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!”

Not Sure How That Worked, But It Did

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:26

There is a fantastic skill which I possess (insert sarcasm).  When I plan, it is for every possible scenario. I can think of every disaster that could happen from a “1” to a “10”.  It is exhausting.

My lovely parents asked if we wanted their slightly new couch.   We have to come pick it up. We do not own a truck, and they live 150 miles roundtrip from us.  Since it was free, my husband said he would figure it out. Of course, he didn’t explain how he just said he would take care of it.  My parents and I, of course, annoyed him with all sorts of questions. I asked if we need to rent a moving truck and who would help him move the couch.  He just said, “Chillax lady, I will take care of it.”

That answer did not suffice.  I began to think of the couch falling out of our SUV and landing on a busy Southern California freeway.  My husband would hurt himself. Then, I remembered, I am married to this man for almost 16 years, never once was there a disaster.  He quietly calculates and plans and figures things out. He tries never to let anything beat him. So, I decided to be positive, even though I was quietly thinking about what could go wrong.  My parents vocally worried.

Up until my husband was driving away from my parents home, they were still calling me and freaking out.  I calmly said, “I trust him, he will be fine, and I will call you when he arrives home.” He arrived home with the couch still safely strapped in the car.  He carried the three sections in all by himself. We put the couch together, and I breathed a sigh of relief.  He said, “I told you it would be fine.” I called my parents and told them he made it here safely.

After a much-deserved rest, he was enjoying the new sofa.  He turned to me and said, “you and your parents had no faith in me.  I calculated the measurements and knew it would work.” At that moment, I realized this is how God does His will.  God hears us whining and complaining about things taking too long to come to pass.  The same thing happened when the Israelites when they were traveling to the promised land.  God knows every detail. He knows what we need. Things may look impossible, and we wonder how God will come through, and He always does. We need a bit of faith.  It may not be how we want it, but it is the right way.

Lesson Learned: Have faith and trust our Heavenly Father in all situations.

Prayer: “Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for doubting your abilities.  Let my faith grow every time; I see your marvelous works. Remind me of all the times that you answered or protected me.  Let your will be done. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Patience is not for the Faint at Heart

“But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”  Romans 8:25

 

One of the most difficult virtues to obtain is patience.  This world thrives on speed. We try to rush through tasks and work, just to get to the next thing on our to-do list.  It is difficult to sit and wait on things. But God doesn’t operate that way.

 

Many years ago, our family was fortunate enough to have Disneyland Season Passes.  Our daughter was about four years old. In a four year old’s mind, things need to be done right away or tears begin to happen.  Disneyland truly was ground zero for impatience. Long lines for rides and food, waiting to meet Disney characters and even to park my car became teachable moments for both my daughter and I.

 

My daughter and I were in line to meet the Disney Princesses.  This particular line usually was 2 hours long wait and for a four year old (and 35 year old) that was a bit too much.  But this day, it was “only” 30 minutes. We were standing in line and my daughter was very excited. She pointed at the little girl in front of me.  This little girl was glued to her mother’s smartphone.  I told my daughter, “I don’t have games on this phone, so we need to wait patiently and we will see the princesses very soon.”  

 

I specifically made a conscious choice to not have games or play videos/movies on my phone.  My reasons were I wanted my daughter to learn to be bored once in awhile, plus the screen was not good to look at for long periods of time.  It seemed like a smartphone was becoming another pacifier for toddlers, children and even many adults.

 

The mom noticed my daughter looking at her daughter.  She smiled and said, “I don’t know what I would do without my phone.  It keeps my daughter occupied, so she isn’t out of control.” (**) I smiled and said, “I want my child to learn to have patience while standing in line, so I’m that mean mommy that doesn’t let her look at my phone.”  Her smile quickly faded and she turned herself back around.

 

I wasn’t trying to sound more righteous than her.  But I realized, there are times we must learn to wait for things that we can have no control over.  This ranges from such things as waiting for a ride at Disneyland to waiting for the right spouse or job to come along and  going to school for a degree. I want my daughter to understand, not everything can be done quickly and good things do come to those who wait.  We survived that line (without the phone) and she met Princesses Ariel, Belle and Tiana. Ariel told her she had pretty mermaid hair. My daughter seemed so happy.

 

God knows that we hate to wait.  God makes us learn patience. In my opinion, patience is the most quickly answered of prayers.  We all need patience and we pray for it. Then we go about our day and seem to be behind the slowest driver or we are behind that person in the line at the grocery store that pulls out a checkbook.  The Israelites lacked patience when Moses them led them out of the Egypt. 40 years? Oye Vey… God forced them to deal with their impatience but their promise was fulfilled. Let God do that work in us.

 

Lesson Learned: May we remember to allow God to do His work and remain patient with hope.  And we don’t need YouTube videos or Instagram to make the waiting go by any faster.

 

(**I completely understand that some special needs children may need these devices to help them, but that child in line with us was not in anyway a special needs child.)

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us for being impatient and blaming you Father for not answering us right away.  Sustain us during those times of waiting. Have us be calm and relax. Thank you that you are doing a mighty work in us when we are learning to be still.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

One Day (or hour or minute) at a Time

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.” Matthew 6:34

Jesus instructs us not to worry. Yet, this world is full of anxiety. All that we see in the world, in our country or even on a city level, seem tense. However, all of this worrying does not add one moment to our life.

There have been many nights where I lay awake. My thoughts over power my sleepiness. I think how I could have handled something better or how my family and I could be healthier. The downward spiral gets deeper and longer. Now, I am awake 2 hours instead of 2 minutes.

I have never personally been in a 12 step program, but I have heard the term “one day at a time”. There was a fictional show I was watching on tv and the main character had a traumatic experience. She was telling someone who was dealing with anxiety, her way of coping. She explained how getting through one day was so much, that she had to get through just 10 seconds, then another and another.

It sounds funny but sometimes you can only muster the strength to get through a short period of time to strengthen yourself for the next amount of time. And that is okay. God knows our story. He wants to swoop us up in His loving arms and carry our burdens.

We can rest in the fact God will help us in our situation,  if we let Him. God doesn’t always give us an instant miracle, it can take days, months, years. So, living one day at a time is better than living our lives in the future.

Lesson Learned: Let us be present and live for today.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I surrender all to you!  Give me strength for this journey.  You know my every need and desire.  Holy Spirit, guide me through difficult times and instruct us.  Give me your peace.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

 

Scenery Change

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.  I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

 

This world is full of people who need a change of heart, especially those in a culture of racism.  It seems impossible they could ever change their heart from hate to love.  I came across a news story where this very thing happened.

 

In this news story, there is a man named Michael, who was a Neo-Nazi.  He went to jail and was released on probation.  An African-American woman, named Tiffany was assigned to be his probation officer.  She said she wasn’t there to judge him, but to help him.  Tiffany noticed he still had a Nazi flag hanging on his wall.  It was the first thing he would see in the morning.

 

As she established trust with him, she told him to get rid of the flag and put happy faces on his wall or something more positive.  She said the flag will only keep the hate in his heart.  The amazing thing, he listened to her suggestion and he changed.

 

Michael said the smiley faces gave him motivation to work and be productive.  He said her friendship gave him the love and support he needed to change and see people differently.  Due to her support, he removed or changed his Neo-Nazi tattoos.

 

As I watched this news segment, I thanked God for using this probation officer to change this hard heart.  This change only came from the Holy Spirit.  If this man could change, anyone could change.

Here is the news story on Michael and Tiffany:

 

When we ask God into our heart, we will think and act differently.    Jesus came to redeem us from our sins.  In that process of redemption change happens.  I know when we give our hearts to God, change is inevitable.  If Jesus is Lord of your life, allow that change to happen.

 

And sometimes we need a scenery change, even when we know the Lord.  The enemy will attempt to keep us inactive in doing things in the name of the Lord.   My friend is writing a book about her testimony.  Her testimony will bring so many to Jesus.  The enemy gave her so much distraction, she wasn’t writing at all.

 

I saw her desk where she writes.  She has a window to look out but there is no real view.  I asked her what type of scenery she likes.  “Water”was her response.  Then, I thought about the story about that man who changed his heart and remembered I had a 2018 calendar of Hawaii my parents gave me.  So I gave it to her.  She said she loves looking at it and even wrote for a few hours that day!

 

Sometimes a change of heart/scenery is needed to get past that difficult point in life.

 

Lesson Learned: Let’s allow our that change in our heart, so we can change and ultimately bring Jesus to others.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us for trying to do everything ourselves.  Give us ears to hear, eyes to see and a mouth to speak.  Let us hear your instruction. Search my heart and change the areas where we need.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

No Need to be Dismissive

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

 

As Christians, it is eluded that we should be modest and humble.  We need to be giving constant glory to God.  It truly is all about Him.  However, when God trusts us with a gift, we should be bold to use it and be confident, He blessed us.  Many times, we become dismissive of our gifts.

 

My daughter was invited to her friend’s birthday party.  I saw the birthday girl’s grandmother and went to say “hello”.  We were talking about Instagram and mentioned how I tried to “follow” her.  She didn’t recognize me by the Instagram Account name, Anointed Courage.  I confirmed it was me and she accepted my request.  Then she asked, “how did you come up with the name Anointed Courage?”  I could feel a sinking feeling deep inside my stomach.

 

There were feelings of embarrassment and flat-out fear.  I started to stumble in my explanation.   But I heard the Holy Spirit say, “do not be dismissive about your writing. Be bold and sell it!”  So, I told her how I started a blog and wanted it to be a source of encouragement. I explained how I came up with the name.  I knew the courage it would take to start writing publicly and how it would take more than my strength alone, it had to come from God.

 

She was so excited and told me that she loved the name and that I was brave to publicly write. In other times of explaining my blog to others, I made my blog seem like it was no big deal. Especially, because I was not a famous writer or have a huge following on social media.

 

One has to believe in what they do with all their heart, soul and mind, even if the world doesn’t accept it because God gave them a gift.   God will always finish what He has started, even if it takes longer than what we expect or want.

 

Later that day, I saw on Instagram this picture my friend @rolanddenzel posted.

My hope is no matter the doubt or criticism one receives for taking a risk, it is better to try than to not.

 

Lesson Learned:  Whatever the dream that God planted in your heart: pray, work and listen to Him.  And do not dismiss your talents.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me Lord for doubting you in using me.  I pray that our gifts be revealed and you show us how to further these talents.  May we always be humble in the success but be confident in these gifts.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Finding the Good in the Bad

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire may be proved genuine.”  1 Peter 1:6-7

 

I would love to gain wisdom, maturity and relationships without going through a trial or bad situation.  Good things come from good situations and only bad comes from bad situations.  It only makes sense, right?

 

Recently, my community had the asphalt completely torn out and redone.   You could not park or stow your car in the garage because of the conditions of the street.  For one week, you had to find parking in the other parts of the complex or on the main streets.  Parking was already at a premium, so for an average of 25 more cars finding parking, it was a nightmare.

 

An interesting thing happened through the inconvenience, people got to know one another in the community.  There is one elderly woman in our neighborhood and she has a dog that she walks all the time.  She told me, if it weren’t for this situation, I never would have met all these new people!  As I walked my dog, I watched neighbors talk and smile and laugh at their complaints.  Most of these people have lived in the same community for decades and never met.

 

In more serious situations, I can recall instances where tragedy struck and people came together.  Whether it was September 11th or all the tragedies this year in 2017.  People saving complete strangers, giving shelter or supplies to one another.  They opened their hearts and moved past their differences, they saw a human being.  Upon tragic deaths, foundations have been created in memory of a person after their death.   Their family members take the tragedy to teach or bring awareness.

 

Grief is real and I never want to discount losing someone or a family home.  The fact is anger and sadness are all a part of the process.  However, at some point there has to be a shift to focus on the good things that come from tragedy.  Otherwise, the pain will consume your very being.  

 

God will never waste your pain.  Let God heal your pain and learn from the experiences, no matter how painful.

 

Lesson Learned:  Good can come from bad situations.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, heal our wounds from tragic events.  Show us ways to help one another in troubled times.  Give us strength to endure such things and a heart for others.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

 

When People Disappoint

“He heals the broken in heart and binds their wounds.” Psalms 147:3

My child has just started 4th grade.  She loves her teacher and seems to desire to do well in school.  Unfortunately, she is having trouble socially.  She has been coming home sad that she lost a friendship.  It is hard to watch.

As a parent, all I want to do is fix the problem for her.  I want to make the hurting she is feeling, to stop.  Yet, deep down I know, this something we all go through in our lives.  These situations build character.

I may be hurt by this more than she. It stirs up a lot of old wounds where I was rejected by friends growing up.  I have done everything within my parental power to try to fix this situation, but nothing has helped.  

Then I came across this photo on Facebook and it came at the right time.  This photo is a great lesson for letting go.

 

        

There are seasons in life, where we  just have to let people or things go.  This can be friendships, relationships with family, a spouse or a significant other, commitments at work or school.  My daughter may have to let this relationship go.  I have to let go of trying to control that I think I have and let my daughter experience life as it is, hurtful and messy.   So, the only option maybe to walk away when we have tried our best to save it.  As difficult as it maybe, life isn’t fair.

We learn we have to cleave to God, when people disappoint us.  Otherwise, our situations or circumstances will continue to drag us down.  We pray for healing of our wounds and restoration in our life.  God never wastes any pain we experience.  God has something or someone better for us in the future.  

America has been going through some tough times.  This country is divided politically on many issues.  Both sides are relentless in their pursuit of trying to prove each other wrong.  It has been bad for the last couple of years and even uglier in the past month.  People are disappointing one another in record levels.  

Recently, North America (as well as other places in the world) have been encountering many natural disasters: hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, and major earthquakes.  In the wake of these natural disasters, we have been seeing strangers being kind to one another and people helping out in anyway they can.  They are giving food, water and shelter to those in need.  Many are putting their lives in danger to rescue others.  The human spirit is alive again.  

Seeing this example of love gives me hope that love truly conquers all.  We can still love someone or something after you have let them go.   And letting go of that someone or something, shows you love yourself.  Let’s learn to love ourselves enough to not be hurt or disappointed, is one of the greatest gifts.

Lesson Learned:  When people disappoint, let go and let God.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for putting my hope in people or circumstances.  Help me to forgive those who have treated me or my family bad.  Let anger, turn to love.  Show me compassion for myself to let go and move on.  Give me discernment when to let things go and when to fight for them.  Help me to remember the season of letting go is short and that you will bring forth a beautiful Spring.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Decluttering the Mind

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious.  If there is any excellence and if there is anything that is worthy of praise,, think about these things.”  Philippians 4:8

 

Admission time…I have anger issues and I am not proud of it.  I use bad words.   Flip my lid.  Yell and scream at my husband, our child and strangers.  I leave passive aggressive notes for my neighbors.  This is a very dangerous road to be on.

 

I arrived at church with a knot in my stomach.  The past 2 weeks haven’t been my best physically.  I threw out my back, had a migraine for 3 days and now my stomach burned.  And to top it all off,  the weather was  100+ degrees for one of those entire weeks.  Plus, I was angry at everything.  It didn’t matter the reason, large or small, I was angry.

 

As I got out of the car, I saw my friend.  She is a mighty prayer warrior.  I consider her my spiritual mother due to her strength and spiritual wisdom.  I asked for prayer.  She prayed and tears streamed down my face and I began to tremble from all the anger that I had been holding on to from the past, let alone the past two weeks.

 

My friend knows I am a minimalist at heart.   She told me it is time to do some decluttering of my mind.  My friends said remove the thoughts that are working against you, not for you.  Think of the way Jesus sees you, more eternal, less earthly thoughts.  The day changed from there.  I enjoyed the church service, my stomach stopped hurting and it was a day of rest from those thoughts.

 

Today I read the following quote in a Bible devotional, “Whatever you believe on the inside will manifest on the outside.”  Most times, anger, anxiety, fear, depression manifests in us physically.  My back, my head and my stomach were all being attacked because I was allowing anger’s energy to control me.

 

The world today thrives on anger.  People are short fused and it reflects in society.  My hope for the near future is that I can use anger in a useful way.  If I see injustice, I try to come up with a possible solution.  But most importantly, I don’t let the angry thoughts consume me and manifest and to also pray and lean on the Lord.

Lesson Learned:  Think of what is true and good and the mind will be renewed.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for letting my thoughts over take my mind.  Forgive me for dwelling on the past and relying on my own strength.  Remind me when I begin to give in to anger.  Give me a renewed mind, like the mind of Christ.  Change my focus on what is eternal.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”