Finding happiness 

Happiness is a feeling; a deep emotion that comes hard for those with anxiety, those with depression, those who can’t say no to people, those who are stressed for whatever reason…happiness can be tough for a million different reasons. But when you find it, it’s an amazing feeling. 
The definition of Happiness reads as follows: 

1.the quality or state of being happy.

2.good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.

So if you’re one that’s struggling with finding joy in your life, I’m sure you’re wondering how to find that happiness again. As a person that struggled with all the above reasons (and still does struggle with some), I’m here to share how I found that happiness in my life again. 

1.prayer 

I pray daily for God to help me in all aspects of my life. One of my specific prayers was help with the anxiety, the depression, and lack of joy in my life. We all know prayer doesn’t bring instant results but prayer still works. Here I am today happy as can be. 

2.grace

Without grace, we are nothing. Without God, we are nothing. Combine God and His grace, we have everything, including happiness. 

3.prayer warriors 

When you ask for special prayer, be picky about who you ask. You want people to pray with you that believe in the same things you believe. You wouldn’t want a stranger’s help with praying that God heals you of a certain disease. Of course you’d rather have someone close to you, someone that knows you. For me, this meant my mom and those she entrusted to join her in these prayers. 

4.my husband 

If you don’t have your husband’s support, finding contentment in your life will be so much more difficult. I thank God that he gave me Luke. I never would’ve gotten through the rough patch I was in without him. Between his personality and God’s work through him, I knew (and always will know) that I’m in great hands. 

5.willpower

You can’t experience happiness unless you truly want it. You have to maintain the willpower and motivation. It’s like starting a healthy lifestyle; it’s pointless if you’re aren’t 150% committed to getting healthy and fit because you’ll eventually slide off the wagon. If you aren’t fully committed to finding your joy, it’s going to make the journey that much more difficult. 

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭37:4‬ ‭”Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Proverbs 10:28 “The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.”

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Hopy Spirit.”


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Tragedy in the midst of life

Memories and experiences never fade, whether they’re good or bad. You may suppress them if they’re negative but nonetheless, they are still there. 

Recently, a close friends’ grandmother passed away unexpectedly. Although the circumstances were completely different, it brought back the latest memories before and when my great-grandmother passed. Naturally my husband and I wanted to pay our respects so we went to the visitation. Admittedly, I was extremely nervous and awaiting for panic and anxiety to set in because I was not prepared for what was to come. Was it going to be an open casket? How upset were my friends going to be? What about their kids? As we waited in the line right outside the room at the funeral home, I asked Luke where our friends were in the lineup and when he said right by the casket my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest. When he told me it was an open casket, he immediately tried calming me since I wear my emotions on my face and just kept reassuring me I’d be fine and not to look. 

Walking by the line of close family members near the casket without looking is harder than it sounds. I turned my head the other way until I got to her husband and provided my condolences. While I maintained my composure, we truly did not stay long. We paid our respects, talked to some of the family and our friends, and left. We didn’t leave early to be rude or because we didn’t want to socialize. We left because that was best for both of us. You see, my husband and I do not deal with funerals very well, especially me. It brings anxiety, panic attacks, memories, and traumatic experiences from the past. 

I say this to tell you it’s okay to not stay for the entire visitation. It’s okay to say no you can’t attend the funeral for personal reasons (although I would if I wasn’t working). It’s okay to tell people no and you don’t owe them a reason for saying no. I’m not great at this by any means. But I’m slowly progressing. 

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:10‬ ‭”And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

5 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me

This is a very raw, personal post for me. These five things may be no big deal to some, for others it could be eye-opening. Nonetheless, I wanted to tell you more about me.

1.This isn’t my first go around with anxiety.

I mentioned this briefly in another post but I want to get down to the nitty-gritty. Notice I didn’t say that I suffer from anxiety. I don’t consider myself as suffering. In fact, anxiety can be hidden in many ways. I don’t have panic attacks like I have in the past. I have figured out my triggers so I can control my anxiety instead of the other way around. This is one of the most important things for me. Years ago when I first went through a battle of anxiety, it took over. It truly was a battle and anxiety was winning. There were many reasons for my anxiety then but because of it I came to know God. I thank Him everyday for his timing and grace because without either of those I would not have gotten through it before nor would I have been able to ween myself off of my medication against my doctor’s orders.

2.I am an emotional eater. 

Honestly, the only time I’m not stuffing my face is when I’m happy and hubby is around. I was getting better with my eating and lost weight but of course life happens and I let it get the best of me. I started grieving and anxiety kicked back in. I was and sometimes still feel like I am on an emotional roller coaster. It feels uncontrollable even though I know it’s just a mind game. What makes it even worse is how I feel after eating a ton of junk I know I don’t need or even want.

3.I’m self-conscious. 

This is a big one for me because I used to never judge myself. I was happy being me whether I just ate fifteen Oreos or not. Now, that’s definitely not the case. Getting in a bathing suit makes me cringe. Shopping makes me want to cry and if you’re a female you understand why. I hate looking at myself in the mirror and I refuse to get on the scale. I can’t be that person that blames society completely; society does not force me to be self-conscious. However, society doesn’t help with all the “this is what you should look like and dress like” things they throw out into the media. Manufacturers surely don’t help either when you’re in between a size 6 and a size 12 because of all the different measurements of your body. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the numbers make me self-conscious. That’s why I also blame it on myself. I got myself here thanks to number 2 on this list. But I also know I can get myself away from this.

4.I’m extremely forgetful.

I literally forget everything. Thank God for giving someone the idea of inventing sticky notes and planners. Although lately, those aren’t even helping. Doctor appointments? Thank goodness for those phone call reminders. What I told someone yesterday or 10 minutes ago? Couldn’t tell you. Where I put my registration card? Don’t remember that either. I’ve even forgotten my pin number to my debit card. I was at the gas pump and it asked for my number so I typed it in (or thought I did) and well the rest is history. I can’t even tell you how long it took me to finally remember what it was but it just came to me while I was checking out at the grocery store one day.

5.I’m scared of the dark and even more terrified of storms. 

I am 27 and afraid of the dark. I won’t even go outside in the dark alone. If I have to come home in the dark, I’m absolutely petrified and my anxiety is at an all time high. Add in a storm at night and you can catch me snuggled up to my husband watching the radar until it passes and constantly asking how much longer or how severe it is. Last year while I was at work (I am a teacher), there was a tornado watch. No big deal but since I’m in one of the classrooms at the end of the hall it’s my job to help keep an eye out. That tornado watch turned into warnings all around our area so naturally my coworkers and I had our phones with us when it was time for lunch. All of a sudden we were in that tornado warning and shoving students into safe rooms. Once they were all tuckered down, of course the adults were keeping watch and trying to keep the students calm. I was in such a panic that when a coworker came to the door and looked at me she said I needed to get out and go sit down. THAT was the worst panic attack I’ve ever had. Luckily nothing touched down around us but I can say it scarred me for life. I also thank God that nothing did happen that day.

There you have it. 5 things people typically don’t know about me and wouldn’t know if it weren’t for this post. After all, these definitely are not things you’d bring up in conversation.

 

 

 

Stepping out of my comfort zone

Today something remarkable happened. I went to a friend’s cookout by myself knowing only the couple who invited me. For an introvert with anxiety THIS IS HUGE! I cannot tell you the last time I went somewhere alone and felt comfortable about the whole situation.

I am that quiet, shy person when you first meet me. It typically takes me awhile to warm up to someone enough that I can initiate or continue a conversation. There are people I have known for months or even years that I still cannot fully be myself around. I’m still pretty quiet at family functions. Part of all this is due to trust and part of it is due to my anxiety and introverted personality.

Today I was not that person [entirely]. I talked to people I never met. I pulled up to the cookout without the knots in my stomach and the nervousness of how awkward this could be. I busted right in and made myself feel at home. The best part? It felt great. I did wish my husband was with me and did miss him but at the same time it was a big step for me to do that on my own.

There are times that I am invited places where I find some type of excuse or reason not to go because I don’t want to be uncomfortable. There are times I have to muster up the courage to get out of my car at someone’s house or even just a business to get something taken care of. I literally have to talk myself into things sometimes because it’s the healthy thing to do. After all, how can I overcome anxiety without being brave and courageous? Small steps and Jesus is all it takes.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” -Deuteronomy 31:6

 

Confessions of an anxious Christian

As Christians, sometimes the world expects us to be perfect human beings. I am here to tell you, that’s not the case. No one is perfect, but as Christians we strive to be. We want to please Jesus in every way possible. There are trials and temptations thrown our way no matter how hard we pray. That just means you pray harder, you work harder and you love harder. My trial is anxiety and I KNOW this is something I can overcome but only with the help of God. I’ve done it once; it will happen again. Until that day comes there are things I, as a Christian, go through that people may not understand or even know about. These confessions are what I struggle with, whether it’s spiritually, emotionally, relationally, or mentally.

Confession #1: I’m hard on myself.

As I said earlier, we all strive to be perfect in the eyes of God. Life happens. We slip up in some way. Then we beat ourselves up about it. For me, it’s like a continuous beating  emotionally. I keep apologizing, promising God and myself to be better. Acts 3:19 states “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Deep down, I know this verse to be true but the anxiety inside me continues to scream apologies and promises.

Confession #2: It’s hard for me to say no. 

Even when there are times I want to and need to (no matter what the circumstances), telling people no makes me feel horrible. It feels as if I am letting everyone down regardless of the circumstances. My husband even says “Just tell them no,” which sounds so simple but for me a million questions come to mind. What if they get mad at me? What if they stop talking to me? What if they think I’m a bad person? What if they think “saying no” isn’t something a Christian should do? Aren’t I supposed to be loving everyone the way Jesus does? Would Jesus had said no?

Confession #3: I’m a massive over thinker.

If you haven’t figured that out by now, I over think things. When I say overthink I mean I completely analyze every single situation. What could happen, what will happen (as if I can predict the future or actions of other people), what would happen to me…those are all questions that run through my mind for every scenario. As a Christian, that’s not my job. I shouldn’t be analyzing all the scenarios thrown my way. My job is to give it to God, but if I’m honest it’s not always that easy.

Confession #4: I take things personally.

It’s become hard for me to tell if someone is joking when they make a comment or if they are serious. This is hard for people with anxiety, especially me. No matter what the comment is, you don’t want to make it more awkward and say “Wait, are you kidding around or are we being serious here?” In person, I take comments, conversations, and situations in stride. Once I’m alone where my brain starts running 300 mph or I get home to my husband, it all comes out. I’m either stressing about it in my head, trying to figure things out or blabbing to my husband about it. After all, he is the reason I have learned I take things too personally. Again, just because you know that about yourself, doesn’t make changing it easy. It’s a process, just like controlling anxiety itself or should I say not letting anxiety control you.

Confession #5: I want to be left alone.

Let me explain this one clearly. I don’t mean everyone drives me insane and I want to be stuck in a room 24/7 by myself (although I do have those days). By this confession, I mean there are times my anxiety is so high I feel like I can’t function. I not only want to be alone so I can process my thoughts and get myself together, but sometimes I need that. One thing I have learned is that it’s okay to want and need time to yourself-time to think, time to rest, time to heal, time to handle the anxiety. For me, this can be as simple as a shower, a nap, reading a book for a bit, or just laying down. I think this is a difficult one for people who have never experienced anxiety to understand. As I still work through handling my anxiety, I try harder to make it known why I’m so tired or so stressed or why I have that look my husband says I have on my face when something is wrong.

Anxiety is not an easy fix. Being a Christian with anxiety definitely does not make it easier. But I know God is gracious and I can rely on Him.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” -Psalm 55:22

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” -Hebrews 4:16

 

 

 

 

When Grief Strikes

Grief: It’s one thing in life every person experiences in some way. For me, I never understood or processed grief until the recent passing of my great-grandmother. Prior to that, I lost my grandfather on January 23rd of 2009 and my great-grandfather January 23rd of 2010. Needless to say my family was not fond of that date anymore. Those experiences were definitely hard in ways people will never understand and I don’t expect them to. The point is I never had the chance to grieve; I didn’t know how.

Fast forward to January 23rd of this year-the day the news of my great-grandmother became worse. I remember every single detail about that day and I think that’s the day the grief began. I had phone calls back to back and messages saying “call me but make sure Luke (my husband) is around.” Queue the anxiety. We already knew she had bone cancer,we just didn’t the extent of it. That day, January 23rd, was the day we were supposed to find out. Only we didn’t find out about the bone cancer, we found out about the lung cancer and liver cancer. It was complete devastation for me and brought forth the memories of my grandfather and great-grandfather passing away just years before. My great-grandmother took the news in stride. She was ready whenever God was ready to take her. The time I spent with her was difficult. She knew she was dying and I could see it too. Ready or not, it does not make the process any easier-at least not for me.

People handle grief differently. Literally every person handles it in their own way. I don’t know why I didn’t grieve over my grandfather and great-grandfather. I was sad and upset of course but I never grieved until the moment I heard the news of my great-grandmother. Then it became a triple whammy for me. I began recalling every memory and visual of my grandfather in his hospital room as I watched him pass. I began feeling terrible for not being there when my great-grandfather passed. When the time came that my great-grandmother passed, all the emotions became worse and more difficult to handle.

Grief is like a cycle. There are stages involved. You may skip a stage or you may experience all of the stages. You may go through every stage and think “ah, everything is normal again” when all of a sudden you feel sad or angry. The thing with grief is that you can also go back to a particular stage. This doesn’t mean something is wrong with you, it just means you handle it differently than others. For instance, today would have been my grandfather’s 78th birthday. I wish he could have seen me graduate college and get married. I wish I could still go visit him and drink coffee with him. But I can’t. The same goes with my great-grandfather. I am thankful my great-grandmother was at my college graduation but I do wish I could still drink coffee with her and have had her at my wedding. Due to all this plus the grief over my great-grandmother, I find myself in three, yes three, different stages of grief.

I say all this for one reason: no matter who you’re grieving over or who you have grieved over, you’re okay. You’re going to be okay. Why? Because God pours out his grace for us. You just have to accept it so that you can move on and go where he has planned for you to go.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” -Matthew 5:4

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”           -Psalm 34:18

 

How I Handle My Anxiety

Let me begin by stating that I am by no means a medical professional. These are things I have learned throughout my journey that I feel led to share with you.

I have been seeing numerous blog posts or videos about anxiety lately and it made me realize it’s more common than I thought. It also made me realize, after reading every single one I come across that I have yet to find one that shares ideas on how to manage anxiety. I’m sure there are some out there but, like I said, God has led me to share my tips.

Here are 5 tips on managing your anxiety:

1. Determine your triggers.

This was a tough one for me starting out on my journey to control my anxiety and quit letting it control me. You may only have one trigger or you can have plenty more. Me? I don’t keep count. Instead, I keep myself aware of these triggers so when they are happening I can do the next things on my list to manage the anxiety that’s coming.

2. Breathe.

Yes this sounds so simple to some. For me, breathing is hard, especially when I feel that tightness in my chest. I won’t lie to you; 99% of the time someone has had to remind me to breathe. That person now of course is my husband but there have been others: my parents, my sister, and friends. Breathing is more than just the natural act that comes to us to stay alive. Calm breathing is what I find to be beneficial. When you experience that trigger or begin to feel the effects of your anxiety, breathe. Breathe deep. Breathe in a way that when you inhale, your stomach comes up and when you exhale, your stomach becomes flat again. When you inhale, hold that breath for 5 seconds before you exhale. Continue this until you feel calmer. This also helps me relax my body so I can actually fall asleep so my brain doesn’t start running 500 mph.

3. Journal

Unless you are interested in hand lettering and a specific type of journaling, there is no need to go run to Pinterest. That was my first mistake. It made “making my journal” too overwhelming. Your journal is just that-yours. It does not matter what it looks like, if you write in it every single day, or log every detail of your life. I use my journal to help process my emotions and determine triggers for my anxiety. I also use it to vent or plan out things I need to say in a certain situation. If someone was to read a page in my journal I’m sure they’d be completely confused, but that’s completely irrelevant. It’s my journal remember? My journal doesn’t have cute handwriting (because I’m not an artsy person) and it’s definitely not organized (because for me that takes up too much time when I need to focus on writing what I’m thinking). Use your journal the way you want.

4. Cry

Yes, you read that right. I said cry. I never said to send yourself into a panic attack cry but crying is helpful, especially when your anxiety is so strong and overwhelming to the point where you don’t know what else to do. Sometimes a good cry is all we need. Just let it all out, whether it’s a sad cry or an angry cry. There’s a song by Matt Hammitt called Tears. This song truly helped me in so many ways learn that it’s okay to cry. Part of the lyrics say this:

“Just let ’em fall, like healing rain
Watch the walls, start crumbling
Let your heart beat, and feel the weight
You’ve carried disappear”

God made tears. They didn’t just appear because we have anxiety or we’re sad. So let them fall. Let them heal you. Sometimes that’s what we need to just feel the weight being lifted off of our shoulders. God doesn’t always need us to speak. Remember: He knows our needs before we even speak them.

5. Pray and read your Bible

I did not put this one last because it’s least important. If I was prioritizing these tips, this would be number one. Prayer is the most important thing in managing your anxiety. Even though God knows our needs before we speak them, we still need to be adamant about prayer. Pray for strength to overcome your anxiety. Pray for courage to handle it even when it’s at its worst. Pray that God will help you. It does not matter where you pray or how you pray. Just pray. I promise He will come through. There are tons of bible verses that talk about anxiety. Find one or use them all. Say them out loud when you feel anxious. Say them out loud when you don’t. Post them in your house in places where you will see them every single day. I am a sticky note person. I will have sticky notes everywhere and not think twice about it. I write scripture on the mirror so I see it every morning I am getting ready and every night when I prepare for bed.

With that being said, I will leave you with this:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6-7