It is Never a Good Time to Worry

I read a devotional this morning on the Bible app, You Version. The study is entitled, “How to Stop Worrying.” The devotion defined worry as to torment oneself with cares and anxieties. As I read that definition, it felt like a 2×4 to the face.


Everyone has thoughts on the things that most concern them. We can plan the best ways to meet our goals or take care of dire situations. But when these thoughts turn to worry, they torment us.


I allowed worry to be a daily exercise in my life. However, most times, the things I worried about never came to pass.


Be conscious of your thoughts and the words you speak. When there is a deep history of living your life in worry, it will take a while to undo it. Have grace with yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Don’t beat yourself up when you catch yourself worrying.


If you catch yourself in that mode of worry, say, “Oh! I have a worrisome thought.” Then ask yourself, “If I continue to dwell on this, will I be able to remain positive or be anxious?” If it is the latter, choose to change your focus.


In these perilous times, worry will not solve anything. I have spent the last few weeks, taking a lot of deep breaths, finding solace in prayer, trusting in the Lord and meditation, communicating with others (online), and watching light shows. May you find peace from worry today.

In These Times of Great Anxiety

Credit: Artist-David Bowman

At the beginning of March, I read an article about people hoarding toilet paper and paper towels due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The virus had not reached The States quite yet. I decided to prepare for it during my scheduled monthly trip to Costco.


I arrived at Costco at their opening time and the line wrapped around the building. The entrance of the store wasn’t chaotic, just crowded. However, inside the store, the atmosphere was different. You could feel a level of desperation in the store. People were grabbing things, but not in the Black Friday sense, just 3-4 times what they would usually get. I asked a person why they needed so much toilet paper and paper towels. The person replied, “if we get quarantined for months, I would need this much, and these were the items China ran out of first when they needed to stay inside their homes.”


I began to catch the “fever” of shopping hoarding. I grabbed as many cases of toilet paper and paper towels that I could fit in my cart. As much as I justified the need to buy, this convicting feeling came over me that this didn’t seem right to do.


I took a pause and began to rationalize the situation. We will still have water and electricity. One case of toilet paper and paper towels lasts my small family for many months. Safety and food are much more important than hoarding shopping. I took a few deep breaths and decided to buy one case of toilet paper and paper towels, bleach and other cleaning products for my family and some non-perishable foods.


In the next two weeks, our national government leaders claimed everything was under control but quickly changed their claim to this will be horrendous. The panic in our country began to grow, and more cases of the virus became evident. In the middle of this, my daughter got lice and then lovingly (through all the hugs and cuddles) gave them to me. I focused more on destroying the lice and doing 35 loads of laundry in one week than focusing all my worries on the pandemic.


Thank God, the lice are gone, and the washer and dryer took a day off. My family has been home this last week. Then the underlying anxiety in me rose to the surface at midnight. I truly began to panic. Every tickle in my throat or sniffle I felt began to worry me. My husband coughed, and I would think, “Oh, sh*t!” I thought about the “Downton Abbey” episode, where many characters caught the Spanish Flu and suffered or died. My mind did somersaults imagining the worst-case scenarios.


Stress, lack of sleep and exercise, dehydration, and poor eating habits contribute to low immunity and sickness. An event like this has not affected the world in a long time. There have been pandemics, but not in this day and age. We are all navigating this for the first time together. As much as I want to get mad and criticize our country for not being prepared for this, it won’t do any good. I could not imagine the responsibility that the medical field, the government (state, local, federal), the public school system, and first responders (and countless other entities) have in this situation. The best thing I can do is cooperate, stay home, wash my hands, and pray.


This image included in this post of Jesus holding a child always brings me great comfort. When I get anxious, I have to surrender to God, trust, and allow Him to be in control. While I know the health and financial crisis this pandemic has brought will affect us all, it will be temporary. I am not in any way diminishing the long term effects of it, but we will get through this in some way.

Stay safe, friends. Take this opportunity to do things that bring joy to your life every day. Reconnect safely with family and friends. And if you are having difficulty managing all of these feelings of despair, please reach out because someone would be glad to help.

Lesson Learned: Anxiety does not help me in situations like these. Gaining perspective is better. And, I don’t like creamed corn from a can unless it is very sweet.


Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, I command this virus to cease spreading and be eradicated in the name of Jesus. Heal and restore everyone who has been affected by this virus, especially the victims’ families and the hardest-hit industries. I pray countries that have been devastated by this virus to be re-built. Protect those with low immunity. May family units become strong again. Give our government leadership and direction, which will be in the best interest of the citizens. I rebuke the idea for people to take advantage of the helpless in this time and bring to light anyone who does this. Let love, grace, and mercy rule as we re-build and restore our lives. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

Exhausted Temporarily

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I have a terrible habit of comparing my beginning to other’s years-long journeys.  The social media posts out there drip with humble brags and accomplishments.  In my early twenties, many of my peers had finished college and entered the workforce, I was right in the middle of enduring trauma.  My confidence and motivation were squashed by my circumstances.

As life progressed, I got married, and we had a child.  Also, I have been a stay at home mom for the last 12 years.  Even though I was productive in raising a child and running a household, I felt low because I did not make any money or feel I was in the right place in my life.  My past tormented me, and my self-worth was still low.

Yesterday, my friend sent me the above-referenced meme.  Even though she sent it to me to show how it encapsulated her life, I felt it represented my life as well.

Honestly, I am exhausted.  Years of anxiety and fear have drained my mind and body. But I have worked on restoring my nervous system and quelling the anxiety and fear through therapy and self-reflection.   I have learned I cannot expect to change overnight when I have endured years of turmoil.  Every so often, I see a reminder that success can happen later on in one’s life.

Do not let a bad day, week, or even year persuade you that your breakthrough will never come!

Lesson Learned: Your timeline does not need to reflect the successful person next to you.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for saving me from the trauma I have endured in life.  Remind me of your plan and purpose for my life.  Expose the lies from the enemy and show me the resources that will help me become committed and prosperous.  Forgive me for not trusting in you, Lord.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

 

 

 

 

Managing Difficult People

I do not like experiencing tension between myself and others. In the past, I exhausted myself to make everyone else happy around me instead of protecting myself from the drama.

As much as I desire peace and harmony between myself and others, there are times where it won’t happen. I can promise peace for myself by establishing boundaries and not engaging with the drama.

Sadly, years can go by before I discover the true nature of a person.  I am in the process of learning that I must let go of trying to get along with someone who does not want to be civil.  It is not my job to appease them.  These difficult people are energy vampires.  Would I want to have someone suck out all of my energy?  No, I’m over forty years old, and my energy is scarce but sacred!

Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Continual engagement with difficult people will not bring out the best in me.  As much as I want to know why they are the way they are, it will not solve anything.  Only God can change a person, not me.

May you be released of any burden you carry to help those who do not want to change.

Lesson Learned:  Let God handle those who bring you down.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I know peace is precious in a fallen world.  Help me to manage conflict effectively and without becoming too invested.  Give me the wisdom to protect myself when dealing with difficult people.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

 

 

 

 

Allow God to Surprise You

 

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21

Christmas time is here. Tomorrow, many will open gifts and admire all they received. Children have been eagerly waiting for this day to open their gifts. Their wait will soon be over.

When I was a 6th grader, a popular brand of clothing was “Maui and Sons.” They were a surf brand. If you wore an item of clothing from this brand, everyone noticed you at school. I asked, actually begged and pleaded with my parents for a sweatshirt. This brand was not cheap, so I knew my only chance was to receive it as a present for Christmas.

My mom would place empty boxes under the tree as decoration. Then she would put items for us in those boxes the night before, so the presents were ready on Christmas Day. A couple of weeks before Christmas, I sat by the tree, admiring the decorations. I saw the empty boxes under the tree, and curiosity struck me, so I picked one up and shook it. I did not feel anything. I picked up another and shook that one and heard something inside. The temptation was too strong, so I carefully slid my finger under the lid and lifted the corner of the box. I peaked inside and saw a pink “Maui and Sons” sweatshirt. My heart was beating out of my chest from the excitement. Then I thought I ruined the surprise and now I have to keep this from my parents.

As the day continued, I felt more guilty. I didn’t realize it, but the guilt showed in my actions. My dad asked me what the matter was. I couldn’t take the guilt, and I began crying. I told him I peeked and saw my Christmas present. My father was not happy. He said, “well, that was your big gift, and now you won’t have anything to look forward too.” That mistake was a defining moment in my life to learn to be patient.

That moment in my life reminds me of how impatient I am with God working in my life. I keep wanting to know what He wants me to do with my life. I try to force things and make things happen when it isn’t time. I feel like an impatient child in those days leading up to Christmas. I am peeking in the box before it is time.

God knows what needs to happen. It may feel like we are going around in circles or moving farther away from the goal, but God aligns everything for us in the perfect time.  Allow God to surprise you!

Lesson Learned: Allow God to surprise you. No peeking!

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me when I try to figure out everything on my own. I put my trust in you. You know the way. Thank you for every surprise you give me. Help me anticipate with wonder and excitement for all you plan for me. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

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!”

Don’t Get Sucked into Overreacting

“But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”  Galatians 5:15

Confrontation is a part of life.  Some people avoid it; others engage happily.  There are times, where we will have conversations with people, who want to suck the energy out of us.  Try to avoid having your power from getting sucked out of you!

Many years ago, I was the office manager for a Family Practice Physician.  When people are sick, it can bring the worse out of them. Add in, owing money for services rendered, makes people even more upset.  

I had to deal with a trying patient, who owed a large balance.  She began to argue with me. I said, “the doctor deserves payment for the services you used, so how would you like to take care of this payment, today?”  She tried to rile me up.   I paused and repeated the same thing. After the third time, I replied, “since you cannot speak to me politely, you have a choice, you either pay now over the phone or by 5:00 p.m. Otherwise, you will be sent to collections since you are 180 days past due. The choice is yours.”  Thankfully, she paid.  She tried one more jab and said, “I don’t want to be a patient here.” I told her, ‘“sounds great! Let me know when you decide for sure so that I can assist you,” and I hung up the phone.

It is never easy to deal with people who have messy lives.  They want to blame everyone for their unfortunate situation and bring everyone down with them.  Your energy and health will suffer when you try to converse with people like this. It is just not worth it.  God wants us to have healthy boundaries with unhealthy people. It is not our burden to try and save everyone; only God can do that if they want it.  Free yourself from any unnecessary drama.

Lesson Learned: Do not engage with people who are energy suckers.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, give me discernment when I deal with difficult people.  Remind me not to get involved with the drama of the situation. Help me be a light to those who need you.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

 

Don’t Let Sin Destroy Your Life

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

Sin comes in a variety of ways. It can be outright evil, or it can be sneaky. Sneaky sin is scary. If you don’t ask for forgiveness and help from God to resist it, it takes root in your life.

When I was nine years old, my parents and I were at a mall at a surf and ski shop. There were magazines and pamphlets by the front door. At first glance, they were labeled “free.” I noticed one magazine with its bright, beautiful pictures of the ocean. I knew I wanted these pictures for a wall in my room. We left the store, and I had the magazine in my hands.

My parents and I got home, and I went straight to my room. I grabbed a pair of scissors and looked at the front cover to see a price of $5.99 on it. I could feel the blood drain from my face. “Oh no, I’m a criminal!” was my thought. I ran to my dad and begged him to drive back so I could give back the magazine. My dad sighed and said, “no, it’s too far, and it’s fine.” I had tears streaming down my face. My dad soon realized this was not the right way to rectify it and consoled me, “sweetheart, we will go back tomorrow.” And we did.

At that age, I wanted nothing to do with sin. As children, we are taught not to lie, cheat or steal. Something happens to us when we aren’t stable in our faith and follow the ways of the world. We may think we are safe if we know God and have a deep relationship with Him, but the enemy loves to distract and confuse us, especially when it comes to sin.

A few days ago, I was at a bi-monthly gathering. The same people usually attend, but every so often someone new comes. There was a man who I met for the first time. He smiled at me, and I immediately felt an attraction. It felt weird and sweet at the same time. He was making small talk, but he seemed genuinely interested. I soon realized we talked for over 20 minutes straight, I decided to bring in more people into the conversation, so I wasn’t alone. For days, I thought about this situation. I felt guilty and sad that as a married woman I would be feeling like this toward someone else other than my husband.

I decided to confide in a friend, a person who I think, also as a spiritual mother. Thankfully nothing more than conversations happened between the man and me. But I told her how I felt and cried tears of shame and guilt. She lovingly listened and comforted me. My friend was truthful but understanding. She revealed that there was something deeper that I needed to explore with myself and my husband. Expose the sin and work on those areas of weakness and pain.

I think back to that time as a little girl being so guilty of accidentally taking a magazine. Why isn’t that the same reaction I have to sin as an adult? We live in a world where most sins get a free pass because everyone is doing it. When faced with temptation, ask God to intervene right that minute. Please know, that no fleshy desired fulfilled is worth the torment it will bring for months or even years. I want to spend eternity in Heaven with Jesus!

Lesson Learned: If we allow Jesus to intervene, no temptation is too great for Jesus to save us. Sinning is not worth it.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for allowing sin to take a foothold in my life. Cleanse my mind, heart, and soul. Reveal those areas that need work and your intervention. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Consider the Source

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” Proverbs 18:2

 

My father gave me a piece of advice that helps me every day.  He advised, “whenever you hear information, consider the source.”  We receive tons of information day in and day out. Filtering out what is correct or wrong, can be exhausting.  The same comes from people, especially those we know and love.

 

A few months ago, I did something I am not proud of.  I got furious at a friend for something which was minor, an emoji on a text.  That’s right, an emoji. There are formatting issues between Android and Apple phones.  In this case, a friend sent me a long group text on her iPhone, and I received it on my Android.  The text came in jumbled. In the past, I mentioned this to her, hoping she would remember.  But, again, of all things to get upset at, this is what I chose.

 

Unfortunately, I chose via text to unload on her.  She called me the next day to explain that she didn’t mean to ignore my request on purpose but to understand that I was out of line to be so rude to her.  This friend was also dealing with a family emergency that would stress anyone out. Instead of pausing and apologizing, I continued to get rubbed the wrong way.  The conversation ended without resolution and more anger.

 

The next day, the conviction of the Lord came down on me.  That advice my father gave me many years ago, “consider the source”  popped into my head. My friend loves me dearly and only wants to see me grow in the Lord.  She would never intentionally hurt me. The remorse I felt came like a wave crashing over me.  I tried to make things right and ask for forgiveness. I knew I would be crying, so I sent her another text begging for mercy.  Thankfully, she received the apology well.

 

The enemy knows where it hurts.  I have this fear of being accepted and loved by others.  Many times, I have been taken advantage of or severely disappointed.  So, I take every look, comment given to heart. My trust has been low.  But if we ask ourselves to consider the source before we comment, we can save ourselves unnecessary arguments or riffs and have open communication and not be afraid to say something.

 

Lesson Learned: Consider the source and before you make your decision to act.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for overacting on comments made.  Help me to determine what is true and noble. Let the little things roll off of me, so they do not take root in my heart and mind.  Help to forgive these minor instances quickly and to communicate. Thank you, Lord, for wisdom and strength. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

 

No Sin is Hidden from The Lord

“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known.” Luke 12:2

There is a small pleasure of not getting into trouble when I should.  I feel it when I perform the California rolling stop when driving.  But the Sheriff behind me is looking for someone else, so they do not pull me over.  While that may be a sign of grace, true sin will catch up to us.

Many years ago, when I was in college, living at home, my parents were renovating the backyard.  My friend and I were at my home studying for a class. Except, we were distracted by the attractive construction workers.  (Hey! We were young and single!) They would have to walk past the kitchen bay window where my friend and I were “studying” next to, to get tools and supplies from the truck.

As they would walk, by we would smile big and do funny dances at them. We did this because the house had tinted windows. Well, we were so wrong about that! The next day, I was outside and walked past that same window and could see inside, when the lights were on in the kitchen.  And the lights were on in the kitchen that day were giving the construction workers googly eyes. From that day forward, I never looked at them and tried to avoid them at all costs.

I remember thinking, I  thought I could get away with acting like that.  If I knew the construction workers could see my friend and me, we never would have behaved that way.  In life, we sin and think we had gotten away with something or hurting someone because they would never find out about it. However, Father God knows every sin.  He knows every move we make. All of these sins will come to light, and we will be judged for it. There are no tinted windows between God and us.  Let us repent for our sins, and the sins were are unaware of daily!

Lesson Learned:  All sin will come to light.  No sin is hidden.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, convict me when I sin.  Holy Spirit, show me when I sin and not realize it.  Thank you for giving us grace and mercy. Give me guidance to always do the right thing. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”