Making Waves

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalms 147:3

Certain situations rile me up with anxiety. A visit to the dentist guarantees an anxiety attack. It would upset me that I couldn’t go to the dentist without an issue. The shame was real. I would ask myself, “why couldn’t I get past this?”

A typical visit would entail sweating through my clothes, crying, or blacking out. I remember the dentist shaking me as she yelled my name and telling me to breathe. I gasped for air and came back. It was embarrassing and scary.

I experienced trauma as a child and adult from trips to the dentist. One hygienist yelled at me when I was seven years old. She said, “I will sit on you if you don’t stop moving around.” She was a large woman, too. As an adult, one dentist told me to never come back to his practice because he couldn’t handle me. Those situations, combined with the money I spent and the pain I endured, made dental visits unbearable.

As I sought therapy for anxiety, I worked on settling my nervous system and giving myself a lot of grace when I knew I had to face a difficult situation. I have to go to the dentist every four months to get my teeth cleaned and checked. My dentist is near the beach and a beautiful Outlet Mall. I decided after a dental visit, to go to the beach and do some grounding work by stepping into the sand and water and watch the waves go back and forth for about 15 minutes. Then I would get lunch at the Outlet Mall and walk around and window shop. After a few times of doing this practice, I soon looked forward to a trip to the dentist.

Here are some pictures of going to the beach after my last dental visit.

I never took a gentle, loving approach in dealing with difficult situations. I took the advice of “suck it up, stop complaining and deal with it.” That approach hurt me instead of helping me.

My healing from anxiety has not been quick. It has been a long journey. As much as I wish God took the anxiety away, I needed to go through a process. There are three therapists who I have come to know that have helped me get through anxiety. I have also learned to eliminate a perfectionist attitude.

My road to recovery has looked like this. Seeking God first, establish boundaries, treat myself gently, learned ways to ground to keep my nervous system out of fight or flight, and know I am worthy and deserve peace.

If I can stop being anxious, you can too! Healing and restoration take determination and consistency, and it is worth it.

Lesson Learned: I am deserving of a life that has joy and peace. Victory over anxiety is worth the work.

Prayer:
“Heavenly Father, I allow you to heal me in the areas of my life that need healing. Forgive me for holding onto things I cannot control. Reset and restore my nervous system. Remind me who I am in Christ. Whenever I face scary situations, show me that you are right there beside me. Thank you for the victory over anxiety! 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!”

We Need to Stop Believing the Lies of the Enemy

I wrote the post below for #lionslightinternational

This is Colette, here. I run the social media for #lionslightinternational

Honestly, I feel like absolute crap. The issue is I allowed myself to believe the lies of the enemy. I believed I am worthless, un-lovable, and non-existent to others.

The enemy loves to distract us from remembering all the ways God has saved us and helped us in our life so far.

I cried out to God and asked…

Where are my friends?
Where is the love? Have I been forgotten by everyone?
WHERE ARE YOU, GOD?

Immediately, I heard God say, “I’m right here, right now, as always.”

I saw an image of Jesus embracing me. I Googled an image and this one, I posted feels just right.

Most of my life, I have felt like an outsider. I feel quirky and different from other people. Whether with my own friends, other couples, other moms, women at church…I still felt alone.

But, that is a lie from the pit of hell. We are never alone when we know God.

So this post is for anyone who needed to see this precious picture of Jesus holding a child. Jesus loves you and He will comfort you.

Stop believing those lies like you don’t matter. You do matter! This world needs you!

 

Worry Accomplished Nothing

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

 

Worrying is not of God.  Yet, worrying is my constant companion.  Somehow, it brings me comfort. I believe that if I worry, bad situations will not catch me off guard and I am prepared in some way.

 

My only child, my daughter, recently went on her 5th grade Science Camp Trip.  I worried about this trip since she was in Kindergarten, approximately 5 years of worrying.  The worrying was not a daily occurrence. But some worrisome thoughts popped into my head every so often.

 

Last year, when my daughter was in 4th grade, the parents began to talk about fundraising for the Science Camp.  I began to collect information about the camp, with my thousands of questions to the teachers. Even with the information, I was negative about the camp.  I was subconsciously sabotaging any desire my daughter had of going to the camp. My husband, who knows me quite well, said, “your worry is ruining a great opportunity for our daughter, it will be great for her, and she will go!”  Not only was my husband right (don’t let him know that he was right…) but I did not believe that God would protect her. I had no trust in God.

 

My worry and fears stemmed from when I went to Science Camp in 6th grade and it was a terrible experience.  We had to take a boat to Catalina Island, about 26 miles from the Southern California Coast to camp. It poured rain the entire trip, the food was terrible, and I witnessed a classmate vomit about 10 times during that weekend.  It was the worst, but I survived. I knew I could not let that experience be a factor for my child. I decided to be positive about the trip, prepare her in every way: clothing for every type of weather, giving her anti-motion sick meds, write her notes, and pray.

 

The day arrived for the trip.  All the students attending were healthy and ready to go.  The parents watched their kids board the bus. When the bus engine turned on, I felt like I could not breathe. Then, I noticed one of the teachers come off the bus and get into her own car.  At that moment, I realized the teachers planned for every scenario, good and bad. Somehow, I relaxed and finally released the worry and trusted that everything would be fine.

 

The five days went by quickly and we were ready to have our children back home safe.  We received pictures every day, from the teachers, which I believed helped me out a lot.  The bus arrived and my daughter came off the bus. She came running over to me and gave me the biggest hug, I didn’t want to let go of her.  I asked her if she was glad that she went camping and she said, “Yes! It was awesome and I will tell the 4th graders not to miss the chance to go!”  Everything I was afraid of happening; motion sickness, homesickness, physical sickness or hurt, none of it came to pass.

 

Most of the time, the things we fear or worry about never happen.  My focus is usually on the bad, not the good. This made me realize how much better things can be when you trust the Lord and look forward to the adventure that lies ahead.

 

Lesson Learned:  Focus on the positive, trust the Lord, and know I am capable of adjusting to any scenario.

 

Prayer: “Dear Heavenly Father, forgive for not trusting you in all areas of my life.  I ask for guidance and wisdom. Help me adjust when situations change and not to lose my composure.  Thank you for your protection and provision. Restore my mind from negative thoughts. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

 

Laugh it Off

“A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart, the spirit is crushed.” Proverbs 15:13

There are people out there that laugh off their embarrassing moments. Then there are those like myself who turns beet red and hope the ground can swallow me whole. A few years ago, there was an embarrassing moment that ended up helping me not to take myself so seriously and to help me see the humor in life.

There are days when we have to make purchases that cause embarrassment, namely feminine products. My father and I went to Costco on Saturday morning, one of the busiest times to shop. I needed to get feminine products, and like in true Costco fashion, those boxes are humungous with large printing of the brand name. As I walked past the aisle and saw them, I asked my father to bring the cart as close as possible so, I could drop it in and hide it amongst the other items in the shopping cart. My dad came over with the cart, he picked up the box, raised it in the air and yelled, “is this the kind you use?” I. wanted. to. die.

The people around stopped and looked at my father and then at me and all begin to laugh. One of the people laughing had the same item in their cart. However, I found myself starting to laugh too. From that day forward, I proudly bought feminine products because I realized, thank God my body worked as God intended.

Sensitive people, like myself, fear the backlash of embarrassment. But we can take comfort that God isn’t embarrassed by us. He loves and treasures us. There are already plenty of severe matters in the world that could keep us from enjoying ourselves. Have a good laugh and make room for joy in our heart.

Lesson Learned: The embarrassing things in life, do not define us. Let us laugh at ourselves and enjoy this gift of life.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you, Lord to not take me so seriously. Help me see the fun in uncomfortable situations. Forgive me that I am embarrassed over insignificant things. Let those situations build character and not remain the only memory of me. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Growth Happens

“…but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”                                     1 Corinthians 13:10-12

 

The physical, cognitive, and emotional growth that takes place in a child, from birth to age 12, is quite a significant amount.  I have the privilege of watching that growth in my child. However, we can forget that this type of growth continues to happen throughout our lives.

 

My daughter and I went to Target to look for things she may want to have for her birthday. I noticed a young lady, notepad in hand, who was there for the same reason.  She said out loud, “nothing seems interesting, I can’t believe I don’t want any toys.” My daughter looked at me and said, “I feel the same way.”

 

A part of me felt sad that my little girl is growing up.  I am excited to see all that God has created her to be. I am many years older than my daughter, and I am too, experiencing growth in many areas of my life.

 

There are many interests that I used to have, that don’t anymore.  I have learned that between the ages of 38 to 52, a midlife awakening begins. There were many days where I loved going out to hockey games and staying out late.  Now, I go to bed at the time I used to want to go out. My priorities have shifted in all areas of my life.

 

My daughter had a well-check appointment with her pediatrician.  The doctor explained some changes that she may encounter this year as she gets closer to her teenage years.  My daughter began to cry. The doctor asked her why she felt sad. She told the doctor, “growing up is scary, being an adult seems so scary.  I want to stay a child and not have to deal with it.”

 

A change is scary and unwanted.  However, change is inevitable. Instead, we must embrace change and hope for growth and birth something new and fruitful.  Whether it is coming upon puberty, changing careers, losing family members or any significant life changes, we must trust that the Lord knows our needs and wants us to become what He intended.  When we believe in that hope, we can hope for something good because God is good!

 

Lesson Learned:  May there be hope in the growth to bring us to where God wanted us to be.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for guidance when I encounter change.  In every situation, may I grow and gain knowledge. Thank you for wisdom and discernment.  Help me make godly decisions. Thank you for leading the way, Father God. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Goodbye Fear, Hello Faith

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

“Just have more faith” is something I hear Christians say to one another. I admit it upsets me, that is what we all feel we need. If there is an unfortunate circumstance, most of us want out of it as quickly as possible. I realized I need to adjust how I receive that term because it isn’t a simple thing to act out.

There are numerous social media groups for people struggling with depression and anxiety. I found a Christian women’s group for that very thing. Many post request prayer. There was a young, single mother who posted about her current, difficult situation. Many responses from the group were caring and helpful. Unfortunately, the young mother had a negative reaction or an excuse for every piece of advice given.

Her responses frustrated me. I suggested reading a book that helped me out, and I offered to mail it to her. She said, “no, thank you.” I understand not every piece of advice needs to be tried, but she didn’t want to hear anything. She seemed to blame everyone and everything and say she was too tired to deal. I unfollowed the post because it upset me. Immediately, I felt that the Holy Spirit tug and heard, “you do that too.”

I am familiar with the young mother’s response. My fears, disbelief in God, myself, and others opinions get in the way of my growth and healing. Sometimes, you stay stuck; it becomes comfortable. I would become so fearful, and I wouldn’t even try if I knew that failure was a possibility.

To heal, we need many resources, external and internal, to get on the path of healing. It takes hard work and dealing with pain. Admitting you need the help, is the first step to heal.

Faith is more than just believing for things that haven’t happened. It is about trusting God to do what He wants for us, not our own will. God will grant those things we hope for, sometimes not. But, this is difficult to accept, especially when you don’t know what God will do.

Prayer, reading the word, seeking wise counsel, and listening to worship music are great ways to help us increase our faith. Past experiences, where the Lord has delivered us from scary situations, are great ways to gain confidence that God is faithful. God knows our fears and our doubts. He is waiting for us to go to Him with our problems instead of carrying the burden of it all. As we heal, there is pain and recovery, but the breakthrough is our gift.

Lesson Learned: Say goodbye to fear, turn to God, and give Him all of your trust. Let the healing begin!

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you, Lord, for hearing my prayers. I ask you to increase my faith and belief that you will do what is best for me. Show me when to work towards something and when to stop and let go. Forgive me for not trusting in you Father God. Thank you for protecting me and bringing me through the tough days. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Against the Flow

“For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything else we see and a pride in our achievements and possessions.  These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” 1 John 2:16


My cravings lately haven’t been for more, it has been for less.  The world is going a little too fast for me and I want it to slow down.  It seems that many are feeling the same way. It is becoming a trend that I hope it catches on.


My church had a Spiritual Life Retreat on a Saturday morning.  I was pleasantly surprised and interested in going. For the last 5 years, I have begun a journey into Minimalism.  A friend posted an article on Facebook by a Minimalist writer, Joshua Becker in 2013 and I was hooked. I began to get rid of many possessions, scheduling less on my calendar and taking time to rest.  It has helped lessen the anxiety.


The church I attend is in Southern California, in a city located within Orange County.  This area loves busyness, materialism and success. Most people’s schedules are packed with long work hours and lots of activities, their homes are large with more items than necessary and they are glued to their smartphones so they don’t miss out.   Yet people are so disconnected and tired.


The retreat was led by a pastor named, Chuck Shumate.  He began the conversation that he wasn’t always like this.  But he knew God was calling him to slow down.  He said many valuable things, but one of them was, “out of our rest, comes strength and wisdom. Say no to that guilt of resting.”


His assistant, his adult daughter, mentioned a conversation she had with her nieces.  Her sister and family recently moved from Irvine to Fresno, California. She said her nieces, ages 10 and 12, told her how much they love living where there is no drama and how it is less stressful.  One of the nieces said something that broke my heart. She said, “in living here, I can be myself.” She understood that down here in South Orange County, you can’t be yourself, that you have to fit in or you are considered weird for just being you.


I already was on a path to slow down.  But now, I realize just because I live here, doesn’t mean I have to live and function according to the culture.  I am not looking to stand out and bring attention to myself. My goal is to not be in a hurry and appreciate all who and what God is in my life.  


In that retreat, Pastor Chuck mentioned having margins in our lives.  Margins of space. When he travels out-of-state, he gets to a speaking conference the night before, so he can rest.  If he is traveling locally, he allows a good cushion of time, so he isn’t in a hurry. One may think, but I don’t have time to have more time.  So, if you don’t get to everything in your day, will the world end? Guess what, unless you are performing life saving surgeries, it won’t end.


At one point in the retreat, he had all of the participants do nothing for 30 minutes.  Not to think or pray…nothing. After the exercise was over he asked for people to describe the exercise in one word.  You would have thought by people’s reactions that they endured torture. Some said, “Boring!”, “Painful!” and “Miserable!”  I said, “Refreshing!” I got some weird looks.


This culture promotes unnecessary competition.  It is a “dog-eat-dog-world” out there and people are suffering.  Suicides are many in this fast, competitive culture. Some of the recent teen suicides in the area, where the teens left suicide notes, mentioned they couldn’t handle the pace and competition.  We must do better for our children and ourselves.


Lesson Learned: I will allow margins and rest, so I can draw strength and learn wisdom.


Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, create in me a new heart.  May I honor the Sabbath. Show me areas that I need to change, so I can be less anxious.  Create a culture shift in this world to slow down and honor you, Father God. Forgive me for following the ways of the world.  Let me be content in what you provide. Thank you for supplying my needs. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

 

 

Never be in a Relationship that You Cannot Talk About

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

When I was in my early 20’s, I entered into a relationship that was toxic and unrighteous. He paid attention to me in a way no one had. I entered into the relationship because I did not see myself as able to be loved or valued. Every Sunday, I would go to church, torn by conviction and guilt. Yet the next day, I was emailing and talking to him. This carried on for many months. Then one Sunday, it all changed.

I was hanging out with a friend one Sunday after church. I was suffering from this relationship emotionally and physically. It was taking a toll on me. She noticed that I was distraught. The Holy Spirit prompted her to keep pursuing a conversation with me about it.

I drew in a big breath and confessed to what I was doing it. I bawled my eyes out, condemning myself and asking why would I let this happen. She listen to me and said the relationship ends today. We prayed and she would hold me accountable.

God gave me the strength to stop and end it. I told him to never contact me again and he actually did. He had too much to lose, so I think that is why he did. I spent the next 5 years of my life afterward, still living in guilt and condemnation. I wanted to be free and receive my forgiveness wholeheartedly. But I felt if I did, I would be condoning it. I felt I didn’t deserve to be happy.

The enemy still uses our past to slap us in the face and remind us how much we have sinned. I know the Lord forgave me the first time I asked and each time after that. But I just felt this torment, that I still deserved punishment. When I met my future husband, I knew I was going to marry him. I told him what I did because I felt I had to. He was so loving and understanding about it. God used him to show me what a true and pure love should be like.

This time in my life reminds me to continually pray for protection against temptation. This situation has given me mercy and grace over those who have made serious mistakes. I can see past the initial sin and look deeper to why they may have done something bad.

I felt genuine remorse and wish I could go back in time and stop it from happening. But I cannot. I am blessed by His love that He forgave me and restored my heart. If you find that you are in a situation that is causing you to sin, stop and get help. Live a life of purity and truth.  On this Valentine’s Day remember that you are valuable and lovable.

Lesson Learned: God wants us to not be a slave to our sinful nature. He wants us to be victorious and been in healthy, stable relationships.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for carrying me out of mistakes I have made. Thank you for giving me the strength to end mistakes before more damage is done. Please guard my eyes from being deceived by the enemy. Show me my worth and value. Give me discernment and conviction when I am doing sinful things. Thank you for restoring those deep hurts and filling them with your love. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Little Victories

“But thanks be to God!  He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 15:57

 

Live one day at a time.  Anxiety doesn’t let you live one day at a time.  It has me thinking of days, months and even years in the past or in the future.  In 12 step recovery programs the advice of taking “one day at a time” is given.  I have never been a part of a 12 step recovery program, but I have learned how much value there is in being present with each day and living today for today.

 

My life overall, has been less anxious than it was a year ago.  But then there are some days where anxiety camped out in my mind.  My friend started a small support group for those dealing with anxiety.  I look forward to it, but ironically I get anxiety going to group.  The anxiety is from being vulnerable in front of others and for not overcoming anxiety once and for all.

 

Last week we met and I was having the hardest time settling in after we started.  The leader put on some worship music and wanted us to breathe slowly and think about a place in our body that felt calm.  But I couldn’t.  I did not like the song.  And I felt guilty for not liking a song about Jesus.  The song had a fast rhythmic beat which made me antsy.  I could feel a surge of panic because I knew I had to be still for the next 5 minutes until this song would be over.  There seemed to be no place in my body that was calm and settled.

 

For some reason, I looked at the palm of my right hand and noticed a vein that would pulse.  I began to focus on that and felt my breath slow and relax.  The following thought crossed my mind as I observed the pulse.  Even though I felt out of control, my body’s physiology was still working.  With anxiety, I feel like a floating head, a zero connection with my body.  But this time, my mind and body connected and I relaxed.

 

We went around and shared our experience with the song.  I shared my pulse story and the leader congratulated me.  It didn’t feel like a big deal to me.  But she explained how that was a victory for me and I found something to go to any time I felt anxious.  I finally found something to quell the anxious feelings.

 

Afterward this leader encouraged me to be thankful for the little victories I have won over these past years.  She reminded me how much I have improved on relaxing and have less anxiety.  I thought of those that deal with addiction to alcohol and drugs (or other things) and how each day is a victory when they don’t succumb to their former vices.  Praise the Lord for those good days and continued strength for the daily battle to live in victory and freedom!

 

Lesson Learned:  Little victories won every day, will beat the lifelong battle.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for equipping me with what I need to win the battle everyday.  Thank you for the strength you have given me Father God.  Remind me what you have carried me through.  I thank you for the little victories you have blessed me with in conquering these issues.  Praise you and thank you Lord Jesus for the ultimate victory you won when you died for us.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”