A recipe for PEACE.

We interrupt the continuous process of you replaying over and over again in your head, the same scenario or problem that is causing you anxiety, with this urgent message:

interruption

You can stop anxiety dead in it’s tracks when you start focusing on the only person who can actually do something about it and promise you peace in the meantime.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philipians 4:6-7 

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients
Anything.
Everything.
and lots of Thanksgiving.

Steps:

1.Bring anything and everything to Him in prayer.
2.Add thanksgiving.
3.Let it simmer for as long as necessary until desired consistency.

And BAM! Peace!

Thanksgiving is not just a day with turkey and all the trimmings…it’s an attitude that will change the direction of your life and bring you peace that goes beyond your own understanding.

I’ve recently found myself obsessing over things that I don’t have the power to change. When I do that I lose my joy and my peace (and have heart palpitations!) So, I write this blog to remind myself and hopefully someone else who needs reminding.

thankful

We must take the time to practice this verse and really focus on being grateful for the good in our lives to help redirect our thoughts. And the bad…well we can be grateful for that too, knowing that God is working on our behalf behind the scenes brings us peace that the situation does not naturally provide. Jotting it down on paper or in a journal can be a great reminder.

The holidays can be stressful. Peace can be hard to come by for a variety of reasons. Take time to practice gratitude and watch your anxiety transform into peace!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

Last Monday I had a hangover.

vulnerability

I thought that might get your attention!

But, it’s not what you are thinking. What I had was a vulnerability hangover.

Let me explain.

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to speak at my church. It was a message of encouragement but within the message I told the entire congregation about the fact that my depression had gotten so bad last year that I decided to treat it with medication. It was pertinent to the conversation because I was talking about shame – something I felt a great deal of and had to fight off. I felt good about sharing because even though I knew it would be uncomfortable, I believed it would help someone.

It went well and many people thanked me for my transparency. On Sunday night, I felt like I had accomplished what I set out to do.

Then Monday came.

I woke up and thought, “I can’t believe I shared such personal details with 3 services worth of people not to mention those who may watch the video.” I was experiencing a vulnerability hangover. I didn’t make that up. It is a term coined by Brené Brown, researcher of such topics as courage, vulnerability, authenticity, empathy and shame. Brené explains that a vulnerability hangover is “the feeling that sweeps over us after we feel the need to connect… and we share something deeply meaningful. Minutes, hours, or days later, we begin to feel regret sweep over us like a warm wave of nausea.”

I’m happy to say that because I have been sharing bits and pieces of my story for a while now, my hangover was not too bad. I was able to shake it off pretty quickly having learned these 3 things.

#1  It’s worth it.

The discomfort of vulnerability is worth it when you weigh it against the value of connection.  Connection, true connection is what people who are in need are looking for.  It doesn’t help them to see someone who acts like they have it all together all the time – it only adds to their shame and impedes their ability to open up and share themselves. When true connection is made, we share. When we share we heal.

#2  It’s not the critic who counts. (thank you, Theodore Roosevelt!)

At the heart of the vulnerability hangover is the fear of being judged.  Since depression is classified as a mental illness I battle the fear of being defined by my struggle. There are people who will disagree with how I choose to handle and overcome depression but in the end it is not those people who I necessarily feel drawn to connect with.  I have come to terms with the reality that there will be those who may not understand or have a different opinion than I do. I have resolved that I answer only to the One who has called me to share my story in order to help others.

#3  It’s not about me.

We live in a me-driven world. As a Christian and follower of Jesus, I want to live as He lived.  He lived His life entirely for others.  Notice I said I WANT to live as He lived. That doesn’t mean I always do, by any means. But when I am feeling exposed and vulnerable I remember that in order to live the way I claim to want to live, it requires dying to myself and living for a greater cause.  Ironically, it ends up being the best thing for ME. It is where I derive true joy and peace – so in the end it sort of is about me.  But that’s how God works.  The more we pour ourselves out on behalf of others the more he pours joy and peace into us. It’s a pretty good deal.

Final thought on vulnerability, again from Brené Brown. (can you tell I love her and her work?)

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness. 

Amen.

Have you ever experienced a vulnerability hangover after taking a courageous step to share a part of yourself?  I’d love to hear about it ~ please leave a comment!

Dare to Dream

dream, perseverance, faith One of my favorite books is called The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson. It is a modern day parable of a man named Ordinary from the Land of Familiar who is visited by the Dream Giver and given a Dream.

I read it at least once a year. It reminds me that the ups and downs that I experience as I pursue the dreams God has given me are all part of the journey and common to any dreamer.

The chapter outline alone comforts me. It helps me recognize where I am in the dream cycle. Here is the outline and maybe you can identify where you are.

1. Ordinary Embraced His Big Dream
2. Ordinary Leaves His Comfort Zone
3. Ordinary Meets Bullies in the Borderland
4. Ordinary Enters the Wasteland
5. Ordinary finds Sanctuary
6. Ordinary Reaches the Valley of the Giants
7. Ordinary Thrives in the Land of Promise

This past fall I entered the wasteland. In the winter I found sanctuary and gained the strength I needed to face the giants. Now, I am ready to enter into the land of promise. How about you? Can you identify with any of these stages of the dream cycle?

Be comforted today as you pursue your dreams that as we are tried and tested we are still making progress towards the land of promise ~ it is there waiting for us if we persevere.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4

Caught in the Undertow

I grew up on Long Island.  Although I have lived on the west coast of Florida, which boasts some of the world’s most beautiful beaches for the past 20 years, Jones Beach will always be the most beautiful beach to me because it is home.

If I close my eyes I can feel the gritty sand in my toes and hear the seagulls and the waves crashing to the shore. As a little kid I would play on the shore line, building sandcastles and jumping over the remainder of the breaker waves as they rolled up towards the beach.  As I got older I became more adventurous and learned how to ride the waves in as they broke.

It is an exhilarating feeling to catch a good wave at precisely the right moment and get a nice clean ride in. But occasionally you can be blindsided by a wave and get pummeled by it because you weren’t expecting it. Sometimes in an attempt to ride a wave you can jump in at the wrong time resulting in being creamed by the force of the current. This is a scary experience.  In a matter of seconds you are being spun uncontrollably and it is incredibly difficult to find your bearings. It feels like the ocean is sucking you downward. If you are not accustomed to navigating the unpredictable activity of an undertow it is easy to panic.  I have been caught in some crazy waves that in the moment have made me wonder if I would survive.

Fortunately like most kids who are raised by the beach, I was taught at a young age how to handle such situations and even though it could be frightening I knew that if I followed some simple rules of survival the wave would eventually subside and I would once again rise to the surface and be able to breathe.

The first rule was HOLD YOUR BREATH AND DON’T PANIC.  The duration of even a huge ocean wave is shorter than the amount of time you can hold your breath. The tendency when we panic is to gasp for breath but if when the wave hits you just hold your breath and don’t panic in time the waters will smooth out and the air in your body will cause you to rise to the surface.

The second rule was DON’T FIGHT IT – GO WITH THE FLOW. Our natural reaction when we’re being knocked around and feel out of control is to fight to regain our footing but this is actually counterproductive when trying to react to a wave. All you will end up doing is completely exhausting yourself.  Instead the trick is to relax your body and let yourself go with it until the wave passes.  The force of the wave is far stronger than you are and fighting against it is futile. If you can calmly wait it out you will soon be released, your feet will find the ground and you will be able to push up to the surface and find your bearings. This is easier said than done when you are being tossed about by the waves!

Some kids (and grown-ups for that matter) having been pummeled by a wave once decided it was not worth the risk and do not engage in the joy of riding the waves. They didn’t learn the survival tips for managing the undertow and so they settle for just playing in the shallow breakers. They are missing out on the exhilaration of swimming in the ocean.  It is an incredible feeling to be carried by the rise and fall of the ocean swells and something thrilling about playing in the vastness of the sea.

Life is often like this. A series of waves, some invigorating and awe-inspiring and others downright frightening and disorienting. But it shouldn’t stop us from engaging. If we want to experience all the joy and wonder that this life has to offer we need to pack up our coping skills and dive in deep.

crashing waves, panic, depression, coping, fear
This is not me – but what a great picture!
photo credit
Young girl in the waves, Jones Beach, New York. July 1951, by Alfred Eisenstaedt.
http://www.entertaininghouse.com

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Instead of playing in the shallow breakers I am ready to dive in.  This is an unedited, first attempt excerpt from a short book I am writing. Stay tuned!

If you are in the swirl of an undertow please know that this too shall pass.  Hold your breath (or since you are not really in the ocean – take some deep breaths) ~ don’t panic.  Before you know it you will be in smooth waters once again. 

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. ~ Psalm 107:29

The Spirit of the Warrior

There is a difference between having a warrior spirit and a warring spirit. warrior

It is true that there are times we have to battle through, but it is equally true that in this life of faith there are times when the warrior’s wisest strategy is to surrender.

Surrender in real battle means defeat but surrender in the life of faith is many times the only way to victory.

I found this out last year when I had my meltdown. I had trained myself throughout my life to war through the tough times.  You know, get tougher when the going got tough.

It worked for the most part for 47 years and then I hit a wall.

It was then that I realized that the warrior in me needed to rest and allow the Spirit of the Warrior that resides within me to fight on my behalf.

It is ironic but I needed to gather all the strength I had to give myself permission to stop being so strong.

Maybe you have been fighting a battle that is not yours to fight.

Allow the Spirit of the Warrior who always wins fight for you.  He has promised that He will.

As always I welcome your thoughts, comments, questions! Have a great Thursday!  Friday’s coming 😉

Stop being afraid, and stop being discouraged because of this vast invasion force, because the battle doesn’t belong to you, but to God.  ~  2Chor 20:15 (ISV)

Good, Good Friday

The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost. ~ Luke 19:10

 What can take away our sin?

 What can make us whole again?

 What can dry our tears?

 What can mend our broken relationships?

What can help us extend forgiveness to others?

 What can heal our bodies?

 What can restore our minds to sanity?

 What can bring peace to a restless soul?

What can cast out fear?

 What can give us courage?

 What can give us strength when we are weak?

 What can give us hope?

 What can redeem all that is wrong in the world?

 Nothing, but the blood of Jesus.

it is finished

My journey to BRAVE.

photo
A journal given to me by my sweet friend who is one brave chick!

In July of 2012 a friend and I took our girls to see the newest Disney movie. We sat chatting through the previews and then without much notice the movie started.  The movie had already been playing for a few minutes when the one-word title exploded onto the screen and as it did something inside of me leapt.  I know that sounds strange. It seemed strange to me also but I knew immediately that there was something significant about the word…BRAVE.

Part of my role at For the Girls International is to cast vision and lay out themes our conferences and events.  When we went to see the movie we were smack dab in the middle of the planning for our 2012 conference but in that instant I knew the theme for 2013 just had to be – BE BRAVE!

What I didn’t know was that a few months from then I would experience a life event that would begin an unraveling that I could not stop no matter how hard I tried.  I have been through episodes of depression in my life before but despite every effort to pull it together on my own in October of 2012, I came undone.

I didn’t realize back in July that God was about to require me to embark on a brave journey.  That in order to inspire others to be brave with their lives I would first have to be brave with mine.

I have always believed that our stories are not for us to keep to ourselves but to share. We are all connected on this journey of life.  I know very well that it takes time to work up the courage to share parts that may make us feel vulnerable and exposed.  But it is there, in that place of transparency and vulnerability that real connection occurs. It is there that hearts heal together.

There is a time and a place for everything and I believe it is time for me to share more of my story. And my hope is that it can help someone else heal.  So here’s to being brave together!

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Inscription inside my journal