To the Mother in the Time of ISIS

syrianwoman

I didn’t see you at Wal-Mart. We didn’t give each other a knowing glance as we shopped for groceries with our children. You weren’t in line behind me as I waited for my morning coffee. We didn’t have a moment or share encouraging words while our children played at the park.

But I see you.

I see you as a fellow mother whose world is full of horrors I hope to never experience.

This morning, while I complained about not having the right sugar for my coffee, you hid with your family.

When I tossed leftovers that we wasted into the trash, you dug for scraps to give your children and went hungry yourself.

As I looked online and daydreamed of a bigger home complete with a home office and Jacuzzi tub in the master bathroom, I convinced myself that we do not have enough space in our home. You cried because you have been displaced and have nowhere to call home, no space at all that belongs to you, no inch of earth that is your own.

I came home and needed a minute to myself after a long day at the office. A job that I could only have due to my education and opportunities that have been afforded to me, a woman. You struggle to read because your desire for education has been thwarted at every turn.

syrianwomanandchild

I kissed my boys goodnight and stroked their hair, taking for granted that they will sleep through the night without fear for their safety. Meanwhile, your son, who is the same age as mine, washed up on the shore lifeless and alone, never knowing what it meant to be safe as you tried to escape evil. Your heart is shattered into a million pieces as you did everything that you possibly could to save him.

My husband came home from work and sat on the couch beside me then hugged and kissed me. You received word yesterday that your husband was beheaded for his Christian beliefs.

I think of what it would be like to have a daughter and the things we could do together – paint our fingernails, buy dresses with headbands to match. You have an endless knot in your stomach for fear that your daughter will be kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery as she nears the age of nine.

I must admit that it is hard to see you. It is much easier to shelter my heart and to shield my eyes than to truly look at you. There are times when I find myself playing the martyr for no reason at all. You show me that I know nothing of hardship, nothing of persecution. You force me to be raw, real, and honest in my self-evaluation.

I realize that the designer purse I have been longing to buy is ridiculous.  While there is nothing wrong with buying a purse, I am hit with the reality that the amount I would spend on that one unnecessary item alone would most likely feed your family for the better part of a year. I am ashamed and embarrassed by my material arrogance.

You have shown me what it means to have unshakeable faith. All you have left is God and you cling to him every second of every day because you know that He is enough. This world has done nothing but take from you and you place no value in things of this earth. You have forced me to look full-on in the face of unspeakable terror – to look beyond myself and all of this material weighing me down. You have challenged me to embrace my faith at all costs. To love with reckless abandon and give freely of all that I have.

We may not have a mother-to-mother moment in the middle of Wal-Mart, but I am determined to reach you. There is so much that this world can learn from you.

I see you and I love you and I will not turn away.

For a list of ways you can make a difference, click here.

The Godly Legacy of a Simple Man

There are people that we know or people that we have heard of that have had an impact so profound on the lives of those around them that their absence leaves behind a legacy. One such person was my grandfather.

I was 11-years-old when he passed away on a cold winter’s day almost 18 years ago. I miss him just as much as I did then. What is amazing to me is the fact that every few weeks, someone still comes up to me and tells me a story about my grandfather and what a blessing he was to them. Nearly two decades after he went home to be with his Savior, the work he did for Christ while on this earth remains.

Growing up, my grandfather was painfully shy. He was 1 of 15 kids and I’ve heard stories of him getting his sisters to talk to people for him just so he wouldn’t have to. After serving his country in the Korean War, he came back to the states and married my grandmother and they began their family. While raising my aunts, uncle, and father, my grandfather worked for a local oil company. They never had much, but my father speaks fondly of his childhood and the way he was raised. During this time, my grandfather began to feel that God wanted his life to go in a different direction. He could not shake the fact that the Holy Spirit was leading him into the ministry. He loved the Lord and wanted to serve Him, but wasn’t sure how someone so shy could become a preacher. Finally, after years of prayer, my grandfather surrendered to God’s call on his life and went into the ministry full-time.

He began a church and, with no shortage of prayer and hard work, watched it grow. When I was younger, I knew my grandfather was a pastor, but to me he was just my Pap. Now that I look back on the things that I observed in his life, I have come to greatly appreciate him so much more.jessandpap

I remember staying the night at my grandparents’ house and waking up to find him reading his Bible in his worn out recliner in the living room. He diligently studied God’s Word and he applied it to every area of his life. I remember my grandparents kept kids at their house for a few weeks when they were going through a rough family situation. Their dinner table was always open and my grandfather would go anytime day or night to meet with a hurting family. Now, you could say that this was part of his job as a pastor, but I honestly believe he would have done these things regardless of his job title.

A new family came to our church and while introducing ourselves, we asked how they found out about the church and where they were from. It turns out that they had just moved to town and while my grandfather was driving home one day he saw them unloading their moving truck and pulled over to help. Of course, he began to talk to them while helping them unpack and they decided to check out the church on Sunday. They became an active and an integral part of our church family. That’s just the way my grandfather was – he didn’t hesitate to meet people exactly where they were at in life and that’s how he was able to have such an incredible impact on the lives of others.

Another day that sticks out was a Sunday that was entitled, “Friends Day.” My grandfather challenged our congregation to invite our friends and to make new friends. When Friends Day rolled around, many people had invited others to join us on this Sunday, but my grandfather had invited more people than I can count, and many of them showed up. In a day and age when so many are put off by the concept of faith and church, my grandfather had a way about him that was so genuine that you couldn’t help but consider him a friend. His faith and relationship with Christ was central to everything he did. He often would cry while preaching because he cared so much about others and wanted so badly for people to come to the saving knowledge of Christ. I love the quote that says “Let my heart break with the things that break the heart of God” – that was my Pap.

Shortly after Friends Day, my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. His battle was short and difficult. People came in droves to pay their respects. As we all stood and sang his favorite song – Victory in Jesus – even I could tell that the eternal impact of this man would not be fully known this side of heaven. I’m sure his Savior greeted him with the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

memories

There are times when I feel sad and bitter that I only had 11 years with him. I am sad that he didn’t get to watch me play basketball. I am sad that he didn’t hear my speech at graduation. I am sad that he never knew I graduated from college. I am sad that he was not celebrating with me on my wedding day. I am sad that he has never held my children.

He has missed out on so many important things in my life, but he was there for the biggest moment – the moment that changed all of eternity for me. My family and many others were decorating our church for our upcoming Vacation Bible School one evening and suddenly I just knew. I just knew that I needed to ask Christ into my heart and to be my Savior. I knew that I was a sinner who could only be saved through what Jesus did on the cross – He died for my sins so that I could have eternal life in heaven. I went to my Pap and told him that we needed to talk. He took me to his office and I told him that I knew I wanted to accept Jesus as my Savior. We prayed together and my life was forever changed in that moment. I was only 5-years-old, but I knew exactly what I was doing and I remember that day vividly. Our VBS theme that year was ‘Camp Can Do’ and it was based off of Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.’ It was my Pap’s favorite verse and it is mine as well.

Just a few weeks ago, I was visiting a woman in the hospital and she me told me how my Pap led her to her own faith in Christ. She said he was like a brother to her and she can’t wait to see him again in heaven. It made me think about the impact a single person can have. When we surrender our lives to Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit, anything is possible. A shy man can reach the souls of many with the gospel.

There is a song by Ray Boltz entitled “Thank You” that makes me cry every time I hear it. The song is about a man who makes such a difference while on earth, that people come up to him in heaven to say thank you. One line in the chorus states, “Thank you for giving to the Lord, I am a life that was changed.” My Pap changed my life and so many others. Who knows how long his legacy on earth will last, but the work he did for Christ will last for eternity.

If we all lived our lives surrendered to Christ and focused on eternity, what kind of an impact would we have on this world? What kind of legacy would we leave behind? It is the godly legacy of a simple man that challenges me to get to work, for there is much to be done for the cause of Christ.

Christmas Carols Give Me the Good Kind of Chills

There is something special that happens when I sing Christmas carols that gives me more joy than anything else during the Christmas season.  I feel a little like Buddy the Elf – “The quickest way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loudly for all to hear.”

I am not a particularly strong singer, but for whatever reasons, my sons don’t realize that.  Every night, we sing, and sing, and sing.  A few nights ago, I was rocking my son and singing Christmas carols to him.  He was almost asleep as I brushed the hair off of his forehead and kissed his cheek.  I continued singing as silent tears slid down my face – the words of those songs were so amazing that I couldn’t contain my emotions.  In that moment, I was focused on the truest meaning of Christmas and I couldn’t help but be moved.

Here are some of the songs and lyrics that grip my heart and don’t let go:

Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer

Just Kidding.

Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

At one point in this song, there is a line that states, “God and sinners, reconciled.”  Sure, I had heard this line before, but I had never really paid much attention to it.  When I stopped to think about it, it is so powerful.  We often think of Christ’s death and resurrection as our reconciliation with God, but it truly started when God sent his son to the earth as a baby.  The process of reconciliation begins with the virgin birth.  There is no way that we as humans can fathom what it must have been like for Jesus to willingly leave the glory of Heaven knowing that he would live his life on earth as both God and man to one day die for all of our sins.

Silent Night, Holy Night

This whole song is calming and reminds me of the moment after my children were born when it was just me, my baby, and my husband in the room.  There was just this peace and sense of awe because the child that you had prayed for was finally here.  Your new reality was setting in and your life would never be the same.  I can’t help but wonder if Mary and Joseph felt the same way.marydidyouknow

O, Holy Night

This song is amazing. We sang it in church this past Sunday and the tears were a-flowin’. The words that stick out to me are as follows: “Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ’till he appeared and the soul felt it’s worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!”

I often get worked up over the state the world is in, but this reminds me that Christ came to conquer that. Our souls have always been worth it to Him and He came to earth to prove it. We have the thrill of hope because of what took place in Bethlehem and later on Calvary. Yes, we can feel weary, but we also have many reasons to rejoice.

Mary, Did You Know?

Regardless of Christmas, this is one of my all-time favorite songs. If you haven’t heard it, check out this chill-inducing rendition by Pentatonix.

So many thoughts run through my mind when I hear this song. I think of what it was like for me when I was pregnant for the first time. I was excited and scared – I had no idea the journey that was about to begin. I’m sure, like most women, Mary felt the same way. But, there are elements to Mary’s story that no one has ever experienced before. Whereas I was having a child that my husband and I created, Mary was about to give birth to a child that was placed in her womb by the Holy Spirit. Can you imagine what that must have been like? Mary and Joseph displayed incredible amounts of faith, but I would be willing to bet that few people believed that this was not Joseph’s child. Not only that, but when it came time for Mary to deliver, the only person with her was Joseph. Scripture tells us that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. That means that a man who had never physically known her had to deliver her baby – in a stable, surrounded by animals, in a town foreign to her. I don’t know about you, but that would make me feel so vulnerable and uncomfortable. When I gave birth, I had every amenity possible and I still felt extremely vulnerable and uncomfortable.

After she delivered, what was Mary thinking? Did she know who she was holding? Was she thinking about what it would be like to raise the King of Kings? One line in the song says, “Did you know that when you kissed your little baby, you kissed the face of God?” Unbelievable. No other woman has ever or will ever be able to relate to that. That imagery is so powerful.

Did she know that Jesus would one day perform miracles, that he would walk on water, and save the world? Did she realize that this was Heaven’s perfect lamb, the Lord of all creation? Did she know that she would stand at the foot of the cross and watch her son die for her sins, and my sins, and your sins?

Just like I have no way of knowing what my children will become one day, I also think Mary did not fully grasp what was going to happen. While she was raising the Son of God, Mary was still fully human. Mary trusted God with everything she had and she knew that He was in control even if she didn’t understand all that was going on. Perhaps it was best that she didn’t know all that would occur during Jesus’ 33 years on earth. At the end of the day, she was a mother doing her best to raise her son to become a man.

To me, Christmas carols are some of the most well-written and powerful songs out there. Singing these songs honestly does give me chills. I think of all these things that I mentioned and so much more. Christmas is such a wonderful time to reflect on the gift of salvation. It will always be the greatest gift that I have ever received!

Linking up with Holly Gerth, Serving Joyfully

1,000 Second Chances

grace

No, no, no!  Not again.  This can’t be happening again!  I had just scrubbed the floors – on my hands and knees, no less – now there is food flung everywhere.  When I say everywhere, I mean it; yogurt is on the floor, the table, the walls, and even the ceiling.

We go through this over and over again.  Food is for eating, not for throwing.  My son is disciplined every time this happens – which is basically each time he eats – but nothing changes.  On this night, I should have known better than to give him yogurt.  It was supposed to be his post-bath, pre-bedtime snack but it turned into his post-first bath, pre-second bath snack.  I take a deep breath and tell myself that I have to give him the chance to learn, no matter how many chances it may take.  One day something will click and I will no longer have to scrub down our walls after each meal.

My husband comes home from work and I snap at him for not doing something that I thought should have been taken care of earlier in the day.  This can’t be happening again!  My snarky, sarcastic comments that come flying out of my mouth have once again hurt the person I love most.

We go through this over and over again.  Sarcasm is for humor, not for hurting.  I feel awful each time it happens, but nothing seems to change.  There are still way too many times that I say things with the intent to push buttons, only to immediately regret them as soon as they have been said.  I know better.  My husband takes a deep breath, expresses his hurt, yet gives me the chance to learn, no matter how many chances it may take.  One day something will click and I will no longer speak before thinking about my words.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:15-16

There are many things that I am thankful for, but I am particularly thankful for the grace and forgiveness bestowed on me by my Savior.  I need it each and every day.  His patience with me is unlike any other.  I can make the same mistakes over and over again, and He is always there to lift me back up and help me to start fresh.  However, there does need to come a time that I truly learn from my mistakes and no longer continue to make the same ones.  If I keep doing the same things over and over, then I need to reevaluate my heart and my life to see if I have been genuinely repentant or just going through the motions when I ask for forgiveness.  I am a sinner – I will always mess up – but true growth in my faith occurs when I learn from the second chances I have been given.

How wonderful it is when my son comes to me with tears in his eyes, ready to confess what has been done, but I am able to wrap him into a big hug, kiss his cheeks, and assure him of my love for him.  This is what Christ does for us when we go to the throne of grace.  Just as I may need to adjust my approach when disciplining my son, God can let us learn from the various consequences of our actions.  I often fool myself into thinking that God’s grace is only for the big mistakes, but it’s for our every day trip-ups as well.  He doesn’t give up on us, no matter how many chances it may take.

Linked to Equipping Godly Women

 

 

Casting Your Vote Matters

index

You might be wondering why I am tackling the upcoming election on a platform that I usually reserve for topics such as motherhood, encouragement, and faith.  What does voting have to do with these things?  In a word – everything.

Tomorrow’s election matters.  Whether or not we vote matters.  I’m not going to tell you how to vote or who to vote for.  I’m just explaining that it is, indeed, important to get up, get out, and go vote.

As a parent, I have come to realize that the way I parent and raise my children has a correlation to election results.  When I plan to talk to my kids about certain issues and what I tell them is all impacted by the choices voters make. There are certain things that I didn’t think would be put in motion until much later in my life, but are happening now as a direct result of voting. I have to have these important conversations with my children and prepare them to grow up in a world that looks different than it did during my childhood.

In the roughly ten years that I have been eligible to cast my vote, I have seen incredible changes in our country.  We, as a nation, are now more concerned with whether or not our food is raised on a free-range farm than protecting the life of the unborn.  We worship at the altar of tolerance without cause or concern for whether that which we are tolerant of is even moral or Biblical.  We are more apt to vote for our favorite contestant on ‘American Idol’ then a candidate who will make political decisions on our behalf for the next several years. In the name of political correctness, we can barely pray in a public forum or disagree with a viewpoint that differs from ours for fear that someone will be offended.  You can take God’s name in vain all day long, but pray to Him and you’ll be ripped up and down.  We need to take a stand to stop this madness.

Now, I am just as jaded as the next person when it comes to our politicians.  I sigh and roll my eyes when yet another political scandal is front page news.  I don’t think that, as a group, politicians are trustworthy.  But, I can’t sit back and complain if I am not willing to do my part.  Our country gives us the opportunity to make our voice heard every once in a while and we need to take advantage of that.

Be informed.  While I was standing in line to vote during the 2008 Presidential election, I was behind a college-age girl who was saying that she was definitely voting for Obama.  Her friend asked her what she thought about Biden and her response was, “What’s a Biden?”  I stood there, mouth agape, trying to hold myself back from throwing her out of the line.  If you don’t even know who the candidates are then you are not doing your country any favors.  Your information should not come from political attack ads, either.  Do some research so that you can feel confident when you walk into that voting booth.

How do I decide which candidate deserves my vote?  I educate myself on the issues and then I go straight to the Bible.  What does God’s Word say about these issues?  Because I believe that the Bible is The Truth, all of my decisions – even those I endorse for political office – are based off of this written word.

As the election results pour in, we have to trust that we have done our part and know that God will do the rest.  In church, we discussed that the government has been established by God.  And, yes, there are times when God allows poor leaders to take office as a direct result of what the people deserve. In this day and age it doesn’t seem like we deserve that much, does it? No matter what the outcome, we are to obey those in authority over us unless they are in direct contradiction to God’s Word.

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 

Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.”

Romans 13:1-2, 5

I have been disappointed in many elections as of late.  But it is comforting to know that God’s hand is in all of it.  No matter if the candidates that I endorse enter the office or not, it is still my responsibility to pray for those elected.  Other than casting my vote, praying is the other thing that I have control over.  We are setting up the future of our country for our children.  What do I want the nation to look like for my sons?  What freedoms will they have or not have as a result of these elections?

Consider these things and get out the vote!

Someone ‘Gets’ You

There are times in life when we feel like no one can relate.  We feel like we are on a life raft in the middle of the ocean with no help in sight.  Not only is it lonely, but it can be scary.

Personally, I have been struggling with loneliness as of late.  Motherhood can be very isolating at times.  Yes, at the end of the day, mothers and parents can all relate to each other in some form, but how often do we get to reach out and make those connections?

Similar to when I worry, when I feel lonely I love to throw pity parties.  The last few weeks have been tough – there are seasons like that.  I think to myself, stay-at-home mothers have other stay-at-home mothers to relate to.  Homeschooling moms have other homeschooling moms and working moms have other working moms.  While I am a working mom, there are periods where I feel that other working moms can’t even relate.  We’re not exactly breaking new ground here, but in the middle of Amish Country in central Pennsylvania, it is still pretty uncommon for the wife to be the breadwinner.  So there I am, hanging out in my life raft with no sign of dry land.

After a day of craziness at work, I come home to my sweet little ones while my husband heads to work.  The exhaustion has already set in, but dinner must be made, laundry must be washed, toys must be played with, and children must be rocked to sleep.  It’s that endless cycle of feeling like you have accomplished nothing with your day while simultaneously doing everything. I try – and fail -not give my husband my leftovers.  Yet, there is not much left of me when he gets home.  He rarely gets the best of me and it breaks my heart.

I know that others feel this way as well.  I know that I am not alone and I wouldn’t have to look far to find someone else who could grab me by the shoulders and say, “I get it!!!”  That’s what we long for, isn’t it?  Some sort of validation that we are not the only one out there treading water and to say it’s okay to tread water every once in a while because before we know it we will be swimming to shore.  We feel that if someone else can confirm the same feelings, then maybe we aren’t failing after all.  It doesn’t have to be loneliness – it can be anything.  Raising a child with special needs, working and going to school, moving to a new area and starting over – these are all things that can be incredibly isolating.

Thankfully, I have a Savior who can relate to everything.  Christ came to earth as a baby so that he could experience life from birth to death and literally walk in our shoes.  He ‘gets’ it.  In fact, I believe that no one has experienced loneliness on the same level that Jesus did.  He was and is the only man who has lived a perfect life – He never sinned.  That had to have been incredibly isolating at times.  His own disciples, who were closer to Him than anyone, didn’t even ‘get’ Him.  They didn’t fully understand who He was until after He was crucified and resurrected

.heknowsme

In my seasons of loneliness, nothing comforts me like the knowledge that my Savior gets me.  The One who holds my life in His hands, knows me like no other.  He knows you, too.  He knows the cry of your heart.  He knows what season of life you are going through.  He is waiting and willing to come along beside you so that you never have to feel alone and isolated. Give it all to the One who gets you.

Comparison Kills Contentment

comparison

I was so excited!  I had $10 in Kohl’s cash to use and a free Friday night in which to use it.  My husband and oldest son dropped me and my youngest son off at Kohl’s as they went to a nearby sporting goods store.  I don’t know why I love Kohl’s so much, I just do.  It probably has something to do with the fact that I can find something for everyone there and it’s not Walmart.

Regardless, my husband told me to make sure that I spent the money on myself.  I didn’t have much more than the $10 to spend, but coupled with the coupons I had, I might be able to find something decent in that price range.  Jett and I were meandering through the store when I saw her.

She was my age, minding her own business, and enjoying her Friday night just like I was – shopping.  However, her level of shopping was much different from mine.  I watched as she pulled a dress off of the rack, held it up, and added it to the stack already placed on her cart.  There had to be hundreds of dollars worth of clothes in her cart.  She continued through the aisle.  Sweater – check.  Jeans – check.  Necklace – check.  I tried not to let  jealously take control of me.

I looked down at the measly $10 coupon in my hand and my earlier feeling of excitement was replaced with a sense of longing.  This $10 simply wasn’t enough.  How is it fair that I had been scrimping and saving in order to get a few new items to wear to work and this woman so nonchalantly placed whatever she wanted into her cart?  How nice it must be to be able to go out and buy whatever you wanted.  Meanwhile, the money I had been saving to replace an old pair of black pants with a fraying hem went to buy the boys new clothes.  Children grow at an alarming rate and just when you think they have plenty in their wardrobe they no longer fit into anything.  It never bothers me when I sacrifice something for myself in order for my kids to have something, but it bothered me on this day.

Just as we were about to leave the women’s department, she spotted us.  She pushed her full cart over to us and smiled and smiled.  Jett was flirting with her and they were having a conversation.  I said hi and thanked her when she told me that my son was adorable.  Before we walked past each other, she said one more thing.  “You are so blessed.”

I stopped dead in my tracks.

Yes, yes logically I knew I was blessed.  I knew in my heart of hearts that there was no room for complaining.  Yet, here I was making negative assumptions about this woman whom I had never met while it took her all of two seconds to realize how much of worth I had and congratulate me on it.

I eventually picked out not one, but two pairs of earrings with my coupon and we headed home.  I thought about the exchange I had with that woman throughout the night and for the days to come.  I wondered if maybe she hadn’t been saving her money for a long time in order to enjoy a much-needed and well-deserved shopping trip.  I wondered if she had any children.  Then it crossed my mind that while I was jealous of her, perhaps she was equally, if not more so, jealous of me.  Maybe her and her husband had been trying to have children.  Maybe she can’t have children.  Maybe she would give anything to have just $10 to spend while pushing her sweet and cuddly son around in the front of her cart.

At the end of the day, I don’t know if any of these things are true.  What I do know, is that I’m grateful to that woman for punching me in the gut with perspective.  I have been given so much.  Rather than waste my time and energy comparing my situation to someone else’s, I should be praising God for the situation I have.  I am a wife and mother with an amazing family.  While I may have to bobby pin my dress pants so the hem doesn’t drag, at least I have a job to wear those pants to.  That job puts a roof over our head and food on our table.  That table is the space we gather around and give thanks to our Savior who died for us and gave us eternal life.

My contentment will never be found in things of this earth.  Someone will always have it better than me or be better than me.  My contentment comes straight from my Savior who sustains me.  When I focus on Him, I’m not comparing myself to others and killing my contentment; I’m looking towards an indescribable eternity in Heaven.

 

Linked to these great blogs: Equipping Godly Women, My Freshly Brewed Life, Mom’s Morning Coffee, Serving Joyfully

Worry is My Best Friend

I have a friend named Worry.  She is closer to me than my own shadow and almost always stops by unannounced and without invitation.  In fact, if I let her, Worry would come with me everywhere I go.

I can’t exactly give our relationship a specific start date, but Worry and I have been close for years and years now.  I was very young when we met.  We really began hanging out together during my high school years.  There were times when we were pretty close in college, but we drifted apart for a while, too.  After graduation the real world came knocking, and Worry was right there beside me.

These last few years, Worry and I have been closer than ever.  We talk every day, multiple times a day.  She knows the deepest, darkest parts of me.  Our pity parties are – in a word – legendary.  There are nights when Worry wakes me up just so we can stay up together until my alarm sounds.  If I am relaxing on the couch, Worry is there.  If I am making dinner, Worry is there.  If I am playing with my kids, Worry is there, too.

At first, I thought our relationship was harmless, but lately I have noticed that Worry is a taker – she never gives.  She knows much more about me than I know about her.  She brings out the worst in me and is a terrible influence.  She’s disrespectful and often leaves me in tears.  She tries to ruin my relationships with other people and never wants me to have fun and enjoy the moment.

I think we need a break.

I have struggled with worry and anxiety for a long time.  Sometimes I feel as if my anxiety has a choke hold on me and my life.  If I look at the relationship I have with worry as an actual relationship, it’s completely ridiculous.  I would never put up with that type of behavior from a true friend – I know better than that.  For whatever reason, I justify these things when it comes to my anxiety.  Yes, some things that worry me are legitimate concerns; however, I cannot truly control much of what I worry about.  On the other hand, there are tons of things I spend my time worrying about that haven’t even happened or may never happen.  What a waste of time and energy!

Because of my faith in Christ, I know there is a better way to handle all of this.  Over and over again, God talks about his desire to help us through all of life’s situations and ease our fears.  I am not experiencing anxiety because God hasn’t kept his promises.  I am choosing to hang onto my worries by not allowing God to take over.

The best example I can think of is this: my kids never don’t always share.  When one of them decides to share their toy, they will often change their mind in a matter of minutes and rip it back out of the other’s hands and yell “Mine!”  This is exactly what I do to God with my worries.  Sure, I’ll pray about it and ask for help, but I want to start worrying again shortly thereafter.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Matthew 6:25-27

I know I have trust issues and I like to handle things on my own without asking for help (a nice way of saying this is, I’m ‘independent’).  I am a Type A personality and I do not procrastinate.  I have little patience and when things are not accomplished in a timely manner, it’s very hard for me to let it go.  Top this off with perfectionism and you have quite the little mixture of crazy.  While this has served me well in some areas of life, it’s been a hindrance in others.

I have been worrying about the same few issues for a decent length of time now.  It has weighed on me so much that it has begun to have physical and spiritual side effects.  I am positive that much of my never-ending exhaustion is due to my anxiety levels.  I have the useless ability to jump to the worst-case scenario for every situation and then dwell on that scenario for an inordinate amount of time.  I also know that this is Satan’s way to attack me.

anxietygirl
But then there’s hope:

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.”

I Peter 5:7

How do I handle my worries?  I go straight to God through prayer and recommit to reading the Bible.  My struggles and inadequacies are not meant to defeat me – they are meant to highlight my need for a Savior and send me into the loving arms of Christ.  I cannot conquer my anxiety on my own.  I have to lean on God and let him carry my worries for me.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

It’s not easy for me to turn my worries over to God.  It’s something I have to do on a daily basis.  Depending on the day, I might have to submit worries to God on an hourly basis.  It’s not just a one-and-done process.  I am constantly learning and growing in my faith and it will be that way until the day that I die.  But I know that if I am ever going to find peace, contentment, and rest I have to trust in my Creator.

“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.”

Philippians 4:6-7

Please know that if you are struggling with worry and anxiety that you are not alone and there is certainly hope for you to find relief.  The verses I shared are just some of the many found in the Bible that talk about this issue.  Jesus himself addressed the problem of anxiety; that in and of itself provides a great deal of comfort.  I refuse to let the worries of life rob me of the joy I have in Christ.  He has given me so much to be thankful for and enjoy.

Linked to these great blogs: Serving Joyfully, Equipping Godly Women