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Posts Tagged ‘anxiety’

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By my early-40’s I’d earned a few certificates and degrees, four children, two dogs–and the unenviable position of being diagnosed with several disorders. Anxiety. Depression. PTSD. PMDD. Even a penchant toward dissociation.

As a young woman, I’d been certain I could shed the shame of my childhood and embrace happiness. Peace. Living. But I didn’t realize that old, unhealed wounds fester and leach. That anxiety wasn’t something I could dust off like a farmer’s pair of worn cowboy boots.

I didn't realize that old, unhealed wounds fester and leach.That anxiety wasn't something I could dust off like a farmer's pair of worn cowboy boots.#mentalillness#hope#letsgetrealseries Click To Tweet

Time clicked by and, ever so gently, God nurtured and healed. Provided wise counsel and tools to help manage the tumult of soul-sucking pain. Gifted me with a husband who loved through it all. Sustained me when I wanted nothing more than to inhale the last of earth and the first of heaven.

Have you been there? Are you there now? Or, does a loved one bear the burden of mental illness?

I know the pain and I'm sorry you're hurting.#depression#ptsd#hope Click To Tweet

I know the pain and I’m sorry you’re hurting, friend. I’m sorry you don’t share openly because you fear being judged. I’m sorry you weep, cry, and grieve for the person you thought you’d become. I’m sorry that just getting out of bed or making it through one more day makes you feel as though you’re an overloaded cargo ship sinking beneath the weight of its cargo.

Whether you are the one desperate for relief, a mama longing to take her child’s struggle, or a wife desperate for the husband she once knew, you are not alone.

One in five adults understand.

One in five women with successful careers. One in five stay-at-home moms with dinners made by scratch and dessert in the oven. One in five grandmothers living the golden years. One in five women in every church pew on any given Sunday understand.

One in five women in every church pew on any given Sunday understand. #mentalillness#1in5#hope Click To Tweet

Not only are you surrounded by others who empathize, but there is something even better. It’s the four-letter word we forget in the midst of the hard.

Hope.

We have hope because of Christ, in Christ and through Christ.

We have hope because the end of our story was rewritten on the cross. Sin exchanged for restoration, tears for celebration, and death for liberation. Neither depression, anxiety, or any other illness can wrest these from your grasp because you are held tightly in His.

When you’re tempted to believe there is nothing better than what is right now, remind yourself of what you know to be true. There will be more to your story.

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 MSG)

 Peace and grace, Tammy

Mental Health Pain Hack Image

Mental Health Pain Hack Printable

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The Lord will fight for you. Just stay calm.

Fear tracks my steps like a hunter. It knows my habits, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. Fear launches arrows of trepidation and dread when I linger too long in the wasteland of what-if-outcomes and this-seems-impossible probability.

Fear launches arrows of trepidation and dread when I linger too long in the wasteland of what-if-outcomes.#fightingfear#letsgetrealseries#donotbeafraid Click To Tweet

Like any predator, fear longs to cripple its prey, rendering her useless. Spent. Afraid to take action. As its presence draws close, it grows ever larger; assuming power over thought and imagination. Casting its shadow over hope, possibility, and a truth-based view of God’s matchless love and strength.

Fear leads to worry and worry, when coddled, leads to anxiety.#fightingfear#letsgetrealseries#donotbeafraid Click To Tweet

Fear leads to worry and worry, when coddled, leads to anxiety.  Right now? I’m precariously balanced on the line between worry and anxiety. Perhaps you are, as well. You, too, may feel as though any circumstance that confirms your fear will catapult you into the hunter’s trap and once there, you’ll live out that which you’d dreaded in the first place. Every fear realized. Every dream obliterated.

An opportunist, fear resides in different areas of your life and mine. Some of us fear abandonment, loss of security, or being unloved and unseen. Others of us struggle with the fear of never being enough, failing as a wife or mother, or being without purpose. Still others fear what might become of a loved one who struggles with prodigal living, mental illness, or addiction.

God knows our hearts tremble and quake.He understands that our knees knock in the face of real situation.Maybe the reason He sprinkled the phrase 'do not be afraid' in scripture 70 times is because He knows us so… Click To Tweet

Friend, God knows our hearts tremble and quake. He understands that our knees knock in the face of real situations or circumstances and that our imaginations run wild with what-if scenarios and I-can’t-imagine-anything-good-coming-of-this myopia.

Maybe the reason He sprinkled the phrase “do not be afraid” in scripture 70 times (along with abundant variations) is because He knows us so well. He realizes we need to be reminded again and again and again of His power, strength and faithfulness because we lose sight of who He is.

We forget His promises.

We flounder in our faith and mistake it for abandonment.

We presume that our weakness equates to a similar weakness in God and we become discouraged or distraught.

But, we can engage fear and overcome it when we wage the battle on our knees and in our minds. The steps I’ve listed below are those that have proven most to helpful to me as I’ve managed my own fear fighting. I pray they encourage your heart as you stand up against fear in your own life.

Fighting Fear Power Plan

  • Prepare for Battle Read, recite and record Bible verses that address fear. These  are a few of my favorites and serve as a starting point. (Isaiah 41:13, Joshua 1:9, Psalm 34:4) As you consider the Father’s words, notice how He is personally involved in the struggle against fear.
  • Dress for Battle Fear fighting encompasses mind and spirit, therefore, we must be clothed accordingly or we’ll be vulnerable to the assaults of the enemy. Ephesians 6:10-18 provides the strategy for us to put on God’s holy power and strength.
  • Engage in Battle Pray. Get real with God about your fear and allow Him to work in your heart and situation. Journal your prayers and pray scripture back to God. You might start with Psalm 27 ,David’s response to fear.

 

Peace and grace,                                                                                                                                      Tammy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve experienced this struggle often enough and long enough to realize this is a battle won on two fronts–in my mind and on my knees.

 

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A heart overwhelmed by anxiety loses sight of the beauty in the everyday and forfeits soul rest,.png

I am a worrier. In fact, worry consumes more of my time than it should and traipses after me day and night. When my loved ones travel cross country? I fret. Will a careless driver hit the car somewhere between Colorado and California? When I drop my children at school in the morning? I worry. Will a madman introduce terror to young children and their teachers? When my college student discusses his plans to serve and share Jesus in far off countries rife with persecution? I chafe inwardly. Will my son be safe pursuing His call?

If you’re a worrier, you understand. It’s a battle to maintain balanced thinking in a wildly-out-of-control society. Still, scripture urges us not to “worry about tomorrow” because “each day has enough of its own troubles”. (Matthew 6:34)

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. Click To Tweet

The Message reads like this, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

A neatly packaged three point mini-sermon, this verse outlines three habits that eliminate worry.

Focus on God What is He doing in our lives today? In this moment? Is there a lesson for us to learn? A calling to fulfill? A blessing to be noticed?

A heart overwhelmed by anxiety loses sight of the beauty in the everyday and forfeits soul rest, peace and joy. Click To Tweet

A heart overwhelmed by anxiety loses sight of the beauty in the everyday and forfeits soul rest, peace and joy. But we are face-to-face with a Father who longs to remove our burdens and take them upon Himself. He is equipped to carry each concern. To do the heavy lifting. To be God.

Forgo Fear Dwelling on the what-ifs shifts our focus from the possibilities of today to a mindset mangled by fear and opens the door to the Enemy’s wily ways of deceit. When fear takes hold we forget the greatness of God. We reduce Him to the size of our problems rather than comparing our troubles to the immensity of His power and perfect love.

When fear takes hold we forget the greatness of God. We reduce Him to the size of our problems rather than comparing our troubles to the immensity of His power and perfect love. Click To Tweet

Because “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18), we can rest in His love. We loosen our grip on the idea of control, immerse our minds in the Word of life, and practice being in His presence. He is able, friend, to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)

Find Strength in Him Worry draws us inward rather than upward. But, our answers aren’t discovered within. There, we experience anxiety. Discouragement. Even despair. Instead, our sure solutions are found in the One whose strength is displayed in our weakness. The One who forges paths in places where none existed before, brightens the darkness with Light, and presents mercies anew each day.

He is the Almighty God, friend. The Messiah who overcame death is more than able to manage our worries.

 

Action Steps

  1. List the 3 areas of your life that cause you to worry the most.
  2. Ask God to reveal His heart for these three areas. Write down the specific ways He wants to enter into your situation and concerns.
  3. Post Bible verses that remind you of God’s strength around your home or carry them in your bag. I’ve listed a few of my favorites below.
  • Romans 16:25 (MSG) All of our praise rises to the One who is strong enough to          make you strong, exactly as preached in Jesus Christ…
  •  Isaiah 33:2 (NIV) Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every       morning, our salvation in time of distress.
  • Psalm 55:22 (NIV) Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will        never let the righteous be shaken.

Grace and peace,

Tammy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

It waits in the shadow of thoughts; sitting real and large on my chest like a rock pressing sharp edges into earth’s soft soil. Settling into tender places until the pressure builds and the corners of my heart fracture enough to allow tears to seep through and thin shocks of electricity shoot down my arms into the tips of each finger–seeking release.

I’ve been managing anxiety well for years, but its risen from dormancy the last several weeks. I’m not terribly surprised. For a short time, my husband was hospitalized. A colleague threatened suicide. A dear one is battling against the stronghold of depression. And the only evidence now of a long-time canine companion is a small pink collar and unused dog dish.

Unwelcome, apprehension greets me in the morning and whispers in my ear as I lay my head on the pillow at night.

You should have done something for her today. Why didn’t you call him? What if he doesn’t know how important he is to you? To God? 

I gather the thoughts and then release them in prayers.


This sort of battle resides in the mind, but is as real as any visible enemy. For some, its roots may have sprung from a biological bent toward mental illness. A lack of feel-good chemical production. Others may have suffered trauma or loss. Perhaps a loss so overwhelming that is seems to grow uncontrolled and ever-larger–like a nightmarish beanstalk in a child’s fairy tale.

Friend, when we feel impossibly small as we hack away at anxiety–burdened by the hard of circumstance or overwhelmed by worry, remember that Christ conquered every power. Every principality. Every plot to separate us from Him. In His name we can stand against the lies of the enemy, denying satan the right to shift worship from Christ to concern.

Pray against worry. Pronounce Christ’s truth over yourself. And, cling to His promises.

Blessings,  

Tammy

Action Steps to Help When You are Anxious

  • P-When assaulted by an anxious thought, immediately pray against it. Renounce it as powerless in the name of Christ. (John 14:13)
  • RRemind yourself of God’s promises. Memorize scriptures you can pray back to Him when you’re struggling. (James 4:8)
  • AAsk others to pray with and for you.  (James 5:16)
  • I-Develop intentional habits to help ward off anxiety.  These might include daily Bible reading and meditation, regular exercise, and eating well. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
  • S-If anxiety becomes part of your day-to-day struggle, seek help from a counselor or doctor. (Proverbs 12:15)
  • E-Press into God, enduring with patience and hope for He will bless you. (James 1:12)

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“What do you dream about doing? What are your hopes for the future?” When I asked the questions, the young man looked at me—his dark glasses framing serious blue eyes.

“I don’t have a dream,” he said, shrugging with something like resignation.

“Then I’m going to pray God gives you a dream,” I responded—sounding more certain than I felt.

Shouldn’t everyone have a dream? The idea of something that inspires hope? Excitement? Possibility?

psalm 73

I think so…but this dear one—and many others—struggle with such joy killers as depression and anxiety. I’m not talking about the blues or generic concerns, but the sort of life-altering conditions that overwhelm with their intensity and duration. If you’ve experienced these types of struggles, you understand what it is to feel as if the future holds no promise…no hope.

 

The Church tends to throw Bible verses in the direction of those who experience the pain and loneliness of mental illness. Other believers—even the wise and well meaning—spiritualize the situation or question their fellow-Christians faith. You just need to pray more!

 

Fortunately, awareness is growing and more people are sharing their stories—reminding those in the middle of the storm that it will end. The rains may rage for a time, but one morning you will awaken feeling the sunshine on your face! Your hopelessness will be replaced by promise and your joylessness with laughter. Friend…you will release your burdens and dream again!

 

In the meantime—remain under your doctor’s care, seek wise counsel, and develop a support network. And, continue to rely on the truth of God’s love for you despite how you may feel.

 

Friends and family of those living through the hard of mental illness? Listen. Ask how you can help. Pray that your friend, child, husband, or other hurting one will soon be able to dream again.

 

Recommended Books/Resources:

Hope Prevails by Dr. Michelle Bengston

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (www.bdsalliance.org)

 

 

 

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woman-570883_1920I vividly remember standing beneath the wooden doorframe of my bedroom–terrified of the imagined evil lurking in the five inches of space beneath mattress and covers. I stood motionless…weighing the options. The risks? Certain punishment if I refused to quickly locate myself beneath the warmth of sleep-inducing blankets or—to my impressionable mind—possible capture by whatever monster or boogie man lurked beneath the confines of a seemingly innocent piece of furniture.

At the tender age of four or five, Shadow had become a thing of nightmares and illusory power.

Too often, though, it seems our fear of Shadow follows us into adulthood. While disguised in more grown-up form, we still tremble at its existence and our thoughts are filled with untrue or unfulfilled imagery that leads us from a place of comfort into the obscure illusion of “What If?”

The “What If’s” come in many shapes and may be different for each of us.

What if…my husband leaves me?

 What if…my child dies?

 What if…I’m really never happy?

 What if…this wound refuses to heal?

 What if? What if? What if?

 

Oh, dear One, the Shadow of What If is—and always has been—a robber of joy and imitator of truth designed to obscure the Light of Hope. We fight each dark pursuer—out of breath and in need of relief. Somehow, we’re certain a jab or swing in the Shadow’s direction will ensure some sort of relief. So we listen to Oprah…read books by Dr. Oz…try the newest diet trend…anything to help us battle the dark, elusive threat that is our greatest Fear.

But in so much of the struggle we rely on ourselves—forgetting the promises of scripture. Psalm 23 reminds us that even when we’re surrounded by a darkness so deep it casts death’s shadow, He is there! Even in the most frightening of times or the loneliest moments he guides…protects…comforts. He is the one who will manage our struggles and wage our battles.

Our futile attempts at Shadow boxing can cease. No more useless jabbing or dodging. Let’s give the battle to the Champion of hearts and souls—the giver of life, conqueror of death, and victor over sin and its effects.

 Suggested Scripture and Questions for Reflection

Read Psalm 23.

What dark valleys has God guided you through already? If your journey is taking you through a place filled with Shadows are you relying upon the Shepherd—or self? I know I struggle with this–vacillating back and forth.

As a gentle reminder to yourself about God’s abounding faithfulness and protection, reread Psalm 23. This time, replace each “me” with your name and “my” with the pronoun “her”.

A David Psalm (MSG)

23 1-3 God, my shepherd!
I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.

 

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It’s that vacuous, indefinable place between here and there when—like Dante—you awaken near the edge of a dark valley. The valley yawns wide…deep…threatening and you squint your eyes searching for even the dimmest light beckoning in a direction—any direction.

But, fear prohibits the slightest movement. What lies ahead? Maybe it’s safer to remain on the precipice of the Unknown rather to wander aimlessly.

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cliff

 

 

My limbo? It became reality five years ago when my husband deployed to the dusty, foreign lands of Afghanistan. One morning, we were laughing together over coffee and the next Dave was gone. For ten months, his place at the table remained empty and my heart was filled with fear…grief…anxiety.

For some, this prolonged state of uncertainty might come on the heels of a divorce. It may have been realized when the doctor uttered the word, “Cancer” or the day you finally admitted your child struggles with depression. There are hundreds of entry points into Nowhere—financial struggles, abuse, job changes, death of a loved one.

But limbo?   It’s a counterfeit imitation of hell meant to interrupt joy, dispel hope, and distract away from the beauty of living. I’m not saying limbo is always avoidable.  We may need to experience it for a time. I’m not denying we’ll all deal with the difficult and feel lost sometimes.

I am suggesting we seize that evasive, empty place and fill it with whatever is true before limbo is the habit and living disappears.

Instead of dwelling in the dissatisfaction of Nothingness, we can choose Something.

How?

We remain in the present—in the moment. Worry robs us of the time we might enjoy today because our focus has shifted to the what-ifs of tomorrow. Mindfulness opens us up to hope and possibility.

Matthew 6:34 exhorts, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

I encourage you, dear friend, to take a step…move ahead. Your refuge is in the Rock—not on the edge of one.

 

 

 

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What matters more than material blessings are the things He is teaching us in our spirit.

Charles Stanley

It all began much earlier for him, but most of the nascent signs were quiet and crept into life bit by bit–a silent predator slowly introducing the victim to its presence. Then two years ago, the boy’s everyday life shifted with such suddenness there could be no doubt. Our son knew what it was to struggle with anxiety and depression.

Sleep oscillated between the extremes of non-existent and constant.  Recurring migraines…weight loss…lack of appetite. And my adventurous, full-throttle son retreated to a solitary world that seemed impenetrable.  Once in a great while I would catch a glimpse of the boy , but the cloud of oppression that hung over him was normally the more visible of the two.

There is no heartache quite like that a parent has for her suffering child and in my grief I confronted God.  I wept.  I raged. I begged.  I prayed.

Please, Lord, please!

After more than two years of trial and error…missed school days and fading dreams, we discovered the right combination of interventions and supports–not the least of which included medication.  Finally…some relief for the boy I had soothed with lullabies not so many years ago.

During this time, my boy continued to seek after God.  He wanted more of Jesus–and, unlike me, didn’t seem to struggle with blaming God for allowing this trial in his young life.  Despite the depression…regardless of the anxiety…in spite of the weariness.

One evening he returned from youth group, his face transformed by joy.

We asked God to heal me.  I don’t need my medicine anymore.

christian : Man worshiping god shot at yellow grass Stock Photo

I was skeptical…fearful…doubtful.  I believed in miracles, but this? A young man’s life could be at stake.

Slow and methodical in my response,  I have taken the “yes, but” approach to this precious boy’s healing. “Yes–God can heal, but…”

Yes, but…healing is not probable…practical…likely.

Yes, but…this could be temporary…time-inhibited…explainable.

Yes, but…are you sure you can sleep…function…manage?

And he continues to do well.  Feel well.  Live well.

I have begun to relate to the Bible verse, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” in ways I never expected.  And I wonder if any of you understand?  If you’ve lived it, too?  At some level, those of us who are Christians must grasp the mystery of such things–at least a little bit.

We trust in Jesus, after all.

Yes, but…a virgin birth is impossible…unimaginable…implausible.

Yes, but…a resurrected Messiah is unbelievable…incredible…miraculous.

Yes, but…can we know we are sanctified…rescued…redeemed?

Yes, but…He was born of a virgin, died on a cross, and rose again in three days.

Scripture for Reflection

Mark 9:24

Genesis 15:6

Isaiah 43:10

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A glance at the car parked next to mine quickly turned to unmannerly gawking when I noticed the condition of the vehicle.  Every visible space–except the driver’s seat–was crammed with fastfood wrappers, boxes, and cups.  The front seat?  Full of trash.  The back seat?  Brimming with garbage. 

I couldn’t help but think of the spiritual implications.  How many times have I refused to rid my life of the clutter I’ve picked up along the way?  Bad habits.  Feelings of inferiority.  Judgemental attitudes.  Every time I’ve allowed the cares and concerns of my past to crowd around me then I feel pressed in on every side–trapped and immobile. 

Christ offers a new beginning, though.   I can throw away all of the “junk in the trunk” and focus on the road ahead.  A road free of old debris. 

What habit or concern can you give to God today? Let’s de-clutter!

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