“Capable Hands”

Last week I had some things on my mind that I just couldn’t seem to shake. One night as I was praying,  I said out loud “God, I just don’t know what I am going to do!” No sooner than the words left my lips I realized it’s not what I am going to do, it’s what God is going to do for me. He is in control. We must never forget that. I vowed right then that I would leave it in His hands. And I have thus far. The weight is off my shoulders. He carries is much easier than I do. As it should be. Let go of your worries today. Place them in more capable hands.

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“The Drizzle”

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God sometimes does His work with gentle drizzle, not storms – John Newton

And sometimes God does do his work in a storm but sends the drizzle as a gentle reminder that He doesn’t want us to stray.

I went through the storm. Actually, I would compare it more to a tsunami, hurricane and tornado combined. The waves beating so hard that my feet could not stand on the crumbling ground. The wind so fierce that my eyes couldn’t focus…tears flooding them from the sting. My mind swirling in a vortex of emotions…fear and doubt harassing me from all sides.

But guess what?

 I’m here.

I made it.

I’m okay.

I will always be a little battered but I’m fine.

The drizzle still comes from time to time. Sometimes it comes as a mist, a cue that I need cleansing. Other times, it may come harder, beckoning me to reach out farther for the One who brought me through the storm and to not forget that I need Him.

All day. Every day.

Accept the storms for what they are. A chance to return to God. To be comforted by His healing presence. Our flaws, trials and brokenness allow space for God to fill in the cracks and make us whole.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth – Psalm 121: 1-2

“You WILL Get Through This”

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. – James 1: 2-4 (The Message)

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Being in the “pit” stinks, but the pit does one thing. It forces us to look up and someone from up there must come down and give us a hand. – Max Lucado

I heard this quote today and it resonated with me. I have been in the pit more than once. Going through a tumultuous relationship, then divorce and then to the ultimate pit (which is no secret here) – a complete breakdown of everything I knew to be the norm in my life and into the grips of anxiety and panic attacks.

When you are in any pit or low point in your life, no matter what it may be, the pain and suffering may seem endless. You can wish and hope all you want but you have to do something more, something much bigger to achieve your peace. You have to look up, pray, cry out to God.

He will answer. But one thing I have learned through all of this is that He answers in His own time. I still have many moments when I say to Him “Why am I still battling this on some level?” I have come a long way but I am not yet where He needs me to be so I have to “wait patiently on the Lord”. Now, I am not a patient person by any means. I want things done…NOW. (He must laugh at me when He sees how I try to still be in control.) So what do I do while I am waiting? As one of my favorite songs by John Waller goes:

While I’m waiting….I will serve You

While I’m waiting….I will worship

While I’m waiting….I will not faint

I’ll be running the race even while I wait

Don’t hang your head while you are in the pit. Look up and ask for help. As you are on your way out, be patient. Praise God for helping you. Everything you go through is molding you for what lies ahead. It may not make sense now but there is a reason. Take comfort in that. Continue to worship and remind yourself every day that….

You’ll get through this.

It won’t be painless.

It won’t be quick.

But God will use this mess for good.

Don’t be foolish or naïve.

But don’t despair either.

With God’s help, you’ll get through this.

—Max Lucado

 

 

“Keep the Faith and Get Movin’!”

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I wanted to write a follow-up to yesterday’s post. I was very open and honest about what I go through when my anxiety rears its ugly head. Today was a much better day. After lots of prayers and an evening run, I was even feeling much better last night. I felt the need to say that because if you or anyone you know suffer from this, then I want you (or them) to know that this does not have to be a life-controlling thing. Although at the time it certainly feels like it is.

I have learned a lot about anxiety over the last year and a half. More than I ever thought I would (or would want to). Having said that I thought I would post some things that I have learned and that work for me and they may work for you or someone you know that may have problems with anxiety. But honestly, it could work for anyone who tends to worry or just needs some improvement in different areas of their life.
So here goes:

1 – Obviously, I have made it clear that faith and trust in God is the most important thing. Praying about everything you are feeling is a big help. Even the smallest or silliest things can be brought to God in prayer. I often tell Him that I am freaking out (l really say that!) and I would just like some peace at the moment. Then the calmness washes over me long enough to get my bearings, so to speak. I will then thank Him and praise Him. He likes to hear that : )

2- Exercise. This may seem like the last thing you want to do when anxiety, panic attacks (or even depression that has creeped in) have taken a toll on you physically. But it is important to stay in motion and rid yourself of all the nervous energy that your body is storing for no good reason. Walking, running and biking are awesome ways to get moving. Start slow and build up. It will make you feel so much better. I promise!

3- Caffeine. (The lack of.) I had to completely stop drinking caffeine. This was a hard one. I love sweet tea…McDonald’s sweet tea to be specific. Oh how I love it! But it wasn’t helping my body at all. Caffeine causes rapid heartbeat and restlessness. Not really what an anxiety sufferer needs. It was hard and still is at times. When 3:00 in the afternoon rolls around and I just want to take a nap, a boost of caffeine would help. But I have learned to adjust.

4- Positive thinking. This one seems like a given and it is. But it is also the hardest to achieve. With anxiety comes a lot of scary thoughts. Thoughts about your health and safety and the health and safety of your family. When the “what ifs’ sneak into your mind, you have to learn to shut them down. When you are worried and faced with a dilemma or decision, instead of thinking about what could go wrong say to yourself, “what if I put a different spin on this?”. Takes practice but it can be learned and is a great help.

5- Breathing techniques. Another one that has to be learned and that I have to practice often. I would find myself sighing heavily or constantly trying to take a deep breath. I would feel as if I wasn’t getting enough air. I then learned that I was actually getting too much air and that my body was releasing too much carbon dioxide. When this happens it can cause a lot of different sensations, such as dizziness, headache and tingling in your body. Learning to breathe evenly will make a huge difference.

6- Learn. Read everything you can about anxiety and panic disorders.. Knowing more about the symptoms of anxiety and the many effects that it can have on your body can be comforting. The more you know, the more prepared you are to help yourself overcome it. I would suggest reading success stories about people who have won their battle with these disorders.

These are just a few of the things that I have found helpful. The most important thing is to remember that this is a very common thing. There are probably a lot of people you work with, go to church with, etc. that suffer and you would never know. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Just remember….

Keep the faith and the positive attitude and get movin’!!

“Guide My Steps”

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I’m good at pretending. I’m good at pretending at work and other places. I act like this horrible cloud that sometimes hangs over me is not full of rain and doesn’t affect me. But inside I am freaking out. My nerves jump, my mind races, my heart pounds and my breath is shallow. On the outside, I act like I have it all together. Anxiety? What anxiety? This girl is on fire! She is on top of the world! *Sigh* If only….

This week has put me to the test. I was perfectly fine for months. Exercising…doing great! I biked six miles on Sunday for heavens sake! Then Sunday night, something changed. It always sneaks up like a bad rash. One day you’re fine. The next day, you are annoyed by this thing that won’t seem to go away. So I sit here feeling like I’m on fire, alright. But only because I am sweating and the panic is rising up in me. So I am writing. Getting it all out in the open. Have you been there? Do you know how I feel? Maybe some of you do. But maybe some of you reading this think I am completely nutso! Not true. I will stand firm in my belief that anxiety does not mean you are crazy. If it did, I would be out of a job and on medication. My mind simply chooses to take a different route with the thoughts that arise. Anything I feel is magnified a gazillion times. Anyone with anxiety will tell you that. The feelings make my stomach upset. I can’t eat. When I can’t eat, my blood sugar gets all out of whack. This fuels the anxiety even more. Ugh…vicious cycle!

So I am trying…trying. I am being tested once again. For if I truly believed, wouldn’t I feel no need to worry? It’s a fine line. Yes, I believe God is in control of my life. Yes, I know He has the master plan, the blueprint of my life and on that blueprint it says “On June 27, Tammy’s anxiety will rear it’s ugly head…hoping that this brings her closer to Me”. He knows the plan long before I do. He also knows that I need to not forget the path that I am on. Some may say that doesn’t make sense. Isn’t the anxiety my own fault? Doesn’t the bible say “Do not be anxious about anything”? Surely God wouldn’t put this on me for a reason, right? In the book “The Anxious Christian”, the author says that anxiety should not be viewed as an un-christian way of life, but as a catalyst that forces us to make intentional choices about our spiritual lives and allows for growth that moves us closer in our relationship with God.

So in order to get through this, I must believe there is a purpose. Otherwise, I will just sit here and drive myself nuts thinking I am doomed to live this way the rest of the week/month/summer/year/my life! I will put my trust in Him and continue to pray myself right out of this situation. I know He is there and will guide my steps and see me through. He always does. We’re tight like that.

I’m starting to feel a little better already : )

“Worth It?”

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I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever spent an entire weekend devoted to God. But this past weekend I did. Along with our youth group, Callie and I traveled to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for Resurrection 2013.

“The idea for Resurrection was formed in 1985 at Camp Lookout by three youth pastors, Don Thomas, Hugh Kilgore and Steve Blakemore. Their goal was simple. They wanted to facilitate the Christian experience for young people in a new way. Less than a year later, the first Resurrection was held in Gatlinburg.

Rather than reach out to the individual, Resurrection, as it was named, became a collection of youth groups dedicated to worshiping in this different way, reminding young people they are not alone in their walk with Christ, and most importantly changing their lives forever.

Resurrection strives to be the premier Christian youth conference that brings youth groups together for awesome fellowship and authentic worship, where the Gospel is proclaimed, and youth have a spiritual renewal and a closer walk with Christ.” (taken from www.resurrectionyouth.com)

This event, geared toward youth in grades 6-12, is separated into two weekend sessions. It has grown so much over the years that it had to be divided to accommodate the nearly 12,000 people who attend each year.

This was Callie’s first year, so it was my first year as well as a chaperone. We had heard how it was life-changing, fun, exciting and an amazing opportunity to form a better relationship with God and to bond with our youth group in a whole new way. I must say, we were not let down. I was brought to tears more than once…sometimes because I was so moved by what I was hearing and witnessing and sometimes from laughing and simply enjoying those around me.

There are four sessions during the weekend. Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday evening and the final session bringing the event to a close on Sunday morning. We usually started with a fun dance to get everyone motivated (and awake!) and then on to the music by an awesome contemporary Christian band, The City Harmonic. This was then followed by the guest speaker, Lisa Yebuah. But before the band, there were several groups from various churches who performed songs or skits. I loved this part. Most of our youth today honestly get a bad rap. They are considered lazy, uncaring, rude, even selfish. But what I saw and heard from these teens this weekend kept my faith in their generation. Their God-given talents were used to honor God and encourage those in attendance.

It was also amazing to see the hands raised to God during the music and the young people walking to the front to show their commitment to Him. It made my heart smile when I heard conversations over the weekend confirming why we were there. It was a chance for spiritual growth. Our group left there with the wheels turning in their heads…how can we help change the world? What are we going to do with what we learned this weekend? They are ready to light a fire for God…an even bigger one! And I have no doubt that they will do it.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?Is anything worth more than your soul? – Matthew 16: 24-26

“I Will Not Be Hindered By Lies”

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January. This month has been haunting me for quite a while. It was January of last year that my panic attacks hit me hard, completely debilitating me. I never really figured out why but I keep thinking to myself, “If I can make it through January (and then February) I will be okay”. So far, I am trying to simply be more optimistic and smile even when I don’t feel like it, laugh when I’m not sure it’s in me and force myself to do something positive even when it’s hard. And as I go, I find myself feeling better. But this morning I realized that isn’t enough. God made it known to me that in the fear I was facing and associating with this month, I still wasn’t trusting in Him as I should be.

I will be honest, there are a lot of times when I know He wants to walk side by side with me but I act like a toddler with a temper tantrum, wanting things my own way and screaming, “Not right now…I don’t wanna!” No, I don’t really do that but you get the picture.

Then there are the moments I do stroll alongside Him but I’m like a sixteen year-old with an iPhone. Head down, only looking up occasionally to say “Huh? What did you say?” Not fully involved in the conversation or appreciating the friend who is willing to “hang out” with me.

So I prayed about these things this morning and God led me to Ephesians 6: 10-12 (Amplified Bible):

10” In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides].

11 Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.

12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere”

From this I understand that the enemy wants nothing more than to remind me that January was bad for me last year. He wants me to believe that this month is cursed and that I will not make it through. But with these words from God I know that I can continue on the journey that He has me on. That I will fulfill whatever He has in store for me through the struggles I overcome on a daily basis. I will not be hindered by lies, deceit and strongholds, whose only purpose is to distort or confuse my thinking. Any lie, with our permission, will gain control of our emotions and change our behavior. These things do not come from God.

But these things do:

22 But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness,

23 Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge]. – Galatians 5: 22-23

What are you facing today? Whatever it is, please let these powerful verses speak to you. Personally I am writing them down and carrying them with me this month : )