Rescue Remedy Pastilles to chew on when I began to feel anxious.  Lastly, touch something you have nearby. I have run my fingertips along the zipper of my purse. Others I have known have kept a smooth rock from the beach with them to touch when they feel anxious.  Whatever you need to do to feel calm, do it!

 

You can do this!

 

Actively working through the anxiety will make your triggers feel less heightened.  The good news is, with practice, it does get easier. I have found myself calm in situations now, that used to set off anxiety.  

For some reason, I get triggered by standing in line at a busy grocery store. I have left a cart full of food in the store and ran out of a store because the anxiety was so hard.  Movie theaters used to make me claustrophobic and panic-stricken and dental visits. Lord knows I would have a panic attack before, during, and after the appointment. Yesterday, I sat through a dental appointment that required two fillings. Every so often, I could feel the panic come up. But I told myself, I have not worked so hard to let this overtake me anymore. And thankfully, I made it through and enjoyed the rest of the day.

I hope that something listed speaks to you and can put you on the path of healing.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I put my faith and trust in you.  Lord, it says in your word numerous times, to not worry and to meditate on what is true and noble.  I entrust my life in your capable hands. Remind me all you have carried me through in my life. Give me grace with myself and remove this negative bias that things will not get better.  I know that Jesus did not die and suffer on the cross for me to be in an anxious state. Thank you for this new life, in Jesus’ Name AMEN!”

 

*Disclaimer-I was not paid by any company for the products or apps I suggested in this post.  

No Record of Wrongs

“It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured.”  1 Corinthians 13:5

 

Jesus came to the Earth to die for our sins.  His ministry was of reconciliation. Once the sin was confessed, it was forgiven, and healing would take place.  However, we get in the way of that. We say we forgive but we hardly forget.

 

A couple of weeks ago, professional golfer, Tiger Woods played in The Masters golf tournament. He won the tournament and it was hailed as his comeback.  He was back on top. The crowds at the tournament and the media were in adoration. A few years ago, the adoration was not there for Tiger, just hate and ridicule.  And I was a part of that.

 

When I was in college, Tiger Woods turned pro.  I was so excited because he was multiracial, like me and he just seemed like one in a million. Tiger Woods did exceptionally well. He grew more famous, wealthy, and popular.  Everything seemed like it was going for him. Then things began to crumble.

 

Tiger had a few rough years, where he sustained a lot of injuries and required many surgeries.  His personal life became front news because of his extra marital affairs and prescription drug abuse.  Tiger seemed to have everything and not appreciate it. I didn’t want him to succeed anymore.  

 

As The Master tournament progressed, there was word that Tiger could win the whole thing.  Part of me, was rooting for him, but memories of his infidelity came up and the excitement wore off.  Tiger came up to the last hole of his round and he was a few strokes away from winning. God said, “Aren’t you glad I don’t throw all your forgiven sins in your face?” Oh the conviction.

 

After winning, he ran to his family and hugged his son so tight.  You could see the love he had for his son. I was genuinely happy for Tiger.  He looked so relieved and had much appreciation for this victory. We don’t know the authentic side of famous people.  They are people with feelings and regrets. Tiger probably made his peace and asked for forgiveness from those who he hurt.  

 

When we hurt someone, we would not want them to keep record of our wrongs. And when it happens to us, it is important for us to not do that either.  Our health depends on learning and practicing true forgiveness.

 

Everyone loves a good comeback.  But sadly, these same people love to harass and bully relentlessly of someone who did something bad.  Unforgiveness, is detrimental to one’s health. It may be safer sometimes to not have certain people in our lives.  But forgiveness is still necessary. In the wise words of Jay Shetty, “Sometimes you just have to be done. Not mad, not upset.  Just done.”

 

If you need to make a comeback, forgiveness is a good place to start.  If someone has righted their wrongs, allow yourself to forgive them and not remember their wrongs.

 

Lesson Learned: Jesus died for our sins, so we don’t have to remain in bondage to sin or to stay in unforgiveness.  Forgiveness is necessary.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, reveal to me people who I need to forgive.  Help me let go of the pain. Renew my mind, so that my thoughts are honorable.  Heal my anxieties and fear towards people. For every tear that was shed, thank you for redeeming me from the pain.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

 

Spring Forward

“But the path of righteousness is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.”  Proverbs 4:18

 

Springtime brings forth growth and possibilities.  We see it in nature with beautiful blooming flowers and the birth of baby animals.  The winter snow begins to thaw and we feel like we can take a breath. I feel renewed during this time of year (along with my allergy medication).

 

The time change happens this time of year, as well.  Though, this is no fun. I feel like I have jet lag for 3 weeks until my body adjusts.  After the adjustment, though, I feel like I have energy and motivation to do better.

 

One morning, I woke up to the words, “Spring Forward!”.  It felt like bolt of electricity and it jolted me to sit up quickly in bed.  I knew it was the Lord. I don’t know who the word was for, but I knew it was important and I had to share it.  There was a sense of joy and confidence from that term. Usually, when I hear “Spring Forward”, I think of the dreaded time change.  However, this time, I knew it was a comforting word from the Lord.

 

I feel there is a shift in the atmosphere for a lot of us.  This is the time, where many things we have been waiting for or working towards, will happen in this season.  We must remain alert and open to hearing direction from God.

 

There is no time to quit.  The work of God will be complete.  Remain hopeful and expecting for this season.  

 

Lesson Learned:  When you hear a word from the Lord, test it out and share it with others!

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for ears to hear and eyes to see and a heart open for towards you.  I am blessed to hear you, Heavenly Father. Help me remember what you say and direct my ways. Thank you for renewal, restoration, and answered prayers.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”