Categories
Encouragement

5 Habits to Keep After COVID-19

It’s been three weeks of social distancing and self-containment, and truthfully, I’m growing restless. But as I think of the world slowly transitioning back to reality in the coming weeks(or months?), I want to take advantage of the lessons I’ve learned in the midst of COVID-19.

As I’ve been praying about where God is in all of this, I’ve gotten the vision of a seed. Just as a seed is planted in the darkness, hidden yet nourished by the dirt, at the proper time, the seed grows into a strong oak tree that cannot be shaken. Seeds are being planted in this season, and in due time, we will reap a harvest (Galatians 6:9). Here are some seeds I pray will take root in the world, even when life goes “back to normal.”

1. We Keep Washing Our Hands

This is an obvious point, but I’m not just talking about physically. This virus has taught us to be more aware of how our actions, attitudes, and illnesses affect those around us. “If one member suffers, we all suffer together” (1 Corinthians 12:26).

As a result of COVID-19, I pray that we remember to practice purity in our words and our actions. That we can remember the power of life and death that rests in the tongue, and that we would choose our words carefully. Though we shouldn’t distance or isolate ourselves, we should be wise in what we share with others.

2. We Stay Home When We’re Sick

During the beginning stages of the quarantine, we received an e-mail from a local business about their protocol to handle the virus, “Employees who don’t feel well will be required to stay home.” My inward response to that was, Shouldn’t that always be the case?

I confess that I’m guilty of going to work even when I struggle to get out of bed. I’m guilty of being scared to call my boss and tell them I’m too sick to come into work. When I do take a day off, I try to justify why it was the right thing to do instead of embracing rest. But this virus has taught me that going to work sick doesn’t help anyone. Especially not me.

As a result of COVID-19, I pray that we would see that our lives are more important than our salaries. That we would have the courage to admit when we genuinely shouldn’t go to work or participate in that event. Though we shouldn’t cheat the system, we should use the PTO time (or even the non-PTO time) given to us by our employers to refresh and restore ourselves, so we can return from our breaks as healthy, hardworking members of the company.

3. We Make Time to Rest and Grieve

During this quarantine, we’ve lost a lot. Seniors in high school and college have missed a chance to participate in graduation activities. Sports events have been cancelled. Some people have important events, like birthdays, weddings, baby and bridal showers, and welcoming new family members into the world.

Loss happens in this world, but when “life goes on,” the pain and grief we feel often gets pushed to the side. We have to put on a happy face and keep going. It doesn’t give glory to God to power through our pain. We need to be authentic.

As a result of COVID-19, I pray that when we’re going through seasons of difficulty in the future, the world would be forgiving and let us reflect on what we’ve lost. But even when it’s not, that we would be bold in our tears and pain, knowing that our Lord holds our tears in a jar and is with us in the pain.

4. We Keep Up the Relationships We’ve Cultivated (Including With Ourselves)

In this season of quarantine, we’re getting the opportunity to see our loved ones up close and personal. I’m personally thankful for the chance to spend more time with my husband, who has been working from home instead of driving an hour each day into work. I’ve genuinely enjoyed the video chats I’ve been a part of and the chance to get to know my friends “face-to-face.” I’ve also found a new love for myself, discovering gifts and passions that had yet to be awakened because of lack of time.

As a result of COVID-19, I pray that we will become so saturated in love for our friends and family that meeting with them would never be a burden. May we be free from obligations and instead invest in where we want to be. Though we should still go to work and participate in the world, we should intentionally carve out time to sit with our friends outside and laugh at the memories created during the quarantine. And that we can recognize that self care is just as important as pouring into the lives of others.

5. We Wait on the Lord

The whole world is in waiting right now, begging for this virus to stop wreaking havoc on our land. While the day we see a break will be glorious, it will not signal the end of all waiting. There will be many seasons where we’ll be crying out to God just as loudly as we all now, our voices straining in desperation to be set free from this wait.

We were in that season of waiting for a house for a long time. After weeks, months, and years of prayers, saving, and sacrifice, we are driving to the bank to close on our first home. As we live in our new house, our new house, we will never forget the prayers we’ve whispered in desperation to God, the promises that He can do the impossible, and the faithfulness that carried us to see the fulfillment of those promises.

The same God who met us in our need is the same God who is with us now. And He’s the same God who will be with us the next time we’re in a season of waiting.

As a result of COVID-19, I pray that we never waste the wait. I pray that we lean into God and bring the deepest cries of our hearts to Him. Even though it hurts, I fully believe that God hears our prayers and He draws near to us as we draw near to Him. May we never take His presence for granted, even when we get everything back that we lost in this season of waiting.

Amen.


If you are interested in fiction stories, check out the short story I wrote this week about how I believe God is working during our global quarantine period. You can subscribe to my e-mail list to have an encouraging short story sent to you every Monday morning.

Categories
Encouragement

It’s Time to Rest

I love my job. Working from home, writing thousands of words a day, learning a treasure trove of information, and being part of an uplifting team. At this job, I truly feel like I’m doing what God created me to do for this season. After each shift, I’m so excited and grateful that I have the opportunity to work in my dream career.

Except, why am I so tired?

I Experienced Burnout, Even in My Dream Job

Truthfully, my first month on the job was fun, but it was also information overload. As a result, I was tired. I could even say a felt a low grade of depression. For a couple of weeks I wondered, if this is my dream job and I’m depressed, did I follow the wrong dream?

Over time, I learned that I wasn’t in the wrong career. I was just burned out. Even though my job is exactly what I want to be doing, it was too much. I needed to make time to rest, especially since I hadn’t worked full-time in more than two years before this job.

We all need rest, even from good things. Just ask Elijah.

Elijah Was Burnt Out, Even in His Dream Job

Elijah was a powerhouse prayer warrior prophet for God. Everywhere he went, miracles followed. One of the most prominent miracles of God that he experienced was up against the prophets of Baal, a false god. You can read about it in 1 Kings 18. God shows up in a supernatural way, putting the doubt of all people to death. Oh, and He also brought rain down on the land after a long drought.

But shortly after all these miracles happened, Elijah wished he was dead. Wait, what? No, seriously. In 1 Kings 19:4, Elijah says what we’ve all said at one time or another: “I’ve had enough, Lord.” He asks God to take his life. You could say that it’s the one prayer God didn’t answer, but actually, He does.

Elijah Needed a Nap and a Snack

Right after this declaration, Elijah falls asleep. Sometimes, we just need a nap! But then when his nap is finished, an angel wakes him up and tells him to eat.

A literal angel made Elijah literal food. All of a sudden, there was bread and water in front of him. So, he did the wise thing. He ate. The food so strengthened Elijah that he traveled forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God.

During this dark time, Elijah learned the value of rest. He learned that, even when good things happen, these good things can’t sustain him. He’s human. Like all of us, he needed to rest after the emotional roller coaster he endured, even in the midst of the miracle.

The Importance of the Rest in Our Lives

Rest is so important to God that even He rested on the seventh day. He set an example that we all need to follow. The Sabbath reminds us that we’re human, that we can’t give our 110% all the time. We need to intentionally step back from our ministries, our jobs, our daily lives for just a moment to unwind and reflect.

Oh, and of course, to take a nap!

Most of my close friends know that I can’t stay out past ten o’clock at night. It’s a boundary I’ve set for myself, because I know that I can’t be (ahem) very Christlike past that hour. The truth is, I wake up early in the morning, so I’m tired by the end of the day. I’m human. I’ve recognized the importance of sleep for my sanity.

Key Takeaway

While most of us in the world are in isolation due to a virus that’s still not fully known to us. As a result, we have a ton of time on our hands. Of course, life goes on. We still have to work. But maybe, in our free time, we can make some time for rest.

Even though it seems like nothing is going on (you’re stuck in your house!), you’re going through a lot of mental and emotional stress right now. Recognize your need for rest, and make time to unwind.

This week, I challenge you to literally schedule time to rest. Here are some questions to get you thinking about how to rest properly:

  • What basic necessities (sleep, eating healthy food, working out, spending time with family, etc.) do I need right now? How can I fulfill what I need?
  • Think of your life as an empty cup. What activities and people fill the cup of your life?
  • What would spending a Sabbath with the Lord look like for you? What activities would you give up? What activities would you take part in?

 

Categories
anxiety

Hope in the Storm

The images of Hurricane Sandy are still in my mind.

In October 2012, nearly eight years ago, Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the east coast. If you live in this area, words may flash through your head to describe the experience.

Tragedy.

Destruction.

Nightmare.

Apocalyptic.

Even after the storm had run its course, we still suffered the consequences. Lines at the gas station clogged traffic for miles. Our homes were without power for weeks. Trees were everywhere, knocking down sheds and crushing cars. And I know that all I need to do is type the word flood for every Long Islander to shudder.

Are We Still in a Storm?

If you’re not from the east coast, you may not believe that some of us are still suffering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Some homes, especially near the water, are still being rebuilt. Those looking for homes need to consider property taxes and the massive flood insurance tacked onto the price of a house. Many of us live in fear of another destructive storm wiping away everything we ever knew.

I could argue that we are in a storm right now. But instead of a visible storm, it’s one where we can only see its effects. This post isn’t to make light of the severity of the situation. We have enough people making jokes about stores running out of toilet paper or the President cancelling student loan interest. This post isn’t to ignore what has already been said about how to respond. We should keep washing our hands and staying alert as the world tries to navigate this virus. But what I don’t see a lot of right now is hope. And I want to encourage you to look for hope, even in the midst of isolation, fear, and uncertainty.

Allow me to do that by sharing my experience during Hurricane Sandy.

What Happened to Me?

In 2012, I was in my junior year at Nyack College. I was dorming with my best friend in an all-girls hall. Besides my roommate, I didn’t really talk to the other ladies on my floor, except in passing. I had no reason to leave my personal bubble to pursue a friendship with any of them.

Suddenly, the news in the dining hall warned us that a storm was coming our way. The rain, wind, and darkness came almost as soon as the warnings. Before we knew it, classes were cancelled and we were asked to find shelter. We waited days that turned into weeks for our life to go back to normal.

Lots of Darkness, Wind, and Uncertainty

If I could describe my entire experience during Hurricane Sandy, it was what I saw out of my window each morning. From the third floor corner room, a tall, thick tree swayed in the wind. Every day, I wondered if the wind would eventually rip it up from the ground and send it flying into our window. But even after the storm, it stood strong and in place.

That’s how I want to be in the middle of life’s storms.

Even though classes were cancelled, we were required to complete homework assignments and midterms. When I tried to flick on the light in my dorm room, I was only met with darkness. Oh no. The power was out. It was dark in my room, and I was alone.

Until I opened up the door to my room and discovered the hallway light was on.

Coming Out of Hiding

Apparently, the other ladies on my floor had this same thought. We all ended up sitting outside our bedrooms, our laptops plugged into outlets in the hallway. And suddenly, we started talking to one another.

Our conversation started out as complaining about the weather and the spotty internet. But then it got deeper, and as the winds and rains pounded on our windows, we were laughing at each other’s jokes and playing UNO on the floor.

We made a daily habit of hanging out in the hallways. We worshiped louder and stronger than ever before, because we had a reason to believe that God is faithful in every season of our lives. Even the ones where the darkness overshadows the sunlight.

The Silver Lining in the Dark Cloud

During Hurricane Sandy, I made some of the best friends I’ve ever had. I would’ve never paid any attention to them if it wasn’t for the tragedy that we all shared together. Even after the sun came out, we chatted with each other on the way to class and ate meals together in the cafeteria.

The images of Hurricane Sandy were brutal, but they were also beautiful. In the midst of darkness and depression, I discovered true friendship. While eating microwaved bean burritos in the dining hall and covering myself in blankets to keep warm, I found joy. Even though my school made an announcement that we should go home in this state of emergency and my home was without power, I learned how to be strong in the face of fear.

Hope in the Storm

So while we are washing our hands and stocking up on essentials, like we should, we should also be aware that these storms are part of life. After this coronavirus has ended, we’ll face another one in a couple of years. I know this because we’ve been through a number of storms in the past few decades. I mean, have you seen the news? Violence, destructive weather, and deathly illnesses have been on our headlines for centuries. We’ve gone through storms before, and we’ll get through this one.

I’ve gone through some storms in my personal life, as well. These personal storms that may seem small to you, but were catastrophic to me. But, like the tree that rocked back and forth in the harsh wind, God kept me grounded and secure.

May God strengthen us and give us hope even in the midst of these uncertain times. I thank God for all the medical staff and experts who know how to handle this virus better than I can ever imagine. But I know that we will see the end to this.

For now, let us be grateful for the chance to rest, for the opportunity to connect with family, and for the promise that God is doing something so great in our midst that we can’t even comprehend it.

An Ever-Present Help

Psalm 46 is a reminder that God is in control and He is with us:

“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth gives way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

“The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

“Come and see what the LORD has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.

“He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

“The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Amen.

Categories
anxiety

Update for 2020

Happy Monday 🙂 I know it’s been a while but I wanted to come on here for a brief second and give you an update!

Sometimes, I’m so busy, my journal is bulleted lists. That’s how I feel right now! So here’s what’s been going on and how you can pray for me:

  • My job is going well! I’ve been loving every second of it.
  • I can’t quite share some news yet, but good things are happening in my personal life 🙂
  • I’m giving my book to an editor (proofreading editor, not publishing editor) by the end of this month. Oh yeah, and I’m still writing it!
  • God is teaching me how to rest and ENJOY life instead of comparing myself to other people.

So, that’s it for now! These things have kind of sucked up my time. In a good way, of course! I’m going to set a goal of posting once a month with some cool content. I already have some ideas about the book of Job and marriage advice. Stay tuned 🙂

Categories
anxiety

When God’s Yes Is Just as Confusing as His No

In 2015, three days after we had gotten engaged, I wrote this post on my personal Facebook page:

“God is so good  We’re so blessed. We may not understand what He is doing all the time (even in the good times!) But that’s why we trust Him and praise Him.”

Waiting on God is hard. This post is about when God answers our prayers, but we don’t feel ready to receive them.

Please tell me you can relate!

God’s timing is perfect, but what do you do when your husband comes into your life when you least expect it? What do you do when you find a house before you think you’re ready? What about when your pregnancy test is positive and you don’t know the first thing about raising a child?

We trust that God’s timing is perfect.

In our social media world, we tend to celebrate everything. We post on Facebook and/or Instagram when we start a relationship, get engaged, get married, get a house, find out you’re pregnant, find out the baby’s gender, give birth, and so on. While we should celebrate everything, if we’re honest, sometimes even the good times just don’t feel right.

Confessions of a Perfectionist

To escape reality, I imagine the ideal situation and daydream of a day when I get to experience that situation. For example, in this season, my husband and I are looking at houses. I imagine us living in a beautiful, flawless home in the best school district and an easy commute for my husband.

One day, God is going to answer our prayer for a home of our own. One day, we’re going to sign a contract and receive the keys to our new home. That home may or may not be everything I want it to be.

The house will be everything God wants it to be.

For a perfectionist like me, being totally content when God says yes is difficult because it means I have to surrender my ideal situation. I have to surrender my fantasy life, knowing that I will never have the perfect husband, the perfect family, the perfect house, the perfect job, the perfect anything, on this side of Heaven. Only God is perfect, and He knows exactly what we need in every situation.

What Keeps Us From Accepting God’s Yes?

Besides being a perfectionist, there are other factors that have also affected my ability to receive God’s blessings.

  • Guilt. Sometimes, I feel unworthy of receiving God’s goodness. Other times, I know the struggle that others are facing right now. I feel unworthy when I receive an answer to prayer in a couple of weeks, and my friends who have been struggling for years are still waiting for an answer. It’s hard for me to accept God’s yes when it doesn’t seem fair for me to have it right now.
  • Fear. We all have fear of failure, and sometimes, we even have fear of success. What if God gives me what I’ve always wanted, and I mess it up? Or worse, what if God gives me what I’ve always wanted, and it’s not good enough?
  • Doubt. We spend a lot of time asking about how to discern the will of God. Often, we get so caught up in discerning God’s will that we miss His ultimate will for us: to enjoy life and worship Him with all we do. When God says yes, we wonder if it’s God’s will or if it’s just a trap.

What Do You Do When You’re Not Ready for God’s Yes?

So, how do you know when to wait and when God has answered your prayer? I’ve actually written a blog post about how to know when you’ve finished waiting. For now, I want to prepare you for when God answers that prayer you’ve been praying for days, weeks, months or years.

Start With Praise

Whatever you’ve been praying for, if God has said yes, that means He’s given you what you wanted. Even if you don’t feel ready for it, thank God for the opportunity to see His goodness. If you have doubt that it’s God’s will for you to have this good thing, cling to Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (emphasis mine).

Pray With a Plan

I like to process things as they happen, so when something big happens in my life, I’ll usually talk out loud in the car or journal. I use these opportunities to pray for this new season and ask for God’s wisdom to guide me through it.

When you are faced with an answer to prayer, think about your next steps. How will you respond to this news? What do you have to do to get ready for this blessing?

Proclaim God’s Goodness

I’ll admit, you might feel like a jerk going up to your friend who is praying for kids and announcing you’re pregnant. You might feel totally awkward telling your group of single friends that you’re engaged. Just because God has answered your prayer does not mean the universe is suddenly in your favor. You will face opposition, even when everything is coming up roses in your heart.

When you face opposition, remember that God has answered your prayer. God has looked on you with favor. As you proclaim what God has done in your life, you will inspire others who are waiting for God to do a miracle in their lives.

Because you have waited and trusted in God to answer the cry of your heart, those in waiting will know that God is faithful to answer prayer. If God could move in your life, God could move in others’ lives also.

God Is Doing Great Things

God is so faithful to answer every one of our prayers. We’ve heard His no and His not yet, but we’ve also been blessed to receive His yes. God is faithful and good, and His timing is completely and totally perfect.

We can trust His yes.


Photo by Drahomír Posteby-Mach on Unsplash

Categories
Marriage

3 Ways to Help Your Spouse Who Has Anxiety

Almost everyone I know has an anxiety disorder or at least has had a panic attack at least once in his or her life. With this in mind, I am astounded that people exist who have never had a panic attack or even understand what it’s like to have anxiety. One of these people may be your spouse.

Anxiety is like another language. Those of us who have anxiety understand it completely, but those who don’t have anxiety are oblivious to what we feel. If you have a spouse with anxiety, and somehow you’ve managed to live on this planet thus far without any panicky experiences, you need to show your spouse you understand somehow.

Based on my own experience with a man who has no anxious bone in his body, here are some ways to help your spouse overcome their own anxiety. For the sake of saving word count, I’m using the “she” pronoun. This is based on my own experience anyway, and I am in fact a woman.

1. Tell her (and show her) you care

Anxiety is a very isolating disorder. When you have a panic attack, you feel alone. You feel like no one understands you.

If you don’t struggle with anxiety, you definitely do not understand why your spouse is acting the way she is or thinking what she’s thinking. Anxiety is irrational sometimes, but to your spouse, those anxious thoughts are as real as ever. Instead of trying to fix her, show her you care.

In the medical drama New Amsterdam, Max Goodwin, the Medical Director of the hospital, always asks his team and his patients, “How can I help?” Be like Max Goodwin to your spouse. When she feels alone, take a hold of her hand and ask her, “How can I help?”

She may know the answer, but sometimes she won’t. Sometimes she just needs you to sit there with her and listen to her talk. Sometimes she feels uncomfortable and may need to leave a situation. Always show her that you are on her side, even when her anxiety confuses you.

2. If you need more information, ask questions

I had a friend in high school who was afraid of pennies. Seriously? At first, I thought she was just seeking attention, but when I asked her about it, her answer made sense.

It turns out that she believed pennies were dirty and was afraid of the germs on the penny, not the penny itself. Why she was only afraid of pennies and not other coins, I don’t know, but instead of judging her, I accepted her and met her where she was.

Fears like going to parties, taking public transportation, and even going to work can make absolutely no sense to others. On the other hand, those who have social anxiety, PTSD, or work anxiety are totally gripped with fear at the thought of any of these activities. If you’re wondering why your spouse is anxious about a good thing, all you have to do is ask.

For me personally, I’m happy to answer questions about my anxiety. It doesn’t embarrass me to explain my fears, unless you make me feel like an idiot for having them. Truthfully, I don’t open up to you or listen to your advice unless I know you’re on my side.

3. Take her mind off of the problem

Since I have OCD, sometimes the best way to help me is to distract me from my anxiety. My panic attacks dissipate when I’m no longer thinking about whatever makes me anxious. If your spouse has OCD or an extreme phobia, help her take her mind off of the experience.

While you will need to help her deal with the root cause of her anxiety in the long run, if you’re out with your family or on vacation and her anxiety acts up, you need to distract her and help her as fast as you can.

4. Remember that your spouse is not a project who needs to be fixed

Anxiety is a mental disorder, but that does not mean that your spouse is a project. Your spouse is a person. Your spouse needs you to love her, care for her, and walk with her through this.

Now that you are one, this anxiety is yours, too. I’m still a newlywed, but I’ve heard that over time, you start to feel what your spouse is feeling and think what your spouse is thinking. I’m sorry if you feel your spouse’s anxiety, but instead of fixing her, show her you’re on her side.

You can show her you’re on her side by:

  • listening to her without judgment
  • praying for her on a daily basis
  • pulling her out of a situation when she is uncomfortable
  • standing up for her when others don’t understand

Pray for your spouse with anxiety

Ultimately, the only people who could heal your spouse with anxiety are her and God.

When you don’t understand, pray. When you want to be there for her but don’t know how, pray. When you’ve done everything you could to fix her and she’s still struggling, pray.

I believe God will give you the words. I believe God will give you the wisdom to help her. I believe God will ultimately heal your spouse from anxiety.

On behalf of all those who struggle with anxiety, thank you for taking the first step toward understanding your spouse and her deepest struggle.


Photo by Toimetaja tõlkebüroo on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

Be Thankful and Have Peace

When I first became a Christian, I struggled with anxiety. I memorized verses about anxiety, such as Philippians 4:6-7. After wrestling with this passage for about a decade, I know that this verse literally has the key to curing anxiety.

Here is the verse, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (NLT).

Don’t Worry About Anything

As we tend to read this verse, the first four words stick out at us. Don’t worry about anything. Wow, Paul, that’s MUCH easier said than done.

I think that’s why I’ve seen this verse more as a band-aid than as a Word from the Lord for me. When I worry, I feel like I’m sinning against God. I feel like I should be able to just shut off my thoughts and “get over it.”

If you keep reading, you’ll see what the verse actually means. You’ll understand that God wants to do more in our lives than take away our worry.

Pray About Everything

In another part of Scripture, the same writer of this passage writes that we should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We pray in the good times and the bad, but we especially need to remember to pray when we are anxious.

Part of my anxiety is obsessive thoughts (not to be confused with OCD, which includes compulsive behavior). If I have to wait to hear back from someone or something for any length of time, my mind will start to wander. I’ll worry myself into a hole and I won’t resurface until the waiting period is over.

When I pray, I make the choice to focus my thoughts on God. As I fill my mind with prayers to God, taking the attention off of myself and my circumstances, I notice the faithfulness and love of God. God’s love, peace, and faithfulness are all much stronger than my fears.

Be Thankful

For those of us in the United States, Thanksgiving is a time for us to pause and show our gratitude for what we have. As I ask every year, who are we thankful to?

Sure, you could be thankful to your parents for raising you, and to your family for supporting you through everything. You could even be thankful to coaches or teachers that have given you wisdom and have encouraged you to follow your dreams. If you really thought about it, where does all that goodness come from?

Thanksgiving reminds me that what I need comes from outside of me. God is the one who supplies my every need. When I thank Him, I take time to recognize that every good thing I have comes from Him.

Experience God’s Peace

Is it that simple? Can I really have God’s peace after praying a simple prayer and saying thanks to God?

Yes.

I wish I could say that anxiety disappears after you become a Christian. But I’ve learned that God has been faithful to me in the midst of my anxiety. I have experienced God’s peace in the midst of the most difficult circumstances.

God’s peace has equipped me to face hardships and struggles, knowing that He is on my side and fighting for me. With God as my defender, I have learned to experience God’s peace in all circumstances.

The Rest of the Story

In Philippians 4, Paul continues to write about his ability to find contentment in all circumstances. He has learned that he can do all things through Christ (v. 13). And so can we.

Further down, he writes that he believes in God’s provision. God will provide for all of our needs (v. 19). My needs, and your needs.

Do your needs worry you?

The Rest of Our Story

Our story can continue without anxiety ruling over us. In Christ, we have the power to experience God’s peace, to be content in all circumstances, and to trust God for His provision. In the waiting, we have a way to escape the mind trap of OCD.

Don’t worry. Pray. Be thankful. Have peace.

Which of these is the hardest for you to do? Where do you need to trust God the most in this season?

Categories
Marriage

Stay Together With Leather

Our third anniversary was a couple of weeks ago. We always tend to stick to tradition and buy gifts based on the theme for our specific year. Except this year, the theme was leather.

All I could think was: What in the world am I supposed to buy for my husband? He prides himself in picking out his own unique, compact wallet, and he has plenty of belts and shoes already.

While searching for a gift for my darling husband, I stumbled upon the meaning behind leather as a third anniversary gift. Leather represents strength and durability. How poetic!

That snippet I read about the reason behind leather inspired me to write this post. In my quest, I discovered how leather was used in the Bible and how leather is made today by tanners. Of course, I also connected the Biblical references of leather and the process of making leather to caring for our marriages.

How to Make Leather

Much preparation goes into the making of leather. Even before the cow or other animal is slaughtered, tanners do what they can do to make the quality of the leather strong. They make sure the animal is well-fed and is not exposed to insects.

On that fateful day, a cow sacrifices its life in order to make this fine material. In every part of the process, the tanner uses care and precision to clean, salt, and prepare the leather. If the tanner delays in any way, the leather could become too dry too quickly.

Leather in the Bible

Generally, in the Bible, leather is used to make clothes and for writing. Leather is also called “skin” or “hide” in some translations.

Leather Used as Clothes

The Israelites wore leather in the form of belts and shoes. In fact, the first clothes ever created were made of leather.

  • Genesis 3:21. The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.
  • 2 Kings 1:8. They answered him, “He was a hairy man with a leather girdle bound about his loins.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”
  • Matthew 3:4. Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
  • Mark 1:6. John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey.

Leather Made by a Tanner

Tanners are not mentioned in the Bible that often because the Jews considered them unclean. The trade of the tanner was probably learned in Egypt. In one instance, Peter stayed with a tanner named Simon, demonstrating the shift of what (and who) was considered unclean.

  • Acts 9:43. And Peter stayed many days in Joppa with a tanner named Simon.
  • Acts 10:6. “…he is staying with a tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea.”

Leather in Old Testament Sacrifice

Leather was part of the sacrifice price given to the priest.

  • Leviticus 7:8. Also the priest who presents any man’s burnt offering, that priest shall have for himself the skin of the burnt offering which he has presented.

Leather Used as a Writing Medium

Leather was a popular medium for writing during Old Testament times, even though it was not specifically mentioned in the Bible. The remnants we have of the Dead Sea Scrolls were written on leather.

The Bible mentions writing to remember what has happened and to anticipate what will happen (see Revelation 1:19). The LORD instructs the people of Israel to have the written law all over their homes, so that they may remember what He has done (see Deuteronomy 6:8-9).

Why Do We Celebrate Our Third Anniversary With Leather?

Leather reminds us of the sacrifice we make in our marriages. Its fragility in the formation, yet its strength and durability as a result, is a perfect symbol of our marriage.

Before we even met, we made sure we lived a quality life instead of waiting until marriage for our lives to finally begin. When preparing for marriage and starting our marriage, we cleaned up our marriage by going to pre-marital counseling, joining a couples Bible study, and practicing open communication with one another. The seasons of hardship and the dry seasons we’ve endured so far have only made us stronger.

With the symbol of leather in mind, we can adhere to these resolutions:

  • We remember the faithfulness of God and will make memories to remind ourselves of His presence in our marriage and beyond.
  • The love we share protects us from whatever storms we will face in the future.
  • We recognize the sensitivity of this beautiful gift, but we trust God’s process for our lives together.

From the very beginning, our marriage has been an adventure. I’m thankful that we’ve been through so much so early on in our marriage. Now, whatever we face, we are together with our eyes fixed on God.

Gifts for Our Third Anniversary

So, what did I gift my husband for our third anniversary? I was creative and bought him a different type of leather: beef jerky! He had never tried it before, so it was fun to experience our first impressions of beef jerky together.

Lenny bought me a beautiful leather journal. The journal part is replaceable, so even when I finish the journal, I can still use the leather cover for my future journals. Now, I can write down all that God is doing in our lives to remind us of His faithfulness over the years.

You could give your spouse a leather gift, such as a leather-bound book or an autographed baseball. Whatever you give, may your gift remind you both of the strength of your marriage and all that you have accomplished so far.


Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

Update for You!

FINALLY! I have time and energy to update you all on my life.

Well, as of about four weeks ago, I started a position at an online marketing company. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know that I’m working from home and having the time of my life. I can officially say, after years of praying, waiting, and hustling, that I’m a full-time freelance writer and editor!

Guess what I’m doing? Writing longform content for websites!

Yep, that’s right. I’m writing blog posts.

All day.

Every day.

So that’s why my personal blog posts have been lacking.

For those of you who don’t know, longform content is writing more than 2000 words on a website’s page. I have only explored the tip of the iceberg that is longform content, but what I’ve discovered so far is that longform content helps you rank better on Google. That’s why you see those long articles before a recipe for baked zucchini chips. OK, we get that your family loves them and that you and your husband took a trip to Italy to taste delicious zucchini. But there’s a reason why Google put that recipe on its first page for “recipe for baked zucchini chips.”

My desire to write to you all has been here the entire time. I’ve wanted to update you on my third wedding anniversary as well as on how God has been teaching me more about anxiety. So, as of now, here is my plan:

  • Write a blog post once a month.
  • I want to hear from you! Please reach out to me regarding what topics you want to read. I’ll also be sharing a survey soon.
  • I’m going to be doing some short stories to get you all excited for my book. I’m working on a lot of books, but before I released one, I wanted you to get accustomed to how I write and to my genre. So, tell me, do you like short stories?

My job as a freelance writer and editor (full-time!) is ultimately growing me as a writer. For now, my priorities are in a different spot, but it’s exciting.

One of these days, I’m going to get back into my routine. But between writing a novel, writing at least 10,000 words a week for businesses, and having a life, blog writing will take some time.

Until then, tune in next week for my Marriage Monday post about how leather perfectly describes my marriage!


Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Categories
Marriage

How to Handle Stress in (and outside of) Your Marriage

It’s one thing to be busy, but it’s another to be stressed! Busyness is external, while stress is internal. You can have a schedule packed to the brim, but you can have peace. At the same time, you can have nothing to do, but your mind could be swimming. Regardless of how you handle stress, if you don’t handle stress, it can affect your marriage.

Just as we have busy seasons, we also have stressful seasons. Maybe you’re having a rough time at work. Maybe you’re dealing with a family or friend relationship that is draining you. Maybe you have a health issue that is sucking all of your energy and making you lose your patience much more easily.

I had a conversation once with a loved one about how we claim we love our family more than anything, but we tend to hurt them and get mad at them the most. Unfortunately, when I’m stressed, my husband is usually the target of my wrath. Whether it’s a work issue or an anxiety issue, I usually end up getting upset at the minuscule mistakes my husband makes.

As a funny side note, I always joke that my husband leaves his socks on the floor, and I almost caught him yesterday! I saw he left a pair of socks by his computer last night. I was going to take a picture and show it to you, but they weren’t there! So, in reality, he never leaves his socks on the floor! Good for you, babe!

Anyway, as I said in my post about busyness, don’t let your season of stress be a lifetime. You’re allowed to be stress, but you need to clean it up before it lasts longer than a couple of months. Not only is it not helpful, it is also not healthy. You may feel symptoms of sickness when you are stressed for a prolonged period of time. So, here is how to make sure that you don’t have this issue in your marriage:

Remember you are a team. This week is going to be particularly stressful for me. Without me having to ask, although I normally make our lunches in the morning and get us ready for work, my husband stepped in and helped today. He threw out the garbage, and he helped load the dishwasher. He also helped me get our snacks ready for lunch. Because my husband had a stressful season at work (lots of OT!), I took on a lot of the responsibilities at home, but now that he has more time, and I have less time, we’re now balancing the responsibilities. I know I can be a control freak and not want to let my husband help, but if I don’t let him help, I will be stressed, and eventually it will come out that I think he’s lazy! If you are the one who is stressed, do not be afraid to ask for help. Delegate the tasks that you don’t have time to do, and show appreciation to your spouse for him or her helping you (no matter whether he does it your way or not!). If you are not the one in the marriage who is stressed, recognize that your spouse is in rare form, and be intentional about helping. Whatever you can do to lighten the load for your spouse, whether it’s helping her get ready for work in the morning, or picking up some of the chores around the house (or, if you have kids, taking the kids out so your spouse can have a break), show love to your spouse by helping relieve his/her stress.

Know your triggers and communicate them with your spouse. Being around people stresses me out and drains me. I didn’t know how to communicate that until I heard my co-worker talk about her friend group. After that, I realized why I get drained when I do. Now that I can communicate that with my husband, we can plan how I can have less stress on a regular basis. I have also learned my husband’s triggers, so now I do my best to accommodate him so that he will have peace.

Make changes to your schedule as needed. If your schedule is stressing you out, then stop doing something! Look at your schedule, and cross out one thing this week. Don’t do it. Obviously, attending classes or going to work is mandatory, but if it’s something you can give up for the week, put your self-care over whatever task you think is more necessary than your well-being.

Make time for each other. Make time to pray and read Scripture (especially together), and learn to communicate when you are stressed. Often, the best cure for stress is to stop and talk about it. Talk about what stresses you out, and listen to each other.

How do you handle stress in your marriage?


Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash