Peace for the Day

Devotions for our daily angst.


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Guilt – The Great Angst

There is therefore now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 RSV

I feel guilty over feeling guilty. It’s true. It leads to kicking myself in the butt with words. I call myself names. Not nice ones. I hang my head and sigh. Again.

Anxiety increases. Faith decreases. Fear rises. Joy falls.

My sister reminded me one day when I was feeling guilty over writing – writing, not writing, playing Wooden Blocks instead of writing, focusing on the wrong story, too many stories too little time, writing God’s story, not writing God’s story, not getting published, OMG what if I do get published, and what oh what if I get it all wrong – that condemnation doesn’t come from the Lord.

So why do I feel so guilty? I ask her.

You’re the daughter of an alcoholic. You feel responsible, that it’s all your fault.

I do.

Guilt piled on top of guilt until there’s one gigantic mound of, well, crap.

That’s exactly what it is. Crap. The enemy is more than happy to keep me contained with an invisible fence of guilt. He doesn’t even have to do any work. Being at the ready to convict myself, I do it all for him.

But what if I took God at His word and believed what He said?

If He doesn’t condemn me, who am I to condemn myself?

It’s been a lifelong fight that continues to be an ongoing battle. One that needs to be stopped before it even starts.

I take my stand.

Yo! You, girl in the mirror. Listen up. Stop it. God says you’re not guilty. Lies be quiet. Negative thoughts back off. You have the mind of Christ so take those thoughts captive. You are more than a conqueror. Now act like it. If God hasn’t given you a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind, get up off the ground and stop wallowing. Move.  

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Yo! You! Girl in the mirror. Listen up!

Slowly, but surely the vise grip of anxiety loosens and I can breathe again.

 


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Let It Go

 

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which passes understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ. (Philippians 4:6, 7 NKJV)

 The first step to overcoming A-n-g-s-t is to admit it, so here goes.

 I had a melt-down last week. A big one. In public. In front of friends. At a restaurant. Over the top, even for me, all because of a mistake at work.

I FORGOT TO DO SOMETHING, SOMETHING IMPORTANT- AGAIN.

 When the slow-grinding gears clicked into place and I remembered, I was beside myself. I am not a surgeon, pilot, police officer, soldier or in any other profession where a mistake could lead to death, mine or others, but my mental and physical reactions were at that level.

My husband and friends got to hear the inner dialog that was now pouring out of my mouth. How could I be so stupid as to forget THAT? I know I came out of the meeting ready to do it. What happened? Where did the thought go? More importantly, why didn’t I look at my notes? Where were my notes? This always happens to me. Why can’t I get it right? It’s happening again. I’m losing it. I can’t do this. Make it go away. My boss is going to be upset. (She was, rightfully so.) I’m going to hear the “I’m disappointed” talk. (I did.) I hate this. I hate this. I hate this about myself.

 DEEP BREATH.

UNCURL FROM FETAL POSITION.

Katherine Fetal Position

 I try to explain it to my husband who admits he has rarely, if ever, felt this way. It’s not this one thing. It’s a lifetime of things. All of them proof that I’m the loser my “itty bitty shi@@y committee”, as Jill G on her Anxiety Self Help blog calls negative self-talk, says I am.

I searched Google and found a title for my life – General Anxiety Disorder or GAD. Here are the symptoms:

  • Escalated heart rate
  • Obsession about small or large concerns that’s out of proportion to the impact of the event
  • Worrying about excessively worrying
  • Difficulty concentrating, or feeling that your mind “goes blank”
  • Distress about making decisions for fear of making the wrong decision
  • Carrying every option in a situation all the way out to its possible negative conclusion
  • Indecisiveness
  • Inability to set aside or let go of a worry

How do you spell K-A-T-H-E-R-I-N-E?

  My dear spouse is a fixer, so he offers suggestions. Make lists. Put in a calendar reminder. He eventually becomes frustrated when I resist his help and yells, “Just let it go!”

I stare at him, incredulous. “Are you kidding? If only it were that easy.” But it’s not. It takes focused determination to grasp the good God says about me and to place the negative into His hands and to “let it go.”

If you’re like me and you’re reading this, let’s walk the road to freedom together. As we seek wholeness by talking to a counselor, taking medication, or eating right and exercising, let’s remember to pray. Lord, Prince of Peace – Help us to never forget who we are in You. Remind us daily that we are chosen by You and precious in Your sight. Amen. It shall be so.


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The Devil’s in the Distractions

“…but I resort to prayer” (Psalm 109:4b)

There’s an enemy afoot who would like nothing more than to distract me, but in the hard won lessons of battle, I chose to resort to prayer.

I learned this lesson years ago when my husband was laid off and could not find a steady job for an extended period of time. This led to severe financial problems which led to horrible marital problems, which led to anger, bitterness, resentment, and distrust with a fairly strong dash of hate, – on my part. That’s the cleaned-up, toned-down version of what was a very dark period.

In the middle of it, the Lord sent friends to drag me to a retreat I did not want to attend. What good could it do being around happy, faith-filled women? The thought of “up” people made me want to bang my head against the nearest wall. My friends ignored my drama. They paid my way, drove me there, deposited me in our room, and had the good sense to leave me alone long enough to allow the Lord to work.

Extend your arms straight out in front of you and make a fist. Start punching the air. That’s what I was doing. I was fighting out there – with my husband, with the bill collectors, with anybody who didn’t understand our plight and attempted to comfort me with platitudes. I battled it out, punching blindly, becoming more and more entangled in hopelessness and life-sucking bitterness.

Then, something happened right there in the middle of the retreat. The speaker taught that the enemy wants to distract us by getting us caught up with everything occurring out front, out there. He keeps us so busy scrapping and fussing that we don’t turn and run to the only One who can take care of it all.

The Lord fiddled with my vision knob and adjusted my sight. Bang! I saw the situation with clarity and light. It was a true God moment.

I left that retreat a changed woman. It made me a dangerous woman. At home, as soon as I felt myself begin to duke it out with external situations, I literally forced myself to turn, to run to a safe place, and to pour my heart out to God. It took time and every last bit of resolve I had; but with God’s grace, eventually, I learned to turn to the Lord before I was sucked into a distracting fight.

Lord, prepare me for battle. Teach me to be a warrior, not an angst-filled worrier.

“Let us pray, let us pray, everywhere in every way. Every moment of the day, it is the right time. Let us pray without end and when we finish start again. Like breathing out and breathing in. Let us pray!” Steven Curtis Chapman, Album: Signs of Life, Song: Let Us Pray

 


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Radically Alive

1…2…3…JUMP!Little Girl on Edge of Diving Board

“…the opposite of a nice girl is not just a good woman, but a downright dangerous woman.” “May we be women who acknowledge our power to change, and grow, and be radically alive for God.” Nice Girls Don’t Change the World by Lynne Hybels

 It started with a cassette landing in my lap. “Here, see what you can do. Write a play for these songs.”  With that challenge, and the Lord knows I thrive on a good challenge, I was given the incredible privilege of working with a talented musician to write, direct, produce, and perform a musical called One Week in Time. The entire experience absorbed me. I lived, thought, ate, and drank the production of that play. Back stage, as I listened to the audience react to the words, to the scenes, and to the songs, the cells in my body tingled. In that moment, I was fully alive doing the very thing God created me to do.  The play ended and life calmed down, but I’ve never forgotten that experience. I felt radically alive and on fire with the very knowledge of God and my place in His plan.

For a woman steeped in angst and sometimes paralyzed by fear, it’s much safer to be a good woman, a safe woman, a, well, boring, non-world changing, status quo woman. But that’s not who I want to be. I know inside of me there is a downright dangerous woman ready to risk all for the One who gave His all for me. I pray that in this season focused on resurrection this on fire, radically alive woman would arise from the ash heap of fear and live the life God planned for her.


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Prayer Seeds

Prayer Seeds 2    Spring is on the horizon and I’m ecstatic. Bring it on. Last night it stayed light until 6:05 pm. Woo hoo. It’s coming. All over the garden, the tips of fall-planted bulbs brave the cold and push their way out of the hard ground. On the side of the house, where they’re more sheltered, the daffodils even have flower heads forming.

I don’t have to excavate the bulbs or dig around them to see with my eyes what is occurring under the surface. Years of experience has taught me, if the squirrels and chipmunks don’t eat them, the bulbs are doing their thing underground – eating, growing, and getting ready for their grand entrance. Yeah, baby.

My head knows all this. My heart – not so much. When I plant prayers, I pay little attention to what I’ve learned from nature. Nope. I dig those prayers right back up. I can’t let them be. I mess around in the dirt with a little shovel here and a scrape with a trowel there. I’m desperate to see with my eyes what is happening in the spiritual realm where prayers grow.

It’s a fact of life that unearthed bulbs don’t grow and neither do dug up prayers. Oh, that I would learn this lesson and leave my prayer seeds be, at God’s feet, where He can nurture them. One day, they’ll poke their heads above the surface and I’ll see the results or, if not, I will still believe and cling to and trust that He who promised is able.

Spring is on the horizon and I’m ecstatic. Bring it on. Last night it stayed light until 6:05 pm. Woo hoo. It’s coming. All over the garden, the tips of fall-planted bulbs brave the cold and push their way out of the hard ground. On the side of the house, where they’re more sheltered, the daffodils even have flower heads forming.

I don’t have to excavate the bulbs or dig around them to see with my eyes what is occurring under the surface. Years of experience has taught me, if the squirrels and chipmunks don’t eat them, the bulbs are doing their thing underground – eating, growing, and getting ready for their grand entrance. Yeah, baby.

My head knows all this. My heart – not so much. When I plant prayers, I pay little attention to what I’ve learned from nature. Nope. I dig those prayers right back up. I can’t let them be. I mess around in the dirt with a little shovel here and a scrape with a trowel there. I’m desperate to see with my eyes what is happening in the spiritual realm where prayers grow.

It’s a fact of life that unearthed bulbs don’t grow and neither do dug up prayers. Oh, that I would learn this lesson and leave my prayer seeds be, at God’s feet, where He can nurture them. One day, they’ll poke their heads above the surface and I’ll see the results or, if not, I will still believe and cling to and trust that He who promised is able.  Amen – it shall be so.   Prayer Seeds 1

 

 


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Focus

krpaD[1]“So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and acknowledge, for He who promised is reliable and faithful to His word.” (Hebrews 10:23 AMP)

“…for I know Him whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able to guard and keep that which has been entrusted to me and which I have committed to Him until that day.” (II Timothy 1:12 AMP)

When my daughter exhorts her little girls to focus, she uses her hands like the ground crew uses wands to lead a plane to the dock. “Focus,” she tells them moving her hands from the side of her face to theirs. “Focus.”

It’s been a difficult few months. I write a devotional about angst, yet I’ve been so filled with anxiety I couldn’t write about it. It’s a family matter. There’s a rift. One that I alone can’t fix. I tried and only made the situation worse. I know in my heart it’s going to take God’s intervention to close the chasm, heal the wound, and bring restoration. But, I can’t seem to let it go and admit, “Katherine can’t fix this. “

Intellectually, I know what’s required. Pray, let go, and trust God to do what He said He would do. Instead, I pick at the open wound. I pray. I journal. I discuss with friends. I give the situation to God and then, almost immediately, I start picking again. If I owned a string of worry beads, I’d be clicking them to distraction.

To be honest, I need God, the Living God, to help me. And He did. He reminded me of an event that occurred when I first knew Him.

Before our second child was born, we learned that our insurance wasn’t enforce and we’d need what for us was a substantial amount of money to give to the hospital before giving birth. I sought God with all my heart. He showed me a picture of myself following behind Him holding on to the train of his robe. I heard in my heart, “Hold on tight.” It wasn’t weird. There were no bright lights or trumpets blaring. Just a quick flash of a picture.

By the time I gave birth, I was clinging to the robe with all my might. In doing so, I was forced to keep my eyes right where they needed to be – focused on Jesus.

God provided the money through a group of prayer warriors. These special women taught me so much about God, prayer, the Bible, and giving that I am forever grateful to them.

I’m thankful for the reminder and am determined to hold on to Him just like I did as a young mother. He who promised is faithful.

I pray that whatever your situation is God will show Himself faithful and fulfill His word in your life. May He fill you with his presence and meet every need according to His riches in glory. In Jesus name. Amen.

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Trust

Trust

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go. He’s the one who will keep you on track.” (Proverbs 3:5, 6 Msg)

Trusting God, after knowing Him thirty-one years, should be easy. After all, I have the advantage of hindsight. I look back to see His steady hand leading me here, guiding me there, meeting needs beyond what I could hope, ask, or dream.

But…

For me, there always is a “but”.

Here’s the scenario. A dear friend is stuck in one of those boxed-in, no way out, through, under, over, despairing, dark, and hopeless times life brings us. He can’t fix the situation. He can’t kick, yell, scream, or buy his way out. The people who love him don’t have the means or ability to help. It hurts to watch knowing all we can do is, well, pray. I want to fix this. Now. I want to raise my fist in the air, storm the gates, and make this horrible situation right.

I decided to write him a note. I’ve been in the exact place, a dark tunnel with no end in sight, just different circumstances. I contemplated what I would share.

And then it came. The thought.

Yeah, but, what if God doesn’t do anything? What if God doesn’t come through for him?

That’s the question, isn’t it? What am I going to believe? Who am I going to trust?

Do I trust God enough to tell my friend God will take care of him? Will be with him through this long night until the light of day pierces the darkness?

My husband says, “Once you tell him, it is God’s problem not yours.” Nothing is ever that easy for me. I struggle with faith, trust, believing. I feel guilty that I’m even wondering. God has been faithful to me all these years. Why wouldn’t He work in my friend’s life? I cling to God for dear life. Does my friend? Does it matter?

Father! I can’t believe I’m even wondering. I’ve walked with You long enough that I should trust You implicitly. But, here I am back at square one. I’m sorry, Lord. Help my unbelief. Help me to share all You have done in me and my life with this precious friend and, then, let go to let You work. Father, I commit the situation to You, the God who is able.

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