What my New Book Is About (and what it isn’t about)

I thought it might be a good idea to write a post to introduce my new book, Claiming the Promise!  Three years ago, I felt the Lord impressing me to write about my journey through anxiety and what I learned from that time.  Never having written a book before, and not being skilled with business or marketing know-how, it took a good three years to get this small book written, published, and printed.

What is Claiming the Promise about? 

My Testimony:  Claiming the Promise focuses on the time when I had first been diagnosed with generalized anxiety (March of 2013).  Anxiety was new to me, and I learned a lot that first year. To this day, I still believe 2013 was the hardest year of my life.  I share my story from its beginning and end with a pivotal moment that changed my life. 

A Description:  Claiming the Promise describes what it’s like to have anxiety.  True, clinical anxiety goes beyond the anxious feelings one might have before a difficult test, or over lost car keys.  I not only describe my own personal symptoms but dive into a description of the different causes of anxiety. 

An Encouragement:  The sole purpose of Claiming the Promise is to encourage other Christians who also suffer from anxiety. When I was in the depths of anxiety, I searched for help from Christian sources but found little.  I pray my story can encourage and lift up other Christians who also suffer.

Gives Guidance:  While I don’t go into much detail explaining the clinical aspects of anxiety, I do overview the causes both physical and spiritual.  I then go into short detail over the different options one has to choose from in finding their own healing path. 

What is Claiming the Promise NOT about?

Expert Medical Advice: I am in no way a medical expert, and do not claim to be so.  I have read many books and articles written by medical experts (both Christian and secular) about anxiety. I talked to many anxiety sufferers who found healing.  I also talked to doctors, a therapist, and received council from my pastor.  I brought all of that knowledge to the Lord and asked Him to guide my pen as I began to write. 

A Prescription:  If you are looking for a book that will give you five steps to follow for healing, don’t buy my book!  My story is not going to be your story.  Don’t expect your journey to look like mine!  And please, don’t expect my path of healing to be your path.

Coping Skills:  Honestly, I wish I had put a chapter about coping skills in Claiming the Promise, but God did not lead me in that direction.  I do, however, have several articles on the blog about it.  Click here to read my article, Tips to Overcoming a Panic Attack. Or you can click here to read my article, Six Helps for Christians with Anxiety.

Popular:  As a Christian, I often flow against this worlds current. Many of my ideas and philosophies about anxiety are not popular.  All I can share with you is what I know, and what God has personally brought me through. I am guessing this book would be frowned upon by some medical experts. Being a follower of Christ and believing the Bible is not always popular. 

1 John 3:13Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

Now that you know what Claiming the Promise is about (and what it’s not about), I encourage you to buy a book!  Read it and pass it on to someone else!  This is a ministry and my only intent is to encourage others.  I am not going to make a dime off my website or in selling any books. My prayer is that I can point others to the hope we have in Christ to overcome anxiety, and to make a difference in someone’s life!

To purchase a copy of my book, Claiming the Promise, you can go here.

4 Things the Pandemic of 2020 Taught Me

     The Pandemic of 2020, where we were all told to stay home, or people would die.  Where we all rushed to the grocery stores to stock up on rice, beans, and toilet paper.  Where many of us lost our jobs overnight, and we all sat back in shock as we watched stock markets plummet.  Where schools were canceled for the rest of the year and millions of families started homeschooling overnight.  Where daily White House briefings became a normal thing. 

     The Pandemic of 2020, where it took Americans about a month to realize that the experts didn’t really know what they were talking about.  Where we realized that we were no longer free to choose what was best for ourselves or our families. Where churches were taken to court for opening their doors, and neighbors were asked to snitch on each other.

     Today is May 4, 2020, two-and-a-half months after the pandemic began, and I can’t find cleaning supplies or toilet paper in the grocery store.  Meat is being rationed, and many of the shelves in the grocery store still look bare. I feel like I have to sneak out of my house if I want to go somewhere, and everywhere I look, people are wearing face masks and gloves.  Oh, and we are all still being told to stay in our houses. 

     In this world gone crazy, one has to take a step back and ask what could possibly be the good in all of this?  Is there a silver lining amid the uncertainty we now call our new normal?  What lessons have we learned from the Pandemic of 2020?

What the Pandemic of 2020 Taught Me:

  •  WORRY IS POINTLESS – In the weeks leading up to the Pandemic, I had been agonizing and worrying over things that just seemed impossible to me.  What would my summer hours be at my new job?  What would I do with my younger boys while I was at work?  Would I still be able to work in the ministries I volunteered for every summer?  How would we afford the new car payment AND our daughters graduation party?  What about our family vacation and the kids summer camps?  I was losing sleep over these bothersome worries.  What I didn’t know at the time was those worries that I was sweating over and pouring out to God in my prayers would soon become invalid worries. But God knew that all along.  He knew that I would get laid off from my job, and that the entire world would close down, postponing indefinitely any plans I had made. He also knew that in light of this virus we were facing, I would just be grateful to have my family around me!  The Pandemic of 2020 taught me that worry is pointless – just trust God!
  •  IT’S OK TO SLOW DOWN – Getting up early and rushing to work, then rushing back home to clean the house and get dinner prepped before rushing out the door again to pick up groceries and stop at the post office before getting the kids from school.  Then there was the rush to get the kids to their doctor and orthodontist appointments, before rushing back home to finish homework and scarf down dinner, only so we could rush out the door again!  There was always a basketball, soccer, violin, and drama practice.  Then there were the special programs, recitals, and church activities to rush to after the practices!  All of that rushing made the days pass too quickly.  Our schedules were filled to overflowing and we longed for a day, just ONE day, to slow down!  Then, suddenly, overnight, we all had time.  We slept in, we sipped our coffee, and we were secretly relieved that life was canceled.  Husbands and wives talked and loved more, kids played and laughed more, and there was peace and quiet, and no rushing. What did I learn from the Pandemic of 2020?  I learned that it’s OK to slow down!
  • CONTENTMENT IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER – Before the Pandemic of 2020 I found a lot to be discontent about. I wanted new flooring in my living room and the bathroom to be remodeled, and while I was at it, why not a new house?  I was bummed that this summer we would be camping in our tent and NOT a rented camper. I was discontent with the scramble of our schedules, my kid’s attitudes, and could someone PLEASE get me a new wardrobe?!?  Want to know something funny about world-wide pandemics?  When you learn that the whole world has hit the pause button, you suddenly become grateful for what you already have.  Your heart sighs with contentment as you gaze over your chipped coffee mug at the sight of your entire family sitting safe and sound in your less-than house. The Pandemic of 2020 made me see the value of what I had in front of me, instead of what I couldn’t have!
  • ONLY GOD KNOWS – In the early days of the pandemic, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Brix quickly became household names as the nation tuned in for the daily Covid-19 briefings.  We hung on every word as we learned more about the coronavirus and what it’s effects would be to our livelihoods.  Over time, we began to notice discrepancies in what we were being told.  One day we were told to get enough food to last a couple weeks so we could stay at home, and the next week we were reprimanded for “hoarding” toilet paper and cleaners. We were told not to wear masks unless we were on the “front lines”, and weeks later our governors passed laws requiring us to wear masks. We were told millions would die from the virus, only to recently learn that the “modules were off”. It’s slowly become clear that even the experts don’t really know what’s going on.  But I know One who knows all, sees all, and is all! Even the most talented experts on earth are going to make mistakes, because they are human.  We shouldn’t be putting our trust in anything that man has to say, but putting all our trust in God’s Word! 

     I’ve learned a few other things during the Pandemic of 2020.  I’ve learned how to make whipped coffee and my own cleaning sprays.  I learned that I feel better about myself when I wake up at the same time every day, and that includes showering and getting dressed, too.  I’ve learned the importance of keeping in touch with friends and family, and that I am more of a “people” person than I realized.  Most importantly, I’ve learned that if you put all your trust in God’s Word, everything else will fall in place.

How to be a Christian in a Worldwide Pandemic

There is no doubt that we are living in the last days.  Stories of disease, earthquakes, and warring nations are plastered in every news headline.  If that weren’t bad enough, we are now experiencing a worldwide pandemic from a virus called covid-19.  It’s not just another news story, it is now in our local hospitals, and we all know at least one person diagnosed with it.

From the elderly person donned in a face mask and plastic gloves to the young mother cringing when someone coughs, there is fear all around us.  Fear over declining stock markets and failing businesses.  Consumers are fearful of empty grocery shelves, and fear has even caused some neighborhoods to self-impose quarantine on the neighbors.

As for Christians, Satan wants to distract us from being a light in these very dark and tumultuous times.  He will do this through panic, fear, or depression; frustration with being “stuck” in a house with family; addiction to the news and conspiracy theories; laziness; and newly formed bad habits.

So how can we be Christians during a worldwide pandemic?  How can we be different from the rest of the world gone crazy?

Read your Bible: Reading our Bibles right now is more important than it has ever been!  We need the comfort it provides.  We need to be reminded that although our lives have changed dramatically over the last few weeks, our God hasn’t changed.  We need to remember God’s promises! As tempting as it may be to sleep in, now is not the time to slack in your Bible reading!  If you don’t already do this daily, make it a habit starting now! Search in your Bible for God’s promises and memorize them! Here are a few words to get you started on your search: peace, hope, joy, refuge, and strength.

“Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” – John 6:68

Pray:  Are you afraid?  It’s OK to be afraid, but it’s not OK to let it control you.  We still need to do what God has called us to do, despite our fears.  We have to take care of our families, and be generous to those around us because that is what God has called us to do.  So if fear or anxiety has got you hiding in your closet, get on your knees!  There is no time like the present to extend your prayer time!  Lay your fears and anxieties at the feet of Jesus, who has offered to carry your burdens for you!

“Is your fear bigger than your God?” – Pastor Jonathan Marshall

Praise God and Be Thankful:  Maybe you’ve been laid off.  Maybe you ran out of toilet paper yesterday.  Maybe someone you love has been diagnosed with covid-19.  What do you possibly have to praise God for?  Praise God because He is God!  Even on our worst day, God is good.  He longs to hear us praise Him when we are in our darkest hour.  Sing to Him. Tell Him how wonderful He is. Talk to your kids about His goodness. Make a journal that’s all about God’s goodness!

“O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”  – Psalms 136:1

Limit Bad News: Christians, turn off the news! Just do it. Delete those real-time covid-19 apps.  Yes, you know what app I’m talking about! Unfollow those conspiracy theory chat rooms you joined. Stop scrolling through those news headlines. I know, I know!  What else is there to do right now? The more bad news we put into our minds, the more anxious and uptight we become.  Instead, listen to music that glorifies God, or read an encouraging book.  It’s important we fill our minds with God’s goodness MORE than we fill it with bad news!

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

Start Some Good Habits:  If you’re in quarantine like the rest of the world, you definitely have the time to make some new habits! They say it takes 30 days to start a new habit.  Here are some suggestions: get up earlier, read your Bible and pray every morning, eat healthier, read a nonfiction book or a biography, memorize scripture, get some exercise.  You could also clean out your closet, organize the pantry, or learn how to make your husband’s favorite meal.  Don’t waste this time that has been thrust on us, be productive!

“A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.” – Proverbs 11:1

Do something for God: Ask God if there is something you can do for someone else.  Maybe you just need to focus on blessing your family and getting through the day keeping your littles alive.  Or maybe you are able to focus outside of your 4 walls.  If you have extra toilet paper, you could leave a roll on your neighbors doorstep with a letter saying you’re praying for them and a gospel tract. Give them your phone number and ask them to text you something they need prayer about. Maybe someone needs help getting groceries. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Sometimes we are led to do things that are uncomfortable for us, but that bless others!

“Never resist a generous impulse.” – Pastor Richard Sowell

Light shines brightest in darkness.  Christian, now is our time to reflect the Light of Jesus Christ to a dying and lost world!  Stop hiding in fear, and start living like a Christian in this worldwide pandemic!

“Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.” – Matthew 5:15

 “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”                        – Romans 8:38-39

 

 

HOW I KNEW I WAS A CONTROL FREAK, AND WHAT THE BIBLE HAD TO SAY ABOUT IT

“Come on! Let’s go, let’s go! Out the door, we’re late,” I yelled as I slipped on my shoes!

“Mom, aren’t we always late, though?”

Glaring at my 10-year-old, I replied, “Not today! Now move, move, move!”

Despite my shouts to hurry all the way out to the car and my somewhat-reckless driving, I still managed to be a few minutes late to work. Again.

For the first time in nearly 18 years, I have crossed over from being a stay-at-home mom to a working mom. Thankfully, it’s a part-time job, but I have certainly had my share of struggle in getting my feet wet in the work world again! I have the best job a mom could ever want working at my kid’s school. I also have the best boss and co-workers a girl could ever ask for. So why all the struggle?

After a couple of meltdowns and a few conversations with my longsuffering husband, the truth began to niggle at my heart.

The problem was me.

Well, my control-freak nature, to be more exact.

HOW I KNEW I WAS A CONTROL-FREAK

It had to be my way. My kids have always done chores, but I never realized how much energy I spent “re-doing” what they had already done. Since going back to work, I no longer have time to “re-do” anything. Instead of being grateful for what my kids were doing, I found myself stressing because – well, my vacuum lines had disappeared! Instead of encouraging my kids by what they were accomplishing, I was mourning the fact that the towels were not “properly” folded and placed on the shelf.

I couldn’t let things go. It didn’t seem to matter how tired I was, falling asleep was a struggle. My endless to-do list kept swirling through my thoughts, and I even found new things to add to it. I couldn’t shut off my brain. I also couldn’t let conversations or arguments go until everyone agreed with me, or at least saw it from my point of view! When I disappointed one of my kids or a family member because I was just too busy, I agonized over it for days!

I began to pass the blame. Once I started to feel life spiral out of control, I decided that NOTHING was my fault! Those dirty dishes in the sink and piles of unfolded clothes were no longer MY fault! But, it had to be somebody’s fault, so I blamed the kids, my husband, that phone call, ANYTHING but me! Contention started to build up in our house, but it wasn’t MY fault!

If you are an “A-plus” personality, chances are you’ve used it as an excuse to cover your control-freak tendencies.

“Um, because of my ‘a-plus’ personality, I’m going to ask that you do it this way.

“I’m sorry, but my OCD is coming out in me. Do you mind if I fix this?”

Listen, I know more than anyone, the wonderful benefits of being a control freak! It’s a great motivator, and can actually help us get more accomplished in our tight schedules!

But, what does the Bible have to say about the common qualities of someone who likes to be in control?

WHAT THE BIBLE HAS TO SAY

A control-freak is prideful What is the driving force behind someone with an “A-plus” personality? Pride. Wanting things done a particular way (ours) prevents us from putting our faith in God! Pride is a dangerous place for a Christian to be! In fact, King Solomon said that God hated the sin of pride!

“These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,”

– Proverbs 6:16‭-‬17

A control-freak has no peace – It is impossible for us to control every aspect of our lives. Just when we think we’ve got things under control, life happens, and we find ourselves in impossible situations. We lose sleep and develop anxiety over the things we can’t control!

But, when we live our lives surrendered to God, and allow Him to have ALL the control, those impossible situations have hope! When we put our trust in God that all things work together for good, we can have peace!

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”

– Isaiah 26:3

The next time you catch yourself blaming your OCD, or your “a-plus” personality, just stop! Admit you’re a control freak! Surrender your life to God (daily) and determine in your heart to give up control!

Bible Verses for the Control Freak:

Romans 8:28

Jeremiah 29:11

Matthew 6:34

Matthew 11:28

Jeremiah 32:27

 

What To Do When Life Kinda Stinks

“I can’t do anything right,” my daughter cried! “No one has called me back for a job, I failed my driving test, and my brain froze completely up when I was taking my ACT!  Why am I such a loser?”

My mind raced with all the possible things a mother should say, but I finally opted for silence. (Hey, the Bible says that even a fool is counted wise when he keeps silent, and I was just trying to be wise!) After 25 minutes of my daughter’s sobbing (and my silent prayers for wisdom), I finally said, “It’s going to be OK, baby girl.  Now.  It’s time to put your chin up and try again!” 

Then, I pulled into McDonald’s and treated her to a mocha frappe.  Because that is what every good mom does.  Right?

Young or old, we’ve all been there!  Plans that were so well laid, just crumble down around our feet.  We find ourselves back where we started, asking ourselves, “what next?”  So what exactly should we do when life kinda stinks?

Remember God’s blessings.  It may be hard to stop and count your blessings when you are walking out of the BMV empty-handed, but you gotta start somewhere!  Think back to your past accomplishments and thank God for the ability He gave you to achieve those goals.  Start naming the people God has placed in your life to direct and guide you.  Think of your friends and family!  God has blessed you so much, don’t forget that!

“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:15

Leave the past behind.  You can’t move forward in your life if you are chained to all that is wrong in your past.  It’s OK to grieve for what was lost, but don’t stay there too long.  The longer you dwell in self-pity over ruined plans, the longer it will take you to accomplish your goals!  Sometimes moving forward means not looking back.

“…this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13 & 14

Realize you can’t do anything in your own strength.  It’s easy to pat ourselves on the back when things are going right, but as soon as something goes wrong we cry out to God, “why did You do this to me?”  Reality is, we can’t do anything without God!  It is He who gives us the strength and wisdom to accomplish our goals.  When our plans go up in smoke, more than likely, we were relying on our own strength, and not God’s!  As Christians, we should remember that God can do His best work through us when we are completely empty of ourselves.

“…My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness  most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Make sure your plan is also God’s plan.  Have you ever found yourself standing with your well-laid plans in shambles at your feet, and realized that maybe you should have asked God about your plans, first?  Me too!  Asking God to direct us and show us His will before we make plans, can save us from a lot of heart-ache later.  Before making plans, set aside some time to pray about it.  Then, open your heart to hear God’s answer.  Sometimes He will speak to you through your daily Bible reading, other times through the Sunday message from your Pastor.  God has also placed people in our lives who can give us good advice.  Seek counsel from your Pastor or a friend who has been saved and serving the Lord a little longer than you.  Remember, God promised to give wisdom to those who ask!

“Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.” – Proverbs 19:20

Get up and try again.  Wipe those tears off your face!  I am always teaching my children to not allow fear to rule their lives.  Whether it is a failed relationship, a lost promotion at work, or – even a failed drivers test, we can’t allow fear of failing to keep us locked in our comfort zones!  God has promised that we are more than conquerors through Christ.  That means, that through Christ, we have the power to conquer our fears.  The victory is not in defeating our fears, but in our obedience to God despite our fear!

“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” – Romans 8:37

The next time you feel like life kinda stinks, and you just want to curl up into the fetal position on the floor and cry, start counting your blessings.  After you’ve named several reasons to be thankful you are alive, leave the past and all your stinky failures behind.  Once the stink starts to clear up a little, you’ll be able to realize that any strength you do have comes from God, so make sure you consult Him before making new plans.  Then, dry up those tears, get up off the floor, and try again!

5 Ways You Need to Change How You Think about House Cleaning

*This article was originally written in June of 2017 and has been updated for reposting.

Before I had kids, I would scrub my house down every Saturday, just because that’s what I was taught to do.  It didn’t matter that the house wasn’t dirty, it had to be scrubbed because, well – it was Saturday!  I never went to bed with a messy house. I never once left the house with dirty dishes in the sink, or the floors unswept. Even dirty laundry had its proper place, and that was never the floor.

Over the years, children changed my routine to some degree, but I was still able to manage control over the condition of my home.

However, in January of 2016, my husband’s journey with cancer began, and our lives exploded into crazy!  Doctor’s visits, tests, surgeries, and treatments were added on to the already crazy school and sports schedules we were trying to keep up with.

My house began to suffer. For the first time in my life, I left dirty dishes in the sink, floors unswept, and dirty laundry stayed wherever it landed. There were days when I felt so overwhelmed by my house that I determined I was going to call Molly Maid.

One day during all that crazy, I realized I had a day with no appointments scheduled.  I began to focus on all the cleaning that needed to be caught up. I was very overwhelmed by my to-do list. While sipping my coffee (still in my pajamas), I added a few more things to my list, when my husband came out of his office.

“Pastor Jon and Jess just called. They will be in our area and want to stop by. They should be here in 15 minutes.”

My heart stopped. I began to panic.

“What???!! Look at this house! I can’t have our pastor over with it like this!”

The dishwasher was stuffed with clean dishes and the sink was piled with dirty ones. Mountains of laundry sat in my living room, waiting to be folded. I needed to vacuum badly. I wasn’t even dressed!!

Somehow, I managed to drag the laundry to my bedroom, where I promptly shut the door. I was able to vacuum, and instead of doing the dishes, I put them in hot soapy water.  I hoped my pastor and his wife wouldn’t notice I hadn’t polished in over a week or that the kitchen floor needed to be mopped. Somehow I managed to get dressed, and do my hair, too!

After that day, I realized the only person that really cared about my house being perfectly clean, was me. I began to change the way I thought about my house, and change how I kept up with it, too. Yes, I still like a clean house, and if I have a day I can devote to cleaning, I gladly clean (it’s actually good therapy)! But if I have a week of crazy schedules, and no time to devote to my weekly cleaning, then I don’t sweat it. It’s not important enough to stress about!

5 ways you need to change how you think about your house cleaning:

#1 – Relax! If seeing your to-do list hanging on the fridge stresses you out, throw it away. Realize that the laundry will still be around tomorrow, and the carpet will need to be vacuumed tomorrow, too. You are doing the most important thing right now – taking care of your family! Your house is lived in, so it’s going to look like it sometimes!

#2 – “Surface” cleaning is still cleaning. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to get out a bucket and scrub brush every Saturday to keep your house clean. If all you can do is sweep the kitchen and grab a damp paper towel to wipe up spills, then that’s still cleaning!

#3 – Set small goals. If you have a super tight schedule this week, then it is not the time to dig out the bucket and scrub brush. Making beds, vacuuming carpets, and washing dishes are small goals you can focus on.

Keeping up on smaller tasks on a daily basis can make your home appear clean no matter who drops by unexpectedly. 

#4 – Let the kids help. I have older kids who are easily inspired by a little cash. If it’s been over a month since my floors have been mopped, then it’s time for me to call in reinforcements. My 17-year-old daughter can get my house scrubbed and sparkling in just a couple hours.  My 15-year-old son can get our yard looking pretty good in about as much time!  Not only are they happy to have accomplished something, but they are also thrilled to have some extra cash to put in their wallets!  Don’t feel bad when delegating large cleaning tasks to your children. Parents today who don’t teach their children to complete large tasks are doing their children a great disservice. Not only does it prepare them for a real job someday, but it also builds character and confidence!

#5 – Don’t put your house before your relationship with God. In years past, I would allow sleepless nights with babies, crazy early mornings with toddlers, and my cleaning routine to keep me from having daily devotions with God. Once I began to make daily devotions a priority​, I realized I didn’t handle life as well without them. I was more irritable and impatient with my husband, kids, and even house chores. When I become more irritable, I started getting clumsy, and when I was clumsy, it took me longer to accomplish a task. Not worth it! I need my time with God every morning!

 If you are going through an exceptionally crazy time in your life and you don’t already spend mornings with the Lord, I strongly encourage you to make this your first goal!

I am in no way an expert when it comes to cleaning the house, and I am certainly no expert when it comes to keeping calm, but my husband’s cancer taught me that I had to change how I was thinking about my house cleaning. I’ve learned how to do better at little goals and to not go crazy over the things I just don’t have time for. My house might not be scrubbed, but it is still “together”. My life might still be crazy, but I am much calmer and happier!

“Let all things be done decently and in order.” – 1 Corinthians 14:40

Our Miracle Story: When my Doctor Told Me to Abort My Baby

My husband and I love to tell our 3rd child, Bryce, that he is our miracle baby.  His story is one of many being told today, where a mother chooses life over a doctors suggestion.  Where the possibility of a handicapped baby or a mother’s possible death pales in comparison to the hope of life!

We had been trying for over 2 years to get pregnant.  I had just received a second opinion from an OB who’s exact words were “to be happy that you already have 2 children.  You probably will never have any more.”  The diagnosis was PCOS.

For months, I struggled with my roller-coaster emotions.  With each friend that announced a new pregnancy, my heart would secretly break.  I began to feel guilty for my sorrow, as I knew several other women who had been waiting for many years to get pregnant, while I already had 2 precious little ones!

One day, I had gone to the eye doctor for a routine eye appointment.  My vision had been giving me trouble, and I expected that my 20/20 vision had changed.  My “routine” appointment dramatically took a turn for the worse when the ophthalmologist noticed that my optic nerves were swelled.  After seeing several specialists, and having several tests, I was finally diagnosed with Pseudotumor-cerebri (PTC).  I was given medication and warned that if it didn’t work, I would need to have a shunt surgically placed into my brain.

“Oh yeah, and don’t get pregnant,” one specialist had warned.  “It is very dangerous for a patient with Pseudotumor-cerebri to get pregnant.”

“No chance of that”, I muttered under my breath.

Except, about two weeks later, I was holding a pregnancy test with two purple lines!

My husband and I were so happy to be pregnant with our 3rd child, yet, we were also so terrified.  I went immediately to my OB-GYN, who began to routinely warn me of the dangers of this pregnancy with each visit.  I hated every appointment, and always left afraid and depressed.

bryce3

Pregnancy brain began to kick in, and I found myself doing goofy things, like putting the phone away in the freezer!  Most of the time it was funny.  However, one forgetful incident changed everything.

At about 4 months along, my OB-GYN had sent me to the University of Michigan to see one of her colleagues who was a Maternal-fetal Medicine Specialist (MFM).  Unfortunately, I had written the time down wrong, and showed up 2 hours late, missing my appointment.  This seemingly humorous error was the cause of a later conversation with my OB-GYN that I will never forget.

Sitting on the uncomfortable table, I pulled the too-small hospital gown over my pregnant belly.  The doctor’s voice was droning on and on, and I struggled to understand what she was saying.

“You aren’t understanding what I am saying, are you,” the doctor asked me.

“Sorry,” I said.  “I’m really trying.  You’re saying that during the delivery, you would choose my life and safety over my baby’s?”

Pulling her chair closer to me, she folded her hands neatly into her lap.  Sighing, she bluntly said, “your life is at risk.”  Pulling a few papers out of her medical file, she handed them to me.

“Read these when you go home.  You need to have a c-section because you have already had 2 children by cesarian.  Your uterus has a very high chance of rupturing if I were to deliver this baby vaginally.  Giving birth naturally is not an option for you.”

“Right, I got that.  I have no problem with another c-section.”

“There is a very high chance you could die on the operating table.”

I blinked.  “What?”

“If I were to give you general anesthesia, you could harm your baby, and the anesthesia could make your condition much worse.  If I were to give you a spinal block, the sudden release of spinal fluid could cause your brain to collapse.  I know this is hard for you to hear.  It is in situations like this, that I strongly urge my patients to consider choosing their own life over their pregnancy.  Having Pseudotumor-cerebri while you’re pregnant is nothing to mess around with.  All of my medical books are telling me this is a very serious matter.”

I blinked again.

The doctor flipped the file closed. “On top of the risks to yourself personally, you are taking a “class c” medication, and that could be very harmful to your baby.  We just don’t know enough about how this medication can affect a fetus.  There are not enough studies.  You are taking a very serious chance by following through with this pregnancy.”

My mouth flew open, “wait, what?  What do you mean by ‘following through?'”

“I am strongly encouraging you to consider your own life right now.  This isn’t the time for you to be having a baby, not while you are struggling with your own health.”

“You mean, I should get an abortion,” I asked?

“You are already a mother of two children.  You need to take care of yourself so you can continue to take care of them.”

“I am going to give birth to this child.  That is the only option I am willing to talk about with you,” I retorted.

“I don’t believe you understand how serious your condition is, and now you have missed your appointment with the MFM specialist.  I can no longer be your doctor, Mrs. Nehmer.  I’m sorry.”

And with that, I was alone.  Scared.  Angry.  In disbelief.  She wanted me to abort my child?  She wanted me to abort my child!  And now I didn’t have a doctor.  And I was 4 months pregnant.  Devastated, I sobbed all the way home, where I then called my sister.  It would be all right, she said.  She knew of a great doctor.  She wasn’t taking on new patients, but let’s see if she will make an exception.

The new doctor was a breath of fresh air!   Because of my medical condition, and the medication I was taking, I had to see my new doctor every few weeks.  I also had to see another MFM specialist (this time I didn’t mix up the times).  My new doctor was so calm and very hopeful.  She talked through my fears and encouraged me at every appointment.  She assured me that my old doctor had been using out-dated medical books and that there were new studies being done showing women with PTC were able to deliver very healthy babies, and live to talk about it!

“You can do this,” she would exclaim with a smile!

The morning of September 16, 2008, dawned bright and sunny.  Making sure my mom was settled in to watch our two children, my husband and I went to the hospital.  A few hours later, I gripped a nurses hand as an anesthesiologist prepped my lower spine for the dreaded spinal block.  Because of the high-risk delivery, there were extra doctors and nurses standing around, ready for an emergency.  Except, there was none.  Within minutes, my husband and I heard a tiny cry.  Tears streamed down our faces as doctors congratulated us.  We had a healthy baby boy!

bryce2

Today, I cringe to wonder what life would be like without Bryce.  His boyishly shy presence is a blessing to our family.  At 10 years of age, Bryce has a passion for playing the trumpet and violin.  He is learning to play basketball and loves to write stories and build elaborate Lego sets.  I can’t help but mourn for those families who are missing a child like my son, Bryce.  Families who listened to a doctor play God, and lost hope, robbing themselves of God’s miracles!

bryce5

 

 

 

HOW TO BE A BUSY (TIRED) MOM AND STILL HAVE QUIET TIME WITH GOD

No matter what phase of life you are in, rolling out of bed is not always an easy task. Let’s face it. The alarm clock can easily become a means of venting your frustration by hitting the snooze button as hard as you can! If you have kids under the age of 5, an alarm clock is not even necessary, as you’re more likely to be awakened by the wails of a crying baby or the tug of chubby little hands, than you are the sound of a buzzer! Once you finally get out of bed, the rest of the morning can be a blur!

Does this morning struggle sound familiar to you? Then so must this question: “how can I possibly have quiet time with God?”

I asked that question so many times during my earlier adult years! Four kids and 17 years later, here is what I finally learned.

Get out of bed. Just do it. It took me years to finally accept that no matter how hard I tried, I would not crack my Bible open on a consistent basis unless I got up earlier than I already was. For a couple of years, that meant I was rolling out of bed at 5:30! (These days my kids have healthier sleep habits, and that means extra zzz’s for me!) You won’t get to read your Bible or have time in prayer if you don’t plan to get up earlier than you are right now!

Prepare the night before.  There’s nothing like getting cozy in your chair, open Bible in your lap, only to glance in the corner of your living room at the baskets of laundry needing to be folded!  Being an A-type personality, I tend to struggle sitting down for 30 minutes of quiet time with God if there are things waiting to be done. That’s why it’s so important to prepare for your morning with God the night before. Set your timer for 15 minutes before bed, and get those distractions out of your way!  Doing so will give you a good feeling when you settle in your chair to meet with God.

Make some GOOD coffee! I used to HATE coffee.  However, right after my third child was born I was starting to resemble a walking zombie!  I had a desire to spend time with God in the mornings, but I could barely get through 10 minutes of reading before I was nodding off to sleep in my chair.  I knew I wouldn’t grow in the Lord unless something changed.  So one morning, after I dropped my older kids off to school, I stopped at Meijer.  I bought a Bunn coffee maker, and everything I needed to make coffee, including a fancy chocolate creamer.  After that, I began to look forward to my mornings!  There is nothing like sitting down with an open Bible in one hand and a freshly home-brewed cup of bold Starbucks coffee in the other!

Make a “spot”.  Spending mornings with God can be easier if you have a “spot” that is only for that purpose.  I have claimed a seat in my living room that has an end table nearby.  I keep my Bible, prayer journal, and whatever devotional I’m currently using, in a neat pile on this table along with some pens, and highlighters.  This way, everything I need is within easy reach.  Throwing a comfy pillow and soft blanket into your chair is an added bonus for comfort. Loving the place you will be meeting with God is essential for success!

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR BEST-LAID PLANS FAIL

Let’s face it.  If you have kids, you can’t always have plans!  Did your kids decide they were going to get up an hour earlier with you?  Did your baby wake you up every hour all night long?  It’s OK.  Relax!  You are not out of God’s will if you need to feed your children or get another hour of sleep! Here are three things you can do when your plans for Quiet Time with God, fail.

1 – “Listen” to your Bible. When your kids are happily playing, and your baby is finally snoozing, but it’s time for you to get working, plug in your earbuds and listen to your Bible!  There are several Bible apps out there, but my favorite is YouVersion.  There were many mornings when my children were younger, that I had to listen to the Bible, rather than read it.

2 – Read in the evenings. Exchange that mug of coffee for a cup of tea!  Once you’ve put the kids to bed, and the lights are turned down lower for the evening, devote 30 minutes to your Bible reading.

3 – Don’t give up.  There were times in my younger parenting days, that I could only spend a couple days a week with the Lord.  My heart desired more, and there were days I could feel that I needed more, but I physically could not do more.  When you are in this stage of life, it is important to not be hard on yourself, it WILL get better!  It is also important to not give up your goals!  As your children grow, they need to see mommy reading her Bible, even if it’s not every day.  Eventually, they will be old enough to ask, “hey mom, do you think it would be OK if I read my Bible with you in the mornings?”  Um, YES!

 

How to Love Your Husband while Living in a Feminist Culture

We live in a twisted world, where purity and innocence are despised and made fun of. A world where a woman can accuse a man of anything, and we have to believe her not because of the evidence provided, but because she is a woman. With one click of the TV remote, we can find talk shows, sitcoms, and movies that depict men as dummies, being led around by the whiles of some female influence.

Boys are no longer allowed to be boys. They are discouraged from getting dirty or being loud. They are taught that not only can a girl do anything a boy does, but girls can do it better. Boys no longer have confidence in who they were created to be, so they grow up confused and lazy, sometimes amounting to nothing. They live in their parent’s basements playing video games for a living. Not living a real life, but an alternate reality, where they can be anything they want to be without ridicule.

Few are the homes where wives respect their husbands, and husbands cherish their wives. Children are given a place of eminence, creating discord, and conflict between parents. Men are no longer leaders, and if they do try to lead, they are belittled and publicly humiliated.

Standing in the middle of this “dumbing down” of men in society is the Christian wife. Exactly how can a Christian wife love her husband while living in a feminist culture?

As of today, my husband and I have been married for 19 years. Our story is one I love to tell, and one that has been blessed with God’s grace. The strong and happy marriage my husband and I enjoy today is not because we followed a certain set of rules, but because we both chose to follow the path that Christ set before us in our marriage. Some of this path we’ve walked these last 19 years was a little rocky. There have been days I wondered if I still loved my husband. There were even moments when I wanted to throw a fit and walk out the door! However, with each difficulty we faced, my husband and I chose to humble ourselves, not just to each other, but to God. And here we are today, by God’s grace, celebrating 19 happy years!

I would like to share with you what I have learned about loving my husband when the world around me is seemingly going in the opposite direction.

5 ways you can love your husband while living in a feminist culture:

Use the Word of God as your marriage manual. The most important lesson I have learned in 19 years of marriage, is that the Bible needs to be our go-to-guide for marriage. Wives, we need to be careful that we are not allowing ourselves to be influenced by worldly doctrines. In other words, don’t count on the latest edition of Family Circle, or Brides to clue you in on how to love your husband!

From the latest Hollywood couples to the most recent romance movies, everyone has their eyes glued to the “stars” when it comes to defining love. Did you know, that in Orange County (home to Hollywood), the divorce rate is highest in the nation? So who is everyone in Hollywood going to when looking for help with their marriage? Well, many of them are going to Dr. John M. Gottman, the best selling author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. Gottman is one of America’s most influential therapists, and his work has been nationally recognized by major media outlets across the globe. Yet, did you know that the most renowned authority on marriage was married 3 times?

Another famous doctor that America loves to turn to for marital advice is TV icon, Dr. Phil. Known for publicly counseling couples whose marriages are on the brink of divorce, Dr. Phil claims he has a “formula for making any marriage work”. Many American’s would be surprised to know that their beloved doctor is not an actual licensed or practicing doctor, and has been married twice!

Dear Christian Wife, we should not be looking at the rich or famous to tell us how to love our husbands. We should be looking to the One who created and established the first marriage in human history! (Genesis 2:21-25) God has promised that if we ask for wisdom on any matter, He will give it to us.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” – James 1:5

Have a personal relationship with God that is separate from your husband. Every day for the last 19 years, I have watched my husband get up well before the sun rises. He makes himself a huge cup of coffee and sits down with his Bible. When he is finished with his reading, he finds a corner in the house where no one can bother him and prays before going to work. Then, every evening before bed, my husband takes my hand, and we both kneel together in prayer.  I truly believe that I am living a blessed life today because of my husband’s faithfulness to God!  He has had a steady relationship with the Lord, that has only grown as the years have passed.

Somehow, in the early years and craziness of having 4 children and walking around in a constant state of exhaustion, I had grown to depend on my husband’s relationship with God to get me through.  I was casting all my cares at my husband’s feet when he walked in the door after work, and not at the feet of Jesus!  I had to explain every detail of everything bad in my day.  Not only did I have to explain every detail, but I also had to make sure he felt just as miserable as I did! Why did I do this?  Because I had somehow allowed my own personal relationship with God to slip. I assumed that because my husband was doing right and had a relationship with God, it would cover up my own unfaithfulness.

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7

Wives, in order to love our husbands, especially in this feminist culture we live in today, we need to have a strong relationship with God.  We can not fully love our husbands if we don’t first love the Lord!  Leaning on our husbands for our spiritual well-being will only give us tired and resentful husbands.  When we focus on a personal relationship with God, we become stronger wives, capable of loving our husbands the way God intended us to.

“A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.” – Proverbs 27:15

“…the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.” – Proverbs 19:13b

Respect your husband with your words.  By worldly standards, we are taught to respect all races, cultures, and genders – except men.  We are pretty much told that men are pigs and that we don’t have to respect them.

Coco Chanel, French designer, and businesswoman in the early 1900s was quoted as saying, “as long as you know most men are like children, you know everything.”

Brigitte Bardot, fashion model, actress, and one of the best-known sex symbols of the 1950s and ’60s was quoted as saying, “men are beasts, and even beasts don’t behave as they do.”

American singer and actress, Cher, once said, “the trouble with some woman is that they get all excited over nothing – and then marry him.”

These are just a few of many examples of public man-bashing that has desensitized women over the last century.  Women are so used to this mindset, in fact, that it has crept into our Christian homes.

Wives, we can love our husbands in a feminist world-gone-crazy, by respecting our husbands when we talk about them.  Respecting our husbands doesn’t mean we give up our freedom to voice our opinions from time to time.  It doesn’t mean we become slaves to their every whim and desire.

Respect means to hold someone in high regard. What does your husband do well?  These are the things you should say in front of your friends when you get together for a girls night out!  What are the qualities about your husband that drew you to him?  These are the qualities you should point out to your children, mother or sister.   In 1 Peter chapter 3, Peter admonishes Christian wives to have “chaste” conversations.  A chaste conversation is a conversation that is pure in thought.  We can’t have chaste conversations while bashing our husbands behind their backs!  Wives, we can love our husbands by respecting them with our words!

“…while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.” – 1 Peter 1: 2

Don’t try to change him.  How many women go into a marriage thinking they can change their husbands?  I’m raising my hand!  When I was dating my husband, I thought I would be able to get him to change his sense of style.  I didn’t get too bent out of shape over his rolled up long sleeved shirts or his white socks with black shoes, because I really believed I would get him to change once we were married.  That definitely didn’t happen!

The world today is all about changing men from being what God created them to be, into something that fits into the crazy ideas of feminist culture.  Men who attempt to change their gender are applauded and held in high regard.  Society wants men to be emotional and gentle, with no deep passions or standards.  A man who is passionate about his freedom, guns, or God is no longer politically correct.  Wives, we can love our husbands by not trying to change them from what they were created to be.  Trying to change your husband to be anything less than the man God put in him, will make for an unhappy and unhealthy marriage.

God made men to be strong protectors and providers.  They were created to take care of their wives and children.  What are your husband’s strengths?  Those strengths are God-given and should be applauded, not discouraged.  Wives, let’s encourage our husbands to be men!

“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” –  1 Corinthians 16:13

Realize that your husband is not a mind reader.  That was the only request my husband made of me before we said our vows.  He was afraid I would expect him to know what I was thinking or feeling without having to tell him.  He asked that instead of getting angry or hurt that he didn’t pick up on my hints or clues, that I would just be straight up with him and tell him what was going on.

Part of the recent feminist movement today is that women are right because they are women. They want society to ignore the idea that facts must be provided before a man is hauled off to jail.  In so doing, we often exchange truth for emotions and ruin innocent lives.

Wives, we can love our husbands in this mixed up society by not expecting our husbands to read our minds.  As nice as it would be to have our husbands emotionally in tune with our feelings, that is not realistic.  If you are upset with your husband for something he has said or done, calmly present the facts to him.

In these perilous days we live in, the line between what is worldly and what is godly can easily become blurred. Feminism runs so strong, that Christian wives are forgetting how to love their husbands.  Recent statistics show that of Christians who attend church regularly, a whopping 38% end in divorce.  That is only a %12 percent difference by national standards!  Dear Christian wives, let’s work on being a light to the world.  Let’s work on having happier marriages.  Let’s love our husbands!

Can One Really Overcome Anxiety?

Over the last few months, I found myself questioning everything I thought I knew about anxiety. I was experiencing new symptoms that left me confused, and a little afraid. I began to wonder…

can one really overcome anxiety?

This question bothered me. It circled in my mind as I lay in bed, it nestled in my thoughts when I washed dishes and folded clothes. It lingered in the background when I listened to music or watched TV. All the while, my anxiety grew. It wasn’t until I had reached the climax of my struggle, and sought counsel from my pastor, that I finally understood.

Because I am a lover of the written word, and I think more clearly when I can write my thoughts on paper, I have written this post in answer to my plaguing question! This article was not written for you, dear readers. It was written for myself. It is a compilation of all I have learned from my pastors, reading the Word of God, reading many books and articles, and my own personal experience.

Six Things People Who Overcome Anxiety Don’t Do:

1. Focus on their symptoms. People who overcome anxiety have learned that they can’t focus on their symptoms. Instead, they work on capturing every worry and fear and handing them over to God. Overcomers have learned that when they focus on their symptoms, and how terribly they want to be healed, they are actually robbing God from His glory. When the focus shifts from our symptoms to God’s goodness, we are taking the first step to glorifying Him!

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of God.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5

2. Allow their emotions to rule them. People who overcome anxiety have learned that they can’t allow their emotions to rule them. It is not a sin to feel sad, or angry. The sin lies in how much freedom we give to those emotions. If we allow our emotions to rule our spirits, we are allowing ourselves to become vulnerable to even more pain and suffering. When we allow our emotions to reign, life, in general, can feel like an impossibility in our minds, opening the door to dangerous thoughts. Overcomers choose to not follow emotional thoughts, and instead, leave them at the feet of Christ.

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls.” – Proverbs 25:28

Gird up the loins of your mind…” – 1 Peter 1:13

3. Play the “worry game”. People who overcome anxiety don’t play the “worry game”. They realize that while they can’t always help the worry that might pop into their heads, they can choose to not follow them. Once you follow a worry in your mind, it leads to more worries, and before you know it, you are on a merry-go-round of unhealthy thoughts and anxiety! Overcomers choose to not follow their worry.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

4. Quit God’s calling in their life. People who overcome anxiety don’t stop trying to please God. What is God’s calling in your life? God has personally called me to be a wife and a mother. Because of God’s grace, I have the strength necessary to fulfill this calling, even when I am having an exceptionally bad day. Every Christian, young and old, is called by God to do something, and God has given each of us the strength to obey, despite our anxieties. Yes, sometimes we need to rest, even God rested on the 7th day of Creation! However, God always gives us renewed strength to do His will! Overcomers recognize that they can still obey God, despite their anxiety.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” – Philippians 4:13

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

4. Stop Praising God. People who overcome anxiety don’t stop praising God. If it’s a good day, they praise God for the good day! If it’s a bad day, they find at least one good thing in that day, to praise Him for. Overcomers know that when they are able to give God thanks, not for their anxiety, but through their anxiety, they are reflecting God’s grace in their lives! They learn to rejoice in the day, instead of just “getting through” it.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” – Psalms 118:24

5. Forget the true meaning of “overcome”. People who overcome anxiety know it is a daily battle. Whatever the cause of your anxiety: worry, stress, fear, past addiction, or chemical imbalance – the victory is not in defeating the anxiety, but in your obedience to God despite it. Overcoming is learning to glorify your Heavenly Father, despite your difficulty. Overcoming is not allowing your difficulty to control you.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” – Philippians 4:11

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

6. Ignore God’s promises. People who overcome anxiety cling to God’s promises for peace. They realize that the more they read the Bible, and the more they pray, the closer to God they become. They realize that only God truly knows the thoughts and intents of their own hearts and that God loves them anyway! Overcomers know that no matter how difficult their anxiety may become, God is still with them and that He is offering His grace!

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7

I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins…” – Jeremiah 17:10

If I ascend up into heaven, thou are there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”– Psalms 139:8-10

I’m not really sure I can claim to be an “overcomer” of anxiety, but it is something I strive for every day!

If you are a Christian struggling with anxiety, and this article was a help to you, leave me a comment below!