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.

crib

  • 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

Thursday Tips: Snap Out of It

thursday

We talked about worry yesterday, a topic I’ve touched on several times in the past years. So for today’s tip, I wanted to list some practical tools that I’ve picked up along the way to help combat worry.

Snap It.

This is not some form of weird penance. I take a rubber band and write a verse on it, usually Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Obviously you need a wide rubber band and some tiny handwriting. Stretch that sucker out and write the verse, or part of the verse. This allows me to meditate on the words, glance at the verse every time my eyes go to my watch, and occasionally pop myself with the band if I’m on a worry cycle headed to nowhere but anxiety. That little pop can sometimes pull me out and force me to acknowledge my anxieties rather than letting them take over my thoughts.

Face the alternative.

Take out your journal and open it to a new page. Write out Philippians 4:5-7. “Let your gentleness be evident to all, the Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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.”

Now translate this verse into your own version of worries. For example…

“Let your fear be evident to all for the Lord is distant.  Be anxious about everything, but in everything, by making lists and keeping yourself awake at night, with complaining, present your worries to yourself.  And the weight of the world and all the problems that could happen, and all the things that did happen, and everything that might happen, will keep your hearts and minds captives to worry.” (Ginger 4:5-7)

Refreshing way to live, isn’t it?  What would your verse say about the way you live your life? Is it plagued by worry, or have you come to the point where you realize your best chance is to give up and trust?

Read the book of Joshua.

Whenever I’m coming down with a case of mental “shaking knees” I spend some time reading about Israel’s worried leader. Over and over God tells Joshua to “BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS!”

After the death of Moses the servant of God, God spoke to Joshua, Moses’ assistant:

“In the same way I was with Moses, I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” (Joshua 1:1,5-9, MSG)

Fight like you mean it.

Resist the urge to simply flick your hand at worry like a gnat. If worries take more of your thought life than prayer or gratitude, take a firm stand and commit to working on this struggle. Take your thoughts captive, don’t let them run you around. Wake up each morning with a song of thanksgiving in your heart rather than worries on your lips. (Easier said than done, right?) Just like any discipline this will take practice. Don’t give up- it’s worth it.

Following,
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

Beat Up Playlist

Here’s what you will find if you break into my journal entry for this past Monday morning:

“The overwhelmed feeling is starting to creep in! Full weekends, garage sale, wedding activities, preparation for speaking engagements, preparation for travel, blog posts, volunteer opportunities, youth ministry, friendships, registry, baby stuff. My plate feels full. Lot’s of good things, but that voice in my head wants to tell me this is too much and I should quit while I’m ahead.”

I took a break from journaling and started reading… but that didn’t last long. Soon I was back to journaling.

“Lord – I find myself dwelling on the things I am anxious about. Teach me to have a joyful heart in all of this.”

Step #1 was to admit my anxiety and recognize it wasn’t a place to dwell. I was letting my self-talk run negative and the cycle wasn’t breaking simply by dwelling on it. But step #2 was also within my grasp. Here’s what I tried next.

I wrote ANXIOUS HEART in my journal. Below it I listed every little thing that could keep me up at night or keep me on edge. I wrote out everything the little voice inside of me continued to throw in my face. But then I made another list.

I wrote JOYFUL HEART on the opposite side of the page and made my list of thanks. There were twenty-five items before I even stopped to think what else I could add. Before I knew it, I felt my entire mood shifting, my body relaxing, and my outlook changing.

glass

Yesterday I quoted Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Here’s a refresher:

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you.”

Our thought-lives play such a huge role in our every day lives! No one else may ever know what runs through our minds each day, but we know… and it probably is less that kind and less than beneficial. In fact, I often beat myself up with my own words. And when I beat myself I end up feeling defeated and lonely. When I worry I feel out of control and frustrated.

“Worry is fixating on or meditating on what if rather than what is. Our English word worry comes from the Old English wyrgan and the Old High German wurgen. Both mean “to strangle.” When we worry, we choke out the life-giving truth that should be filling our thought closets.” – Jennifer Rothschild, “Me, Myself, & Lies”

The words we listen to become the soundtrack of our lives. I can play my beat up playlist if I want, or I can switch to meditating on giving thanks for God’s wonders and God’s Word.

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

If your thoughts today are less than pleasing, can I encourage you to hit the pause button? Play a different track. List your many blessings, call a friend, write a letter, get outside, open up the Word, and start meditating on the WHAT IS rather than the WHAT IF.

More tomorrow…

Following and learning,
Ginger

Thursday Tip: Bathroom Mirror

thursday tips

I don’t know if it’s true for you, but I feel like the reoccurring theme of my life is: “I am not in control.” This truth is most evident when I allow myself to verbalize doubts, fears, and worry. Anxiety creeps into the areas where I feel out of control.

This might look like:

-an unknown future
-unresolved conflict
-unmet expectations
-guilt and shame
-waiting for answers
-uncertain next steps

Need I go on?

Wouldn’t you know that this latest season of life (pregnancy) continues to show me just how much control I do not possess. Who would have thought? ;)

Prior to pregnancy I struggled through my fears of life-change. I’m selfish. I like freedom and I really like sleep. No one has to remind me the potential situations and challenges that are headed my way.

But once I discovered that I was pregnant I began to worry that it might not be true. I kept expecting a doctor to tell me that they had made a mistake. The waiting between appointments was agonizing. I’ve never felt so completely out of control.

Then I started wondering why I wasn’t feeling the baby when everyone said I would. On top of that, I wasn’t showing and growing the way my other friends were. My head seemed ready for me to believe that this was all a dream… that someone was going to say, “I’m sorry, but something has happened.”

And then we discovered that this little one is growing, a girl, and ready or not… coming in July.

I have not been in control for one tiny second in this process. It’s going to be like this always, isn’t it? This is yet another reminder that (thankfully) He is the one calling the shots.

So how do we relinquish control? How do we entrust to Him that which we hold dear?

I know that for me it starts with believing the truth about who has the control. As Emily P. Freeman says, “I first believe the truth is true, and then I wait to feel it.”

I’ve started memorizing Psalm 139. I’m not sure how long it will take, but I know that I need a steady diet of truth if I want to make it through the anxiety that pops into my mind at 4am when I’ve woken up for the 3rd time. (Awesome.) He has been in control from the very beginning, and He will continue to be in control through this little one’s entire life.

And so I will write it, memorize it, claim it, and recite it.

“I praise you because [she is] fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

If you need a starting place when it comes to memorizing, I’d love to share this tip that’s been helping me for over a decade. It’s cheap, simple, and guaranteed to hang in front of your face at least once a day. Check out the retro video tip.

Marker Memorization from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

Thanks for walking through the ups and downs and lefts and rights with me.

As always… learning and following,
Ginger

Friday Finds: RX for Worry

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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 4:6-7, NIV

OR

“Do not be calm about anything, but in everything by worrying and despairing, while complaining, keep your thoughts to yourself. And the anxiety of the world, which will seem so worthwhile at the time, will break down your heart and mind.” Worry 4:6-7

You choose.

The Edge of Trust

I doubt any of us wish that we could worry more often. I’m guessing none of us placed “Become captive to worry” on our list of resolutions for the year. Most of us know we should worry less, and if we want to be obedient to Jesus’ command, we should not worry… at all.

STATISTICS
Did you know that an average person’s worry is focused on:
40% of things that will never happen
30% of things in the past that can never be changed
12% about criticism from others
10% about health
8% about real problems that will be faced

I know what you’re thinking, because I thought the same thing when I saw the list. If that 8% is a valid worry about real problems that I will face, shouldn’t I at least get that, a measly 8% to stew and simmer keep me awake at night?

Here’s the big problem with any worry. Worry is a deeper issue than just how a situation makes me feel. Worry demonstrates a lack of trust. But what if I trust God in 92% of my life? What if it’s just that 8% that I hold onto?

That’s 8% of my life where I essentially proclaim: I don’t trust you, God.

Why do we worry? Because we want to be in control! How do we try and deal with worry? Some medicate it, ignore it, distract themselves with a bottle, or some try and just mentally control it. I’m the queen of that one.

FOR THE GOOD
God’s care in our lives should combat our worries. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

That’s a comforting thought: “God’s going to work things together for my good.” But then I think it’s only natural to let your mind wander to those situations that haven’t seemed (at least from our perspective) to bring forth any good at all. That’s where Romans 8:29 comes in.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

The very good for each of us is that we would be “conformed” or molded to be more like Jesus. I have to keep reminding myself that this is what I want. If only I could turn my worry into the kind of prayer that says, “I want to be more like your Son. Use whatever catalyst necessary to bring out more of Him in my life.”

HIS GOOD IS GOOD
His good is good.

When you are tempted to worry today, try reciting that to your heart. His good for me is so good.

Following and Learning,
Ginger

Keeping the Peace

I’ll be honest with you, friends. Yesterday I did not heed my own post, much less God’s Word. We talked about the command given in Matthew 6 by Jesus, the command that’s 100% for our benefit: “Do not worry.”

But lest you think I’ve somehow graduated from this area of struggle, let me share with you how my evening progressed.

LAST NIGHT
10:02 pm I hand my laptop to my husband and ask him to read through the post about worry. My husband and sister both have the esteemed (and non-paying) position of proofreaders for my posts. He finishes and gives me a correction or two and then we close up the laptop.

10:11pm I begin tearing up. I’m struggling again because of numbers on a scale, the amount of projects due at the same time (why is it always feast or famine?), and everything else I could choose to think about in that moment. My husband calmly asks me what’s wrong. I start to make my list when he gently reminds me, “Didn’t I just read a post written by someone about not worrying? None of these things are worth the worry about, right?” I’m nodding through my tears but I’m just so frustrated that I can’t pull it together and listen to the call of my Savior, “Do not worry.” 

10:20pm We pull out the book that we’ve been reading in preparation for our upcoming trip to Israel. “Going Places With God” by Wayne Stiles is a devotional book about the lands of the Bible. We take turns reading aloud, and last night just happened to be a night for me to read. As I read about the gardens, Eden and Gethsemane, I can’t help the tears that begin making their long trek down the side of my face. But I push through and eventually read… “Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed. Only the Lord knows the staggering potential inside each decision we make. Like Adam in Eden, we can compromise God’s Word in the here and now and live with overwhelming regret. Or, like Jesus in Gethsemane, we can take God at His Word…”

10:26pm I’m in tears again, but this time peace and hope have somehow started to force their way through my worries. As I close my eyes to fall asleep I hear God say, “Will you take me at my Word?”

TODAY
God is leading me into peace this morning by showing me His Word.

“Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing.” Romans 5:8, The Message

People with their minds set on you,
   you keep completely whole,
Steady on their feet,
   because they keep at it and don’t quit.
Depend on God and keep at it
   because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.” Isaiah 26:3, The Message

We need to keep our minds in the right place, taking Him at His Word if we want to move from WANTING peace to EXPERIENCING peace. I have so much to learn.

Seeking peace,
Ginger

Peace beats Worry.

Rock beats scissors.

Scissors beats paper.

Paper somehow beats rock.

Peace beats worry.

I come from a long line of worriers.  I believe the predisposed gene for it increases through the generations.  My mom actually has two times the normal dose within her. (WINK.)  The pinnacle of worry occured the year that I graduated from college.  I was moving out for good, my sister was moving into her first house at college, and my brother – the baby, had just gotten his drivers license.  We didn’t even really need to worry for ourselves – she worried enough for the rest of us.

WORRIES

That being said, I’m fairly confident that I received the dominant trait for worrying.  I “plan” ahead simply to mask my worrying.  I worried that I would never meet “the one.” I worry about making friends, I worry about keeping our fig tree alive, my weight, my business, our future… I could go on and on, but it’s probably better if I don’t.

Sometimes I try to mask my worry by praying. My long-winded prayers are often brought before the Father  just in time for me to let go… once the event is over.

“Thank you God that somehow this happened and you pulled me through. I’m sorry I was freaked out the whole time. I probably should have asked for help at some point. Thank you for seeing me through… again.”

CLIMBING

Picture this:  I decide to climb a mountain, we’ll say Pike’s Peak.  I have a heavy bag of equipment that I will need for camping later that evening, but not during my hike.  I’m slowly heading up the mountain when someone in a jeep pulls up and offers to drive my pack up a good portion of the mountain so that it will be there when I need it.  But I refuse… perhaps I might need the tent on the way up!

I know it’s not the best analogy, but you get my drift, right? It’s ridiculous to think that I wouldn’t hand off the heavy stuff when someone asks to help and yet that’s the way I so often come before the Lord.  Matthew 6 is very clear about what we are to do with our burdens:  DO NOT WORRY.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”  Matthew 6:25

This isn’t a suggestion.  Jesus doesn’t merely say “I would suggest you don’t worry.”  This is a command.  A COMMAND – just like those 10 we know so well.  So why do we take this one so lightly?

Satan will try anything to distract us from the peace God wants to give!  Don’t let him win with worry.  Give it up – Jesus knew what he was talking about!

PRAYER > WORRY

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Philippians 4:6-7, The Message

Peace wins over worry when we learn to pray. My mom teaches me this by example on a daily basis. Although she airs her worries, I also know that she takes them daily to the throne of grace and asks God to give her peace. She reminds me to pray about everything, to pray specifically, and to pray with thanksgiving!

Let the peace of God move in your heart this week! Turn your fears into prayers and those prayers will turn to peace!

Listening and 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