When the World Went Silent

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When the world went silent we truly began to see.
We learned to enjoy what we have and how to just be.

When the world went silent we began to care.
We work together and some of us learned how to share.

When the world went silent our hearts began to cry.
Together we were moved to mourn the loss of many lives.

When the world went silent we fell to our knees.
We cried out for freedom and hearts to be filled with peace.

When the world went silent we saw what held our hearts captive.
We learned how to look to others with renewed compassion.

When the world went silent we began to live anew.
We began to long for our community and love grew.

When the world went silent it was then that our ears were able to hear.
We began to open our souls and walk in a knowing greater than fear.

When the world went silent we saw how strong we could really be.
We opened our hearts and with God, who goes before us, we were set free.

 

Shaey Anthony (Writing4Joy) March 2020

Help

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Help. Why has this word been so tainted? Why does the word “help” represent weakness to many instead of strength?

When you have exhausted all your own efforts and still banging your head against the wall, asking for help can move you into the greater faster. With help, there comes the opportunity for support and can often bring better results.

I have a vision of a giant city bridge. It is beautiful in structure. But without the support underneath that bridge, it will not stand and extend to fill the gap and do all that it was created for.

There are times I have been frustrated that help has not come. I have been the hamster on the wheel getting nowhere with all my efforts. I wonder, “why am I in this alone?” The answer is simple. I was in it all alone, because I didn’t bother to ask for help. I kept plugging along trying to figure it all out when some of the answers were not attainable to me.

It is wise to reach out for strong counsel when you need help. It is comforting and encouraging to reach out the God that created you to rest in the Lord’s promise that He comes to help in your time of need.
You can rise with confidence that you are not in this process alone. Help has arrived. Asking for help allows a deeper connection. It reveals our humanness. It leaves you with room to focus on the solution rather than the struggle.

I encourage you my friend, don’t walk in your struggles alone. When you have done all that you can do, ask for help to see you onto your best self. Ask the Lord to comfort you, encourage you, give you wisdom and open the doors to propel you on.

Think of the bridge again. This time we are thinking of a draw bridge that is open. You can make it part of the way, but you can not cross to the other side until the bridge is lowered and connected. You are on one side, standing it alone. Your hopes, dreams, and goals are waiting on the other side. Ask for help to connect your bridge.  Use the effort you have put in, and the effort, wisdom or support of another to fully arrive.

Along with resting in the Lord and His promise of help, sometimes He will use others.
Ask those around you for help. Look to a professional for help. But please stop trying to do it all on your own. Depression, isolation, and defeat is not a sign of strength, rather, it will take you longer to arrive (if you even do). And you may just have been striving for so long and hard that you show up too exhausted to enjoy the fruit of arrival.

Asking for help is not a weakness, in fact, it just may be the strongest thing you ever did in your life. I will start my mornings asking God to help me when morning dawns and I will not be moved in my strength!

A Time to Bloom

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Luke 12:27 
“Consider how the wildflowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all of his splendor was dressed like one of these.” 
 

As spring is approaching, I can not get the word “bloom” out of my mind.
I feel a tugging in my spirit that the long-awaited time will one day be over and the beauty of what God has planted within me will come into fruition.
I do not know what that will look like. But I am reminded that it will be in HIS season. Just as each flower has the perfect time to display her glory, so will I have a perfect time to share what is unique only to me. It will be my time to bloom as assuredly as the sun will rise.

Bloom: 1. a flower, especially one cultivated for its beauty.

A flower can be wild and free. But still needs to be planted on the right soil to flourish. She will still need to take root. She will need to be nourished. She will be cultivated (refined) in her process.

I find that I have had many seasons in my life, where my blooming process has seemed to be delayed. Sometimes this is the hand of the Lord, refining me, cultivating me and preparing me. Sometimes it has been a harder year and I am reminded of a late frost delaying spring, as life circumstances swirl around me.
Lastly, there is also the factor of the soil I have been planted on. In order to bloom, we need proper nourishment. If I am not growing in the areas the Lord needs for me to grow in, I will not find my time to bloom.

I am one that will need a bit of coaxing to step into the unknown and unfamiliar. I do not like change, or trying things that I feel less than qualified for, and honestly, I feel less than qualified in every area.
I have dealt with the lies of the enemy that nobody wants what I have to offer. I have viewed myself as the weed instead of the bloom to be.
I have sulked and hidden away when I am called to weather the nitty-gritty and to grow a nice strong stem. For without that strong stem, it is impossible to hold the bloom up high.

There have been times I am called to step out and ‘transplant’ to the proper ground for the cultivation needed to bloom at the ideal moment.
I am so thankful for the seasons, for the gardener that knows what I need, even before I do.
The Lord is the master gardener. In His care, I do not have to toil and spin.  He cultivates and uses the tools to give me the strength to become what He is calling me to.
He brings those beside me, that helps nourish the soil that builds strong roots.
It is true that in the process of growing there were times I wasn’t sure what I needed.
But the gardener was.  He will bring along all the right influences, encouragements and opportunity to bloom when it is my time.

The very meaning of bloom is to peak at an ideal moment.

I won’t rush. I will wait for the gardener. I will not labor and spin. I will rest in the knowledge that He already sees the day of fruition.
Just as it is supposed to, a time to bloom will arrive.

Dear Daughter-in-law

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Dear Daughter-in-law,

My sons are one of my deepest loves. I will fight for and support them until the day I die.  There is a lie out there that mother-in-law has to be the enemy. I am so thankful that this is not the case but there is more on my heart for you to know.
One of the best ways that I can love my adult son is to be your champion.

Champion: To fight for, defend, or support.

Daughter-in-law, you are a fellow woman but more than that you are now my family. I will shout for joy with your accomplishments, I will walk with you through the trials and be a source of hope when you are feeling less than.

Daughter-in-law, your concerns are my concerns. I will not side with my son just because he is my son when you come to me for counsel. I am your champion as well as his. You can confidently know that I will not run to him every time you may come to me with something on your heart. You can know I don’t ever expect you to come but I am always here when you need to.

I champion your success. I champion for you to be joyful, confident and fulfilled not only in your marriage but in your place of this family.
You are to always come first in his life. You are to be his focus and your happiness is his greatest concern.

Daughter-in-law, you are a treasure to never be overlooked as life gets crazy or the comfortable sets in, I will remind him to date you and pursue you forever. To listen to your heart. To be your helper and leader. To put your needs above his own and to love you first.
His greatest duty is to you, his wife and partner. I will forever be your champion because not only are you his, you are now mine.

 

Sorry… Not Sorry

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An open letter of apology, for those who were before and those yet to come.

Authentic: not false or copied; genuine; real: representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified: reliable; trustworthy:

I am sorry I had spoken too quickly, I will now be more aware. I am sorry that I thought our relationship was at a level that we could speak openly into each other’s lives, the good the bad and the real. I am sorry that you were hurt. I am sorry that you feel that I was not the kind of person you wanted to be around because in your words; “we are too different”. I am sorry you didn’t feel bold enough to tell me I crossed the line or anything was wrong. I am sorry that I thought you understood my physical limits, sometimes my smile hides the reality.

I am not sorry that I am authentic, it is who I am. I am not sorry that I seek a community that is bold and truthful with one another, I am not one for a smile and the fake.
I am not sorry that I can’t measure up to your expectations, especially if I don’t know what they are.   I am not sorry that I am human, flaws and all. I am not sorry that I want to know all of you; the good the bad and the real. I am not sorry that when I see one hurting and pouring out their heart to me, I have wanted to share that I too have been there and where my truths and personal victories came from. I am not sorry that when I share all of me, my hope is that you will share all of you. I am not sorry that I am open to the fullest connection. I am not sorry that I told the blunt truth even if it hurt, because others have done so for me and it was my defining moments of clarity. I am not sorry that I must grow and learn from this and now know that not everyone wants the same kind of relationship.

Yes, we are called to encourage, lift up, edify and bring joy.  However, if I saw you walking straight into oncoming traffic, I would grab you and pull you out of the danger zone. I would not smile and wave you on.

Let me say to the ones that are absolutely completely my polar opposites, that love me just as I am, to those that can discuss everything under the sun, even if we don’t agree and still smile across the table without being offended, that will tell me when I am too much, or that they flat out believe I am insane because I believe in a God that speaks to me and they don’t believe in one at all, thank you. Thank you for loving me, and making the effort to be true with me. Thank you for not discarding me like so many have. Thank you for the lesson that just because you want someone to love you, it doesn’t mean they will, but others are waiting. I am sorry for the disconnect, but I am not sorry for being me.

Lord help me walk in this truth. Reveal where I lack and give me the wisdom needed to know who is my community. 

Ephesians 4:20-32 English Standard Version (ESV)

20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,[a] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

10 Ways to Bless away the Stress

I mentioned in a previous post that by being a blessing and serving others, the focus was off of me and my ‘issues’ that were leading to anxiety. I literally was able to bless away the stress. To be quite honest though, that was not my intent, but it was the fruit of it all.
Now mind you, the motive is key.  If you bless others hoping to get something from them in return, you can be very disappointed and if you are not careful it can sow seeds of resentment.

10 ways to Bless away the Stress

1. Get involved in a local fundraiser in your community.
If you are not able to give financially, you can see if there is an area that needs your involvement through volunteering.
My favorite events from the past have been fundraisers for child abuse prevention, cancer research, rare disease awareness, newborn advance screening efforts,  youth groups, pregnancy counseling, school supply drives, and holiday gift baskets.

2. Send texts, cards, or letters of encouragement.  One of my hardest seasons left me very lonely, so I wrote letters to strangers. I encouraged them and shared what was on my heart. I had a PO BOX set up specifically. Remember the key is to encourage and edify, building someone up.
I had many replies back and corresponded for some time. I even obtained a very close friend as an added joy.
If strangers are not your thing, perhaps a pen pal to soldiers, prisoners or the many efforts asking for cards to those that are ill.

3. Leave flowers or your favorite craft on a doorstep to surprise someone. You may want to leave them for a friend, neighbor, or even local business that you frequent.

4. Serve someone that is ill or has a recent loss in the family. Meals, babysitting, dog walking, and house cleaning are all ways that you could bless someone with this need.

5. Give health packs to the homeless. I have handed out packs with water, wipes, soft granola bars, feminine products, socks, hand warmers, etc.

6. Visit the elderly. You could ask the staff at your local elder care facility if there is anyone that has a need for visitors. Or you can offer to set up activities in the common area. We have held Christmas Caroling in the lobby.

7. Far and away. It can be life-changing for you and a blessing to those you serve, to go on a mission trip. There are many options out there to serve all interests. If you are not one that feels comfortable or able to travel, consider supporting someone else’s trip financially.

8. Purchase gift cards and give as the needs arise. Often if families are out of work or have loved ones in the hospital, receiving gift cards can ease the burden.  Grocery stores, Gas stations, and restaurants are some of my favorites. If you know someone that has been under the weather, gift cards for self-care are great too!

9. Engage in conversation. Some of my most blessed moments are conversations in the grocery store with the clerk or encouraging my waitress in some small way. You don’t have to talk for hours. Just a kind word and a thank you can go a long way.

10. Host a community event giving others the chance for connection: Christmas caroling followed by hot chocolate,  lead a bible study or book group at a coffee shop, organize a block party for your neighborhood, or host a game night at a local meeting place are some examples.

I would love to hear more creative ideas, so please share!

Just Get Over It

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The darkness is overwhelming and their head is spinning and I have heard others that have never dealt with depression or anxiety, look at them and use the words, “Just get over it.” And I  see the faces of the ones in the struggle, hearing these words while the shoulders tighten and their head sags in defeat. My own thoughts start to swirl, and I think to myself if they were able to just get over it, don’t you think they would? Who wants to live this way?

There is an ever-revolving cycle when dealing with depression and anxiety that often leads to someone overwhelmed and in a place of isolation. The motivation and even energy to just get over it are lacking, as they might even see what they ought to do but just can’t bring themselves to make the changes that will bring them out.

There are some things that helped me in my own process of victory.
Yes, I may still get smacked in the face with anxiety or depression, but with these tools, I am not overtaken by them anymore.

While people may mean well when they say “Just get over it” and offer no solution on how to do so, I have listed some tools that helped me to actually climb above the mountain and see the joy on the other side. You see, you can’t get over something, without the climb.

10 Steps I use to get over it

  1. Talk with a professional:
    First and so important, when facing clinical depression and anxiety is to talk with a professional. I can’t emphasize enough, how encouraging it was to have the support of my doctor. We discussed medications and my reasoning for no longer wanting to be on them. She gave me solid advice on natural ways to combat anxiety and depression. Most importantly she reminded me that I was not alone.
  2.  Deep slow breaths when the thoughts come: 
    The anxiety may rise up, but does not need to become a stronghold. I can take deep slow breaths and release the concern. This is also where I meditate on the word the Lord has given me or spend time in thoughts of His goodness.
  3. Get to the root:
    Recognize where you may be feeding the anxiety and depression. I find it so interesting that even in the word, it says anxiety leads to depression! And over and over it is written to not worry, not be afraid, not to be anxious. But when you are in the ‘feeling’ of it all, how do you not walk in it?
    I was feeding my anxiety by obsessing on things I could do nothing about. I even recently had full-on attacks because so much came at me at once in the last months.
    This was a root, so I had to be aware of how I was opening the doors and being mindful to close them.
  4.  Journal:
    I get all my thoughts down concerning the situation. Then leave it there.
    There is no health in replaying the hard stuff over and over in my mind. Also often when I journal, I see the picture more clearly of where the root is taking ground, than if I try to figure it out on my own.
  5. Remember your victories:
    This has helped me so much! Recognizing joys rather than all the junk.  There is a plan for good things for your life. It may take some very hard searching for a victory but there absolutely is one there. Start with the simple truths if you must, and grow from there.
    Even though this moment is awful,  it is a moment. I know you have had some good ones as well!
    It may take longer than we would like, but the season will change. Remembering the past victories helps us in the waiting.
    This goes in line with focus. Our health is tied so much to what our thought life is. Find more on my thoughts to a victory mindset here: Victory
  6. Change the environment:
    Sometimes when the anxiety comes, just removing myself from where I am at helps. It may not always be possible, like if you are in the middle of a work shift, but when you have the ability to walk away and regroup, do so. When you leave the stressful environment, work hard at not living there in your mind when you are away.
    As crazy as it sounds, sometimes bedtime can be the most anxiety-filled moment of my day. I finally stopped doing and slowed down and my brain tries to roadrunner all over my peace. Honestly, sometimes I will have to remove myself from trying to sleep until I walk through the steps of getting over it.
  7. Diet/ Exercise:
     I am not going to get over anxiety and depression with a body in stress mode for lack of care.
    I know for a fact that gluten along with a myriad of symptoms, amps my anxiety through the roof. I do not have a marked allergy, it is just something that happens. Is there something in your diet that is triggering your anxiety? It may be time to start an elimination process to figure out what it is.
    My friend can’t drink coffee, another has issues with tomatoes, sugar, dairy, and the list goes on. I have touched on this topic on my post: Don’t eat the doughnut.

    Concerning exercise, I have health issues that make it difficult for me without feeling sick. Even walking makes me nauseated (unless I walk with my eyes closed). BUT exercise releases feel-good chemicals that relieve stress! Not to mention your stamina increases and your overall health improves.
    I was down a few days ill, and then my pup had surgery and just a few days without our walk, I felt the difference in my calm meter.

  8. Do for others:
    Community is so important. Isolation leads to depression. When we are serving and doing for others, the focus is off of all of our worries, our own mess and we reap what we are sowing into others.  Keep your eyes open to where there is a need near you. Also, important to remember in regards to this, don’t have expectations from those that you do for, just do for the joy of doing. Otherwise….more anxiety may follow as it may lead to resentment.
  9.  Don’t delay:
    It takes work to overcome anxiety and depression. The longer I walked in it, the harder it was to climb out. I would sink into my isolation and tell myself that I would do better tomorrow, then the next day would come and I would be in the same mess. It is hard to rise up,  but if you wait it becomes even harder. Nobody can do it for us. We must take action ourselves. We can make every excuse to not do, but we will not have victory if we stay still.
  10. Word, Prayer, and Praise and Worship:
    This is my MUST and listed last not because it is the lowest on my list but the one I want to remain on the mind.
    The presence of God is tangible and available. I have complete peace in those moments I am with him. The Lord is my refuge and hiding place.
    (Psalm 91)
    No matter all the steps I do, I personally did not obtain victory until I put this first in my life.
    People will let you down if you run to them for your refuge. They have their own flaws, their own ‘stuff’ and they can’t meet your every need. They make mistakes and they may be your very source of frustration.
    BUT GOD.
    Word helps me remember what He says about me, shows me other victories if I am in the struggle with my own. His word connects me to the heart of my creator that wanted a relationship with me.
    Prayer is my opportunity to cry out and rejoice and thank. I get to pray for others and their situations rather than let the anxiety overwhelm. It is my communication with him and another opportunity for him to speak into my heart.
    Worship is my intimate time with the Lord. It is my, you are mine and I am in your love and belong to you God moment. and Praise is my rejoicing in all He has done, and will do and all that He IS.
    There was a season where I had shut God out due to anger and frustration because life was a mess. The scars were deep and I had disconnected.
    That season was my most anxiety-filled season and the deepest depression I had walked in. Yes, some may argue that it was because the season was hard. Trust me, it wasn’t. Because with God I have walked joyfully through much more difficult seasons because he helped heal each of those scars. With Him, I can do all things and without Him, I fail in my own strength.