Anxiety & Fear

Anxiety.

That word just sounds ugly to me.

Have you battled anxiety before? I sure you have. God’s Word repeatedly tells us that there is a battle for our minds & thoughts. The root of many addictions, fears & problems start in our minds. If it’s true that our minds hold such power, then of course that is exactly where the enemy wants to attack & weaken us. He wants us distracted, anxious & focused on anything other than the sovereignty & peace of our Savior.

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

This issue is very close to my heart. I have battled fearful, anxious thoughts since I was a child. I remember experiencing my first panic attack when I was about 11. There were a few things that I could do to lessen them, but it was temporary & another one would eventually happen.

After I got married, I would ask my husband to pray over me when I would begin to have a panic attack or feel anxiety trying to settle in. He would pray over me, but then he would always ask me to pray over myself…out loud.

As I would be lying there completely paralyzed with fear & anxiety, the last thing I wanted to do was pray out loud. I didn’t feel bold. I didn’t feel strong. I didn’t feel like my words could battle anything because those words were coming out of a very scared, overwhelmed girl.

But with every attack, I began to rebuke any fear & anxiety & declare my God as more powerful than any fearful thought trying to take hold of me. I would keep verses all over the house so that I could look at them & claim them out loud when I began to feel anxious. Even if I couldn’t think straight, all I had to do was look over at the verses, read them & claim them out loud. As I would verbally claim God’s Word, I noticed that the anxiety lessened & lessened. After a while it wasn’t nearly as bad as it had once been.

I know a lot of things can cause anxiety. Sometimes it has a lot to do with chemicals or hormones in our bodies. Sometimes it’s a spiritual attack directly on our minds. Sometimes, it’s a mixture of both.

With new seasons come new things that try to cause us to worry or be anxious. After feeling so much better for so long, anxiety came back & it came back with a vengeance. My breaking point came soon after my daughter was born. I have never loved another human the way I loved her & the responsibility in that was too much to think about at times. I wanted to roll her up in bubble wrap & keep her home forever. I never wanted her to feel the pain of this world. I never wanted her heart to be broken. I never wanted her to experience the disappointments, hurts & sadness that life would surely throw at her. All these thoughts coupled with raging, mommy hormones, was a combination that on my own, I couldn’t handle. They brought me to my knees. No, they knocked me to my knees.

I looked around & saw my mommy friends handling motherhood like champs. And here I was at 2am making my husband check all the locks on the doors…for the third time that night. Why couldn’t I handle it with grace? I hadn’t showered in 3 days much less been out of the house. I felt alone. I felt inadequate & overwhelmed.

Isolation is a dangerous thing. It makes us feel like we are the only ones experiencing something; that we’re the only ones that can’t handle the situation we’re in. What a lie. Almost every mommy I talked to felt the same way I did. I wasn’t treated like a failure. They loved on me & empathized with me. Sometimes the first step towards freedom is being brave enough to ask for some help & support. After I did just that, things began to change.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

I began giving God this new fear & anxiety that was trying to steal my mind & thoughts. It was a slow process over the course of a year & I still battle anxiety sometimes, but I know the power to defeat it is held in God’s Word!

If you feel anxious, no matter to what degree, always remember that you are not alone. And no matter what thoughts try to consume you, God’s Word is your shelter, shield & sword! His promises & truths are yours to claim! So claim them out loud.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

You are loved & treasured! Please let me know if I can support you in prayer during this process! Victory is yours!

I declare my God as faithful.

Golden Idols and Felt Boards

Golden Idols and Felt Boards

prayWhenever I hear the word “idol” I always get two images in my head. The first image, I have to thank my Sunday school teachers for.  Thanks to the felt visuals displayed on our felt board, I will always associate “idol” with a golden, felt calf. But that’s a whole different story.

The second thing I always think about when I hear that word “idol” is someone worshipping something other than our God. It is almost always a “bad” idol that I am thinking about.

And of course, I do not have idols in my life. I’m a good Christian. There are no golden, felt calves in my house. No sir.

But I heard something interesting this week. And it’s challenging me like crazy.

Are you ready for it?

Idols are usually formed from good things.

Did you catch that? Things that we can make into “idols” are usually not bad in and of themselves. This makes it a little more difficult to identify them, because after all, they’re good, wonderful things…on their own.

Now I don’t know about you, but I was perfectly comfortable placing all the ugly, dirty, obviously wrong things in the “idol” box. I could happily look in that box and say, “Nope. I haven’t put any of those bad things above God. I’m good. No idol here.”

But just because I don’t physically bow down before something that is obviously bad or chant in front of it or intentionally place it above God, doesn’t mean I’ve set God at the absolute highest and rightful place in my life. Or in my heart.

So how do we know whether or not we have created an idol out of something or someone?

Before this week, I would have thought an easy way to figure that out would be to ask the question, “Well, what are you living for?”

But I’ve been challenged this week to ask myself a different question. I shouldn’t ask myself what I’m living for, but ask myself, “What am I most afraid of losing?”

The answer to that question reveals where my value, heart and life are held.

Ouch. Did anybody else feel the sting of that question?

“What am I most afraid of losing?”

Another interesting telltale sign of identifying an idol is looking at the areas of our lives that we have uncontrolled emotions in. What or who are those emotions directed at? Once we identify that, we can probably agree that too much of our heart, value and life is being held in that thing or person.

Financial stability
Success in a career
Spouse
Family
Physical beauty
A relationship
Control
Social status
Life plans
Marriage

The list is endless. Do you see how all of these things are not bad things? They’re good things. Things we should love and value…but not idolize. Even when an idol is created out of a good thing, it’s still an idol. And an idol will always, always break our hearts.

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other….”
Luke 16:13

Lord, please reveal areas of my life that I am holding closer to my heart than you. Show me the people and relationships that I’ve allowed to hold my value, heart and life. And as You reveal these things, please fill those places with Your truth! May I place You, my Savior, above every one else and my Salvation in You above every thing else! You are the one, true God worthy of my praise, affection, energy and attention! You are holy and anything other than You is counterfeit and temporary. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
John 4:23

In Every Situation

I absolutely love Philippians 4:6 & 7. It was a very precious verse to my husband & I during our first year of marriage when we were learning to fully rely on God even when circumstances felt incredibly shaky & the future felt unpredictable. The truth & lessons we learned through this verse become a part of our core, so this verse continues to be very dear to me. It reminds me of God’s goodness in the past. And it encourages & gives me confidence about His goodness in the present & future. When we would recite this verse, we’d take it one line at a time, soak in it & practice it. The “give thanksgiving” part was not always easy. Especially when we felt like we were lacking something big at that moment. But as we communicated our thankfulness, our hearts began to be truly thankful & we realized how abundantly blessed we were & how much we had to be thankful for! I pray this verse blesses you where you’re at now. I love you, dear friend.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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*.

*Thanksgiving: The expression of gratitude to God

*Will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus: The enemy does not battle to change our situations. He battles to defeat our minds & hearts! Your heart & mind, when connected to God, are the outlets in which the joy & peace that God gives flows. If the enemy can trick or even distract your heart or mind, then you will be deceived into thinking that your situations have overwhelmed you & you will live today defeated and disheartened. But the truth is, God continues to hold you in His hand & work for your good. God & His provision for you will not change, but if you allow the enemy to enter into your heart & mind, he WILL enter & try to deceive you! Rely on God’s unchanging truth, not our changing emotions or limited understanding. That means the moment satan tries to put doubt, fear or worry into your heart or mind, you immediately claim God’s truth in your life, over & over & over. God’s Word is His truth, so keep a scripture you can look at, meditate on & quote out loud written down right next to you today. And when you read it, don’t speed through it. Take it line by line & claim it. The same Holy Spirit that dwelt in Jesus now dwells in YOU! And satan cannot intimidate, change or manipulate you unless you give him permission. Make your focus on Jesus & His goodness! Be mesmerized by Him today!

Source of Life

During my college years, I would hear my sister & some of my friends say, “I just can’t imagine going a day without being in God’s Word!” They would describe to me how they could tell if they went through their day without being filled with His Word first. I didn’t really understand this because by the time they had their “quiet time”, I had already washed the dishes (turned the dishwasher on), ironed my clothes for the next day (threw my outfit in the dryer on the “scorch” setting) & pretended to finish my history paper. How would praying & sitting there help me in my day?

And then, my Savior, after relentlessly pursuing me for years & loving me before I was even born, CHANGED MY LIFE. Slowly, but surely, I began to understand what my sister & friends had tried to express to me before. After experiencing uninterrupted, personal one-on-one time with God on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day, I just knew that I’d never be able to go a day without setting time aside to share my heart with Him. But just as I was sure that I’d keep it up…I didn’t. At first I thought that maybe I’d just pray while I was being “productive” around the house. And then, I’d get so sidetracked with changing the toilet paper rolls in the bathrooms & scrubbing the tub, that praying went right out the window. And my favorite laughable reasoning was, “Sure, I WANT to spend time with my Savior. But I have too much to do. Plus, I don’t feel ‘needy’ today, so I’ll just spend extra time with Him tomorrow. Won’t He be happy about that.” Then 24 hours later, “I’ll just wait until tomorrow. I’m still doing good. I hardly cried over anything today.” Another day or two goes by and I realize that I’m really…just…in a funk for some reason. In fact, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed & empty. My faith is feeling a little shaky.

It’s written out crystal clear in Romans 10:17. It says: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

So this is where you think I’d connect those dots and say to myself, “Hello! You know what you need. You need to plug into your life source! Easy fix. Now go do it.” But instead, like a broken record, I repeat to myself, “I’m way too busy; and really, I just don’t feel like it. I’m not feeling happy and I don’t want to come to a perfect God when I’m not feeling happy. I’ll try to perk myself up with some chocolate or something and then I’ll spend some interrupted time with Him. Tomorrow.” This mindset is not right! Why do I think it’s ok to fellowship with the Lord only when I need to get something out of it? The God of the universe wants desperately to spend time with me; listen to me pour out my heart to Him; comfort me. John 4:23 expresses how God loves our worship & longs for fellowship with us! Umm, WOW.

God-is-our-source-of-life. He is our joy giver, grace giver, abundant life giver. Without staying plugged into that source, we cannot & will not live each day to the fullest. We need to realize that we are not self sufficient & can not navigate our lives without Him. And praise God that we don’t have to! I declare Him faithful!