My Journey Along the Narrow Way

Posts tagged ‘anxiety’

The Oak Tree…

treeWe have a huge, very old oak tree in our front yard. In fact, that tree was one of the reasons we bought our house. I don’t think I would want to live here without it. One thing I have noticed is how solid that tree is. When we first moved in, even before our furniture had been delivered, Hurricane Opal came through Montgomery. I remember watching that old tree all night long just hoping that it wouldn’t come crashing into our (new to us) house. Everything else around us swaying and moved, including the branches of our tree, but the trunk of that tree never moved at all. A few years later, while digging across the yard to plant some bushes, I found out why that tree didn’t move. There were roots the size of my legs deep across the yard front that tree. You see, the deep, strong roots of the tree held it tight and fast when all around it the storms were raging. Just recently a huge limb fell off that tree onto our roof and it got me to thinking about storms in my life and what exactly keeps me rooted.

Several times in the Bible it mentions that when we are rooted in Christ we are just like our big, solid oak tree.

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. Col. 2:6-7

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD
And whose trust is the LORD.
“For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8

When I read these verses I realize that I, too, can be as firm and steady as that oak tree. But only if I root myself in something strong and permanent in my life. If I only rely on my own strength or the strength of those around me I will surely be uprooted when the storms of life rage. Only in being rooted in something solid and unchanging can I weather the storms.

And boy are there storms in life. Sometimes they are little squalls that come and go quickly like someone hurting my feelings or the car running hot. Other times they are thunderstorms like an argument with someone I care about or having to buy a new refrigerator when we hadn’t planned to. And still other times they seem to be full blown hurricanes like the sickness or death or someone I love or marriage problems. And during those storms I may even feel like I’m falling apart (kind of like a limb falling off the tree), but in reality I’m not because I’m firmly rooted in the love and grace of Christ who will never leave or forsake me.

But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.
I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it,
And I will wait on Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones.
Psalm 52:8-9

Right Where I Am…

Lately I have been thinking about life and just how hard it seems most of the time.  It seems the longer I go along, the harder things become.  Now I finally understand why people long for the “good old days” because looking back it certainly seems like everything was much easier when I was younger.

But maybe it really wasn’t easy.  I don’t think it seemed easy at the time.  I think I just tend to forget the problems, frustrations, and day-to-day grind that was as much of the past as it is today.   If I really think hard I can remember my car not working, not having enough money to pay the bills, the baby crying all night and still having to get up and go to work in the morning.  I remember some days crying on the way to work because I didn’t want to drop off my baby at the sitter and then also remember almost feeling a giddy sense of freedom some mornings after dropping the same baby off.  I remember thinking that “someday” life would get easier.

I think this is a problem that a lot of us struggle with.  Not being really content where we are but always thinking if I was…richer, skinnier, stayed at home, more educated, better dressed…you name it…I would be happier and things would be easier.  But guess what?  Thinking like that we are never content.

I look back and realize I have wasted so much time not just living, being content, and enjoying this moment.  And there really are so much in this moment to enjoy.

Both my adult children live at home right now.  While this can certainly be a source of stress sometimes, this is also a blessing.  There will be a time…not too far in the future… where they will no longer live in our home.  That era of our life will be over forever.  I will miss them being here.  I need to enjoy the little moments while they are here.

My furniture has dog hair on it.  While this also can be a source of stress to me, I need to realize that my furniture has hair on it because I have three wonderful, loving, funny basset hounds that I love dearly.  There will come a time when each of them will leave us.  I will miss them terribly.  So what if there is shedded hair on the furniture.

I think that instead of looking back to what is gone (my babies are all grown up)…or looking forward to something new (grandbabies!)…I need to enjoy right where God has placed me at this moment in my life.  Is where I am really just happenstance or an accident?  No…it’s where I am meant to be right now for whatever purpose and plan God has for me.  And He would like for me to enjoy this time and experience for what it is, not what it could be, or what is missing.

I saw a sign that said, “Enjoy the little things because one day you will wake and realize those were the big things.”  I resolve to enjoy the little things and learn to be content right where I am.

 

Sin and Security…

I am going to be really transparent in this post. If you don’t like transparency, or emotional outbursts, this is probably not the post for you.

I have been taking a class at church going through a book called, “The Peace Maker” by Ken Sande. I have to confess that at first I was drawn to this class because at times my marriage has needed some peacemaking. But when two sinners get married, what do you expect?

The first few chapters were good, but then I hit Chapter 5 – Conflict Starts in the Heart. Wow…I will have to say that is when God really opened my eyes. I started reading this chapter and all of a sudden everything was applying to me…not to my husband. And let me tell you something, it was heartbreaking.

God has really used this book, and another study I am doing in my quiet time about Prayer, to break me. He has shown me that I have made an idol out of the need for security. I have seen clearly for the first time how I will do anything, including putting a huge burden on my husband, to get the security I crave and think that I deserve.

Let me back up a bit. Most of you know that I was adopted as a baby. I had fantastic, wonderful parents who always told me how much I was loved and wanted, but there was always this deep seated insecurity inside of me. I always felt like I was different and somehow not good enough because my birth mother obviously did not want me and just gave me up. Of course, as I got older and (a little) wiser, I realized that this was not true at all. She did love me, enough to give me up to someone who could better care for me. But knowing that intellectually and living it emotionally are always two very different things.

So, little by little, I placed a huge burden on my husband of making me feel secure. And when he failed, and he did, because he is a human sinner, as am I, I blamed him for my insecurity. This caused me to build a wall in my heart to avoid the pain. Sin, sin, sin…

I have never seen this so clearly as I did today. Let me share a little of what I journalled for my homework in class:

What do I seek and desire? Love of my spouse and security in our relationship. This is my idol. When I do not feel the security I desire in our relationship, I punish him by becoming distant (justification = protect myself) or angry (threaten or blame shift), instead of finding the security I crave from the one True God.

Another entry says:
As you look back on how you have handled this conflict do you see a need to repent and for confession? Yes! I was placing my needs and expectations on Bud. I believe that most of this (a recent argument) stems back to placing my desire for security on his shoulders as a burden that he can not possibly fulfill or carry. Again, repentance is necessary on my part as I have placed this on him rather than on God who is the only one who can and will give me the security and love I desire. I have continually taken the desire for love of God He has placed in me and put it as a burden on my husband. This has brought about a lot of conflict in our marriage which I have then blamed on him. I now realize there is no way my husband could ever meet these needs because he was never meant to…only God was.

As you can see, this has been rather eye-opening for me. And wildly freeing to my heart.

I can see God’s goodness and mercy so clearly and how I was the one backing away not God.

Why am I sharing this in a public forum such as my blog? I think transparency is a good thing. I think it is a public confession. I also think when God shows you something this good and freeing, you need to share it so others can learn from it as well. But most of all, I wanted to share how GREAT our God is! How loving and merciful and tender. I want to praise Him for being so longsuffering with me when I do not deserve it, worm that I am.

Thank you for letting me be transparent and free with you, as well.

Waiting…

The older I get, the more I realize that I am not good at waiting. In fact, I’m really bad at waiting. Even when I have something not so pleasant coming along, I would rather get it over with then anticipate it. I figure, the faster I start with it, the faster I’ll be done with it.

It seems to me that 2011 is going to be the year of waiting. I guess God is determined to finally teach me some patience.

A few things I am waiting for right now…

~ The end of my old job and the beginning of my new job – as I made the decision to leave my job at Wells Distribution, I decided to give a one month notice. That way Wells would have time to find someone to replace me and I would have time to train them.

It really was a great idea but the wait has been hard. I am a “make a decision and then get on with it” type of person. So I have had to do a lot of praying to God for help in the waiting.

~ My father-in-law’s cancer – as anyone who has helped a loved one through a major illness, it usually is a “hurry up and wait” process. My father-in-law has finished with his radiation and chemotherapy for the time being, but we are waiting to see if the tumor has shrunk enough for surgery. Right now it looks good, but the treatments work for several weeks after they are done, so again with the waiting.

~ Bud coming home – this is actually been the hardest for me of all. It seems like Bud has been gone for so long already but in reality, it has only been a little over 2 months. That means I still have 5 more months before he comes for his one-week visit, and 7 months before he is home. The hardest part about this waiting situation is missing the day-to-day time together. We talk on the phone every day and we video Skype as much as we can, but it’s the little things I miss. I can’t just text Bud something when it happens. I can’t go up and hug him. I can’t get tickled about something we see and burst into laughter. Those things are the things I miss the most.

There are many stories in the Bible where God’s people had to wait. Abraham and Sarah had to wait until their old ages for their longed-for child (Genesis 18:10), Moses and the Israelites waited to enter the promised land (see Exodus), Noah waited for the waters to recede (Genesis 8:10), Simeon waited to see the Redeemer (Luke 2:27-32), as did Anna (Luke 2:36-39), We await the return of our Christ Jesus in all His glory (Revelation 19:11-16).

So, I wait. And I take hope in knowing that God is faithful to those who have faith and wait.

Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!
– Psalm 27:14

Praise You in the Storm…

Once, when I was around 11 or 12 years old, my mother was going to the grocery store.  I really, really didn’t want to go so I begged my mom to let me stay at home alone.  Now this wasn’t something that they allowed often, but my parents were just starting to let me stay alone from time to time.  Because it was only going to be for around an hour, my mother decided to let me do it.

My mom had been gone around 20 minutes when a really big, nasty freak storm hit our area.  I grew up in Redlands, California, and anyone from there could tell you that rain is a pretty rare event.  It is on the edge of the desert so we wouldn’t get rain for months on end.  However, sometimes when it decided to rain, it would do so with a vengeance.

This was one of the times.  Within a few minutes the winds started blowing, then howling.  There was lightening and thunder booming.  Then there was massive rain.  Then the hail came.

Our dog, Kasey, was terrified of storms.  Probably because there had only ever been a few in his whole life.

Kasey immediately started panicking, which threw me into a full-fledged panic as well.  We both decided that under the table would be a real good place to hang out.  I don’t think I’ve been more scared than that but a few times in my life.

I remember running to my mother and pretty much throwing myself at her when she got home.  She, of course, was very upset that I was so scared and upset.  I was just glad to have my mother there to comfort me and make it all better with some of her homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Today it is storming like crazy here in Alabama.  It reminded me of that day and others in my life when there have been storms, tornadoes, earthquakes, and such.  Growing up in California I have seen my share of earthquakes, and living my adult life in Alabama, there have been many times tornadoes have gone through the area.

Nahum 1:3 says, “…The LORD has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.”

If we are fearful of the weather, doesn’t it make more sense to be even more fearful of the Maker of the weather?

It is God who causes the weather.  He determines where it will rain and where it won’t rain.  He created the weather and He controls the weather.  In Amos 4:7 God tells us, “ I also withheld rain from you, when there were still three months to the harvest. I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city. One part was rained upon, and where it did not rain the part withered.“

There are many other examples of God sending or withholding weather for various reasons:

Jonah 1:4 – But the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.

Job 37:13 – He causes it to come, Whether for correction,  Or for His land, Or for mercy.

Exodus 9:23-29 – And Moses stretched out his rod toward heaven; and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire darted to the ground. And the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt.  So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, so very heavy that there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. And the hail struck throughout the whole land of Egypt, all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail struck every herb of the field and broke every tree of the field. Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, there was no hail.

Deuteronomy 28:24 – The LORD will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.

1 Samuel 12:18 – So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.

And that is just what I found in a five-minute search.

Clearly, God is in control of the weather.  He creates the storms and then He sends the wind that blows them away.

So what do we do with this?  We praise God for the weather!  We marvel in the beautiful snowflakes (that He so rarely sends to Alabama!).  We are thankful for the wonderful rain that waters the trees and plants and flowers (all also His handiwork) so they will bloom.  We trust in Him during the drought, knowing that His will is being carried out.  We are amazed with the long, vivid streaks of lightening that pierce the sky.  And we sing to our Great God!

From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation’s revealing Your majesty
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings
All exclaiming

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow
Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light
Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night
None can fathom

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

The Things of This World…

I know we are called to live in the world but not be of the world. And I really try to keep my mind on spiritual things rather than temporal things. But, due to the recent downturn in the economy, that seems to be getting harder and harder.DreamOfVanillaSky1024

I know it shouldn’t be, especially at this time. I need to be clinging to Christ closer then ever. But oh how my flesh struggles. I think about things such as paychecks, groceries, and house payments rather than prayer, grace, and mercy.

Do others struggle this way? It seems like we all put on the happy face and act like everything is alright when we in reality we are all facing the same fears and struggles inside. Why don’t we lean on one another, share our fears and doubts, and strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ?

I’ve decided to be the first to say it: we are struggling. Money is tight and things are tough right now. I’m sure our family is not alone in this.

I’m clinging to the fact that when we are struggling and facing trials, God is close to us. He is watching us and guiding us every step of the way. In Job 12:15, Job declares, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” I am declaring the same thing: Though He [insert current problem], yet will I trust Him. An example: Though He lets us struggle financially, yet will I trust Him. And honestly, I do feel better once I declare this.

I think the struggle between flesh and spirit we face is summed up well in the following excerpt that I read in Pilgrim’s Progress recently: “Yet present things are so close to our fleshly appetites, and eternal things so far from our souls; we are apt to yield to our carnal desires rather than wait for the satisfaction of the eternal.”

I don’t know about you, but this puts it in perspective for me. And I’m going to remember this, cling to Christ, and “wait for the satisfaction of the eternal.”

Summer, Here I Come!

Since it’s almost officially summer, I was thinking I would kick it off by writing about an incident that happened last summer at the lake.

My friend Cindy and I had decided to spend a girl’s weekend at the lake at Cindy’s lake house. Since her husband, Avery, was working, we took Cindy’s three dogs with us. One of the dogs, Mabel, was under a year old at the time. She is a boxer so she is really stubborn and hard-headed.

Mabel

Mabel

Just to tell you how hard-headed this dog is I need to tell you what happened that morning. Cindy and I were piddling around outside and we brought the dogs, including Mabel, out to run around and swim in the little inlet they have on the property. Usually if all three dogs are swimming in that area they will stay right there.

Well we turned our heads for just a moment and when we looked back Mabel was gone. Of course we were in full “freak-out” mode because Mabel is actually Avery’s dog and now we had gone and lost her! So we ran all around looking for Mabel. We were really concerned because Mabel has this bad habit of swimming out into the lake way too far. I finally decided to get in the truck and ride down the road a ways seeing if I could spot her. I got to the end of the road where there is a boat-storage place or something of that nature and low and behold there was Mabel – swimming in the middle of the lake following a flock of ducks. Of course I yelled at Mabel and I swear she just glanced my way quickly and then turned her head away from me and started swimming even harder. I about yelled myself hoarse before I finally got her back on shore.

When I brought her back to the house, Cindy proceeded to beat her butt and then attached her to the chain secured to the house so she couldn’t go anywhere. Mabel was so mad at Cindy…she wouldn’t even look at her and completely ignored her the rest of the day

A few hours later, Cindy and I decided to get in the lake and just float around on floats. Cindy had her other two dogs, Molly and Watson (who are both Jack Russells) on a float with her. I was floating on a noodle and decided to get Mabel and let her swim too. It was really funny because she would only come to me and was still ignoring Cindy.

So I got Mabel and put her on the noodle too. Mabel has these ridiculously long arms so she knows how to sling them over the noodle and hold herself up and float. She was facing me and we were just chilling there floating. Every now and then she would put one arm around my shoulder and just shoot Cindy these ugly glances.

As we were floating along, I felt something graze the back of my thigh. I was trying to figure out how Mabel’s tail had gotten around my leg when it happened again. This time, however, it didn’t just graze my leg; it bumped into it and then rubbed my leg as it swam by. From the amount of time it took to go by, I realized this thing had to be around 1 ½ to 2 feet long! Well of course I went into pure panic mode and let out a scream….which was a BIG mistake. As soon as I screamed Mabel began to climb up my body. She was now in full panic mode as well!

So there I was, trying to swim as fast as I could to the dock and Mabel was steadily trying to climb up my body and sit on my head! I was freaking out and she’s freaking out and what was Cindy doing? Laughing so hard she was crying. I finally make it to the dock, which was in reality only about 5 feet away but it seemed to be about 5 miles. We got up on the dock and Mabel runs one way and I go the other. My upper body was now covered in scratches and gouges where Mabel has gotten me with her toenails. And Cindy? She was still floating there laughing so hard she can barely talk. Finally, she can get some words out and what does she say? “I’m so glad I was in the lake because if I was on the dock I would have wet my pants laughing so hard!”

Wow…what a friend. And good to have for help in a crisis….NOT!

As I am writing this, we are getting ready to go to the lake for the day with Cindy and Avery. And, I know two things: I am probably going to get the willies when I get in the lake and swim AND Mabel is NOT floating with me again! Other than that: Summer – Here I Come!