Monday, March 30, 2020

Don’t Worry (Really?)

“Consider the lilies [daisies] of the field; they toil not, neither do they spin. Yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Matthew 6:28-29

During these days of following the “stay at home” guidelines that are especially important for those of us who fall into the category of “older,” amidst all the scary (okay, alarming) news, I have been reviewing some of the notes I have made in recent years about worry. Oh, wait, that’s an admission that worry has been a challenge for me, even before this most recent stress-inducer called a “global pandemic?” Well, yes, it is. Yes, it has.

I have my list of Bible verses about fear and worry. I love all of them. My favorite is still: “Do not worry about anything. But, in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7-8

Yes, I know it is not good to worry. Of course I know I can’t change anything by worrying. I know that worry is evidence of a lack of faith. I know that trust and worry cannot live in the same heart. I know all that. Still, it’s difficult for me to put into practice the things that I know.

So it is helpful for me to study about what God has to say about the topic, and following is one of the articles I have saved for reference.


Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of Worry by Amy Simpson

I began to notice a theme throughout God’s story, a call for people to release their cradling hold on fear, turn away from it and trust him.


We wave it [worry] as a flag of self-importance, fly it over our own castles and kingdoms to proclaim to the world around us that we are responsible, capable, indispensable.


A lifestyle of worry is incompatible with a life of faith.


We must let go of the mistaken belief that life can and should be safe. That our powers extend farther than what God has granted us. That our chief purpose in this life is to avoid danger and accumulate treasures. That we possess and must preserve that which actually belongs to God.


Ultimately, it will nudge you toward the God who offers spiritual freedom and rest to all whose hearts are troubled.


Embracing faith is the one human choice God values most—above showing kindness, trying to be good and following all the rules.


Willful worry amounts to rejection of God’s character and damages our capacity for the life he calls us to.

It is rooted in a theological misunderstanding of who God is, the nature of life in this world and our place in the universe.


Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines fear as “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.”

Merriam-Webster’s defines anxiety as “painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill.” Anxiety usually appears not in the face of an immediate threat, as with fear, but when anticipating something that will or might happen.


Anxiety is an alerting signal; it warns of an impending danger and enables a person to take measures to deal with a threat. Fear is a similar alerting signal, but it should be differentiated from anxiety. Fear is a response to a known, external, definite, or nonconflictual threat; anxiety is a response to a threat that is unknown, internal, vague, or conflictual.


In general, fear is a response to an immediate and known threat. Anxiety is a response to a possibility.

Although both fear and anxiety may help us in the short term, neither is a healthy place to stay.

Unfortunately, some of us choose to stay in this place of unease by indulging in worry.


Merriam-Webster defines worry as “mental distress or agitation resulting from concern usually for something impending or anticipated.” Unlike fear, worry is not an immediate response to real or perceived danger; it’s anticipatory, rooted in concern about something that may or may not happen. Unlike normal anxiety, it’s not an involuntary physical response but a pattern we choose to indulge.


Whether we realize it or not, worry is an action. It’s a choice we make to stay in that place of anxiety that was designed to protect us from immediate danger, not to see us through everyday life.


So if you’re worried, as many of us are, and you want to change that habit, how do you do that? You can try to just stop worrying, but simply changing a behavior doesn’t address the true source of the problem. For real and lasting change, you also need to “let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Rom 12:2). Of course, that transformative process is conducted and guided by God and his Holy Spirit, not by us. But we can choose to welcome and cooperate with that work, or we can choose to fear, resent and resist it.


Surround and saturate yourself with the truth about God: who he is and why he is trustworthy and who you are in relationship to him. Ask God to change the way you think about him, about yourself, about everything.


Even though we believe in God and theoretically believe he is all-powerful and loving, sometimes it’s hard to really believe he is in control of the world we live in, he will never leave us and the people we love, he is aware of absolutely everything we need and capable of providing it, he knows us better than we know ourselves, he is far more powerful than absolutely everything and everyone who scares us, and he has a great plan and a great view of realms and reasons we can’t even imagine.


A worried mind races and wrestles, trying to find a new perspective on a problem or a possibility that no amount of thinking will unravel. Like the infamous Grinch, who “puzzled and puzzled ‘till his puzzler was sore,” we seem to believe that with enough thought, everything that weighs on us will become clear, manageable or avoidable. The problem is, much of what we worry about is outside our control or hasn’t even happened. Often we’re trying to solve problems that don’t yet exist.


Sometimes worry is a way of trying to do something about a situation we honestly can’t do much about.

While people with a high internal locus of control tend to be high achievers and influencers, extremism on this scale is not truly healthy. It fails to reflect reality. We are responsible for ourselves and the influence we exert around us—but we are not responsible for other people’s choices, and we are always subject to God’s authority. People who desire more control than they’ve been granted are prime candidates for repeated disappointment and ongoing frustration—not to mention relational friction. The more we worry, the more we reinforce the idea that the objects of our worry are our responsibility and should be under our control.


Worry changes our mood, which in turn affects our relationships. Marriages and friendships suffer as people argue more, demand more of one another or withdraw from relationships. When we’re worried, we may focus so thoroughly on our own emotions, impulses and thoughts that we can’t properly participate in anything else. The process of worrying feels so important, we withdraw from others and live in our own heads, effectively ignoring the people we love and responsibilities that need our attention.


The proper attitude toward the Holy Spirit is one of listening—purposeful spiritual stillness that allows us to hear his voice. Ironically, while we are wringing our hands and trying to figure out how we can help God intervene on our behalf, the Holy Spirit may be speaking words of comfort, or even resolution, we are too preoccupied to hear. But the consequences aren’t only physical. Worry wears us out emotionally and spiritually as well.  We may lose sight of the ways God blesses us, cares for us and the people we love, and sustains our world. We may even miss the ways he redeems the bad things that happen to us, bringing good from bad, beauty from pain, according to his purposes. Even when we are aware of God’s good gifts, worry can keep us from enjoying them because we’re waiting for something bad to happen or thinking about the unknown future.


When we fail to trust God, we behave like frantic sheep who have forgotten they’re following a shepherd. Sheep are made to follow one leader.


God is calling all of us to step out and be different from our worried world, exercising such determined trust in him that we actually let go of worry.


Take some time to enjoy the way God has made you. Express yourself! Are you artistic? Create something beautiful.


Give yourself permission to stop thinking about bad things and enjoy good things.


God tells Joshua three times, “Be strong and courageous!” He also tells him to reject worry and dismay—again, not simply for the sake of putting on a good show for the people, but because God is with him: “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh 1:9).


Clearly, God wants us to trust him. And clearly, he sees our worry—and our choice to stay in a place of fear—as betraying a lack of trust. God doesn’t say, “Don’t worry too much” or “Worry only about what really matters.” He says, “Do not worry.” “Do not fear.” “Do not be afraid/troubled/anxious.” He calls us to trust him, to acknowledge who he is and to live as if we are in a world he owns completely.


So what can you do when that temptation calls? You can start by reminding yourself where you place your trust. Try personalizing a passage of Scripture that can serve as your statement of commitment to the way of faith and trust in the one who holds all things in his hand. Memorize it and recite it when your heart is troubled.


Choosing to worry is a sin, an act of rebellion against God, a rejection of our assigned place in the universe, a barrier in our relationship with a God who wants us to live in bold purpose rooted in his character. Worry is essentially a spiritual problem, which ultimately cannot be overcome merely through an act of the will—the solution is rooted entirely in who God is.


God will give you strength and grace to declare in faith, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last” (Job 19:25).


#DoNotWorry #DaisyArtInspiredbyWatercoloursbyRachael #Watercolor

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Hope in the Darkness

Today, in the midst of this horrible global pandemic, I was looking for positive signs of hope around me. First, I found some evidences that spring is coming. For me, evidence of winter turning to spring has always been symbolic of new life, fresh starts, and reasons to look forward and not back.

I found some signs of green on Peaceful Acres.

The day lilies are popping up in the flower beds.

The magnolia tree and the forsythia are blooming!

But perhaps the most touching sign of hope I saw today was a Facebook post. It was made by someone I do not know, posted publicly and shared by a friend. 

This is what happened: As a result of a spontaneous idea posted on that person’s Facebook page, many people in a community (it appears to have been in Fayette County?) in Georgia, gathered last night in a parking lot of a local hospital. In their vehicles, they flashed their lights, played and sang “Waymaker” as they prayed for the hospital, the workers, the first responders, the patients, etc. Above, I have put the link to the Facebook post so the video can be viewed. The post also contains these words, which I am pasting here:

Even when I don't see it, You're working
Even when I can't feel it, You're working
You never stop, You never stop working
You never stop, You never stop working

Miracle Worker
Promise Keeper
Light in the darkness
My God
That is who You are

This is our community tonight gathering in our cars, at our hospital, Piedmont Fayette Hospital to pray over every single person in the building, every single worker, every window seal and every door post of this building from the front to the back, the top to the bottom  ! Healing in JESUS NAME!!! Restoration!!! Comfort!!! Protection!!!! Wisdom!! Strength!!! Peace!!!  FAITH!!!!!! LIFE!!!!!!!!! 

Thank you to every healthcare worker, first responder, and every individual fighting this crisis- whether behind the scenes or on the front line here in our community and all over the nation who are tirelessly and faithfully fighting on our behalf. 
We are behind you. We are covering you!!! 


2 Chronicles 7:14 
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 

JOHN 14:27
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” 

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 
I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

#SocialDistancingWasRespectedANDPracticed #WeCanMakeADifference  #FaithToMoveAMountain #FlattenTheCurve #ThankYou


Yes, hope. I love it when I see God’s people exhibiting their strong faith and doing what we can do—praying and supporting.

#SignsofHope #SignsofSpring #Waymaker #WeWillGetThrough #Endurance #GodisStillinControl

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Some Transitions

In early February we returned to our MO home, having been in our WA home since Christmas. We finally pulled the trigger on something we have talked about for some years and listed our property (we call it Peaceful Acres, our 4,600 square foot home on five acres). We designed this house ourselves and selected every tiny thing in it. We have loved living here for a season of our lives, but we look forward to what comes next. The great thing is, it’s our choice.

We spent a lot of time de-stashing and getting the house ready to show. We are now in a holding pattern and not expecting a lot of activity right now, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Everything is slowed down. So, we will continue to enjoy this place until it sells. We will be looking for a smaller place, on one level. The two of us are sort of rolling around in this big house!

One of the things we have loved about this place is seeing all the wildlife. This robin nearly killed himself flying repeatedly into the glass door on our deck. But I liked seeing him, a harbinger of spring.

Now that the world has sort of shut down until the pandemic passes through, we are spending a lot of time inside.

 I caught up with my scrapbooking. I kept putting off getting back into painting, because it has been weeks and I wasn’t sure I could still produce a decent piece of art!

Today I actually completed a watercolor project. 

So, now that I realize I can still come up with a product, the fear is gone, and I’ll get back in the groove of regular painting, while keeping up with the other routines of life.

#watercolor #peacefulacres #transitions