Weapons for the Daily Battle: Be Thankful

Yesterday at church, I help teach the four and five year-olds and we talked about being thankful. It’s November and of course the church is getting ready for Thanksgiving and teaching the kids about thankfulness is just part of that. However, thankfulness in itself is a really powerful weapon against depression and anxiety.

Stop for a minute today, think of a situation that is causing you stress or anxiety and write down 5 things about it you are thankful for and then every time that stressful situation pops in your head, say to yourself, but I’m thankful for…. Pretty soon that situation won’t seem so impossible.

Let me give you an example. Last week I wrote about my oldest traveling alone to a horse show. I was full of anxiety about it but besides praying one of the things I would say is. Thank you God that she gets to be with the horses today. Thank you God that she had a ride there and a ride home. Thank you God that it didn’t rain in till she got there. Thank you God we packed extra underwear, (she had to stay an extra day.) Thank you God that I have a brave, kind, daughter who loves those animals.

Being thankful changes your focus. We are blessed beyond measure but we don’t always see it through our problems. It also reminds us that the God of the universe is on our side, fighting for us. It reminds us of the grace and mercy he extends to us. Have you ever heard of someone getting to the hospital right on time. That’s God taking care of them and that’s something to be so thankful for. Many of my friends will do a Facebook posts about what they are thankful for every day in November, leading up to Thanksgiving. That’s a wonderful way to celebrate the month but we need to do this 365 days a year. You can’t be depressed if your thankful about your life. Fighting depression and anxiety for many people is more than just taking antidepressants, you need to change your view of your world. You need to create new good habits and paths for your mind to follow. Thinking thankful thoughts helps make those new paths in your brain. It helps fight anxiety and depression.

Today, whatever problem you are facing there are things surrounding it you can be thankful for. Look for them and soak in them for a moment and focus on those things instead of worry or anxiety.

Struggling with the “What if’s” of Life

I have a hard time being away from my kids. This past weekend my 15 year-old traveled with a group of people to work at a horse show in another state. It was about a 2 hour drive from my house. I was very nervous and worried. I had to continually pray and remind myself that God had her and would protect her. It was hard, but God showed me that she needed to be there for the good of others. While we were planning for the trip there were times I almost didn’t let her go. But now I’m glad I did. She was responsible and a good helper and needed.

Sometimes fear can stop us in our tracks. We get stuck in all the “what if’s.” It happened to me again today. My son is home sick from school. He woke up with croup in the middle of the night. He was hospitalized as a toddler for croup. Within minutes of running the steam in the bathroom for him, in my mind I already had us packed up and heading to the hospital. The steam worked, his coughing calmed down and he made it to the doctor today.

What helps me the most when these “what if’s” start spiraling around me is to be thankful for what I do have and to pray and have faith for what I still need. I needed my daughter to come home safely. I need my son to get better without a scary trip to the hospital. So I have to pray. Pray that God helps me and has mercy on my kids and remind myself of the blessings God has given me.

It’s hard for me to imagine that in 2 short years my oldest daughter will be graduating high school. If she goes on to college, as I hope, it will be weeks without her instead of just days. God is using these short trips to prepare me for that I think. He is increasing my faith so that I will be able to handle that time well.

When facing the “what if’s” its easy to start planning for the worst case scenario. But I believe the times when we feel completely out of control are the times when God is inviting us to grow our faith. We are never in control of anything except how we choose to react to a situation. I’m still learning the right reactions to stop the anxiety around it but I believe faith is a powerful weapon.

He Knows Disappointment Too

H on his scavenger hunt in the park.

Last week we had beautiful fall days. Warm sunny with crisp leaves and cornstalks. Me and my youngest son enjoyed those days with trips to corn mazes and local parks, jumping in creeks and scavenger hunts until I got sick. Now I didn’t and don’t have Covid, Praise God, but I caught a cold which turned into a sinus infection. We had plans for the week. We had plans for the weekend but all came to a sudden halt and I was left struggling at home with disappointment and so was he.

Disappointments happen to everyone. I used to get really bent out of shape when they did. They are not a sign that God doesn’t love me or that Satan “won.” There just a part of life. When we focus on them instead of the goodness God gives us we can easily fall into depression and sadness.

I started with being thankful. I am thankful I got sick while my kids were on fall break so that no one missed anything important. I am thankful for doctors who prescribe medicine that made me feel better. I am thankful for hot tea and Netti pots.

I started reading what the Bible says about disappointments. Romans 8:28 says,” And we know (with great confidence) that God (who is deeply concerned about us) causes all things to work together (as a plan) for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.”

I love the way the Amplified version of the Bible says this verse. We know with great confidence. Do you have great confidence in God that when things don’t go how you planned that its still working to your good? How great is your confidence in God for him to guide you, protect you and have a plan for you, to love you?

Next it says, God who is deeply concerned about us. Do you think about how concerned God is for you? His love is more than just feel good mush. He cares for you, he keeps your tears in a bottle, he is concerned about you. Why because you are his adopted child. I am concerned about my children all the time. I am concerned when they go to the mall with their friends and I’m not there. I ‘m concerned when they go to school. I’m concerned when they go to their extra curricular activities. God does that over you. ALL THE TIME.

“He causes all things to work together, as a plan, for good” That cold it was for my own good. It didn’t feel good. It didn’t seem good at the time but it was for my own good. When I was in my twenties I worked for a company that was not great. There were lots of things going on there that weren’t good. But I was a hard worker and wouldn’t just quit. I was fired from that company. Being fired was awful. It didn’t feel good at all. But God used that to get me on the right path again. He changed my plans for His own good.

Finally, “For those who love God and are called according to his plan and purpose.” If you love God then he has a plan and purpose for your life. It may not feel like He does right now, but he does. You have to become brave to fulfill it maybe step out of your comfort zone, but He has a plan for you. That plan doesn’t change no matter how many mistakes you make.

Romans 5:5 says “Such hope (in God’s promises) never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

God’s promised us so much. God does not disappoint in His promises to us. We can take comfort in Him and in those promises. When the worldly disappointments happen.

2 Corinthians 4:16 says “Therefore we do not become discouraged, (spiritless, disappointed or afraid) Though our outer self is (progressivley) wasting away, yet our inner self is being (progressively) renewed day by day.”

Disappointments in life can prune us. They can be used by God to shape us into being more like Jesus, who suffered many, many disappointments in His time here on earth. If your struggling with disappointment in life I hope this brought you some comfort. God is always for you. I would love to pray for you if you are struggling today.

Take off your mask, Put on Unselfish Love

Me, No makeup

I had this thought yesterday as I put on my make up getting ready for church. Why am I covering my whole face? It seemed silly to apply foundation and concealer to the bottom half of my face, chin to cheeks when the entire time I would be at church they would be covered up by a mask. It got me thinking about why I wear makeup to church.

I’m not really a make-up girl, unless I’m going somewhere special filled with aquaintances or church, or I know my picture will be taken. I rarely wear it. In times of Covid I really don’t wear it. So I asked myself am I putting it on for me or for how I’ll be perceived by others.

I decided it’s how I want to be perceived, not frazzled. I was trying to put on a cover that I had everything together. When honestly none of us do. And church if church is a hospital for the broken hearted and the broken spirit then we all need to stop covering up our brokenness.

I’m talking more to myself and more about just make-up today. We can’t heal or be healed, we can’t be comforted or comfort if where not honest with each other in the body of Christ. We need to take of the things that mask our insecurities and put on what God calls us to wear.

In Colossians 3:14 AMP it says “Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in (unselfish) love, which is the perfect bond of unity, (for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others.) I want to be wrapped in unselfish love when I wake up in the morning.

Unselfish love is so needed and important today. So many people don’t know what that is. And its a principle we should be showing to each other everyday.

My pastor at Greenwood Christian Church, Matt Geibler, offered a challenge this week during service. He challenged all of us to pick one person in our lives to be kind to this week. He explained that that relationship would grow from being kind. Kindness is unselfish love. Putting others first. And for many of us who struggle with anxiety and depression sometimes that is telling our story because I bet as you share you will find there’s someone who’s story is not much different than yours. When we find someone who also struggles as we struggle we feel better. We can build each other up and help each other with our struggles.

We are so tempted to hold our anxiety inside. But keeping it inside only encourages us to spiral downward into depression. It’s ok to be anxious. It’s ok to share your feelings about being anxious. It’s the first step in getting help to learn how to cope with that anxiety. Because friend let me be the first to tell you it never goes away completely. It’s a battle you will have every day for the rest of your life and you need to know how to fight and you won’t know how to fight unless you share your story with someone who does.

Share your brokenness, Share your grief, share your struggles. Allow others to share their brokenness, grief and struggles with you. Pray for each other. Love each other with the gift of hearing and seeing each other. Give each other grace and mercy. If we church live a life like this inside and outside. Our cups will remain full and those outside the church will see what their missing.

Remember, Jesus does Love You

I remember when I took this picture. It was September of 2017 when my girls were still in dance. We were rushed for time, hurrying into the parking lot for class. It was always a chaotic rush to get there after school. We were rushing out, ready to get home when I looked up and saw a perfect heart in the clouds. I had spent the summer in bed recovering from a ruptured S5 disk. I still had pain and numbness in my right foot and leg, was still going to physical therapy and was finally able to drive my kids to dance practice. I’m sure my foot hurt. I’m sure I wondered if I could make it to dance let alone on time. I’m sure I was dreading driving home. But looking up and seeing that beautiful heart. It was a huge God kiss.

I needed a reminder that God loved me. Life was really hard at that point. School had started. I was up and walking but home alone for the first time in my life. I had a 4 year old little boy I had to take care of during the day. I posted the picture on Facebook with the caption “Profetic sign over Southport today, Jesus loves you.” I remember later many of my friends had seen the same clouds and posted pictures of it.

If God can arrange the clouds in the sky to make a perfect heart at just the right moment for me. He can arrange our lives to live out our destiny. He loves us and he has perfect plans for our lives. He is taking us all on a journey. Sometimes that journey is really hard and we need to look up and see his glory. I was having a day when I needed to look up and see Him and know how much He loves me. If your struggling with life today I hope this helps you to look up and focus on Him too. He loves you, so much he arranged the clouds for you to see it. He loves you so much he sent his son to show you.

You are a Pearl of Great Price

I had an amazing weekend. I was supposed to be going to the Karitos conference this weekend but due to Covid concerns that was canceled. So instead a few wonderful ladies of God and I met at a beautiful park in Shipshewana, Indiana to create and talk and walk and pray. When we all arrived together one of the ladies a wonderful writer, mentor and friend Rose Calkins, reminded us that we are all daughters of God and “pearls of great price.” Prompted by the Holy Spirit She gave us each a pearl bracelet she had be wearing. I had traveled with a close friend who had received a pearl necklace that morning when she opened her amazon package that contained her outfit for the day. That was gifted to our other friend an amazing visual artist and teacher.

We talked a little about Matthew 13 verses 45-46 which reads in the amplified version, “Again the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, and upon finding a single pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

I always thought this was a commandment of God to us. To give all we have for the pearl of Jesus. But friends it goes both ways. We are Jesus’s pearls of great price. He gave his life so that we could live forever with him. Within the lifetime we spend with him He creates us into a beautiful, priceless pearl.

According to Bing website “Natural Pearls form when an irritant – usually a parasite and not the proverbial grain of sand – works its way into an oyster, mussel, or clam. As a defense mechanism, a fluid is used to coat the irritant. Layer upon layer of this coating, called ‘nacre’, is deposited until a lustrous pearl is formed.”

Pearls are formed out of adversity. An irritant, a grain of sand or even a parasite. Works its way into the life of the clam. As a defense it is covered with a fluid that hardens and forms the pearl. That’s a perfect example of how the Holy Spirit can work in us.

Life happens, Anxiety, trouble, stressful situations. These grains of sand or parasites could destroy us. But if we allow the Holy Spirit in us to work that irritant begins to make us tougher and we flourish through adversity. We become beautiful because we make it though our pain.

Joel Osteen says in his YouTube video ” Invite God into your Difficulties” that instead of praying our way out of our troubles we should invite God to be with us in and through them.

God uses our troubles to shape and molds us. In John 15 verses 1-7 Jesus talks about how he is the vine and we are the branches. God prunes off the branches who do not bear fruit. He choice of pruning shears is often problems, trouble, uncomfortable and painful situations. He uses these situations to shape and mold us to be healthy branches, just like adversity shapes the pearl.

If you are struggling today, take heart. God will use these situations to make you better, stronger and braver if you invite him into them today.

My Testimony

I listened to a worship class two weeks ago lead by Rick Pino and Todd White. Towards the end they challenged everyone in the class to share their testimony. I can remember a time in my life when I thought I didn’t have a testimony. I never did drugs, never got into trouble. I grew up loving Jesus. When I was little I wanted to be a missionary. When I was in high school I wanted to be a worship leader. I haven’t become either yet but I was always God’s girl. Even in college when I drifted away from my faith I still believed Jesus loved me.

All that changed drastically the day I ruptured my S5 disc in my back. I suddenly in that moment was in desperate need of saving. In the days that followed when I couldn’t walk or get out of bed, I was in desperate need of saving. In My husband and family watching me suffer were also in desperate need of saving. Saving came but so slowly. Climbing out of the pain and helplessness seemed to take forever. But saving still came.

Jesus saved me that day. I injured my back sweeping up my three-year-old son as he ran away from me while I was trying to get him in the car to a doctor appointment. I drove to the appointment after I injured my back. The kind of injury I suffered caused the sciatic nerve in my back to be pinched and my right leg was in severe pain the entire 40 minutes I drove to and from the doctor. God got me home with no car accidents. That alone was a miracle.

Once I was home we were able to talk directly to my doctor on the phone instead of going to the emergency room. They were able to do MRI scans the very next day. God provided me with doctors who were able to treat and care for me for the next 8 months I was in recovery and physical therapy. God has provided me with a neurologist who can provide me with the medication I need for my ongoing never damage in my right foot from the injury. We found a foot doctor. Who performed a foot surgery almost a year ago today which has given me even more mobility.

But God has done so much more in my heart since all this happened. He’s helped me battle fear. He’s given me stronger convictions and I have a better relationship, more trusting relationship with Jesus than I ever did before. He’s a good God who take care of those of us who love Him.

God used what was the scariest, hardest thing in my life and has made it for good. I know he can do the same for you. He truly is a good God.

I Know It’s Hard, But You Can Do It.

My son had his first eye appointment yesterday. He’s six. It was a long appointment and he did really well behaving. A few times during the visit he struggled with the directions of what to do. He would get frustrated and I would hear myself say. I know this is hard but you can do it. Take a deep breath and try again.

After about the third time I had said this I had a God moment. We struggle in life. We get frustrated, We don’t always understand the what’s and whys of life and what’s going on. It’s hard to sit still in life. Sometimes were in the middle of a really big deal. A death of a family member or friend, loss of a job or relationship, but sometimes It’s not as big as we make it to be. Regardless the circumstance God doesn’t want us to give up or give in. Frustration can easily lead to apathy and apathy depression. In these moments when things feel so hard I can hear Jesus saying to us, “I know this is hard but you can do it. Take a deep breath and try again.”

Now as a mom I knew the outcome of the visit. I knew my son was safe, nothing bad was going to happen to him. In life we don’t always have that assurance. In life we often feel like the world is falling apart all around us. How wonderful that we can know and trust that even in those moments God’s got us. It’s hard but he has us protected and safe. He knows its hard for us but its necessary to create who we are supposed to be in him. He knows we can do it with his help. He’s not only cheering us on but helping us along the way.

I have three children and I love them all deeply but theirs something about a mom and a son. That kid clings to me like the other two girls didn’t. He needed me in the room. Folks we need Jesus in the room with us when we are facing our trials. I’m not saying he’s not already there but you need to know that he’s there. Watching, helping, guiding and protecting you. That assurance comes from a close relationship with Him. I encourage you to pray and read your Bible everyday so that you can cultivate that kind of relationship.

My friend if today is a hard day I want to pray for you. Pray that you persevere that you hear Him lovingly encourage you to keep going. Good days are ahead because He has a good plan for your life. You can make it through the hard moments. If I can pray for you today please leave a comment.

How to Have a Winning Battle with Worry

Photo by Kaleigh Sawers on Pexels.com

School started last week and my kids are going in person. That started me to worry. Two of my children came home from the first day of school with stuffy noses and sore throats and that caused me to worry. Doctor appointments for them. Sitting and waiting for a diagnosis caused me to worry. Doctor notes getting them back in school when they were diagnosed with colds caused me to worry. Missing plans over the weekend caused me to worry. Will I get it too, caused me to worry. See I have lots of reasons to worry and I believe you do to. Which is why it is so hard when someone says to you, stop being a worry wort to just stop. For a long time I couldn’t just stop worrying, I needed a plan of attack.

By the way none of the things I worried about happened. Both kids did not have COVID. Both kids are feeling just fine now and both kids are back at school. Worrying did nothing but cause more of it.

Joyce Meyers often compares worrying to rocking in a rocking chair your moving but your not going anywhere. And she’s right. It’s unproductive, it raises your stress level, its unhealthy and it gives you an attitude that anything bad that will happen can happen.

For me I’ve had to take Joyce’s advice and Jesus’s to stop the worry train. When I realize I’m worrying I stop, I pray about whatever it is I’m worried about, Sometimes I have to do this over and over again and then I replace it with something I am thankful with.

Matthew Chapter 6 says a lot about worry. In verse 33 Jesus reminds us to first seek His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you also.” That is why I pray first. I want to seek God’s will on whatever it is I’m worried about.

I’m also learning to be careful not to talk a lot about what I’m worried about. Our words are powerful. When we talk about worry we tend to dwell on it. We don’t really know what’s going to happen one day for the next or why somethings happen the way they do. We just have to trust God’s will in it.

Finally I thank God for his goodness. He is for us, not against us. If we are reminded of the goodness he’s done in our lives its hard not to trust Him to continue to take care of us. Philippians 4:6 says “Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything (every circumstance and situation) by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your (specific) requests known to God. ”

If we do this He promises in verse 7 ” The peace of God (that peace which reassures the heart, that peace) which transcends all understanding, (that peace which) stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (is yours.)”

Don’t you want that kind of peace! I sure do. I’ve experienced that kind of peace before in really hard times. God is good. He knows what you need when you need it.

Don’t Give Up the Race

Photo by Heart Rules on Pexels.com

My junior year of high school was my last year on the swim team. It took everything out of me. I had a number of sinus infections that season and was having awful nose bleeds after practices. Most of my friends were no longer swimming. I only had a few friends on the team. By the time hell week, yes that’s what it was called, in preparation for sectionals rolled around I was ready to quit. But I didn’t. I continued through the season and placed in sectionals shaving my time significantly. I’m glad I didn’t quit. When the nosebleeds returned after my first week of practice my senior year I did leave the team. I didn’t want to go through being sick for so long again. There were other reasons, I had a better opportunity playing keyboard for marching band which was something I’m glad I didn’t pass up. 

I don’t quit things easily. It takes a lot of consideration and prayer. I often have a really hard time when things end unexpectedly. I’m one of those people who put my all into everything I do. Which is why I try to instill in my children that they shouldn’t give up. Even when it’s hard. If your in ministry, even a small ministry you will have challenges. You will have moments where it just doesn’t seem like it could possibly work. You have moments where you don’t think your goal will get accomplished. And you’ll feel like you want to give up. Call it warfare call it Satan meddling, call it just how life goes these things will happen. But if your doing it for God and He’s given you a vision and a calling for it. He has a way to make it happen no matter what happens in the meantime. In those moments He doesn’t call us to quit, He calls us to finish our race. 

“Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord (always doing your best and doing more than is needed,) being continually aware that your labor (even to the point of exhaustion) in the Lord is not futile nor wasted (it is never without purpose.) 1 Corinthians 15:58

Nothing you do for God is wasted, without purpose. Nothing you do for God is insignificant or forgotten. We were made to be bearers of His light. If you shine even for a moment in the darkness you create hope. You show love. You give mercy and kindness. Don’t pass up opportunities just because they seem “too hard” God will make a way.

“Indeed we felt within ourselves that we had received the sentence of death (and were convinced that we would die, but this happened) so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead. He rescued us from so great a threat of death and will continue to rescue us. On Him we have set our hope. And He will again rescue us (from danger and draw us near.) 2 Corinthians 1:9-10.

The trials we face when trying to do good works. They are allowed by God so that we will put our trust in Him to accomplish our goal, not ourselves. If you’re facing something hard today. Let me pray for you. 

Dear Jesus, 

Help my friend to put their trust in you today. Allow them to trust, whatever the outcome of their situation, that it is your will. If you have instilled in them a calling and a purpose and there are obstacles in their way I pray in your name that no weapon form against them will prosper. I pray that they have help, peace, mercy and joy on their journey to fulfilling your purpose in them. Thank you for co-laboring with us to carry on your message. Allow my friend wisdom and strength as they continue to battle and bless them with the fruits of their labors. In your Holy name I pray, Amen.