Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Calm My Anxious Heart

"All our fret and worry are caused by calculating without God."

I've been s.l.o.w.l.y making my way through the book "Calm my anxious heart" by Linda Dillow and there have been so many thoughts I've wanted to share as I go through it. While I shouldn't be surprised that a book about worry and anxiety would hit my heart in all the right places - it's like I'm still surprised when the Holy Spirit shows up and burns in my heart. While at times I wish the author would empathize or give more emotion, I have to say I truly needed the blunt truths she writes about allowing anxiety to rule in ones life. Anxiety is ravaging our society and culture and I was deeply challenged in this book to live differently - to cut it out before it can sink in roots ** It can not only have huge negative impacts on our relationships and mental health, but even our physical health can begin to take a toll as I've also personally seen in my life.

 Anxiety is a vicious monster that many of us feel we are constantly keeping just at bay but never fully conquering. I believe we want to be rid of it - but feel powerless against it's strongholds. I love how in this book she begins with the counter to anxiety = Trust in Jesus and contentment in our circumstances. There's a reason scripture tells us to THINK about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, etc. Our mind controls so much of who we are, yet we forget that we are in control of our mind and often (I) have little diligence in taking thoughts captive and allow them to run all kinds of places.

She puts it this way:
"My worrisome thoughts are like impatient toddlers jumping up 
and down and screaming, 'Look at me, look at me.' Jesus and I
take the negative 'toddler thought' and send them to time-out so 
we can focus on the good thoughts. Sometimes they don't obey. 
They get right back up and out of the chair and once again scream 
for attention. Then Jesus and I take those thoughts back to the 
time-out chair, but this time we tie them up!" 

At this stage in my life this is such an amazing visual!!! (except for the tying up part - I promise I don't do that haha~) But it's such intentionality in regards to our thought life about what we will allow ourselves to fixate on and worry about. I have seen this play out both ways in my life. On days when Juliana begins to hiccup/spasm I have almost and instant physical reaction. That sound of a hiccup can actually make my blood pressure instantly increase now. So much so that when my other kids are hiccuping I find myself having to say "It's not even her! CALM down". There's been many days where she starts and I've let my defenses completely go. I'm not having any control over my mind or anxiety and it spills out over every person around me. It's not pleasant. Other times, by truly the grace of God I can feel my anxiety rising as her watch her spasming in her sleep and I can grab all the crazy out of control thoughts that want to come rushing in and bulldoze all my joy - and throw them at the foot of the cross and actually leave them there! I'm not talking about stuffing your emotions during stress or that it's wrong to have emotional reactions in terrible times - but to know the JOY of having a savior who will carry these for us if only we let him. The jail door is wide open and we can walk out or stay inside of the prison anxiety can create. When we can cast our anxieties truly on him - it's incredible the peace (though sometimes still heartbroken physically) he can give us and sustain us.

 "When difficult circumstances come into my lie, 
I hear God's voice saying, "Linda, let me be the blessed 
controller. Surrender. Accept my timing. Accept my way. 
Accept my outcome. Let your trust be in me alone. Make
 secret choices that will honor me. Thought no one sees 
your choices or knows how difficult they are, make them for Me."

How beautiful - we aren't good at doing much in secret anymore. Even as I sit here in a coffee shop I "had" to document it on instagram. While I'm not saying that there's something wrong with sharing our life openly or through social media (for heaven's sake I'm writing a blog haha) - I am challenged that we've lost some things done in the quiet, when nobody is there. Sometimes, so desperate to share our pain we seep out into every social media outlet or the people around us instead of falling on our knees alone with our savior. I have to stop and sometimes ask myself (when I am using self control) "Am I wanting to share this instance in my life with others so that they can walk with me through it (good), so that it might help others (good) or so that everyone knows how hard I have it worse than them OR gain praise for my lot from men (not so good) ---- these lines can be easily blurred and it's why I am wanting to be intentional about looking to Jesus FIRST. Giving him my first and often that is enough. It doesn't need to go anywhere else cause he's holding it now.

"God has placed our portion in our cup. We either
 choose to grasp it by the handle and lift it to Him, 
saying, "I accept my portion; I accept this cup," 
or we choose to smash our cup to pieces, saying, 
"God, I refuse my portion. This cup is not the right 
size for me and I don't like what You've put in it. 
I'll control my life myself." 

Yikes I've seen this in my own heart. When I look at things that aren't what I expected in my life {could be job, family choices, spouse/relationships, health, children} I often want to scream "NO! I don't like this is not ok" or "I didn't sign up for this" as if I was entitled to a suffering free life with perfect health and whole relationships.  How can I so easily forget which side of heaven I'm on.
Another quote - sorry so many good ones. You didn't think you were actually coming onto my blog to read a book?!? LOL Surprise!!

"Your life is out of control, so you give up. It's impossible
 to make sense of life, beyond impossible to be content, 
so you give up and give in. Most of us either try too hard or
 we quit trying. In both cases, we miss God. We miss
 His infusion of strength that leads to contentment."

Among the millions of things I've learned through Juliana's medical journey - is that my beginning mindset was for God to help "get us through it". And sometimes that's all we can pray right? - help - and he meets up there too. What he's been slowly showing me is that his desire is my heart and whole whole self. That through the process of pain he would be showing me more of himself - not a simple fix or aid. That the work he's doing IN me is so much better through it than out of it. I can't hold back pieces, clutching tightly saying, "no this is too fragile. If I give her over to you fully, what might you do?" and there - in that soft stillness it's where I see how much I can trust him. I can take all my precious parts and hand them full over to him WITH peace. It's a work in progress still.

In this book I love that she gives physical applications to practice this surrender. For her it was an anxiety box where she would write them down as they came to her and she would place them in the box, and every time she saw it she would remember she left them there with her Lord. She urges the reader to do something physical to be a visual of where you are placing your mind and worries. For we know we cannot do both right? We can't worry AND trust God. For when we allow anxiety to reign we are saying that we don't quite trust Him. My last quote:

We're familiar with the small trickle of fear that meanders through our minds until it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained. 

It gets us nowhere, much like a rocking chair worry is often described as something to do but with no progress. But it does do our emotional state, relationships and health harm. I've seen in my life that no amount of will power or "I will trust God!!" mentality will get me there - it's by him and him alone that we can live in peace free of anxiety.

Surrender - cast worries - trust. 

I'm excited to keep reading and pray that if this is something you're also struggling with you will read it, find friends to walk through things with and most of all that the Lord's tender love would settle deep your heart, casting all fear away. 

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**To borrow a description from her book - There are friends who I know who have experienced anxiety attacks due to a chemical imbalance in their brains and must be on medication to control their anxiety, This is a physical problem over which they have little control. This is not the kind of anxiety to which I am referring. I am talking about the everyday worry we allow to control our lives.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

~ Luke's First Birthday ~

Happy 1 year my precious Luke!

Crazy that almost this exact time a year ago we decided it was time to head to the hospital and a few short hours later you were born! #fastestyearever

You are such a joy and light in our family!
You have a sweet, mischievous spirit that I could sit and watch for hours. I adore when you see something you want to get to and speeeeeeeed crawl to get it. I love watching you chase your older siblings and especially when they are covering you in kisses - I can literally feel my heart swell at the way the 3 of you interact. Truly, you have brought with you such a new dynamic in our household that we love.
We really enjoyed this year with you! I think by the 3rd child parents are often able to simmer down and just sit and soak up each milestone - that's how it was for us at least! I enjoyed this *first* year probably more than any other one!
It's been a flow of emotions this year watching you grow - while we *plan* Lord willing to pursue fost-adopt- you are our last baby! That has been such a roller coaster I wasn't expecting. There are definite things I will never miss - sleeping to name just one little one. In the beginning I don't mind those wake up calls to snuggle with my newborn. But as the year goes on it gets less magical haha. The gymnastics nursing one year old is just not the same. sleep child - SLEEEEEP.

But the things I'll miss? How could I ever name them. The flutters of a baby moving inside of you - there's nothing like that. I could actually cry thinking back to each moment I grasped each of my babies onto my chest after they were born. I relive those moments often - I just love it!
That sweet baby smell - marveling at each tiny detail of baby. This has to be one of God's most special gifts to us. Celebrating each sit up, crawl, step with cheers of joy and a tinge of sadness that you can't go back in time. What will I do without the baby sleepers that are just SO cozy.
Like I said. Too much to get into.

We had a fun *little* celebration with our parents and siblings last night.

Had so much fun making this little cake for him!

Just a few drumsticks ;) 

Daddy making sure it tastes ok. :) 

He was a big fan !

Basically wouldn't stop giggling as he ate it :) He didn't the whole thing I couldn't bring myself to let him eat that much lol!!!!

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