Categories
Emotions Reflections

A Sure-Fire Way to Make Me Panic, and a Targeted Miracle

Do you have irrational fears? I do. Fire is a major one.

A Sure-Fire Way to Make Me Panic

Yes, fire is a rational danger but the panic I feel, in relation to it, is not. It stems from a movie I saw when I was too immature to process. Someone was burned at the stake, and to this day I vividly recall the way the actor’s body writhed and his face contorted in pain.

Just the thought of burning is a sure-fire way to make me panic. I have a stash of unused candles because I love the fragrance but fear the fire. I cautiously enjoy our gas fireplace, which is predictable and controllable.

It isn’t just fire, I’ve discovered. Its burns in general. So when my son’s text buzzed in, it brought me to my knees.

The Text which Made Me Panic

It was Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving. I was preparing for bed. My son is 19, the last of our kids living at home. He was at work. I picked up the phone and read.

“I burned my foot really bad”.

My heart sank and my stomach knotted. I felt dizzy. And then another buzz.

“Just letting you know. I’m going to be struggling for the next days or weeks.”

I started to panic. I wanted to throw up. My reaction was irrational, but at least it drove me to my knees. “Oh God, please take away his pain!”

A Sure-Fire Way to Get Burned

As I prayed, I texted back. I told him I was praying and asked what happened. My son works in the kitchen of a restaurant.

He said he was cleaning the fryer. The apparatus has a hose which shoots the hot oil, and he dropped it. The oil sprayed into his shoe. That is a sure-fire way to get burned!

He secured the machine and made sure no one else was injured before attending to himself. By the time he removed his oil-soaked sock, it had held the heat on his skin longer than I cared to surmise. His manager assisted him with burn gel and a bandage. Unbelievably, he had not been sent home from work.

My son uses humor to lighten serious situations. I was certain he was downplaying this one and his managers didn’t know how bad it was. He’s also grown man who didn’t need his mommy to panic.

God’s Miraculous Power is a Sure-Fire Antidote for Panic

I couldn’t sleep. I kept my phone on. He finished most of his shift and drove himself home.

My breathing was shallow, and I was nauseated, but I wanted to see it for myself. I almost passed out. His burn was bubbly and discolored. It was ugly, yes, but my reaction was irrational, and I knew it.

My panic subsided because my son truly did NOT seem to be in terrible pain. I know that was God’s miraculous power at work! We decided to go to the hospital to get it dressed properly.

While the intake nurse was assessing the injury, the receptionist walked back with a file. She took one look and incredulously asked, “How are you not screaming?” He answered that it looked worse than it felt. Praise God!

Only by God’s miraculous power!

When we finally saw the doctor, she said superficial burns often don’t involve enough nerves to be excruciating. But she also said his was not entirely superficial.

How was it superficial at all, given what happened? Only by God’s miraculous power! It should have been worse and even as it was, it should have felt worse.

It was good we went to the ER. The doctor cleaned it up and the nurse bandaged it well. They instructed us in first aid for at-home care.

They offered a note to keep my son home for at least a week. But he went back to work on Saturday. What a miracle!

God’s Sure-Fire Reiteration

Last night, I was using my glue gun on some Christmas decorations. I applied hot glue to one and then dropped it onto my thumb. It stuck. My burn is 1/50th the size of my son’s. It hurts.

A blister.
My small burn.

It is a sure-fire reiteration that God’s miraculous intervention kept my son from unbearable pain. If mine hurts like it does, his surely should have felt much worse!

A Targeted Miracle

God targeted my son with a miracle and reminded me of his power. Maybe some of you, my precious readers, need to be reminded also. It is likely I’m not the only one who will face an irrational fear this holiday season.

Some of you might be brought to your knees in desperation over something. Maybe you have already been. It feels like a position of weakness, but kneeling is the perfect stance from which to approach God and ask for a targeted miracle.

Power over Panic

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not trying to present God as a genie in a bottle who does tricks upon request. Many times, I’ve prayed and God has chosen not to intervene in overtly miraculous ways.

But sometimes He does. I know because I’ve seen Him do it. I saw it just this week.

There is a sure-fire way to make me panic. My son’s accident was a case in point. But panic drove me to prayer, and God has power over panic and all fear.

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

We’re all on the verge of a crisis, going through one, or coming out of one. Where are you? God’s power is greater than panic. And we can pray for one another.

What kind of fire are you in right now? What are your irrational fears? How has God targeted you with His miraculous power in recent days? What are your thoughts?

Categories
Emotions Recommendations

How Anxiety in Your Life Indicates Sure Fire Reasons for Alarm

Do you know what anxiety is? How would you define it? I’ll admit I hadn’t really stopped to examine it until recently.

In this post, I hope to explain how anxiety in your life indicates sure fire reasons for alarm. At the same time, I expect you’ll find it reassuring. I understand that sounds a bit contradictory, but please, read on!

Quick disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. I have no clinical expertise. When I refer to anxiety, I am talking about symptoms common to most of us when we feel anxious.

Anxiety – what is it?

I read a book called Redefining Anxiety, by Dr. John Delony. It was eye-opening for me, and I’d recommend it for anyone. In that book, Dr. Delony described anxiety as an alarm system in the body.

He had a great analogy, I thought. He wondered if I/we/you would hear a fire alarm and spend our time and effort to shut it off? Or would we immediately run to find and fight the fire?

Anxiety is a symptom, not a cause.

How I, and likely you, typically respond to anxiety is to relieve it however we can. We do breathing exercises, turn to coping mechanisms (praying, eating, napping, exercising, etc.), and self-medication. We consider ourselves successful when we’ve quieted the anxiety.

But anxiety is a symptom, not a cause. If it indicates we have stressors burning somewhere inside us, silencing its alert only allows the real issues to rage unchecked. The alarms will soon sound again with increasing urgency.

High-Functioning Anxiety

In a recent feature piece, Dr. Delony introduced another relevant phrase, “High-Functioning Anxiety”. You can access that article here. I think many of us have become accustomed to the deafening ring of this alarm.

High-functioning anxiety, as Dr. Delony presents it, describes the phenomenon where someone is successfully living their life while experiencing consistent symptoms. They can be loving spouses, great parents, responsible employees, and community servants. Their anxiety is not debilitating, yet they struggle to set boundaries, don’t sleep well, worry constantly, and (this one caught my attention) often feel their hearts race.

Although it feels burdensome, anxiety is a gift. It tells us we’re in a precarious place and must take action quick. The last thing we should do is suppress our alarms and go back to business as usual.

Anxiety – what to do about it?

If we fail to address the stress causing our anxiety, the alarms escalate in fervency. To continue the analogy, our lives fill with smoke. We might find ourselves struggling to breathe, impatient, making rash decisions, desperate, or worse.

Identify the cause(s) of your anxiety

Are you anxious today? It may be time for introspection. Can you identify some core problems? How can you put those issues to rest?

A Bible verse on a picture of the sky.
God knows our hearts. Nothing is hidden from Him.

God knows you inside and out. Enlist His help. Ask Him to show you where the fires are and then surrender them to Him. He has the expertise and the tools to put them out.

Anxiety as an opportunity

My friend, let me encourage you to fight your fires. You may find forgiveness, a conversation, apology, or some other thing you can accomplish will put those flames down.

Or you may need to seek trained help to get there. Just don’t put it off any longer. As Dr. Delony says, “You deserve to be well.”

Anxiety in your life indicates sure fire reasons for alarm. If those sirens are sounding, you have a fantastic opportunity! Instead of focusing on our anxiety, let’s address the issues that cause it and stop those alarms for good!

“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’
    your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
    your consolation brought me joy.”

Psalm 94:18, 19 Thank you, ManetteKay for sending this verse my way.
Categories
Emotions Reflections

Where Do You Turn To Feel Better When You’re Anxious?

Hi there!  How are you today?  Are you hanging in there?

In my last post, I mentioned feeling anxious about a medical procedure and it seemed to strike a chord.  Many of us have anxiety, related to all kinds of things, so let’s talk about it!  When you’re anxious, and want to feel better, where do you turn?

More about my recent experience: 

I’m at relative risk for skin cancer.  I’m blonde.  I’ve gotten too much sun on many occasions.  And there is history of skin cancer in my family.

I couldn’t get an appointment with dermatology when I lived in California.  But when I moved to Arizona, my new primary care doctor referred me right away.  And they suggested a blue light treatment for my face.

Blue Light Therapy

When the dermatologist explained the procedure, she said they’d apply a chemical cream all over my face, and only the pre-cancerous cells would absorb it.  For an hour, it would soak into worrisome patches, even those too small to be seen.  Then, they’d put me in front of a blue light for 16-17 minutes, which would activate the chemical, and treat all the pre-cancer spots at once.

She said I’d need to stay indoors for several days after the treatment and the date they suggested (this week) was relatively clear on my calendar.  I left there feeling grateful.  Finally, someone was going to take care of the spots I’d been concerned about!

They prescribed a medication to take, starting the day before my blue light treatment.  I think that’s where the trouble began.  One side effect I noticed was a racing heart.

Quest for Information

You know how you can get a whiff of a fragrance and you’re suddenly whisked back to a memory?  I think my heart palpitations worked the same way and recalled some past anxieties.  In response, I turned the wrong direction. 

I went to the internet.  I aimed to arm myself with information.  I wanted to know exactly what was going to happen to me in front of that blue light.

All I found was clinical information.  It said I might experience burning, itching, and stinging during and after the treatment.  It said my skin could swell, turn red, blister, and crack.  And usually when a medical professional says, “this might sting a bit”, you know what that really means!

So, I looked for more personal story.  I wanted to hear from someone who’d undergone this treatment.  There must be some accounts out there, but I didn’t find even one!

Feelings of Anxiety

With my heart already racing and my breathing shallow, I felt anxious.  I began to wonder if I’d be able to sit through the duration of time I was scheduled to be in the light. 

What if the burning was excruciating?  And what if I couldn’t work while my face festered all week?  (Thankfully I work from home, because at the very least, it promised to be ugly!)

My turning point:

And then I realized I’d gotten way off track.  Instead of turning to God, who knew exactly what lay ahead for me, I had taken my anxiety to the internet. 

In essence, I knelt at the altar of information instead of taking my worry to the cross.

I’ve noticed a pattern in my life of turning to information.  When I get anxious about unknowns, I study to understand them.  Armed with knowledge, I feel stronger.

If you could schedule 5 minutes with someone who knows everything, would you take it?  What would you ask?

I don’t remember where I heard it, or what the exact words were, but I remember someone asking if I would take advantage of an opportunity to sit for a few minutes with someone who had everything figured out.  Talk about valuable information!  I would absolutely take that opportunity and could immediately think of topics to fill hours of conversation. 

Of course, the point was that I have 24/7 access to God, who knows everything.  And yet, I often neglect my prayer time.  How foolish!

I hadn’t yet taken that lesson to heart.  My anxiety and subsequent turn to information had proven that to me.  So, I did an about face. 

A Bible verse on a picture of the sky.
God knows our hearts. Nothing is hidden from Him.

I turned to God, to whom nothing was unknown.  He not only knew my anxious thoughts, and the offensive way I had taken, he knew what I would endure during my blue light treatment and after.  He was going to be there with me, in the dermatologist’s office and at home while I healed.

I prayed Psalm 139:23, 24, as I shared in my most recent post.  And peace came flooding in.  My heart was still racing from the medication, but my mind was able to rest as I trusted God to lead me to and through what I was facing.

I suspect I’m not the only one in the habit of turning to information to make me feel better.  When I exclaim about how foolish that is, I’m speaking to myself.  Maybe it hits home with you too.

Information can be valuable, sure.  But I don’t want to worship there.  Do you?  How much better to go directly to God, who created all things, understands all things, and from whom nothing is hidden!

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.”

Psalm 34:4

What are you anxious about right now?  Do you believe God has the answers?  Have you placed your hope elsewhere?  Do you find confidence in information before you turn to God?  I think we can do both, but there is a correct order and I, for one, have been getting it backwards.  What about you?


Please join me next time to discuss the general topic of anxiety.  What is it?  How should we handle it?  I expect it will be a worthwhile conversation for us all!

Once I am on the other side of this whole blue light therapy experience, I will share about that too. Maybe it will help the next person who wants to hear from someone who went through it.

Categories
Emotions Reflections

Are You Holding Tightly to Things which Make You Anxious?

Hello Friends! How are you? I underwent a minor medical procedure today. It wasn’t a huge deal, but I had some anxiety about it. I plan to tell you about it in the coming days.

In the meantime, I wanted to share this verse, which was meaningful to me in the hours before my appointment. Psalm 139:23, 24 is applicable in many circumstances. I hope you find it relevant today.

A Bible verse on a picture of the sky.
God knows our hearts. Nothing is hidden from Him.

This verse is a treasure because it reassures us that God knows our hearts. He knows our thoughts. He knows the reasons for our anxiety. And He will lead us past them.

Are you anxious about something today? Are you holding tightly to control? I get it! That is our normal tendency.

I encourage you to do the opposite. Let go and let God, as the saying goes. Let Him have it all. Follow Him in a better way.

I was tempted to hold tightly to the thing which made me anxious today. I prayed this verse instead and God came through for me. He will do the same for you, my precious friend.

I had people praying for me today. I know it helped. If you need prayer, please reach out. I would love to support you in that way.

Categories
Collaborations Emotions

God of the Bathroom Floor

Hello, my precious Back Porch friends! I came across this powerful article by Esther, the Dolly Mama. I contacted her and she graciously granted me permission to share it with you. I hope it touches and encourages you the way it did me.


God of the bathroom floor

God isn’t just the God of

Steeples
Prayer meetings
Well-paying jobs
Mission trips
Intact families
Worship songs Sunday school

All those visible spaces.

The ones we show to the world.
The ones that look like we have our act together.
The ones where we will be praised.

He’s bigger than that. Much much bigger.

His heart is bigger.
His presence is bigger.
His well-worn, tenderness is bigger.

BECAUSE

He’s also and especially the God of

Oncology visits
Broken hearts
Empty checking accounts
Funeral parlors
Rehab rooms
Sleepless and fitful nights
Bathroom floors
Messy selves and messy lives

The places where it’s just us and Him.

The ones only He can really see.
Hear.
Understand.
Guide.
Comfort.
Heal.

The places of

Loss
Despair
Loneliness
Doubt
Fear

That are also the places of

Growth
Hope
Belonging
Grace
Peace

The places that nothing and no one else can touch.

Except for this big big, “very present help in time of trouble,” tender-hearted God.

Those are the most sacred places of all.

And some of the most beautiful.

Shared with permission from
Esther Joy Goetz, The Dolly Mama.
Find her on Facebook and Instagram @estherthedollymama,
or visit her website: estherjoygoetz.com


Categories
Emotions Reflections

3 Reasons I’m Delighted to be Unsettled

September! For most people on this side of the globe, September means summer holidays have been taken, kids are back in school, routines have been implemented, and plans have been settled for the next several months. The change from summer to fall can be a major transition, but often settles into cozy anticipation once it’s all arranged. Is that how you’re feeling?

To be honest, I feel something much deeper this year. I feel overwhelmed by unsettled peace. And I’ve come to view it differently than expected.

I’ve discovered 3 reasons I’m delighted to be unsettled.

Unsettled peace might sound like an oxymoron, but the two are coexisting easily in my heart. Here’s why.

I know that I know that I know that God is on the throne, large and in charge, and nothing gets by Him without His permission. I know He is with me. I know He is for me, and nothing can stand against me. This is unquestionably my peace.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”

Romans 8:31-35

There is also the inescapable reality that I live in a fallen, sinful world. The consequences of my own foolish actions, and of those around and over me, are quickly becoming dire. And I reside where freedom rings. Many people around the world are in much greater pain. This is gravely unsettling.

“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…”

Matthew 24:10-12

I have been praying for all that is unsettled.

I started praying for the unsettling stuff to settle down. I dutifully asked God to settle things around the world. But in truth, I was mostly praying so I would feel settled.

“Prayer does change things, all kinds of things. But the most important thing it changes is us.”

R.C. Sproul

As I’ve been praying, I have noticed something unexpected. My unsettledness is not settling. Instead, I am delighting in the unsettling.

I still want peace for every unsettling situation, but I am thankful for the unsettled feeling I have about them. God is changing me.

I am delighted to be unsettled for 3 reasons.

1. The unsettled feeling which has settled over my heart keeps me on my knees.

What started as a selfish wish for my heart to feel settled has evolved into an urgent concern for the realities which are unsettling. And that unsettled feeling reminds me to get on my knees and ask God to intervene where only He can. I’m delighted to have that nudge to pray.

2. The unsettling circumstances contrast noticeably with all that is settled.

I mean, so many things could be wrong but aren’t. Right? There is so much to be thankful for!

3. The unsettledness decidedly settles my faith.

There are simply things which are beyond my control. I don’t just let go of them and hope they work out ok. My prayers put them squarely in the hands of the One who is capable, powerful, and has a perfect purpose that is far beyond me. And that settles my faith.

These three things don’t make the unsettled less unsettling, but they do give me reasons to delight. The unsettled feeling drives me to pray. It makes me grateful for all that is settled. And it causes me to decide daily that God is who He says He is.

God said it.
I trust Him.
That settles it.

Mama Lava

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

Isaiah 26:3

No Jesus, no peace.
Know Jesus, know peace.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:27

Since we all live in the same world, I’d be willing to bet your feelings, heading into September, are also deeper than simple cozy anticipation. Have you put your faith in Jesus, our Author of perfect peace? And are you feeling unsettled about all that is happening around us?

Let’s join in prayer for resolutions to the countless circumstances which are unsettling. Let’s corporately thank God for all that is settled. And let’s renew our faith in the wisdom of the One in charge. Let’s be delighted to be unsettled and allow God to use us for His glory!