Why boundaries and saying no can reduce your anxiety.

 Saying yes means more anxiety.

What if saying yes to good things, means saying no to the best things?  Lysa Terkeurst addressed this beautifully in her book “The Best Yes,” but when I read it I could barely get the kids to preschool. This seemed like a far-fetched and unrealistic problem, in fact, a privilege to have a “problem” like this.

All too often we are faced with many wonderful things to say yes to, but at the end of the day, we feel depleted and disappointed. Somehow everything we are doing is great, but it isn’t what the true desire of our heart is. If we’re honest it’s the best thing at the moment. It’s admittedly short-sighted thinking.

A woman with

Why saying no can reduce your anxiety and depression.

Over the last nine months, I have been presented with more opportunities than I can count. Opportunities to grow my faith, grow deeper in my friendships, serve at my church and my sons’ school, the list is endless.  Coming fresh off of a season of depletion and isolation,  a season of too many good things to choose from was a welcomed problem. I felt like a kid in an ice cream shop trying to choose only five toppings. To be able to say yes to these things, to even be asked to be a part of these things, was a reminder to me that I’m in a season of wellness. Dare I even say maybe the longest and strongest season of wellness I can ever remember.

Why being well doesn’t mean fewer boundaries.

Being well has meant my capacity is much larger. I’m able to do more and it no longer causes me anxiety or stress. At the end of this school year, I walked away noticing two very distinct things. One I was busier than I wanted to be and two I wasn’t chasing after my heart’s desire. I was so excited to have a larger capacity that I didn’t know how to discern what exactly I wanted to do.  A privilege more than a problem. If you are going through a similar season of wellness with a large capacity, I ask you to stop and celebrate it. Celebrate your healing, remember how far you have come and thank God for giving you this time of wealth. A wealth of capacity.

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Don’t confuse calling and capacity.

BUT just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.  Where is the space to pursue the calling God has put on your heart? In order to pursue the desire God has placed on your heart, you just might have to say no to really great things.  This is a hard pill to swallow. I think it’s easy to put boundaries in place when it’s something that is toxic, or hard or you need distance from. It’s not easy to say no, to things that are awesome, wonderful, flattering or for that matter just good old plain fun. ( If you struggle with putting boundaries in place or don’t know when the book “Boundaries” is a great read and full of suggestions.)

Say yes to God and your mental health.

As this school year came to a close, I realized that I didn’t say yes to God as often as I should. I said yes to volunteering, fun dinners, educational seminars and spent countless hours developing friendships at my son’s school.  I didn’t realize that in order to pursue my calling to write, I would have to prioritize my time and say yes to the desires of my heart and no to countless requests along the way.

Can I tell you that on the days I spent at my computer writing my anxiety was lower? Please know I’m not saying that pursuing the calling that God has placed on your heart will quell and cure all of your anxiety, but you will find peace in being obedient to God. Sometimes all our yes’, are preventing us from pursuing our calling which causes angst in our heart. Angst, because something is amiss.  A battle of the flesh and the spirit. When I write I  actually felt that I had accomplished something, and there was a peace in my heart that only God can give.  A peace that I wasn’t experiencing in all the business of yes. Fun, but no peace.  How quickly I had traded fun for peace, just because I could.

You are creating the space to not only pursue your calling but keep your mental health in check along the way

So WHEN  (keyword, WHEN, that means you are going to do it), you have to tell your friends no or turn down a great opportunity remember who you are saying yes to. You are saying yes to Jesus first, and yourself second. You are creating the space to not only pursue your calling but keep your mental health in check along the way.

Your fellow warrior,

Sara

So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. Romans 8:6 NLT

Do you choose comfort over abundance?

How often do you sit in your comfort but long for adventure?

How often do you choose staying in versus meeting new friends and getting out? How often do you choose to get through your to-do list instead of going to Bible Study? How often do you choose to watch Netflix versus going on a date with your spouse or helping out your neighbor?

Today as I sat in Bible Study my friend did just that. She did the uncomfortable. When we were discussing our highs and lows for the week, she shared what was REALLY on her heart. Not the fluff of time management, kids’ projects, husbands work, etc., The real raw, the nitty gritty, the ugly, the things we desire to share but are mortified of the judgment (you know those looks of “bless her heart, she’s a hot mess.”). But out of that one person’s courage to do the uncomfortable, everyone else in our group shared the raw and the uncomfortable. No one enjoys the comfort, but without the uncomfortable, we would’ve never really understood or known our friends’ hearts.

Having an abundant life doesn’t mean living in our comfort zone.

This moment brought me back to a sermon I listened to recently about “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see the face of God.” The question is how do we live that out? How do we have a pure heart in our daily lives? He discussed how living with a pure heart means putting aside our worldly idols (things that prevent God from being number one in our life). He said all idols could be broken down into four categories: Comfort, power, control and approval.  Comfort? That can’t be an idol. I mean comfort is just part of who we are, right? That was a punch to the gut, a reality check. It’s not to say that I don’t struggle with the others, but they don’t dominate quite the way comfort does.

The only way to the end result is through the hard, through the uncomfortable. Sara Soenen

Where do you long for comfort most in your life?

I long for a life of financial comfort where Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover isn’t front and center on my bookshelf. I long for comfort in my personal life, where all my relationships are easy, and there is minimal conflict (Dream world, I mean as long as your married, there’s conflict, right?). I long for comfort for my children that they would enjoy the beauty that is childhood. I long for comfort physically, to be naturally thin and to desire working out all the time. I long for my knee to be healed and not dictate my work-outs. I long for comfort in food, things like chocolate, wine, cheese, pasta, or decadent desserts. (there should be a twelve step program for chocolate addiction).  I long for comfort when it comes my blog. If I want my blog to grow, I have to talk about it.  It feels really awkward to talk about myself, or what my vision is for this blog.  I mean really awkward. Who goes around talking about how great they are. LOL! But if I want that there must be discomfort. My life must be in a constant state of pushing forward and through the comfort zone barrier.

Comfort never got you anywhere but exactly where you are.

It boils down to is. Comfort never gets you anywhere, comforts keeps you exactly where you are at. Is that really what we want?  Do we really want to stay exactly where we are at? I think all of us can say that the answer is no. Over the course of my life I have learned that out of the struggle there is so much growth, so much change. I think most of us would say that change that was a result of struggle was worth it. Do we like what brought us to that change? More than likely not. What we do like is the end result, the final product. The only way to the end result is through the hard, through the uncomfortable.

Do you struggle with choosing comfort over doing what is right, or doing what will give you your best life?

Comfort or adventure!

Comfort never gets you anywhere, comforts keeps you exactly where you are at. Is that really what we want?  Do we really want to stay exactly where we are at? I think all of us can say that the answer is no. Over the course of my life I have learned that out of the struggle there is so much growth, so much change.

Two sermons that have taught me a lot about comfort and the power of struggle.

 

 

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
 Matthew 7:13-14 NIV

When life hits do you fight or flee?

No more fluff.

The past month has been a punch to the gut. Between my knee injury, finding my new normal for working-out,  my diet has slipped  and my discipline has suffered because I got out of a routine. I’ve realized that because I’ve slipped my whole family has slipped. Our diet has been haphazard, and what I do sets the tone for my family. No pressure right?

On top of all this there have been personal battles behind the scenes that have taken the wind out of my sails so to speak.  Mark loosing his job in 2017 has taken much longer to recover from then I ever dreamed of. We laughed the other day because our tolerance for bullshit is pretty much at a 1 on a scale of 10. We feel depleted and with not much to give in a season where we desperately need to be poured into. By the way it’s OK to admit that you need to be served, loved and poured into. Not all seasons can we pour heavily into others.   Between raising children, a husband who travels, guarding our time as a family,  developing community and keeping up with the busy school schedule there’s just not much room for fluff.  People that are always in competition, people that care more about what others think, or people that just aren’t willing to be raw and honest, what you see is what you get from us.

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A night on the town.

Fellowship decreases depression.

Our dear friends invited us to the Spurs/Lakers games with unbelievable seats, and we moved mountains because these are our people. They know us well, the laugh with us, they make fun of us (because we all need to take ourselves less seriously), they are honest, they encourage us and we leave filled up and not depleted. We were so honored that they asked us. They are in the thick of it, three week old twins, a two year old, moving houses, and they chose us. Doesn’t it feel great to be chosen? Our response was a hell yes! In the words of Jen Hatmaker if it’s not a Hell yes than it’s a no. That quote has stuck with me. Lysa Teurkerst’s book The Best Yes follows this same line of thinking, but taking it a step further and realizing that saying yes means you say no to others and you could be saying no to things you enjoy in order to pursue with wholeheartedness the things that you love.

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I think we had a pretty good time, don’t you think?

         When depression knocks you down.

I’ve realized one thing over these last several weeks that when life kicks me down, I can’t retreat, I can’t pretend that I don’t get knocked down too. That’s not authentic, if I expect so much of myself and of others in my day to day life, then the same expectation goes for my presence on my blog and social media.

I apologize that when life knocked me down, I retreated, I licked my wounds and desired to shut down, But you know what? It made it worse. Writing is my passion, writing is never a chore, writing leaves me energized, and I knew I was making a bad decision when I stopped writing. I let the devil steal my joy and allowed him to prevent me from using my gift. Through all of this I thought of all the things that I could write about, but I never did it. I never sat down and expressed what was on my heart. Part of sharing my journey is sharing all of my journey, the good, the bad and the ugly. So I hope in light of my withdrawal, you’ll still hang with me, you’ll still fight this battle with me because I’m not stopping. When we get knocked down we gotta get right back up again!

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

Five daily practices to live well with anxiety and depression.

  Awareness is good, but solutions are what we need.

More people are committing suicide every day, and more young adults are on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds than ever before. Awareness is all the buzz, but no real change has come from it. We are being educated on how to identify mental illness, famous people are openly discussing their mental health battles (Mariah Carey, Demi Lovato), doctors and therapists teaching are us about the disease and while all of these things are necessary and good they aren’t affecting real change.

Concrete solutions to mental health lead to concrete change.

One of the reasons I started writing and researching depression and anxiety was because what was out there left me feeling empty and more hopeless. I couldn’t be the only one frustrated with what the world was offering. Nothing I read left me encouraged, in fact most of what I found left me hopeless. Books and articles that say things like “this is your new normal, this is your life.”   Out of this frustration came the passion and drive to find real solutions. Solutions, for how to live every day well whether I’m depressed or not. Even if I never get depression again or I don’t struggle with these issues, we ALL want to live our best life, a life of abundance. So how do we actually do that? How do we make lasting change, and take control of our disease instead of letting it control us.

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More self-help books than you know what to do with……but do they really help and can they be implemented?

 1. Faith

Faith is number one for a reason; because there is no hope without faith. Scrolling through Twitter, watching the news, or spending more than ten minutes on social media you’ll realize that what the world has to offer empty. There are so many people, that are hurting, crying for help, hopeless, and feel lost. There have been seasons where I have been far away from God, sought out other things to either numb the pain or run away from it, and it never works, and in the end, I always came back to my faith. The only way to truly combat the demons that we face is to be grounded in God’s Word. Hope and Laughter was born out of Romans 12:2 “do not be conformed to the pattern of the world but instead be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I loved this verse because there was so much hope that my brain could change, could be renewed and now there is science to prove it.

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Spending time in God’s Word changes the way we think and the way we perceive our life. Couldn’t we all use a change in perspective?

2. Fitness

This one took me awhile to be honest. I never really enjoyed working out and the only time I did was when I was paying someone to hold me accountable. After I had Priscilla that was no longer feasible, not just the financial aspect, but honestly the time. Time was always an issue, finding someone to watch the kids, my husband’s work schedule. It just never seemed to line up. When I finally got in a groove and found what worked for me, it became a habit. A habit that I saw not only changed me physically but changed my attitude and decreased my anxiety. I started researching the benefits of exercise and couldn’t believe how beneficial it was.  Exercise alters your mood by increasing endorphins, helps decrease your anxiety, and decreases your risk for depression. I soon realized that fitness was a must not a maybe.

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If you would’ve asked me even 5 years ago if I would’ve attempted to do a triathlon I would’ve said that’s reserved for real athletes, not me.

How do we make lasting change, and take control of our disease instead of letting it control us? 

 3. Fuel

For the longest time I thought that fuel was only about what you ate. Fueling your body, with healthy foods, would keep your body in tip top shape, but that wasn’t motivation enough for me. At the time I found most healthy foods to be boring, and fueling my body the right way just sounded like a daunting task. Once I realized that Fuel was not just about what you ate, but about what you read, what you watched, what you listened to my perspective changed. These were all things that were fueling your body, mind, soul and spirit. It mattered how you were fueling your body because it affected your mind. The mind was my motivation.

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Fuel isn’t just about what we eat…….but what we read, watch, listen to and fill our hearts and minds with. Adults are just as impressionable as children……

  4. Fellowship

Fellowship may seem like a stretch or for a daunting task if you’re in the throes of depression. Certain seasons fellowship is really hard, but fellowship is much more than just texting friends or scrolling through social media and commenting on someone’s post. Fellowship is about developing real relationships with  real people. People that will meet you where you’re at with what you are able to give.  Face to face conversations. The world says do everything independently, and God says we are one body with many parts, but all the parts are necessary to make the body. We are called to be in community. True success both relationally and mentally require community. There are different levels of community and different seasons of fellowship, either way it is necessary.

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Real community will change your life, your heart, broaden your perspective and force you outside of yourself. How much more do we learn from relationships versus a book. The Bible is a book filled with relationships that are broken, messy and redemptive. Real people with real problems and real redemption.

5. Freedom

Freedom is the one we need most and the one we make the least amount of time for. Proverbs says where there is no vision the people perish. God has put a purpose and a dream in our hearts and we must find time to pursue that. Whatever it is, wherever you are, with what you have. For me my freedom was found in writing. It was an outlet for me that left me renewed after I spent time writing, not depleted. Whatever your passion is  whether cooking, writing code (that’s my husband’s), photography, or anything that leaves you fueled instead of depleted take the time every day to pursue it. You don’t need to cook a gourmet meal for twenty people or develop your own software. It can be as simple as looking through a cookbook, buying a magazine about home decor whatever it is it will renew your mind, replenish your soul and fuel your day. We were created for a purpose and our purpose is more than getting by but living abundantly.

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My happy place. One of the best presents I’ve ever gotten…….A place where I can pursue my passion.

Sara

 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:1

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…………..right?

Four Tips for Surviving the holiday’s.

Are you asking yourself this question this Christmas? Is your anxiety at an all-time high and at the same time you feel bummed out by all the “happiness of the season?” (Kind of like Charlie Brown). The holiday’s aren’t the most wonderful time of the year for everyone. Sure, there are numerous fun things to do, great parties, fabulous food, and all the lights, but things just don’t always go the way you planned. The bonus you expected didn’t come, you didn’t get invited to that party you thought you would, your pants are too tight, and maybe the holiday’s aren’t the same because you have lost someone you love.

First let’s be honest, you’re spending a lot of time with family, family who you may only see once a year if that. We all know family can bring a lot of drama, differing values, labels from your childhood (you’re the “middle child”, the always late child, the irresponsible child…….. and all of these labels are from 20 years ago when you lived at home with your parents), political conversations, as well as the twenty questions about where you’re at in life. Do you have the right job, live in the right house, in the right city, with smart kids and the perfect spouse? Are you meeting all the expectations?

Then there’s the financial strains that the holiday brings with it. Numerous parties, outfits for parties, gifts, is someone going to get you a gift that you hadn’t planned on buying something for? It always seems like the car breaks down, or something with the house needs to be fixed, unexpected expenses are never welcome in December.

The holidays can also be a reminder of those that we have lost. Either our favorite grandparent who always made us laugh, a parent, a child, or a best friend.  The holidays seem to highlight these losses, and we’re left feeling empty and alone.

We know this isn’t the life that God has called us too. If we are called to live life and life to the fullest, it certainly shouldn’t look like this. I’ve learned a couple of things over the years about stress and the holidays.  While this holiday has been difficult for us there are a few non- negotiables I’ve put into place to lighten that load.IMG_2505

  1.  Less pressure on myself for everything to be perfect. (things aren’t going to look like “it’s a wonderful life, more like National Lampoon’s Vacation.) You might have to say no to some parties. Is it more important to do every single Christmas thing you can think of or to enjoy your time together with your family? Most of the pressure you’re feeling is from yourself and not your family. My kids’ favorite thing to do during the holidays is watch a Christmas movie in front of the fireplace and eat pizza. I spread a giant blanket out on the floor and don’t stress about it. If there’s food everywhere I stick the blanket in the wash and call it today. Best clean up ever.
  2. Find time for yourself. Everyone needs alone time and somehow we sacrifice that  to please everyone and all the while we are miserable.
    1. Take a 30 minute walk/Exercise
    2. Put the grandparents to work and go to Target by yourself
    3. grab a Starbucks and actually drink it while it’s hot.
  3. For those that are experiencing a loss, the best tradition is to start a new one. After the loss of my father the last thing my mom and I wanted to do was sit around and think about how much we missed my dad. We changed things up, we went to other people’s houses, we went to the movies on Christmas night. No one can expect to have all the same traditions and it not cause you a lot of pain. Start new traditions, I promise your memory of the ones you loved will not fade.
  4. Most importantly are you spending time in God’s Word? Somehow in the Christmas season, the season that is the glorious story of Jesus’ birth and all the hope that His birth brought to the world gets lost. Sure you may read advent with your kids at night, but are you spending time in the Word alone, in prayer, and asking for God to use you to bless others, and to take the focus off yourself? Isn’t that what the Gospel is all about, sharing God’s love with everyone?

Sara

                   My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10 (NLT)

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The Why

This can’t be happening again? That’s the question I asked myself a year ago when I was diagnosed with depression for the third time. After an almost complete lifestyle change how am I here again? All these questions, lead me here, writing a blog post, putting myself out there, and seeing what happens. The fact that I’m even writing a blog post is laughable enough. I have no professional skill, I’m not a good writer, I’ve never been published, the list goes on.  The one thing I do have is experience and if I don’t share my experiences, everything I learned and am learning, all the tools, encouragement and knowledge I’ve gained over the past 22 years is wasted. 

Struck by lightning, electrocuted, hair standing on end, with my finger still stuck in the socket, pretty much sums it up.  I didn’t see it coming, one day I was driving the car on cruise control, with the top down, my hair blowing and jamming to some Rihanna, the next day, I’m in the backseat, someone else is driving and I have no idea how I get there. Depression, wasn’t supposed to come back, not now, in my mind not ever. I had beat it. Eight years, with no issues, a healthy marriage, financially stable, two healthy children, an abundance of family and friends. It just didn’t make sense. Hadn’t I done all the “right” things to prevent it? The first two times I got depression made sense to me. This one didn’t. There was no big drama in my life, no life changing event, (from my perspective), so why now? 

So this time around was going to be different, I was mad, I was equipped, still depressed, but ready to do battle. I knew what to expect, or so I thought. Things weren’t going how I planned, the tools that had worked before weren’t working anymore, I was actually becoming depressed, about being depressed again. You can see how this could become a vicious cycle. A vicious cycle that could lead me plummeting down a mountain into a ditch I could never get out of. It was hard enough the first two times, but this time seemed even worse. 

 How could someone at 38 years old get her third round of depression, and feel completely hopeless, and utterly dumbfounded. In an age where information is everywhere, resources are abundant, and communication is accessible, why was there nothing out there? Why is all the information about depression discouraging, hopeless and completely out of touch?  Why are the authors of the majority of books about depression being written by those who’ve never experienced it? The list of questions could go on. Basically I found no hope for someone like me. So instead of trying to search for hope, laughter, joy, encouragement and peace, I decided I’d create it for myself, and maybe just maybe, share it with others. 

#hopeandlaughter #anxiety #depression #iamnottheonlyone #thewhy

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