Preparing for Stressful Situations

School starts for my children next week. I have one starting kindergarten, one starting middle school and my oldest will be a freshman in high school. Were leaving later today for the old school supply shopping. I will say excitement and anxiety is quite high in the Mallasch house lately.

My oldest has stressed over her school schedule multiple times. Yesterday was a day of doors banging and arguing. I know things will work themselves out in the end but she doesn’t see that just yet.  My youngest who just turned 5 on Sunday told me twice he was “sad” and just wanted to stay home. My middle child is just really quiet, she’s usually quite talkative.

Unfortunately this change in schools is something we all just have to go through. There’s no real way around it. So how do you manage your anxiety when you are walking through the circumstance that is causing you pain?

A wise boss of mine once told me when I was in the midst of a stressful situation, “this too shall pass.” And she was right. So right I remember her advice but have forgotten the circumstance. Many times with my back when I was faced with another epidural I would remind myself that the side effects only lasted a week and I just had to get through that week.

Being prepared also helps. I am still fearful of driving more than 30 minutes at a time. A few months ago I wanted to go to see a play that was about 45 minutes away. I was talking to my therapist about it and told him I didn’t know what to do If I couldn’t keep driving. He said, you need a back up plan. What if you parked the car when you got to a point where you had pain and called an uber? Then when the play is over you can uber back to your car and drive the rest of the way home.  Having that back up plan of knowing that I could call and uber took away a great deal of anxiety that I had about driving. So sometimes preparing for a circumstance can alleviate the stress of it as well.

I find a lot of peace in God when I am in stressful situations. However, sometimes He allows us to go through a stressful situation multiple times in order to build up our character. Yesterday I had to get blood work done. Now I’m a hard stick. Most of the time I get poked more than once and success is in my hand or wrist not in my arm. I was not prepared to give blood yesterday. It was definitely a surprise situation. Normally when I know that I’m going to have to give blood I drink a lot of water and wear warmer clothes. Not the case yesterday. So I told the nurse that she had a challenge and asked for some water and prayed, Dear God please help her get it on the first stick. Well God didn’t answer that prayer so my prayer changed to just help her get what she needs. She got it on the second try, in my hand. There was a time when I would get really stressed out about being poked by a needle. I would dread it and make a big deal about it. But God has made me go though this enough times that I can have peace in it no matter how many times it takes.

Jesus promised His peace will always be with us. Sometimes we just have to surrender to the fact that we’re not in control of our situations, He is and there is peace in know that our Father will work it out. I hope I can relay that to my children today as we are getting our supplies and preparing for next week. I hope they see God is working it all out for their good too.

 

 

 

 

Karitos Worship Conference Creates New Opportunities for Young People

IMG-0947 (1)Sunday me and my daughters came home from the 25th Karitos Worship and Arts Conference. This year it was in Streator, Illinois about a 3 and a half hour drive for us. This conference is always a test of faith for me. In 2015 was the last time I went to the conference as an attendee. Since then I have gone as a volunteer in registration and in the past two years been an integral part of the Youth Track. So I went to work and work I did.

The whole weekend we met obstacle after obstacle but God provided. The conference took place this year at two churches. The Open Bible Church located in a old elementary school is where classes were held during the day and the Grace Assembly Church was where nightly worship took place. Both churches worked together graciously to  help the event run smoothly. Unfortunately a week before the event the air conditioning at the school no longer worked. It was a hot weekend. And we were faced with classes with no air. I was especially concerned with the children in my and my assistant Hannah Mwangi’s care that they would get over heated. One of my volunteers Lorraine was a God send. She was a resident of Streator so she went home and brought two more large fans for the youth room. Then after the second class of Hip Hop when my youth were dropping like flies in the hot room She went downstairs and got the concession stand to donate water for them. Zach Francis, the vice president of Karitos also went and purchased water so that we had some for the rest of the time. I was so thankful to both of them.

It was hot but now the heat was more bearable. I cheerfully told the youth to pretend they were at camp for the weekend.  God was actually planning with this water for another obstacle we would face Friday evening. The city came under a mandatory 48 hour boil alert. Had we not had that water for the youth they would have been in serious trouble under our care on Saturday. I am so thankful that God planned ahead.

I saw so many amazing things that God did for these young people over the weekend. One of the girls had ear pain. The worship pastor and a few others prayed and laid hands on her and she gave her testimony that night that the pain had left. Praise God!  Young people led worship with dancing and flags and one boy, who had grabbed my heart early on, climbed up on stage and danced with  Pastor Cory Ratliff Saturday night.

IMG-0944The main focus for the youth that weekend was freelance Spray paint artist Milton Coronardo who came to teach them how to spray paint and make their own art. The youth enjoyed learning how to spray paint and worked together to make their own murals on plywood. Coronardo also worked with the adults who created a beautiful butterfly mural for the Open Bible Church’s outreach ministry. IMG-0942

If you are someone who is artistic like me and is looking for a place that celebrates all forms of art in a christian way Karitos may be what your looking for. There are many events throughout the year in addition to the conference. There is also online classes offered in many different genres. I encourage you to go to  karitosnation.org and learn more about it. You can also check out last years blog about Katitos 2018 What is Karitos Worship and Arts Conference.

A Week of Camp, Focusing on the Good

Last week there was no post because I was in the woods of Camp Allendale with over forty third and fourth graders. This was my second year volunteering at the camp for our church’s sponsored week. Camp Allendale, located in Trafalgar Indiana, is one my favorite places on earth. As a child I came to know Jesus there and was baptized the Sunday after my first week of camp. My daughters have both attended and my middle daughter was baptized there. Next year my son will be old enough for his first year of “day” camp their and I cannot wait.

God truly blessed me with a great week. I had a good group of 6 girls that did really well. Physically I was tired but able to walk, play games and even jog a little without injury or need for my back or foot braces. It was refreshing for me and for my soul to be able to serve God in such a joyous place.

This year’s camp theme was on Focusing on God. What I took out of that week is a reminder that all good things do come from God and that he calls us to focus on those things. James 1:17 says,”Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” God gives us good gifts and he wants us to focus on them. See Phillippians 4:8 says this, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.”  Focusing on the good God gives us instead of the inconveniences or complaints in our lives makes bearing our pain easier, gives us a better outlook on life and fills us with hope.

I’ve been challenging myself lately not to complain. I realized about two months ago I was complaining alot about my pain levels and it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. So I started setting a goal that I would go all day without complaining. I haven’t made it yet and well, Wednesday of last week when all of us camp leaders were sore from two days of hiking around camp complaints flew. But it didn’t ease the physical pain any, taking Tylenol and resting did. And think about it I was in my favorite place and I wanted to complain, now that just seems silly. One of the leaders chose that night to talk about that exact thing and reminded us of Phillippians 2:14-15 “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you.”

God loves us and gives us good things he wants us to focus on the good things, the mercies in our lives and not complain. That attitude change may be the one thing that helps you enjoy your life regardless of your circumstances. I encourage you today to look for the good things God has provided for you.

Vacation Brings New Confidence

IMG_0743We just came back from a short but very sweet vacation. We spent Sunday through yesterday in Ohio. Sunday we went to the Dayton Air Show in Dayton, Ohio with my father, brother and my nephews. My daddy loves airplanes and when I hit my teen years he became a pilot and we went to a lot of air shows. Going to Dayton with my family was something I had wanted to do because it was something I enjoyed doing with my dad. I like airplanes too and was excited to be around them again.

 

The Dayton Air Show is much busier than I remember and it took us a long time to get parked and shuttled over to the airfield. We only were there for maybe 3 hours by the time we got settled in. My girls did not enjoy it mainly because of the line to get there and back to the car. I was happy once I was sitting in the field watching the Thunderbirds loop through the sky. My 4 year old son had his cousins and lots of bouncy houses and planes to explore so he was happy.

We then drove to Great Wolf Lodge in Mason Ohio where we spent the rest of our vacation. It is probably one of our favorite places to go and we’ve been there a handful of times. It’s walking distance from Kings Island, has a great staff, clean rooms and lots of things for the kids to do. My children have all enjoyed swimming in their waterpark and playing magic quest until bed time. This time we got park tickets for Kings Island so we spent our days there.

Being at the park was a little bitter sweet for me. Five months after my back surgery we went to Disneyworld and my doctor had told me at that time I could ride anything but I may not tolerate everything, meaning a ride wouldn’t damage my back but might make me sore. I had aggravated my back a few weeks ago so I didn’t want to ride anything that might aggravate it further so I had to pass on many of the rides I love. That meant my husband who isn’t as fearless as me when it comes to roller coasters had to ride them with my older daughters. They all did really well. My daughters’ rode almost everything that did not go upside down and they all had a wonderful time together. I took my son to the Snoopy land and watched him run from one ride to the next. We had a good lesson in waiting in lines the second day as it was much more crowded.

IMG_0767It was tiring for me as there was a lot of walking involved. However I reached my personal best since the surgery walking 6.5 miles on Tuesday. I was hurting by the end  but very relieved as I will be at Camp Allendale next week and walking over 3 miles a day. It was God’s way of letting me know that I could do this and the fears I had of walking too far and getting stuck somewhere melted away.

I also stood a great deal the trip too, something else I have a hard time with. Being able to stand in those lines for 30 to 40 minutes improved my confidence as well. I think back to right after my surgery when I wondered if I would ever be able to walk again and I am so thankful that God is healing me, even if it feels like such a slow process at times.

I was thankful for the time my family had together it was a very joyful trip for all of us.

 

Go Through the Valley

adventure alps backpack backpacker
Photo by Krivec Ales on Pexels.com

Courtney Hay was mentor and worship leader who’s father Bob Hay was a found of the Karitos Worship and Arts Conference in Chicago. Courtney taught at this conference for many years and that is where I met her. She has been a spiritual leader to me. Courtney would often teach a class called, Worshiping in the Valley. I attended it multiple times at Karitos and the Karitos Indianapolis Conference. It was about how to have joy when you are going through something amazingly hard in your life. Courtney knew hard. She struggled with multiple cancers for many years, in fact she had cancer when I met her at least 10 years ago, she passed from complications of it in 2018. She was one of the most joyous people I have ever known despite being in constant pain. She knew a secret that most days I can’t even grasp. She knew how to be content in her situation and be present every day.

Now I know she had days where she couldn’t get out of bed. When she begged God to heal her or a day of no pain.  I know I mostly saw her on her best days when she was doing what she wanted to do and surrounded by her family and friends, but I know that pain can make that even hard to enjoy at times. The problem is when your in constant pain, physical or emotional, sometimes you get stuck. You can’t see your way out of it. You long for a day without it but that day just doesn’t come. For me it might be waking up everyday to the nerves firing in my foot or the soreness in my back, for you it might be that person you love very much saying something very unloving to you again. It wears you down, breaks your heart and makes you feel like you just want to give up.  That’s what it feels like to be in the valley.

But that’s not the end. Jesus wants to give us hope. He doesn’t want us to set up a house and live in the valley. He wants us to keep walking through the valley.  Psalm 23:4 AMP “Even though I walk though the {sunless} valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil, for you are with me;  Your rod {To protect} and your staff {to guide}, the comfort and console me.”

The verse says “we walk through”, that means every day we get a little closer to the end of the valley. We walk through that heart breaking situation, that divorce, cancer, loss of a loved one or physical loss. If we stop walking and we sit in it we will get swallowed up by it. As Christians were not supposed to just sit. We get to walk through. Although loneliness dwells in that valley we are not alone, Jesus is right in that pain with you protecting you and guiding you through and out. That is something to be thankful for!

Two years ago before my back was ruptured I was preparing to leave a job I dearly loved to be a stay at home mom with my then three-year old son. I prayed earnestly that my work would be protected even though I was leaving. I loved the people I worked with, I loved what I did and leaving was so hard but I felt that God was calling me to do it. My last day of work was supposed to be a Friday and I ruptured my disk the Tuesday before. I never made it to my last day of work. But thankfully my work was saved from loosing an employee due to injury. Everything was already in place for work to occur without me. God protected me and where I had worked even though I was just starting out in my valley.

I can think of many other times when he protected me. When I hurt too much to drive and one of my kids had to be somewhere and miraculously my dad would call, my husband would be home or a friend would appear and it would all work out or God loving helped me drive home in pain but I’d get their safely.

So I encourage you, whatever you are facing to go through it. Put one foot in front of the other and keep walking. Remember there is another side, the valley does end you don’t have to stay in it.

Time to Rest, work is ahead

I’ve been wrestling with some physical limitations recently. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had a stress fracture in my foot, thankfully last week I was able to retire my brace and walk in shoes only again. Only to later in the week aggravate my back.  I went directly to my back doctor who informed me it was a mild aggravation of the facets near my surgery site (the bones that surround the disc) and I should feel better in a few weeks. So I am forced to take things easy right now. I often think that God allows these things to happen when He needs me to slow down and rely on him. I don’t like slowing down or sitting still, or waiting on anything so its an area God is still working on in me. I am thankful for my husband and my dad both have been here for me this week. My dad came and helped me watch the kids the day I injured my back so I could lay down he also cleaned my kitchen. I am so blessed with a good father. My husband has helped me with more of the chores that require me bending or sitting on the floor which I am very grateful for.

I also think I have a tendency to want to do everything my way, on my own without asking for help. In the past two years since my back injury I’ve had to learn how to ask for help and how to show appreciation for it. Its hard and humbling to know you can’t do something most people can do for themselves without help. Its such a relief when someone comes beside you and does help, thank you never seems like enough.

I have two exciting things coming up in July that I need to be better for, both will take a toll on my body if I’m not careful. But both things I don’t want to miss. The first is I volunteer for a week at Camp Allendale in Trafalgar, Indiana. This christian camp is one of my favorite places on earth. I attended there as a child and both of my daughters have attended. I can’t wait till my son is old enough to go. The week of camp is Holy Spirit filled and rich with lessons about how much Jesus loves us. Last year was my first year volunteering and I just loved seeing it through the eyes of the kids in my cabin. It was hard work but so worth it.

I also have the Christian worship conference Karitos to attend from July 11 -13. This conference is very important to me. This year I am the department head over the youth attending and I have been working on making this years experience for them for the past few months. I am so excited about what they will be doing this year. We have a professional spray painter, Milton Coronado who will be spending both Friday and Saturday with them teaching them about street art and giving them a chance to work on an actual mural. We also have individualized devotional time planned. The youth get to try all fields of artistic expression from visual art classes to sound and video recording. It will be a great experience for anyone who attends.

Both are big reasons why I need to rest and focus on being in better health by the end of this month. Prayers are greatly appreciated on all fronts. If you would like more information about Camp Allendale check out their website www.camp-allendale.org  or Karitos check out my blogs. What is Karitos Worship and Arts Conference  and their website www.karitosnation.org. 

Addressing the Anxiety of Change

I worked for a man once who didn’t like change. Really didn’t. He liked routine, predictability and the old fashion way. But regardless of what he liked and didn’t like he would eventually have to agree to some of it and change would happen slowly, mostly for the better. I don’t like change much either and have a hard time when I see a season of my life end. Lots of seasons are ending in my life right now. Which causes me to feel fear, anxiety and sadness.

I looked in the Bible for a word about change. Of course the Byrd’s song “Turn, Turn Turn” popped into to my head as I turned to Ecclesiastes chapter 3.  A few things I took from this is that first I have God’s permission to feel how I do, there’s a season for weeping or sadness in verse 4 and thankfully it’s followed by a season to laugh. There is not a season for fear or anxiety. So I should let go of them. In verse one it states in the Amplified Version “There is a season ( a time appointed) for everything and a time for every delight and event or purpose under heaven.” There’s purpose to change. Purpose to what was before and what is coming and purpose to any pain you feel during the change your going through.

Next I stumbled upon a number of verses that speak of how God does not change. He is the only unchanging, stable factor in an ever changing world. I really liked what Psalm 46 verses 2-5 had to say. “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change.” (Well my fear should go out the window right there.) “And though the mountains be shaken and slip into the heart of the seas, though its waters roar and foam, through the mountains tremble at its roaring. Selah. There is a river whose streams made glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her (His city), she will not be moved, God will help her with the morning dawns.”

I take from this that I shouldn’t fear change because the Holy Spirit dwells in me and He will help me.

Finally I was reminded that we do change. God made us as beings that can transform from what we were into what he wants us to be. Change is painful, sometimes just emotionally painful, sometimes both physically and emotionally painful. But our goal is to live like Jesus, to be shining lights in a dark world and he changes us slowly into that glow.

2 Corinthians 2:18 “And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from (one degree of) glory to (even more) glory, which comes from the Lord, (who is) the Spirit.”

I’m not one to say “go ahead embrace change” but I do agree that it is necessary and has purpose and is nothing to be feared. Knowing that it is purposeful to God in how he shapes us helps take away the anxiety and fear I feel and some of the sadness too.