Anxiety Sinkhole

Overthinking. Facial numbness. Inner tingling. Shakiness. Heart-racing. Sleeplessness. Vivid dreaming. Double, triple-checking. Headaches.

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? For the past month, I’ve been battling off one or more of these (my) symptoms of anxiety. They came in a beautifully-wrapped package called “New job,” and they stayed for the whole celebration. They didn’t simply exist, but they grew. Each new day, and even on weekends, I’d be consumed with “What if?” thoughts to the point of the left side of my face going numb. I would have been more worried about that, had I not taken a trip to the ER two years prior where after several X-rays and exams, the doctors concluded: Stress. So I couldn’t escape on weekends, and I definitely couldn’t escape in my sleep. I swear, sometimes my dreams are so vivid, it feels like I’m living a second life at night – which is far from restful… So at night I’d be toiling away at paperwork or intakes or database entry which made work seem more like 16 hour days. And NEV-ER END-ING.

It got to the point where the internet was even reading my mind – you know how it does that – place ads on your screen that connect with whatever you might be dealing with at the time? Well, mine showed https://www.recoveryformula.com/quiz/start “Anxiety Test – Do you worry too much?” Through my answers, I received an anxiety score of 52/100, which on their scale meant severe anxiety. Rachel Ramos, apparently connected to the site, now sends me daily emails, checking in on my anxiety – sometimes including helpful tips! (that’s a sarcastic exclamation point…) (in case you couldn’t sense it…)

As the days went on, and Rachel Ramos’s tips somehow left me questioning myself, thus leading to more anxiety, and as my homeopathic aids were not reducing the amount of numbness that stretched along the left side of my face, I realized that I needed a second option.

You see, when it comes to anxiety, in my experience I’ve found that one of two things can be done:

  1. We can pray that God will get us through it.        
  2. We can pray that God will open a door or window to get us out. 

(And maybe sometimes, it’s a little bit of both.)

What we cannot do, is hide from our anxiety in distractions. I found that even in attempts to watch TV or movies to find some level of peace, that I would still be distracted from my overthinking, or even numbness. It was even hard to focus during my prayer/God time. The only way out is always through, which sometimes is through a window leading in a completely different direction. (Thank God!) (not a sarcastic exclamation point…)

In hopes of not being a quitter, I tried both. For two days short of a month, I tried to power through: cutting down on a caffeine, taking the suggested dosage of my homeopathic aids, and praying, seeking God’s will, and praying some more. And then I had a really bad Tuesday. Two bourbons deep (more like four…) I realized that I needed to try plan B: Find an escape route. I mean, I told God if He decided to grant me a last minute passion or peace for the job, I would give it a second chance, but an open door or window leading in a different direction would be much appreciated too. GET ME OUT NOW! please. And… thank You.

Now in the second option there comes a mandatory action-stepping. There were moments of lingering anxiety where I questioned if I was doing what I thought God wanted me to do. If I had stayed in that frame-of-mind, I would have stood frozen and could have missed my opportunity to escape. I hope you don’t find me too pushy, as I’m speaking as someone overly experienced in the area of “Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing?” when I say that sometimes we simply need to start moving in a direction, any direction. Believe me when I say, God will redirect that movement if and when is necessary ::ahem Colorado:: ::ahem this job:: So when I got over myself and my “should’s”, I found doors, I didn’t even know existed, opening as I knocked.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” -Matthew 7:7-8 (ESV)

In less than a week, I had two interviews scheduled, and with the help of my kind extended family, I found myself accepting a job two days after I applied. Wow! Right?! I have never seen God work that fast for me before – He didn’t just open the door, he threw me out of it, and for that I am very grateful. Moments after I accepted the job, on the spot (which I rarely ever do), I felt free. Even though I, possibly, still had up to two weeks left at my anxiety-ridden position, I did not worry once over the long-weekend, because I knew my endgame, and I wasn’t going to let myself stay stuck in my anxiety sinkhole any longer!

So I truly celebrated my new found freedom all weekend long! I shopped for my bridesmaid’s dress, and splurged on the one I really liked! I ate Chipotle, and bought a tub of Bridgeman’s Peppermint Krisp ice-cream (MY FAVORITE). I trekked through the snow, and hiked in Jay Cooke. I took pretty pictures, and even let my heart take a few mini risks. All of it lead me to feeling more and more alive, and more and more like ME. Life returned to being a truly wonderful experience.

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And in this moment, I just realized the beautiful picture that God just painted here. He constantly reminds us of our Victory that He has already won for us. So we don’t need to worry about tomorrow or the next day, or our last day ever, because our hope is rooted in Him. #whatadude We can celebrate, and live freely, love openly, and enjoy with exuberant joy this beautiful land He allows us to inhabit.

It’s nice to have hope. It makes all the difference, paving our way to feeling fully free. But anxiety happens. So don’t be ashamed, and know that you are not alone. Though in the moment it can be all-consuming, you do not need to stay stuck in your anxiety forever – Pray your way out, or through. And God will come through too. He always does, and sometimes He provides in ways we never expected.

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However, if you are in the time of anxiously waiting, here are some tools that have helped me overcome my bouts of anxious battling. (Please note, I’m not claiming that these will work for you. They are simply some of the resources that eased some of my anxious burden. Take what you like, discard what you don’t. Please use your own good judgement on what might work best for you, especially when it comes to the homeopathic remedies.)

 

 

 

One Fickle Creature

Anxiety is one fickle creature,

Never knowing when to back down.

X-ray to thoughts, feelings, reactions and frowns,

I am stronger than this – I will over come.

Everything I can worry about- some important, some dumb.

Tingle, pinching, numbness, and pain,

Yes surely, anxiety is my disdain.

The Grief Factor

“Shit, shit. Are you kidding me? What the shit?!

When these words are combined in succession flowing frustrated and freely from my lips it means only one thing. Someone died.

. . .

Transitioning into my new life back in the place where I grew up, I thought I could do it without the overwhelming remembrance of the pain of my past. You see, when I left as a 19-year old, I had experienced an incredible amount of loss for someone my age. Many of my friends hadn’t even lost a grandparent yet, whereas I had already lost 3, as well as a parent, close friends of the family, and beloved pets. Though I still experienced loss throughout the past 10 years, it never seemed to accumulate as the mass had in my childhood.

A few moments of revelation sporadically came throughout my 10 years away. These moments consisted of me considering ways to morph the pain of my past into a ministry. Each time I considered Chaplaincy as the answer. Maybe I could take the memories of sitting in hospitals with close family members present, as we watched another grandparent whither into the abyss, and rework that into empathy for the other families experiencing this slow fade. So I prayed about it… And because of finances, these plans faded back to dust. A few years later, as I was headed into a transition, I considered it all again as I applied for Denver Seminary’s M.Div: Chaplaincy Program. Maybe I can take this desire that I’ve absorbed through countless losses to soak up the stories of everyone I’m blessed enough to meet (because I’m well aware of the possibilities of never seeing them again) as I listen to people share stories of their loved ones as they work through their own grief… Accepted into the program, I more fully considered the possibilities until the funding came up lacking, and I realized I wasn’t quite ready for 4 more years of schooling.

Then more recently, lets say a few weeks ago, to be more specific, I found myself thinking, Well surely I’ve lost this desire to be a Chaplain, because my life is no longer about loss. What exactly is my life about? Shortly thereafter I realized that those thoughts were not completely true. They were statements build around the wall that I had created, hoping somehow that this time would be different. Can we ever really escape our past? Can we ever escape who it has shaped us to be?

I came home with bold perseverance with a mild side of ignorance. High school me: GONE. The people I once lost: IN THE PAST. The shadows that used to hide me: THEY WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED. The direction life took my family: IT’S ALRIGHT. Who I am: THE AWESOME PERSON KENTUCKY CREATED ME TO BE. Though not all this is bad, it is all unavoidable, because it all made me into who I’m supposed to be. My high school awkwardness (and incredible lack of self-awareness (physically-speaking)), the shadows, the familial twists and I turns I didn’t expect (or didn’t want), and most importantly, the loss – all mushed up together – created the me who now has some sense of fashion, lives freely in the light of her own awesomeness (not the shadows of others), stands up for herself on a regular basis, and doesn’t freaking take people for granted, because dammit, life is fragile.

This passion returned during the past couple weeks as I learned of the deaths of three dear acquaintances. Each I learned of days later over social media. To each I had the same response that I always do. And through each of them, God slowly broke down my wall, reminding me that where life happens, death also happens; where love exists, loss also exists; and where He creates purpose, He will continue to chip away at it until we crack, and give into His plan.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 (ESV)

So is Chaplaincy the answer for me? Maybe. Maybe not. But what I do know is that God created me to passionately care for the people He puts in my path. I had forgotten that, while trying to create in me some essence of strength. While trying to finally “grow up” I lost one of the most beautiful parts of myself – the part that listens always, loves deeply, and loses sorrowfully. No matter how hard I try, I will never be able to erase or escape “The Grief Factor” chapter of my story. It is engrained into the core of my being, and through this perceived weakness, God will make me, and my story, strong.

What part of your story have you been building walls around?

How has God used the miseries of your past to shape His ministries for the present/future?

If you haven’t considered it before, how can you combine your wins and losses to bless others and ultimately, glorify God?

Ghostly

Gaunt I’ve become from lying without a fight – hiding behind the simple phrase It’s alright

Haunted by my response, I know now this is not true – taking care of me is what I going to do.

Ostracized from who I thought I had to be had been building walls around the one thing that always saved me.

Spinelessly engrossed in the audience’s disapproval, wordless I disappeared into the night’s removal.

Taunted by whispers of inner chilling fright – (I gave into the)

Lies of silence from the things I could not write.

Yesterday disappeared like a ghost’s unnerving flight, its spectral hopes dead to expectation’s shallow spotlight.

Version 2

Green-Bay-Packers Good

I’ve never considered myself good at evangelizing… or “sharing the Gospel”. In fact, I realized this past weekend, that I’m much better at sharing my love of the Green Bay Packers.

This Sunday was “Game Day Sunday” at the church I’ve been attending for the past few months. With the lineup of the Vikings playing the Lions, and several mid-sermon jabs made at my beloved cheeseheads, I knew my jersey would not be welcomed at church on Sunday. This, of course, made me all the more excited to sport my forest green and gold gear. Persecution is much too strong a word for what I experienced that morning, but nevertheless, I counted four comments made about my team of choice, including one made during the service. It was enough to make me feel out of place. Not me personally, but my team. Still, I stood strong and beamed brightly. To their grumbling, “Packers,” I smiled proudly, “Of course.”

Is there a passion or team you love that you are criticized for? Think. Does the criticism or friendly competition weaken your love, or somehow, make it stronger?

Musing at the possible message I was living in those moments, I realized that my “come to Packers” story is one that is much more clear than my “come to Jesus” testimony. In fact, I remember the exact moment that this team found its way into my heart. I was in the third grade. Our student teacher was an incredibly passionate Packers fan. His joy abounding, spread amongst us, and resonated with me. Often sporting the famed forest green and gold, he shamelessly boasted of his confidence in this team. He loved the Packers so much so that he named his chocolate lab Packer. How could I not fall in love with the team especially on the day he brought his dog to visit during recess? Who can deny a Green Bay Packers loving dog? Surely, not me.

That’s how I want to be about Jesus. Jesus, who has always been there for me, and will always be there for me. He provides in ways I could never even imagine, and He continues to work in me and grow me, even when I don’t ask Him to. Just as we celebrate as our beloved cheeseheads pave their way to victory, I hope to celebrate the touchdown Victory Jesus already won for us. I want to have this blissful boldness proudly proclaiming Jesus with everyone I encounter, and I’ll admit, I don’t always have that passion to proclaim.

It’s on weeks like this one when I do want to shout it out to the world, “There’s salvation, victory, peace and love in Jesus!” When something terrible, unexpected, and frustrating happens like open fire at the concert in Las Vegas, I want others to know there’s comfort and healing in Jesus Christ. I can’t imagine the immense fear, and trauma that will follow for those who attended, but still I try to. Every time something like this happens I attempt to put myself in the shoes of the people there – those who escaped, those who didn’t, those who expected their friend/family member to escape, but didn’t, and even the lost, lonely soul who done it. And I break inside. I question God, “Why?” and “Where are you?” My focus shifts to fear, and the ever surrounding darkness of our world today. I don’t want to let fear win, but sometimes it’s incredibly hard to shake off.

And then I hear the the lyrics, You are good, good, ohh ohh, and my focus is directed back to God as he pulls me out of the fear, darkness or hopelessness that try to consume my thoughts. God is good. God is Green-Bay-Packers good. There is definitely a darkness in the world, and as much as I am tempted to give into the fear of tragedy and pain, the King of my heart already has the victory in His Hands!

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has NOT overcome it.”

-John 1:5 (ESV, emphasis mine)

This is what I know to be true, and through the typing of these words onto this page, I will ardently admit that I believe what our world needs is a whole lot more Jesus. I know this because I know that I need a whole lot more Jesus. Last week, I was visiting with one of my closest friends, and we were sharing our struggles, and it felt so good! For awhile, I felt like I was the only one struggling through life, but apparently, we all do! Which is why I try to freely share my struggles, even the ones that hurt to admit, because God connects us through pain, and redeems us through community. So here’s whats going on in my world:

  • Lately, I’ve had this inexplicable fear and anxiety… Not of harm to myself, but what if I hurt someone else? I have no reason to have these thoughts anxiously tearing through my mind, as I care more about others (animals included) than I do myself. But they’re there, and they’re frightening. But do you know what eases them? Prayer, Scripture, and this (embarrassing) moment of confession. I can’t hide from them by binging Netflix, but the more Scripture I immerse myself in, the sooner they fade away. My roommate shared with me the power of Psalm 91, and on the days that I have been reading it in the morning and evening, I feel His peace. And it is beautiful.
  • It’s not easy being unemployed. But God has fulfilled my days with reminders of His presence and love. My favorite was my hike last week. Though my phone was grounded to a weekend of rice bathing because of it, I so cherished the afternoon of walking in the sunshine, and then during the rainstorm. I even made some friends for the last mile, or so, of the journey. There’s nothing I love more than making strangers into friends. It was a simple, beautiful message: “Life brings rain, and when it does we need to keep moving onward. God brings fellowship to help us move forward through the storm.”
  • Jealousy. Mmmm yes, I struggle with it from time to time. The comparison game is no game at all, but a slow, sad, slippery slope where there is no winning, no winning at all. I spent weeks praying against jealousy, so that I could be a better, more encouraging and supportive friend. And God got me through it.

The cool thing about being a Christian is that we don’t have to be perfect. Jesus did that for us. We get to live broken, and in community – Plus, we get the best blessing there is: We get to love. We get to love Jesus, and we get to love each other, despite our brokenness, because we all have it. Instead of hiding in a corner, and letting our fears and struggles consume us, let’s gather together on our knees, share our struggles, and pray for each other. Just as a football team works together to defeat the other team, we must pray together to defeat the darkness.

So I know I’ve been distant. Honestly, I hid in a corner for awhile as I felt like some of my struggles were too dark to share. But I’m back, raw and real, as I always claimed I’d write, hoping my words will help you feel less alone, as the words of my friend helped me feel less alone. I will join with my fellow Packers fans, ahem Christians, as we fight on our knees, in weakness, humility, and community. #NotTodaySatan

As I come to a close, there are two phrases that come to mind often when I consider life, community, and struggles. The first stated by the pastor of the church I used to attend in Kentucky – Jon Weece of Southland Christian Church, and the second, by a character in a beloved TV show – Cory Matthews of Girl Meets World. Each of them short, yet powerful, seem to explain a lot. They are important reminders as we journey on through this ever-challenging life together:

  1. Hurt people hurt people.
  2. People change people.

I guess, in a sense, I “evangelize” through the emptying of my emotions. It’s not the traditional way, but it’s personal and it’s effective. It’s like rooting for the Packers in a Vikings’ world. Don’t let the opposition stop you from sharing your struggles. Who knows, in doing so, you may bring the freedom of God’s love to a stranger, a friend, or even, yourself.

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Job Identity Crisis

I’ve had this internal crisis since I’ve moved home, which has now been 1/4 of a year ago. I have been home for a season and I still have not found permanent employment. You know what that does to a person, more specifically to me? It destroys.

I didn’t realize this until I was unemployed, but I place the majority of my identity on what I do for a living. I know I’m not supposed to, as a Christian, I’m supposed to root my identity in Christ. But it’s really hard to stay focused on that in social situations. It’s such an easy go-to question that rapidly follows, “What’s your name?” or “Do you have a family?” or the classic “How are you doing?” –  “What do you do for a living?” or “Where do you work?” My answer for the last four months has been, “I’m still looking,” or “I’m unemployed,” which internally means “I’m a loser,” “I have no identity/purpose/reason to exist,” or “I’m lazy.” None of which are true, but they are the whispers that creep in, as I hopelessly respond to such an mundane life question.

People encourage my response in a variety of ways, but most of them add weight to my already burdening load. You see, I’m trying to have faith and follow Jesus, which often includes paths that are uncommon or nontraditional to the world. When God tells me to “Have faith and wait,” the world looks at me, disapprovingly shaking their heads saying, “Well clearly you need to try harder, apply more, or settle for awhile.” Oooo that word gives me knots in my shoulders. The being that God created in me is unnerved at the idea of settling, even temporarily. (Which also kills me inside, because it would be so. much. easier. to just have a darn job!)

This video summed up my emotions perfectly. I’m definitely the Cory in this clip, though I don’t know who I’m fighting with – God, this town, everyone, my internal critic, the jobs who take their time in the hiring process… but nothing makes me feel more worthless than not having a job.

Talk about an identity crisis. I really wish I could walk into a new social situation and say, “I follow Jesus for a living,” without sounding completely catty or slightly sarcastic. Then again, having support-raised for a living, a usual response is, “How do you pay the bills?” For me, this is when the internal sarcastic sh*t really hits the fan.

Basically our job identities plummet when one of the following three things happen:

  1. We are unemployed: Ah… I don’t have a job…?
  2. We don’t like what we do: Well… I work front desk at a hotel, but I really like the times when I don’t work – then I run half-marathons, and write letters to friends, and hip-hop dance (the last example I made up, but really who doesn’t want to rock the hip-hop dance-floor?)
  3. Who we are talking to, doesn’t approve of what we do: So I run the hospitality side of a retreat center that serves pastors and missionaries and their families… And I support-raise too! (Response: In America we work for our paycheck.) Ah… So do I…?

It is really easy when:

  1. We not only love what we do, but it also serves a greater good: I work with an awesome nonprofit in southeastern Kentucky that loves people for a living, and we help them help themselves get outta poverty while we’re at it! Woo! (Cheerleading kick for added enthusiasm for saving the world!)
  2. When our jobs provide affluently for our lifestyles (I’ve never known this reality, so I’ll make up an example): I work ten hour days with unbelievable pay and bennies, so that I can support myself, my hefty church tithe (wink wink), my family of adopted doggies, and all the gerbils I foster… Basically, I don’t know what to do with all my money!
  3. We do the thing that we always wanted to do (my brother is a good example for this one, so I’ll, in this instance only, pretend to be him): When I was a wee boy, I got my amazing little sis to play news with me. I’d anchor of course. Why, of course! I always knew I wanted to rock at news reporting, and now I do! Funny, how life works out!

I just vomited in my mouth.

But really, I’m happy for those people!

(Okay, the exclamation mark was slightly sarcastic…)

Anyway, identity. During the past several months I’ve been searching for mine – Who am I, when I’m not saving the world? More specifically – Who am I, when I don’t have a steady paycheck coming in? How do I make my time worthwhile? How do I not waste the days away in worry?

I’ve tried everything. I’ve written letters to friends, exercised like crazy, created yummy food and eaten too much, finished all the books I started at the beginning of the summer, spent time with family and friends, tried to reconnect with old friends, camped, hiked, road-tripped, healed, binged watched TV shows and movies, written, watched writing seminars online to improve my craft, and begged… Boy, have I begged God to just let me have a job that I somewhat enjoy that also pays my minimum hourly wage with good bennies!!! Please??? PLEASE!!!

But there’s one thing I haven’t done. I have yet to humble myself down, and ask God to help me root my identity in Him. So in future life crises, I’ll at least know who I am.

“Who are you?” – I am a child of God. – For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

“What do you do?” – I follow Jesus wherever he sends me. – Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

“How do you pay your bills?” – God provides. – Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

“How do you know that what you’re doing is right?” – Because it doesn’t make sense to me… – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

and

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”

“Okay… How do I join?!” – Be born again. – Read the story of Nicodemus here

and CELEBRATE!!! IT’S NOT AN EASY PATH, BUT IT’S SO WORTH IT!!! – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Today was the day I was “supposed” to score an interview with the job that I lakeside cheers’d God for over the weekend. But I knew there was going to be trouble… ahem… life was not going to go according to my plan when I drew my word of the day – “FAITH”. My exact response was: Sigh, God. Come on! Really? So I’m going to have to wait longer? I called to “check in” and remind the organization that I am indeed human, and I am still interested (since the last time we talked… you know… last week…) They didn’t even record that I called, but kindly stated, “Well the closing date was Monday, so they’ll probably review applications this week. Maybe call back next week.” I hope I didn’t sound too disappointed as I responded that I would indeed check back in next week.

My heart sank. Fear crept in. My bank account sent daggers flying in my direction. I found my way swiftly to Indeed.com, and started frantically “easy applying,” when I heard a calm whisper: You’re doing this out of fear. You don’t trust me? I need something to do God! I need a job God! You need to trust me. I’m an adult! I need to provide for myself. My ship is sinking! Am I just supposed to wait on you? That doesn’t seem practical. Yes. Trust me. I will provide. Have I given you any reason to doubt this? No… So what’s the problem? I feel like I’m disappointing everyone, because while everyone else is working… I am not. So?… To everything there is a season. A time to rest, and a time to work. So rest. A time to work is coming soon. Have faith darling, I have come that you might have life, and that you might have it abundantly (John 10:10). There is not crisis, when your identity is rooted in Me – the great I AM.  But…? What do I do in the meantime? No buts about it, just trust. Take a risk – Have faith. 😉

 

Lakeside Cheers

Last weekend, I found myself helping my roommate cat-sit for one of her friends. And by “helping”, I mean “mooching”. You see, the cat lives in a cabin on a lake… Need I say more?

I’d been excited for this weekend since I knew of its possibility. Though house-sitting with this cat usually means sleepless nights lulled into alertness by its broken meow, to me, nothing beats days spend pondering life on their dock. It also means a few day escape from the “real world” where I still don’t have a job. Somehow, worries subside when seaside (or in this case, lakeside).

In preparation for this weekend, last week, I felt God urge me to bring one of my cherished bottles of wine to celebrate. But my Kentucky wine God? What do I have to celebrate? I asked frantically, not willing to minimize my Kentucky stash from three bottles to two. It’s not what I have done, but what I have yet to do, God responded boldly. Ah yes, one of those risks I get to take, I responded with slight sarcasm. So, basically, I’m going to trust that You’ll provide even when the job-world seems like a desert? And then I’m going to celebrate what You’re going to bring even, and especially before You bring it to me? Yes. Okay, I agreed, somehow comforted by His confidence, As long as we’re on the same page… Packing my sole bottle of Talon Winery’s Equestrian VI, I prayerfully prepared for God’s special celebration of trust.

It happened on Saturday. Spending much of the day switching from reading on the couch, to writing on the dock, I felt God okay the opening of the bottle once I finished the book I was reading. (It was cheesy, and terribly, terribly, written, so a reward was very much necessary.)

Around 5pm, the perfect “somewhere” time, I reached for the $23 bottle of Equestrian VI, momentarily pausing as I realized its representation in my life. For the nearly six years I spent in the land of the horses, Kentucky, I will now take a moment of silence.

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After a minute of respect for my past, and an epic product-placement photo opp. outside, I opened the bottle, and poured me a glass… Well more rustically so, a mug (classy, I know). I swirled it, sniffed it, and then let the dry’n’sweet Kentucky aroma flood my senses.

Making my way to the end of the small, wooden dock, I sat down at the end, dipping my feet in the icy cold, refreshing lake water. Raising my glass Heavenward, I cheers’d my beloved Maker, “To all the people nearby, who think I am crazy cheersing the sky, outloud, and by myself… To this summer, for helping me survive… No… For surviving me, is that a thing? I couldn’t do any of it without You. Thank You for all You’ve provided so far, and this really tasty wine! Finally, thank You for the job You will provide. You know, the one I want – the $17 an hour one in Moose Lake, Agency-Wide Advocate – the one I’ll be good at – yeah, to that!”

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Raising my glass slightly higher, I cheers’d, and then took a generous sip. The wine warmed my heart and soul as the tannins danced deliciously amongst the aromas of pepper, cherry, and spicy cocoa. To me, I’ve always tasted a red wine base soaked in a french oak barrel, with essence of cigar spice, deep berry, and the warmth of Kentucky love, but that’s just my wine inexperience talking…

After this short, soulful indulgence, I raised my glass again Heavenward, “To the jobs my friends want, that You will provide.”

Raised glass cheers and delicious sip.

“To the relationships blossoming in the lives of my friends. May You bless them, and may they bring glory to You.”

Cheers.

. . .

And then it hit me.

What if we prayed in cheers?

You may consider me crazy, or slightly sacrelig. for this idea, but nonetheless… What if?

Slowly, but surely, I continued to empty my glass to the praising of God – of all the things He’s done, and especially those He has yet to do!

. . .

Isn’t this how we’re supposed to live our lives? Taking the mundane tasks and directing them Heavenward? What if we took the activities we use to bring ourselves pleasure, and instead used them to bring pleasure to God? Do you think, perhaps, if done in the right spirit, that our blessings would multiply not just to ourselves, but to those around us as well?

I think so.

I’d like to see a ripple of cheers breakout from around the lake, to around the world. God knows we enjoy it already, so why not take it, let Him shape it, and celebrate God – for all that He has done, and all that He has yet to do?

I can cheers to that!

Can you?

MUGDOCKRRD

Wandering Heart

Rushing waters,

Ample soul.

Where to turn?

Only You know.

. . .

Jagged rocks,

Piercing doubt.

As the path deepens,

“Where are You?” I shout.

. . .

Muddy paths,

Distractions embrace.

As my downward eyes miss,

Your beloved-pursuing chase.

. . .

A quiet forest,

My anxiety at ease.

I hear Your whispers,

“Let me love you, please.”

. . .

Nature’s colors colliding,

Momentarily, I pause.

Recapturing beauty,

Reestablishing cause.

wanderingheartrrd

 

Poetic Confession

Clearly I’m broken, this is not news.

But what is the root of my sinful muse?

I’ve tried to stop it all on my own.

Lord I need you, and your love to be shown.

. . .

Sometimes I just… I just feel numb.

While my hormones keep fighting – it’s time to get some.

Being a Christian makes this part so hard.

Wishing one night, I could hand in that card.

. . .

Privacy! You say, I should keep it to myself.

The intimates of life stacked away on some shelf.

The world makes it tough to talk about our feelings.

Especially those of sexual dealings.

. . .

I’m learning how, to not play so nice.

So here I go, breaking the ice.

I’m a 29-year-old virgin saving sex for marriage,

But don’t think I don’t struggle with sexual disparage.

. . .

When I turned twenty, I found masturbation

To be a release for stressful situations.

Pulling me out of numbness and depression,

And releasing the thoughts of my hormone’s obsession.

. . .

However, in this I feel my soul dying.

To justify it, I forever keep trying.

Some sources I read call it normal and healthy,

While others declare it to be spiritually unwealthy.

. . .

I’m reading this book that answers with brokenness,

So prayerfully shattered, it’s time I confess.

Broken men and women (seemingly) don’t care,

Who finds out about their sin, (so others beware).*

. . .

It’s the struggling alone that gives sins their power,

To grow and to make us humans feel sour.

So sorry if my words have been too much information,

I’m praying they lead to a sinning cessation.

. . .

Here lies the end of my poetic confession.

To me this has been a free therapy session.

Sharing my deep, dark faults is not always easy,

But I must follow my heart, no matter how cheesy.

. . .

Even when He leads me through the trenches and valleys,

Loving and forgiving, beside me He rallies.

Emotionally empty and spiritually strong,

Obeying God will never be wrong.

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* DeMoss, Nancy Leigh. Brokenness, Surrender, Holiness: A Revive Our Hearts Trilogy. (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008), 52.

Baker’s Dozen

one revealing day

two beautiful souls joined

two and a half beer limit

three hours of laughter, love and joy

four times smiling for photos

five quiet bathroom breaks

six songs of outrageous dancing

seven silent sobs sympathizing my sad state

eight times the gratitude for the love along the way

nine weeks since the collision

ten lies of “I’m doing well.”

eleven minutes passed as I tried to catch my breath

twelve reminders, it’s about to get better

and only one Savior redeeming it all with love

bakersdozenrrd