Getting Ready

trust quote

Does anyone else find anxious thoughts to be a default mode when it comes to the unknown future? Anyone else feeling nervous about a coming transition?

Had you asked me  a month ago to identify my nerves on a scale of 1-10 (1 being totally calm, “ain’t no thing” and 10 being “I can’t fall asleep at night/these thoughts consume me”), I would have likely said a 6 or maybe even a 7. The more books on pregnancy, delivery, and child rearing that I read, the more fears I seemed to add to my list.

But in the last week I’ve felt and watched that worry level drop all the way down to a 3… and at times even a 1. I KNOW. It’s been amazing.

Although you aren’t likely in the exact same situation of anticipating the birth of your first child while finalizing the manuscript of your first book, I believe that the tools for combatting worry are the same regardless of the extenuating circumstances. These points carry over the various question marks in our lives.

1. LIST IT AND MATCH IT.

Once I’m able to take those circular thoughts that keep racing around my head and put them on paper, they seem to lose at least a portion of their strength. Often the list is shorter than expected. If it’s something stealing peace in your day then make sure you write it out, even if you feel like it’s silly. Sometimes seeing how silly a worry looks when written is all that it takes before I’m able to cross through it.

For example:

  • We still don’t have everything we need for a newborn baby.
  • My face might be swollen in our first pics together as a family.
  • Labor could be far more painful than I’d ever imagined.
  • I don’t get to eat while in labor. (I am the worst case of hungry [hungry + angry] you’ve ever seen.)
  • Embarrassing moments will happen at every turn in the hospital.
  • I will have to fight for my preferences in the hospital.
  • I will never finish the manuscript.
  • AND ON AND ON.

Once I captured every worried thought, I jotted down two Bible verses on the top of the list.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NIV

“You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:3

So how do I take those thoughts captive and keep my mind steadfast, trusting in God?

I identify each fear and assign a truth match. Something like this…

Even if labor is more painful than I’d ever imagined… He will be with me, strengthen me, and help me.Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Even if I have a gazillion embarrassing moments in the hospital… it really ain’t no thing in the grand scheme. I have to remind myself that the medical staff have all seen CRAZY things during their career. This part of life is beautiful AND messy. At the end of the day… I can cast all that anxiety upon the Lord, because He cares about my worries and fears.Cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

2. CARRY THE TRUTH.

Once we’ve identified the problems and set out to get rid of all that anxiety, I believe we have to make the choice to actively walk in that truth. So after you’ve matched your fears with God’s Word, jot it down on notecards and keep it at your side! Memorize the verses. Choose to take God at His Word.

“Beloved, belief is not a feeling. It’s a choice. We may live many days when we don’t feel loved or lovely; but in spite of our emotions, we can choose to take God at His Word.” – Beth Moore, Breaking Free

3. TALK THROUGH IT.

I’d recommend that you talk through the whoppers on your list with someone who has walked a similar path, a specialist, or someone who is spiritually mature in this area. I have been asking specific questions of my doctor. I’ve talked through my specific fears with my husband and he and I talked about ways he could encourage me during labor and delivery. Sometimes keeping yourself in the dark can produce way more fears than you need. Vocalize what’s keeping you up at night to someone you trust. 

4. PRAY THROUGH IT.

Life up your fears and requests to the Lord throughout the day. Share any remaining fears with a prayer partner. I love when someone asks me to pray specifically for a need. As much as I enjoy writing out a long list of names, I am always challenged to pray more when I know what to ask my Heavenly Father for.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:9-13

5. GIVE OUTWARD.

Sometimes I just need to get out of my head and concern myself with something other than MYSELF. Loving others is a great way to shift our focus outward. A laundry list of worries can keep us self-focused and isolated. Call your friend. Send a card. Pick up your neighbor’s paper. Hold the door open. Volunteer with the refugee family. You get the idea. When I start giving my capacity to worry decreases immensely.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

Regardless of the date my daughter arrives or how prepared I feel, this transition is going to happen.

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  • You will start college in the fall.
  • You will find the job you’ve been hunting.
  • The move will happen.
  • The unexpected will occur.
  • Your friend might transfer to another school.
  • Your plans might have to change at the drop of a hat.

Transitions are coming. We can’t control much of the circumstances but we can choose to control our thought patterns.

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather spend these weeks in joyful expectation rather than anxious trepidation. Life is too short and our God too loving for us to spend it walking on eggshells.

“All around you, people will be tiptoeing through life, just to arrive at death safely. Dear children, do not tiptoe. Run, hop, skip or dance, but do not tiptoe.” –Shane Claiborne, Irresistible Revolution

Following more and worrying less,
Ginger

Choking on Worry

Did you know that the English term for worry comes from an old German word meaning to struggle or to choke? 

That sounds super appealing.

And yet, I could easily be labled a worrier. There is so much content to work with: the state of the country, Syria, North Korea, baby prep, finishing a manuscript, labor and delivery, saving for the future, the health of family members… and on and on.

We are good at worrying.  Stop for one second, could you write at least one thing down that you are currently worried about? How about five?

Does worrying actually accomplish anything?

The average person’s worry will be spent on-
40% on things that will never happen
30% on things about the past that can never be changed
12% on criticism from others
10% on health
8% about real problems that will actually be faced

I know I shouldn’t worry!  I know the Bible says not to. But sometimes I feel SO PRODUCTIVE.  I love my lists – I’ve always made worry lists.

So what’s the big problem with worry? Worry is admitting or uncovering that I can’t trust the Lord enough to believe that He has everything under control, that my life doesn’t surprise him!

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians his overarching point is to remind them to be like-minded by having the same attitude as Christ – striving forward – taking hold of what has already been attained for us. Chapter 4 is where I want to camp for a little while.

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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.” (Philippians 4:1-7, NIV)

Euodia and Syndeche are fighting – these leaders of the church – obviously not being of the same love and purpose.  So Paul asks others to step in. Rejoice!  Be gentle with how you handle this situation and don’t be anxious. Turn your requests to the Lord. (For me, any type of confrontation is cause for worry!)

ANXIOUS: extreme uneasiness of mind-brooding fear.

This use of ANXIOUS in this passage is the same greek word used by Jesus in Matthew chapter 6 when he commands “Do Not Worry”.  MER-IM-NAH-O.

This is a clear command – and yet since it was not written on stone like some others, we often disregard it.  Jesus desires this to be a law written on our hearts, transforming us into people who trust Him enough to obey him even when we can’t see what the end result might be. The struggle to give this up is huge for me!

Why do we worry? It’s all about control!

How do we try and deal with it?

  1. Medicate
  2. Ignore/distract ourselves
  3. Over control the situation

But what are some biblical solutions to this challenge?

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun. (Romans 8:26-30, MSG)

He has a plan and purpose for our lives. Let your gentleness be evident to all – the Lord is NEAR!  Paul is communicating what Christ wanted us to get all along.  Worry denies God’s strength, sovereignty, and presence in our everyday lives.

worry

  1. Remind yourself that HE IS NEAR!
  2. He loves you and longs for the very best for you.  Whose are you?
  3. Hide His word in your heart.  Take every thought captive.
  4. Pray, Pray, Pray.

And the peace of God – not necessarily the immediate answer you desire, but the peace of God will flood your hearts and mind.

Following and learning,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Eyes Up

Yesterday we started walking through M’s complex thoughts about self-worth, anxiety, and what to do when we don’t like how we look or feel. Obviously it’s not something that can be answered in a short blog post or with a pat answer.

Acknowledging the truth, that we will never live up to the world’s standards is essentially step one. Step two is to then choose to live and see ourselves through God’s loving eyes. But step three involves our eyes.

When I get so focused on my own worries, imperfections and failings I get caught in a crazy cycle of self-loathing. One long look in a mirror, a step on a scale, a harsh word from a classmate… any of these can send our self-esteem reeling out of control. So we ground ourselves in truth, and then we look outward!

The truth of the matter is that joy flows most often when we take a step back from ourselves and notice those around us. Joy comes from blessing and encouraging others, rather than focusing on our own needs. When life is “all about me” it leaves little room for the joy that emerges through loving people.

The next time the tears threaten to overtake you, try one of these tips before you give up.

1. Make cookies and give them to friends and neighbors.

2. Write a letter (snail mail!) to a grandparent, relative, or teacher who has been instrumental in your life. Thank them for the role they have had.

3. Leave a flower for someone and don’t tell them who it’s from! Instead just include a note that says, “You matter. Thank you for being you!”  Have fun encouraging from a distance.

4. Go for a walk outside!

5. Turn on some music and dance in your room.

6. Offer to help your mom cook dinner.

7. The next time a volunteer opportunity is presented to you, say “yes”!

8. Go through your closet and collect clothes to donate to a local charity. That sweater you wore once last year might just make someone else’s day.

9. Take time to collect runaway shopping carts in the parking lot and return them to their homes.

10. Commit to only use texting and social media to encourage other people. No more lamenting, moaning, or complaining.

11. Invite someone in your family to go out for lunch, your treat! Plan the “date” and even dress up to make it more special.

12. This list could go on and on, so start making your own!

I know that counting my blessings is a huge kick in the pants when I need to refocus my gaze, but this list can also help in those moments when the hurt threatens to knock us down. We each have so much to give to a world in need!

I pinned this photo on Pinterest this week. I love the thought behind it. Let’s find our passion and get to loving others!

purposeful

Happy Thursday.

Following,
Ginger

Doubting

Yesterday we started discussing how we “deal with doubt.”  Today I wanted to come clean with you.

I don’t really struggle with doubt.

That’s how I might have started this post five years ago. I would have been partially truthful. I don’t really struggle with believing that there IS a God, that His Son is Jesus, and that He has a plan for salvation.

But I do doubt.  I just didn’t always label it as doubt.

On Monday I confessed to worrying. I combat worry on a daily basis. One of the supreme ways that worry manifests itself in my life is through the guise of anxiety and frustration. I like those words because my translation of the Bible doesn’t have Jesus saying, “Do not be frustrated or anxious” the way that he declares, “Do not worry.”

But upon further study I realized that living with anxiety was no godlier than living with worry.  In fact, the words are interchangeable in most translations. (DRAT.)  And besides, there are plenty of verses throughout Scripture that address anxiety.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10, NASB

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and “petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6, NIV

I have a piece of paper in my Bible with the following quote from Oswald Chambers, “Quiet tension is not trust. It is simply compressed anxiety.”

Anxiety and worry are distrust in God. That may be nothing new to you, but for me it has been eye-opening. I hadn’t ever associated anxiety with doubt. I think I just imagined it had something to do with my need for control rather than my doubt that His plans were really the best for me.

Let me give you an example. Just two years ago I was at a huge crossroads in my life. I was contemplating making a move back to Texas and had a ton of anxiety in regards to work, relationships, and life in general. I felt as though I had misread God’s Will and had somehow gotten off track. It was easier for me to associate pain and discomfort with discipline rather than something God might use to draw me closer to Him.  Things weren’t going my way so I felt stressed.  I didn’t see relief in sight so I became worried.  When answers didn’t come in my timing I became frustrated and anxious.  I was in fact doubting His goodness in the midst of my present mess.

For some of us it’s easy to have faith in the Almighty God who can create the world from nothingness and who orchestrates the days, the hours, and the minutes of our lives.  That’s where I generally find myself.  But if that’s you,  would you stop and ask yourself this: “But do I trust Him? Do I trust Him with my days, hours, and minutes? Do I trust Him even more with the ones I hold so precious in my heart?”

It’s tempting to let distrust remain in my heart, to try and claim that I don’t have doubts. But the truth is we all have moments of doubts mixed with moments of clarity and belief. It’s been that way since the beginning of time since the serpent asked Eve if she was certain that God really did love her.

My hope is that we would come clean in the midst of our doubts.  My prayer is that we would take steps to know and trust Him more and more each day… knowing that our faith will be perfected when we see Him face to face.

“But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:18-22, NIV

Following,
Ginger