Intimacy with God

Intimacy with God is made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit. We are able to draw near to God when we accept Jesus’ sacrifice as truth, because we now have the righteousness of Christ.

A couple of weeks ago, I read Tauren Wells’ devotional on the YouVersion app called “Known,” based on his song of the same title. He said something on Day 3 that has stuck with me for about a week: “Access to information and an invitation to intimacy are two very different things.” Basically, God knows everything about us, but He doesn’t just want to know about us; He wants to be invited into those details.

As much as I hate to admit it, anxiety reminds me to invite God into my day.

Yesterday at work, I had a mini panic attack where I felt nauseous and dizzy. I looked down at the plaque on my desk: “Pray more. Worry less.” Taking a few deep breaths in through my nose and out through my mouth, I prayed that God would meet me in the office.

I hate to admit that my anxiety reminds me to invite God into my day, because without anxiety, sometimes I forget to invite God into my day. I feel like I don’t need God unless something is wrong with me. But the point of intimacy with God is, God doesn’t just want us to need Him. He wants us to want Him.

I’ve struggled with writing about this topic for several reasons, the most prominent being that I struggle with this topic in general. I’m a practical, to-do list kind of person, and intimacy is just not that easy. I wish I could give you a step-by-step guide to help you grow in intimacy with God, but there is none. I wish I could tell you exactly what to do to have the perfect relationship with God, but we’re all different.

All I can tell you is to be.

Unless we micromanage the other relationships in our lives, we can’t expect that micromanaging our relationship with God will work. While we should be intentional about spending time with Him, instead of squeezing Him into our schedules, we shouldn’t think that if we follow a magic formula, we can expect God to act a certain way. God is faithful, but He does not fit into the box we’ve created.

So, the point of this post is to tell you that intimacy with God is important. We were created for relationship, and that’s starts with a relationship with God. God is the only One who can fully know us and love us. When humans fall short, God reaches into the depths of us and pulls out things we didn’t even know were in there!

In Christ, there are multiple ways to experience God. Whether you enjoy music, journaling, dancing, meeting with other believers, studying the Bible, or taking a long walk outside, God can meet you when you invite Him into what you love. (As a side note: All of those things are necessary! You still have to read the Bible if you want to encounter God, even if you don’t like it).

James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” While it’s not easy, it is simple. When we make time for God, when we invite Him into our day, He miraculously comes to meet us. Today, invite Him into your day, and begin that journey of intimacy with Him.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash


How Exercise Has Helped My Anxiety

At the beginning of this year, I made a commitment to lose weight that I’ve gained over the past couple of years. Since starting (and finishing!) the 21-Day Fix from Beachbody, I’ve been able to not only shed some pounds, but shed some bad habits as well.

My anxiety stems from emytophobia and agoraphobia. Although no one likes vomiting, I have such an intense fear of it that I avoid certain foods that could make my stomach hurt. I didn’t realize until I was required to fuel my body that I was also afraid of being full. I thought it meant I was sick, and it would scare me. But now that I’m burning calories and gaining muscle, I need to be full more than ever. And, thankfully, I’m learning to eat the right foods, rich in nutrients, so that I could have a satisfied tummy rather than a sick tummy.

Agoraphobia is the fear of being stuck somewhere. I get it when I’m at work, at a party, out with friends, you name it. Wherever I don’t feel in control is where I have anxiety. In an indirect way, working out has helped me to feel more in control. When I do anything out of my comfort zone, I think to myself, “If I can do a 30-minute workout this morning, I can do anything!” When I feel anxiety come on, I remember to breathe and get myself in a healthy mindset.

I’m not paid by Beachbody or anyone to say how I feel about the 21-Day Fix, but if you happen to be Google searching the program and stumble upon this post, my takeaway is that the workouts are awesome. Each week, I could feel and see myself getting stronger, so I knew it was working. However, the recommended nutrition plan didn’t work for me, as it didn’t allow me to eat enough calories. I ate a little extra carbs, and I used MyFitnessPal to keep track of my calories and nutrients. I also don’t plan on doing the Fix again for a couple of months, but most people get results by doing the program several times.

For those of you who want to incorporate exercise into your life in order to improve your physical, mental, and emotional health, here are some ways that have helped me stay on track.

Decide. You can start working out at any time, but no matter when you work out, you need to commit to a program. Whether you do a workout program, go to the gym, or follow a fitness instructor on YouTube, choose a program that works for you. You may think to yourself, “I’ll give it a try, and if I mess up, oh well.” Get that thinking out of your head! During the 21-Day Fix, I kept telling myself, “You can do this. It’s only three weeks.” I didn’t allow myself to quit because I knew that after the 21 days, I would see results, and I would be proud of myself for sticking with it.

Get an accountability partner/group. Over the summer, my friend would help me stay accountable to my running goals. There were days when I didn’t feel like working out, but I knew I had to text her to update her, and I honestly didn’t want to disappoint her! While working out, you’ll need people to encourage you. You also need people to tell you when you’re working yourself too hard and when you should take a break.

Do it first thing in the morning. I do my workout first thing in the morning because: a) I don’t have any excuses first thing in the morning; b) I usually work out on an empty stomach; c) It fuels me for the rest of the day. Set an alarm, roll out of bed, have your workout clothes folded next to your bed, suit up, and get started!

Push yourself, but don’t hurt yourself. I usually make excuses during my workouts because I have a screw in my elbow. Although I push myself beyond what I think I can do, that doesn’t mean I’m invincible! Push-ups are still hard, and using heavy weights can be a burden. If you’re finding yourself wondering when to push yourself, remember why you’re working out in the first place. You may want to lose weight, but the main goal is to take care of yourself.

The # 1 way that exercise has helped my anxiety is that it has changed my thought life. I catch myself thinking negative thoughts about my body, my personality, and my circumstances. That negative thinking is not going to get me the results I want. Instead, I think about what God says about me, and I look to Him to guide me for the rest of the day.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

anxiety Encouragement

My Word for 2019

Although I have focused on a word each year since I graduated from college, I haven’t started documenting my words until last year. My word for 2019 is commit, based on Psalm 37:5

“Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.”

I was going to explain to you what the word “commit” means in the original Hebrew, but it has a pretty obscure meaning. I’ll commit to doing more research on it, and I will get back to you!

First and foremost, I want to commit this year to God. Whenever I put Him first, He provides, guides, and blesses. I want Him with me in 2019!

When praying about this year, I realized that I mentally put my life on hold. In particular, my husband and I have been saving for a house. In 2018, we made incredible progress, but I spent a lot of time wishing that we had a house so that we could have parties or have more space. We have also pushed off going on vacation and other fancy adventures because we are saving every penny. For the majority of the year, I believed that my life wouldn’t start until we had a house.

The truth is: life is too short to wait to live. God gives us waiting seasons, but He doesn’t call us to stop living until we’re done waiting. Waiting in the Bible is active. People who waited prayed, worshiped, met with other believers, and kept living their lives. And that is what I intend to do in 2019.

The last couple of years have been crazy. I’ve been asking since 2014 for a chill year. You all know about my instant push into adulthood, from getting a full-time job to getting married and moving into two apartments in two years. This year may finally be my chill year! During this year, we can focus on living our lives to the fullest while sticking to our financial and spiritual goals.

In 2018, I decluttered all the stuff that wasn’t producing fruit in my life. In 2019, I am now holding onto what is producing fruit and making room for those ministries, relationships, and habits in my daily life. Yesterday, I wrote a list of what I wanted to commit to this year. I won’t be sharing that list in public, but now I have a vision for the rest of 2019. What I will share is what has inspired me to commit:

  • We are losing our connection with our friends and family through our busy schedules and our addiction to social media.
  • We are losing our ability to discipline ourselves and practice self-control due to the instant gratification offered by technology and quick commercial services.
  • We are losing our need for commitment because we have so many options. You don’t like your spouse? Get a divorce. You don’t like your family? Disown them. You don’t like your friends? Ghost them. According to the world, you can have a hundred superficial friendships in order to replace the few meaningful relationships.

I fully admit that I have fallen victim to each of these points I’ve mentioned:

  • Due to my busy schedule, I find it hard to make time for my friends and family. This year, I have committed to do a better job of keeping in touch with them, and even inviting them to our apartment. I don’t have to wait to get a house in order to see my friends.
  • Due to the difficulty of eating healthy and fitting a workout plan into my schedule, I have been very bad at sticking to my fitness goals. This year, I have committed to a workout plan, and I intend to keep that commitment until the end of the year.
  • Due to the pain of conflict and emotional abuse from others, it is difficult for me to keep lasting relationships with others. It is much easier for me to cut them out of my life than for me to deal with conflict or to go deep with them. This year, I have committed to be intentional about attending church, being present at my small group, and participating in the community where God has placed me. Although I have been committed to my husband, I have committed to dig deeper into our marriage and grow even closer together.

I am reminded of Jesus’ teaching about abiding in the vine. This past year, God has pruned the areas of my life that have not produced fruit. This new year, God is making space for me to produce more fruit and to flourish where He has planted me. I cannot wait to see what 2019 holds for me and my husband. We’re ready to commit!

What word has God placed on your heart for 2019?

Photo by Oscar Ivan Esquivel Arteaga on Unsplash


The Worst Kept Secret: Depression

I guest posted on Crystal Twaddell’s Made to Brave blog this week about depression during the holidays. Unfortunately, it is a sad reality that more people are depressed/suicidal/anxious during this time of the year than any other time. As I’ve said before, depression and anxiety go hand in hand. Anxiety is high energy fear of the future, while depression is low energy fear of the past.

It seems that it’s more socially acceptable to be anxious. After all, if you have a busy schedule to be anxious about, doesn’t that make you important or popular? But if you’re depressed, it means (supposedly) that you’re ungrateful for everything in your life, and no one wants to invite you to parties because you drag the mood down. I’m not downplaying the severity of anxiety, but I do believe we as a society talk about anxiety more than we talk about depression. It’s time to continue the conversation by discussing what happens when your anxiety disappears: it is often replaced with depression.

Anxiety is a large part of us. For some of us, it’s who we are. If you struggle with anxiety, can you even think of a time in your life when you weren’t anxious? Although we want to be set free from it, when we finally get better, we sometimes get worse. The hole that anxiety leaves in our lives is big and loud and aggravating. If we’re not anxious, then who are we?

That’s when depression kicks in. When we don’t have something to worry about, we get depressed. When our schedule isn’t filled to the brim, we get depressed. When we don’t have our usual five o’clock panic attack, we get depressed. Not because we miss our anxiety, but because we don’t know how to move forward. I know, because I’ve experienced this big time over the last couple of years.

During the holidays, we expect that Santa Claus and the smell of pine and gingerbread cookies and all the sugar will make of our problems go away. But they don’t. As a matter of fact, the holidays often make things worse for us. Some of us have to see family members we don’t like. Why do we have to sit across the dinner table from the people we haven’t spoken to in twenty years because of a fight that happened over a shovel? Some of us put our hope in gifts only to be sorely disappointed when we unwrap all the presents just to find our hearts as empty as ever. Did you really think that a new computer would make you feel more fulfilled?

With that logic, it’s no wonder that so many people kill themselves or die of natural causes during this time of year. Depression hangs in the air like the frost that comes out of our mouths when we’re whispering in the cold.

But depression is not the final word.

I encourage you this Christmas season to start by being honest. If you’re depressed, please get help. Reach out to a friend. Go to church. Even comment on this post. Be honest about how you feel and why you feel that way. Our emotions are not the truth, but they are an indication that something in your life needs to be fixed. It is essential for you to get the help and answers that you need in order to move on with your life and to enjoy the many blessings of the Christmas season.

This year, I feel like more than ever we’re trying to get back to the true meaning of Christmas, Jesus coming to Earth to bring us peace with God, with others, and with ourselves. If you focus on the other stuff, I cannot guarantee that you will feel peace at the end of the day. However, I am a living testimony that Jesus is the giver of life, not just eternal life when we die, but abundant life while we are still breathing. There have been times where I’ve wondered what the point of life is, and I’ve felt God’s peace saying that He has a purpose for me here. The same is true for you. You may feel depressed, hopeless, even meaningless, but God has a different story for you. The hope of Christmas is that you’re not alone, and that your life is worth living.

Photo by Jilbert Ebrahimi on Unsplash


My Song for the Season: “Here Comes Heaven”

Every year, I focus on a different aspect of Christmas. I’ll usually hear a song on the radio that sticks out to me and reminds me to be conscious of whatever God is teaching me. Listening to actual Christmas music about the birth of Christ and not about drinking hot cocoa and waiting for Santa Claus is so refreshing for my soul!

The last couple of years, God has put it on my heart to pay attention to the fact that Jesus came to us. Before the Christmas season even started, I listened to Elevation Worship’s new CD Hallelujah Here Below on Spotify. On my phone, if I’m listening to a particular CD, sometimes Spotify will throw in songs from the artist that are on a different album. When the song “Here Comes Heaven” came on, I thought it was from a Christmas album. But that’s the beauty of Christian music: when we have Christ in our hearts, it is Christmas every day. This song brought tears to my eyes when I first listened to it. I knew this is what God wanted to teach me this year.

Before Christ came to Earth, the people of God did not hear a prophecy or any word from the Lord for 400 years. For centuries, people waited for salvation and peace with God. They performed their rituals in hopes that they were pleasing God, waiting to hear from Him. Little did they know that He was preparing the way for Heaven to come to Earth.

In the ninth chapter of his book, Isaiah prophecies what it would be like for the Messiah to come to Earth:

“the people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2, NIV).

When I was a kid and would have panic attacks, I would run to my parents and ask them to help me. Instead of addressing it, sometimes they would just tell me to think about something else. If I couldn’t sleep, my dad would tell me to dream of going to Florida on vacation. Just putting my attention on something else brought me such peace.

This Christmas season, I want to focus my attention on Christ. During the most depressing time of year, it is easy to get caught up in buying the right presents, filling our schedules with parties, and forcing ourselves to interact with family members we don’t like. But that’s not what Christmas is about. In fact, it’s not about us at all. Christmas is about Jesus coming to Earth, giving us peace with God, peace with others, and ultimately, peace with ourselves.

“Here Comes Heaven” is about how peace has finally come. We don’t have to strive anymore. We don’t have to wait anymore. While we shop and wait and traffic and wear our ugly Christmas sweaters to different events, we can trust that the work is finished. Jesus already took care of everything that needed to take place.

What is our response to Christ coming to Earth? Worship. Praise. Recognition. It is okay to enjoy different Christmas traditions, but at the end of the day, we need to remember the One who took away our grief, our confusion, and our enmity with God. We can now have all the fruits of the Spirit.

This year, consider what it means for Heaven to come to Earth in your life. While God has a global (universal!) perspective of His creation, He also values you and has a unique and specific plan for you. If Heaven came to you this year, what would that look like? How would your life be different? What fears wouldn’t make sense anymore? What mourning would be lifted from you? What wait will finally be over?

Photo by Sam Schooler on Unsplash


Rising Above the Fear of Flying

Last week for Thanksgiving, I had the privilege of surprising my husband’s grandmother for her 80th birthday. Lenny’s entire family on his mom’s side was there, except for a few people. It was a great time hanging out with his cousins. However, since his grandmother lives in Florida, I had to take a three-hour plane ride.

The idea of taking a plane literally debilitates me. My grandfather swore he would never get on a plane, and he never did. Since I love to travel, I have decided that flying will forever be a part of my life. Now that I’ve survived taking a plane twice (as well as the one-hundred times before that!), I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned in case you also have the same anxiety.

Prepare yourself in advance. I’ve said it before and I will say it again. You are in control of your mind. The week before Thanksgiving, I was a wreck thinking about flying. All the what-ifs flooding into my mind, stealing my sleep, my appetite, and my joy. This time, I put on worship music whenever I felt anxious and remembered all the other flights where God has been with me. God is faithful. He is literally holding up the plane, and He’s got you in the palm of His hand.

Don’t think too much about it. There are a few reasons why flying debilitates me. However, knowing the reasons does not make me feel any better. This last time I got on the plane, I didn’t even have time to worry. Some people in our party wanted to get Burger King, and the line was ridiculously long. We didn’t make it to the gate for our plane until we were boarding. Normally, I would be sitting at the gate, pacing the floor and dreading my impending doom. This time, I didn’t have time to worry, and I chose to forget about it. By the time we took off, I was fine. I didn’t even feel dizzy like I normally do. If you try to rationalize while you’re on the flight, you’ll make yourself crazy. Just let it go and relax.

Thank God for flight attendants! They are fully equipped to help you in any situation. Sometimes, I tell them that I’m scared, and they keep an eye on me during the flight. I’ve had some flight attendants stand next to me and coach me before take-off. Although I’ve never actually been sick on a plane, most (I can’t stay all because there is mixed information out there) are trained for medical emergencies and know what to do in case I’m not feeling well. On that note, please be respectful to flight attendants! They do way more than we even know.

Pray for an angel. I’m a firm believer that God provides what we need when we need it. Last year, I went to the Dominican Republic with my family. During takeoff, I prayed and asked God to help me. When the plane leveled out, I turned next to me to see a woman reading Psalms on her phone. We talked the entire flight; I didn’t even think about how high we were until the flight was over! I believed God sent her to encourage me and to show me His peace. If you’re scared, pray for God to provide exactly what you need.

Make sure you eat and drink. Since I’m afraid of getting sick on the plane, the idea of eating scares me. However, Lenny discovered on this past flight that eating actually helps me. I would choose something light, like pretzels or crackers and water. Don’t eat it all at once, but make sure you eat at least a little something during your flight.

Essential oils. I’m not a huge fan of medication, so instead of anxiety medication, I bring essential oils. This trip, I brought Lavender and Stress Away from Young Living. Put a little on your wrists and sniff your wrists when you get nervous. If you’re really inconsolable, but some lavender under your nose so you can breathe it in more accessibly.

Distraction, distraction, distraction. I love that planes have movies and even video games on their flights now. This time, I downloaded an audiobook on my phone and played a few games. It definitely made time go a lot more quickly on the plane!

What techniques help you when you’re flying? Share them in the comments below!


Photo by Tim Dennert on Unsplash


Jesus Took Naps; Be Like Jesus

I first saw this phrase over the summer. At first, I thought it was permission to be lazy (for some of you, it might be!), but there is much to be learned from Jesus’ nap on the boat (Mark 4:35-41).

One day, Jesus took His disciples on a boat at night. After a long day with the crowds, I’m sure the disciples were looking forward to a nice relaxing night on the boat. But what is described as “a furious squall” erupts in the sky, and the wind and the waves seem to ambush the boat. How could God let this happen? His disciples actually had problems? How could it be so?!

Throughout this storm, Jesus is asleep. In the middle of the storm, when everything was going crazy, that’s when Jesus decides to take a nap. It makes sense, since He spent most of His waking hours teaching and healing people. Now that the crowds were gone, He can sleep. The gospel of Mark even says that Jesus is sleeping on a cushion! But wouldn’t He want more calming music to help Him relax, as opposed to the whistling of the wind and the crashing of the waves?

When they find Jesus, the disciples instantly wake Him up and ask Him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” I believe they were right to turn to their Master, to believe that He could stop the wind and the waves from destroying the ship. And in all seriousness, they are in danger in this story. However, the stance of Jesus during the hubbub should have been a cue for the disciples to follow.

You see, by taking a nap, Jesus demonstrates that there is no reason to be afraid, even in the midst of the storm. If Jesus was worried, then the disciples should be worried. Since He is at peace, the disciples should be at peace as well. Jesus is helping to grow their faith by reminding them that they are braver than they think, and more equipped than they think.

After all, most of them are fishermen! Was that the first time they were ever in a storm? Did they know that a storm was in the forecast? Did they try to warn Jesus before getting on the storm? Why were they so afraid when they’ve done this multiple times?

Because no matter how equipped they were, they were not Jesus. Their skills were limited, while the skills of Jesus are unlimited.

Right after the disciples wake up Jesus, He rises to His feet and calms the wind and the waves in an instant. His power didn’t activate because He was awake. He had that power all along, available to Him at any moment.

The last time I was on a plane, I was incredibly nervous, especially because they didn’t assign us seats until we were boarding, and I needed to sit with my husband Lenny or I would go nuts. Thank God, we were able to sit together, but I was still a little uneasy before takeoff.  A few minutes into the flight, I look over, and my husband is asleep! Granted, it was early in the morning, but didn’t he know I needed him? When I woke him up, he looked up at me, annoyed, and said, “You’re fine. Go to bed.” My husband fell asleep because he knew I wasn’t in danger. Since he relaxed, I was able to relax, too.

Jesus didn’t nap because He was lazy. Jesus wasn’t avoiding His problems. He wasn’t waiting for the day to fast forward so that He could start over the next day. I’m guilty of taking a nap because anxiety stole my ability to solve problems, and I’m guilty of taking a nap because depression stole my ability to enjoy the day. But I’m also guilty of neglecting to rest when I think I have to do it all. Instead, I have to let Jesus take over and direct my steps. His Spirit lives in me, helping me live each day. And if He’s napping, I’m napping too!

When anxiety strikes, I instantly forget how smart I am, how brave I am, and how stupid these lies are. But when I look to Jesus, the one who is control, and I see that He was able to sleep in the midst of a scary storm, then He suddenly calms the wind and the waves in my heart.

So, on that note, even though I have a ton of things to do and I’m incredibly anxious about the next few days, I’m going to take a nap!

Photo by Ethan Sykes on Unsplash


Alternatives to Anxiety Medication

While some prefer anxiety medication, I do not. In my opinion, the side effects far outweigh the treatment, and most of the time people end up dependent on medication. If you’re on anxiety medication, I do not judge you for it. It’s just my personal preference to look for other, less addictive ways to overcome anxiety. Even if you’re on medication, these alternatives can still ease the discomfort of anxiety on a daily basis.

This past year, I’ve gone to the doctor because of difficulty breathing, heart palpitations, and chest pains. Pretty serious stuff, right? Every time I go, they give me an EKG, and they say my heart and my breathing are completely normal. The doctor or PA (whoever is available at the time) tells me I probably have anxiety and try to prescribe me some sort of medication. Each time, I refuse. There has to be another way to treat anxiety besides popping pills.

If you are like me and want some alternatives, here are ways I’ve found to treat anxiety.

Diet. Sugar and caffeine can both contribute to panic attacks because they energize us and make it difficult to sit still. In addition to these, if you have food sensitivities or digestive issues, foods that are more challenging to digest can cause physical unrest as well. This website lists ten foods you should avoid if you have anxiety. Although we don’t have to completely alter our diet, we can try to cut out some of these foods.

Exercise. I’ve been told that anxiety is just stored up energy. When you think of it that way, it’s easier to control. Studies show that after just five minutes of physical activity, anxiety starts to decrease. Make an effort to walk, jog, bike ride, or dance for 30 minutes a day, 3-5 times a day, and see if you feel more calm.

Essential Oils. I feel like every time I look through an essential oil catalog, each description of an oil is “A calming blend.” Lavender always tends to calm me down (is there anything lavender can’t do?), but check out your favorite essential oils website to see what blends or oils can work for you.

Breathing. The best part about air is it’s free! When God created us, He breathed into our nostrils. Ever since then, we’ve needed air to survive. I didn’t realize that I forget to breathe when I’m anxious until someone had to remind me one day. That’s a little scary! If you’re anxious, take a minute to focus on your breathing (inhale, exhale). Don’t worry if you think you look silly while you’re breathing heavy. Your survival is more important than how you look.

Pressure Points. A good friend of mine taught me two pressure points that are helpful for me. Since they are difficult to describe, here is a website that has several points you can use on your body to relief stress and other psychosomatic symptoms from anxiety.

Journaling. By far, this is my favorite and most effective way to treat anxiety. Anxiety begins in the mind, and then extends to the body. I’ve seen the difference in my life when I don’t take the time to write. My mind is jumbled, I can’t sit still, and I’m considering all the worst case scenarios. Sometimes, I write ten pages in one day, just trying to process my thoughts and feelings. Every time I write, though, I end up feeling better. Through journaling, I learn what I’m feeling and thinking, and how I can change those thoughts and feelings into more positive and productive ones.

Counseling. I’ll admit, counseling is scary. If you don’t want to invest in a counselor, at the very least, consider speaking with a friend about your feelings. We were created for community. Join a small group, take your friend out for tea, or send a note on Facebook to someone.

Self-reflection. This is part of journaling. Self-reflection goes a little deeper than journaling, though. Journaling is the what, while self-reflection is the why. You may realize through journaling that you’re afraid of rabbits. Self-reflection is looking at your past and trying to figure out where that fear started. Did you have a rabbit as a pet when you were younger? Did you watch a scary movie about rabbits? Once we know why we’re afraid, we can learn how to overcome the fear.

As you know, trusting in God has been the ultimate cure for my anxiety. While anxiety is still a daily struggle for me, I know God is my constant and is able to help me through it. I am thankful that He has provided all of these ways to help me through this battle.

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash


In Our Own Eyes

I’m working on my manuscript for my novel again, but thanks to the retreat I attended two weeks ago, I have some more direction. Here are some of the Bible verses that are inspiring me through this process. I will write more about my actual novel on Friday.

When I was a kid, my mom would tell me that the most intelligent people are typically the ones who would struggle with anxiety. Think about it: Intelligent people have thought of every possible situation and the probability of each situation happening (sort of like Dr. Strange in Infinity Wars). In a way, anxiety is a compliment, because that means you’re smart enough to know that bad things can happen to you.

In the Bible, Solomon was the wisest person who ever lived, and yet he realized that life in and of itself is meaningless. He wrote a whole book (Ecclesiastes) about how we should just enjoy life, because nothing we do will amount to anything. If that doesn’t cause you anxiety, I don’t know what will!

I think this is why God tells us not to be wise in our own eyes. God has a bigger plan that we can ever understand, even if we have all the wisdom in the world. When I think of trusting God instead of leaning on my own wisdom, I think of being engulfed in the arms of someone much bigger than me. I surrender in his strong, loving arms, knowing he’s got it, and that he can see beyond what I can.

Here are a couple of verses that have reminded me to lean on God’s wisdom and not my own:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.” -Proverbs 3:5-8

“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
    and clever in their own sight.” -Isaiah 5:21

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” -1 Corinthians 1:25

Being wise in our own eyes gets us into trouble. Even if we were the most intelligent people on Earth, able to think up every possible scenario of what could happen, we would not be wiser than God. God can see the big picture, all that once, in the scope of eternity.

Long story short: He knows.

If you are anxious today, seek God’s wisdom. His word is filled with wise sayings that can help you each day. If you’re worried about money, the Bible talks more about money than you could even believe! If you’re worried about what others think about you, there are verses that describe our identity in Christ and can infuse confidence into our very souls.

Are there any other verses that help you remember not to lean on human wisdom, but on God’s wisdom? I’d love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments which verses you would add to this list, or some practical ways that you can trust God despite your human judgment.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash


The Blessing of Difficult People

On this past Marriage Monday, I discussed the first step in dealing with difficult people, and that is to develop sympathy toward them, because they are human. Since then, I’ve thought about how my life would be different if I didn’t have difficult people in my life. When I read my journal from a couple of years ago, I remembered meeting a handful of people that rubbed me the wrong way and attacked my character. Looking back, I realized how they actually helped me more than hurt me.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Think about that visual! Although the people who love us help us to mature, those who are different from us allow us to grow as well. Those people who “rub us the wrong way” are inadvertently rubbing off our mess and making us more like Jesus.

They help you gain a new perspective, which makes you question everything. I specifically had one person who I had kept at arm’s length. When I read my journal a few days ago, the memories flooded back to me about my experiences with her. One thing that she consistently did, unknowingly I’m sure, was give false testimony about me. Those who know me know that I am joyful and childlike (not childish), and I always prefer to look at the positive side. One day, I wrote in my journal that she had told me I complained too much, which is not true. She also told me one day that my joy made her depressed because she could never have what I have, which is also not true. However, although she attacked the very core of my being, instead of crumbling, I examined my heart to reflect on what I was portraying to others. Sure, I thought I was joyful, but maybe to her I complained. Maybe I desired to be childlike, but I was more rigid than I thought. Was my joy annoying? Her attacks made my reflect on my actions and attitude, which is a Biblical practice that God wants us to do on a regular basis.

They keep you humble. Difficult people remind you that you are not perfect. None of us are perfect. You want to be around the people that sing your praises all day, but trust me when I say that you also want to be around those who think you have plenty of room for improvement. At one point, this person called me out on my pride. I had a lot of pride, and I honestly still do. She helped me to see what I needed to change about my life. She also consistently reminded me how much I need Jesus, as her threats and accusations constantly kept me on my knees in prayer.

They help you to show Christ’s love. Jesus commands us to love our enemies. It is easy to love those who love us back, but what about those who don’t? (see Matthew 5:43-48). When I’m around difficult people, I close myself off and don’t want to show love to them. However, that’s not the way God calls me to live. Instead, I need to be honest with God and accept His help. God knows our hearts; He knows when we don’t love those around us. When we’re honest with Him, He equips us to love them through His everlasting, unfailing love. His love puts my love to shame.

Without those difficult people in my life, I would have never grown, at least in the ways that I have. I’ve had people criticize my writing, attack my joy, and call me out for my pride. I can’t believe that years later, I’m still thinking of the people that have hurt me, and the ways they have blessed my life. My experience with difficult people from my past also help me with the people I have in my life now. These people that I’ve lost contact with did their worst to me, and yet I’m still here and I’m still thriving. If I was able to learn to love those difficult people in my life, if I was able to “survive” every attack they threw at me, I am able to love and endure the people who surround me now. No matter how condescending, negative, and criticizing some people are in my life now, I can be confident that God is my defender and that He will grow me even through these difficult people.

If you have difficult people in your life, pray about how God can use them to grow you. Now, please understand that difficult is not abusive. If someone is being abusive to you, run. Do not endure his/her toxicity. However, difficult people are more annoying than hurtful. Allow God to reveal His love through you as you deal with these people that get under your skin.

Photo by Victor Benard on Unsplash