A life worth living.

Month: February, 2013

Reflections on Anxiety

“6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Around October of this year I began to struggle with severe anxiety.  I knew God was calling Paul and I to take a big risk and I was really freaking out about it.  I wouldn’t describe it as a crisis of faith.  I know by now that Christ always delivers.  I just wasn’t too sure I was on board with His game plan.

This verse was my anthem.  I remember in college journaling about stress.  I had decided in those young years that stress was a symptom of not trusting God and I wanted no part of it.  I think most who know me would agree I live a pretty stress free lifestyle.  I just don’t buy into it.

So the anxiety I experienced in the fall was a real shock to my system.  Almost a necessary reset.  A spiritual alarm.  God knew it would get my attention.  “Be anxious about nothing” rang over and over again in my ears.

“I’m trying!” I would shout to myself like a loon.  I really was trying not to be anxious.  But try as I might, it just wasn’t good enough.  I couldn’t “will” myself to peace, I had to surrender to it.

You see there’s a catch to that verse.  It doesn’t just say “be anxious about nothing”.  It says “Be anxious about nothing but by prayer…”  Ah, there it is.  There’s the catch.  Prayer.

And let me be real with you, when you’re anxious, it’s kind of a round the clock thing.  It might come in waves, but those waves tend to be fairly consistent.  A constant crash of feelings and questions.  So if you’re truly honest with yourself, anxiety should lead to A LOT of time in prayer.  It’s your life vest, your key to keep from drowning in the sea of what if’s and why’s.

And peace WILL come.  It will transcend all understanding, but it will be there.  A surreal oasis in the storm of life.

It has for me.  It occasionally creeps back in.  But I can truly say that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, is guarding my heart and mind.  It’s miraculous and it feels great.

It took months.  That’s a long time for this carefree individual.  It might take longer for you.  I really can’t say, I don’t think it’s a quick fix.  It’s more like an enduring healing.  A healing from my will and my way.  I’m learning to surrender and like any lesson it takes time.

And like the great instructor He is, His patience leads me gently to great peace.  May the alarm bell of anxiety not drown your soul, but cause it to persevere to new heights of prayer and thanksgiving.


Hanging out in the desert

1 Corinthians 2:12

“12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,”

I’ve been reading through Exodus the last week.  I can’t help but see the parallels between the story and myself.  I’d really like to relate to Moses, but in reality I’m finding myself more in line with the Israelites. 

In the past I would laugh at these stories.  How could these people be so foolish?  They saw miracle after miracle, but as soon as they were in the desert they wanted to go back to slavery.  They heard God speak and promised to devote themselves to them, but Moses was gone for a couple weeks and they built an idol.  Foolish Israelites, can you not handle the silence?  Does God have to speak every day to confirm His plans to you? 

And then I feel the fast stab of conviction.  God confirmed over and over again that Paul and I should start this business.  I complained.  I didn’t want to go out on faith alone.  I wanted a little security.  So in His mercy He gave it.  He gave us enough to live on and some faithful supporters to help us start this journey. 

I thanked the Lord and “packed my bags”.  We began the journey like the Israelites shortly after Egypt.  They danced and sang; we felt full of joy.

And then the silence hit.  And like the Israelites my eyes began to dart.  Where am I?  How did we get to this place?  Maybe we weren’t supposed to go!

 It’s embarrassing really.  But it’s reality and I don’t want to pretend it’s not there, I just want to do better.  

Sometimes God says “Go” and sometimes He says, “Wait”.  How do you know?  You just do.  There’s no magical way to articulate it.  The questions is, when he says wait, will you wait?  Can you stand still Christian?  Can you stay confident?  Can you stay faithful? 

We need each other for that.  We need the Word of God for that.  We need prayer for that.  It takes great faith to go, but don’t be deceived, it takes great faith to wait too. 

And we can do better.  Unlike the Israelites, we have the Holy Spirit.  A constant communion and connection to our God.  And He is so faithful.  When God says to go, go.  And when He says wait, wait. 


It’s all about that village

I read this article about Arizona dropping a foster-care grant.  Honestly, I know nothing about politics and in reality the government isn’t going to fix this problem.  Programs are great, but its the people that make them work.  But this quote from the article really struck me,

“More than 30,000 U.S. teens each year reach adulthood and leave state custody without a permanent home, including about 700 in Arizona. Research shows that kids who age out of foster care are more likely than their peers to be unemployed, homeless or convicted of a crime or become teen parents, and they are less likely to graduate from high school or attend college.”

The other day one of my children went to Starbucks with a friend.  While in the coffee shop she saw a woman who took care of her before she was adopted.  The woman was ecstatic to see her.  Having worked with teens I can imagine why.

She was probably excited to see a healthy, well dressed, young woman.  Just your average teen, stopping in for a coffee.  No baby on her hip or in her belly.  No older man hanging on her.  Clothes that fit, hair that gets washed, and  a smile on her face.

It’s not often we get to see foster teens blossom into womanhood with grace.

It’s also a two-way street.  The teens need to want it.  They need to reject the lifestyle they are accustom too and accept that they deserve more. That they can have more than what they’ve known.

This takes more than just loving, adoptive parents.  This takes a community.  It takes a village.

It takes the woman in the coffee shop who watched over my daughter before I knew she existed.  It takes my co-workers at the group home who invested in my daughter before she became mine.  It takes the owners of that group home who made that home possible.  It takes the mentor who poured into her life and helped her to want more.  It takes the family who welcomed our daughters without objection and took them as their own.  It takes the church that prayed and loved them through the whole process.  It takes all of us.

And when we all invest, we all get to see the product.  A healthy, beautiful teen, blossoming into womanhood with grace.