I woke up with an anxious heart...

This morning, before I even opened my eyes, I was worrying. What a horrible way to wake up and start your day. My mind was racing with all the same troubles I had yesterday. God commands us to not be anxious so I felt guilty for worrying and being anxious about my life. I just started a new devotional (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young) and this is what it said this morning,

 "When you feel flustered and frazzled on the outside, do not get upset with yourself. You are only human {...} Rather than scolding yourself for your humanness, remind yourself that I am both with you and within you."

Before reading, before doing anything but making coffee, I actually went online to Craig's List to look for another job. Now thinking about it...on a Sunday morning, that was the first thing I choose to do :o( Anxiety is a poison that grows inside our hearts till it runs out of room and then is projected on the people that we love. I like to have control over my life, my career and my finances but the Lord is slowly weaning me off of these items and causing me to solely depend on him. It is painful. It is scary but I am thankful he is taking the time to work on me.

The final part of my devotional for today was what really got to me.

"Slow down your pace of living for a time. Quiet your mind in My Presence. Then you will be able to hear Me bestowing resurrection blessing: Peace be with you."

Slow down...this is difficult for me to do physically and almost impossible to do mentally. But if I want to hear the Lord, that is what I need to do. A "resurrection blessing" sounds amazing and peace is something I don't think I may have felt yet during my adult life.

I read in the Bible about after Jesus was resurrected, He went to His people and said, "peace be with you" There He was...their Jesus...back from the dead and standing right in front of them. There was absolutely no doubt in their minds who He was and what amazing peace that would bring to someone.

Tomorrow is August 1st. Most of you have no meaning attached but tomorrow the Lord will be with us as we get to zero. Zero in the bank account. Zero direction for big choices ahead. Zero back-up plans. Zero...the number of dreams that I have left for my life. All the "plans" I had made are now back to ground zero....to make way for the dream God has for us.

I will fight all my "humanness" and try not be anxious, not be worried and not be scared. For my Lord is with me and is planning a way for me that is greater than I could ever imagine.

One year without a drink...

It has been one year since I have had an alcoholic drink. I am going to let that set it for a second. An entire year without a casual beer, glass of wine with dinner or champagne on New Years Eve. This choice was about surveying my life and making changes that would bring me closer to Christ. Here is the story about why I made the choice to not drink.

A year ago I went to a conference for Christian women who want to be writers, speakers and leaders in ministry. Go to www.shespeaksconference.com  to learn more about this conference. While I was there, I felt like this was where I was always supposed to be! It felt like home but there was an elephant in the room. It became very clear to me that I was using things in my life to replace what I should have been getting from God. Feelings of love, comfort, hope and happiness.

Liquor was just one of the things I was using to "get life" from. When I say "get life" I mean that when I was feeling something uncomfortable, I would have a glass of wine and feel better. When I was angry, I would have a drink. When I was sad, I would have a drink. When I wanted to be carefree and forget our troubles: I would have a drink. (You can see how I was heading in a dangerous direction)

It was usually only one drink, so getting drunk wasn't the after effect. It was a mental dependency on it that I saw to be an issue.

On the flight home from the conference I promised to myself that I wanted to feel that close to God as much as possible which means eliminating the things I put in his place. All the crutches that I used to make it through this life, alcohol being one of them. I got home that night from the conference, sat down with my husband, apologized and shared a lot of things I had been holding onto for a long time. This was a turning point in our marriage. I told him that I wasn't going to drink for a while....even though he did not fully understand he was supportive.

It wasn't even a week when the feelings crept in...the feelings that would usually trigger me wanted a drink. NOW I was conscious of my decisions and that was really want this was about. Instead of going for a drink and just feeling better, I prayed to get through what I was feeling. I learned to lean on my faith and not on anything else. I learned a lot over the past year.

I honestly never thought I would go an entire year but I blinked and it happened. There have only been a few times in the past year when I really wanted a drink but didn't. Most of the time it wasn't a big deal. Now that it has been a year I wonder if I should start casually having a drink. I am still not sure and I guess I don't need to know either.

What I have been amazed by is the response when people hear that I haven't had a drink in a year. They always ask "why?" and my challenge has been to tell them the truth and shine God's light. I gave something up that was giving me life so I was forced to get it from the only one who can give life. It doesn't matter if it is a drink, smoking a cigarette, eating a candy bar or buying a new pair of shoes. If you are looking for emotional satisfaction from any item in this world, you are not letting God give you what he can offer.

This is not a Public Service Announcement but more of an awareness. Think about what you do, why you do it and what you get from it. Your spiritual health depends on it.

I am going through this same process but with food as well. Currently I have lost 64 pounds...when I hit 75 pounds I will share my story about that incredible journey.

Listen to this music video by Jeremy Camp "Empty Me" 

Strength of God

When I read about the strength of God I think of a mighty thunderstorm and rolling ocean waves. I know that this isn't always the case. As humans, any and all of our strength comes from God. There have only been a handful of times that I have needed and asked for the strength of God and what I received was amazing.

The first time that I really needed, I almost felt bad to ask God for his help. After all, I would consider myself a strong willed woman and I have been able to get through a lot of things in life but my thinking is all wrong. I am not strong. God has given me his strength. When I didn't know if I could handle the situation I was going into, I knew I needed some extra reinforcements.

The strength of God was like this for me. I was solid as a rock with no wavering or erratic emotions.(for any woman this is pretty amazing) My thought were concise and my tone was confident. I was so calm and sure in what I was saying and doing that there was no doubt. After it was over, I just thought "Did that just happen? Who was I?"

I have to believe that when we are at true peace with God and we fully give everything over to him and ask for his strength, the Holy Spirit is within us. I've only felt this for short periods of time, but it is like a feeling one can barely describe.

Next time you feel that you don't have the strength, patience or energy to go through a difficult situation. Ask for the strength of God...he is just waiting to meet you there.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13