How we speak to ourselves matters.

Is your life going how you planned? Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones that has always knew what you wanted to do, graduated college with a degree where you could step into a job, met your spouse soon after, have 2.5 children and live in the suburbs. Well my life hasn’t worked out that way even if it might appear that way on the outside.

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Here’s our 2.5 kids in the suburbs. 

How we think determines how we act and how we act determines the course of our life, so shouldn’t we focus more on our thoughts than our actions?

I had to learn the hard way this summer, that routine and consistency is a must for me. Summer is kind of a love/hate for me. I love the freedom of not having to be somewhere at a certain time, but I hate how I lose my time to myself. I tend to get out of a routine and I end up going off the rails with my diet.

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Working on mommy’s office. 

Summer is supposed to be a time of relaxation and enjoyment of the simple things and hopefully some time to disconnect. This summer has been a little different for our family. Things didn’t go the way we planned, vacation plans were changed, and still recovering a financially crippling 2017. With that, I’ve fallen out of my routine. This past school year, I was so good about getting my work-outs in, reading my Bible, and working on my blog. After my sinus surgery in March it just seemed like an uphill battle, and unfortunately I eventually threw caution to the wind. Let me tell you, it hasn’t worked out well. I’ve put on a few pounds, I’m not getting up as early and therefore I’m always behind, and my time to myself seems to be dwindling. I had a lot of grand plans for this summer. A summer filled with projects being accomplished, my house in tip top shape, and my blog skyrocketing into success. Well it doesn’t look like that, and I’m partially to blame.

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The one thing I have been consistent about. 

One I’m not realistic with my goals, as my husband says I “boil the ocean.” I focus on 20 different things instead of 1 or 2. I tend to think big, but then crash and burn. Ironically the only place that didn’t suffer was my exercising. I have been able to maintain my exercise almost daily the entire summer. I injured my knee and took a week off to recuperate, but was able to jump right back in stronger than ever and realized I had to spend more time foam rolling, stretching, and decreasing my weights. I realized the reason I was successful with my exercising wasn’t because if I had a bad day or didn’t feel like it I just didn’t work-out and figured I’d eventually do it and still maintain my strength. Instead I didn’t let the small setback, kill me and destroy myself mentally. I actually spoke to myself with common sense, compassion and encouragement. I reminded myself how far I had come, how far I still wanted to go, and better to take a week of rest and come back ready to win, than just give up and lose all the hard work I put in. Why can’t I speak to myself like this in all aspects of my life? What I did realize was the importance of a routine, and not letting my emotions dictate my actions. My emotions didn’t necessarily change.  Most days after I worked out my mood changed, but some days it didn’t.

” Regardless my mood I exercised.” 

I knew I couldn’t afford to get out of a routine because I had future goals. Spa girl triathlon is in September(which I still think I might be delusional) and I had to focus on my goal. I realized I should apply the same principles with my exercise in every aspect of my life. My emotions are fleeting, and so is my mood. To allow them to dictate my choices seems irresponsible and infantile. Besides if we are a new creation in Christ then we are equipped with power, love and self-discpline and I should put those into practice. We must celebrate the small victories, the day to day choices, because in the end they will compound into life changing realities.

Do you struggle with the thoughts in your head? Connecting our thoughts with our actions well change our lives.

 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. II Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

The heartbreak and confusion of suicide.

The heartbreak of suicide.

I spoke with two friends this week who had a lost someone to suicide. The heartbreak of their loss brought back a lot of memories for me.  There is added heartbreak that comes when you lose someone to suicide. The confusion, the shock. There is an added layer of emotions, on top of the natural grief of death. You can’t reconcile it. It doesn’t make sense, and those left behind are consumed with guilt. It falls out of the natural order of life. It’s something we can’t wrap our brain around, and honestly, I hope I never do.

Suicide is always a shock.

I remember all the emotions that I had when I lost my dad. I was in complete and total shock. I never saw it coming, not once.  I knew he was depressed, but not to that level.  My father was doing everything he could; meds, therapy, meeting with deacons, pastors, and he still felt this desperation that I couldn’t understand as a twelve-year-old, and still don’t fully understand today.  Before he died he seemed to be doing better, and my mom and I were encouraged, even hopeful. There were things that my mom saw, that I wasn’t privy to until I was older and ready to understand those things. I spent years trying to understand it, and to be honest I still don’t have all the answers, but I have resigned to the fact, that there will be things that I never will understand.

Why suicide isn’t like other deaths.

Like all death, your life is changed in an instant, but now you have to explain something to others, that even you yourself don’t understand. I remember people asking me when I told them my father had passed away. Once I told them how he passed;  what they thought  of his choice was written all over their face. Most people didn’t know what to say, or how to respond, which in turn made me all the more uncomfortable and I had to relive it over and over again. The horror, the confusion, the shock and all the questions that will never be answered, questions I didn’t have the answers to either.

Suicide doesn’t always happen the way people describe it. Sometimes it comes as a complete and total shock to those around them. They seem happy, good, life is good, but unfortunately there are things going on in their mind that we don’t see or understand.

Suicide and salvation.

I think the hardest thing was the confusion I felt about my dad’s salvation and was it lost; was he with God in Heaven? I didn’t even begin to know who to ask. I began reading some books, but none of them made sense to me, they were just disheartening and depressing. I needed encouragement and hope. I felt such judgment for my dad’s choices, that I kept quiet for so long. I had to learn for myself. Ultimately, I came to rest in this verse:

 “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from, Me.” John 10:28

God is not turning away from them. Their salvation isn’t lost. While I know that suicide is not what God wants for their lives, that He knows there is more, their salvation is not lost and I will forever hold on to this. I know my father and I will spend eternity together and will rejoice in the fact that God has not only healed our souls, but healed our minds. “Rejoice, again I say rejoice!”

Praying for my friends, and praying for those who are hurt. Please reach out, you are not alone my friend, you are not alone.

Sara  

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PMS, Hormones and Mental Health

The dreaded period.

Aunt flo, surfing the crimson tide, Mother Nature’s Gift, or as I’d prefer to call it, EVE! I’m sure you’ve heard these names, ahh the wonderful names given to your period in your teen years, either by you and your girlfriends, or immature boys. As if being a teenager isn’t hard enough, let alone dealing with your period and “becoming a woman.” Unfortunately, after I had kids and as I’ve gotten older, and my body has changed, I really began to notice a difference in my PMS. My PMS seemed much more intense. Like everything else in life what worked before didn’t work anymore. I noticed drastic changes in my mood. I felt out of control and that’s never a feeling I like.

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Can my period really effect my depression/anxiety?

So, I began to do some research about periods and moods. I needed to understand if what I was feeling was normal or a sign that I needed to be careful because maybe I was going to battle another bout of depression again. It’s crazy how quickly our minds can wonder to the worst-case scenarios isn’t it? Sometimes leading up to my period, I feel like I’ve completely lost control of my emotions. I’m always evaluating and making sure I understand where my mind and body are in order to combat another round of anxiety and depression. I wondered if I was just using PMS as an excuse to eat what I wanted and throw caution to the wind (which is partially true), but I also wondered how long PMS actually lasts and does it really effect my mood the way I perceive it does.

Needless to say I was blown away by the statistics surrounding PMS. They are fascinating, to say the least. They far surpassed what I expected and there were way more symptoms than I ever imagined

Here are some fascinating facts about PMS and your period.

Serotonin levels change during PMS
PMS lasts 5-11 days BEFORE your period.
PMS can cause mood swings, anxiety, and irritability.

Serotonin, Depression, and hormones.

I think the scariest one off of that list is the serotonin levels changing. For those of you who have ever been on an anti-depressant, most anti-depressants are used to level out serotonin because of a lack of serotonin in our brain. Basically, if you struggle with depression more than likely you have noticed a change in your mood preceding your period because of the change in your serotonin. Also, serotonin is a chemical in your brain but the majority of serotonin is produced in your gut and therefore one of the many reasons it’s so important to pay attention to what we put in our bodies. Serotonin affects your moods, emotions and your thoughts! I’d say serotonin is a pretty powerful chemical!

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What exactly is PMS, and what causes it?

So how many women actually have PMS, I for one assumed that all women have PMS, but there’s a lucky 20% who doesn’t. Some of the factors for PMS are:

  1. a history of depression or mood disorders, such as postpartum depression or
  2. bipolar disorder
  3. a family history of PMS
  4. a family history of depression
  5. domestic violence
  6. substance abuse
  7. physical trauma
  8. emotional trauma
  9. abdominal bloating

What are the symptoms of PMS? I was surprised by some of  my girlfriends responses when I asked them about their own symptoms and many of them didn’t associate moods, or anxiety with PMS. Here are some of the  common symptoms of PMS:

  1. abdominal pain
  2. sore breasts
  3. acne
  4. food cravings, especially for sweets
  5. constipation
  6. diarrhea
  7. headaches
  8. sensitivity to light or sound
  9. fatigue
  10. irritability
  11. changes in sleep patterns
  12. anxiety
  13. depression
  14. sadness
  15. emotional outbursts
What now?
  • I was pretty blown away by these statistics, symptoms and just the overall effect that PMS actually has on our bodies, minds and spirits. It’s pretty powerful what hormones can do isn’t it? All too often we blame ourselves, and believe we are at the mercy of our symptoms, but the good news is awareness is half the battle so what are some things that we can do when we encounter PMS?
  • Recognize that what we are going through is normal, and is experienced by the majority of women
  • Recognize people who struggle with depression, anxiety or other mood disorders are at a greater risk for PMS
  • Women who struggle with PMS generally have more than one symptom.
  • We can talk to our doctor and track how we feel during our PMS, and make sure we aren’t part of the even smaller demographic who’s symptoms are so severe it affects their ability to cope with day to day life.
  • Be aware of how your mood and appetite are affected by it and recognize that things will be a little different during this time and plan accordingly.

No one should feel ashamed or frustrated by this, if anything I hope you will walk away feeling more equipped about what to expect the next time you are encountered with aunt flo and maybe just maybe you can have a little laugh about it just like I did gathering all these facts. Needless to say after all the talk about periods, and how they make us feel a little off our rocker, my girlfriends and I couldn’t stop thinking of this famous quote from Clueless:

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Hopefully you know by know irregardless of the weighty subjects we talk about, I have always end on a high note or with some laughter. Life’s too short. In all seriousness does anyone else struggle with increased anxiety or depression leading up to or during their period? Or is it just me?

Sara

 

Are you stuck in guilt or growing in grace?

Bad decisions not a bad person.

I don’t know about you, but I never associated guilt with anxiety. Have you? I always associated guilt with depression. You had so much guilt that you began to believe that a bad decision was somehow who you are, not just a bad choice. You know spending too much money on a dress, meant that you at your core were just completely irresponsible with money. Instead of a bad decision you ARE bad. I struggle with this a lot myself. Sometimes I look back to my twenties and would like a do-over. Most days I’m grateful I survived my 20’s, and know the bad choices led me to who I am today and without those bad decisions I wouldn’t be where I am at now. But other times I kind of wish I’d made good decisions and wonder what my life would be like if I did. You know if I had studied harder, (realizing later that the majority of my struggle in college was due to my depression, not because I believed that I just wasn’t smart), partied less, managed money better, or been more involved.

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College days where I played more than I studied.

 Guilt leads to anxiety.

Because of our guilt we bury these frustrations and pretend these things didn’t happen we cover it up, deny it, or numb it, but the longer we do that the more we wage war on our soul. Maybe your guilt isn’t about things like mine, but maybe it’s how you treated someone when you were tired, yelling at your kids, or taking digs at someone who you really love. Guilt weighs you down and robs you of your joy. Don’t confuse guilt with conviction.

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Post college when I was just beginning to process all the things that had happened to me over the years. Too many deaths, struggles and heartaches to process.

Guilt causes you to stay there, build a camp and somehow never leave.

Conviction acknowledges the mess up but remembers that grace outweighs guilt. Grace allows you to move on. Are you stuck in guilt or growing in grace? We all will mess up it’s inevitable, and the more I study the Bible the more I realize that everyone falls short. Somehow when we remember the stories of “famous” individuals in the Bible we forget their pasts and focus on their strengths.

Conviction acknowledges the mess up but remembers that grace outweighs guilt.

Somehow we’ve forgotten that grace applies to us too.

But really shouldn’t we be doing the same for ourselves? We don’t focus on Paul condemning Christians and being one of the worst offenders of the church. No, we remember how he wrote the majority of the Bible, how he spent most of his time in prison for his faith, how he spent the majority of his life pursing Christ. We remember him as one of the greats. The list goes on and sometimes those who were living lies completely outside of God’s best, seem to understand grace even more. Rahab is another one of those great stories, a prostitute who took in two spies sent by Joshua to check out the Promised Land. She saved them from death, asked for their protection, and trusted that God would keep His promises. In the end not only was Rahab spared, but her family was spared and she became a part of the lineage of Christ. I’d say she fared pretty well.

God’s got a plan, and His plan isn’t derailed by your mess ups.

Let’s live like we’re forgiven instead of chained to our failures.

Let’s stop missing out on what’s before us because we’re too focused on what’s behind us. We’ve all messed up and will continue to miss the mark. Let’s recognize we are flawed but, continue to pursue God’s best and trust that He’s got it figured out.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

And I believe my old worship pastor said it best.

If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking….. I don’t have time to maintain these regrets When I think about the way… That He Loves us, Oh, how He love us Oh, how He loves us Oh, how He loves. (Dave Crowder).

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Why organizing lowers your anxiety.

The Stress of clutter.

Yeah, I know you probably think I’m a little bit crazy, because I believe that organization and lack of clutter lead to less stress and anxiety in your life, but it’s true. The more organized things are, when everything has its place, when you get rid of the things you don’t need and you have margin in your home, your heart is content and you can breathe deeply and calmly.

This may sound delusional to you, or slightly dramatic, but how many times have you become irritable, or anxious because you are stressed about the mess, the mess that never goes away or closets or maybe rooms where you put everything that you don’t know what to do with. For me I know it took a long time to realize that mess, clutter, and disorganization created irritability and undue stress and anxiety in life. I know all anxiety can’t be eliminated nor can all messes be eliminated, but they can be managed, they can be reduced and therefore your anxiety can be managed and reduced.

 

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My husband’s nightstand. Clutter makes it hard to find things you are looking for. 

Organizing doesn’t have to be expensive.

I used to laugh every time I watched Friends because I could totally relate to Monica’s obsession with organization, remember when she made all those file folders for Chandler to help in find a job and then he only got to the first one and he decided that he wanted to do advertising. She didn’t care because she was just excited to use her label maker. JI’m a little bit like that, I love to organize because not only does clutter bring me stress, but organization brings calmness to my mind. Sometimes I’ve avoided organizing because it can be pretty pricey, and it seems you could spend $100’s at Etsy on cute labels, or fancy storage from The Container Store (I will say nothing beats their Elfa shelving), but my friend turned me on to a really inexpensive way to organize that’s made my life so much easier. The Home Depot carries Sterilite clear containers that are wait for it………, $.99!!! Yeah, you read that right $.99!!!!!!   ( for $30.00 I organized, my desk, nightstands, bathrooms, laundry room and a couple of closets). I went nuts with these containers and they are everywhere.

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The after. Books, watches, work-out items, and sunglasses. Who knew?

Organize what you have before you spend on what you think you need.

Not only do they reduce some of your clutter, but they organize what you decide to keep. I of course found out that we have multiples of pretty much everything. Apparently, I’ve been stealing black pens from my church for about a decade. Anyways, you’ll be amazed at what you find, what you didn’t know you had and what you didn’t know you needed.  I cleaned out nightstands, desks, craft tables, my husband’s office (that’s still a work in progress), my bathroom and the kid’s bathroom. You wouldn’t believe how much those things came in handy.

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The pantry is one of my favorite places to organize, because I can see the results immediately since we use it multiple times a day. Put cupcake liners in mason jars. (Valentines and Christmas)

Organizing takes time.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your house be organized in a day. Take things one day at a time, one draw at a time. Get your kids to help you sort through drawers, their bookcases. Sometimes just going through one drawer might be enough for the day, while other days you can attack an entire nightstand, or dresser. I know my kids LOVE cleaning the pantry, throwing away old food, labeling items, and organizing their snacks. As the saying goes, when mama’s happy, everybody’s happy.

 

What’s your favorite way to organize in your home?

Sara

But be sure that everything is done properly and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:40 

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The 5 Most Common Lies of Mental Health.

  1. Christians don’t struggle with mental health.

Mental health is exclusive to non-believers and if you are a believer you will never struggle with mental health. This is setting people up for failure and an abandonment of their faith. If you believe this lie then what happens when you do struggle, you will view your struggle as an indictment on your faith and it’s just not, period.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

This Bible verse does not say IF, it says WHEN so let’s acknowledge that on this side of heaven you WILL have trouble.

  1. You can pray your way to healing.

Prayer is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal. Christ died on the cross and paid for our sins and sent us the Holy Spirit so that we could have a relationship with God. Christ is our high priest who intervens for us before the Lord and therefore enables this direct relationship. Because we have a direct relationship we can bring anything before God. All this said, it isn’t the sole solution to the problem. It’s a tool in our toolbelt that goes unused and is seen as inferior. Throughout the Bible people prayed to God in order to set their heart and to discern God’s will, but prayer was always followed by action. God is a God of action. God worked, and He expects the same from us. Jesus didn’t sit in the temple and pray everyday. He fed people, He healed people, He served people and relayed God’s truth. Jesus worked hard and so should you.

He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew 26:39

  1. Medicine will fix all your problems.

We’ve encountered a culture where a pill is the solution for everything. You can’t sleep, take a pill, your back hurts, take a pill, your nauseous take a pill, you have anxiety, take a pill. Medicine in of itself is not a solution, just like prayer medicine is part of the solution. Medicine isn’t for everyone either and there should be no judgment for those who seek alternative ways of dealing with depression/anxiety, especially those who struggle with addiction. On the flipside there should be no judgment for those who take medicine. Sometimes medicine is the push you need to get out of the pit and start taking the right steps, for others it is a life long supplement needed to correct something your brain is lacking. So if you take medicine, ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS pair it with therapy.

4. You have mental health issues because you have a weak faith.

This one unfortunately has been perpuated by the church, and not all churchs, but the “church” as a whole. I have always appreciated my pastors candor and honesty about the realities of mental health issues. They can happen to anyone and they are not the result of a weak faith, but the realities of living in a fallen world. Our world isn’t perfect so we all will encounter troubles whether our faith is new or decades old. We all go through seasons and some seasons our faith is stronger than others.  King David, who was called a “man after god’s own heart,” struggled with depression. Depression isn’t a litmus test of our faith.

   “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:11

  1. Mental health is punishment from God for the choices you’ve made.

God doesn’t hand out punishments for the choices we’ve made. It just doesn’t work that way. He’s not sitting in heaven sending lightning bolts from the sky to strike us down whenever He sees fit. If that were the case we’d all be dead, and this would negate all that Christ did for us on the cross.

He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. Psalm 103:10.

So all this to say, the next time someone, something, some ideology states that any of the lies above are truth, remember God’s Word, and don’t believe the lies. The scariest thing about a lie is that it sounds like the truth. It’s the truth twisted, twisted to the point that we can deceive ourselves into believing it is God’s truth.

Sara

He  (the devil) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44 

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Trader Joe’s staples for healthy eating.

Why I love shopping at Trader Joe’s.

Growing up in California my parents loved Trader Joe’s and talked about it all the time. Great food, for a cheap price. In the land of Whole Foods, that seemed impossible. Needless to say when Austin finally got Trader Joe’s I was shocked and excited. I heard about it this place forever and when I would visit my best friend in Venice Beach, we’d always manage to make a trip there. What I didn’t realize was how many healthy options they have, great foods for strict diets like paleo, GF, or Whole 30.

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Their turkey and chicken burgers are a hit and have no sugar.

Sometimes we need quick fixes, not time intensive meals.

So often I feel like when we think of healthy we think we have to make something, and it’s usually elaborate. For me since I never really knew how to cook healthy every time I’d find a recipe it was so labor intensive, and time consuming that I’d end up throwing in the towel, or just not cooking again for several days because it took everything out of me. To me it’s just not always relastic to cook every night and I need frozen options that taste good. These turkey and chicken burgers are seasoned so well, and they only  take a matter of minutes on the stove. A win, win especially on those nights that I’m single mommin’ it.

 

I use to find pre-cut things to be such a waste of money. I’d think how hard is it to cut cup mushrooms, well some days it just is. Kids have activities, or you’ve had activities all day long. Trader Joe’s has so many things that are pre-cut for reasonable prices. I love their sliced mushrooms, cut up butternut squash,  and sweet potato noodles. Their fruit is always great too. My kids love the three in 1 grapes with red, black and green. Variety is the spice of life.

Kids eat your veggies!

We all know how hard it is to get your kids to eat vegetables. My kids used to be much healthier eaters, but as they have gotten older it has been more of a struggle. They don’t always want them, or they’d rather eat their body weight in fruit. Trader Joe’s Spinach and Kale bites are a MUST. Not only do my kids love them, but Mark and I love them too. Yes there is a little flour in them which isn’t ideal, but getting your kids to eat their greens is worth it.  There are other great options for snacks too. They’re pretzel slims are great if you’re child is younger because they don’t present a choking hazard. Cranberries, raspberries, nuts, slivered almonds, you name it every healthy snack out there.

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Spinach and Kale Bites are always a hit. Mark and I love them too.

Special Diet Options.

I know there are plenty of people that have chosen to do a special diet, whether for health reasons, to stay lean or food allergies. You’d be amazed how many options Trader Joe’s has. From vegan cream cheese to gluten free buttercream cupcakes (not exactly healthy, but they are good), there are options for everyone. One of my favorites is the pasta options. There are so many to choose from.

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Black bean, red lentil, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta. Options galore.
Trader Joe’s for the win.

I definitely give Trader Joe’s a thumbs up, not just for their amazing options of healthy foods, but their customer service and pride in what they do. You can pretty much ask anyone about any product and they can tell you when they’ll get it, if it’s been discontinued or they’ll order it for you. We couldn’t live without our weekly Trader Joe’s runs between the great choices for my kids and lots of healthy options for us, the whole family is happy and it didn’t cost us a fortune. (And no this is not a sponsored ad, I truly just love Trader Joe’s.)

What are some of your favorite foods at Trader Joe’s? I’m always looking for more ideas.

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, you were bought with a price; therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19

Sara 

 


 

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The one thing no one tells you about anxiety.

What happens when our fears are based in truth.

Something that has happened in the past, (a loss), something that we know will happen (a presentation at work), or something we see on the news. These are legitimate fears grounded in real things that have actually happened or going to happen.  Sometimes we have rational fears; yes, I know that sounds like an oxymoron but it’s true. I realized today as I was leaving for a trip to Vegas to meet my husband and I left my kids behind, that a lot of triggers were happening. I kept thinking of what if my kids lose their mom and their dad or what if they lose their mom and their dad is out of town, or worse what if I lose them?

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My pride and joy.

Sometimes our fears are rational.

At first, I was annoyed with myself and stressed about my anxiety, I mean I’ve left the kids before and not felt this way, or at least this intensely. What I realized is that the perfect storm was brewing. March 21st was the twenty seventh anniversary of my father’s death, and it just so happened that two days before my trip a bomb with a trip wire had exploded only a couple of miles from my home. Any normal person would have fears after a bomb has exploded a few miles from their home, while two kids were leisurely out riding their bikes, but this instance triggered something more. It was a reminder of that feeling when I lost my father, that your life can change in the blink of an eye. It’s a reminder I’d like to leave behind.

 In some way fear is a good thing, it’s a reality check for your priorities, a push for your prayer life and a heightened level of gratitude for what you have.

All this said, the fear is still there, and the fear is still real. This one is harder to talk myself through, this one makes sense, this one is rational. Sometimes the rational fears are the hardest ones to conquer.

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This was taken a couple miles from our house, after the trip wire bomb exploded. Image courtesy of HPM digital team.

The juxtaposition of free will and God’s love.

I spent Monday morning at Bible study and I realized how much I needed it. Sometimes you don’t leave Bible Study with all the answers, sometimes in fact you leave with even more questions, but knowing that you aren’t alone in your fears, is sometimes the best medicine. Reconciling Scripture which talks about God being our protector, our shade, our fortress, just doesn’t ring true when people are dying from opening packages on their front door step. Those verses are comforting when we have irrational fears, and we are reminded of who God is, but when tragedy strikes or the idea that tragedy could come at any second, I need more than those verses. They don’t make sense to me in these moments. The juxtaposition of free will and God’s love is one of the many theological paradigms that is hard to understand. Our desire for justice is so great, but yet if that justice was turned on us, the fear alone might kill us. No one wants to be told who to love and yet we forget that God is the same way.

      He longs for us to run towards Him the same way we long for our children to run towards us.

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We live in a world that is not how God intended it.

Still we have to remind ourselves that we live in a fallen world, a world that is not how God had planned, with free will comes real consequences. This only fuels our desire for restoration and heaven. Our longing to go home where we are no longer wrestling with these juxtapositions but where everything is made complete, and whole. Justice has been served and we are on the right side of justice. So, in these moments when our fears are rational and real, we must hold on to the hope of the future. The hope of heaven, the desire to go home is real, God has placed that desire in our heart, don’t run from it, hold on to it. The fear will pass, day to day life will distract, but God is longing for you to come home as much as you are.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelations 21:4

What are some fears you have encountered that are hard to conquer?

Sara

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It works for you, but not for me.

Don’t put your faith on me.

My best friend and I were talking the other day about my blog. She expressed how some of her friends who have gone through depression or anxiety, were turned off by my faith.  I know there are people who read my blog that don’t share my beliefs, or they may avoid reading it all together. I get it. Sometimes I think my healing has misled people and they believe that I can’t identify, or that I haven’t really been there. While others think I was probably never that depressed to begin with. For me, I realize that where I’m at shows how much I have healed. I pray that while you may disagree with me and you may find my faith annoying, you will still listen to my story, and do your best to keep an open mind.

 

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A picture of my childhood church, unfortunately was burned down by arsonists, but will always hold a special place my heart. Love First Baptist Church Temple.

Remember church is just a hospital full of sinners.

You may see pictures of me and I may look as though I have it “all together,” but we all know that NO ONE has it all together. In high school I still hadn’t even begun to deal with everything that happened to me, I just compartmentalized my grief and did my best to fit in with my piers even though I didn’t relate.

I was on a mission trip with our church and my friend Amy asked how I was doing and what was going on with our family. Just a friend taking the time to check in and see where I was at. Looking back, I realize how detached I was emotionally from what had happened to me. Grief was just a drawer I pulled out and looked through when someone asked about my dad.  What I didn’t recognize at the time was everything I was sharing with her affirmed how God had protected and provided for my mom and me. I would’ve never seen it had my friend Amy not pointed it out. I didn’t really think much of it, I heard her, but I just cataloged it for a later date. A date when I actually might deal with my grief.

You may not see the impact  the church has now, but you will feel the change later. 

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Just like people, the church may look good on the outside, but is messy on the inside. We aren’t meant to do life alone and God has called us to community. 

Decades later that conversation has left a lasting impression on my heart. She pointed out, how our neighbors gave us a car until we could buy one, with no return date, no questions asked.  How people showed up and mowed our yard, not for the first couple of weeks after my dad’s death, but months, maybe longer. My grandparents bought my mom a car, our friend took all my mom’s taxes and did them for her. Even my orthodontist, gave my mom a reduced price for my braces. People brought us meals, and extended an invitation into their home and into their lives.  We received support that we desperately needed, but probably would have never asked for. Almost all of these people were from church. They lived out their faith in ways, I will never forget.  The church stepped up in a way that will be imprinted on my heart forever.

Sara

Has the church body or someone from the church changed your life in a meaningful way? I’d love to hear! Comment below with something the church has done for you.

Help carry each other’s burdens. In this way, you will follow Christ’s teachings.

Galatians 6:2

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Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

 

My first attempt at a Vlog, (yes that is a word), sharing a little bit about my journey with Hope and Laughter, and the things that I have struggled with whether through faith, writing, fitness, diet, pretty much all of it.

 

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