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Reflections

Drill Down to The Depths with a Simple “Why?” Game!

Have you ever had a child repeatedly ask you “Why?”? I was walking with my granddaughter the other day and she was playing this game.

Me: “Look at that boat out on the lake. I think people are fishing off it.”
Her: “Why?”
Me: “A lot of people like to fish. They find it relaxing.”
Her: “Why?”
Me: “Probably for different reasons. I am usually relaxed when I’m by lakes and oceans too.”
Her: (Giggling) “Why?”
Me: (Now realizing this is a game) “Because the water is beautiful and the sound of it on the shore puts my heart at rest.”
Her: “Why?”
Me: “It’s a peaceful sound.”
Her: “Why?”
Me: (Cutting the game short, picking her up and tickling her) “Because I love you and Jesus loves you and that is all.”

The “Why?” game helps me drill down deep.

I had a week-long visit with my granddaughter. That “Why?” game happened daily. I noticed when we drilled down as far as we could go, God’s love was at the heart of everything.

The second to last answer was either “Because God said so.” or “Because God made it that way.” When “Why?” was asked to either of those statements, the final response was “Because He loves us so much!” That was the end because I couldn’t fathom why.

Playing this childhood game can be tiresome, but the concept is extremely valuable. I think the Holy Spirit has been playing it with me lately too. He’s helping me drill down to the depths of some important matters.

Depth of Focus

I have the tendency to plow through life content to see, hear, and think about the obvious. My focus is often on the surface stuff. And that is to my detriment.

For instance, I’ve been thinking and reading about anxiety. My last post was a result of learning that I treat anxiety as a problem to address, when in truth, it is a symptom of my problems. I can focus all I want on calming my anxious thoughts, but if I allow the circumstances which cause them to continue unresolved, I can’t ever expect to be free of anxiety.

Depth of Belief

The habit of drilling down to the depths of matters is crucial for deciding on my beliefs as well. Many ideas sound solid on the surface, but if I apply pressure, they give way. I must push until I find a foothold that stands.

The Holy Spirit showed this to me by bringing a past conversation to mind. I had posted on social media about my excitement to meet a baby who was due to be born any day. A young Christian had challenged my celebration because, in his words, this young mother was unwed, and her pregnancy was a sin. (He took a stand.)

He had his facts correct. This was an out-of-wedlock, teen pregnancy. It had come about through sin. But the pregnancy was not a sin. It was a consequence. (His platform did not hold.)

A warning sign posted on a wooden pole.
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com
Secure footing is important!

I explained this to the young man and assured him he could join me in celebration. Not only was the sinful relationship repented of, but the full-term pregnancy was also proof that this young mom had decided virtuously among her options. And new life is always a gift! (A sturdy foothold.)

I think we’d all do well to drill down to the core of what we believe and why. It is crucial with political choices, religious stances, and cultural issues. We may not like the conflict we create when we ask ourselves “Why?”, but until we unpack it, we won’t be able to reconcile it.

Depth of Thought

These things keep reverberating through my mind as I contemplate my internal dialogue. I need to pay attention to my thoughts. And as I drill down to the depths of them, I realize I’ve adopted some ideas without completely thinking them through.

When God looks at us, He sees all the way to the core of us. He pays attention to our thoughts, not just our words. He notices the intentions behind our actions. He knows we can act and speak rightly, but not be righteous inside.

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7b

We will be accountable to Him for what exists in the depths of us. I think the Holy Spirit is helping me to go there. He is shining a light so I can explore what I find inside. He is asking me “Why?” and then asking it again as we’re drilling down.

Depth of Conversation

Playing the “Why?” game with my granddaughter showed me that my casual comments and observations were insufficient. They weren’t untrue, generally, but they were shallow and left a lot unsaid. Having to answer “why?” after every sentence made our conversation incrementally more meaningful.

I sure would love to be present enough in the depths of myself to speak from there at the onset of a conversation. Wouldn’t it be great if everything that came out of my mouth was only one step away from “because God made it that way” or “because God said so”, and the only other place to go was “because He loves us so much”?

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”.

1 Peter 3:15

Dear Lord, I have a lot to sort through as your Holy Spirit helps me drill down to the depths of my words, thoughts and intentions. Thank you for the simple “Why?” game, which has highlighted my need to speak and act from a more meaningful place. Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, oh Lord.

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Psalm 19:14
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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.
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Recommendations

Helpful Little Hack of the Hour: School Supply Stock Up

Hopefully this helpful little hack of the hour is timely where you live. Are the kids in your neighborhood heading back to school? If so, your local stores probably have their school supplies on sale.

School Supply Stock Up

The price for a box of 24 Crayola Crayons is 54 cents at my nearby Walmart right now. Composition books are the same. Markers, glue, scissors – all are at the lowest prices of the year.

New crayons with pristine tips
Photo by Anthony on Pexels.com
A box of crayons stores easily until it’s needed. Just don’t forget where you put it!

If you have kids in school, you know how they love brand new supplies. Why not pick up extras to freshen their stock at Christmas?

Even if you don’t have children at home, now is the time to stock up for:

  • your own art and journaling/notetaking endeavors
  • Operation Christmas Child boxes
  • Sunday School supplies
  • missionary packages
  • birthday gifts
  • donation to shelters
  • entertainment for children who visit you

There are many possibilities. What else can you think of?

Back-to-School season usually brings the lowest prices of the year on school supplies. That is why I had to mention it as today’s helpful little hack of the hour. No matter what the school calendar looks like where you live, if you watch the sales you will know when it is time to stock up!

“Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
    you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
    you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
    to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks,
    and praise your glorious name.”

1 Chronicles 29:11b-13

Wondering why am I publishing these helpful little hacks of the hour? Read the Introduction and Intent post here.

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Conversations

Spaces Surging with Stunning Splendor are Something to See #3

Welcome back to the “Something to See” mini-series. Thank you so much for joining me. I’m excited to share today’s photos with you! They have me singing a song from my childhood.

Consider the lilies and how they grow, blossoming there in the field 
‘Tis not for their labor they flourish so, flowers of beauty to yield. 
Through the grace of God above, tending all in constant love, 
Every want shall be supplied, for God the Lord will provide.

Consider The Lilies, by Natalie Sleeth

I hope the pictures don’t take too long to load. Your time is precious, and I’m so blessed that you’re spending it here with me, admiring these spaces which are surging with such stunning splendor. I sure wish you could see these colors up close! Feel free to click on any pic to enlarge and scroll through them all.

If you’ve been following these posts, you know that I’d love your input on what kinds of plants these are. Please comment the photo number and any knowledge you have to share. So many of these flowers are new to me.

This isn’t a flower, per se, but this photo is also in my thoughts today.

Large bird with a stunning view from atop of a tall tree
Do you see the special tree-topper?

I took this picture, wondering what it would be like to sit atop the tallest trees. What a stunning view this bird must have had! I suspect this photo came to mind because of the second verse of the song in my head.

Consider a moment the birds in flight, everywhere filling the air. 
With never a worry they seek the height, nourished in bountiful share. 
Through the grace of God above, tending all in constant love, 
Every want shall be supplied, for God the Lord will provide.

Consider The Lilies, by Natalie Sleeth

While the spaces surging with stunning splendor are something to see and savor, they should point us to something even more spectacular. They should remind us that God really cares about us. He knows the details of our lives and gets intimately involved. I leave you with the third verse of the poetic song I just can’t seem to shake today.

For more than the lilies that bloom and grow, more than the birds of the air, 
Your Maker forever your need will know and feed you with heavenly care. 
Through the grace of God above, tending all in constant love, 
Every want shall be supplied, for God the Lord will provide.

Consider The Lilies, by Natalie Sleeth

Blessings, my precious friends. You are loved!

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Conversations

Spaces Surging with Stunning Splendor are Something to See #2

Hello again! Welcome back to the “Something to See” mini-series. I just have to say THANK YOU so much for your help! I’m fascinated to learn what you know about the stunning splendor that is surging in open spaces all around me. The flowers are incredibly beautiful!

Waiting for my photos to load might take away from your reading time, so I’m posting just a handful a day for a few days. Aren’t today’s specimens spectacular? And oh, I wish you could see them up close and personal – they are breath-taking!

(Click any pic to see it larger and for the ability to scroll through them.)

Amazing, right? All flowers, but so different in size, shape, and color. Each is a masterpiece of God’s unbelievable creativity. Hmmm… not unlike you and me!

I would love your assistance identifying these blossoms in the comments. Just use the number in the photo’s caption and tell me what you know! And if you don’t know what kind of plants these are, simply comment on your favorite blossom. I am anxious to hear your thoughts!

I was reminded that I wrote about the surprisingly stunning summer blossoms when I visited Northern Arizona, on vacation, just last year. You can read my thoughts in this post from only months ago, when living here was still a future dream.

So much has happened in such a short time! I’m daily pinching myself, trying to comprehend how God saw us through all that it took to move. I feel extremely fortunate to call this beautiful place home. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share the spaces surging with stunning splendor, which are truly something to see.

I’m so blessed to have you along for the adventure. Thank you, my friend. You are precious to me!

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Conversations

Spaces Surging with Stunning Splendor are Something to See #1

Yes! I’m so glad you’re here! I have something spectacular I want you to see. The open spaces around me are absolutely surging with stunning splendor!

Spring seems to have sprung late where I live. It’s already the end of July. But this whole area seems to have suddenly exploded in joyful bloom.

I’ve tried to photograph several varieties of the flowers I’ve encountered the past few weeks. Most are growing wild in open spaces. I have guesses as to what one or two of them might be, but I’m hoping some of you are more botanically inclined and can help me out!

Will you teach me? I’ve numbered the photos below. Hopefully the different reading platforms are all capable of displaying captions.

It takes a beat to load photos, so I’m going to post just a handful a day for a few days. I’d love for you to comment the number and name of any blossoms which you can help me to identify. (Click on the pic, if you like, for larger view and scrolling capability.)

Aren’t they gorgeous!? What an eye God has for decorating, huh? His open spaces around here are stunning in their surging splendor. My photos really can’t compare to the natural thing, but I hope you enjoy them just the same.

Oh, and one last picture just for fun. Do you have dandelions this big where you live? This is something I had never seen before moving to Northern Arizona. I’m used to them being the same size as the face of my watch. I had to put my hand in this photo for reference. This one is more like the size of my actual face!

A dandelion as big as a human head
Look at the size of that dandelion!

Spaces surging with stunning splendor are certainly something to see, aren’t they? I look forward to learning from you. Let me know what you know about these wild and beautiful plants!

And if you’re a novice admirer like me, will you tell me which are your favorites? I know, it’s hard to pick! But I’ve chosen mine. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!