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!”

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!”

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!

 

Spike-What My Dog Taught Me About Regret

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24

 

Spike was the name of our dog.  We were blessed to have Spike for 15 years.  Spike taught me how to care for a living creature and at the end of his life, to not have regret.

 

We saw Spike at a pet store, and I thought he was cute for a Chihuahua.  But he was expensive so, we do not get him. A few weeks later, we went back to that same pet store to see if he was still there.  Spike was still there, but he looked unwell. He was sneezing, had a runny nose, and was lethargic.

 

I looked at my husband, and he knew I wanted to save this dog.  He said, “this may be good practice for you before having a baby, and since your birthday is coming up, we can get the dog.”  Thankfully, Spike went to the vet the next day and given some medicine which helped him get better (it was Giardia-an intestinal parasite found in unsanitary conditions).  

 

Anyone who saw Spike wanted to pet or snuggle him.  However, Spike did not like anyone under the age of 12 or if you wore a uniform.  He would pretend to go potty to get a treat; everything was about his stomach. He knew my mother would give him chicken anytime he saw her.  Spike would act cute to get out of any trouble. He was a peacemaker when members of my family were arguing. He would do something to get their attention and make everyone laugh.  

 

Several months before we put down Spike, the Vet diagnosed with a heart murmur.  His heart murmur was a stage 5 out of 6. There were drugs to help him be comfortable.  I knew I would have to make that decision to put him down in the next few months. I used that time to prepare myself and the family that he would be gone.

 

In those last eight months, I did not look at walking him as an annoying chore anymore.  We gave him lots of love and comfort. I made sure he played with his other friend dogs in the neighborhood.  We told him how much we loved him every day and thanked him for all the joyful memories.

 

Spike began to struggle.  He would have temporary paralysis, struggle to breathe and drink water. I knew it was time to put him down.  My husband, daughter and I went to the veterinarian office to say goodbye. I decided to stay in the room and hold him when the vet put him down.  At first, my daughter wanted to stay with me, but the vet strongly encouraged her not to be there. My husband took her out, and I said goodbye to Spike.

 

A family member texted me to check on me, and I told them I would call in a day or two.  When I reached out to them, they asked the usual questions. They asked if my daughter was there when we put Spike down.  I replied that she was there only to say goodbye. For the next couple of minutes, I received a verbal beat down of how I may have traumatized my child and how that was a bad decision.  I said, “if this situation has taught me anything, it is that I am no longer going to regret my decisions.”

 

The decisions we make in life always teach us something.  We, either, learn a hard lesson or we remember what served us well.  If we ruminate and keep our thoughts on repeat, we create anxiety. When we do make mistakes, we ask for forgiveness, forgive ourselves, and pray to our Heavenly Father to help us get past it.  I hope that my life reflects a life well loved and served.

 

Lesson Learned: Regret is a waste of time and energy.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for any decisions I have made that doesn’t align with your plan and purpose for me.  Thank you for your grace and mercy. Help me to learn from my mistakes. May I become stronger from every trial I face.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Know Your Value

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  How precious are your thoughts, oh God! How vast is the sum of them.” Psalm 139:16-17

There is so much pressure in the world today to be successful; it overwhelms us.  That pressure and stress have become unbearable for some. You can feel it in the atmosphere.  Sometimes you hear about it in the news because the story is about someone committing suicide and the aftermath.

Our niece is a high school senior.  She has many wonderful qualities: kind, intelligent, athletic and beautiful.  Her grades are perfect, and she has many extracurricular activities.  She wants to be a surgeon someday, so she has to be tough and be able to handle a lot at once.  Over the holidays, I heard her extensive schedule for the next semester, and it floored me.

A few days after seeing her for the holidays, I learned of a popular newscaster who died of a drug overdose.  Even though it was not a suicide, he allegedly used drugs to cope with the stress in his life. Sadly, many people deal with stress through the use of drugs, alcohol, smoking, video games, eating disorders, etc.  The pressure becomes too much to handle.

For some reason, God put our niece heavily on my heart when I heard about this newscaster. I felt like I needed to tell her that she is valuable, I was proud of her,  and no matter what, she would be successful in all she planned to do. I sent her a text. She responded that she needed to hear that.

Whether you are heading into college, getting a job in a career that you want, finding a spouse or even planning a birthday party, they are so many expectations-real and unnecessary.  The competition alone can bring people to their knees. In my daughter, just as a Fourth Grader, I saw the stress of the state testing week make her physically ill. I know she prepared the best she could, so I told her, that I did not care about the outcome of this test as long as you try.  She relaxed and tested at her grade level. I do not need her developing ulcers, worrying about a test score.

In January 2018, there was a suicide of a high school student in South Orange County, CA.  He wrote a letter about his discontent of living a pressure-filled life and trying to attain a perfect grade point average.  He enjoyed playing a sport, not the constant drive to achieve championships. It broke my heart.  He wanted to be a teen and have fun and try his best.  He felt he could not be himself.

Our worth should not be defined by the world, but by God.  God has a unique plan and purpose for each of us. Death and destruction are not a part of His purpose for us.  No matter how difficult life gets, God wants us to finish well. Let us relax the unrealistic pressure put on ourselves by the world.  Pursue God and seek His will. If we fail, then it will not be devastating. God loves us, and we are all valuable and worthy.

Lesson Learned: My value and worth are in the Lord, not the world.  In knowing that then I will be free.

I Deserve to be Happy

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!  Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”

1 John 3:1

 

“The boys you like will not like you because you are too fat,” said a close family member.  That statement devastated me. I tried to wipe the tears away quickly but they were coming down too fast.  The person saw my reaction and they said, “the truth hurts, get skinny.”

 

I spent many years after that, feeling depressed and worthless.  I tried my best to make myself invisible.  If I was thinner, only then I would be allowed to be happy. In the rare times that I would laugh or start to enjoy myself, the enemy would divert my attention to a thin woman with a handsome boyfriend or husband.  Then those words would come back and haunt me. I wouldn’t let myself be happy until I lost weight. But it never happened.

 

I abused my body by starving then binging.  Exercising for 3-hour walks and I could barely move.  While I was suffering through those hours-long walks on the beach when I saw a young woman on the beach in her bikini.  I wanted to jump off the cliff and hurl myself into the ocean, so the pain would stop.  Then I heard a voice, “that doesn’t matter to me.” It was so loud and clear.  I turned around and no one was there. I thought, great, now I am going crazy. But I knew down deep it was God. God loving me, loving his child, his creation.

 

It was the first time in a long time, I felt some peace.  I knew I needed to take better care of myself physically but to also take care of my soul.  When you are a sensitive person, it is hard to let go of nasty words or comments, especially from people who are supposed to love you unconditionally.  A lot of people in this world treat thinner and beautiful people better. But there is a large majority of people who couldn’t care less what I looked like.  We can discuss shaming people until we are blue in the face, but people still won’t get how wrong it is to degrade someone over their looks. So, we must see ourselves as God sees us.

 

I wish I could say I don’t care what people think, but I still do.  I am happy to say it doesn’t affect me as much as it used. God doesn’t want us thinking we are junk.  We are His children. He loves us so much. And He has opened my eyes to see how much love there is for me.  No matter our circumstance, we still deserve to be happy and experience joy every day.

 

Lesson Learned: We are all children of God, deserving of love and acceptance.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for falling for the standards of this world.  Help me to forgive those that say horrible things about me. Let me know my value.  Thank you for loving me. Help me be healthy in body, mind, and spirit. Break those strongholds that have been ruining my life and replace them with your strength and love.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

No Time for Pity

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God, he created him: male and female he created them.”  Genesis 1:27

 

The notion of celebrating our uniqueness seems alien.  There is an idea that is fed to us, that we must look a certain way, influences our thoughts about ourselves and others and how we spend our money to achieve beauty.  My daughter and I were inside a clothing store geared towards tweens and early teenaged girls.  I noticed a young teen looking in a mirror and fixing her hair.  She was probably 13 years old and I noticed that she had Vitiligo, a skin condition where you lose the pigment in the skin.  My heart sank, because I felt bad for her. I thought I wonder how often she hears bad comments or get weird looks.

 

But I heard God say, “don’t feel sorry for her, just smile at her.  She doesn’t need your pity.   She is NOT this condition.  People need to look past it and see her for who she is.”

 

In our earthly body, there is also a mind and a soul.  Our actions, the way we live our lives will be remembered more than our beauty.  Whether people have physical or mental challenges that brings forth attention, we treat them as God would treat them or how we would want to be treated.  

 

So, when I had the opportunity, I smiled at the girl in the store and she smiled back.  That smile helped me more than it helped her.  Having pity doesn’t solve the world’s problems.

According to psychologist, Dr. Aaron Ben-Zeév,  “Pity expresses a negative evaluation of the bad situation of others. Nevertheless people do not like to be pitied.”  

 

Look past disabilities of others or even our own troubles.  Treat people with love and have compassion.

 

Lesson Learned: Having compassion for someone is better than giving pity.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, help us have compassion for others and with ourselves.  Give us the vision to see past hurts and wounds.  Forgive us for having pity on others and ourselves.  Give us wisdom and clarity on exactly what we need to bring us aligned to your will for us.

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!”

Responding to Other People’s Anger

“If your enemy is hungry, then give him bread to eat and if your enemy is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”  Proverbs 25:21-22

 

There are days when you receive bad news, you process it and deal with it.  You realize it is may be difficult but God is on our side and there is nothing that is too big for Him.  Then there are the everyday problems that seem to cut us to the core.  They are trivial, but feel like a ton of bricks drop fell on us and we can’t get out.

 

A few things were going on that were causing me some stress.  I was given a work project that was requiring me to work more hours and my mother had been having some serious health issues.  Despite being tired and having some worrisome thoughts on these matters, I wasn’t having a difficult time.  I prayed and gave my cares to the Lord.  Then a small matter occurred with my neighbor and I lost my all sense of civility.

 

Southern California has been baptized with lots of rain (thankfully) but it wreaked havoc on our yard.   One morning,  when I had some free time, I decided to clean the front walkway and backyard.  I planned for this to take 30 minutes the most, but it ended up being 90 minutes of total work.

 

I was raking the leaves and after about 10 minutes, I realized that this task would take hours before I could clear it out.  So I decided to use our leaf blower.  Leaf blowers are annoying and loud but are helpful for bigger jobs.  It was 10:00 in the morning on a weekday, so I figured I was in the clear to use it.  After seeing some progress, I also decided to do some other gardening and bought 6 bags of mulch.  One bag weighed 30 pounds.  I loaded them into the cart and into the car and dragged each bag to the back yard.   My arms and back throbbed in pain.  

 

Several hours later I came home with my daughter from her school and had to begin my other job’s work.  My neighbor saw me come home.  Not more than a couple of minutes of us pulling into the garage,  I received this text message from our neighbor.  It was rude, accusatory and unsettling.  She was complaining about me using the leaf blower.  The gist of the text was she wanted me to tell my lazy husband (her words) that if she could pick up the leaves without using a leaf blower, he should be able to as well.  There are leaves all over her yard because of it and that she threw them all back over our fence (there was trash from her yard happen to appear with the leaves too).  So she insulted my husband who wasn’t even there.  She attacked my family.  I was shaking from the anger.

 

I wanted to text her back some salty words and give her a piece of my mind.  But every time I began to type the text, my hands shook so much, I would drop the phone.  I knew I needed to put the phone down, take a breath and calm down.  Thankfully I prayed and waited several hours before I responded to her text.  

 

All I kept hearing was “hands and feet of Jesus”.  Honestly, I didn’t want to be when I felt attacked.  But I knew, deep down, attacking her was not the way to go.  Her boyfriend has cancer and she seems troubled herself.  We have to drive past their place to leave our home every day.  In everyday life,  we don’t need to talk to them for anything, but I know I didn’t want there to be any issues between us.

 

So I reached for my phone and asked the Holy Spirit to write the words for me.  I responded by apologizing for the leaves going into her yard and how I never would intentionally blow them into their yard on purpose and I offered to clean them up. 

 

She responded back with an apology and how she is overwhelmed cleaning and taking care of her boyfriend having cancer.

 

So, if I went off on her, it wouldn’t have solved or proved anything.  It would have created animosity and enemies.  I am so thankful, that I chose God’s way instead of mine.   

 

Lesson Learned:  It is difficult, but more beneficial to be the bigger person, than getting sucked into a useless drama.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father,  help me to control the anger that wells up when drama comes up in our earthly lives.  Remind me of what truly matters, being the hands and feet of Jesus.  Give me courage to do the right thing that temporarily feeling good, by getting someone back.  Help me see that people are damaged and hurting and to offer encouragement.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”