Monday, May 20, 2013

Cure for Stress

"Sing unto the LORD a new song! Sing unto the Lord all the earth! For He is great, and greatly to be praised."

Do you ever feel the urge to be joyful, the longing to throw away all your cares, and just be like a heroine in a story who hopes against all hope, to believe that everything will turn out all right, to sing in the rain, to smile through tears....

...but life slaps you in the face? The culture around you tells you to be realistic. The people around you might think you are strange if you lived like that. You need to be a mature adult, who sees things like they are. The idea of throwing away all your worries, hoping against hope, and not worrying seems..... wrong, somehow. Disloyal. Immature. If you don't worry, who will take care of things? How will things be accomplished? What if you miss something? Don't try to be a Pollyanna, they say. Things don't work like that in real life.

But guess what? The Bible tells me to cast all my cares on the One who cares for me, and He really will take care of things. The Bible tells me to be anxious for nothing. The Bible tells me to let my requests be made known unto God, and His peace will keep my heart and mind. The Bible tells me that God is Sovereign, and that He loves me, and that all things work together for good for those who love Him. The Bible tells me to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS....and it tells me that again. The Bible tells me that perfect love casts out fear.

Haven't you always wanted to be that kind of "fairy-tale" girl, who is carefree, and lovely in her trust? Doesn't your heart yearn to let go, and be a child again? Aren't you tired of being what the world calls an "adult," sagging beneath the stress of life?

I am. I'm sick and tired of it. I'm a Christian. That means that the Holy Spirit lives in my heart, and He has an amazing joy. An infectious joy. A contagious, strong, bubbling joy. I can feel it. I sense it; it lights up my heart the way a mother's smile lights a whole room. But it's His, not mine. I'm afraid of that joy. I'm afraid to let go of my stress and worry. The Spirit is whispering to me - has been, for a long time - "It's okay. Let go - I'll take care of things! Laugh with me! Smile! The Lord is King!" And I keep shaking my head, burying my face in the other side of my heart, and saying, "N-n-no. I can't. What would folks think? It's childish. I'll look naive."

But He is oh so patient. He hasn't given up. He smiles the wider, pleading gently; "Please. Believe me. I can't stand to see you so mournful and tired and tight...not when so much belongs to you. Don't you know the Son is your shepherd? Don't you know how strong the Father is?"

I tiptoe closer....peeking at this joy He offers. It is so refreshing and peaceful, like a grassy plot alongside a bubbling creek on a spring day. But no - it must be too good to be true. I retreat into the corner, trembling, crying, wishing it was true, hating life for being so real.

This has been the story of my life for years.

I hate the bondage. I hate that I know what my problem is, and yet haven't been able to give it up. But God is working. He hasn't saved me to leave me just the way He found me. That's one of my favorite things about being His child; He saved me to change me. He promises that He'll finish what He starts. He tells me that I'm a conquerer through Him.

So you know what? I had a bit of victory today. There was a moment when I wanted to cling to worry, and I let it go. It was only one battle, one moment, one conquered temptation.

But it was a start. I smiled....and it felt wonderful. I praised the Lord for being strong, for being smarter than me. For being in control. And I told Him I wasn't worried about how things would turn out, because I trusted Him.

I felt like a child.

And it was wonderful.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Running in Circles?

I'm sure hardly anybody reads my blog anymore, but it's 10:44 at night, I can't sleep, and I want to write.

A lot has been going on in my life lately.....and nothing has been going on. Last night I had a mini panic attack from schedule over-load.....and five nights ago I had a pity party for myself because I don't "do anything."

It's one of those bouncing-between-extremes times of life. I seem to have those regularly. Do you? I'm full of contrasts and hundreds of (seemingly) all-consuming desires.

I'm reminded of an incident that happened while I was walking my puppy not too long ago:

We're going along, minding our own business. Reya finds a scent she likes.

Oh look, on the right side of the road - CAT!

Oh look - on the left side of the road; SQUIRREL!

Oh look; walking up the sidewalk to the nearby house - PERSON!

Oh look - coming up behind us: CAR!


She spun around in circles, ears cocked, legs tense, muscles bunched in readiness to spring....and chased none of the above. It's called having too many things to chase. :)

That's exactly me in my life right now;

I've launched my own sewing business.  (Meant to introduce this with greater fanfare, but oh well.) I spend hours designing, sewing, pouring over photos for ideas, humming to the tune of my sewing machine, dreaming up new ways to fold and play with fabric, matching colors, discussing ideas with like-minded sewing friends. I LOVE the sensory delight that overtakes my brain when I shift into creativity mode. 

Oh look; SEW!

Last night, I dissolved in tears because of a tension that has been building in me for weeks; I want to write. And I don't have time to write. I feel like a burning passion inside of me is suffocating, banging on the insides of my ribcage, begging to be noticed and fed, and I keep stuffing it back down and telling it to be quiet. I know God made me to write. It's part of who I am. But I haven't done any serious writing work in a loooong time. It. Hurts. Really. Pain.

Oh look: WRITE!!!!

I just spent about an hour browsing recipes on the web....when I didn't even intend to spend that kind of time doing it. I found a new recipe blog that I love. I lay awake at night planning new recipes. I bounce up and down when I get to spend time in the kitchen. I love my apron. I laugh when a recipe turns out right. When I'm stressed, I itch to be in the kitchen baking. It's my idea of art, de-stressing, having fun, and educational occupation all rolled into one. If I could make a living inventing recipes, I would. I'm going to love that part of being a wife someday. :) :) :)

Oh look; BAKE!!!!!!!

My sewing room is a disaster. It needs organization, and it needs beautifying. I look at pictures of interior design, read books, and lay awake dreaming. I love interior design. I thought about pursuing that as a home business (no pun intended. :) I love to make spaces full of life and love and peace. I want to do that in our home.

Oh look; DECORATE!!!

I love being with my sisters. The younger two are still in school. Every time I walk by them when they are studying, and hear them discussing what they are learning, I want to stop, sit down, join in, contribute to the conversation, share a new book, teach a new fact, glean from their young minds, and just have fun being back in the world of school. :)

Oh look; TEACH!!!!

I feel the urge to not let my brain lie dormant just because "I'm not in formal school." I have pulled out my Spanish books and am doing some serious study. I'm rusty and it's hard going, but I love the feeling of actually studying again. I also want to study nutrition more and perhaps go back and really conquer algebra.

Oh look; STUDY!!!!!

Should I continue? I think you get the idea. I'm like my little dog, spinning in circles. And this doesn't even begin to factor in things like relationships with friends and family, and the way that adds dynamics to one's life.

The one balance point in my life -the one breath of my day when I know what I want, and where I'm happiest - is that time in the morning when I'm reading my Bible. Right now I'm in Acts. I love the boldness of the early church. I'm drawn in by the drama of the story, and fascinated to know that this is real history.

Sometimes I complain, in my head, to God, about being created with so many interests. When all my friends were trying to decide what to do after finishing high school, I was sitting there trying to figure out what NOT to do. It's exhausting to be running in circles. I don't always like it.

But, deep down, I love exactly how God made me. I know He did it on purpose. He wants me to live an abundant life.....

....but it's not really about all those things I get joy out of. Gardening, photography, reading.....none of my hobbies and "passions" really calm me down and make me cry with joy.

It's Him. That's what I was created to do; enjoy HIM. That time during my day when I'm reading about Him, and talking to Him, and enjoying His presence is THE MOST important thing I do all day. THAT is what I was created to do. Sometimes I get confused, and think that all these passions and talents are "what He made me to do." Nope. That's not what I was made to do. Those are side benefits, for His glory and to bless me with fun, but that's NOT what I was "made to do." I was made to enjoy Him.

So I don't need to feel guilty about slowing down. ....I don't need to stress about making sure I'm doing every single thing that "I want" to do. ...Or that I feel I should do, just because I can.

Calm down, Amber. Breathe. Enjoy Him. And that's enough.

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;

O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conqu’rors we are!
His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

It's now 12:44. ......Like I said.....I tend to run in circles and get distracted. :) :) :)