Category: Anxiety

12 Months, 4 Takeaways

12 Months, 4 Takeaways

March 16, 2020. The day I started counting. The week our world shut down.

It’s been a year.

And what a year it’s been.

I paused to reflect on this auspicious anniversary. I’ve incurred losses and acquired lessons. I’m sure you have, too. Trials have a way of reshaping the landscape of our souls.

Four phrases surfaced as I sifted through the events and experiences of the past twelve months. My top takeaways. My most repeated prayers.

I thought I’d share…

  1. “Thank You.”

I started a Gratitude Journal on March 16, 2020. I’m now halfway through a third! Counting my blessings each morning has become a holy habit. I also include prayer requests and record their answers, which sparks even more gratitude. In the front of each journal I copied this verse:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)

It’s been a year rife with uncertainty. My journal entries contain many concerns, but also attest to the power of prayer and thanksgiving. An attitude of gratitude is the antidote to anxiety.

  1. “Have Your way.”

Now, this one’s a bit harder to pray. The past year brought plenty of opportunities to practice the delicate art of surrender. The cancellation of a long-anticipated Alaskan cruise. The rescheduling of a retirement ceremony. The disruption of a dozen other plans. Each time, I had to learn to say, “Lord, have Your way.”

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21, NIV)

This year, more than any other, has taught me to make my plans, but hold them loosely. God gets the final edit. (Besides, haven’t you heard the saying, “If you want to hear the Lord laugh, tell Him your plans.”?)

  1. “I have this day.”

About that retirement ceremony. The first week of November found us staring in dismay at a graph of our county’s rising Covid numbers. The steep incline refused to plateau, prompting the difficult decision to postpone our celebration. Out-of-state family hurriedly canceled their flights. All except our oldest daughter and her husband, who had flown in earlier. Our college girl decided to keep her flights and join us a few days later.

Reeling from the sudden change of plans, I caught myself repeating the phrase, “I have this day.” It served as a much-needed reminder to embrace what was instead of lamenting what might have been. With God’s help, I was able to enter into, and even enjoy some unexpected, unstructured time with my family. We played cards. We sang karaoke. We cooked an impromptu early Thanksgiving dinner, complete with all the fixings.

This is the day which the LORD has made; Let’s rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24, NASB)

I’m learning to live more joyfully in the present, fully present. What a gift! (Isn’t that why they call it “the present”?)

  1. “Inspire me.”

As I unpacked the Christmas decorations, my Christmas spirit dissipated. This year, there would be no parties, no gatherings, no teas. I walked around in a funk for a couple of days, before it finally occurred to me to ask the Lord for some creative ways to celebrate. (Be careful what you ask for.)

The divinely-inspired ideas just kept coming! A nearby nursing home had been hit hard by Covid, so my friends and I filled gift baskets with snacks and beverages for the weary staff. We organized a mail-in gift card “shower” for some dear friends in financial need. Our Bible study group drew names, then had a blast sneaking around, depositing anonymous gifts on each other’s front porches. I suspect the “Advent Angels” will wing their way back next Christmas.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5, NIV)

If necessity is the mother of invention, then prayer must be the father of inspiration. When we ask, God answers! He has a creative solution for every stubborn problem.

So there you have it. My nuggets in a nutshell. Daily gratitude. Gracious surrender. Joyful presence. Divine inspiration.

What about you?

Most likely, the person who entered this unprecedented year isn’t the same one who exited. Take a few moments to identify your own takeaways. Process the losses. Lay hold of the lessons. Celebrate the changes.

I’d love to hear your stories, if you’d like to share.

Unexpected Treasure

Unexpected Treasure

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

I often think of this quote when I go thrifting. Amongst the “trash,” treasures await. My bounty might consist of a gold-rimmed teacup, tiny silver spoons, or an elegant serving dish. These are then rehomed, restored, and reentered into service at my tea parties.

On a recent Goodwill run, however, I returned home with a different kind of treasure. The Bible places the value of this treasure above the gold and silver articles that might adorn a fancy tea table. (See Proverbs 3:13-15.) I didn’t pluck this treasure off a shelf, but received it from the “mouth of babes.” (See Matthew 21:16.)

I was conducting my usual rounds, scanning the shelves in search of that special something, when a breathless, brown-haired girl of preschool age nearly bumped into me. Wide-eyed, she reversed course and scampered down a nearby aisle.

“Emily? EMILY?” she called frantically, her anxiety rising with each repeated question. Just as I was about to offer my assistance, an older version of the young girl popped out from behind a rack of clothes. Emily. The frightened girl was visibly relieved to be reunited with (what I assumed to be) her big sister.

As I resumed my rounds, I overheard the following exchange.

Emily: “Are you scared?”

Emily’s voice was comforting, kind. I pictured her mini-me nodding silently in response. Emily continued in a sweet, soothing tone.

“Don’t be afraid. Because Jesus…”

Her words trailed off as my steps placed her out of earshot. I mentally completed her sentence.

“Because Jesus…is always with you.”

Yes. That’s what she would have said.

But the more I thought about it, I decided I preferred to leave the phrase open-ended.

“Don’t be afraid. Because Jesus…”

It could now be finished in a number of different, and equally meaningful ways.

“Because Jesus…loves you.”

“Because Jesus…will help you.”

“Because Jesus…understands.”

I left Goodwill empty-handed, yet carrying an unexpected treasure. I carefully turned it over and over in my mind, examining the profound wisdom cradled in five simple words. My newly acquired treasure even traveled with me the next morning to the dentist’s office, where I faced a dreaded filling. Nervously reclining in the vinyl chair, I recited Emily’s wise-beyond-her-years words to myself, tapping out the eight syllables with my sweaty fingertips.

“Don’t be afraid. Because Jesus…”

“Don’t be afraid. Because Jesus…”

Her encouraging words comforted me. Jesus’ encircling presence calmed me.

“Because Jesus.” Because if you have Jesus, you have everything. He is always enough.

How about you? Are you anxious? Scared? Feeling a bit lost? Might I encourage you to take hold of dear Emily’s wisdom and treasure it as your own?

“Don’t be afraid. Because Jesus…”

Let Him fill in the blank for you. He knows exactly what you need in this very moment. Or perhaps He’ll leave it open, and instead fill your heart with the comforting and calming assurance that He truly is enough.

I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
(Psalm 16:8, NASB)

Merciful Truths

Merciful Truths

God’s Word doesn’t mince words. Sometimes the truth hurts. But it also mercifully, joyfully, frees.

Lately, the Lord has been using several merciful truths from this familiar passage to give me some joyful freedom.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (I Peter 5:6-7, NAS)

Ok, quick grammar lesson. If you’re like me, you tend to put a period after verse six. In fact, many Bible translations do. In the original Greek, however, these two verses form one sentence. I believe they are meant to be connected, and for a surprising reason.

Truth #1:  Exalting myself is at the heart of my anxiety.

Ouch. This one hit me hard, because I knew it was true. It’s called Pride, and it’s Ugly. When we’re anxious, isn’t it because deep down we want to be in control of a situation? We fret and worry in vain attempts to secure the outcome that seems best to US.

Time for another grammar lesson. The command in this sentence is “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.” Why? Because HE is GOD and I am NOT. Pride exalts myself, deceiving me into thinking that I know best. Humility surrenders self and yields to God’s sovereign control.

Truth #2:  Casting my cares on Him is an act of humility.

Some Bible versions translate verse seven into the imperative: “Cast your cares upon the Lord…” But in the Greek text this verb isn’t in the form of a direct command.* Casting our cares upon Him is how we demonstrate the command to humble ourselves. The NET renders it like this:

…humble yourselves under his mighty hand BY casting all your cares on him… (Emphasis mine)

Bible teacher Beth Moore sums it up this way:

The act of humility is in the casting. The pride is in the keeping.”**

One final grammar lesson. The verb for “casting” was “used of casting garments on a beast of burden.”* Luke 19:35 contains this same Greek verb, and gives us a helpful word picture:

So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for him to ride on. (NLT)

The disciples threw (cast) their garments on the colt, and Jesus rode on them in triumphal procession. When I cast my cares upon Jesus, I’m getting off of my high horse and allowing Him to take His rightful seat as King. I give Him my worries and admit my inability to control my situation. I say, “Jesus, be Lord over this. Jesus, please ride in triumph over this.”

Truth #3:  Believing God cares for me is a place of rest.

As I cast my cares upon Him, I am comforted, because He cares for me. He. Cares. For. Me.  Say it. Believe it!

Everything He does is motivated out of His love for us and for those we love. Instead of fretting about the outcome, we can actually, amazingly, rest. Because He genuinely cares and truly knows best.

This is changing how I pray. I no longer feel compelled to convince God that He should do what I think needs to be done in a particular situation. Instead, I pray something like this:

Lord, You know I’m worrying about _________. I confess my pride, my desire to play God here. I humble myself by casting my concerns upon You, because You are God. You alone are capable of handling this. I am not built to shoulder this burden, but You are. You are Almighty God, Creator, King. So I give it to You. You know what is best. I know You love me, and You also love _________. Instead of worrying about this, I will rest in the reality of Your love and care.

What welcome relief this brings!

Now whenever I feel anxiety rising, I try to remember to stop and acknowledge my pride. I’m learning to humble myself by casting my cares upon the Lord, letting go of my need to be in control, affirming that He is Able and I am Not. I’m resting in His loving care for me and for those I care about.

Yes, the truth can hurt. Pride and anxiety hurt too. But these merciful truths are beginning to set me free.

Seeds of Growth


*From a study of 1 Peter 5:6-7 called “Counsel Concerning Our Cares” by J. Hampton Keathley, at

**From her excellent series, “The Basket Case,” which was the main inspiration for this blog post. If you’d like to watch it, go to Look for “Living Proof with Beth Moore” in the “Video Archives.”

An Important Note:  I wanted to share these biblical truths because they were helpful to me in my own struggles with worry and anxiety. I am aware that some of my brave friends battle more severe, chronic anxiety. I commend them for seeking professional help and encourage anyone who may be dealing with this to do the same.


Wedding Worrier

Wedding Worrier


Wedding centerpiece ii

In a reoccurring dream I am arranging and rearranging wedding reception centerpieces. Flowers here, candles there. No, that’s not right. Try again.

And again.

And again…

I wake up exhausted. And anxious.

I am, after all, the Mother-of-the-Bride.

But you can call me the “Wedding Worrier.”

Most of you probably know that our oldest daughter Emily is engaged to be married. We honestly couldn’t be happier. We love Morgan, and his family, and look forward to celebrating their Big Day the end of May. (To see a sweet video of his proposal, you can follow this link: )

My thoughtful friend Cathy recently gave me a book called It’s Her Wedding But I’ll Cry If I Want To: A Survival Guide for the Mother of the Bride. (She understands. Her daughter got married a little over a year ago.) I need this book. I definitely struggle in new situations like this, where I’m unsure of my role and its perimeters. Enter anxiety and frustration.

Yesterday I picked up another book and read these familiar words of Jesus in the fresh translation of The Message:

Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more. (Luke 12:24)

How this spoke to me! I tend to find security in the checklists and safety in the job descriptions. But God wants us to live free of all that, carefree in His care! And He does care!

Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don’t fuss with their appearance—but have you ever seen color and design quite like it?…If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?
(Luke 12:27a, 28)

Another talented friend had agreed to purchase and arrange the wedding flowers for us, but unfortunately had to bow out last week due to circumstances beyond her control. Emily and I were disappointed, to say the least. But reading this passage yesterday reminded me that our Creator God cares about little things like flowers, their colors and design. We don’t need to worry. We can trust Him to provide His beautiful best.

People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. (Luke 12:30-31)

I DO know God. I HAVE seen what He can do. So why do I fret and fuss as if He were not completely capable and in control? Like the loose tea in my morning pot, I need to “steep” myself in the reality of who He is. He is Jehovah Jireh, the God Who Provides. He will take the initiative to provide for every detail of this wedding, along with every other thing that concerns us.

Last night I meandered through a few stores, killing time while Laurel was at her youth worship team practice at church. I’ve been searching without success for an uncommon item we need for something we have planned as part of the wedding festivities. (Sorry to be so vague, but I risk the wrath of Emily if I reveal too much!) And there, perched alone on a shelf, was The Exact Item I had been looking for! It was as if God Himself had set it there for me to find!

But whether or not He actually placed it there, I knew in my heart it was a message from Him that Yes, He IS in the details and Yes, He cares. (Even about obscure, hard-to-find objects that I cannot at this time safely mention!)

So. Chances are you are most likely NOT currently neck-deep in Wedding Planning. But I wonder. What worries keep you up at night? What concerns preoccupy you during the day?

A line from a new favorite song on my WOW Worship CD goes like this:

I believe everything that You say You are. I believe and I have seen Your unchanging heart.”*

Putting our faith in WHO God is and WHAT He has done for us in the past will help us trust Him with the future and the things yet to be done.

He is aware. He cares. He will provide.

Join me in believing that the One who turned water into wedding wine can also turn worriers into…warriors.



*Lyrics are from “I Will Follow” by Jon Guerra. You can listen to it here:

Theme: Overlay by Kaira