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Friday, March 28, 2014

Tidbits From Help Meets' Hearts-A Review!



Tidbits From Help Meets' Hearts is a compilation of authors from Marriage Motherhood and Missions speaking on the topics of:

  • Making Time for God and Me
  • Loving Our Husbands
  • Raising Our Kids for Christ
  • Homemaking
  • Ministering Outside Our Homes
  • Finances
  • Encouragement for Your Hearts
Together, these seven writers share their unique perspectives on each subject. This method is interesting in that the reader gets to hear a topic from many different vantage points and experiences. 

The book opens with a bang by addressing an issue that many of us share: Making time for God and me. How many moms struggle with how to take a slice out of her busy day for being in the Word and for having some coveted "me" time? It's difficult, for sure, but these ladies offer practical solutions for balancing your day. I especially like Rosilind's suggestions and I plan to employ most of them. Her suggestions?: 

  • Play worship CDs
  • Find the Bible on CD or use You Version to listen to God's word
  • Write down or print out scripture verses and hang them in strategic places in your home
  • Memorize God's Word
  • Listen to quality Bible teachers on podcasts or youtube.
I also enjoyed Ren's method of praying without ceasing, which, at first blush sounds exhausting and labor-intensive, but it really means having an on-going conversation with God throughout the day and saying "Amen" that night. I like that idea of speaking with God like He's my friends...because He is. 

Moving on to the chapter called Loving Our Husbands, I'll admit, I blushed when I read Ren Simonitis's post entitled "Pleasure Him." If there is an area I am struggling in at this season of life, it is by far being attentive to my husband. With 12 grabby, precious, little hands pulling at me all day, and 6 demanding little personalities in my ear 10-12 hours or more a day, I am exhausted by the day's end. In truth, I just want to close myself in the closet and listen to silence. Being there for my husband *wink, wink* sadly is not typically at the top of my "To Do" list. And that's a shame because there was a time when we made time for that. We anticipated it and yearned for it and we made it happen. 

I know I am not alone in this department. I encounter women every day who struggle with switching hats from mom to wife to ministry leader to sister to daughter, to employee/employer, etc. And it seems extra difficult to switch from all of those things to temptress when the lights are out. After all, it's hard to feel sexy when I know I've had poop on my hand from a wriggling toddler, throw-up on my shirt from a sick baby, and who knows what on my pants. Channeling Angelina Jolie when I feel like Nick Nolte's mug shot all but kills the desire. The ladies of Tidbits from Help Meets' Hearts offer some great advice for keeping our husbands the priority in our lives and not losing the flame: being mindful of him, knowing the best way to communicate with him by knowing his love language, making an effort to look and feel my best (yes, that does include more than a token shower), praying for him, and by consciously making the decision to love him, respect him, and be there for him by making every minute with him count.

Raising Our Kids for Christ had a theme throughout from all the authors' perspectives: emulate what we want our children to be. If we want children grounded in the Word and actively pursuing a relationship with the Lord, we must live by example. Some families have different expectations for their children then others, but the key is in being consistent. There were some things that I don't hold to as stringently as some of the writers, but I see the common thread of being a living and active example and giving your children boundaries and guidelines...I also will offer my children the love and grace that I find so freely in Jesus. 

Homemaking is something I enjoy. I love making our house a home and a cozy, welcoming place for friends and family. I can pin decorating ideas for hours on end, if allowed (and I am never allowed, FYI), but sometimes the everyday tasks can be overwhelming. Dishes that pile up (even with a dishwasher), laundry for days, and that funk growing in the bathroom (C'mon, I have 4 boys using the bathroom...one of them being a 45 year-old boy) make me feel like I'm going under. Add to that the responsibilities of homeschooling and running ministries...well, something ends up suffering, and unfortunately that is often the home. All the ladies seem to be in consensus that homemaking is a way for us to show love and service to our families, but it can also be daunting. I like Roslind's practical suggestions, some of which include having a regular schedule and including the children. 

Ministering Outside Our Homes is also near and dear to my heart. I have really stepped up my boldness in ministering over the past few years. I have served in several different capacities over the past 12 years and I think I am finally finding my niche. The down side of that, is making sure that family is always the priority. For me, because I am so enjoying the ministries that I am a part of, it's easy to let other things slide (see homemaking above!) and then we have days where my husband is going to work commando because the laundry hasn't been done in days. God calls us to ministry, the ladies are clear about that, but I also like that they admit it is often difficult to balance being a wife and mom with being in outside ministry. 

Finances is a topic that makes me twitch. It's no secret that I have never been the financially strong one or particularly gifted in the area of crunching numbers and balancing my checkbook. Once again, the authors offer some great and practical advice on how to stretch finances. These suggestions are things that most everyone can do also. 

Encouragement for Your Heart: Grace is a theme throughout this chapter. I agree that as wives and moms we need to extend grace to our husbands and children, and also to ourselves. We will fail others and they will fail us. We need to be willing to model ourselves after Jesus and go to Him when we feel we are at the end of our rope. Heather Greutman offered some advice at the end of the book that I loved: 
  • Give yourself grace 
  • Spend time in God's Word getting filled up each day
  • Call a friend who you haven't talked to in a while and just encourage and strengthen one another in your roles as a wife and a mom
  • Give yourself grace
  • Spend quality time with your husband, away from computers, cell phones, and technology in general
  • make memories with your kids that will last a lifetime
  • Take time for yourself--a worn out and stressed mom is no good 
  • Prioritize
  • Sleep
  • Give yourself grace
These are all very valid, yet often difficult, things to remember and put into practice. 

Tidbits from Help Meets' Hearts is a book chalk full of advice from women who have not only been there, but who are still in the trenches. While methods and philosophies may vary, the core of the message is the same: it's all about Jesus. It's all about honoring God while we are in this season of life.

Good news! You can purchase this book when it comes out April 1, 2014! During that time (Launch Week April 1-5, 2014) the book will be offered at a special price of $2.99! After April 5, it will be available for $5.99. Click HERE for more information!

I was supplied with a Book Launch Team copy of Tidbits From help Meets' Hearts for review. All opinions are my own.


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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Distraction = Anxiety

I am practically BURSTING to share with you what I learned yesterday.

If I could paste the Beth Moore video RIGHT HERE I would. 

Except that's illegal. :)

So, instead, if you have the opportunity, go HERE and purchase the video for Session 6. Even if you have not followed along with the rest of the study, this video is AMAZING, it can stand alone, and it's only $4.99!
By now, it is NO SECRET that I struggle with fear and anxiety. At least, it isn't if you've read any of my posts in The Anxious Mom Series.

Beth Moore looked right through my laptop screen yesterday and spoke directly to me. 

So today, consider this typing of the keys of my keyboard as being a message directly to you...you the one who struggles with fear and uncertainty and anxiety.

If you have your Bible, please open to Philippians 4:6-7. If you don't have a Bible, I'll post it below or you can look online at Biblegateway.org.

          "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,                      present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard              your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

Look at the Message version too:

          "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praise shape your worries into                      prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness,                          everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens                  when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."

If you're like me, you have read and re-read those verses until your eyes glaze and they almost lose their meaning. 

But, let's look at it the way Beth Moore presented it...

When Jesus was tempted by Satan, how did Jesus make Satan run away?

By speaking the Word of God to Satan.

There is power in speaking the Word of God out loud! 

Why does God want us to pray to Him when He knows everything we're thinking, everything we're going through? I mean, He can read our minds. 

God can, but Satan can't.

Beth pointed out that there is power in speaking God's Word out loud so that those in the Heavenly realms can hear you. Satan hears you

And what he is hearing is our prayers of thanksgiving. Our praise. Our reaffirmation that God is sovereign and that He is Lord. Those verses say to pray when we are anxious and offer thanksgiving. That opened my eyes. Instead of just praying, like I usually do:

"Father, please remove this anxiety from me. Please keep my children safe. Please make me more like You..."

I need to be listing out all that I am thankful for and all that God has done for me. 

I think it's for many reasons.

Not only is is offering God the praise He rightfully deserves, but it is also, again, reaffirming that He is sovereign and He is my Lord. 

Also...it reminds me of all the times God has delivered. It puts in the forefront of my mind all the times I have been fearful or unsure or even unsuspecting, yet God has come through. And that He is trustworthy.
It's as much for us as it is to glorify God and to shame Satan.

Beth also drove this home...

Look at Phil 4:6 again...

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything..." (emphasis mine).

God tells us to pray about everything.

Not just what we consider the "big stuff".

Everything. And do it out loud!

And look at this verse from Daniel:

"And when Daniel was lifted from the [lion's] den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in His God." (Daniel 6:23b, emphasis mine).

Look also at verse 27 of the same chapter:

"He [God] rescues and He saves."

2 Timothy 4:18:

          "The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His Heavenly Kingdom.                To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen."

I believe that anxiety is a part of spiritual warfare and a way Satan attacks us and tries to derail our focus from our ministry (and we all have a ministry) and from honoring, trusting, and glorifying God.

Look with me at 1 John 4: 16b, 18.

THIS BLOWS MY MIND!

          "God is love...There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (NIV)

          "God is love...There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life--fear of death, fear of judgment--is one not yet fully formed in love." (MSG)

Satan operates using fear and shame and guilt. God operates using love and forgiveness and grace. When those feelings of fear and anxiety rise up and threaten to take our very sanity, our joy, we need to recognize that those are methods Satan uses. Not God. We need to speak out loud to God, offering Him praise and thanksgiving, recounting--out loud--all the ways He has provided for us, been there for us, blessed us.  

Let's not be like Peter who took a few steps on water, while watching Jesus, and then when the feelings of fear stepped in, and he took his eyes off the Lord and got distracted, he sunk. 

And if we are like Peter, and we find ourselves sinking and focusing on the fear rather than God, let's at least reach out for Jesus, like Peter did, and grab His hand for all we are worth. Let's grab it and cling to it as He lifts us back into the boat. (Matthew 14:22-36).

These next 2 parts grab my heart and make me so excited and so thankful for Jesus being who He is:

When the disciples saw Jesus walking on water, they started freaking out (v 26). Verse 27 makes me tear up, "But Jesus was quick to comfort them. 'Courage, it's me. Don't be afraid.' "

Jesus didn't wait until they said the "magic words" or roll His eyes at them annoyed. 

He was quick to comfort them. 

Peter feels so good, he hops out of the boat and starts walking to Jesus on the water.

While Peter is starting to panic and sink because he got distracted, took his eyes of Jesus, and let fear take over, he cried out, "Master, save me!"

How many times have we cried out in the midst of our misery, in the midst of an anxiety attack, in the midst of thinking something bad is going to happen or we're going to die?

You know what happened?

"Jesus didn't hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, 'Faint-heart, what got into you?'" (Matthew 14:30b-31)

What is your lion's den?

Mine is anxiety and worry and fear that something will happen to my kids. 

Will I be lifted out with no wound, because I trusted God to protect me, or will I be eaten alive by my own wavering faith and fear?

Or will I lift up my hand to Jesus and take a hold of it with all that I am and all that I have?

Jesus is asking all of us, "Faint-heart, what got into you?"

It's not an accident those words were recorded for you and I to read. God is meticulous. He intended for us to read about the disciples' fear and how Jesus was quick to offer support and to remove that fear. 

He is offering that to us as well. 

Father, first of all we praise You for being all that You are...perfect, kind, loving, just, gracious, and merciful. We admire the beauty of the world You created. We thank you for all the blessings You have given us, some that we don't even recognize. Thank You, Father, for Your unfailing love and Your quickness to reach out Your hand to us. Please don't let us hesitate even a moment longer to reach out to You. Please let us feel You grabbing our hand and saying that You're here for us. Please help us keep our eyes fixed firmly on You and not on the waves and storms of life. We need You. We love You. In Jesus's name we pray, Amen. 

The Anxious Mom Series:
Post #1 is HERE.
Post #2 is HERE.
Post #3 is HERE.
Post #4 is HERE.
Post #5 is HERE.
Post #7 is HERE.
Post #8 is HERE.

*I am not a medical or mental health professional. The things that I share I have learned through Bible study, conversations with others and personal introspection. If you feel you will harm yourself or someone else, seek professional help immediately. Do not hesitate. There is NO SHAME in seeking help. A list of resources can be found HERE.        
  
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Monday, March 17, 2014

Focus on Self = Anxiety

The other day while I was vacuuming I had a thought that stopped me. 

While I was mindlessly running the sweeper over the carpet, I was thinking--as usual-- about anxiety and that awful feeling that takes over from time to time without warning.

That agitation and uncomfortable feeling that makes me feel like I can't sit still, like I can't close my eyes for fear of what may happen when I'm asleep and unguarded. That feeling that something bad is going to happen and "the other shoe is going to drop." 

The regret that I anticipate should something happen to my kids before I tell them one more time that I love them. 

And then I remembered something I'm learning is James 4:8 

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." 

The Message version shows a great picture of how we should be when we are feeling at our absolute lowest with anxiety: 

"Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet."

And as I was absent-mindedly vacuuming up dust bunnies, it hit me: How much time must I spend on worry and being anxious? How much focus do I give those negative parts of my life? How much closer would I be to overcoming this struggle if I stopped adding fuel to the fire?

Is it really as simple as focusing on God? On serving other people?

Worry = stress = worry = doubt = worry = stress = worry = doubt = worry....

You get the idea. 

Have you heard the phrase "Starve the beast"?

Maybe in a political sense you have, but there is so much truth to those three little words.

Even... think about feeding animals or birds. What happens when you consistently give them food? They grow to expect it and come back asking for more!

What we feed will grow and come back asking for more. 

It's the same for our anxious thoughts.

Again...let me stop right here and remind you that I understand there are times when professional help is in order. If you ever think about hurting yourself or someone else, you need to seek professional attention immediately. There is no shame in seeking help. A list of  resources can be found HERE

So go with me here...

What would happen if we gave more time and brain space to thinking about God and less to thinking about all that worries us? 

What if we took these verses to heart? (And please don't skim. There is power in His Word.)
"Because you have satisfied me, God, I promise to do everything you say. [Remember God's command to not worry?]
     I beg you from the bottom of my heart; smile,
     be gracious to me just as you promised.
When I took a long careful look at your ways,
     I got back on my feet on the trail you blazed.
I was up at once, I didn't drag my feet,
     was quick to follow your orders. 
The wicked hemmed me in--there was no way out--
     but not for a minute did I forget your plan for me.
I get up in the middle of the night to thank you;
     your decisions are so right, so true--I can't wait till morning!
I'm a friend and companion of all who fear you,
     of those committed to living by your rules.
Your love, God, fills the earth!
Train me to live by your counsel." (Psalm 119: 57-64, MSG, emphasis mine)

I have spent too many nights lying awake worrying when I should have been counting my blessings and thanking God. 

What if I purposely set out to serve others and to openly thank God for His blessings? 

What if I consciously trained my thoughts on Him and His ways and trusting Him rather than worrying about what might happen?

What if I poured the love He has given me into someone else?

What if I stopped focusing so much on me and started focusing more on Him?

Something Beth Moore said has stayed with me for quite a while.

She said something like, Even those who think bad things about themselves constantly are still constantly thinking about themselves.

Isn't that the truth?!

She may have meant it more in the regard of women who disparage themselves, but I think the same could be said about anxiety and worry.

I think it's time to start being purposeful with what we are taking in, what we are putting out, and what we allow in the prime real estate of our minds. 

How many blessings are we missing out on because we are paralyzed with fear and cannot take a step?
How many opportunities are we missing to minister to others because we are wrapped up in ourselves and our worries and fears?

For me...I almost don't want to know how many opportunities have been missed because I simply did not trust God enough to not worry

I am starting to allow myself the thought that my anxiety may never fully go away. 

Paul prayed in 2 Corinthians 12:

"Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best  to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to take it remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it's all you need.

My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size--abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become." (v 1-12, MSG, emphasis mine)

No one expects us to walk around literally cheering that we struggle with anxiety. But God is expecting us to draw near to Him and rely on Him to get us through it. 

I'm finding that in my weakest moments, when it's hardest to believe or trust or draw near to God, that's when I grow the most and that's when He reveals Himself to be worthy of my Trust. 

God can and will be there for us. We just have to step forward in faith. 

"The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see." (Hebrews 11: 1-2a, emphasis mine). 

It's our handle on what we can't see.

Anxiety, by my definition, is my fear of what I can't see. What I think might be. What I am unsure of. What I am afraid will happen.

And right here, God is telling me to be faithful. To trust. To believe in Him. 

"Be strong. Take courage. Don't be intimidated. Don't give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down; he won't leave you." Deuteronomy 31:6

Let's pray about that together:

Father, it is SO HARD to trust and believe when everything inside us is frantic and scrambled and unsure. You are not a God of confusion, but a God of order, so we must realize these feelings are not from You. Your feelings are of peace that passes understanding, even in the midst of a huge storm.

Father, anxiety and worry is like a pest that slowly eats away at us. Every moment spent in worry is another moment taken from You. It's another moment we are not believing in and trusting You and Your Word. This saddens You, but You are also merciful and You love us. You are so willing and eager to give us rest and peace...help us to know how to receive that. Please calm our anxious thoughts and guide us to You and Your security. Thank You that You never let us down or leave us. In Jesus' s name, Amen.

Post #1 is HERE.
Post #2 is HERE.
Post #3 is HERE.
Post #4 is HERE.
Post #6 is HERE.
Post #7 is HERE.
Post #8 is HERE.


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Monday, March 10, 2014

Doubt = Anxiety

I almost fell out of my seat at church yesterday.

God has this amazing little habit of speaking to me in themes and "coincidences" and yesterday, He hit me with a big one. 

I wrote at my friend Ginny's blog Joy from Grace last week about Fear. It fit in nicely with this series I've begun on Anxiety. 

To recap, in Joshua 1:9, God says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

I wrote about how that is not just God telling us to not fear for our own sake, but also because it's frustrating to God when we doubt Him. It interrupts His plan and keeps us from thinking logically and fulfilling what He has for us. 

Whether or not we like to admit it, fearing is doubting God. Whether it's doubting His honesty that He will protect us or doubting His ability to protect us, or doubting if He will protect us in the way that we want...it's still doubt. We're wavering. 

My pastor drove it home yesterday in church when he shared with us verses from Isaiah 48:17-18. And he said something that stuck with me as he was reading those verses. He said, "You can almost hear God lamenting with His people."

Please read these verses. I am one who often skims over scripture in posts because they are familiar, but these verses are what sent me reeling. 

"This is what the Lord says--
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
'I am the LORD your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.
If only you had paid attention to my
commands,your peace would have been like a river,
your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
Your descendants would have been like sand,
your children like its numberless grains;
their name would never be cut off
nor destroyed from before me.' " (emphasis mine)

Did you see that? 

God says in Joshua that He commanded us to not worry.

Then in Isaiah, he reminds us that because we did not follow His command, we have no peace
This has been, by far, the hardest Truth for me to grasp: my anxiety, my fear is a direct result of my doubt, my faithlessness (or wavering faith.)

I find myself uttering the same words the man in Mark 9:24 did when he said said, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

I'm there! I'm constantly crying out that prayer to God. I am double-minded and it drives me crazy. 

And after yesterday and reading Isaiah 48, I realize it drives God crazy too. 

Please don't misunderstand what I am saying. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, proclaiming that all you have to do is "believe" and everything is perfect. I realize there are different levels of anxiety and different triggers. Many people require medical attention. Many require therapy and intervention.
 
I do believe that God can do anything and heal anyone of any affliction. And while He most certainly can and has used miraculous, supernatural, immediate methods by which to do so, I also believe that sometimes He does that using ordinary, everyday people like doctors and therapists. Maybe to bring about a revival in someone else or to make His strength perfect in someone else's weakness. 

Also...I think it could be easy to read this and take away that if you are a "better Christian" you will not have anxiety. 

That is not what I am saying and could not be further from the truth. 

The Bible is very clear that we cannot do anything to achieve perfection (Romans 3:23). Or even come close. If that were the case, Christ would not have had to die on the cross (John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 5:21).

We are flawed human beings. And we are all flawed in unique ways. But one way I am seeing in common with many is in being anxious. 

I am anxious when I fear for my children's safety. I am anxious because I don't want them to experience pain. And if I'm being truthful here, because I don't want to experience pain. 

Most people don't.

But...a very, very ugly and hard truth is that we are not on this planet to be shielded from pain. We are not guaranteed a painless life. God does promise us in Jeremiah 29:11 that He has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, and He says that to our children as well, but I don't believe that He always means that in earthly terms. Sometimes we will experience things that are allowed in order to fulfill His purpose and/or to refine us. Or to refine our children.

Here's where I go back to not always understanding God's purpose. And I want to fight Him tooth and nail.
We are called to take up our cross.  Matthew 16:24 shows Jesus telling His disciples "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." 

And when I really think about these words, I realize that Jesus said these things knowing what He was going to face. He knew that He was literally going to take up a cross and be beaten, and suffer and be humiliated. 

And die.

He isn't asking us to take a walk in the park with Him..He's asking us to be willing to go through everything He did.

And then, as I fret and worry about whether or not something is going to happen to my children, and I beg God to spare them, the verses, also from Matthew, echo in my mind, 

"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it."

Of note? He says whoever wants to save his life will lose it. 

He doesn't say whoever wants to lose his life... 

We don't have to want to suffer and we don't have to like it. 

But we do have to be willing to follow Jesus at any cost. 

And not in our own strength. 

God tells us He's got this. He is the One who will get us through.

2 Corinthians 12:9: "But he said to me, " 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

This isn't going to happen easily and it may not happen overnight. 

And the thing is...as I struggle with letting go, I have told myself something that I don't know to be true. I have convinced myself that if I say to God, "Okay, God...whatever it takes! Use me! Not my will but Yours be done!" 

That He will take my kids. 

While I don't know that to be true, I also don't know it to not be true. 

But I do know that God wants me to trust Him--to trust that He has me in His hand even when things are ugly and that some day, even with tragedy, it will be okay and I'll understand. 

And He wants me to stop focusing my energy on something that may never come to be and grieving something that has not happened. 

We all have weaknesses, some more difficult than others. 

Anxiety happens to be one of mine and it's a doozy!

But Christ is refining me in this. My feet are being held to the fire and I am being pushed deeper into the Word for understanding and peace. 

I pray for all of us that we can continue to put one foot in front of the other and walk next to God as He handles the real heavy stuff. As He tells us to trust Him and to Believe Him--even if it doesn't all make sense and even when it may not be what we would choose. 

Father, please, please wrap Your arms around all of us who suffer with anxiety and worry and fear. You know we aren't perfect and You know that as flawed people, we fall short so often. But please help us overcome this often debilitating infliction. Please grant us Your peace and please fill our hearts with trust and faith. Please help us to meditate on the verses that tell us how much You love us and that You have our good in mind. Please release us from this fear that keeps us from focusing on whole-heartedly serving You. I pray that You will be with every single person who reads this post, that they will feel Your presence, that they will seek You to calm their anxious thoughts, and that they will lean on You when they feel hopeless, panicked and fearful. In Jesus name, Amen. 

Post #1 is HERE.
Post #2 is HERE.
Post #3 is HERE.
Post #5 is HERE.
Post #6 is HERE.
Post #7 is HERE.
Post #8 is HERE


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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Minted.com-A Sponsored Post

I don't do many sponsored posts, but on occasion, if one grabs my attention, I will. I was contacted by Minted.com and asked to do a review about their stationery and birth announcements, etc. So...I poked through their inventory and... I was drooling most of the time.

I am not one to send out announcements after each baby (and let's be realistic, with 6 kids all in 7 years, who has time to do that?), but if I did...I would want to use Minted. I am already planning to order some personalized stationery!

If I were to have another baby (and I don't see that happening, in case you're wondering...) I would LOVE to choose either this one:

Vintage Baby Birth Announcement Minibook™ Cards
Vintage Baby Birth Announcement found HERE.


I mean, I get it that the baby on the front wouldn't be that one, but still...this announcement is beautiful. 

Or this one:

Simple Snapshot Birth Announcements
Simple Snapshot Birth Announcement found HERE.
And this one? Oh this one I just love

Bird Parade Birth Announcements
Bird Parade Birth Announcements found HERE.




And look at these if you're getting married!


XOXO Save the Date Cards
XOXO Save the Date Cards found HERE.



These are so cute! And Minted.com has all occasions covered for you: 

Weddings, Seasonal, Baby & Kids, Paperie, Gifts, Art Prints, and Party Decor.

They have whatever you need!

So...this is what I am planning to snap up: 

Gallery Director Business Stationery Cards
Gallery Director Business Stationery Cards found HERE.

Let's disregard that I am not a Gallery Director. 

I. Want. These. 

So, take a stroll through Minted.com. See what tickles your fancy. There's got to be something that you'll fall in love with. 

I was offered a shopping credit in exchange for my honest post about Minted.com. All opinions are 100% honest and my own. 
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Friday, March 7, 2014

Wife After God -A Review & Giveaway!



Wife After God 30 Day Marriage Devotional written by Jennifer Smith, better knows as Unveiled Wife, is designed to draw you closer to God, and subsequently, closer to your husband. 

I'm only newly introduced to Unveiled Wife, but what I have learned through her blog posts, her Facebook posts and the daily prayers that I subscribe to, is that she is passionately seeking out God to be at the center of her marriage and she is passionate about sharing how to do that with other women. 

Each day of Jennifer's Wife After God devotional is short, poignant and to the point. Even with a husband, six children, homeschooling, and an endless to-do list, I was always able to take a moment to read that day's devotional and take in its meaning. I found it very interesting that I would read a chapter that touched directly on something I was struggling with in my life at the time, but would never have tied to affecting my marriage. Jennifer shows how God's Word ties it all together. 

Many chapters that I read, I cried my way through as I realized what Jennifer wrote was exactly what I was dealing with! I don't know that as women, we fully realize how important our job is in marriage. We are called to do some hard things at times, like forgive and support even when that is the last thing we feel like doing. Many times, we feel justified in being angry or distant or removed...and Jennifer points out that harboring those feelings only makes the problem in our marriage grow worse and the distance to continue. Building walls, Jennifer shares, is allowing pride to take over and intimacy can never thrive or survive in that kind of environment. It was very eye-opening.

Talk about taking it right between the eyes! It's no joke that I read that part the very day I was struggling with Texas-sized pride. 

Something I like about Jennifer is that she paints very clearly the relationship between husband and wife, and Christ and the church. Submission is not a word to fear, but a strength to pursue as women who graciously offer this to our husbands, and ultimately to God, as we fulfill God's design for marriage. 

One of the things I really enjoyed about this devotional is that Jennifer drives it home that we, as women, are to know to whom we belong; First and foremost, we are God's. Before we can determine who we are or who we need to be to our husband, we must first understand who we are called to be by God. 

A really neat aspect Jennifer added to this devotional that I have not seen before is the hash tag at the end of each chapter. What a great way to share what you are learning using social media! I think it's a brilliant way to initiate, continue and join in the conversation with others who are also partaking in Wife After God's Devotional.

I highly recommend this devotional! It was never preachy. Instead, Jennifer shares with us what she has learned in her own marriage and how God's Word is the ultimate example of how we should strive to be as wives. 

For more information on Wife After God 30 Day Marriage Devotional, click HERE.

Looking to purchase the book? (Which I strongly recommend for personal study or for your small group) click HERE.

Are you looking to strengthen your marriage? Are you a wife who longs to be unveiled before God and before her husband? Then this is a fantastic devotional to help you on your journey!

Find Jennifer on her website Unveiled Wife HERE.
Fond Jennifer on Facebook.
Find Jennifer on Twitter.
Find Jennifer on Pinterest .

And...I am very happy to offer a giveaway!! 

2 winners will be selected! 



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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Tragedy In Your Head: Anxiety & Freaking Out

This is Post #3 in The Anxious Mom Series. 

You wave goodbye one more time before turning to leave. Your daughter smiles and waves frantically before hopping up the bus steps and skipping to her seat. You feel the familiar clutch in your chest. Your eyes fill with tears. As you watch the bus drive down the street, you fight the almost suffocating urge to break down into a full-on sob right there at the bus stop. You’re sure that’s the last time you will see her. In the span of seconds, you imagine every tragedy possible that could befall her that day: the horrible head-on collision with a tractor trailer that leaves carnage in its wake, the careless driver not paying attention in the parking lot who sees your daughter running into school a moment too late, the crazed gunman who breaks into the school building…it all plays out in your head with vivid detail. Your rational side tells you that you are being ridiculous, but there’s another part of you that defies all logic and cannot stop the onslaught of anxiety.

As parents, we have all come to understand that having children is the most fulfilling and the most daunting task we have ever taken on. With it comes certain stresses that include having our “hearts walking on the outside” of ourselves. I never understood that phrase until I became a mother.
From the moment that child is placed in your arms, you are single-handedly responsible for his well-being. Every need is yours to meet and the urge to protect and nurture is absolute and urgent. I have heard it referred to as the “Mama Bear” instinct. You know in an instant that you would exchange your life for theirs if the situation ever warranted it.

Unfortunately, some of us have fallen prey to taking that a step further. Not only would we exchange our lives for our children if necessary, but we invent scenes in our minds where we manufacture the very thing we fear most: losing our children. Why do we do this? It’s not as if we want that to happen. In fact, we want the exact opposite.

There have been too many times when I’ve watched a scene play out in my head in color too vivid, details too exact. It’s usually quick, although it feels like a lifetime
.
To give you an idea of how this happens to me, just the other night after I hit “publish” on my first post in this series on anxiety, my 4 year-old son woke up and I ran upstairs to put him back in bed. The moment I tucked him in and kissed his head goodnight, I was bombarded with the awful feeling that tonight could be the last time I kiss him goodnight. My mind started asking, “What if there’s a fire tonight and he doesn’t survive?” I was shaken, but I knew that it was just my anxiety flaring up.

While I am far from “cured” I have at least made progress. I can now tell myself in the midst of an anxiety attack where I feel like the sky is falling and a loved one’s death is imminent, that it’s only an episode and I can’t rely on my feelings at that moment. This isn’t easy and some episodes are harder than others.

Anxiety, for me, is a very dark, foreboding, feeling that rushes over me. It’s hard to put into words exactly what it feels like. I feel like doomsday is just around the corner. If my children are going somewhere with my husband, I find myself thinking, “I’m never going to see them again. I’ll miss them so much. My life will be ruined if anything happens to them. What if this is it? What if today is the day?” And then I start freaking out thinking “What if this is a premonition?”

There's this internal argument. One side of me knows that this is a moment in time that will pass. The other side feels like I have to cling to this very moment for fear that it will be gone...and so will my children.

I used to beat myself up about it. I feared I was crazy. I was able to keep the lid on, but I could always feel it just below the surface, simmering.

It was one night that it dawned on me. 

Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane hours before he was to be taken, beaten, and crucified. He was visibly disturbed. He was so shaken, in fact, maybe some may even say anxious, that He sweat blood. Knowing that even Jesus was anxious about something gave me peace. 

But here are a couple of differences:

Jesus was anxious about something He knew was going to happen. 

I am typically anxious about something that I think is going to happen. 

Jesus begged God to take the responsibility from Him.

I beg God to spare my children and keep them safe.

And here's the meat of it...

Jesus said, "Not My will but Yours be done."

I say, "Please don't do that to me, Lord. I'll give you anything you want...just not that."

Once I realized I was doing this--because I think I did it subconsciously--I was able to see that I was offering conditional submission and faith to God. I was raising one hand in the air and shouting "I'm a sold-out believer, Lord! Anything for you! Use me, Lord!" and with the other hand I was hiding my children behind me, out of view from God. 

Here is where things can get tricky. I think it is so important to understand that I don't believe God is a God who arbitrarily "takes" things from us. I do not believe God is a God whose ego is so big that if we don't bow to His authority, He will always and heavy-handedly "see to it" that we do. 

I am also not going to profess to understand God's ways." 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD" (Isaiah 55:8). God can and He does do anything He wants...I may not fully understand all the whys or hows, but He does. HOWEVER, having said all that, I don't believe God to be heartless and cold. I believe He cares deeply about my heart and about my pain. 

I've heard it said before that God is a gentleman and He will not force Himself on anyone. He extends an invitation and awaits our acceptance. He pursues those He loves, but allows us the option of choosing. I will get into this more later, but understanding that God is a lover who pursues us and who knows us intimately is critical, I believe, in understanding how to combat anxiety.

Read and take to heart these verses. Even if you've read them a 100 times before, read them again with fresh eyes: 

"It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone." Ephesians 1:11, MSG

"Jesus said, 'Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?" Luke 9:24-25

"When my heart whispered. 'Seek God,' my whole being replied, 'I'm seeking him!'"

"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray, Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." (Philippians 4: 6-7, MSG, emphasis mine).

I have lots more to say on this subject to kind of tie some things together and make better sense of all that is swimming in my head, but that will have to wait until the next post. 

Until then...I'll be praying for all of you reading...

See post one in this series HERE.
See post two in this series HERE.
See post four in this series HERE.
See post five in this series HERE.
See post six in this series HERE.
See post seven in this series HERE.
See post eight in this series HERE .

*Make no mistake: I am not a medical professional. The things I will share are things that I have learned through personal introspection, conversations with friends, reading, and Bible study. If you ever feel  you are in danger of harming yourself, your child, or anyone else please seek professional help immediately. Click HERE for a list of resources.  

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