I Can’t Make It One More Day

black white photo woman with long dark hair looking down with hand over her face. sad or troubled.

I Can’t Make It

Can you think back on a time in your life when you weren’t sure you would make it one more day?  It could have been because of pain, hopelessness, fear, hurt, financial troubles, relational troubles, loss, betrayal or any other situation. Maybe today you are feeling that way. Feeling that you don’t think you can make it one more day.

I have been there a couple of times myself. While I had no intention of harming myself, I just couldn’t see how I could live or move forward. The pain had been too much. I shared some of my story in regards to mental health issues in my family in a previous post. Those struggles are (and have been) some of the most difficult days of my life.

While I do have a spouse and maybe one other person that I talk to, no one really knows the depths of my pain, except for me and God. I do talk to Him. I talk to Him in prayer but also as if He were sitting right next to me. I’d vent to Him about how unfair all of this is, how I don’t think I can stand it anymore, how I wish He would do something, like right NOW.

After I am done venting and crying, I close my eyes and can almost feel Him wrapping His arms around me, letting me know that no matter what happens, He is right there with me to comfort me and hold me up. Knowing that alone, gives me peace.

Just Enough Light

3 steps that are lit up

I am at a point in my life where I am taking it one step at a time and God is giving me just enough light for the step I’m on. I am choosing to trust Him through all of my pain. What about you? Do you have a relationship with God? One where you are comfortable talking, crying, even yelling at Him? Don’t worry, He can take it.

Even if we don’t know what tomorrow holds, we can trust that He is there to help us get through it. He never promised us a problem-free life. But He did promise He would never leave or foresake us. He would be there beside us to sustain us and help us through.

What are you going through today? I encourage you to seek Him and his guidance. Read His word. Pray. Even if you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel or at the top of the staircase, just look for the light on the next step. And then the next. And then the next. Take it one step at a time.


Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105

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Longing for Spring…And My Place of Peace

Longing for Spring

japanese cherry tree

I am sitting outside on my back deck. The wind is blowing pretty hard at the moment…but I don’t care. The air is cool, but the sun is shining and the sky is blue. I feel like it has been weeks since I’ve seen a “nice” day. I am so over winter.

My body and mind are aching for the scent and feel of spring. Longing for the sunshine, flowers in bloom and needing nothing more that a light jacket to keep warm. Spring always feels like a rebirth. In a sense it really is.

The grass begins to turn green again, the flowers start to bloom. I see people in my neighborhood out for a walk or a run. Kids outside playing. They know that summer is right around the corner. That is what it looks like around here when nicer weather has arrived.

My Place of Peace

I recenlty read a post by Joan Senio at My Best Friend Adeline, entitled “Beach Love“. In it she talks about the beach being her special place to feel at peace. I can so relate. I feel that way as well. But I have one beach in particular that I love. It is in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. When I am longing for that place, I imagine my favorite spot. It is actually the Nags Head Pier. It is an older pier where die-hard fishermen go to fish. They have a great little restaurant onsite as well. It’s very low-key.

I admit, at first I was a little leery of the place as it seemed so old and almost run-down. Especially compared the the newly renovated pier just down the road, Jeanette’s Pier. Jeanette’s is a fabulous pier with a gift shop and has so much to offer as it is associated with the NC Aquarium. It really is a beautiful place. But for some reason, I still prefer the much more rickety Nags Head Pier.

looking towards the beach from Nags Head Pier, Outer Banks, NC
Nags Head Pier

I guess for me, perhaps it’s the memories that it holds. My son, at the age of 4 caught a baby shark while fishing with his dad. He was so proud of himself (Yes, we threw it back in). Maybe it’s the smells that I once hated but now love; fish bait and ocean air. Or the beautiful view from the end of the pier. Maybe I love it because it’s the place my husband and I would go at dusk to relax and take in the majesty of the ocean, the beach, the sky. Basking in God’s creation. We’d sit there until well after dark, listening to the rush of the waves crashing in.

Whatever the reason, this spot and the Outer Banks in general, is a place that I love to go to in order to truly relax and be at peace. Do you have a place like that?

Regardless of where your place of peace is, I hope you can get there again. Even if it is just in your mind. ‘Cause for me…. “In my mind I’m gone to Carolina.” Thank you, James Taylor!

For some amazing photos from the Outer Banks, one of my favorite photographers is THE OBX BEACH BUM.

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Mind Games: Anxiety and Panic Attacks…How to Deal With Them

Mind Games

As some of you may know, I have suffered from anxiety attacks. I also have family members that suffer with them. Let me tell you, they suck. Anxiety and Panic in general is no fun.  It is nothing but a thief. It steals joy and peace and no one should have to deal with them.

But the reality is that many of us do. They manifest themselves differently for most of us. And we all have individual things that trigger them. For some, the attacks are mild  for some extremely debilitating. They have your mind (and body) feeling things that make you think you are dying or are going crazy. They can be all consuming. Even after one is over, the fear of when the next one will come is always looming.

Hope

There is hope, however. There are numerous ways to help prevent, tame or stop them. Various things we can do to help. Some may work for me and not for you. And vice versa. Unfortunately there is not a one-stop shop fix-it remedy. How I wish there were!  We literally have to try a variety of methods or treatments to find what works best for each of us. It is a journey, but hold on. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

How to Deal with Them

I don’t know all the stats for anxiety levels today as compared to say, just 25 years ago. But from what I can tell just in my own little neck of the woods, I know numerous people who deal with anxiety and many who also suffer from attacks. Think about it. While we have everything at our fingertips with all this amazing technology and convenience, we have become screen addicts, socially isolated, less active and more worried. The state of the world is reported instantaneously. The media thrives on chaos and we are witnesses to it daily.  The stresses of jobs, families, bills, health, school, social life…all of it can wear us down.

If you are someone who struggles with anxiety/panic I encourage you to think about yourself as a whole. Not just as your thoughts. But your physical body, your mind and your soul. We are humans and need to learn to take care of ALL parts of ourselves. Some of us just focus on one aspect. I am guilty of that myself.

What if we could really develop a plan to take care of our whole-selves what would that look like? Let’s start with The Body.  Are you someone who spends a lot of time and thought caring for your body? Do you eat healthy, exercise, see your doctor regularly? Or do you eat whatever you can get your hands on and sit in a chair the majority of the day? (I am guilty!)  If so, that needs to change.

I have learned over the last few years how the foods we eat and the exercises we do can have a huge impact on our mental wellness.

A few foods I know for sure are to be avoided for anxiety are:

  • Caffeine (opt for decaf instead)
  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • Foods High in Sugar
  • Sodas (reg or diet)
  • Energy Drinks
  • Alcohol

A few foods to help relieve anxiety (and depression) are :

  • Foods high in Omega-3 (salmon, spinach, canola oil) You can also take a Omega-3 supplement.
  • Almonds, Walnuts
  • Eggs ( also high in Vitamin D)
  • Dark Chocolate (for the anti-oxidants)
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Green Tea (preferably decaf)
  • Yogurt (probiotics)
  • Fresh fruits and veggies (almost all of them provide benefits for various vitamins that counter act anxiety and depression)

While these lists are not exhaustive, it is a starting point.  Anything with high sugar, artificial sweeteners or caffeine are definitely things to avoid to help keep your anxiety at a minimum.

As far as exercise, any physical activity that gets the blood pumping releases serotonin and dopamine in our brains and that can help to regulate moods.  YOGA is a well known stress relieving exercise that incorporates mind and body. It can help to ease your stress and help you to feel better all over. It includes helping you focus on the present and to be mindful of your physical body.

The Mind

We touched on the mind a bit while mentioning yoga, so let’s go there.  You may think, What can I do about my mind? I can’t control it?  While we can’t always control where our mind may drift to, we can redirect it and we can do our best to avoid filling it with garbage. Sometimes all the garbage we see and hear that has filled up our memory banks can trigger our minds to literally play tricks on us. Causing us to become anxious, when our rational self knows there is no actual threat. Our fight or flight response going into affect at the wrong time is basically what anxiety or panic attacks are.

While we can’t always avoid negative things from happening to us, we do have control (for the most part) over what we allow into your minds, via our eyes or ears.  Remember this phrase, Guard Your Mind. This is a mantra of mine. I have to repeat it to myself sometimes. We often think very nonchalantly about the things we watch on TV, see online, read on social media, listen to or watch on YouTube.

I imagine we all have varying degrees of what we would consider good or bad for our minds but think about the things you have seen or read lately. Distressing news reports about a kidnapping, hearing about a murder or a car crash. Seeing a click bait ad on Facebook about some horrible event. While we can’t simply ignore all the atrocities going on in the world, we shouldn’t be fueling our mind with those over and over again. Sometimes we actually do need to take a break from it all. Simply for our own mental well-being.  That is part of self-care.

So what do we do as part of the self-care for our mind? Feed your mind with positive things. Uplifting or funny videos, music, movies, books, blogs, etc.  Look to various places to seek out the good in the world.  Surround yourself with people who are uplifting. Avoid (if possible) people who are negative, pessimistic or who simply complain all the time. And don’t be a complainer your self. Practice positive self-talk. Chose to see the good in even the most challenging situations.

Don’t forget seeking help from medical professionals, family doctor, therapist, counselors, etc.  Maybe medication will help, maybe therapy or both. They often times can be utilized together for a great treatment option. This is all part of caring for your mind. I know often times we can be afraid of seeking medical/therapy treatments, not knowing what to expect or worrying about the stigma that it sometimes holds. But be brave and do what is best for you and your well being.

The Soul

I often wonder if this isn’t the most important part of the equation.  Our soul is truly the essence of who we are.  This entails our emotions, our connections with others and with God.  We can feed our soul by doing things that are enjoyable and calming to us.

  • Spend time talking with a friend and sharing. Open up your heart.
  • Pray. Connect or Reconnect with God. I don’t know what that will look like for you. Perhaps it means being in nature. Seeing a sunset and actually stopping to enjoy it’s beauty.
  • Grow a garden and enjoy the wonder of nurturing growing plants.
  • Going to church. Read your bible.
  • Find a charity in the community where you can help out. Giving to others is an amazing way to not only help people but it has a huge impact on your own sense of well-being.
  • Find ways to be a blessing to others. Seek out things you can actively do to make someone’s day better. Whoever that might be…a family member, a friend, a stranger.
  • Give yourself permission to be you. Act silly, sing off tune at the top of your lungs, have a dance party in your living room (alone or with a friend), try out a new recipe.
  • If you feel adventurous, travel to a new place. Doesn’t’ have to be far from home, but somewhere you haven’t been before and take it all in. Really be in the moment and look around.
  • Find 5 things each day to be thankful for. Keep a list daily and reread before bed.
  • Be kind to you. Forgive yourself when you mess up or don’t live up to your own expectations.

There will be days that are great. There will be days that are awful. When things aren’t going well emotionally remind yourself that you have gotten through this before and you will again. Make a promise to yourself that you will care for yourself as a whole. Body, Mind and Soul.

I pray for peace for you today!

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A Time for Reflection. What Are You Thankful For?

give thanks

It’s that time of year that I am focused on being grateful for everything good in my life. While things are far from perfect, I am taking time to truly reflect on those things which I am grateful for.

I am so very thankful for:

  • God. For saving me, loving me and never forsaking me. If I had nothing else to be thankful for, that in and of itself would be enough.
  • My husband. We have been such a strong support for one another over the many years of marriage, but even more so over the last couple of difficult years. When I am weak, he is strong and vice versa.
  • My children. Though they can be a source of tremendous stress and worry, I am so grateful for both of them. Their kindness, their love and their smiling faces. It amazes me how quickly they have grown. I am thankful I can be here to watch them grow up.
  • My extended family who I know would be there for me if I needed them.
  • My job, that I get to go to each day. My house to come home to each evening. My car, to be able to get where I need to go. Enough money to pay my bills on time (mostly).  Enough food to eat each day.
  • My health.
  • My peace.
  • Most of all, I am thankful for being able to recognize the handiwork of God in my daily life. The small things that may go unnoticed by others.

I actually saw the handiwork of God in my life just the other day. I live on the east coast and we had some icy/wintry weather recently. My usual vehicle is terrible when roads are slick. I have a backup vehicle that is an older SUV that I drive occasionally and especially in bad weather. I drove the SUV that day to and from work. I had no trouble at all.  I was actually thinking and said out loud to my husband, how grateful I was for that vehicle. Our Winter Rat, as we call it.

About an hour later, I had to go out to the store. As I started the vehicle and applied pressure to the break, I realized my foot was going all the way to the floor. There seemed to be no brake.  I thought maybe the line was frozen or something. I tried pumping the brakes. Nothing. I was able to put the car in reverse and back up some but had to put my foot all the way to the floor, hard, to stop the car.  I had little to no brakes. Long story short, my brake line had a leak in it and all the surrounding parts were rusted out. This car was NOT safe to drive. No brakes!

As we contemplated what to do about the situation, either repair a costly problem on this old SUV or possibly look into buying another car (which I had been already considering), I realized how blessed I had been. How lucky was it that the brake failure occurred before I got on the road to go anywhere? How blessed was I that this didn’t happen earlier in the day, like on my way to work or on the way back home?  The roads were already a slippery mess. I can’t fathom what would have happened if the brakes went out while I was driving!  God’s provision and protection?

Taking Notice

When things like this happen in my life, I try to be fully aware of God’s presence. To be grateful and not take it for granted.  I smile to myself and at least internally, acknowledge God.

Imagine all the times God has protected us. Without us even realizing it. Back in the early 80’s I used to listen to a song by Christian artist, Amy Grant. The title is, Angels.  Take a glance at the 2nd verse from this song.

God only knows the times my life was threatened just today.
A reckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way.
Near misses all around me, accidents unknown,
Though I never see with human eyes the hands that lead me home.
But I know they’re all around me all day and through the night.
When the enemy is closing in, I know sometimes they fight
To keep my fight from falling, I’ll never turn away.
If you’re asking what’s protecting me then you’re gonna hear me say:
Got his angels watching over me, every move I make,
Angles watching over me!
Angels watching over me, every step I take,
Angels watching over me

Can you imagine all the times, all the ways in which God has provided and protected us and we never fully knew it? I want to take the time this Thanksgiving to thank God for all the times he has protected me and my loved ones. The times when just the right song came on the radio to minister to me. For all the blog posts, tweets, Facebook connections that have spoken just the right words at just the right time.

For the little times in life, when things go right and literally cause a smile to draw to my lips. For the times that things seem to have gone wrong but were actually a way of preventing me from encountering disaster up ahead.  A delay that was for my benefit.  A “no” when I wanted a “yes” and being able to recognize those times and how the seemingly negative things, were a blessing in disguise. Or how even in the difficulties of life, He was there holding me up or comforting me.

What about you? Looking back can you identify the times in your life that God has shown up and perhaps you didn’t even realize it? Take the time today to reflect and thank Him for all of the protection and provision, seen and unseen. And from now on, be on the lookout for God’s handiwork in your daily life.

This day and everyday, in the midst of your hectic schedule, don’t lose sight of the One to whom we should all be giving thanks to. I hope each and every one of you have a blessed day of Thankfulness!

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Peace, Where Are You?

Where is My Peace?

Listening to the news or scrolling through my social media feed can often times be a drain on me emotionally. To constantly hear and see the barrage of negativity. The evil, the disastrous, the tragic.  Seeing and hearing these images over and over again invariably have a less that positive affect on me.  I am only human. I feel empathy for those who are hurting. I feel anger when seeing those who are mistreated. Constantly being in those emotions is just not a healthy place for me or anyone to be.

When I was heavily struggling with anxiety and panic, I couldn’t watch the news at all. The horror of it all was just too overwhelming for me to deal with. The peace I longed for was so far away. If you have never “lost your peace” I am truly happy for you. If you have, you know too well how difficult it is to live like that. To be longing for nothing more than peace. Peace within your soul.

peace

Peace, for me means having a sense of calm despite the circumstances around me. In our humanness, it is near impossible to find true and lasting peace because our contentment, our joy always seem to be wrapped up in what is going on around us. For me personally, I have only been able to know true peace through my relationship with Christ.  When peace was just something I longed for, I desperately sought it. I tried meditation, medication, prayer, music, exercise, etc. While these things did help a little to bring about an inner calm for a period, none was lasting.

 

Discovering My Peace

For months, all I prayed for was peace. I didn’t care about anything else. It is hard for anything to go right or feel right in your life if your peace isn’t there. Over time I could feel God’s presence and slowly, bit by bit, peace filled up the place where anxiety lived.

Does that mean I feel calm and peaceful all the time? No. Definitely not. But each day I can declare that no matter what goes on in the world, either my little world or the world at large, I don’t have to lose my peace. I claim it as my own. It is the Gift of God.

With that being said, I try to do things to safeguard my mind. Limit the news, limit social media. Read more scripture, pray more. Do things that I enjoy. Do things to help others.  All these things strengthen the soul and help to keep my mind in perfect peace.

PHILIPPIANS 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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