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!

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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

 

 

Tips to Overcoming a Panic Attack

If you are anxiety sufferer, you know the classic signs of anxiety. Tightness in your chest, palpitations, headaches, tummy upset, trembling hands, and week legs. These are all classic symptoms of anxiety. I should know. I’ve had them all before.

I’m so thankful that I’m not new to this story, and that I know what to do when I feel a panic attack coming on. I thought I would share with you some tips that can help you overcome a panic attack.

1. Know your symptoms. Everyone is different. For me, I know I’m about to have a panic attack if my chest starts feeling a little tight. At that moment, if I take the time to do the steps below, I can avoid it.

2. Breathe deeply. At the first sign of a coming panic attack, stop what you are doing and focus on breathing. Breathe in through your nose counting to 5 very slowly. Then let the breath out slowly through your mouth, counting to 7. Repeat this five times.

3. Quote scripture. Everyone should have a verse of scripture that they call “theirs”. Something that can bring comfort to an anxious mind. Here’s mine:

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

4. Distract yourself. The worst thing to do when you feel a panic attack coming on is to focus on how you feel. Go outside for a few minutes and take a quick walk. Start up a conversation with your husband, or call your mom. Break the cycle of panic with distraction.

5. Essential Oils. I don’t sell oils, but I’ve been using them since before they were ever popular. I found a blend from Young Living called “Peace and Calming”, and I love it. I don’t know if it’s just a placebo for me or what, but the scent of this particular oil really does help me feel calm. When I feel anxiety coming in, I rub some over my heart, on my wrists, and under my earlobes.

6. Pray. If you know why this anxiety attack started to come on, share your burden with Jesus. He really does care! Leave your cares and worry at His feet. Pour your heart and tears out before Him. He’s listening!

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

7. Reflect. Once you are past the tense and anxious moment, think back on why you think you had it. Maybe you need to slow your schedule down a little, or change your attitude about something. Search for a Biblical and practical solution to whatever is causing you stress. Sometimes, just talking to a like-minded Christian friend can be enough to encourage you!

I hope these tips help you the next time you are about to have a panic attack!

A Year Ago

A year ago today, I had no idea that our family was about to embark on a journey that would forever change our lives. I had no idea that just a few short days into 2017, my husband would be diagnosed with colon cancer. I never would have guessed that it would be a year filled with private tears, and worry.

A year ago today, I had no idea how good our God is! I had no idea how far the reach of His comforting arms extended! Never did I expect the honor of witnessing the miracles He performed, just for us! A year ago today, I had no idea how much God really cared for and loved me. I had never experienced such great, unexplainable peace in the midst of great chaos!

A year ago today, I didn’t understand that in order to shine brightly for God, you have to be surrounded by darkness.

I didn’t know that God could use you for His glory during the hardest of your trials and struggles. I didn’t understand that when we are in our weakest state, that is when our God is strongest! Never would I have guessed that walking with the Saviour in 2017 would be the sweetest walk I would ever experience!

Today, I am facing the future of 2018. Sometimes, I look ahead in trepidation, wondering what surprises are lurking in its dark corners. Yet, the fear doesn’t last very long because all I have to do is think back to a year ago and remember how God saw us through the most difficult journey of our lives. 2018 will hold it’s trials, and who knows, maybe they will be more difficult than what we have already faced! I know that I can trust God, however, to be right there with me, from the start of the journey, all the way to the very end!

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

Thank you, dear readers, for joining me in my discoveries of God’s goodness and mercy in 2017! I hope and pray you all have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! And whatever is in store for your 2018, I pray you claim the promise of God’s peace!

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27

(Photograph taken by Kasey Photography)

When Your World is Changing

We have been listening to Christmas music since late October.  While I haven’t tired of the music itself, I have noticed the excitement that first accompanied those joyful melodies, has begun to wane.  A spirit of reflection has replaced the excitement, bringing many happy memories to mind.  These memories however, eventually lead me back to reality.  Life is changing all around me, and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

Families growing and spreading out, are natural reasons for shifting traditions and dynamics.  Declining health, battling cancer, financial struggles, troubled marriages, and the death of loved ones, are also causes for change.

So, how do you cope when your world is changing?  Here’s what I have personally learned:

Trust God with Change –  When we feel that our lives are beyond our control, we tend to become fearful and anxious.  Our comfort zones are shaken, and we feel insecure. Don’t forget that God has a plan, and is allowing change in your life for a reason.  Although change may be difficult, you can trust Him to use it for good in your life. Stop fighting change, and trust God!

“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” – Deuteronomy 31:6

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Rejoice in Change – Rejoicing through difficulty reveals hope and peace in the believer. Someday, God will wipe away all our tears.  Someday, we will all gather around a table, furnished with the best food we can imagine, and dine with The Father.  Someday, there will be no more pain, sorrow, or death!  This hope we have for our future can give us peace for the change we must endure today!  If you are not sure where your hope lies, please check out this page titled, There is Hope!

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”  – Romans 15:13 

Give during Change –  Giving when it is hardest to do so, results in the biggest kind of blessings! When we are busy serving others, we don’t have a lot of time to dwell on the sorrows of change. Give your time to your family and friends.  Show kindness and thoughtfulness to your neighbors and co-workers.  Continue on in your service to the ministries at church. Extending generosity when you are in the midst of your own struggles, can help change someone else’s life – for good!

“How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” – 2 Corinthians 8:2

God NEVER Changes – When my life begins to feel unstable because of the changes going on around me, I find peace in this one thought: my God NEVER changes!  Different trials has brought me either further away or closer to God, but HE has never changed His postion.  His voice still sounds the same, His Word still reads the same, and His comfort still feels the same.  My God, who is also my Friend that never fails, will always be there for me!  I don’t ever have to doubt if He will answer when I call.  He will be the same God to me when I am ninety-five, that He was to me when I was 25!

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever”. – Hebrews 13:8

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” – James 1:17

“For I am the LORD, I change not…” – Malachi 3:6

If you are struggling with change in this busy holiday season, don’t be downhearted.  Trust God with your change, and allow Him to work for your own good!  Once you do, you will find it easy to rejoice, even when your heart is sad.  Rejoicing makes for a generous spirit, and giving when it’s hardest is a gift that can change lives! And don’t forget – God never has, and never will change!

 

 

 

 

Leaving the Valley

“I’m a little nervous to leave the valley”, I told my friend. 

“Why?”

“We’ve been under God’s protective hand for the last year, I’m afraid to leave! How will we be able to get back to normal life again?

That day, I allowed a tiny seed of doubt to be planted in my heart. That tiny seed then began to grow, until it bloomed into an ugly blossom of worry.

“What if the cancer comes back?”

“What if Gabe can’t handle full-time work?”

Soon, that ugly plant of doubt and worry began to grow thorns and vines that were cutting and choking me. I had given in to my fears. 

Suddenly, I was having panic attacks. I couldn’t drive, and I had unreasonable fear each time Gabe went into the office. 
Instead of leaving the valley feeling victorious over what God had done for my husband, I was a miserable mess over a future I could not control. 

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” – Isaiah 41:10

Friends, God is good! He graciously reminded me that leaving the valley doesn’t mean I am leaving His protection. My journey will continue on, weather in a valley or on a mountain, with God holding me in His protective hand!

I confessed my fear to God. I told God I trusted Him with the future. I asked Him to help me no longer give place to fear in my life. I thanked Him for the victory He gave me over my sin of fear. 

I began to drive again. I didn’t have a panic attack when my husband went into the office. The anxiety left.

If you have been in a long valley, and find you are about to leave, don’t allow seeds of doubt, worry, or fear to enter your mind. These seeds will grow into ugly plants. They will steal away the peace and victory God gave you in the valley.

Instead, leave the valley with praise on your lips, and a song in your heart. Remember, you will never leave the Father’s hand!

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord : and he delighteth in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.” – Psalms 37:23‭-‬24

For those who have been following my husband’s journey with cancer, he recieved fantastic news a few weeks ago! He was declared NED, and given a clear bill of health! We couldn’t be happier with this news, and are currently getting back to “normal” life.