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!

Grateful for the Life You Have

#171 Blog Post- Grateful for the Life You Have

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 

1 Thessalonians 5:18

This week has been a whammy.  Daylight saving time, full moon, Friday the 13th, extra workload, Corona Virus fears, and pandemonium, and my child and I had our heads invaded by lice.  (Cue Scratching.)

The physical and emotional toll lice took on me felt like the end of the world to me.  I counted that I did 12 loads of laundry for over 2 days. I spent a lot of money to have someone come to the house and treat us and purchase new hair brushes, hair supplies, and bedding.  My child had the lice eradicated in 1 treatment, while it took 3 treatments to get rid of them on my hair. My hair is very thick, so I have a hospitable environment for them. Lice are equal opportunity jerks, I felt dirty and poor, even though that is far from the truth.

I went to the dry cleaner to take our comforter to be professionally cleaned.  I already washed it at the laundromat, but it smelled like everyone else’s laundry.  I noticed a post-it note on the wall at my dry cleaner. The dry cleaner scribbled out, “Gratitude is riches. Complaining is poverty.” She had it there to remind her to be grateful.  Little did she know that the quote was the encouragement I needed to help me through my exhausting week.

Even in the middle of this inconvenient and tiring time, I could be grateful for several things.  I only have one child to deal with this. My husband didn’t get it. Bed, Bath and Beyond had a clearance sale on bedding. My washer and dryer handled the enormous loads of laundry.  My house has been Spring Cleaned. And I knew deep in the back of my mind, this to would pass.

In my years of having anxiety and fear, gratitude was never a priority.  If complaining was an Olympic sport, I would have more medals than Olympian Michael Phelps.  I had a complainer’s mindset. When I had a difficult situation to deal with, it seemed like it would never end.  I remember being in a grocery store and started to have an anxiety attack (grocery stores seemed to set me off for some reason).  Then this thought came into my mind: there are plenty of people in this world that would trade their life for mine. So, I began to count my blessings.  The anxious feelings fled, and I carried on with my errands.  

When it comes to the definition of being wealthy, our income may not qualify in the area where my family lives.  However, being grateful truly brings out all the riches in my life. May the person reading this post find something to be thankful for and see their riches!

Lesson Learned: Focus more on all the good things in your life.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for looking for the things I do not have.  Thank you for the blessings that you have bestowed upon my life. I am grateful for everything.  When times are difficult, Father God, I am thankful the time is temporary. Thank you for your provision, protection, and love.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Uncover Your Faith

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Today, I saw a feature on a television program about Reverend Dr. Lakeesha Walrond.  She became the first woman president of the New York Theological Seminary.  The feature story contained her recollection of when she heard her calling in the church, her plans for her presidency and how she endured sexual molestation at the age of nine.

The interviewer asked her how do you talk to people who have lost their faith.  Rev. Dr. Walrond answered, “Faith isn’t lost, it’s just covered.”  I felt this surge in my spirit.  Faith is covered by many things, such as our circumstances, fear, anxiety, health issues, and doubt.

Our God is bigger than our greatest obstacles.  Be encouraged today to uncover your faith!  Remove that negativity and put your thoughts towards God.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, may I put my trust in you each and every day.  May I remember all the blessings in my life and for my faith to increase.  Give me strength and endurance during difficult times.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

 

Everyone’s Journey is Different

#165 Blog Post-Everyone's Journey is Different

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

As I entered adulthood, I began to have debilitating anxiety. I would receive (unwanted) advice from people regarding anxiety. Their advice of “stop worrying so much” hurt me more than it helped.

A former co-worker of mine wanted to become an esthetician. She asked me if she could practice giving a facial. Of course, I jumped at the chance. For some reason, those intimate environments cause people to open up. I brought up the subject of anxiety and the troubles I had. She scoffed at me and said, “aren’t you a Christian? I thought your God helped you?” Her words hurt me. I wanted to melt into the table and evaporate.

My issue was this, the trauma that I experienced in my life clouded my ability to trust in the Lord. She was sort of correct, though, in a mean and condescending way.

Everyone’s journey to healing is different. Here has been my path (so far). I prayed. I cried. I had others pray for me. I read the Bible. I did Bible studies. I attended church and weekend conferences. I had years of therapy, coaching, and bodywork. I took medication. I ended toxic relationships. I kept boundaries. All of these things helped me to get on the path of healing. I did wish for God to heal me after one prayer. However, I know every hurt I experienced brought me the knowledge I have today. Neurolinguistic trainer, Al Sargent said, “There are no experts in a new experience.” In my young adult days, I wasn’t experienced yet to walk in victory. As I look back, it was okay that I didn’t have all the answers.

My name, Colette, means victorious. The enemy knows my weaknesses and wants me to forget God has already made me victorious. God doesn’t want me to suffer but to thrive. I can rest in His arms and allow Him to fight my battles for me.

Lesson Learned: My journey is different than others, but I am already victorious in Him.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you, Lord! Help me walk victoriously in you. Remind me of all the times; you have carried me. Thank you for your grace and mercy. I believe I am healed. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

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!”

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!”

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!”

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.  

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!