Anxious for nothing… part 1🦖

My day had already begun, but just as it was taking off a message from a friend let me know she was feeling anxious. She had intended to do something- or maybe avoided doing it, and thought it would cause someone else to worry. That someone was me by the way– I assured her it just wasn’t the case.

Anxious- for nothing.

Later a former student wandered into my office to share her thoughts with me. She very uncharacteristically started crying because she noticed something in herself that she felt was perhaps a flaw in her ability to do something she had been trusted to do. Concern for the limitations that flaw might place on her life was evident in her tears. Then she suddenly seemed to remember that although she had this task currently, it wasn’t something she really valued or wanted in her life beyond this temporary tasking- it only bothered her because it somehow marred a life otherwise marked by her free spirited motion and energy.

Anxious – for nothing.

Late tonight as I drove home, the truck suddenly started making an awful scraping noise. I was sure the engine had fallen out and I was dragging some important part under me. Or maybe one of the feral cats that inhabit the university campus had gotten into the engine to avoid the chill and I was mutilating it as I drove. I pulled over as soon as I could- opened the hood, saw nothing. Bent down to look at the bottom of the truck and found that I had somehow driven over a cardboard box that was stuck under there- it was being scraped along the road and it’s open end was acting as a microphone- shouting its presence there. I very easily removed it without even having to touch the ground.

Anxious- for nothing.

What’s the point? Anxiety is a real occurrence- it causes us to panic, to hide, to fear fear itself- but it’s a lie. Anxiety will lie to you – tell you you are powerless, alone, weak, useless, unnecessary, worthless, your efforts are wasted or worse that they are harmful, or any number of things that just do not align with reality or truth. It’s a lie that is easy to believe because it tries to tie itself to our hopes- to the purpose we hope we are living- and tell us to forget them because we aren’t enough. It attacks our identity by telling us not only are we not who we want to be, we aren’t even who we think we are right now, and we weren’t even who we thought we were in the past.

Anxiety is a liar. It is a thief- stealing truth from our hearts and minds. We are not made to be anxious, we are not made to panic, not made to doubt, not made to fear.

My favorite book to share with middle schoolers puts it something like this,

“The truth is, whether you know something or not doesn’t change what was.”

Truth is what is there even when we aren’t aware of it. We cannot change it, deny it, shape it, or move it.

Anxiety makes us think truth has moved without us knowing it, without our permission, without our control. Which embeds another lie- that truth depended on us in the first place- it doesn’t.

Yes, we all have our own reality- the set of daily circumstances we exist within. That personal reality may shift continuously- but our realities are not truth. Anxiety wants us to believe they are- and it teams up with pride to make us feel that we have the authority to tell other people what “our truth” is. And that pride teams up with angst and tells us we have the right to be angry at those who don’t share “our reality” that we’ve started to call truth. And soon we are passing our anxiety off as truth for others to partake of- inviting them to have the same doubts, fears, and worries that we do.

Don’t believe anxiety’s lies. Be confident that truth doesn’t change.

“If dinosaurs were blue, they were blue; if they were brown, they were brown whether anybody ever knows it for a fact or not.”

Weeks, S. (2004). So B. It. Scholastic: NewYork, NY. pg. 4.

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November Walk Around My Yard

While some states have already experienced frost or even snow, here in the deep south, fall takes a little longer to arrive. And even then we typically progress from humid swelter to frozen sog with little in between.

This year has been a bit different and I’ve truly enjoyed the difference- we’ve actually had slightly dropping temperatures that have made it lovely to be outside. Bright cool days perfect for small backyard fires and lunches on the back porch. (Contrary to what some may believe it’s usually just too hot in the summer to enjoy the back porch at all.)

We’ve been busy with school activities, conferences, and open houses and such, and I’m thankful to have a restful weekend to mosey around the yard enjoying its fall offerings. While I’ve got some pruning that never quite got finished, some of my heat-withered plants have decided to give it another try and I just didn’t have the heart to tell them no.

Hope you enjoy these never-give-up flowers as much as I have today.

If anyone is a tweeter, you can find me at Serendipity Sings. I usually share the songs I wake up singing each day.

Fred Rogers looked so much like my Granddaddy – they could have been brothers; so watching this show was always like spending time with Granddaddy too. I really needed this today. To simply be reminded that people can like me just the way I am.

I wish more people had grown up with Mr. Rogers – because some people that are the right age – didn’t get to; and because people who aren’t the right age – are surely missing out on the completely unconditional love that was offered.

My worth comes from the fact that God made me – nothing more.  God trusts me to live out what he puts in my heart and shows mercy when I fail and grace when I don’t measure up.

Not my job.

Not my kids.

Not my church.

Not even my husband.

Just God.

He is the only one with authority to tell me whether I’m deserving of love or not.  And He says I am.

Thank you, Fred Rogers, for extending His love to generations of children.  You always seem to show up at the right moments.

Matthew 22: 39

The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Neighbor

It’s been a while.

I haven’t written in some time.  I’ve written some things for myself that are invisible to others (at least I hope those settings worked properly). I know I should be writing, but I can’t settle on what to write about.

Things either seem trivial and of such little consequence that I’m not sure it’s worth the time.  Or they seem like overblown academia – which is what I should be writing for my job – and I just can’t see the point sometimes in blowing things so out of proportion that they are only relevant to blowhards and pompous people.

I used to feel passionate about what I was writing. Even the pompous academia.  I’m still passionate about providing the end result of good educational practice for families and children – I just seem to feel completely unpassionate trying to write about it.

I feel my passion in directing the summer programs I am now responsible for – newsflash – dream job achieved! Well, in an interim/visiting kind of way.  Perhaps that passion will be evident to others and the visiting will become permanent and the interim can be dropped. But probably not without some of that writing.

So – I’m really here to get back into the habit of writing consistently – whatever it is – so that it’s easier to write.

 

 

Praying For and Praying Against

So many things in my life lately are like coins. Easy to flip and with opposing images on either side.

It is tempting to pray against people who are in the wrong and in their own way as well as everyone else’s.

It’s tempting to pray for the situations that we want to see in our lives that seem to bring us into our promised land.

But I’m being tested. And some of the questions on this life test are not as straightforward as I wish they were.

People that seem to be just evil- are also created in God’s image- just like I am. And situations that seem to be blessed can hide many stumbling blocks that may actually bring destruction.

The key- as Peter learned in his water-walking experience- is to keep our eyes on Jesus. That focus may not actually bring clarity to the whole picture, but it allows the bad to fade away around the edges of our view.

Those evil people may not change their ways, but praying against them actually keeps them from experiencing Jesus. That situation may seem perfect, but praying for it keeps us from seeing the parts of it we will need to navigate carefully through.

I’m learning to pray for people- for God’s love to reach them through whatever shell they have created for themselves and for their blessing which God alone knows how to bring to them in a way that can change them completely.

I’m learning to pray against situations- against the hidden pitfalls and misleading curves that make it difficult to see ahead and the false fronts that keep us from understanding how our gifts will grow when we accept the challenges of each new situation.

It’s a subtle difference – but that is the enemy’s strong suit isn’t it? Using subtlety to hide the truth? Praying for and against the wrong things actually plays into the lies that allow us to fall right into the trap. 

Lord, I pray that each person I encounter will see you in me- not for my recognition – but for your glory- that you may be revealed in each word and that their hearts would be changed to reveal your breath creating new life in them. I pray that I will not be blinded by welcoming facades that hide distractions you never intended for me to waste my time with, but that you would reveal all things to me in order that your glory will be shown as obstacles are overcome.

Amen.

The Beginning of Something New

For many years I have heard my husband share his belief that the next great spiritual awakening will arise in our young people.  To be honest, I smiled and went about my day without giving it much thought.  Our children were young – there was plenty of time to teach them – it would be so very long until his prediction could even begin to be observed.

But now . . . I’m soon to be a mother-of-the-groom, two of my children are in college, and my baby, who is still in high-school, has recently begun to experience the Lord in amazing ways and has stated that he is ready to begin to honor a call on his life to be a preacher.  Both of my boys have young women in their lives who are very vocal about their love for Jesus and about the call in their own lives to share the gospel.

I am seeing my husband’s prediction come true every day as my children experience the many ways that God is shaping and directing their paths.  Now more than ever, I am beginning to feel the responsibility for sharing the love of Jesus with these young people and for shaping their concepts of His love.  I now have five children – not just three, because as long as these young ladies are in my sons’ lives, they are mine also.  I have a daughter between my boys and so I’ve always had the opportunity to share my experiences as a woman, but the entrance of these two extra, “instant” daughters into my life has suddenly brought this responsibility into focus in ways I never expected.

My natural daughter has been able to ask questions and to continue conversations over time, so I haven’t felt the urgency that perhaps I should have felt over the years.  Now that she has two “instant” sisters, who have their own concepts regarding the gospel and their own questions about the doctrines our family has long held, I feel the urgency.  All these years I thought about raising my daughter for her own gifts and abilities to be shown.  While I occasionally have prayed for the young man she will one day meet and marry, I have seldom thought about her preparation to be suitable for him.  I have thought most about what I wanted him to bring to her.  But for my boys I thought about what they would offer their wives.

This new stage in my life is showing me the error of my ways and it is making me think about what I can offer these young ladies so that they understand the needs my sons may have.  So that together all of us may have a strong family with clear ideals and solid beliefs that will shape not only our lives, but the lives of those we encounter every day.

Lord, I ask that you help us all to see the opportunities to share your love with all of those around us and to provide support for those we love.  Thank you so much for the many gifts you have bestowed upon our family. We love you and honor you. May you be seen in all we do.

 

Lessons in Love from a Hedgehog

As the coordinator of educational experiences for gifted children where I am now working, I like to be there for the end result and see how things go.

This weekend we invited our local zoo to bring their outreach animals and other objects to a class for second and third graders who are studying various biomes and the animals found in each one.

We love our local zoo!  They brought a gopher tortoise, a bard owl, a skull and preserved pelt from a jaguar that once lived at the zoo, and a hedgehog. They also brought a variety of veterinary equipment to demonstrate training techniques, the darting process for medicating dangerous animals, and to expemplify the connections between training and providing medical care. 

I learned along with the children and was just as fascinated, but one thing keeps coming back to my heart.  The hedgehog. 

The hedgehog exhibits a behavior known as self-anointing. The words themselves made me immediately think- now that’s not right- aren’t we supposed to seek God’s anointing? But then I saw him do it and not only did I change my mind, I decided that I wanted to be more like the hedgehog.  Here’s why. . .

In the process of self-anointing, the hedgehog will lick the skin or bark of another animal or object, swish the licked scent, or particles of whatever he licked around in his mouth to create foam, and then lick them back onto himself. Sounds pretty gross, I know.

In the wild, “they” think this helps to protect the hedgehog by making him smell like something else that preditors are more likely to ignore. Now I could have seen this as a negative spiritual lesson, something regarding hiding our identity and not being who we were created to be, but- I noticed something about this particular hedgehog- he was partial.

Which I guess is a southern way of saying he had a distinct preference.

He was surrounded by children who all smelled interesting to him- he made his way around the circle sniffing many small feet that were seated in criss-cross-applesauce fashion as they observed him hunting and eating his favorite worms that the zoo’s veterinarian had placed on the floor for him to find. 

But no matter how many children he sniffed-or even licked – the only person with whom he performed the anointing ritual was the zoo keeper who had held and comforted him as he had sleepily been introduced to each child.  He was partial to her – to her scent, to her comforting hands that held him.

He chose the scent of his provider, protector, and comforter to use for his anointing. He chose to smell like the one he trusted. 

Shouldn’t we all do that with God? Shouldn’t we choose to cover ourselves in His essential character, grace, forgiveness, and love?

I could go on for a long time with all the implications that I am finding, but this time, I will leave you to ponder your own thoughts.