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
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
Reflections

Flee Or Fail: One Lesson To Be Learned From This Beautiful Buck

This is Buck. It’s not an overly creative name, I realize, but that is what I call him. Isn’t he beautiful? God taught me a relevant lesson when Buck failed to flee. It happened like this…

My husband and I were out on a trail. We came around a tree and saw Buck standing only a few feet away. He froze. We froze.

This has happened many times. I don’t think I’ve seen Buck before, but there have been other deer. Typically, they freeze, we freeze, and then I move for my camera. As soon as they see my motion, they flee.

A buck posing perfectly still.
Buck froze and stared. So did we. But even when we moved, he did not, except to follow us with his eyes.

I’ve never had a deer stand for a portrait until we happened upon Buck. When I moved toward my camera, he wasn’t fazed. To use my husband’s term, he just kept mad-doggin’ us. I took photos to my heart’s content.

Finally, we tired of the staring game and slowly started to walk away. Buck didn’t move, except to follow us with his eyes. When we resumed talking, even our voices didn’t scare him away.

Once home, my husband posted my photos and there were many responses. These are not exact quotes, but the sentiments were akin to the following.

  1. Oh the wonder of God’s Creation!
  2. What a beautiful buck!
  3. Look at that velveteen rack!
  4. He looks to be in his prime!
  5. Wow, where was your shotgun?
  6. Look at the meat on that boy!
  7. That head would look great on the wall!

Some people valued him as a beautiful living creation. Some saw a sporting challenge. Others desired what they could take from him.

And God began to speak to my heart.

Buck didn’t know us. He had no idea what our intentions were. He should have fled.

Lucky for him, we were in awe of His beauty. We appreciated the opportunity to study him. We marveled in the splendor of His creator.

We did not intend to harm him. But Buck couldn’t have known that. Why did he fail to flee?

A buck in a clearing.
This photo looks just like the others, you say? Yep – that is because Buck did not move! Even as we walked away and resumed our conversation.

What was he thinking? Was he feeling strong, in the prime of his life? Had he placed his confidence in his impressive antlers? Had he simply grown accustomed to danger?

I don’t know. But I have to admit that sometimes I am over confident like Buck. God has told me to flee from certain situations and, at times, I am prone to linger and stare instead.

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, [wo]man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness”

1 Corinthians 6:10, 11 [Brackets mine]

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.”

1 Corinthians 6:18

“Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.”

1 Corinthians 10:14

Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

2 Timothy 2:22

God has told me to flee. The devil desires to destroy me. And sometimes I feel strong enough to stand and stare him down. In my arrogance, I expose myself to danger.

I shot Buck several times. Thankfully, I was only carrying a camera. If I’d been hunting, he would have been easy prey. God used him as a warning in my life.

My takeaways, beyond the beauty of the impressive creature were these.

  1. Don’t be like Buck. Don’t mad-dog a predator.
  2. The defensive tools God has given for my defense may not support my defiance.
  3. As strong I think I am, I can’t even conceive of the weapons my adversary might use against me.
  4. No reason for staying put is worth the risk. When God says flee, I need to do so immediately.

Even if I withstand Satan’s most tempting suggestions, I still sin if I fail to flee.

As Christians, don’t we sometimes get caught up in wanting to prove our spirituality? Doesn’t it feel more “studly” to stare down the enemy and make it out unscathed? To say we battled the devil sounds much more admirable than saying we ran away from him.

But it isn’t about us. It isn’t about the stories we live to tell. It is about God. It is about our obedience. He told us to flee. When we don’t, we fail. Simple as that.

You may be thinking, “but God gave us preeminence” and “there is power in the mighty name of Jesus”. I had those same rationalizations running through my head. But isn’t that what Satan does – gives us scripture out of context? It worked on Eve, but it did not tempt Jesus.

Yes, the Spirit of God in us has authority. But we aren’t walking in the Spirit when we’re being disobedient. God told us to flee.

If the enemy gives chase, we may have to engage, with every piece of spiritual armor we’ve been given. But that is another topic entirely.

What an amazing God! He taught a relevant lesson through this beautiful buck. Have you been standing a little too still, my deer friends? (Pun intended.) What have you been mad-doggin’ that you should have run from long ago? Don’t fail to obey any longer. It is time to turn and flee!

Categories
Reflections

Hurry Happens in the Heart when Humor Hits Hard

My husband sent the following meme to our kids and me in our family group text. I agreed wholeheartedly and laughed too hard. I felt understood.

When the humor hits hard…

Humor is funnier when it has an element of truth in it. I know this hit hard with some of our kids, because it’s something we’ve been talking about for years! Little did I know God was about to do something with it in my heart.

An diagram of different ways to install a toilet paper roll.
My sentiments exactly!

I have some monsters in my family. I should be thankful if the roll is on the holder, no matter how it hangs. But I’m not. I stand staunchly, loud and proud, on team ‘flap over’. If it’s done wrong, I need to fix it in a hurry.

In our group text, one of my daughters teased that she often changes the rolls from No! to Yes! at her sister’s houses. I gave that a big thumb’s up!

And then one of the sisters chimed in. She said she gets confused because she has to install the rolls in the No! position at work.

That got me thinking.

Oh my goodness, she’s right!

As my mind raced, my heart hurried. I have seen toilet paper dispensers in public restrooms which require rolls installed the wrong (in my not-so-humble opinion) way.

You know the ones? They have flat edges, which hang on the stall wall, and covers that bubble outward. When the roll is inside, the flap of the roll must hang down the back to dispense.

Hurry happened in my heart.

Hurry / noun: disorganized activity, a state of eagerness or haste

merriam-webster.com

I was immediately humbled. Mentally, I walked for a moment in my daughter’s shoes. My heart hurried toward her point of view. I felt compassion that wasn’t there before.

My way is still my favorite way, but it isn’t necessarily “right”. I guess that is what happens in the heart when humor hits hard. It’s hilarious until you understand where someone else is coming from.

I appreciated my daughter for kindly stating her rationale. It let me think, empathize, and learn. And, as God does, He prompted hurry and taught me a lesson.

What about you?

Hurry has happened in my heart on this subject, but I will always hang toilet paper “flap over” in my home. I have been softened by compassion. And I still enjoy the humor in the meme above.

I’m dying to hear your opinion. Are you in agreement, or does this humor hit hard? How do you prefer the toilet paper in your house? Does your family follow your lead?

“The one who states his case first seems right,
    until the other comes and examines him.”

Proverbs 18:17
Categories
Celebrations Collaborations

Love from My Daughter’s Heart – A Rich Gift to Me and You

Deep inhale. Sniff. I’m pulling myself together. Seriously, I am!

I have the sweetest thing to share with you today! My oldest daughter, Meagan, wrote a guest post for my birthday. And this is the day I get to publish it. I’m so excited! It hits me right in the feels and I’m so thankful. What a blessing!

Mother and daughter in a heart-shaped photo
Meagan and Me

5 Things About Me that are My Mother’s Fault

a Guest Post

What goes around comes around, Mom.

My name is Meagan. I am Mama Lava’s eldest child. In honor of her birthday, I am writing a guest post to show my love.

A while ago, my mom posted 5 things that she blamed her mother for. Here’s the link to that post. Today, I’d like to return the favor.

Mom, you should know it’s all your fault that I am so…

Kind

I asked my siblings what I am most, and they said “kind”. Surely it was all the lessons about being a peacemaker and helping others that made me this way. Undoubtedly the way you treated others modeled kindness in a way that it stuck with me.

Nurturing

Watching you be a mother to five children and teaching me to help them has surely impacted the way I treat others. The way I speak to little ones and build them up and encourage them was certainly learned. Now I’m a mother and a teacher- that’s certainly your fault.

Baking Obsessed

You were a whiz with the kitchen aid, always cooking and baking for us and neighbors and friends. My love of baking definitely stemmed from the days in your kitchen- eating all the cookie dough pieces that fell onto the counter.

Deferent

You got this from your mama, and I got this from you both. You prefer to defer and so do I. Please everyone, don’t ask Nana, my mom, or I what we want for lunch. We want whatever you want. We are happy when you are.

Artistic

Like you Mom, I love arts and crafts. Nothing simultaneously calms us down and stresses us out like a new project. Whether its interior design, macramé, or some other medium… We love to create. I remember your treasure chest full of crafts and projects for us to do together with fondness.

A lighthouse, with ships in the background
“We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine.”
– Dwight L. Moody

In her original blog post, linked above, my mom quoted Proverbs 22:6 “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” We were just talking about this verse on the phone the other day.

I like to joke that the word “way” is a broad term. Perhaps the “way” is north, and my siblings and I are all headed there but we are taking different routes. Some of us are on windier paths, some of us are finding short cuts, some of us have had tumultuous journeys. We aren’t headed the wrong way- per se- just taking different paths than may have been envisioned for us.

I’m sure every parent can relate to feeling stress over a child making different choices- but different doesn’t always mean wrong. Luckily, I have good foundations- thanks in large part to my mother- to help me along the way.

Happy Birthday Mama Lava- Sending hugs and love to you today!

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!