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

Perfect Timing

Yesterday I shared the ugly fears that reside in my heart.  Thank you for your kind and gracious comments and messages in response.  This is one of those struggles that has just kind of journeyed with me for most of my life.  I remember being in a doctor’s office with my dad when I was in 4th or 5th grade.  The doctor told us both that I needed to start exercising more and eating less.  I probably just needed to eat less.  Even at that point in my life I was already hording.  I snuck extra oreos into the bottom of my milk glass and snuck extra snacks when I thought no one was looking.  I simply loved food.  If I got to choose a reward or prize I was probably going to select an edible treat.

The eating caught up with me and soon I couldn’t exercise enough.  I began to blame my lack of a love life on my weight.  This caused my emotions to fluxuate frequently and wildly from trying not to care and often caring too much.

All the while I was deepening in my walk with the Lord.  I started reading my Bible and journaling.  I was learning to think of God as my Father and Friend.  But even on my happiest days when I was secure in Christ, I still had lingering disappointment with my body.  Eating became my friend.  I enjoyed it.  I loved everything about food.

I entered into a really dark time.  You would have never known it on the outside.  I was leading Bible studies and serving on Leadership Staff at a Christian Camp.  I was encouraging other women to love their bodies and to see themselves in the way God had made them.  And yet, I had begun making myself throw up whenever I felt too full.  It seemed a fairly easy fix, and a temporary one at that.  I would hit my target weight and then stop.  But as I mentioned yesterday, I really like seeing those numbers drop on a scale.  I battled off and on for over a year during college.

Since that time the Lord has taught me a lot about His power in my weaknesses.  Changes really started happening when I began to realize that my “issue” was bigger than the strength within me.  That’s when I purchased “Breaking Free” by Beth Moore and read this statement.  “A Christian is held captive by anything that hinders the abundant and effective Spirit-filled life God planned for her.”  Whoa.  Captive?  Me captive?  But I made the decision to start this…surely this is something I can handle!!  Eventually I came to the conclusion that a stronghold was holding me captive.  I was made vulnerable by some powerful lies from Satan, but eventually my sin became my idol.

I usually proudly proclaim that I now have victory in this area.  And I do, at least in regards to an eating disorder.  But I still have a heart disorder.  Too often I let comparison or a desire to look a certain way steal the victorious life given to me in Jesus Christ.

I titled this post “Perfect Timing” because God came through again this morning in a huge way.  My Tuesday night group is starting Beth Moore’s Daniel Bible Study.  I’m way behind in my homework because of my vacation last week.  But as I sat at my kitchen table taking furious notes, I knew that session #1 was exactly what God had intended for me to hear.

Point number 1: We also have an enemy who wants to return us to places God called us to leave.

Satan wants nothing more than to bring me back to the stronghold that calls my name!  It’s so easy to fall into old patterns of both thought and behavior.  He wants to see you and me playing with fire.  Friends – Jesus came to bring you eternal life, but He also came to bring us real and meaningful life on this earth!  When I fixate on the number on my scale and give it power over my emotions and life I am denying the abundant life Jesus has given.  Do you know what really stopped me from hurting my body?  I realized I was giving a victory to the enemy.  I can’t and won’t willingly betray my Savior.

Tomorrow we are going to talk about the weapons at our disposal in this war.  Because, yes, this is a war and the enemy is all about taking prisoners.

Jesus said, “I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is a transient, who can’t come and go at will. The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through. – John 8:34-36, The Message

I, for one, am ready to stop acting like a slave.

Following,
Ginger

Friday Finds

Fridays are going to take on a new feel! Welcome to Fabulous Friday Finds.  I’m going to use it as a platform to recommend all sorts of things: blogs, books, movies, music, events, what to get me for Christmas…  You get the idea.

I’ve received several messages this week requesting some suggestions for small group and personal reading.  I’m mildly obsessed with reading, so I am more than happy to oblige.  People are different.  (Shocking.)  We have varied tastes and we absorb material in completely unique ways.  That being said, these books made the list because they have spoken into my life at one time or another.  Some are topical, others are devotional.  Not all of these books would be great for every age group – so I’m also going to try and give a rough summary of the book and the target audience.  Here we go.

Relationships
Lady in Waiting by Jackie Kendall and Debby Jones (Good book for teen girls especially.)
Dateable: Are you? Are they? by Justin Lookadoo and Hayley DiMarco (I read this as a confused 20-something.)
The Art of Rejection by Hayley and Michael DiMarco (This tiny book was a huge help after a break up.)

Taking Risks, Living Adventurously, Embracing Life NOW
Chasing Daylight by Erwin McManus (Read this book on the plane to Arizona.  It gave me courage!)
In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson (This book was perfect for dreaming big.)
I Married Adventure by Luci Swindoll (I love this book AND the journal that goes with it.)
Revelations of a Single Woman by Connally Gilliam (Another great 20-somethings book)

Beliving Truth/Body Image
The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee (This is a great book for teens and college students.)
Me, Myself & Lies by Jennifer Rothschild (Although addressed to Moms, I went through this with a group of teens last year.  We giggled at some parts but it brought about great discussion.)
Breaking Free by Beth Moore (I have read the book and gone through the Bible Study 3 times.  This book was a catalyst for change in my life.)

Developing Relationship with God
The Organic God by Margaret Feinberg (ANY of Feinbergs books have a way of challenging me to view my pre-conceived ideas about God.)
The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning (Breathtaking and beautiful, this book is for the faint of heart.)
Dangerous Wonder by Michael Yaconelli (A reminder to live with childlike faith.)

Devotional
Praying in Color by Sybil MacBeath (This was the perfect answer for a girl [me] who couldn’t focus when she prayed.)
God Is No Fool by Lois A. Cheney (I fell in love with this poetry as a freshman in college.  My grandmother found it in my apartment last year and has since introduced it to her book club.)

As I considered the countless books on my shelf, these are the books I selected for a short list for one simple reason: I reference them on a monthly basis.  These contain the quotes I pull for messages, letters, and blog posts. These are the thoughts I reference when looking for and giving encouragement.  These are the books that have pushed me along in my own stumbling way.  This list will probably change in another two months.  I am currently being challenged humbled by Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges.  I’m fairly certain this will be a book I reread over and over again.

The important thing to remember is that these authors are human.  Their writings, the outpourings of the heart, are not infallible.  That’s why it is always important to be putting a healthy dose of God’s Truth in your diet. The Bible should still be your primary source for encouragement and guidance.  I don’t agree with everything in every book that is on the list but I connect with the hearts and imaginations of the authors.  I am looking forward to continuing new reading with the goal of recommending and reviewing books that can challenge and encourage both students and youth leaders alike.  If you’d like more information on any of the books listed feel free to comment or ask.

Last thing before I send you off to enjoy your glorious weekend: What books should I be reading?  What books did you find encouraging at different stages in your own personal growth?  What’s a book you read over and over and over?

Following,
Ginger