Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Anxiety’

Shortly after we were married, the company my husband was working for folded under mysterious circumstances, and its owner disappeared into the night.  For the next eleven months, my husband was without full-time work.  We were broke. 

We weren’t exactly rolling in the dough before he lost his job.  We were young and just beginning our careers, so this was quite a blow.

We took work anywhere we could get it.  I had a few piano students, took singing gigs wherever I could and decorated ice cream cakes at his mother’s store.  He worked for a neighbor who had a landscaping business and took odd jobs from anyone who offered.

We ate rice and beans.  We went to the public library for dates.  We bought our clothing at thrift stores.  And when it all got to be too much, we volunteered at a soup kitchen to remind us that there were others who had it far worse.

We couldn’t give up, though.  We had freshly promised before God and many witnesses to stick with each other “in plenty and in want.”  With some age and perspective on me now, I can see that God gave us that time of want as a wedding gift.

We were dependent upon each other for survival, so we learned trust.

We worked on our situation together, so we learned teamwork.

We had very little, so we learned the benefits of simplicity.

We couldn’t afford everything we needed, so we learned to set priorities.

We were desperate with worry, so we learned to depend on God.

I have heard it said that the purpose of marriage is not to make you happy, but to make you holy.  This weekend, my man and I will celebrate eighteen years of holy-making: sickness, health, plenty, want, better and worse.  (With all we’ve been through in the last eighteen years, we ought to be pretty “holy-fied” by now.  God is still working on us…)

Funny, it’s those early days I miss – days before kids and schedules and mortgages and careers.  Life was simpler then.

I have a feeling that our life will return to simplicity once again.  But by that time, the girl in the marshmallow wedding dress and the guy with the inappropriate moustache will be silver-haired and wrinkly.

And we will thank God for our most unusual wedding gift – a disguised blessing.

 wedding

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”  (James 1:2-3, NIV)

P.S. This post was published at a coffee shop.  (Landscapers have seen to it that I have no internet.)  Your comment may not appear until tomorrow, when certain cut cables should be repaired.  :/  Thanks for your patience.  – wwh

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Those of you – saints, I’d call you – who read my scribbles every week, may have noticed that I didn’t post a blog last Wednesday.  Some of you even wrote to ask why.  The truth is that I lowered my bucket into the well of creativity and it came up chalk dry.  No blog.

But then a curious thing happened.

I had been feeling something uneasy in my soul.  Restlessness.  Winds of change.  Something afoot.  I asked God what He wanted with me.  I sought the counsel of a handful of mentors.  Still no answer… until…

My normal routine was interrupted.  Something was canceled, and I found myself with several hours of unscheduled time.  Ah-HA!  I could use this time to work on a household project I had been putting off for months. 

 And while I worked, God (finally) spoke.  It went something like this:

 

There are times, Child, when your path of faith will lead you to a door – nondescript, unknowable, untouchable.  You ask me, “Should I pass?”

 

 

 

You try old ways to open it, to see what’s on the other side.  You try and you try, until finally, you realize that what worked for you before won’t work for you anymore.

 

 

 

Please understand something.  It may not be you.  It may be the door.  Sometimes it is necessary for Me to prepare it before you can pass.

 

 

 

While you are frantically hurling yourself at it, I am crafting with intention, smoothing your path, providing a way for you to open it.

 

        

 

 

Please trust Me in this.  Even when you can’t see what I’m doing, or you don’t understand the whys, know that My work will be accomplished, in My perfect time.

Rest. 

Wait. 

Soon, it will all make sense…

 

 

 

…and we will pass through together.

 

 

 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV)

 

Read Full Post »

I have an announcement to make.  I’m done with the status quo.  I’m tired of living in fear of change, risk, rejection, terrorists, house fires, kidnappings, super germs, bed bugs… whatever.  I have decided henceforth to stretch the edges of my comfort zone outward.

Don’t laugh at what I’m about to tell you.  (OK, you can.  I won’t hear you.)  I actually drove in the snow.  I know what you’re thinking.  “Oooo, Wendi.  You are so daring!”  All right.  Maybe a little back story is in order.

I grew up in Montana.  Snow is a way of life there.  People just learn to cope with it.

But now I live in the South.

Southerners don’t care much for any kind of precipitation, especially the frozen stuff.  If there is even a threat of snow, school will be cancelled.  In all my years in Montana, I can remember school closing for snow twice.  Ever.  Now that I have lived here for over a decade, I have become a snow wimp. 

School was cancelled on Monday because of “inclement weather” (i.e., a teeny amount of snow).  Mondays are also when I have karate class.  I won’t miss karate class unless I’m …well… dead, so I had a choice to make: drive in snow, or miss class. 

Before you think I am outrageously anxious, I will tell you that one time in Montana, I nearly slid off the edge of a snowy mountain in my car.  God spared my life, but that is a story for another day.  For today, I can tell you that I made the trip to karate class in spite of my nerves – and I lived! 

If you reside anywhere north of Tulsa, you probably think my fears are foolish.  Truthfully, I would agree with you.  I used to be able to drive in snow all the time.  At some point, though, I forgot how…

Imagine how small our fears and anxieties seem to God!  The phrase “do not be afraid” appears in the Bible seventy-five times, by my cursory accounting.  He keeps telling us that He’s got everything covered, but we choose not to believe. 

Bluntly put, fear is not of God. 

He has big plans for you, so don’t let fear hinder you.

Hold every thought, especially the fearful ones, captive to Christ.

Do the scary thing.

Act on the Spirit’s callings.

Maybe even drive in the snow.

our snowman

“Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”  (Isaiah 44:8, NIV)

Read Full Post »

Scrooged

I promised myself that I wasn’t going to stress out this year.  Nope, I was going to float gently through the Christmas season, cheerily writing cards, happily buying and wrapping presents, and joyfully dancing through the month of December.  But I have also promised you from the very beginning that I would be honest.

Last week, you recall, I had just come back from a mountaintop experience that was sure to carry me though the entire Advent season.  This week, however, I am acting like Scrooge.

As a mom, spreading the joy of the season falls to me – not because my husband won’t help, but because of logistics.  He’s working many hours to support said joy.  My schedule is more flexible, so I write cards, attend school events, buy teacher gifts, grab that last minute Secret Santa gift for dance class, decorate the house, mail packages to six different domiciles, tend to sick children (Must they get sick in the month of December?!), and call the plumber because we have mud in our water.

When I went grocery shopping, I was already miffed at myself for leaving my grocery list on the kitchen table.  I slunk past the Salvation Army ringer because I always put money in the red bucket and I just didn’t feel like it this time. 

He knew how to get to me.  He pulled out a trumpet and started playing an off-key rendition of “Away in a Manger.”  (God bless him for playing out in the cold.)  I pushed my cart through the produce section, straining to remember what was on my list, trying desperately to block out “O Little Town of Bethlehem” in three different keys, and wondering if he’d stop if I put a fiver in the bucket.

I made it home in just enough time to put groceries away and hustle to school for the fourth grade recorder concert – which lasted all of fifteen minutes.  I went Christmas shopping, came home, and made what I thought was an excellent dinner (my children did not agree).  Then my older daughter came down with flu.  And the younger one was recovering from a mild concussion she sustained at basketball practice. 

I am officially down from the mountaintop.

I apologize for the rant.  My sense is, however, that you know exactly what I’m feeling.  You’ve been there. 

Here’s my plan.  I am going to take a little extra time to remember the most important gift of Christmas – the Christ.  I will listen to His still, small voice instead of the noise of this world.  I will feel His peace wash over me, and lift my burdens to Him.

Your turn!  In the comment box below, please supply a verse, or share what you do to keep your inner Scrooge at bay.  I’m all ears…

Read Full Post »

I’ve never done it before.  My kids didn’t get it.  My husband only partially understood it.  This weekend, I joined three friends for an overnighter at a Franciscan retreat center.  We’re talking no TV, no internet, not even any music.  Just lots of opportunities to… well, I’ll get to that later.

I had such big plans.  I thought I might catch up on some writing, or study for some lessons I’ll be teaching.  I half-considered getting the Christmas cards out of the way.  Oh, yes.  Wendi the Responsible was going to get some work done.

Ha. 

Sometimes, God gives you what you need before you even know you need it. 

After a short hike in the woods, my friends and I sat down to lunch.  Just as we were finishing, I looked out the window.  Snow! 

Perfect, I thought.  I’ll grab a cup of joe, head to my room, pop open the laptop and get some writing done by the window.  But as soon as I sat down, all I could do was stare out at the snow.  I couldn’t move. 

I really need to work, I thought.  But…oh… look at the pretty, pretty snow…

The balance of the weekend went about like that.  I would pretend to study, write, or read.  Then I would find myself wanting not to do, but to be.

Sunday morning, I went into the chapel.  No one else was there.  Just me.  Just God.  I sat in the front row and looked up at the crucifix in front of the giant picture window.  There was no sound.  I didn’t know how to have church all by myself, so I whispered the Lord’s Prayer.  And that was good enough.

I kept replaying the story of Mary and Martha in my mind.  All my life, I have been a Martha – doing what I’m supposed to, doing what I think I’m supposed to, doing what other people think I’m supposed to – and sometimes going crazy for it.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42, NIV)

For once in my life, all I did was sit and look up at Jesus. I didn’t do anything.

Well, whaddaya know?  Somewhere underneath all of my hyper-responsible Martha-ness is a Mary who can simply sit at Jesus’ feet.

Maybe we all have this ability in us.  It’s just buried under too many expectations.

This Advent, choose what is better.

If you do, it will never be taken away from you.

4 Marthas turned Marys

Read Full Post »

I am being forced into changing with the times.  Needless to say, I haven’t been happy about it.  Last week, when our computer died, I had no idea what effect it would have on our household, my attitude – and what I would eventually learn from it.

I will not regale you with the particulars of our computer’s illness and ensuing death because that is boring, and we have better things to talk about.  But so that we are on the same page in the story, I’ll let you know that the machine’s passing necessitated us buying a new computer and software programs.  We are also grieving the loss of three years of financial data.  Poof.

(Insert sad violin music here.)

For the past seven days, I have spent so many hours and so much energy into trying to put things back the way they were.  It’s not happening.  It can’t.  So now I have a decision to make: what will my attitude be toward my changing circumstances?

After going crazy with frustration, I began to look for God’s fingerprints in the event.

First, I reasoned that God is somewhere in this because He is in every situation, big and small.  Second, I reminded myself that nothing comes to me without first passing through His fingers.  Third, since I know God is good, I can come to no other conclusion than that He intends to use this situation for my ultimate good.

I sat down and made a list of every possible positive outcome. To my surprise, I was able to list ten positive things about having a dead computer. 

Then, I began to list the lessons God may be trying to teach me.  (I have learned that many situations I perceive as “bad” are really learning opportunities.)  Well, wonder of wonders, I discovered some “fruits of the spirit.”  God, in His infinite love and understanding, was growing them in me – most notably peace and patience.

No, I am not joyful about the situation, but I am done freaking out.  I am no longer asking God to fix my hard drive, or magically make my data re-appear, or to have software programs that never become obsolete.  Instead, I find myself… giving thanks.

Thank you, God, for caring enough about me to teach me.

Thank you, God, for helping me to re-frame my circumstances.

Thank you, God, that You never change, even as the world changes at lightning speed.

 

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  (James 1:17, NIV)

Read Full Post »

In my hometown, every August brought the first whisperings of the chilly fall evenings to come, and the Western Montana State Fair.  People brought pies, cookies, pickles, knitting, photography and livestock to be judged, all hoping to win a blue ribbon.  My family enjoyed the fair every year – with one notable exception.

Besides carnival rides, the livestock exhibits were a favorite with my siblings and me.  We particularly enjoyed going to the “swine” barn because the pigs were so huge.  We didn’t know that pigs can also be mean.

As we ambled along the aisle between the pens, we heard a scuffle.  One pig was irritated about something and was letting everyone know about it.  He burst through a weak spot in the chain link fencing.  People ran in either direction down the aisle.  My mom got my brother out with one hand and swept my baby sister onto her hip with the other.  She saw the pig coming and closed the barn gate just in time to trap him.  Unfortunately, I, too, was trapped – with the pig.

There are times when a father can take on the appearance of Superman to his little girl.  This was one of those times.

Seeing me with my back to the locked gate and a mad pig charging in my direction, my dad leapt into action.  He caught the pig’s ear with one hand and its tail with the other.  I screamed.  The pig squealed.  Dad held on.  Now the pig’s snout was within inches of my knee.  I felt his angry breath and snot on my skin.

My dad and the pig’s owner were eventually able to wrestle him into an empty pen.  I think after that, we decided to check out the prize-winning pickles…

Haven’t we all, at one time or another, been trapped against a locked gate by something scary?  It may have been a frightening health situation, uncertain finances, or an unexpected loss.  We have felt the hot breath of a seemingly hopeless situation on our skin.

But we have a Champion.  Like a protective father, God goes before us to fight our battles – even when it would seem we are alone.

You don’t have to fight alone.

You don’t have to fight at all.

Choose to rest in the protection of Him who is both strength and salvation.

 

“The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you…” (Deuteronomy 1:30, NIV)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: