Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Battle for the Heart

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My heart wants to create. My mind wants to escape.

My heart cries to come alive. My mind seeks to shut down, to die.

My heart is meant to connect with the Creator. The only common denominator.

Heart, come alive. Heart, live. Heart, be nourished. Delight in the Creator.

Heart, seek out. Heart, don’t doubt.

Hear the Creator shout. Victory over you.

Come, meet Him in the Upper Room. It’s an invitation of what you long to do.

The flesh must come and die, so the heart can come and dine – and stay alive.

Holding Things Loosely

pexels-photo-255527.jpegI was thrown a major curve ball a couple months ago. My therapist, who was on maternity leave, had to refer me to a new therapist because of complications from her recent child birth. What another opportunity to practice radical acceptance (see my last post)! I experienced a myriad of emotions, from shock, sadness, relief, anger, peace, and eventually, acceptance. I had had some time with God that morning, thankfully, which really helped me to stay grounded as I processed the emotions of grief surrounding me. (Note to self: spending time with God grounds you and helps you respond well to difficult situations).

Two months later, things have smoothed out, and I am with a therapist I like a lot. It seems as though this “disruption” was actually a “divine redirection” for what God wanted for me in this season. We truly can trust that when He closes a door, He does, eventually, open another one. Just stay open – it might not be exactly what you expect!

It dawned on me through this experience the importance of holding things loosely. Nothing in life is guaranteed. NOTHING! Yet again, through this experience, God continues to work on my heart to not place my security in anything but Him alone. As a friend recently told me, there is so much wisdom in holding things loosely. You won’t be tossed to and fro by your circumstances. God remains the same, and as we remain close to Him, we experience His shelter from the storms of life. That being said, it is healthy to grieve and feel our emotions in order to process losses in life. And if we stay engaged with God through the process, we can find deep comfort through Him.

Stay close to Him today, and ask Him what it looks like for you to hold things loosely in your life.

 

Why I Love My Emotional Support Animal

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Photo Credit: Dennis Lorah

I am blessed to have an emotional support animal, and today is our first adoptaversary! His name is Sam, and he is a Chiweenie – part dachshund, part Chihuahua. After a major depressive episode in January of 2017, it became clear I needed additional support living in my apartment by myself. I knew other people with emotional support animals and was encouraged to try it out. I was quite nervous due to the cost and uncertainty of rescuing a dog. All I can say is that I’m glad I took a chance on this sweet, sweet boy! He is so well behaved and laid back. He is the perfect dog for me and for my small apartment. I am so happy to have Sam as part of my life, and I strongly encourage you to consider getting one to aid in your recovery. They truly do help both your physical and mental health! He loves to sit in my lap, be held (sometimes), have his belly scratched, and race in circles when mommy comes home! Having him in my apartment comforts me and grounds me in a special way. It gets me out of my apartment on walks and brings a bit of structure to my life. It’s been a blessing to see how he warms the heart of my family members and friends, as well. God really did give us a blessing when he made dogs! Of course, if you’re not a dog person, many other pets can be emotional support animals as well.

One other great thing about emotional support animals is that there are laws that enable you to have one in an apartment complex, even if animals aren’t usually allowed. Landlords usually just require a note from your doctor, stating your need for one. Also, laws enable your pet to travel with you in the cabin with you when you fly – for free! From what I’ve read, you need a doctor’s note and need to tell the airline 48 hours in advance of your flying.

Feeling stuck in your recovery? Try an emotional support animal. They are a worthwhile investment!

 

Surrender and Contentment Part 2: Learning Radical Acceptance

I wanted to share more of my journey to contentment and what that has looked like. Through this journey, I’ve been learning what we think we really want is usually not what we really deeply need. I thought I needed the perfect career in counseling and ministry to fill my sense of worth, value, and meaning. When that didn’t pan out, I thought I needed to be completely independent and prove myself to my family and friends. I put pressure on myself to be “okay” and “successful.” I put pressure on myself that only made me miserable and more anxious and depressed than ever. My grief turned into deep depression mixed with self-loathing and self-pity.

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A tool that helped me to overcome this constant fighting against my circumstances is called radical acceptance. It is a skill taught in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), a group therapy technique designed by Marsha Linehan to help people develop core skills in mindfulness, interpersonal relationships, emotional regulation, and managing a crisis. Radical acceptance is accepting reality as it is, no matter how difficult or unfair. It fits well with the saying we use when we can’t change something: “It is what it is.” When you are able to practice radical acceptance, you suffer less emotionally because you aren’t fighting against reality. It is quite healing and quite connected to the themes of surrender
and contentment in the Bible. In Job 2:10, Job says: “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

At first, one might think radical acceptance is giving up and not trying. However, radical acceptance actually allows you to get to a place of surrender so your heart and mind are in a better place to move forward. When I accepted that my mental and physical health problems were preventing me from doing some of the things I intended to do, my emotional suffering actually decreased. My problems didn’t go away, and there are still many obstacles to tackle. However, radical acceptance got me to a much more peaceful place where I am able to enjoy the things in life that I am able to do, instead of grieving over the things I can’t do. Through that, I found out what I really need: intimacy, connection, relationship. I am more motivated than ever to grow and heal, but that motivation comes from a place of contentment instead of desperate striving to
make things better.

Has God pruned things out of your life to get your attention to what really matters? Is He
knocking on your heart to surrender things in your life that you just haven’t been able to change on your own? Is He calling you radically accept where you are at? He wants to give you a deep sense that you can trust Him with the pieces of your life. He is sovereign and trustworthy, and the pieces WILL come together, my friend. Take it slow, keep your eyes on Jesus, and watch Him put the pieces together. Trust me, it’s so much easier this way. Keep asking Him to help you let go and woo you into His presence. He will not deny His children who cry out to Him day and night. Be encouraged, and do not give up.

Sweet Surrender, Sweet Contentment

I’ve come to a place where I am content. Deeply content. Yet, nothing in my life is as expected. God didn’t give me what I thought I wanted. He gave me something better. He took away all the things I could use to wrap my identity around and left me with Him. And that is enough. The journey to this place has not been simple or clean. It’s been messy and heartbreaking. Some have understood this path and many have not. And I don’t blame them. I don’t admit to understanding my journey either – the difference is, I’ve surrendered to God that need to understand. That need to have control has driven most of my life and my choices. I probably will always struggle with that need for control to some degree. Yet, what a sense of relief I feel this New Year! Instead of feeling anxious with heavy expectations upon myself, I am feeling at peace, with a sense of sweet surrender and wonder of having another year to grow deeper in God. Yes, there are things to do and changes to be made, but I will count on God to lead me in those things instead of me trying to. May you seek first His kingdom this New Year! Blessings for a wonderful 2018!

Rest in God’s Sovereignty

God is sovereign. He really is in control. He really does work all things together for His good. Yet, when the cares and trials of the world come right at us, we tend to try to get in the driver’s seat, take control, and figure things out on our own. I’m recently recovering from a strong bout of this striving, coupled with my anxiety and depression.

Often in my journey, I find myself in a state of striving, rooted in fear and anxiety, and wanting to prove myself. Yet, no fruit comes from this way of striving. It is not pleasing to the Lord when we rely on our own strength or understanding.

Proverbs 3:5-6 states: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight” (NIV). He calls us to lean into Him, not ourselves. But leaning into Him can be scary – especially when we have had traumatic and/or disappointing events happen to us. Yet, when we discover His sovereignty and character, we realize He is the safest One to entrust our lives to.

I recently started reading Max Lucado’s book, “Anxious for Nothing,” and he discusses the importance of understanding God’s sovereignty in treating anxiety. I couldn’t have read this truth at a better moment! Lucado gave the example of the lack of control we feel when we are gridlocked in traffic. This example got me thinking of how I feel gridlocked in life right now in many ways, and I have been grabbing for control in any way I can as a result. Being obsessive-compulsive about cleaning my apartment, my to do-list, my relationships, my performance, my recovery, and the list goes on! But, a lot of the circumstances I’m facing I can’t change. I sense the Lord calling me to radically surrender to Him, yet again. He’s convicted me that trying to control things only makes my circumstances and mental health worse; even more so, my striving has taken my eyes off of my Sovereign God.

As I fix my eyes back on Him, I see His kindness, goodness, and compassionate love for me. He is patient with me when I have no patience for myself. He has grace for me when I have no grace for myself. My pain and unresolved issues can stare me in the face and cause me to retreat. Or, I can look at my pain and unresolved issues and remember how big my God is. As Max Lucado states in his book – “stabilize your soul in the sovereignty of God” (p. 25).

Rest in the work of the cross, and listen for His voice to guide you. He will empower you, give you His perspective, and help you walk out the waiting as He works all things for His good. And, you will see His prescription for you isn’t to hide under the covers, but to step boldly into His love and presence!

Paul states in Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice!” (NIV)

Rejoice in who He is today and that He is taking care of you and all your needs in His perfect Sovereignty.