Unlocking the truths of anxiety

If you have been reading this blog long enough or know me well enough, you know I struggle with anxiety.  I will never be cured from it.  It will always as my husband says, “be my crutch.”  We all have some sort of crutch we walk through life with.  If anxiety is yours, then you understand the racing thoughts, the sweaty hands, the jumpiness, the extreme emotions, going through your day in fight or flight mode etc.  You may experience deep fear that might even paralyze you.

Many of us will still fall into pits of anxiety from time to time even if we have fought for our mental health through counseling, medication, natural treatments, exercise, etc. We are broken, but God loves us anyway.  He cares for us. These are some of my favorite Scripture verses I read through whenever I feel like I am in one of those pits.

God’s plan for our lives is not one that will harm us or destroy us.  His PROMISES are to give us life so we can honor and glorify Him.

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For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. – 2 Corinthians 1:20

The Lord will keep you from all harm–he will watch over your life.  The Lord will watch over you coming and going both now and forevermore.  – Psalm 121:7&8

We all go through difficult times.  It is inevitable.  If you claim to know Christ you will endure suffering.  But God’s plan is PERFECT and it’s good.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6

Everyone quotes this verse when they think about anxiety, but don’t forget that key little phrase “with thanksgiving.”

“You thank God before you make the request because you’re saying, “Lord, whatever you do in response to this request is GOOD.” – Tim Keller

Seeking the Lord is a day by day sometimes hour by hour process.  

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,…- 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

“Peace comes from the same thing that joy comes from–the assurance of your salvation.” – Tim Keller

Nothing or no one can overpower you.  God is ALWAYS on your side.  He is NEVER against you.

 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31

And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us.
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?

– from Our God by Chris Tomlin

God is ALWAYS with you.  You need not walk alone.

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! 2“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you – Isaiah 43:2

God offers help.  Seek him for direction in your anxiety.

I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. – Psalm 40:1 & 2

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. – Psalm 121:1&2

Your faith in Jesus Christ is worth more than gold.  It is WHO YOU ARE.

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ – 1 Peter 1: 7 & 8

You are a CHILD OF GOD and it’s not because of all the nice things you do or the ladder of success you are trying to climb.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.…- Ephesians 2:8

 

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OK do you trust me?

Blessed.  Beyond Blessed. This exact term was resonating through my head this spring.  I was asking myself, “Do I feel beyond blessed only when everything comes together?”

Because what happens when things fall apart?  Can you still look up to the Lord your God and say you are beyond blessed?

This spring, I was reminded in the tinier plans that if things go according to what I really want or the contrary what I fear, God IS.  God is good.

I realize I did not go through any major crisis moments this spring so my heart is humbled when I look to my friends who did.  But we are reminded in the minor inconveniences as well as the intense struggles that God IS.

We had four trips in two months (three to the Midwest) which seems just plain crazy.  One was unexpected–my sweet grandmother passed away on April 1st.

One thing I feared in all this…I am talking about an anxious reaction…is people getting sick.  Stomach bugs and bad colds always thwart plans. Yet we have no control over them.  It has been a horrible year for sickness.  Our kids have all been sick multiple times.  It started the last week of September and was off and on until the second to the last week of school.  It has not just been us–many of our friends have dealt with it too and some much worse.

We went to St. Louis in mid May for my husband’s graduation ceremony.  He earned his Doctorate of Ministry from Covenant Seminary.  Before we left we had plans to leave our kids with Friend #1’s house (btw–for the sake of this blog post I am referring to friends with numbers but it does not imply their ranking as friends).  Only days before we left, Friends #1 lost a loved one and had to travel to the Midwest for the funeral.  Thankfully Friends #2 offered to take our kids.  The day we were supposed to leave Friend #2 came down with a stomach bug and we had to leave our kids with Friends #3 who graciously offered to take our kids last minute.  I remember through the whole ordeal God saying to me, “OK do you trust me?”

We have no family remotely close to where we live.  We have to rely on our friends in these situations.  I am extremely grateful for “our village” who came through for us last minute and reassured us our kids would be fine.  I cannot imagine how lonely and frustrating life would be if we did not have “a village.”

Our kids eating breakfast with Friends #2 while we were away

Our kids eating breakfast with Friends #2 while we were away

My fear is I would be sick in St. Louis since I was exposed to all this crud.  That became reality as I went to bed the first night in our hotel feeling a little queasy and an hour later sick in the bathroom.  I was frustrated, angry, and anxious.  I felt like God was saying, “OK but do you trust me?”

I recovered quickly.  I did not miss his graduation lunch or the ceremony or the Cardinal games the next day.

Cardinals game with the husband and his brothers...

Cardinals game with the husband and his brothers…

I did miss some things, but overall I made it to all the important things. It was a tremendous honor to see my husband earn his D Min after hours and hours of work on his dissertation, multiple trips to St. Louis, and countless amount of time interviewing and reading.

Graduation Day!

Graduation Day!

We came home from St. Louis exhausted on a Sunday afternoon.  The youngest child was going to a birthday party which Friends #4 who graciously agreed to pick her. The middle child was going to a different party about a half hour away.  I made plans in advance to have him ride with Friends #5 since I knew we would be exhausted from our flight.  We had to get up at 3 AM central time.  As we arrived home Friend #5 texted me and said their daughter got the dreaded stomach bug and they weren’t going.  How do you tell your son you are not going to take him to a birthday party a half hour away because you are functioning off three hours of sleep especially when you have not seen him in four days?  My plan was to take him and set up a sleeping bag in the van.  I would sleep while he was at the party.  I was grumpy about the whole thing but again I felt like God said, “OK do you trust me?”

I texted Friend #6 last minute who was on her way to the party and agreed to pick up my son and take him along.  With our younger two gone all afternoon we could take long naps and get caught up on the sleep we lost.

That was Sunday.  On Friday we got ready for our annual church retreat at a camp about 1 hour away.  We left Saturday morning and had a full day of activities that first day.  Sunday morning the husband woke up and said, “I don’t feel great.  Kind of yucky.  But I don’t think I am sick.”  Anxiety began to run rampant again. I knew he was getting sick.  My kids don’t need to be constantly watched anymore, but I cannot let them run off alone.  Especially when there is a lake, a large woods, and unfamiliar parts of the camp.  My kids were excited to be at camp but a little out of control the first night.  I felt like I NEEDED my husband’s help.  Again I felt like God said, “OK do you trust me?”

The husband got sicker as I feared and had to go home.  However, the kids were amazing.  I don’t think I had to break up a single fight the rest of the weekend.  They always told me where they were going.  They stayed out of trouble. They had a wonderful time!  So did I!

Three kids at our church retreat

Three kids at our church retreat

I had a great hike around the lake with them at the conclusion of the weekend and we saw a bald eagle perched in a tree.  Another reminder of God as we see the handiwork of his creation.

Coming home on Monday, my youngest got the dreaded stomach bug.  The following day my oldest woke up with it. My anxiety escalated because I knew I was running the Minneapolis Marathon the following weekend.  I had invested months of training, bought a plane ticket, motel room & rental car.  Plus it was the first time I would run a marathon with my sister.  I did NOT want to be sick.  I hoped my husband and daughters caught what I already had, but I had no way of knowing.  Our symptoms were all a little different.

Again I felt like God was saying, “OK do you trust me?”  I was so paranoid about getting sick I hardly had time to be nervous about the actual marathon.  The end of this story was I did travel to Minneapolis, I did run in the marathon 100% healthy, my sister ran it too, and it was an amazing weekend.

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Me running in my fourth marathon

I know had I got sick and missed it, that I would STILL be beyond blessed.  Because whatever happens God IS.

It’s a bit harder to wrap my finger around this idea of “beyond blessed” when I think about some old friends God put on my heart recently. During our time in St. Louis old friends of ours lost a child.  On my way to Minneapolis to run a marathon with my sister, an old friend lost her sister unexpectedly.  While I was talking to my mom about her trip recently to visit old friends she mentioned her friend’s son is dying of cancer.  I’ve seen evidence in all three of these situations via Facebook and social networking that all three of these people are clinging to the hope that God IS.  Despite all the feelings of anger, frustration, depression, pain, despair, and loss–God IS.  Because they know if we don’t have the hope of God’s love through Christ, then what we do have?

Will you stand on the hope of God promises?  And will you pray for those in your life today who may not “feel beyond blessed” for whatever reason?

 

Blog Giveaway! My husband’s book!!

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When most of us think of the “sex talk” from our youth, we think of purity rings, “don’t do that,” “stay away from that” etc.  But is the Bible’s view on sex so negative?  There is a positive and uplifting portrayal of sexual intimacy in the Scriptures and my husband shares this in his book Naked and Unashamed .

It is now available for pre-ordering and available late October.  However we want to do a giveaway and give one person their own free copy.  All you have to do is leave your name in the comments and (optional) how you found my blog.  For an extra entry, like my Facebook page and that will double your chances in wining.

One of my kids will draw a name out of a hat at 7:30 AM Pacific Time on Wednesday…a week from today.

Thanks for supporting my husband in this endeavor.  There is nothing quite like holding book you wrote in your hands as a published author.

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Six things about the first day of Spring Break

  1. My husband prank called me and I fell for it.  It took me a long time to figure out it was him.  He is still like a little kid playing with the phone…never grew out of it.
  2. My kids really can play on their own all day long.  They don’t need me to intervene all the time.
  3. I continued my track record of not having the right documents at the DMV and had to go home and retrieve them before getting my license renewed.  I am glad we live practically across the street.  Michiganders the DMV = the Secretary of State Office.  Yes, it took me awhile to make the transition.
  4. I can still focus if I have my ipod in my ears even if the kids two feet away yelling and singing loud songs.
  5. I get more done if I take a break from Facebook.  I’m really sick of Facebook.
  6. I don’t think I ever accomplished this much in one day ever.  I got SO much crossed off my “to do list.”  I am seriously in amazement.  I feel high on progress.

My trip to the Midwest by myself

I’ve been home from Indiana and Chicago three weeks.  And I have not posted about my trip yet…so here I go…

I flew into Chicago and the next day we drove to our old hometown of Lafayette, Indiana.02-IMG_9198

This was the first time ever that my parents and siblings were together without our spouses and our kids. It made me realize how much I miss my brother and sister (and thankfully and hopefully have plans to see them again in 2014–don’t have to wait another year!).  We all drove in one car to Lafayette.  The joke was that Mom would bring her candy bag (a small Zip Loc bag with Brach’s candies she always took on trips) and we would fight in the backseat.  We had lunch at Triple X restaurant which was featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-In, and Dives.  It’s on the outskirts of the Purdue University Campus.

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We had the honor of eating lunch with some of my parent’s friends–one couple who was our next door neighbors.  I remember them as forty something parents juggling their three kids, carpooling to sport activities, and volunteering at our school.  Now that’s my phase of life!  My parents friends are all grandparents and it’s a little weird.

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But some things change, others stay the same.  My dad is still goofy and the life of the party.

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We visited our old church, Lafayette Christian Reformed Church.  I am somewhat in a state of awe when I am in the church sanctuary where I grew up.  The first row on the right hand side of the balcony was our family pew.  Almost every seat was filled right to the very back of the balcony.  The church has changed greatly since the 1980’s, but I will have always have a special place in my heart for it.  Sunday School, VBS, racing under the pews after evening service, pot lucks–all part of my childhood.

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The church put “a wall of pastors” in the basement.  This is the younger 1980’s version of my dad who served from March 1982 until August of 1989.

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The church I grew up in was an amazing beautiful building constructed in 1929.  I always remember the huge stain glass windows.

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I attended Lafayette Christian School from kindergarten until sixth grade.  I lived next door to the school so the playground was my prime hangouts before and after school and during the hot sticky summer months.

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It was a tremendous blessing to see Mrs. Buchman.  She was my first grade teacher for the last quarter of the year and my sixth grade teacher.  She is still teaching!  Obviously you have teachers that are memorable and that touch your life a little more than others.  She was one of them.  I always felt safe and cared for in her classroom.  She threw a surprise going away party for me right before I moved to Michigan and I’ll never forget how much that meant to me.

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This was our house.  The current pastors (husband and wife couple) live here.  We felt a little intrusive going in their house while they were on vacation.  They have fixed it up nice.

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I felt a little guilty taking this photo because it’s not my house, but this is my former bedroom.  It didn’t look anything like this.  I had greenish yellow walls, yellow curtains, and yellow shag carpeting left over from the 1970’s.  The closet door, however, was the exact same.

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For some reason when I think of our old house, I always remember this banister.  I think I used to sit on the stairs and stick my head through the posts.

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Then back to Chicago.  My uncle came and visited us.  We have a picture of us three kids approximately ages 3,7, and 11 wearing Chicago Cub baseball caps sitting with our uncle.  My dad tried to reinvent the photo to 2014.  The only problem is he doesn’t own Cubs hats–since when did my family all become White Sox fans?

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Our real reason for all meeting together was to celebrate my grandma turning 89.  I have fond memories of visiting Grandma in Chicago as a child.  I remember her serving large scoops of chocolate ice cream, playing Ker Plunk in the basement, riding the “horsie swings” at the park and listening to the trains come through on the tracks behind her house. When I was in college she had a heart attack and I really thought the Lord was going to take her home.  It’s hard to believe that was sixteen years ago.  It was a blessing to celebrate her birthday with her!

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While I was in the Midwest, Oregon got hit with a major snow blast–the most snow we have seen in years.  The whole city pretty much shut down.  At one point you could not leave your house unless you had chains on your tires.  My kids had two snow days in a row, church was cancelled, and my husband could not even order a pizza.  Meanwhile I had left the van parked in a car pool lot and this is what it looked like when I got back into Oregon.  I don’t own a snow brush so I had to put a plastic bag over my hand.  I was grateful the day after I came home was another “snow day” (although now we don’t get Good Friday off and go an extra day in June) so I could get some cleaning and organizing done before the child care kids return.

What a blessed trip!  I’m grateful I got to be a part of it.  I even got to go running (on treadmills) with my dad and sister.

Lafayette, Indiana

Unless this winter blast prevents travel, next week my brother and I are taking a day trip to our first hometown: Lafayette, Indiana.  Most people associate me with Oregon (where I currently live) or Michigan (where I previously lived).  But there were seven glorious years (1982 – 1989) when I was a little Hoosier living in north central Indiana.

My brother and I blowing bubbles on our street with my Grandma.

My brother and I blowing bubbles on our street with my Grandpa and Grandma. I think this was taken around 1983.

My brother was going into third grade when we moved whereas I was going into seventh.  My oldest sister (who was going into eleventh grade when we moved) as well as my parents still have friends back in Indiana they are  in contact with.  Because my brother and I were quite young when we left, we did not maintain our friendships.  Now in this day of Facebook, we’ve been able to reconnect with some of them here and there.

I probably have an overly romantic view of Lafayette because it was the prime of my childhood.  It seems like we remember things with rose colored glasses.  I know there were difficult times, but they don’t stand out as well as the humid summers of biking riding and tree climbing.  We lived on a dead end street where six of the seven houses all had young families.  We spent hours playing Pickle or Spud, having bonfires, riding bikes, and playing soccer.  Many years after we left I reconnected with an old neighborhood friend by e-mail (pre-social networking days).  He said, “Wow those were some of the best days of my life.”

My brother and I are not going to see anyone.  We were just want to see “it” i.e. our hometown.  I am wondering as we walk around our old neighborhood and visit our elementary school–if memories I have long forgotten will resurface.  I have a sharp long term memory.  I can remember certain dates and what happened on those specific days.  I have somewhat meaningless memories such as what I wore on the first day of school almost every single fall.

Celebrating my Grandpa's birthday in our kitchen in our Indiana house.  Will always remember the "vegetable wall paper."

Celebrating my Grandpa’s birthday in our kitchen in our Indiana house. Will always remember the “vegetable wall paper.”

When someone asked me about my history and the places I lived about two years ago, I got choked up when I talked about Lafayette.  I was surprised because I had not been that emotional about anything from my childhood home in a long time. Honestly moving was like the end of me being “a little kid” and the beginning of  an adolescence or the “tween” years which seems to be the new term.  Because I was so short and scrawny for my age plus a little tomboyish (I’d rather play soccer than put on make-up) I wasn’t ready for that new phase of life.  I felt like I had a left of piece of myself behind in Lafayette.  

We moved on August 16th, 1989.  My mom and brother had left earlier in the day.  My dad, sister, and I plus the two pets (a parakeet and guinea pig) piled in the van.  I remember listening to “The Dream Is Over” by Milli Vanilli (hey–they were still cool–the scandal had not broken out yet) on my walkman.  We emerged into in this new world of Grand Rapids, Michigan that was drastically different from Indiana. Things changed in many ways rather quickly.  The changes were not necessarily bad, but I think it was years before I stopped mourning for what I left behind.

I remember thinking right before we had our oldest how thankful I was for the seven years we lived in Lafayette.  I had secretly hoped my future children would experience “a Lafayette” of their own.  

I am sure Lafayette is much different now.  If I ever were to move back, it would not be like returning home again.  I’ve been gone for 25 years and I’ve been away from the Midwest itself for seven and a half–I don’t know if I would even fit into that area anymore.

Yet Whenever I hear a pop song on the radio from the mid 80’s or feel humidity in the summer air or see kids climbing in trees–I see that little Hoosier girl.  And I’m so blessed.

Books I Read in 2013

Update:  I actually read 35 books.  Totally forgot about Turning Stones:  My Days And Nights With Children At Risk–A Caseworker’s Story by Marc Parent.  This is a must read for anyone thinking about foster parenting or understanding the difficulties (and burn out) of being a caseworker.  

I did not read more books than the husband this year.  If you count children’s books, I would have won by a landslide.  However, we don’t count kid books.  I did manage to hit 34 books this year which is an all time record.  This is my list:

Non Fiction:

1) Triumph by Carolyn Jessop

2) Little Girls in Pretty Boxes by Joan Ryan

3) Orphans of the Living by Jennifer Toth

4) Practical Tools for Foster Parents by Various Authors

5) Radical by David Platt

6) The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

7) Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter

8) The Foster Parent Toolbox edited by Kim Phagel-Hansel

9) Bringing Elizabeth Home by Ed Smart and Lois Smart

10) Bowerman and the Men of Oregon by Kenny Moore

11) Pre:  The Story of America’s Greatest Running Legend by Tom Jordan

12) Live Through This by Debra Gwartney

13) Seven: An Experimental Mutiny by Jen Hatmaker

14)  Lucky Girl by Mel- Ling Hopgood

15)  Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller

16) How We Got Here: The 70’s by David Frum

17) The Things They Carried by Tim O ‘Brien

18) Waiting For An Army To Die by Fred A Wilcox

19)  Quiet:  The Power of Introverts In  A World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

20) An Innocent A Broad by Ann Leary

21) In the Presence of My Enemies by Gracia Burnham

22) Roads by Larry McMurtray

Fiction:

1) For One More Day by Mitch Albom

2) Night Road by Kristin Hannah

3) Riding Lessons by Sara Gruen

4) Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

5)  Camp Nine by Vivienne Schiffer

6)   Wednesday Wars by Gary D Schmidt

7) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

8) Someday Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham

9) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran

10) And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

11) Finding Daddy by Louise Plummer

When you look at the books you have read over the year, it shows a little bit of a journey you have been on.  Here are some things I discovered…

  • I still read way more non-fiction than fiction.
  • Most of the fiction books I read are the selected books from the Book Club I joined two years ago.  This is one of the reasons why I joined a Book Club–to hold me accountable to actually read some fiction.
  • The areas of interest in which I enjoy learning about are foster care, adoption, social justice, the 1970’s, the Vietnam War, psychology, cults, and travel.  I don’t know if any of these topics are related.
  • Through Painted Deserts is about a road trip to Central Oregon.  I read most it while camping in Central Oregon miles from where the stories took place.  I love it when you read books with a good setting while you are actually IN the setting.
  • I read quite a few books about foster care in early 2013.  At the time we had hoped to become foster parents in later 2013, but that has been put on hold.  I am grateful for all that I learned about foster care even if I can’t be a foster mom at this point in time.
  • My favorite time to study in history is the 1950’s – 1980’s.   I am fascinated by the cultural change between the 50’s and 60’s and how it shaped the 1970’s.
  • My favorite books read in 2013 were fiction!  I loved Night Road and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
  • It is going to take me years and years to get through the Harry Potter series.  I am not a true Harry Potter fan.  My friend (who is a big Harry Potter fan)  told me Book #4 was his least favorite but so far it’s my most favorite.  Again I’m probably not a true fan.
  • I watched the movie Without Limits which is about the legendary runner from the early 1970’s Steve Prefontaine.  He is from Coos Bay, Oregon and was a track runner for the U of O.  I had no idea who Prefontaine was or the history of Nike or that it all started less than an hour from where I live.  I watch “running” movies and documentaries the nights Rob is gone.  As he will often watch airplane movies when I am away.   So after watching the movie and saying over and over the next three days–“Wow that movie was so good and yet so sad,” I started reading more about Pre.  For my birthday I told Rob I want to go for a run on the Prefontaine Trail, see Pre’s rock at the site where he died, and see Hayward Field.  I’m a running geek and proud of it.

I am looking forward to more reading in 2014!