Tag Archives: anxiety and depression

Expecting Miracles

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“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

Have you ever been astounded by God? I mean, has he ever just surprised the ba-geezers out of you with something He does and knocked your socks off in awe when it happened?

It can be as personal to you as a Godwink (those moments when you realize God showed up and orchestrated something JUST for you…the person you absolutely needed to see in that moment, a song on the radio that brings you immediate peace, a glimpse of something that reminds you He is near and in control?)…

OR it can be something a bit more grand, say a Godwonder?

A miracle, even?

This summer, as I was reading through our current study (Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg), I decided to take Margaret’s challenge and pray to be reawakened to the wonders of God in my life.

It started simply enough with this five-word prayer:  “God, show me Your Glory”.

I HIGHLY recommend that prayer.  Like, highly.

Little by little, I started to hear and see things around me that I had sort of become oblivious to:  beauty in nature, “coincidences” in relationships, and miracles of all shapes and sizes in the lives of people around me.  It was a beautiful thing.  And my confidence in “Divine Expectation” began to regrow – especially for those around me.

For instance, my friend, Alicia prayed a very similar prayer before she headed out on a family summer vacation this year in Florida.  That trip remains a highlight of their year!  They experienced dolphins and manatees approaching them (in their natural environments, mind you – not contrived swim situations), and even happened upon a sandbar as the tide went out COVERED in a multitude of sand dollars – which they had only seen in souvenir shops and airport gift stores.  I was SO excited for them!

And, if I’m honest, I was also a little envious.

In mid-July, my gorgeous girl and I headed to Florida to spend a little “R&R” on the Gulf Coast with my parents.  We go once or twice a year, but this time, I felt God calling me to do something just a little different:  GO TO THE BEACH!

Beach umbrellas ellas ellas cropped.jpg(copyright Ella Connors, 2016)

I know.  It sounds weird.  We visit that area often so you’d think the beach would be a staple in our vacation “diet”.  But you see, my Ella doesn’t like the beach.  As a matter of fact, she hates it.  It scares her.  And it has scared her since she was little.  Nothing dramatic ever happened to her, she just gets a bit panicked there.  Overwhelmed.  Uncomfortable. And so, for the last 10 years of visiting Florida, we’ve avoided the beach.

But this year?  God was telling me – GO.  And so I planned my trip, with DIVINE EXPECATION of meeting Him there.  I’d go alone so Ella wouldn’t have to experience the anxiety and panic she always gets.  She could stay at home with my parents and I’d spend my day there, waiting for Him to show up and show off for me, like He had for Alicia.  I prayed for my own beach miracle:  I wanted to encounter wild dolphins.

The morning I’d set aside for my beach trip arrived and, sort of last minute, my parents somehow convinced Ella to come along and we all packed up the car and headed to Anna Maria Island.  This, I thought, was sign that God was about to unload a mighty miracle of dolphin family proportions!

We unloaded the car and set up half way between the ocean waves and a beachside restaurant where we planned to have lunch. Ella was determined not to get in the water, just collect shells with my mom.  But me?  Well, I was diving in head first to go find my dolphins.

After about an hour or so (and still no dolphins), I noticed Ella actually IN the water and reaching her hands down into the sand underneath, pulling up treasures to see, touch, and put back in.  I smiled, of course, seeing how God had made sure everything was calm enough as to not disturb my dolphin search.

ella-and-the-shella(Copyright Wendie Connors, 2016)

At lunchtime, we headed up to The Sandbar Restaurant.   After eating, Ella and my parents decided to head back down to the beach for more shell finding and splashing in the Gulf.  I stayed up in the shade to finish my drink, knowing we’d be packing up soon to head back inland for the day.

I thought about my prayer for my own beach miracle.  I had been so sure He’d meet me there. I’d expected the dolphins, and while it had been such a great  day, I have to admit that I was wondering where He was that day.

A nanosecond later, this verse bubbled right up into my brain:

“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.  I will be found by you,” says the Lord.  Jeremiah 29:13-14(a) NLT

“God”, I wondered, “I’m looking so hardWhere are you?”

I looked up and straight out into the ocean and my heart burst wide open into a million pieces.

Right there, right in front of me, was my beach miracle.

Ella was diving in and out of the waves, her eyes wide with joy and confidence.

My own personal beach miracle, my very own “dolphin” daughter splashing and laughing and unafraid and begging me with her crazy waving to come swim and dive with her in God’s beautiful ocean.

That day, I swam with my wild dolphin (or turtle, as the case may be… 😉 )!

ella-as-a-turtle-cropped(copyright Wendie Connors, 2016)

Girls, we need to learn to believe God for miracles.

In doing so, we also need to stop praying for what we think they should look like.  Our God is not limited to one kind of miracle.  We tend to sort of box Him in when it comes to divine expectation because we cannot even imagine the wonders of which He is capable.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.  “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. Isaiah 55:8 (NLT)

I don’t want to be the kind of  person who boxes Him in. I need to remember He has infinitely more than one miracle up His sleeve, more than ONE miracle with which to bless me.

Yes, sometimes He shows off with glorious ostentatiousness, like Alicia’s entire sandbar full of sand dollars! And yet other times, He quietly blows our minds by loosening anxiety’s grip on the heart of a teenage girl, and sets her free to glide and flip and dive through the water like a dolphin, reminding us that His goodness and grace in granting miracles cannot be contained.

How about you?  Would you be so bold today to pray that five-word prayer:  “God, show me Your Glory”?    He wants to amaze you, girl.  Let Him.

Here’s a link to our favorite song this week: “Anything Is Possible“, by Matthew West!   Also, if you are reading the Wonderstruck book with us, read chapters .000 and .001!  You can also complete Week One in the participant guide if you are working at Level 4!  See you back here next week as we explore the Wonder of His Presence!  So good, right?!?!

Peace, love and WONDERFULL joy!

Wendie

 

 

 

 

 

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simpl.if.I – Don’t Worry! (Summer Series Week 5)

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Somewhere nearby, a dog sits in his backyard barking all. the. time.  As you might imagine, this annoys the neighbors and upsets households for blocks.  But instead of getting angry, I find myself feeling really sorry for him. The truth about his beautiful boy is this: he’s an anxious dog who is in serious need of some solid training and attention (and maybe even a little dose of tough love…).  I know he’s bothersome to many people, but I just try to keep it in mind that his behavior is a result of an owner who doesn’t know how to take care of him or how to deal with his anxiety.

 Doggie Gate

I’ve experienced times and seasons of anxiety in my life and it occurs to me that perhaps this pretty baby isn’t so different than many of us humans who also feel sad and anxious.  We all just want to feel better, you know?  Maybe we’ve been “barking” and crying for help for years, and even those closest to us didn’t hear us (or didn’t know how to).  All this barking to simply say – “I don’t feel good.  I feel worried.  Take care of me.  Help me.  Bring me inside so I can feel safe because I can’t do that for myself right now.”

Worry exaggerates reality and makes us do one of several things:  we fight; we flee; or we freeze.

“Fighting” most often takes the form of trying to control the situation with a sense of force, which is just a nice way of saying manipulation, and – let’s be honest here – nothing good comes from that.

“Fleeing” when we’re worried just prolongs the inevitable, because life has a way of catching even the swiftest of us.

And “freezing” creates a whole set of problems in itself, because we cut ourselves off from anyone and anything that could possibly help, and end up isolated and alone in our pain.

None of these options deals with the worry.  Instead, all of these options turn our attention onto ourselves and our situations and they distort the truth, so we’re left feeling hopeless in the midst of the anxiety.

But what if we added one more option to those choices?  What if we built on everything we’ve learned so far here in our simpl.if.I series and added a “Don’t Worry” card to our deck?!

Don't Worry Matt 6-25

 

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus repeatedly tells us not to worry!  In my favorite verse of all time (you’ll be reading it in it’s entirety this week), Jesus reminds us that worrying doesn’t do anything productive.  It keeps us from living in the moment, prevents us from fully experiencing God’s blessings, and moves our focus off Him and onto ourselves.

But trusting God?  Well, that is productive!  It gives us freedom.  Freedom to live boldly, with hope and peace, covered in True Love, even when life tries to tell us otherwise.

So back to my neighbor’s barking dog.  What if this dog’s master was able to bring him inside, provide structure, love, and discipline, and training?  What if the Master were to show him the freedom in trusting Him?  How would that look from his heart’s perspective?

 

pretty boy

I think that’d look like one contented, peaceful pup!

Lord, meet me at the back door when I’m barking and usher me into Your peace.  Teach me to fight the urge to manipulate, flee, and freeze and remind me of the freedom I have in You.  Give me courage to stand up to the lies that “worry” tries to tell me. Instead, show me how to listen only to Your Truth:  that you love me, have good plans for me, that You will never leave me, and that I am Yours forever.  You are so rich in your mercy, Father.  Thank you.

Practical Application:  (simpl.if.I’ed steps you can take so you learn not to worry!):

1.  Find/print our mantra/scripture card for this week:  Don’t Worry!

2.  Read this portion of Matthew 6 to get our verse in context!  Such good and meaty truth in here, sweet friends!

3.  Call out your worry!  Make a list of things that cause you to either fight, flee, or freeze and then CROSS THEM OUT!  Instead of letting them control you, spend time placing them in God’s hands through prayer and through meditation on His goodness and His ultimate control and concern for you – you ARE the one He loves!!!

4.  Watch this music video for the beautiful song, “Shoulders”, by For King and Country!

If you are reading before amen with us (by the wonderful Max Lucado!) it’s time to read Chapter 4:  “I Need Help”, because, really, who doesn’t?!   If you have time and energy, complete the study guide for the chapter at the back of the book!

Have a great week, sweet friends! Know I am praying for YOU this week to break free of whatever is worrying you!  TRUST God and KNOW freedom!  Don’t Worry!  😉

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  simpl.if.I week 6 (yes, we are onto the second half of the series…!):  Be Real!

IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING ANXIETY OR DEPRESSION at a level which is disruptive to your daily routine and/or impairing your ability to function, I urge you to PLEASE call your doctor right away.  If you are feeling like things are hopeless and life is not worth living, please call 911 immediately.  You are important, you are cherished and loved, and you have so much more to say and do for this world!  Help IS literally one phone call away.  I am praying for you.