Self-Discovery in Quarantine

My faith was shaken today. I cursed at God. I told Him, I don’t want to believe in Him anymore. More unpleasant words flew out of my mouth, and tears streamed down my cheeks.  

Yesterday, my husband and I got into an argument on our walk with the dog. I saw huge amounts of dog poop on the grass for anyone to step in. I said, “these irresponsible, f-ing people piss me off!” He got upset with me and said I have been complaining about everything. I call my husband, “the great compartmentalizer.” He can leave work at work and home life at home. All areas of my life bleed into one another.

I asked him what he wanted from me. He said, I want to come home without hearing you and our daughter argue (our daughter is 12, almost 13 years old-easier said than done) and for all of us to go on a family walk willingly. Maybe that isn’t too much to ask, but when I am angry, and in pain, I don’t feel capable.  

I came inside after our walk and Googled, “why do I complain too much?” And this article came up. One of the steps said to be less judgmental. I thought, “well, I don’t judge.” Well, I admit it now, I do(a lot!), and we all do it! When I stay in that mindset of negativity and only seeing the bad in everything, how can I ever see anything good?

The world has seen a lot of change in the past few months. We all have had to re-arrange our lives. In some way, we all have had to grieve something. A lost job, canceled events, no school, even losing a loved one. Traumas we have dealt with in our lives somehow found a way back. My trauma is an eating disorder.

Every morning during this quarantine, I have stepped on the scale. Ounces gained became pounds, which turned into binding shame. Those voices of negativity and hatred are in my head again. I want the ground to swallow me up. I don’t look down at anyone the way I look down at myself. The pain is deep and vast.

So today, after I cast my anger at God, I asked for forgiveness. I prayed for God to reveal Himself to me in my daily bible reading. I went to my Bible app, and the reading consisted of Job Chapters 1 and 2, Luke 6, and Revelations 4. Job 1 and 2 dealt with his life in utter turmoil and pain, yet he never cursed God. Luke 6 explained judging others, amongst other important things. And Revelations 4 ended with verse 11, “worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and your will they existed and were created.” God delivered me answers to my pleas. Also, today is our trash pick up day, and the scale found its way into the trash bin.

I have years of experience in thinking in a negative way, which developed neural pathways of negativity. It hasn’t been beneficial to me. The good news is, neural pathways can change. My therapist said two things to me that helped me today—the first piece of advice, the brain changes in increments, not all at once. So, do not expect negative behaviors to go away after you decide to change. And second, when you do catch yourself reacting negatively, you can say, here is the new way I can handle it.

Everyone is affected by this COVID-19. May the virus be eradicated, and we find real meaning in our lives. Until then, be gentle with yourselves!

Lesson Learned: I see God cares for me, and neural pathways aren’t permanent.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I believe for the complete eradication of COVID-19 in the name of Jesus. I pray for healing and restoration for everyone who has become a victim of it. I pray for the loved one who lost a family member to COVID-19. I pray for comfort and peace during their mourning. Protect the first responders and hospital staff who are treating patients every day. Father God, I lift every person with mental illness and who are in abusive situations during this quarantine. Make a way Lord, for clarity or a way out. Thank you, Jehovah Shalom. Give provision to those who have lost work and revive this economy. Forgive us, Lord, for not trusting in you. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

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!”

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!”

 

 

 

 

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!”

 

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!”

Let the Messes in Life Build Character

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” Richard Branson

Life is not fair.  The quicker our children learn and accept that, the better their lives will be. Parents have a huge responsibility in the care of a child.  We must meet their needs: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  Our job is to instruct them, so when children become adults, they won’t need us anymore.  Every child has a specific will that God has ordained for their lives. When we micromanage or control every aspect of their life, we stunt their growth into becoming what God’s intends for them.

I overheard part of a conversation between a young husband and wife.  The wife said, “I was not allowed to watch television, ever.” Her husband nodded and explained the subject at hand. I believe her parents tried to protect her from harmful things influencing her, but life is messy and unfair. Unfortunately, children will see and find out things that are dangerous and scary.  It is better for them to know what to do than be overwhelmed by the evil in the world.

My daughter is at the age, where she can be responsible for the proper care of a dog.  We recently adopted a rescue puppy. However, I know my daughter well enough, that she will forget things and relax on some of the responsibilities.  Potty training is the messiest (literally) part of this process. However, every accident this puppy has made in the house; my daughter has had to clean up.   It only took a couple of puppy bathroom accidents for her to realize, I better take this dog out regularly. She is learning this dog needs to be taken care of for the dog to be healthy.

Parents are not doing their children any favors by sheltering or guarding their lives against the difficult things in life.  God allows us to experience pain and suffering to either help others or for us to make a change. God is not a helicopter parent and neither should any of us.

Lesson Learned: Life is not fair and the sooner we and our children accept that the better off we will be.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for trying to control my child(ren).  Help me to let go of the control and learn to mold and shape their lives as you intended.  I will trust in you for the will you have for their lives. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”