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Do Not Be Anxious

 

Philippians 4:6-9

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. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

We live in a world of chaos and evil. From natural disasters to the destruction caused by human hands, I don’t believe that there is one of us alive today that has not struggled with anxiety at some level. We become so anxious about making enough money that we start living lives devoid of joy and peace. We live in fear of being in crowded areas because of the violence of the society we live in. The media bombards us with news of shootings, abuse, drugs, natural disasters, and all kinds of evil under the sun. We begin to live in a constant state of fear and anxiety. We are robbed of the joy that God so freely gives us.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We do not have to live our lives in a constant state of anxiety. God has given us a blueprint to handle the anxiety producing situations in our lives.

Part 1:

The Command:

Do not be anxious about anything – God tells us not to be anxious about ANYTHING. This is not a suggestion, it is a command. I know how hard it is not to let panic overwhelm your spirit. Believe me, if anyone struggles with this command, it is me! Still, it is a command and God expects us to obey ALL of His commands!

But in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God – God expects us to pray about and surrender EVERY situation that causes us anxiety. Not only are we to present these situations to God, but we are to give thanks! Why give thanks in a stressful, panic attack producing event? We give thanks, believing that an all powerful God has our back and is with us in the crisis. We give thanks, knowing that He may not take us out of the situation, BUT He can and will calm the storm that rages inside of us.

When you face a situation that is causing you to panic, STOP where you are and START praying. Give that situation over to God. Pray for the presence of God to enter into the situation. Pray with thanksgiving, knowing that God is already at work to provide refuge in the mist of the chaos.

The Promise: 

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

If we are faithful to give every situation that causes us to feel anxiety or fear to God through prayer and thanksgiving, He will be faithful to give us a peace that transcends all understanding. That peace that only God can give will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.

Part 2:

The Command:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

We are to think on ALL THINGS GOOD! After we give our anxiety to God through prayer, we need to focus on the good things of God. We need to focus on the true aspects of God’s character. We need to focus on the love of God. We need to focus on how we can serve others who may be suffering. We need to focus on the positive things in this world. Turn on a Christian radio station and let the songs sink into your soul. I have the K-Love app on my phone and I listen in my car and I can tell you that there have been times when a song hits me right where I am and I will bawl like a baby. There are other times when a song will speak right to my fear and God will use the song to calm me in a very real way. Do whatever it is helps you to focus on the good that is God.

The Promise:

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

If we are faithful to focus on the goodness of God in an anxiety inducing situation, then God promises to be with us. The God of peace promises to be with us in our anxiety. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, the God of peace has promised to be right there in the midst of it with us! If God is with us, there is nothing to fear.

I know that trusting in the middle of a panic attack seems impossible. Just remember that YOU WILL GET THROUGH IT! Take a few deep breaths. Present your requests to God with a prayer of thanksgiving and focus on the goodness of God and on the goodness that can still be found in this world. If you are faithful in this, then the God of peace will be faithful to be with you no matter what you face in life. God has your back, friend! He is faithful!

 

 

 

This week started off with a panic attack when I got in my car Monday morning and the engine light was on. I am a worrier and my car is one of my biggest worries! I went into a tailspin and my wonderful daughter, Kiowa, had to talk me down off of the proverbial ledge and remind me that if I REALLY trust God then I need to remember that He will ALWAYS provide and that He can and will take care of any car issues I may have. Thank you, daughter! According to the diagnostic test that I had run I found out that is more than likely  just spark plugs misfiring and those are going to be replaced in the next couple of days. God is good!

Monday was crazy at Living Bridges! The clothes closet was open and due to unforeseen issues, I was the only volunteer there to run the clothes closet with Darcy (Living Bridges founder and remarkable woman of God). I had stepped a toe into the running of the clothes closet last week. Well, Monday, I was thrown into the deep end and I am happy to report that I survived! I was able to work past my anxiety and do what needed to be done. I still acknowledge that I can be somewhat socially awkward, but thankfully God works through and even uses our imperfections.

Tuesday morning was Mom’s Connection Club and the topic was goal setting. We were given a whole new approach to goal setting apart from the S.M.A.R.T approach and I love it! Our guest speaker was Verna Harvey and she shared some information on goal setting from the book she is currently writing. It is based on the questions, Who are you? What are your desires/goals? When will you start pursuing your desires/dreams? Where  are you now in pursuing your desires/dreams? Why this desire/goal? and How will you get to your destination? It made goal setting more personal. If you want more information, you will have to wait for the book!

Wednesday was clothes closet day. I go into these days with some trepidation. I stated earlier that I can be a bit socially awkward and it can be hard for me to approach people and start a conversation, so clothes closet days push me out of myself and out of my comfort zone. We also sort the clothes and housewares that will go into the clothes closet. We organize and re-stock the clothes closet for the next day. We have also been sorting clothes that will be given out at the Fall/Winter clothing exchange that will take place on October 12th.

Thursday morning I was able to work with Darcy in the community garden. We were able to clear some of the raised beds out to prepare them for Winter planting. It was hot, but it was actually relaxing and satisfying to pull the weeds out and end up with blank canvases that will be ready for the next crop. It reminds me of us, as humans. We start with that blank canvas. We then plant the activities, values, relationships, and life experiences what we want in our lives into those empty garden beds. Next, we water the beds with Bible study, prayer, worship, christian community and service, so they will grow the deep roots that will sustain us in our lives, but inevitably, those weeds of sin, negativity, and toxic relationships begin to grow and if we are not careful they will choke out everything good. DEEP ROOTS! We need deep roots to keep us growing in the good things of God.

Job 14:7-9

“At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant.

There is hope! When we weed out the harmful, the dead, and prune back the overgrown aspects of our lives, then we can continue to water what is good and at the scent of water our lives will flourish and we will prosper. God is the good in our lives. The Bible, prayer, worship, christian community and serving others are the water that keeps us growing in the right direction.

 

I was blessed when Darcy gave me the last of the Summer crops. God does provide in expected, but mostly unexpected ways. I am blessed beyond measure.

God continues to grow my faith. I am very much a work in progress! I have my ups and downs, but I keep looking toward the future.

Philippians 3:14

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Every week is a mystery and a miracle!

 

This was my first week volunteering at Living Bridges Ministry in Valdosta, Georgia. This was actually the first week that they were officially open in the new building that they had been renovating over the Summer. The new building will provide the ability to expand their programs.

I was at the ministry Monday-Thursday this week. Monday and Wednesdays are clothes closet days. The clothes closet wasn’t as busy this week as it has been, but this was the first week it was open in the new location, so we are anticipating that it will pick up as  word gets out. The clothes closet gives us a chance to interact with clients, get to know their stories and offer compassion in a world that can be harsh.

On Tuesday and Thursday, we washed housewares for the clothes closet, sorted through clothes, created spreadsheets for donated goods, and did whatever else needed done. There is still quite a bit of work to do to get the building finished, but it is getting there and it will be an awesome community center when done.

This week was a challenge for me, as I am sure the next few weeks will be, until I get to know the system and feel more comfortable interacting with the clients. I know I have written in past posts about my anxiety and schizoid personality disorder (social anxiety, isolation tendencies). I have a hard time stepping out of my comfort zone, but as God leads I will follow. I did push myself to talk to a couple of clients that came in to the clothes closet. It would be easy for me to hide in the background, but I know that isn’t where God is leading. I am nervous going in on clothes closet days, but growth comes with discomfort. HA! I just need to keep going and fighting through the urge to run. God is never glorified when we disobey by running away. I won’t be like Jonah. Running away didn’t help him in the end. He still ended up doing God’s will.

I am excited to see how God expands this ministry in the future. I am also excited to be a part of a community ministry that reaches out and gives back.

For information and to see pictures of the building renovation click here for the Living Bridges Facebook page and here for the Living Bridges website.

On a personal note:

I found out this week that my A1C was 7.3. An A1C is the blood glucose levels for the past 3 months. It was a concerning jump from 6.2 in April. I had my first appointment with a health coach on Tuesday to find a strategy to lower it to where it needs to be (below 7.0 for a diabetic). My blood pressure has also been high. I am on blood pressure medication, but my blood pressure and pulse was high at my first doctors appointment here on September 5th and is still high. I have written before that I deal with anxiety and so I try to keep the stress to a minimum. I am focused on living a life that is balanced and brings me satisfaction and joy. I had a heart attack scare in September of 2017 and now I want to focus on the important things in life, like loving others to Jesus and making sure that God is my priority always. I can not allow myself to get stuck in another job that I hate and that caused me enough stress that I ended up with chest pains when I went to work. Life is to short for that. I am somewhat stressed that my health is a concern right now. I’m sure that as I settle into a routine and settle into the community that my numbers will improve. God is good!

In order for me to live a life on mission, I am asking for ministry partners. If you feel led to support me as I serve God and community please visit my support page for giving options.

I am excited to see what God has in store for myself and Living Bridges Ministry!

 

 

Matthew 17:20

 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

 

It has been 6 weeks since I have written a blog post. I have now been in Georgia for 4 months and I love the area. I have had to take a step back and focus on what God’s purpose in this move was. I have been hibernating a bit this past 6 weeks. I have been working on obtaining my certification in biblical lay counseling. I have been conquering my anxiety issues. I have been spending time with God and discerning where He wants me to serve. When I moved down here, I was determined that I would not take another go- nowhere -stress-me-out job that doesn’t pay enough to live on. I want more than that. I have always had a missionary heart and I wanted to move here to serve the community. I had a couple of false starts, but I have found a community ministry that fits me like a glove! Living Bridges Ministry is in Valdosta, Georgia (45 minute drive from where we currently live). The ministry is moving into a new building and has some really AWESOME programs for those living in Valdosta.

Clothing Closet

Mom’s Connection Group

Transformation Group

Community Garden

Kid’s Connection during the Summer

Seasonal events

and more programs in the works

I am excited to get plugged in and to see where this goes! Does it pay? No, but the opportunities to serve others through programs that God has given me a passion for is worth the sacrifice. If I can be that example of a living and breathing faith then that is what I will do. It is scary, but it is also exciting. It is such a rush to see how God is going to work when we step out in faith with no safety net. I have no safety net. I am completely dependent on God to provide for my car insurance, gas to drive 1 1/2 hours a day to serve and my other expenses. It is exhilarating, but it is scaring me silly! Faith the size of a mustard seed. A mustard seed is very small. God, being fully aware of our human nature, only asks us to have the faith of a tiny mustard seed in order for Him to work on our behalf. I made the move to Georgia. I have dwindling funds. I have no safety net. I have faith in a God who has always gone before me, stood beside me and watched behind me. He has my back.

I start my new adventure on Monday. There is no better job than being able to follow my missionary heart in community ministry and love others to Jesus in this beautiful city of Valdosta, Georgia.

 

Jonah: Part 4

 

 

Read Jonah: chapter 4

Recap: In chapter 1, Jonah runs from a direct command from God to go and warn the people of Nineveh to repent or God would deal harshly with them. In chapter 2, Jonah has been swallowed by a huge fish and is now crying out to God in his distress. Chapter 3 finds Jonah back on dry land (having been vomited up by the fish) and obeying God’s command to go to Nineveh and warn the people there of God’s judgement.

In chapter 4 we find Jonah angry that God has had compassion on the people of Nineveh. He proclaims that this is why he tried to run, because he knew that God is a compassionate God and would have compassion on these unholy people. Nineveh was the oldest and most-populous city in Assyria. From the description of Nineveh in Nahum 3 we see that the people of Nineveh were wicked, evil people and Nahum 1 tells us that they were enemies of Israel and of God. Jonah was angry because God had compassion on these sworn enemies of Israel. God teaches Jonah a lesson in compassion through a plant that grows and provides shade for Jonah and then withers away, leaving Jonah in the scorching heat. Jonah was angry about the plant withering away and in verses 9-11 God addresses Jonah’s anger:

9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant? “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.” 10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” 

Yes, we could focus on Jonah, who seems to be acting like a petulant child, but I want to focus on the bigger picture. I want to focus on the lesson that God is trying to teach Jonah.

In verse 2, Jonah describes the character of God:

He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 

When Jonah went to Nineveh in chapter 3 and warned them of their impending doom, they turned from their wicked ways. The people listened to Jonah and repented. Because of their transformed hearts, God chose not to deal with them the way that He had intended too. He sent Jonah to warn them before He wiped them off the face of the earth. Even though they were His enemy, He still gave them a chance to repent. Why? God had created the people of Nineveh, just as He created the rest of us and He didn’t want them to perish. He didn’t want to have to deal with them harshly, just as He doesn’t want to deal with any of us today harshly. He sends His people to warn us of  the impending consequences of our sin. Romans 5:10 tells us:

 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

We have ALL been God’s enemies! He has chosen to save every one of us because He is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love. We don’t deserve His compassion any more than the people of Nineveh did, but He relents from sending calamity when we repent and transform our hearts.

What Jonah is not understanding is that God expects the same of us. We are to be gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love. We are to be willing to forgive an enemy. We are to warn those who are buried in their sin. We are to warn them from hearts of compassion and love. God gives us ALL chance after chance after chance to repent and change. Why do we think that it is okay for us to just write other people off just because they have offended us or they believe differently? Why do we think that it is okay to wallow in our anger and self-righteous attitudes, when it is so far off from what God wants?

I admit that I have been known to hold a grudge and have spent some time wallowing in my anger over a slight or perceived injustice. Even when I was justified in my anger, I allowed it to harden my heart against those who had bullied me or hurt me. I did not act as God would want me too. I acted as Jonah and I too, became a petulant child who was only interested in my pride, my pain, myself. I did not care about praying for the situation or about seeking reconciliation. I was willing to write the person off and never think of them again.

NOT A VERY CHRIST LIKE ATTITUDE!

My Challenge To You: Is there anyone that you think of as your enemy? Why? I challenge you to start praying for that person and the situation. Ask God to open up the doors of communication that would allow healing in the relationship. Be an example of grace, compassion, peace and love as you seek to build that relationship. Do not allow your anger turn you into a dramatic, all about me, petulant child.

James 1:19-20

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

Jonah was out of control. Don’t allow his attitude to keep you from God’s will for you and for those He is seeking to save. Luke 19:10 tells us that the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. We have the same mission on this earth. We can’t seek and save the lost when we are wallowing in our self-righteous anger. Let go of the anger and take on the characteristics of God. We are to be obedient to God’s will. ALWAYS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jonah: Part 3

 

Read Jonah: Chapter 3

In chapter 1, Jonah ran from a direct command from God and ended up in the belly of a huge fish. In chapter 2, Jonah cries out in his distress and God commands the fish to vomit Jonah on dry land. Now in chapter 3, God again commands Jonah to go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim God’s message there. Jonah obeys this time and goes to Nineveh and gives the residents there God’s message.

What I find myself wondering is: what is Jonah’s motivation for obeying God this time around?

Is he wholeheartedly and gratefully obeying God’s command?

Is he reluctantly stepping out in obedience because he knows he doesn’t have a choice?

Is he obeying, but still holding onto a rebellious heart and a grumbling spirit?

Motivation matters. For me, I usually obey reluctantly and fearfully. I don’t think I have ever obeyed with a rebellious spirit, but I know that I usually don’t obey wholeheartedly and gratefully. I will admit to arguing with God and making excuses as to why He shouldn’t use me.  Moses and Gideon were reluctant servants. Although, God does bless the reluctant servant, I believe that He would prefer us to serve like Jesus, who served from a humble heart. Jesus was on this earth to fulfill His Father’s will (Luke 22:42). Jesus never complained about His God-given assignments. He never argued with God. He did what was expected of Him from a posture of submission and love.

My Challenge To You: I want you to reflect on your own motivation to obey God. Use a journal and ask yourself the following questions:

1. Are you obeying a command from God reluctantly because you know you don’t have a choice?

2. Are you obeying, but still holding onto a rebellious heart and a grumbling spirit?

3. Do you argue with God and make excuses, trying to convince God that He needs to choose someone else?

4. Are you obeying wholeheartedly and with a humble heart like Jesus?

5. Are you obeying because you know that God’s will is above your own and that is the only thing that matters?

6. Are you obeying out of love for God and others?

Be honest with yourself. Your answers will reveal where some heart work needs to be done. I have heart work to do myself. It is a part of the process of sanctification and transforming ourselves into the likeness of Christ. It is a lifelong journey. Don’t get discouraged. God sent the Holy Spirit to guide us and encourage us in the journey, so never give up. Keep moving forward and remember that God works all things for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

 

Jonah: Part 2

 

Read Jonah: Chapter 2

In Jonah chapter 1, we find Jonah disobeying a direct command from God. Instead of being obedient, Jonah ran the other way.

Jonah chapter 2, we find Jonah in the belly of a big fish. Because of his disobedience, God had a big fish swallow him. Jonah is now dealing with the consequence of his actions and he is not happy about it. He starts to pray a prayer of desperation, ” In my distress I called to the Lord” “from deep in the realm of the dead I called for help.”

I imagine that Jonah has now realized that God is not messing around and he has started to panic. Will he die in the belly of this fish? Will God spare his life and give him another chance? Will God still be willing to use him for His purpose?

The big lesson here is that we CAN’T hide or run from God! Adam and Eve found that out when they tried to hide from God after they ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Genesis chapter 2. I am almost certain that most of us turn to God in desperation when we are sinking in the mess of our own making and can’t seem to find the way out on our own. We call out to God in distress when we are stuck struggling with the consequences of our own sin.

Jonah would have saved a lot of time and heartache had he obeyed God in the first place. In my own life, I have been running from God. I have been hiding behind my anxieties. Using my anxieties as an excuse not to do what God is calling me to. But Guess what? God did not just leave Jonah to die in the belly of that fish! After Jonah prayed, God had the fish vomit Jonah onto dry land. God continued to pursue Jonah! He did not seek someone more willing to carry out this mission. God had handpicked Jonah for this job and even though Jonah wasted time in his disobedience, God waited until Jonah got over himself.

WOW! I see where this is going, Lord! My hiding behind my anxiety is a sin. Anxiety IS NOT from God and the longer I wallow in it and use it as an excuse to keep me from my God-given mission, the longer I keep other women from hearing about the love of God or knowing that they are loved by a risen Savior. God has pursued me for years now. I run and I hide. God will not choose someone else to fulfill a mission that He has handpicked me to accomplish and I guess I better stop playing Jonah and get my act together.

MY CHALLENGE TO YOU: If you are running from God or hiding behind an excuse so you won’t have to fulfill a God-given purpose, STOP RUNNING! STOP HIDING! Take it from me, it doesn’t work. God will not give up on you. If He has handpicked you for a special mission then, believe me, He will pursue you until you crack under the pressure and become an obedient vessel that He can use. Don’t choose living in sin over being obedient to the will of God. It never works out. It just makes you miserable. I am there. Living a life trapped in a prison of anxiety for years is no fun. I am crying out to God and I will be seeking help. FINALLY! And when God commands this big fish of anxiety to vomit me out, I will be ready and willing to accomplish His will in my life.

Heavenly Father,

I am so sorry that it has taken me this long to see the anxiety for what it is, SIN. I have wasted so many years wallowing in my own pathetic issues. I have wasted so many years making excuses for my running and hiding from your will. I am so sorry for my disobedience. I have been horrible and yet you pursue me still. I am 49 years old and you still pursue me. Never once, did you give up on me and choose someone else for this mission. I am humbled and I am grateful. Forgive me, Lord and help me heal as I seek help. I am here, Lord, use me.

In Jesus name,

Amen

Side Note: Many times when I write a post, I don’t know where it will go until I start writing. They all end up going in directions that I never intended. That is God. I am the instrument and He is the author. This one is very personal. It touches on something that I have struggled with for ages. I had no idea when I started writing this post that it would go this way. I could have kept it personal and not publish it, but I made a promise to be transparent. I want to let you see my mess, so that you can see a God that loves and heals. My blog has been a journey in my relationship with God, as I have struggled with my own humanness and God’s continual pursuit of me.