A Season of Anxiety – Playlist

If you have been following me for some time now, you know that I struggle with anxious thoughts and overall worry.

Something that has always helped me is worship music and this can sometimes be overlooked.

If I’m in a rush.

If I forgot my headphones at home.

But I like the idea that in the midst of a hard time you can plug into worship from your phone or your office desk.

That’s actually what I’m doing now. I’m trying to quiet my mind or worrisome heart.

Here is one I’ve started to build on Spotify: Click here

Comment below with your favorite song from this list or one that you think would be a nice addition.

Be Still and Know: Be Day 1

Hi guys,

I heard about this three week study by Rebekah Lyons and I thought it was a great idea.

Basically I will share a part of the study and my thoughts but I don’t want to spoil or steal her entire email and repost it here because that would just be weird!!unnamed.png I also want you guys to feel free to follow along too!

To sign up for the emails containing the “Be Still and Know” study click here.

So today I am going to answer Rebekah’s questions so you can get a feel for how the study is, and feel comfortable to answer these questions honestly too.

  1. Is there something specific holding you back from stepping into Christ’s freedom right now? Perhaps risk, fear, doubt, or heartbreak?

Over the years I have struggled to “feel” like I’m enough so I compensate by “doing” enough. I think it will always be a sensitive area of my life that will slowly continually be purged by the Holy Spirit. However, do in part to a struggle in my 20s with anxiety and panic attacks, I think I have learned to let things go more quickly and also to give everything to God in a different way. I feel that my reliance has shifted positively to what He can help me do versus the pressure that can come with feeling like it’s all up to you.

  1. Free people free people. Is there a way you might help someone else discover Christ’s freedom?

I don’t profess to have it all figured out and I am definitely open to being used in new ways by God to help other’s discover their freedom. But speaking from my current experiences only, I have found blogging and leading studies at church very rewarding. When it comes to blogging I can get out my feelings on issues, or talk about what I’ve learned from a mistake, or a revelation I’ve had that I think people will benefit from. And in a similar way when I facilitate the Shine curriculum through my church I can help women to see their value and purpose.

I Still Love You

Those four words sent to me in a text have been in the back of my mind for the past 3 weeks.

If you know a bit about me through previous posts you’ll know that my greatest love and greatest heartbreak involved the same person I dated for over 5 years. Without going into the same old story, I’ve known this person for 10 years of my life and through a long history of ups and downs, being mad, being happy, feeling angry, feeling joyful, feeling betrayed, and feeling safe, it’s hard to have to look yourself honestly in the heart, and admit that you still love that same person you haven’t dated in years.

In theory this is romantic..but in reality it honestly sucks.

Things are complicated. I don’t live in the same state as this person, this person has not dropped his life to run back to me with an engagement ring, and yet those four words are like….stretching a stiff muscle that you tore and stopped moving.

Even though I dated this person for 60% of the entire time knowing him, we’ve seen each other for some of the rest of the 40%.Sometimes one of us has been in town and decided to go get coffee to just kind of talk through problems we had, or to get closure. To just vent about how we feel, honestly, the same things I’m sure millions of other former couples have done.

And yet. I have to be honest. It’s no easier today than it was the day we broke up.

No amount of prayer, Bible, therapy, or medication has completely removed this pain. Now I fully believe the scripture that says:

Psalm 34:18 (MSG)

18 If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

And I can testify that I’ve met God in a deeper way in my despair. However, there are still days where I feel that heaviness in my heart, or can easily burst into tears.

Those four words can be both joyful and painful. It’s bittersweet.

In a somewhat unexpected twist though, I feel like I understand God’s love a little bit more because of this relationship.

How?

Because sometimes, you can love someone and see value in them even if it’s illogical. There’s been plenty of friends over the past 10 years who have thought I’m just another dumb girlfriend who gets back with a bad boyfriend. Or people who think I am weak. Or people who think one way or the other about choices I’ve made. But at the same time..I know the same can be said for God.

God loves us in an illogical way.

At the end of the day, do I bring actual value to God’s life? God is perfect. God doesn’t actually need me. But he made me and wants me even though I am just a failure and sinner like anyone else. Couldn’t people also have said to God why bother, he/she isn’t worth it? Aren’t you over that person yet?

In Matthew 23 MSG it even compares God to a mother hen:

How often I’ve ached to embrace your children, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you wouldn’t let me.

To me that’s also illogical. To me that’s also bittersweet. To love someone, to ache to embrace someone, and to feel the pain of knowing circumstance stands in your way, or that person doesn’t even love you.

I’m still on this journey. And sometimes I wonder why God hasn’t answered my prayers. I’ve prayed two major things over this never-ending relationship:

  • God please help me not to love him. Change my heart.

Sidenote: This has been much of my life and yes, this scene always makes me cry. Don’t judge me: Grace’s Prayer

  • God please give me the endurance to wait while you bring us back together in your perfect timing.

 

If you can relate to this, you’re not alone. Honestly, I can’t wait to be married one day. I really don’t think I’ve ever been good at being single. But until then, I hope to hurt less. To trust God more. To value His love for me, more than anyone else’s—even family.

I listened to the Abide app’s prayer today and it was perfect. I suggest you download it too. Here are the two parts that resonated with me:

Thank you for loving me when I didn’t deserve your love. Thanks for choosing to love me when there were better logical choices. I am worth something because you love me.

More than a number

Today was pretty discouraging. A few of my co-workers are banding together to help one another…get this…acquire more Instagram followers.

 

Wow.

 

Haha. I almost couldn’t believe it. So often people compare their own and other people’s popularity and if you have a low following, it’s almost laughable to today’s generation.

 

I have to admit a small part of me felt small during this conversation. Whether it’s a personal page or a professional page, you can often feel like no one notices you, values what you are doing, or listens to what you have to say. But ultimately our society values a lot of things that are fleeting or unhealthy and do not reflect true value and importance.

 

Let us remember that we have access to a God who knows the number of hairs on our head and does not care about the number of likes on our latest picture.

Acts 9

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I work in NYC and last night I got a group text that I didn’t want to see. It was a warning from a friend of a friend who works at the Pentagon, telling us to stay away from the subways because they had gotten a threat that the subways were being targeted for a terrorist attack.

 

Now obviously no one wants to get that news. But as someone who has suffered from anxiety I didn’t want to hear that.

 

The cool thing about the Holy Spirit and time, is that I was not afraid. For once I was not afraid. Now granted I take medicine for anxiety. And granted I have walked a journey with God where I was in the midst of the worst bout of anxiety two years ago. But I was happy that my spirit kicked in instead of my flesh.

 

This is not to praise me. This is to praise God.

 

You see in the seasons where you are suffering you are planting seeds that you will harvest later on. Meaning I learned in a dark season what it means to pray and rely so fully and completely on God in the midst of feeling like your world and your mind and your body are falling apart.

 

But in the moment. In the group text. People were saying thanks and preparing to avoid the subways and something in me, I believe the Holy Spirit, prompted me to reply: “No weapon formed. I pray against the attack, for a change of heart. For the perpetrators to encounter Jesus instead.”

 

I typed it so fast and without thinking that after I looked at my words I was like…wow. I’ve changed.

 

It’s so easy to panic. To let the work of terrorism do it’s worst and cripple us. To make us afraid to commute or to go out in public or see a movie or a concert or go to school. But I think ultimately, we need to remember to pray. I don’t want to be killed, no one does. But as Christians we know where we are going. And that is enough. And beyond that we know we can call on the name of Jesus and pray for the atmosphere to change and for people to have a revelation of God that will alter the course they are on.

 

I was prompted this morning to look up the salvation of Saul. You can look this up for yourself in Acts 9. Here is a portion from the Message:

Acts 9 (MSG)

The Blinding of Saul

1-2 All this time Saul was breathing down the necks of the Master’s disciples, out for the kill. He went to the Chief Priest and got arrest warrants to take to the meeting places in Damascus so that if he found anyone there belonging to the Way, whether men or women, he could arrest them and bring them to Jerusalem.

3-4 He set off. When he got to the outskirts of Damascus, he was suddenly dazed by a blinding flash of light. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice: “Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?”

5-6 He said, “Who are you, Master?”

“I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down. I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you’ll be told what to do next.”

7-9 His companions stood there dumbstruck—they could hear the sound, but couldn’t see anyone—while Saul, picking himself up off the ground, found himself stone-blind. They had to take him by the hand and lead him into Damascus. He continued blind for three days. He ate nothing, drank nothing.

10 There was a disciple in Damascus by the name of Ananias. The Master spoke to him in a vision: “Ananias.”

“Yes, Master?” he answered.

11-12 “Get up and go over to Straight Avenue. Ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus. His name is Saul. He’s there praying. He has just had a dream in which he saw a man named Ananias enter the house and lay hands on him so he could see again.”

13-14 Ananias protested, “Master, you can’t be serious. Everybody’s talking about this man and the terrible things he’s been doing, his reign of terror against your people in Jerusalem! And now he’s shown up here with papers from the Chief Priest that give him license to do the same to us.”

15-16 But the Master said, “Don’t argue. Go! I have picked him as my personal representative to non-Jews and kings and Jews. And now I’m about to show him what he’s in for—the hard suffering that goes with this job.”

17-19 So Ananias went and found the house, placed his hands on blind Saul, and said, “Brother Saul, the Master sent me, the same Jesus you saw on your way here. He sent me so you could see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” No sooner were the words out of his mouth than something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes—he could see again! He got to his feet, was baptized, and sat down with them to a hearty meal.

I find this so comforting. Terrorism was in the Bible. As it said “Saul” or “ISIS” or any terrorism group was “breathing down the necks of the Master’s disciples, out for the kill.” We see this today with beheadings or the random killings of any of God’s children, Christian or not we are all God’s children. And despite his rage and history, God stopped him in his tracks and changed His life.

 

Luckily nothing happened in the city today. I worshipped the entire ride to my Hillsong music as I normally do. I refused to worry. I prayed. And I don’t think it was just me who “stopped” the terror threat. I think it is all of us, praying diligently who can change the game. Who can advocate for people who are lost and thinking that what they are doing to people in the world is appeasing God and is the right thing to do.

 

Instead of worrying I want to pray for a radical salvation within terrorist groups. I want Jesus’s name to be lifted above all.

 

As my Colour Invitation for this year says I want love to be the last great thing to shock the world.

 

I know Jesus isn’t worried about the state of things. I always want to remember that. And I want to pray for radical conversion and miracles to occur in the hearts of the people who are committing these heinous acts of terrorism.

 

Jesus can stop anyone in their tracks and set them on the right path.

 

Let’s believe for it.

Speak We’re Listening

This morning I was on my way to a hair appointment before work. I went to Starbucks and got a coffee as a treat for getting up so early and realized I didn’t have any money in my purse to tip the stylist. I looked up the closest bank in the area and headed off. On my way there I noticed a young homeless man sitting on the sidewalk. I see at least 2-3 homeless people each day. Most of the time, if I’m honest, it makes me feel uncomfortable because I want to do something. If money wasn’t an issue I would give money every day if I could, but I know that’s crazy. I also have grown up outside NYC and you’re almost conditioned to assume that homeless people will use the money for drugs or alcohol. Most of the time I walk by, smile at them, and say a prayer. That’s all. And sometimes I feel guilty about it. Like I’m not a good Christian because I’m seeing a need and not doing anything.

Today was different.

As I got my money, and walked past him again I felt compelled. His sign said that today was his 28th birthday. Wow. It’s his birthday today. I’m passing a homeless person on their birthday. At this point I needed to be at my appointment and I couldn’t focus. I’m sitting there, grateful to be getting my hair styled, but I kept thinking about this guy. Should I get him a card? Should I get him a balloon? At one point the stylist asked me “Is everything ok?” I guess I looked like I was deep in thought or wrestling with something.

As my hair was being finished I made up my mind. I’m going to get him a birthday card. I’m going to give him the other $20 I took out of the bank.

I wish I could say that was it easy. That people surrounded me after delivering the card and told me how awesome I was. Haha. But I still felt my heart beating super fast the entire time. I felt nervous. I felt kind of stupid. I felt worried that I would buy this card and walk back there and he would be gone.

I heard a voice say that he would still be there. So I went to a CVS. I bought a card. I bought a pack of pens I didn’t really need but I needed something to write with. Of course there was no pen in my purse today. I walked to Bryant Park and I sat down.

I wrote Ephesians 3:20 in his card. I said the best was yet to come. I said I saw him earlier and knew I needed to come back. I licked the envelope and closed it.

How would he react? How would the people around me react?

It was pretty casual after all was said in done. I said “Hello”. He didn’t notice at first that I was talking to him. I said “I got this for you” and reached into my bag and presented the envelope that I wrote “Happy Birthday” on with a green pen. He smiled and said “Awesome thank you.” And I walked to work.

I felt pretty happy that I followed through. I felt pleased with myself that I didn’t chicken out. I think there are times where you’re not sure if God is talking to you. You want to hear God’s voice but sometimes it’s hard to tell if it’s yours instead. Today I think God spoke to me. I could have ignored it. I could have felt like I was only doing this for attention or to feel good about myself. The enemy could have succeeded in making me feel like this was for my own self-gratification. But instead, I just stepped out, shyly, and gave God’s child a birthday card. I gave him encouragement. I wrote the information for my church’s Sunday service at Best Buy with the times in case he wants to go. And that was my piece of the puzzle today.

I’m not special. This doesn’t deserve any praise. I am merely sharing because this is something small that anyone can do. If you feel nervous and scared when an idea pops into your head, if you feel convicted, I’m fairly certainly that’s God. I recognize that feeling. I’ve had it a handful of times. It’s like when people feel like they need to raise their hand to accept Jesus. Or when the preacher’s message sounds like it’s directly being spoken to you.

I encourage you to ask God to speak to you today. I’m sure He has plenty to say.

Hump Day

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I’ve been finding two of my co-workers challenging the past month. It seems whenever they make jokes, I am the subject and it is with a judgmental, condescending tone. I am fully aware that this could be a “guy” thing. I work with all men. However, my patience, to be honest is thin. It is in times like this that I am forced to remember what God thinks of me. That God sees my heart. That God knows my motivations and my heart and I know I am doing the right things. I have not brought this behavior on myself. I am not deserving of condescending words or mockery or anything of the sort. There are times in life where you reflect and with being honest with yourself come to realize you are at fault, but I can honestly say I’ve reflected and I know it isn’t me in this situation.

Sometimes it seems like when you are at your best, thriving, in my case at work, that the Enemy uses other people to try to make you question yourself. Luckily over the past several years I’ve gotten better at recognizing his voice and how he can make situations or people throw darts your way. Luckily over the past few years through the grace and love of God, I’ve learned to value myself more and more importantly see what God thinks and feels for me in a way I’ve never before. I love this quote because it reminds me that no matter what my limitations are, in feeling attacked, or teased, or annoyed with what is happening, I can rest in knowing my God has none. He is limitless. He is above all things. And I am grateful to be His child. In so many situations I have been exhausted, unable to make things change, have been anxious, or drained and in these moments I’ve been able to see God be God. To fill in the gap.

I just want to encourage you that no matter what hump you face on this Wednesday, this “hump day” God is always on the other side. He will get you through anything. Trust me. There were times and situations that threatened to destroy me, that I saw no solution to, that I was even at times mad at God for giving me or allowing. And in each scenario He has proven Himself faithful. He has lovingly even given me praise in my jobs, in my leadership roles, in my life despite all the times I yelled at Him or felt abandoned by Him.

Granted there are still areas I wished were different but they don’t seem as dire in the wake of all the answers He’s already given me.

Be of good cheer.

The Rescue

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (MSG)

The Rescue

3-5 All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.

Last Wednesday my cousin was laid off from her job. We’re not particularly close–it’s like that with most of my extended family on both sides actually, so when she texted me it was kind of surprising. I’m sure it was the Holy Spirit but I felt prompted to share a few Bible verses with her in response and reassured her that this was a God thing and that she could lay aside her stress and striving. Long story short what little I shared moved her to tears and she seems very open to hearing more Bible verses. It might be the time for her to develop a real relationship with Jesus. I believe she attends Catholic church–which I won’t judge as a whole being faulty–there are many Charismatic Catholics and Catholics who aren’t caught up in Mary-worship or Saints-worship and know that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. But sometimes I feel like in the Church (in this instance Catholic church) it can be easy to fall into religion and forsake an actual relationship with God.

I’ve been thinking about buying her a devotional, journal, and maybe a Bible too just so she can use this time wisely while she looks for another job instead of just jumping back into the same stress she just left.

I think it’s amazing how God works. Not too long ago I was laid off from a job that was so stressful and abusive that it took a mental and physical toll on me. And now it’s her turn. Like the verse in 2 Corinthians says: “we can be there for the person just like God was there for us”. Nothing is wasted.

If you wouldn’t mind please pray for her salvation and that the resources and/or texts I send her will stir up a hunger for God-things. Material things, big-title jobs, etc will always pale in comparison and produce striving and stress. God-pursuits only produce peace.

Tuesday Inspiration 12.16.14

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It’s been a crazy couple of weeks hasn’t it? Between the hostage situation in Sydney, Australia, the verdicts in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases, and the school shooting in Pakistan the world has a lot of reasons to lose hope. Today I came across this quote on someone’s Instagram and decided to use just a simple PicMonkey.com font to design for today’s blog post.

It was only ten words but it took my breath away. I thought it was such a simple and beautiful concept because it’s easy to feel defeated. It’s human to mourn death. It’s easy to feel scared about the future and to wonder what is wrong with the world today. But the important thing about this idea is that it causes us to see beyond the current horrors. Fields full of seeds can look dead before they sprout crops. And situations, people, and places can seem irrevocably damaged or evil but God is still at work here on Earth.

In 1 Peter 1:23 it says:

“For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.”

In Mark 4 it says:

26-29 Then Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time!

In other words those of us who have accepted Jesus as Savior are full of God seed. We are not defined by time or death but are new creations who will live forever in community with our God. For those who are still committing evil here on Earth or living under the blindness of their sin, I try to remind myself that Jesus’s heart on the cross, though broken by what man has done, still had enough sympathy for us to say “Father forgive them, they do not know what they do”. I’m not saying the world events are right. I’m not saying they aren’t a big deal. They are. Any death is devastating. Any evil hurts to hear about. But ultimately I don’t want to live in fear or feel like the world has somehow come off its rotation and we’re all spiraling out of control. God is still on the throne, He is not hard-hearted towards the conditions on Earth. Instead, miraculously, He holds back for the sake of those who have yet to come to salvation. This is scandalous to us, but if we believe, truly that God is all-loving but also all-fair, we have to understand that while things look like they are dying all around us that God is still at work. Seeds of hope and life are still being planted no matter what the Enemy or evil-doers think they are destroying. I know that God wins at the end of all of this. Let that be our hope.

Thursday Inspiration 10.30.14

I think I’m getting sick. I had an overall feeling of malaise right before bed last night. My head feels full of cotton, and my stomach just feels unsettled. I went into today with the posture of my head down so to speak. I’m ready for the day to be over and to crawl back into bed to sleep it off.

But it’s funny how in the midst of it all, when you aren’t feeling your best, how God shows up.

On the bus ride to work I was feeling kind of nauseous which was making me anxious..I actually think I might have emetophobia but anyway. As I was closing my eyes I started to sing a song. This only happened to me once before (refer to my last post: https://jesscbnyc.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/let-it-rain-lyric)but I know it was straight from God and Heaven. I jotted it down in my phone:

I inhale Your presence

I exhale Your praise

I know I’m created 

To exalt Your name

All worries behind me

I call out for You

No matter my problem

You’ll always come through

I finally got to the office and while I’m getting work done I don’t feel 100% myself. But again unexpectedly I was asked to work on a side project coming up with marketing terms/copy writing for use on our website. It just feels good, which I’m feeling sick, to be creative and to come up with new, fresh, words. Similar to my “song” from this morning.

Lastly I got a random text message from someone at church with a lovely scripture:

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An excerpt from Psalm 96 MSG:

1-2 Sing God a brand-new song!
Earth and everyone in it, sing!
Sing to Godworship God!

2-3 Shout the news of his victory from sea to sea,
Take the news of his glory to the lost,
News of his wonders to one and all!

4-5 For God is great, and worth a thousand Hallelujahs.
His terrible beauty makes the gods look cheap;
Pagan gods are mere tatters and rags.

All I can say today is God is good!

Found on thechicestchick.tumblr.com