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!

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!

 

Growth Happens

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prayer:

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

I’m Terrible at Perseverance

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.”  James 1:12

 

The dictionary defines “perseverance” as “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”  And I am terrible at it!  I have heard more about this subject in the last week, than in my lifetime.  God is telling me (and you all) to persevere!

 

It is difficult to fight or work towards something when most things in society are instant or takes minutes to receive.  How many times have I yelled at the microwave to “hurry up!” when only 30 seconds has elapsed?  Losing weight or exercising?  Ha!  Forget it, I want to lose 15 pounds in a week, instead of exercising and eating better for months.

 

While, I am learning how I need to embrace perseverance,  one of the pastors at my church had a sermon on this very subject.  He brought up several points as to why most of us cannot do it.  He gave the church a list as to why we “quit the race” (I have experienced and done these things to myself in any situation that seems difficult).

 

  • Fatigue and unbearable pain
  • A lack of support
  • Constant questioning from critics
  • Comparison of ourselves with others
  • A sense of personal inadequacy
  • A dryness in our soul

 

God reminded me of a time when I pursued something difficult and it was worth it.  In college, I took a class called, “Human Physiology”.  While I loved the subject matter, it is straight up difficult!  It was the hardest class I took my entire time in college.  But I had to do it.  If I gave up, my college career could suffer.  I studied more for that class in that semester.  The final was a killer too.  I ended up with a B+ in the class.  It was the hardest B+  I ever worked for in my life.  But the satisfaction I had for working hard for those 3.5 months was greater than taking the easy route and  just giving up.

 

Jesus is our greatest example.  Our pastor pointed out Hebrews 12:1-3.  We must keep our eyes set on Jesus.  We will stumble if we look at our circumstances or to ourselves.  Suffering is what brings us maturity in our Christian life.  So, don’t ever give up!  

 

Lesson Learned:  All good things take time to develop. Nothing good happens in a hurry. Pain is going to be there sometimes and it will end up strengthening us all the way.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, give me strength to endure hard times.  Show me how I have come through with your guidance.  Forgive me for the times of giving up so quickly.  Show me when to pursue things and when to be done.  Thank you Father.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Little Victories

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

1 Corinthians 15:57

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prayer:

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

Mid-Life Transition

“The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.” Proverbs 20:29

It has been 6 months since I turned 40 years old. Some days, I can feel the pain of it, both physically and mentally. There is a growing level of disappointment about my life that feels suffocating and tiresome.  Honestly, it is a terrible way to live.

It was time for my yearly wedding ring inspection at the jeweler. They inspect and clean the ring back to its original luster. I love my ring, it isn’t too big or too small. It has a vintage look and I still receive compliments on it after 14+ years. Some of my husband’s family couldn’t believe he bought me that ring because it wasn’t on clearance somewhere. His sister saw the ring and said, “Hey, come look at what my cheap-skate brother bought his girlfriend! Welcome to the family!”

I gave the ring to the sales person and she went back to inspect and clean the ring.  She came back and said, “have you considered upgrading your ring?” I stood there with my mouth open in disbelief. She said, I deserved a bigger ring because we are nearing our 15 year anniversary. I told her, that I love my ring and it has true sentimental value, plus I wouldn’t want to have someone Kim Kardashian my finger to steal it. Now, she was in disbelief, as I thanked her and walked out of the store.

As ridiculous as that situation seemed, it planted a bad seed of discontent in my mind. While I didn’t want a new ring, I thought maybe my husband may want to upgrade and get a new wife. I felt this way because I know of two women that are separating from their husbands. One wanted to, because she felt she could do better while the other one was blind-sided by her husband’s decision to separate. Other people I know are discontent in careers they have been working hard in for 20+ years. They say, there just has to be something better but simpler.

One Sunday morning, I was driving my family to church. I felt this overwhelming sadness hit me. As the tears streamed down my face, I silently prayed, “Lord, what is going on with me?” The response I felt was, “I feel like I am having a mid-life crisis.” I giggled on the inside and thought, “am I going to buy a Ferrari next?” But I realized that I am feeling the same thing that many are feeling in their lives. The commonality of a lot of these struggling people are we are all in our 40’s, assessing our lives, wondering-what next?

Ironically, that same Sunday, our pastor began a series on the book of Daniel. He told a story about his own insecurities when he started off as a pastor. The pastor prayed about the insecurities and God told him, “just be you, be who I created you to be, no one else.” That sermon took a hold of my heart.

After the pity party at church, I gave my friend a call. She is able to listen and give a Godly assessment. I told her what I was experiencing, mentioning the mid-life crisis. She told me, “I don’t believe that this is a mid-life crisis, more like a mid-life transition.” My friend was right. God can create a change in our hearts to be who He intended us to be.

Living life in this world pulls us in many different directions. We believe we have to: make a certain amount of money, marry someone aesthetically pleasing, live in a nice zip code, own lots of things, give our children a life with endless activities. To attain these things, we believe we have to work overtime, supply our kids with material things, instead of attention. I admit, I was lured into thinking that I needed the $200 French face cream to combat the wrinkles that are forming. Yet, life can be much simpler. We can take a step back and communicate this to our loved ones. More than likely, they are feeling it too.

Lesson Learned: I won’t lament over the idea that life is over.  I will access them and ask God, what is it that you are trying to show me?

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for living my life in the world. Show me what you created me to be. Give me the confidence to pursue your will instead of mine. Thank you for supplying all of my needs. Create a grateful heart, not one of discontent. Convict me of those times, when I am envious of others. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

My Hope was Dimmed

“…as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:18

The past couple of months, I have been feeling very drained. Our country , the world for that matter, are on edge. A lot of things that affected me and my family, felt like they were being assaulted or taken away. The unknown was strangling my thoughts.

On Sunday mornings, there are two things I hope to accomplish, going to church and the week’s grocery shopping. I try to go to the grocery store when they open.   There is a cashier named Christian, is always kind and social. One morning, I was especially tired. I felt like I could fall asleep standing up. He noticed.

As I passed through his line, he asked about me and my family. I told him truthfully on why I wasn’t feeling so great. He said he felt the same way. He said, “you hit the nail on the head, people feel terrible because there is no hope.” After I was done, I loaded the groceries and sat in my car. Tears filled my eyes because I know of a greater hope, a living hope in Jesus. Yet, I put my faith in a disturbed government and my financial status be my security. I looked at all the possibility of bad and current bad stuff rule my emotions.

Everyday is a fight to keep our hope alive in Jesus. Too much distracts us in our lives that tries to take its place. No matter the period of time, the state of the government, our current status in our lives…hope must remain alive in Jesus. I have seen people who have nothing and live in basic conditions seem much happier, than those who seem to have everything. One must allow God to reign in our lives and then we will remain hopeful.

Lesson Learned: May we allow the love and steadfast hope of the Living God reign in our lives.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that you are the same, yesterday, today and forever. Your hope is alive and for us. Forgive me for putting my hope into things that are of the world. Holy Spirit remind us to keep our thoughts on what is true, noble and pure. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”