Peace in Anxiety

“every moment wasted on anxiety is a moment missed of living.” –Heather Dixon

A friend is doing 31 Days of Battling Anxiety and I have been so encouraged by her writing. You can find Heather Dixon over at The Rescued Letters writing each day in October about her struggle with worry upon a diagnosis she didn’t expect. She points us to the Truth.img_2811

You can read more about her story here  and the hope she finds in the midst of the heavy.

I am continuously amazed by women who battle a diagnosis at a young age and point us all to choosing life when life can feel fragile. May we all soak in each moment with less worry & rest in the truth that He has us, no matter what our season or circumstance may suggest.

We all know the feeling of anxiety even if it manifests in different ways in each of our bodies. Our hearts race, we get sweaty hands, or our heads may spin. It is a sense of feeling out of control and being overwhelmed by an emotion that we do not prefer to experience.

There are many ways we try to soothe the angst, but having scripture woven into our hearts is something we can tap into from any place. Heather points us to the wisdom in the Word and reminds us of the power of God’s living letters to battle against the broken.

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[Free printable made by Heather]

On Letting Go: A Mother’s Perspective

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We are now a month into our oldest son’s venture into his rite of passage into public school kindergarten. Both his father and I did the same thing about this age, so you would think we would not be the ones flailing like newborns emotionally. No one can really prepare you I guess for the leap the whole family takes from the safety net of preschool to 7 hour workdays for 5-6 year old children. It has felt like something between fingernails on a chalkboard and the rapidly fading warmth of summer sunshine in my heart most days. I am not sure my son would describe it much differently. He is hesitantly spreading his wings wide as I feel like I am prematurely pushing him over the side of our cozy nest like a mama bird with her brood; neither of us quite ready for the flight, a little shaky and insecure about all the unknown.

I remember sitting in my chair on the beach just a few months ago watching him run wild chasing seagulls staggering along the coastline. I captured the above picture to take me back to the the very moment I knew I needed to learn to let go in a new way. Letting go of the grip we have when they are so little as they take a big step is not natural. I knew in the following weeks my precious baby boy who made me a mama would be stepping out into the big, and beautifully broken world where we live. My mind wandered back through snapshots of our first night in the hospital after laboring for 24+ hours that felt like days. I remember praying over him with my husband Ben, releasing him into the arms of our Creator, who somehow knows the number of hairs on his head and the grains of sand on the very beach where I was sitting that steamy August day in Georgia. We were confident that holding on loosely would be for his best. No one told me though, that surrender would need to take place everyday for the rest of my life!

So, I sit back and relish in the sweet, fleeting memories I have of him growing up spending the majority of his waking hours under my care. I describe it as a grieving process when I speak to friends in passing when they thoughtfully ask how we are all doing with the transition into elementary school. It honestly feels like a loss for me to entrust him into the care of a teacher who has 23 other little precious children of God to instruct daily. I selfishly want to see the lightbulbs go off as he learns how to memorize those sight words, watch him gain confidence as he learns to speak up on the playground, and be there to pat his back when life feels overwhelming in all ways possible. Yet I wonder, if I was there, would he truly grow with me hovering? Maybe so, in different ways, but would it be best for him and our family? The verdict is still out for us whether or not this will be our longterm education preference for all our children. He is paving the way for his brother and sister as we navigate the system and form our schooling style.

Earlier in the summer I was helping teach a class at our church’s art camp & I was washing out a muddy paint bucket at a sink. I turned around only to see in one instant my son walk under not one, but two swings and get pounded in the head both times. Hello, life. Everything in me wanted to run out there & comfort him and wipe away his tears that streamed instantly. But I waited. I knew this was a glimpse into his new season of life of learning to cope without me hiding in the shadows, although I literally was doing just that without his awareness. Again, I prayed that prayer maybe only a mama can understand — Lord I entrust him to you. He is yours. You can love and protect him better than me, for you knit him together in my womb, and I know he is fearfully and wonderfully made. He is yours, above mine. 

I am confident this will be the prayer I pray for each of my children as they hit new milestones & go through both the highs and lows of this one life we are given. I have already seen such courage and bravery being formed inside his soul with each day that passes. Although this releasing of control is disorienting and painful during those final hours of the school day, I press on.  When he normally at that hour would be home running his cars along our dusty hardwoods, I can see the hand of God weaving together a storyline for his life, in but not of the world. My hope is that He will be a light that burns brightly and that when he is scared he will remember that the One who dreamt him up is right by his side.  I also hope that over time through my learning to let go daily I will be able to see the faithfulness of all His promises unfold before my eyes as I watch my little Kindergartner flourish.

So this weekend we soaked in every moment, it’s amazing how absence truly does make the heart grow even fonder. I took some time to get down on his level & meet him where he was with all the feelings he has swirling inside. We color coded cars, drew pictures, colored, and connected. It seems connection is what he is really longing for, aren’t we all? It is what he is seeking at school but coming up empty handed with at the moment. Watching his highly sensitive soul (see Elaine Aron for more on HSP’s) attempt to make sense of the overwhelming world in which we live is something I fully relate to sweet son of mine! It will take time, but we will adjust little man!

My friend sent this timely commercial that we are watching often in our home, so if you have a little one you are sending out into the world with an unsettled heart, I hope this will lighten your load as it has mine. We are so not alone. We have the company of a mighty Lion by our side.

Crafty Serpents & the Lies We Listen To

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Every few years when summer arrives my family gets the priceless gift of serving at a Young Life camp for a slice of time in the most beautifully maintained landscapes. We have served at camps all over the United States including British Columbia, Canada over our 15+ years of involvement with YL’s ministry. Through different seasons, my role has shifted into caring for our children while my husband Ben has a more hands on role in the flow of camp itself. I wrangle them from the cabin, to meals, to club meetings & keep them safe + sound, which is a feat (and a privilege!) with 3 kids 6 & under in a place that offers adventure upon adventure all day and night long! This year we packed up about a month ago to head to Sharptop Cove in Jasper, Georgia.

As soon as our car turned from the windy roadway into camp you could sense our kids wide-eyed & eager expressions bursting forth from their car seats! This camp we were assigned is nestled in the mountains of sultry Georgia, filled with winding creeks, southern sunsets, & lots of… snakes. Each camp has it’s own stories of frequent interaction with the wildlife that is unwillingly being invaded by high school + college students outfitted with Chacos, Nalgenes, & adventurous spirits. Ironically the large bears, including one that even shared too close of an encounter with my husband when we were in college, do not tend to scare me as much as the crafty serpents that lie on the forest floor. We were told to keep an eye out for copperheads, especially the babies as they tend to release all their venom if threatened & choose to bite. My greatest fear of camp this summer was no doubt these slithery snakes & their babies who I did not want interacting with my babies. I am reminded of Genesis 3 where Adam & Eve are indulging in the bounty of the plentiful Garden of Eden. They are shamelessly enjoying the bliss of the bountiful garden when along comes a crafty serpent. They were created with the freedom to enjoy the goodness, and then all shifted when they were affected by the snake’s schemes.

Similarly, driving onto a Young Life camp property reminds me of Eden! It is one of the closest experiences I have had to creation in its purest form in my lifetime. The lush forests, blooming hangings baskets, green grass, and immaculate rustic cabins cause me to stand in awe at our Maker’s creativity He places in mankind, to maintain such spaces here on earth. My kids hopped quickly out of our SUV ready to run wild + free and to explore their new home for the month! First stop was the shady castle-like playground complete with a climbing wall, slides, and even a zipline my oldest zoomed across a zillion times a day. What did I see? I saw cool corners, mulch & leaf piles, and an enticing creek. My heart sped up & my guard went up …. how would we survive this month snake-bite free if this would be our main stomping ground?

I felt the Spirit calm my anxious heart as it says in Philippians 4:6-7 & a flood of calm washed over me that surpassed all my understanding. Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. -The Message

As my three crazies fearlessly delved into the goodness of all that was built with them in mind, I had a little pow-wow with the Lord. I asked him to place a little protective boot over their ankles & for him to meet me in my weakness & to make me strong with His strength. I wanted to be brave & let them be kids with minimal limits, to form memories that would shape their character for years to come. I wanted to break cycles of anxiety that have plagued us all for generations. I knew this would take something Greater than me to withstand the temptation of living a life of fear at camp; versus surrendering over my beloved ones daily to the One who made everything from the crafty serpents to His very children who He loves dearly.

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So we wore shoes more than I, and they, would have preferred, we wore headlamps walking back from the carnival up in the woods, and ultimately this mama entrusted my babies into the care of the One who is really in control. I learned that the real Serpent that was after my heart had a goal in mind as mentioned in John 10:10, Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. -The Message 

I love that— “anyone who goes through me will be cared for — will freely go in and out, and find pasture.” How many times in this beautifully messy life do we miss the pasture because we are too concerned about what the future holds for us and our loved ones? How often do we focus on the crafty serpents waiting to attack & miss THE Serpent slithering around in our souls fooling us into believing our safety is up to us?  It is clear, “a thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy” and he tried to wind his way into my heart to freeze me before I even got to camp this summer through all the rumors of Sharptop crawling with critters. I had friends praying for me to release the control before we entered the land & the Lord won. He provided the daily peace. Oh and my kids loved seeing the chopped baby snakes along our path somedays! FULL LIFE is what we experienced & I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A song we sang in club often sums it all up:

M+H is ONE + Giveaway

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It is hard to believe M+H is entering it’s 2nd year of business! Thank YOU for all your support!

A little over a year ago I was easing out of the fog of a wild + full season. It was the first time in 4 years since graduation that I had a moment to think about what I really wanted to do to develop my calling as a counselor. M+H was birthed in a lengthy conversation with my husband that oozed of risk + fear + pure JOY. We took the leap + stepped out in faith hoping for the best and here we are a year later seeing His hand in every detail!  This month I am grateful to celebrate 5 years of counseling + 1 year of M+H! I consider it a humbling gift, to enter into the quieter places of women’s lives in a safe and confidential setting, to help others taste of the fullness of the land of milk + honey here on earth in various seasons of their lives.

When I was in grad school I always had a tug on my heart to eventually start my own private counseling practice. I envisioned an old house with lots of charm, soothing tones, & peaceful corners. I still dream of that space happening one day! For now I have been blessed to have a local, convenient shared space with a few other therapists here in Davidson. Doors have continued to open with consistent growth of M+H’s client base over the year & I am adding slots as needed. Many of you have referred your friends & family through sharing about your own personal experience. I am so grateful for your continued support & looking forward to serving more of the Lake Norman population as we head into year two. If you would like to sign-up for the all new M+H Newsletter please do so here.

As a way to celebrate the beauty that results from taking a leap of faith a giveaway seems appropriate! We all choose every day to play it safe or to take a risk & trust… may we all be encouraged by these artist’s works & steps of faith below! They both deeply encourage my soul & I pray they will yours as well.

I want to give away a copy of the much anticipated book by Susie Davis called UnAfraid: Trusting God in an Unsafe World, which releases this coming week on April 21st. I believe this book will set many fear-ers free to live life fully.

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+ a digital copy of Alli Rogers new EP Breathe which just released this week & is already on repeat refreshing my soul & making my heart sing.

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+ my favorite minty Noonday Collection necklace

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In order to enter the M+H Giveaway simply comment below on a way you have stepped out & taken a risk recently. Please also share a link to this M+H post on your Facebook/Instagram account to spread the word!

[Giveaway will end at midnight Monday April 20th & be announced on Tuesday April 21st at 12:00pmEST]

Thank you again for support M+H in our first year of business & for continuing to share your experience with others so that they might benefit from our services offering Hope in the dark places + seasons we all enter at some point of life.

+ Giveaway

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My heart is expectant tonight… this coming weekend is one I have been counting down to since this time last year. To my friends who introduced me to the first IF:Gathering, dreamed up by Jennie Allen, that happened in Austin, Texas last year, thank you! I didn’t realize it at the time, until I started listening to the livestream from my couch, just how hungry I was for these women to speak Truth into my thirsty soul. The beauty of the web design was enough to intrigue me, light + airy + soothing. The IF title itself made me want to take a closer glimpse into this unknown thing where so many women I have learned from were gathering. Ann Voskamp. Jen Hatmaker. Sarah Bessey… the list goes on & on & on.

One talk in particular stands out however… Rebekah Lyons stood on stage & as soon as she started talking I was enthralled. She spoke of fear, anxiety, & her story of free falling to fly in NYC. She was brave, transparent, & refreshingly hopeful. I remember standing in my kitchen with my eyes glued to the screen feeling like she was putting the words to my last few unsettling years that I couldn’t seem to find. I have listened to the same talk numerous times since IF last year & wanted to share her book with you! To enter the M+H giveaway simply leave a comment below and/or re-post the image on instagram/twitter via @milkandhoneyLKN by Sunday +
you will get one entry for every post you make. [click on the + to comment]

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“Women today are fading. In a female culture built on Photoshopped perfection and Pinterest fantasies, we’ve lost the ability to dream our own big dreams. So busy trying to do it all and have it all, we’ve missed the life we were really designed for. And we are paying the price. The rise of loneliness, depression, and anxiety among the female population in Western cultures is at an all-time high. Overall, women are two and a half times more likely to take antidepressants than men. What is it about our culture, the expectations, and our way of life that is breaking women down in unprecedented ways?” -from Rebekah Lyons

 

This year I am grateful to gather with some women here in Davidson who I see on a regular basis around town [thanks for hosting LG!]. We will watch the [delayed] livestream together & have some carved out time to discuss what we hear. There is something incredible about knowing that 15,000+ people from around the world will all be spurred on together within similar time frames within the next 48 hours. Won’t you join us?

IF you are looking for something to bring LIFE to you this weekend, register online for the IF:Gathering & listen in on all the goodness that brought me great peace & joy in 2014. update: anyone can watch for free! just go to: ifgathering.com at 3pm EST!