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
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

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
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
Marriage

The power of silence among couples

Anyone who knows my husband knows that he is a man of few words. However, the words he says are so golden, they make you want to stop what you’re doing and listen. As a woman with many words, I have learned to listen to him and give him the respect he deserves.

But what do we do when neither of us have anything to say?

After two and a half years of marriage, we’ve learned that sometimes, words aren’t necessary. We love driving home in the car just holding hands, not saying a word during the entire half hour drive. When I’m crying, Lenny will put his arms around me and just hold me, the only sound between us my heaving sobs. When Lenny had a busy day at work and doesn’t want to talk at the moment, I stand by his side and wait, in silence, until he’s ready to talk.

How do we know when it’s time to be silent? Well, we’ll never know unless we try it!

James 1:19 says that we must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Although this verse is used to talk about listening, I want to focus on the second part of our instruction: be slow to speak. In a culture that loves texting and feeling compelled to give an answer to everything, it doesn’t make sense to stay silent when you have an answer.

To use a quote that has been attributed to Stephen R. Covey, “The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand.
We listen to reply.” Maybe to show we understand, we don’t need to reply. Maybe to simply be there for our spouses, we can sit in silence.

A great example of people who were silent in the Bible were Job’s friends. After Job had lost everything, his friends came from their homes (which weren’t very close to his house, by the way!):

“When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:11-13, NIV).

So, give silence a try this week. Whether one of you is grieving or stressed, or one of you is celebrating, try to spend at least a half hour in silence. While sitting there together, pray for one another, and think about what you appreciate about each other.

Because then, when you both talk to each other, you will lean into one another, as the words you choose to say will be golden.

Categories
anxiety

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

Categories
anxiety

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

Categories
anxiety

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

Categories
anxiety

The Teacher is Here and is Looking for You

Waiting does not come easy for me.  Thoughts rush to my head about what could happen rather than what is currently happening at the moment. I think about all the different scenarios and try to get a plan based on where I think things are going.

Waiting prolongs the process. Waiting interrupts my rhythm. Waiting is not fun.

Jesus had a different perspective on waiting. The story of Lazarus (John 11) serves as a great reminder when I am suffering with anxiety caused by waiting for my plans to produce fruit. In the waiting process, God is growing my faith and redeeming the brokenness of my heart.

Jesus grew the faith of Mary and Martha when their brother Lazarus had died.  He waited four days after Lazarus had died to come visit them. I’ve heard the reason for this is that the Jews believed a soul hovered over the body for three days before going to Sheol. So at this point, Mary and Martha believed that their brother was gone.

When Jesus casually strolls up to see Martha, her response is blunt and honest: “If you were here, my brother would not have died.” Although it looks like she’s reprimanding Jesus for not being at her side when her brother was sick, she is actually exercising great faith in that she knew He could have healed her brother. She also was honest with how she felt. She wasted no time with pleasantries as she expressed her sadness and anger at Jesus’ obvious delay in helping her brother. Jesus has a conversation with her that grows her faith, and as you’ll see later in the story, He ends up fulfilling the desires of her heart.

But lately, God taught me something special about this story, the beautiful news that is for me and for you. Martha went to find her sister. I noticed that Mary, the one who had sat at Jesus’ feet, the one who had chose “what was better,” did not meet Jesus when He came to visit. She was at home. Does that mean she had chores to do, that since Jesus had disappointed her that she wasn’t eager to sit at His feet? Does that mean that she was speaking to those who had come to give their condolences? We’re not completely sure, and I may be reading a lot into it, but she demonstrates a different attitude from how we had seen her earlier in the gospel of John, sitting at His feet and soaking up His words.

Mary is about to hear the news that could melt her heart of stone.

When Martha looked for her, she said: “The Teacher is here and is looking for you.” Jesus, the one who had taught Mary how to trust in God, was looking for her. He wanted her to sit at His feet again. Only this time, He would be teaching her through example.

Even when we are obedient to God, diligent to sit at His feet and learn from Him, He still may have a waiting period in His plan for us. In the midst of our waiting, God is right there with us. The one who teaches us is waiting for us to trust Him. The one who loves us is looking for us as we wander around, waiting for our next step. He is waiting for us to sit at His feet again. He is waiting to grow our faith. He is waiting to do the impossible in our lives.

As we all know, Jesus does the impossible for Martha and Mary. He brings back Lazarus from the dead. Despite their lack of faith, and despite the fact that Lazarus had been dead for several days, Jesus is able to perform this wonderful miracle.

What are you waiting for? Let me encourage you that nothing is out of God’s ability. Jesus, the teacher, the one who wants you to grow from this experience, is here, and he is looking for you. Put yourself in a position where He can find you. Sit at his feet, and listen to his teaching. It is only a matter of time before He will do the impossible in your life.


Photo by Stephen Blenman on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

Write Down to Calm Down

It’s no coincidence that I have anxiety and I love to write. When I’m anxious, I could spend hours writing in my journal, processing my thoughts, making sense of the world around me. I can articulate my emotions and better communicate them to people when I write. As a result, I’m able to maintain my anxiety. I’ve noticed that when I don’t make time to journal, I’m more restless and I’m not as in tune with my emotions.

Truthfully, I haven’t journaled in the past couple of days, so I’m finding it hard to sit still as I’m typing this. My mind is also swimming with ideas to a point where I don’t know what’s going on up there. So maybe this advice is just as important for me in this moment as it is for you.

Make Time to Write
The #1 response I hear to why people don’t journal is, “I don’t have time.” The truth is: We don’t have time for everything. Life is busy, but I believe it’s because we want to be at all places at all times, but we can’t. God gave us twenty-four hours in a day, no more and no less. If journaling is something you want to try, you should make it a priority to carve any amount of time out for your day.

Think about the things that consume your time. You say you don’t have time, but you unwind by watching Netflix or scrolling any one of your social media sites. You make time to spectate other people’s lives, and yet you don’t make time to process your own. If you want a better life, make time to assess where you are now and make measurable goals of where you want to be later. Journaling is the perfect first step for that.

Face Your Fear of Yourself
Before I had a dishwasher, I used to dread washing the dishes. Days would go by and my dishes would pile up. At the end of the week, I wouldn’t want to know what disgusting crusts and smells would arise when I would finally turn on the hot water and start rinsing off my old plates. Although the process was nauseating and painful (I would often burn my hands in the hot water), I would get through washing the dishes and would have sparkling clean dishes.

Similarly, I don’t want to journal when I know I’ll be confronted with my depression or anxiety. I have this fear that I’ll process my feelings for hours only to find out that I’m overreacting and that, overall, I’m a mess. I’m comforted by the fact that God doesn’t look at me that way. God does not despise my broken and contrite heart. He accepts me with my mess, and He helps me sort through the murky waters of my emotions.

If you are afraid of what you will find when you journal, start by affirming yourself with Scripture. God has a lot of great things to say about you in His word. Psalm 139 has been my anthem lately as I’ve struggled with truly feeling beautiful in God’s eyes. God had me in mind before I was even born, and He crafted me to beautifully reflect His glory. Knowing this, I feel less disgusting as I search the depths of my heart.

Journaling Prompts
Pinterest has plenty of prompts to help you start your journaling journey. I’ve taken a few and created my own list. Keep in mind that I assume you’re journaling in the morning when you first wake up, because that’s when I normally do so. If you journal at night before bed, replace “yesterday” with “today,” and “today” with “tomorrow.” Let me know which prompt resonated most with you, and which one you want to try! I think I’m going to try a few of these!

  1. Where did you see God show up in your life yesterday? How are you expecting Him to meet you today?
  2. What success happened yesterday that you would want to achieve again today?
  3. What makes you feel most loved? When was that need met/not met recently?
  4. If you knew God would give you whatever you requested, what would you pray? (Forget what you’re not “allowed” to pray for, like a million dollars or for your ex-boyfriend to break up with his girlfriend. This is your journal, and if the desire of your heart is to win a million dollars or to see your ex-boyfriend suffer, God wants you to be honest with Him. I’m not saying He’ll answer your prayer, but He will give you clarity in how to align your desires with His will).
  5. Write a letter to your past self (at any age, or at a point during a traumatic experience in your life).

Your turn:
-If you’ve never tried journaling, what is stopping you from trying? Is it intimidating or boring?
-What prompts would you try from this list?
-What prompts would you add?


Photo by Lonely Planet on Unsplash