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.

 

A New Beginning

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As the evening comes to a close and the new year is beckoning, I am blessed to think upon new beginnings.
You see, most of my resolutions and dreams fell short this year. And while I can focus on all that I didn’t do or see, there was so much more that I did.
The wonderful truth is, there were other plans,  that I had not even set for myself, that took root and flourished. There were surprises and joys that blessed the dreamer in me at every turn!

So now, this coming year, I know to look ahead at the prospect of new beginnings, not with complacency but with expectancy. There will be 365 days available to accomplish much.
Yes, there are days that will end and we will wonder where they had gone and what we had done with them, but then there will be those days of the extraordinary. The days that take your very breath away and you think to yourself, 2020 you are awesome!

I am still setting those new year resolutions this year, not to be discouraged if I don’t meet them, but to be encouraged to strive. I was able to see what did not work and what did. I am able to learn from 365 days of the previous year and to know what I want the next 365 days to look like.  A fresh start, to dream and plan and pursue like never before. Each year I learn a little more of the truth, that the next beginning holds even more purpose than the last.

I have seen it written recently, here we go again, all the year-end resolutions being made, just to fail. The eye roll emoji follows. My heart feels a bit heavy for those that are not looking forward to their next with hope and vision. I was once right there with them.

But this year, this beginning is new. My mind is made up that any great thing can happen. The story is yet to be written. There are adventures to be had and amazing things to be seen.
So, I will be in the crowd that is singing as they ring in the new year and dreaming about what is yet to come.
2019 you were good enough for me, but I know there is so much better yet to be.
I have made mistakes and learned from them. I have set goals and been distracted from reaching them. I have had great losses and surprising gains. Yes, there were failures but let us not forget the victories. I can look back and say I am better for having known you.
But with expectations, I will shout, “Welcome 2020!”
 

 

 

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.

I Should Be

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Daily I hear the words wringing in my head, “I should be.”
I should be doing x rather that y. I should be farther in my writing. I should be earning money by getting a job. I should be healed by now. The onslaught of the I should be’s can be so distracting that I am missing the I am’s.

This afternoon I wanted to be working on some projects around the house and cleaning. The dog was whimpering to go outside to play as it has been cold and finally the sun was shining. She just had a bath, so of course I had to go out with her so she would not cover herself in mud by digging again. If we didn’t go outside to expel some of her energy she would get into all kinds of mischief while I tried to accomplish my list.

This is one of the moments the I should be’s would usually creep in, but as I sat in that moment outside as my pup roamed and discovered the yard, I realized how incredible the sun was feeling on my face. I heard the rustling leaves falling from the birch tree. The crackle as they fell from the tree top through the branches was a new sound for me. For the first time this week, I was taking in the full moment rather than thinking of all the things I should be doing that I was not. If I had being doing those other things, I would have missed this beautiful moment. Then I wondered, how much have I missed?

The “I should be’s ‘ often come at a time of rest, reflection and recovery. They become so distracting that I can’t take the moment for the gift that it is. There is much to be learned in the process of taking in everything that He has for us.

By being so focused on the next thing I should be doing that I am missing what I am taking effort in, is a form of discontent and comparison. I am comparing myself to that which I think I should be. I am discontent with where my efforts lie.
This is another lie that I am not enough. That I can’t accomplish enough.
Mind you, I know I should be doing everything on my list, but the lie is that I can accomplish it all at once and am failing if I am not. So I have decided, I will take the moments as they come. I will put effort and focus to the task at hand and the other should be’s will be right there waiting for when I can get to them.
I will not miss the moments of accomplishment, because of a lie that it wasn’t enough.

There is only one thing that I should be…. That is what the Lord has created me to be,  nothing more and nothing less. Seeking Him first will give me the clarity of what to pursue and when.

As I reflect, I am reminded of Martha and Mary. I want to chose that which will not be taken away from me.

Luke 10: 38-42

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

 

Even If…

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These last few months the words resonating in my heart are, “Even If.”

We have had many changes in our life recently and I hate change. My body reacts even when I tell myself everything is fine and all the changes have been for a great purpose and plan.

One of those changes involved us leaving a church of the last five years and follow the Lord in His leading to our next. We knew that we were called but not the why, to our calling.
I told the Lord, even if I don’t have the answers, I will listen to your voice. So in faith, we stepped forward in the plan for our life.

Even though leaving the team of people we had grown to love hurt my heart, I had to obey what I knew to be true and serve my God and husband first. Even if it meant uncomfortable change and new people, a new place and a new level of finding my self in the midst of ministry, I had to say yes.
Even if it means admitting that I took on roles at our previous church that were not my own to take on, in order to try to fill up the restlessness within me.
Even if it meant stepping into a new realm of vulnerability. Even if.

I know there are many purposes for following the Lord in the Even If seasons of our life.
I know that God has done many amazing things in the last 4 months and He has not even touched the surface. But in this process, He has stirred a call I had felt at 15 years old in youth group. Life happened and the leading faded but was never gone. I had begun a collection of paintings in the last few months and titled them “Women of the World.” Little did I know I was painting the very call within my heart…
The call to serve with mission teams.

Here the thoughts would rise up as the stirring would come, but then so would the excuses. Most of which was linked to how I am doing in this season physically. But the thought would not leave that I was called to go and serve.
The stirring rose afresh as I sat with the new church congregation and heard about the heart of serving in Baja Mexico at the Door of Faith Orphanage.
I had every excuse, but the tugging kept coming.
We had no money in savings and the trip was coming fast. I have been in an unbelievable flare physically. We just received additional fees to add to a huge bill from hospital tests and then a few days before DHS sent a bill for overpayment when we were foster parents. This doesn’t account for all the other life needs on hold at the moment.
But mostly my heart I didn’t want to hurt over leaving the orphans and I felt as if I had nothing to offer.
I felt that with my physical limits Dan would have to go and he has absolutely told me over the years this was NOT his area of calling. All these thoughts and excuses rushing my head and I still felt my heart-tugging… EVEN IF. Even if there is no way, God can make the way. Even if there seemed to be too many obstacles, God is able to move those obstacles. Even if I have my doubts…HE is faithful despite them.

So I prayed. I said, God if you truly want me to move in faith as your word says, faith without works is dead, then I am going to be as Gideon and request that you show me without a doubt that it is you that I am hearing and not just my over compassionate mama heart.

These were my conditions as I spoke to the Lord:
I need Dan to go with me. I will not ask.
I need the leader to come to me directly who I have not yet met and tell me that He feels I am to join the team.
I need the provision.

Service was over and Dan leans to me and says, ” I feel like I may be called to go on the mission trip.” I kid you not my mouth about fell to the floor. I may even have laughed out loud. You have to know this is absolutely a tugging from God. He would have not been opened to the idea otherwise.
I was stopped by a friend and visiting after church. I looked over at Dan and He was talking to the leader. Dan called me over and as I was introduced, the team leader said, “God highlighted you to me, I feel you are called to go on this trip.” (paraphrasing as I can’t remember exact words). At this point, I knew and I just nodded my head and said as much.
Now we are waiting on provision and believing for the plan to unfold as we walk out the little hiccups of life in the planning process. The trip is coming fast!
With my lack of knowing where the funds would come from and a time crunch, we had started a go fund me even though I felt so foolish in doing so, I said again…Even If.
The fees for the passport came in first at the Go Fund Me site as well as the cost of plane tickets that were mailed to us. I saw how it was exactly what we needed when we needed it.
We are over halfway to our goal and I know the rest is already accounted for. We are praying for the paperwork we need to move forward will come quickly as Dan had to order his birth certificate before getting a passport. We are on a time crunch. But of course, God already knows this.

I am excited. I know there are many purposes for following the Lord’s leading. But I am still reminded to hold fast to those words… Even If… because often His call does not match my human understanding. Even If I don’t see it, I can rest assured that HE knows it. Even… If.

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 

Don’t Eat The Doughnut

“Don’t eat the doughnut!” I felt these words in my spirit the minute I smelled the deliciousness in the room. I have a lot of food weaknesses. But there is something about the soft and sweet maple bar that will make me cave every time. I tell myself just one won’t matter. That a little bit of gluten and a little bit of sugar will not hurt me much and the delight for the moment will be worth it.
So I cave and I eat the doughnut.  And here lies the problem.

One doughnut may have been fine. But I have an emotional attachment to food. When I open the door to the one doughnut the next day when I am faced with an opportunity to cave again I will.  If I have hit some major stressors I will justify and tell myself, well I had gluten and sugar yesterday so I may as well. And the shield is down, the armor exposed and the battle is lost. All because I didn’t listen to those four little words. “Don’t eat the doughnut!”
Some of us in the battle of our illnesses have been given clear direction on how to be well. Most often that lies within the healthy choices we put in our bodies and exercise.  To do the things that will give a harvest of health we must take action. I can’t sit around waiting for health and eat the doughnut, or skip the gentle exercises and complain when I can hardly move the next day. For me personally, each day that I cave, makes me feel like I have to start all over at climbing the huge mountain.  My flares, thyroid, eyes, dizziness, and heart are all often the direct result of me not obeying what I know is right for my body.

It IS hard in this society to live a clean and healthy lifestyle. There are temptations all around us. The cravings are real as your husband is across the room eating everything you can’t touch and you have been living on vegetables for a week.  I want to be ‘normal’ and feel well and I want the junk too. But here is the reality, If I want health I need to listen to my body. I need to listen to the wise counsel that says, “Don’t do it, don’t eat the doughnut.”

I am at the bottom of the mountain again. I now weigh more than I ever have in my life, my pain levels are off the charts and all the other symptoms in a flare.
I have bee so lenient that I now have to start clawing my way back up to health from scratch. So I am building my truth tips to saying no to the doughnut and yes to my health, maybe they will help someone else as well. I have risen before and I will do it again!

1. Have alternatives handy-
When I am at a party, event or running around town with the hubby, I will cave every single time if I get hungry and I have no other choices around me. Keeping a bag of almonds, a healthy drink, or other allowed foods will keep me in check when the worst cravings arise.

2. Recognize your triggers-
It is important to examine your food triggers. Stress, emotions, loneliness, and boredom are my biggest triggers. Find alternatives to those food triggers that do not cover the issue, but address it. For example, I now know if I am eating out of boredom, I need to start writing, painting or play with the puppy. If I am lonely I reach out to others. If I am stressed,  I deal with the issue of looking at God’s truth about anxiety and worry instead of eating and just covering the problem in a moment.

3. DRINK-  
Dehydration is a health plan killer. If I get dehydrated, my crazy brain thinks I am hungry and I try to fill the void up with food. I feel foggy, achy, moody and all around off if I am not drinking my water. A bottle that I refill is my best aid. I don’t like the taste of water in a glass, weird I know and I don’t like water from the tap. So for me, a good filter, a bottle and even some slices of lime or lemon help me stay on track.

4. Start small-
If I try to cut out everything in one day and exercise an hour at a time right out of the slump, I will hurt, be frustrated and quit.
So I start usually by going gluten-free and drinking my water. I add some activity to my daily. I start slow. Then I add extra changes to health such as food restrictions and more time exercising and moving.

5. Be intentional and realistic-
My goal is health. Yes, I want to lose all this extra weight but ultimately I want to feel good and not be in a messy flare. I need to be intentional in reaching my goals. I will not be successful just wishing for it.  Know what you want and make the choices to get there.
I need to remember I did not develop bad habits overnight and it will take time to see my result. I will still crave the foods for a season and I will still want to eat the doughnut. Walking in true health for me is not denying the struggle, it is taking up my shield and overcoming the battle.

writing for joy
It is time to stand and hear with a heart that listens.

Disappointment in the gift

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We have a full yard of white clover at our new home. I love the wild craziness of the flowers. I am one that does not like to spray the yard with chemicals, especially with a new puppy that likes to chew on the grass.
I will often take a few minutes to see if I can find a four-leaf clover when I pass by the patches of green. For me, it is like a little treasure hunt, looking for the unlikely in the midst of a million possibilities, as the chances of finding a four-leaf clover are 1 in 10,000.
Tonight the thought again crossed my mind that I wanted to find a perfect four-leaf clover, a gift set aside just for me.
I bent down and saw all the tiny perfect little shamrocks with their heart-shaped leaves.
There, right in the midst of them, was my find. A large four-leaf clover. At first, I was elated to have spied one, finally. But then…

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As I examined my four-leaf clover I was disappointed in the straight leaves with no heart shape. I was disappointed it wasn’t tiny and cute like all the sprouts of three-leaf clovers in its midsts. The leaves of my clover were all different sizes and not at all what I had pictured a four-leaf clover would look. Without taking a moment to truly enjoy the treasure I had found there was quickly a disappointment in the gift. 

I knew it was silly to feel disappointed and a knowing rose up in my soul. How often do we get exactly what we hoped or asked for, but when it arrives and it looks different than we expected we have disappointment in the gift? Or how often do we look with disappointment in our own gift within us if it does not look like the shiny gifts and talents that others seem to have?

The phrase ‘be careful what you wish for” comes to mind. Or in my case, pray for. When you seek open doors and new opportunities, It is important to be mindful that what you pursue may come wrapped in a different package than expected. Yet there can still be beauty in a treasure that is uniquely your own.

Looking closer at the four-leaf clover I see a sweet etching of a smaller clover inside. I see that there is a gift within that I almost missed because my mind was clouded with my own expectations. I was thankful for the treasure. Thankful for the moment and no longer had disappointment in the gift.

The next day I was again outside with the puppy. Without any searching, I felt the tugging to look down. There at my feet was another four-leaf clover. Smaller and closer to the ideal in my mind. My heart swelled at the thought, there are many treasures to behold. There is no limit to what can be revealed. Sometimes the treasures come when we are in a place of contentment and not even searching. Will we be observant enough to notice them?

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