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

Categories
Marriage

Busy seasons in your marriage

I haven’t been posting nearly as often as I should. I’ve been working on my novel. Lately, I’ve discovered that I’m really good at writing words, but what my readers want is quality words strung together into a beautiful narrative. And hey, by the way, I know I normally write non-fiction on here, but if you also read fiction, can you let me know? I’m trying to figure out how to best serve my audience.

In addition to this, my husband has also been working a tremendous amount of overtime hours. Of course I am thankful for this. My husband’s company has been very gracious in letting him work overtime and making sure he’s putting money away toward our down-payment-for-a-house fund. And my husband has done a great job in showing up, being present at his job, and giving his best.

Our marriage is not suffering. We don’t have any problems. But we have big-kid responsibilities now, like paying rent (and taking care of our apartment), buying a house, starting a family, and (gulp) paying taxes!

If you’re in a busy season like we are, don’t be afraid. Your marriage is not in jeopardy. You just need to be intentional with your spouse about the time you spend together and the love in your marriage. Here are some points to remember!

This is a season. Before we even started dating, Lenny and I had conversations about our dream jobs and what it would look like for us to pursue them. At the time, we were in great jobs, we had no idea that Lenny would be doing IT for a law firm and I would be working in the editing field. But even at the beginning, we made it clear to each other that we would never let our jobs come before each other. We would never spend so many hours in the office that our marriage or our future kids suffer. And while I was tempted for a while to fear that it was happening, that we were placing our jobs above our marriage, I realize that it is just a season. We are busy now, but we won’t always be. We are saving for a house, and we are building wealth for our future. We’re living that DINK (Dual Income No Kids) life. And, quite honestly, staring googly eyed at each other isn’t going to pay the bills. We need to be busy right now, in this season, so that we can survive and enjoy the blessings God has given us. If you’re in a busy season, do not let it become a lifestyle. If you have years where you are busy, maybe you need to sit down and reevaluate your priorities.

Your marriage isn’t taking a back seat. If I really sat down and thought about why I write, it’s because I enjoy writing. My writing doesn’t necessarily help my husband, but it helps me express myself in a way that makes me happy. Happy wife, happy life. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is start working on my manuscript. No questions asked. But I get up before my husband is awake, so that when he is awake, I can make sure he has what he needs to get to work, and I make sure I can give him my attention. While my husband loves his job, he’s not working just because he likes to work. He’s also working because he wants to fund our future, because he believes in my dream as a writer and he’s helping me be able to make time for that, while also saving for a house. No matter what your job is, remember that you are working to support you and your spouse. May that fuel you to work your best and be intentional at your job.

Make time for each other. No matter how busy we are, Lenny and I always have one meal together each day. We sit down and read the Bible and a book on marriage. One day this week, when he was gone for more than twelve hours, he wasn’t hungry, so we just sat on the couch and watched a TV show. I know all the marriage counselors frown at couples watching TV together, but…You try talking to your spouse when he’s been working ten hours straight, and then had to sit in an hour of traffic. At that point, he just wants to decompress and sit with me. And I’m happy to do that. Besides, if you know me, you know that I talk through the whole show anyway! (Blame the writer in me that sees every plot hole and can’t sit still until it’s resolved!). Since my love language is quality time, it is essential for us to have at least an hour a day to sit together and talk.

What do you do when you and your spouse are in a busy season?


Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

“If you can’t love me at my worst…”

“…You don’t deserve me at my best.” This saying was popular when I was in high school. In the days before memes, we had AIM icons, away messages, and MySpace graphics. The context in which this phrase was used when I was younger is for friends and relationships. It’s hard being a teenager. If you are having a bad day, people don’t want to hang out with you. But when you’re all dolled up and you have a smile on your face, everyone wants to be your friend.

After I did a quick Google search, I realized that this phrase is still popular. The memes aren’t quite appropriate for this blog post, but you can make the decision for yourself how funny they are!

Unfortunately, there have been people in my life who could not love me at my worst. I’m not perfect, but I enjoy helping people, almost to a fault, when they are broken. But when it was my turn to be depressed, bitter, anxious, and broken, they decided I was too much work. When I needed them most, they turned their backs on me.

Then, when I would figure it out (generally on my own, but sometimes with friends and family I had allowed to speak into my life), suddenly they were back in the picture. And guess what? They would want me to fix their problems. When they would hear about my struggle with depression, anxiety, etc., they would act shocked. “Oh no! Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you reach out to me? I would’ve helped you.”

Yeah, right.

It turns out that, while there were some good people in my life who have supported me through tough times, there is only one person in my life who has truly loved me at my worst.

Before I knew Jesus, I literally was at my worst. Anxiety and chaos defined me. Sure, I looked happy, but that was just my shell. I was sitting in silence, plotting my next move, preparing myself for the unknown. As a result, I wanted nothing to do with God. But, as Romans 5:8 says, Jesus died for me anyway, knowing that I didn’t love Him, so that He could give me a better life.

I wish I could say that I came to God on my own, but His Spirit literally dragged me by the heels to youth group one night. And that’s where I found love. That’s where I found acceptance. That’s where I found Him.

And that’s when I knew that Jesus truly loved me at my worst.

My youth pastor told me that Jesus wanted to be my best friend. I have never heard it so eloquently put since then, probably because those were the words that the Holy Spirit used to tug at my heart and invite me into a relationship with Jesus. Although I couldn’t phrase it this way at the time, in that moment, God was inviting me to have a different life. He was inviting me to surrender my old way of doing things so that I could do things His way.

He was willing to give me His best. Now, only He is worthy of my best.

What does it look like to give God my best? For me, it’s being intentional about spending time with Him every day. It’s inviting Him into every aspect of my life, from the time I wake up to the time my head hits the pillow. It’s honoring Him at work. It’s writing the books He has called me to write. It’s treating my friends and family with respect.

When I’m at my worst, God still loves me. I’ve learned that my friends and family cannot fully love me at my worst, because they are all broken. We are all broken. But we can try. We can encourage each other, and point to the One who truly loves us at our worst, and wants to give us our best.

What are you willing to give Him in exchange?


Photo by Tiago Bandeira on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

embracing your risk zone

Guess what? I have another ship metaphor for you. Our ancestors spent a lot of time on ships, before there were planes and such, so I guess the idea of being a ship was relatable for a period of time. I for one am grateful for planes, even though I am terrified of them, because I get seasick on boats. But, for now, if you’re ready for some encouragement, let’s get sailing!

Around this time last year (wow, it was last year already?), For King & Country released an album called Burn the Ships. The title song for the album was inspired by Luke’s wife Courtney, who struggled with addiction to anti-nausea pills during their second pregnancy. After consulting with a doctor and getting treatment, she decided to flush all of her pills and break the chains of guilt and shame off of her life. The song “Burn the Ships” is my favorite song on the album, not just because of the video, but also because of the inspirational story.

It turns out that there is another story attached to this phrase. Although it is not confirmed to be true (please research this on your own), it is still a great story that is motivational and worthy of sharing. It is rumored that a conquest crew wanted to return home, but the explorer commanded the crew to burn the ships. There was no going back. They were forced to face their risk zone.

We have many “ships”, sources of comfort, in our lives. For me (and I’d never thought I’d say this!) my cell phone has become a source of comfort. To prepare for writing a novel about an internet shutdown, I turned off my phone this weekend to see how I would survive. A couple of years ago, it would have been like a vacation for me, but this weekend was very difficult. I would compare it to walking around with one arm tied behind your back. I actually had to pay attention to my surroundings and deal with the issues in my life. I couldn’t hide. I couldn’t isolate myself. I had to rely on other people (namely, my husband) for information.

What is your source of comfort? Maybe it’s preventing you from moving forward. In case you were not aware, you were created to fulfill a purpose on this Earth. Nobody is here on accident. That means you were designed with unique gifts, talents, and passions to change the world. We need you. And often, you need to leave your comfort zone in order to grow.

Before we start burning ships and leaving our comfort zones, we have to understand where we’re going. While the human heart thrives on adventure, it is not wise to take risks just to check “risk taking” off your to-do list. You need to have a goal, a destination, in mind.

Where is God calling you to go?

My destination is writing and editing. I love what I do, but sharing my writing with the world is the scary part.  I feel led to write novels. As a matter of fact, I’m writing a Christian dystopian novel that is way out of my comfort zone. I even started writing it sort of as a satire because of how much I loathe technology! But each time my hands touch the keyboards to write, God stretches me. He equips me for the next step. He helps me reach my destination, and He gives me strength and courage to leave the past behind me and make this new normal my home.

Burning your ships may be scary, but it’s worth it. When you keep moving forward, you will discover that the future isn’t so scary anymore. What is even scarier than moving forward is staying in the same spot for your entire life.


Photo by Nick Jio on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

where is your ship?

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I took a little canoeing trip. Although it was supposed to be relaxing, when we first got into the boat, we were freaking out. The boat was much smaller, and much less stable, than we had expected. This thing was supposed to carry the two of us down a river? To top it off, I also struggle with emetophobia, and the last time I threw up, I was on a boat. So, as only people afraid of throwing up would understand, I was certain I would get sick on this rickety little canoe.

My husband, being much more calm than I am, took no more than five minutes to fully get over it. I, on the other hand, felt nauseous, then started hysterically crying and asking if we could go home. I negotiated with my husband, politely asking him to turn the boat around. Then I threatened my husband, reminding him that I was also carrying an ore and would bring this canoe right back to the dock (which, by the way, was only a couple of feet away).

To get me to go further out into the river, Lenny started to challenge me. “Let’s make it to that boat up ahead. If you still want to go home, we can go home after that.” I made it to the next boat. And the next one. And past a bird. And past the dock. And past that patch of low tide where we pitched our boat for a couple of minutes to catch a breather. Lenny ultimately wanted to go to a bird sanctuary that was at least forty minutes away. I was scared, but I wanted him to enjoy himself. I also wanted to show my anxiety who’s boss!

After about a half hour, my anxiety had fully subsided. Birds flew overhead, and the only sound we could hear was our ores swimming in the river. It was so calm and peaceful, I wanted to stay outside all day. We even thought about the possibility of buying a boat!

Going out on the canoe for the first time, I didn’t understand how the disciples did it. I didn’t know how Peter had the audacity to step out of the rocky boat and attempt to stand on the stormy waters (see Matthew 14). I couldn’t comprehend how these men could earn their living catching fish, spending most of their waking hours rocking back and forth in the choppy sea.

But then I understood.

John A. Shedd wrote, “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” Ships are incredibly dangerous. Not only can you get seasick (which is scary enough for me to avoid a cruise), but the weather is also out of your control, and you can get lost at sea. Have you ever seen a movie where there’s so much fog, and the boat is so far out, that the people in the boat can’t see land in their field of vision? Ugh, I’m shuddering just thinking about it!

And yet, there’s something within all of us that desires to go through it anyway. We desire to do the impossible, the scary, the dangerous. That’s because we, like ships, were not created for “safe” lives. We were created to make a difference. We were created to glorify God by doing the impossible through His strength.

Although God has an adventure of a life for all of us, He also is the only one that allows us to have true peace. We can plow through white water rapids, or we can keep our ores still as we soak up the sun and float over calm waters. Each season of life provides a new way for us to travel on this river of a race that God has marked out for us (see Hebrews 12:1).

So, where is your ship today? Is it safe in the harbor, is it sailing the rough seas (even making you a little queasy), or is it simply enjoying the ride?


Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

you’ll work, but you’ll love it!

My husband and I are very thankful for the team at Ramsey Solutions. As most of you know, Dave Ramsey has been teaching for 25 years about how to win with money. His motto is, “Live like no one else so that later you can live and give like no one else.” Along with his radio show, where he helps people get out of debt and build wealth, he has also employed several “Ramsey personalities” to focus on specific areas of financial struggles. One of those personalities is Ken Coleman, who talks about what you were born to do. He helps you find your dream job, and discusses practical steps of how to get there.

A couple of weeks ago I was starting to feel discontent at my job. But, after listening to Ken Coleman’s podcast, I realized that I’m doing exactly what I enjoy doing. I’m doing exactly what I’m good at doing. As he would say, I’m in my “sweet spot.”

Ken Coleman taught me how to truly pursue my dream. My dream is to work from home as a freelance editor. I’ve always imagined working in my home office, typing away at my computer, making myself available for my friends and family. What’s stopping me from pursuing a freelance editing career? If I really thought about it, nothing. (Visit this page if you need me to take a look at your novel!).

Through this season of self-discovery, God affirmed my identity in Him. He truly has called me to work where I am now. After years of uncertainty, now it is clear: He loves me, and He is pleased with me. Thank you, God!

Did you know that God intended for us to enjoy work? Work was actually assigned to us before the Fall, so it is not a punishment for our sin. God gave us land to work and oversee (see Genesis 1-3). As a result of the Fall, we now struggle in our jobs (and have work anxiety), but we don’t have to.

Here are some ways to fall in love with your job again!

  • Discover your dream job. Ken Coleman encourages his listeners to find our talents (what we’re good at) and our passions (what we enjoy doing). That is where you will find your “sweet spot.” Take some time to think about what you’ve always loved doing, and what you are good at doing. Then, think about what jobs will help you feel that sense of fulfillment. You now have your dream job!
  • Remember why. Sorry to break it to you, but most likely, you will not get your dream job overnight. You might have to go to school. You might have to get a dead-end job to build up experience or an income to fuel your vision. You may need to pay off debt! If you are not in your dream job, remember why. Why are you pursuing this career path? How is this job going to help you in the long run?
  • Maybe it’s not about your dream job. You may not enjoy your job for legitimate reasons. Your boss treats you like garbage. You have a conflict with your co-worker. The commute is way too long. The pay may be terrible. Before leaving the field where you work, try to pinpoint what about your job you don’t like. Do you fundamentally not enjoy what you do, or do you need a change of environment? Knowing the difference between a toxic work environment and not being in your dream job can change your attitude about your work ethic, and, dare I say it, your identity as an employee.
  • Search wisely. If your current job isn’t going to help you in the long run, maybe you need to look for another job. Before making the jump, consider why you want to leave your job. Holding nothing back, write down all the reasons why the idea of going back to work makes you sick to your stomach. Then, when you search for a new job, make sure the company doesn’t have those things on your list! Ask employees of those prospective companies about the work culture. Research the salaries they offer. Check the job description!

As the popular phrase goes, “If you love your job, you’ll never work another day in your life.” Unfortunately, that’s not true. You will work, but you will love what you do. According to Scripture, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23). What makes your heart come alive? Pursue a job where you can love what you do, and your work will bring glory to the One who created you.


Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

Categories
Marriage

what about me?

Over the summer, we’ve seen so many of our friends and family go through various life events, including buying houses and having children. We are genuinely happy for them. We know some of their stories, and the hard work and grace it took to get to where they are today, and we are so proud of them and so thankful to God for His faithfulness. But, although I still don’t want these things yet, as strong as my contentment is, the temptation is still there to want what everyone else has.

What about me?

If you feel overlooked because of your waiting period, here are some ways that I’ve learned to find contentment in this season:

  • Think about what you have. Last week, I struggled with contentment, and with the belief that I’m not enough. I realized how many people have what I want, and how I just can’t seem to get there. When I prayed, God asked me to focus on what I have instead of what I don’t. Later, in the car, Lauren Daigle’s “You Say” came on the radio. The first line of the song? “I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough.” In that moment, God showed me that He sees me and He knows me. He asked me to focus on what I have, and what I have, no matter what season I am in, is His Presence. He is always with me, no matter what I have, no matter how I feel. Do you have the assurance of God’s continual presence? If you struggle with contentment, take some time to think about how God has been faithful to you.
  • Celebrate those around you who have what you want. You may feel like you’re not enough or you don’t have enough, but you have everything you need. Often, we need to step outside of ourselves and give ourselves a little pep talk. David did this all the time in the Psalms, when he would command his soul to bless the Lord (see, for example, Psalm 103). His soul didn’t feel like blessing the Lord all the time, but he knew it was the right thing to do. Sometimes, we have to fight to do the right thing. It is right to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. When your friend tells you good news about what is happening in her life, be happy for her, even if it is exactly what you wanted.
  • Talk about it and pray with a friend. Contentment truly is a fight in this progressive, ever-changing world. But we don’t have to fight alone. My husband has been my number-one partner in fighting against contentment. I often add my own fears to the situation, but my husband, the voice of reason, helps me see what is real and what is simply based on what’s inside my own head. Thankfully, I also have friends who understand me, who can also get inside my own head and my heart and feel what I am feeling. Those friends have prayed for me and have helped me love where I am in this season.

The final point is to remember your prayers. I had asked God for a chill year this year.  (Please, no major life events in 2019!). Witnessing how good and faithful He has been these last couple of years, I know He could give me a brand new house, an army of kids, and a super-successful business in the snap of His finger, but He was faithful to answer the deepest prayer of my heart: rest. Help me find meaningful rest. These last couple of years have been like a whirlwind, and I’ve barely had time to process it all. I realize that this season is so essential for me, because, when I do have all those other things, I will need to know how to find meaningful rest.

What have you been asking God for lately? What is truly the deepest desire of your heart? Remember what you prayed for, and believe that God is working on it!


Photo by Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash

 

 

 

Categories
anxiety

how thoughts affect our health

There it was, right on cue. Pains ran through my stomach, instantly nauseating me. Isn’t it suspicious that they always come when I’m about to walk into work? Sometimes I get them a little earlier, like when I get into the car or when I first wake up. But what are the chances that I have a stomachache every morning when I know I have to work in the near future?

On more occasions than I’d like to admit, I have fallen victim to psychosomatic symptoms, health challenges that stem from suppressed emotions. In this case, I experience stomachaches before work because I struggle with work anxiety. Now that I know this, I know how to stop it.

While some of us may be more driven by our feelings than by our thoughts, our feelings do not determine our reality. Our feelings may feel so real, but they are not true. Especially if our feelings are related to fear and shame.

Fear and anxiety may cause you to develop other symptoms. You may have headaches before you’re about to confront a co-worker about an issue. You may have chest pain before you go to your family member’s house. You may have acid reflux before you are about to take a long trip. 

Of course, you could just be sick. We get stomach viruses and sinus infections every once in a while. But pay attention to when you develop those symptoms. Why did your stomach start gurgling at that moment? Is there a connection between your symptoms and your circumstances?

If you struggle with psychosomatic symptoms due to suppressed emotions, there is only one solution: deal with the feelings. I personally like to journal, but you could also process out loud alone or with a friend. Be intentional about identifying what you are feeling, and why you could be feeling that way. Why are you scared? Why are you angry? You may even be joyful, but you’re not allowed to show it because of those around you. Don’t be surprised if you start to develop psychosomatic symptoms while you’re dealing with your feelings.

I’m so thankful that God knows my heart. I can come to Him at any time of the day and share my feelings with Him, knowing that He will never leave me or forsake me. He created my emotions as signals to how I’m reacting to my circumstances. God is not freaked out or intimidated when I discover fear, shame, or anger in my heart. Even better than that, He can replace those “ugly” emotions with His fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

The truth of God’s Word tells me that I am a child of God. I am fully loved by God. His grace covers every sin I’ve ever committed. He gives me good, not harm, all the days of my life. In light of these truths (and countless others found in Scripture), how could I be afraid? Of course, the feelings will continue to come, but we have to fight them with God’s Truth. Don’t let your feelings control your truth; use the truth to control your feelings.


Photo by Vinicius Amano on Unsplash