Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Think on these things . . .

This is part two of last week’s post, so if you missed, “When you feel anxious,” find it HERE.

Today—four more tips to help us with anxious feelings. As I wrote last week, I am not a therapist, but these are some of the things I found helpful when I dealt with this challenge.

1.       Diet and exercise. First, and I’m sure this is obvious—watch the caffeine. If we’re already feeling jittery, pumping ourselves with coffee is not a good idea. This would be the season to back off anything with high amounts of coffee and sugar which can put us in a crash mode.

Also, regular exercise is great for working off excess energy and we can get those endorphins going. 

2.      Avoid sentences that begin with “What if . . . “This is the express train ticket to accelerate anxiety because we’re borrowing all that imagined trouble from tomorrow. This quote attributed to Winston Churchill is helpful, “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” We have enough trouble without suffering the things that never happen. Sometimes, we don’t even know we’re doing the “what if” thing until we stop and pay attention to what we’re thinking. Notice the times you think or say, ‘what if’ and try the next tip instead.

3.      “Think on these things . . . “One of my favorite verses in the Bible is, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). When I was trying to stop the “what if” thinking, sometimes I would break this verse down and began listing either in my mind or on paper what is true, then move on to noble, right, etc. Meditating on scripture and putting it into action is powerful and helps us refocus our thoughts and attention.

4.       Prayer Spending time with the Lord in prayer is life-giving. The old Gospel song said, “I must tell Jesus all of my troubles, I cannot bear my burden alone.” None of us can bear our burdens alone. Pouring out our hearts to the Lord is such a privilege. As we do, we’ll find we want to spend more time listening to what He might say to us as we sit before him, and as we read His word.

If you are suffering from anxiety, you are not alone. Many are going through the same thing, but God has a way for you. Seek the Lord. Find a therapist who can journey with you. I pray you would find the healing you so earnestly seek, friends. Blessings.



Over on my Etsy store BeverlyVarnadoArt, you'll find a little book called Gifts of Hope. It's a forty-seven day devotional that I originally wrote for Lent during the time I dealt with PTSD. Perhaps, you will find it helpful. 

 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

When you feel anxious

Anxiety seems to be rampant these pandemic days. I've been in contact with several just in the last week who are dealing with it. I searched my blog and found that I’ve not written much here about my own experience with anxiety. 

What I know for sure is that it is not something from which you have to endlessly suffer— there is a way through. But it is a bigger topic than a 500-word blogpost so there will be a part two next week, and all of this is just an introduction. Let me make clear that I am not a psychotherapist. I am telling you what has worked in my life, but I encourage you to find a licensed therapist with whom you can process all of this. I did a lot of my work by trial and error all those years ago. It would have been easier to have someone knowledgeable.

So, for those of you who may be dealing with anxiety, here are three points from among many others that I’ve found helpful.

1.       1.  Orient yourself to the present. Jesus said in Matthew 6, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow . . . “It’s all those tomorrow thoughts that are really getting us going. But if we make a practice of stopping to take in the details of this present moment, —the bird song, the sound of a child’s voice, even the churning of a washing machine—we will see a beneficial effect. I’ve quoted Elizabeth Elliot here before, “Wherever you are, be all there.”  The writer Ann Voskamp who suffered from agoraphobia was challenged to count one thousand blessings. The act of noticing and offering gratitude for these blessings changed her life. She’s probably up to a zillion by now. So, try it, you’ll be surprised at how it changes your perspective. For me, memorizing scripture has also been helpful in this way and so many others.

   2.   Abandon the should's. Perfectionistic thoughts drive anxiety. When we find ourselves thinking “I should . . . (fill in the blank with any number of things),” then we’re headed for trouble. Where did those should thoughts come from? Are these things we really need to do like feeding our children or are they thoughts that are derived from a perfectionistic view like when we’re try to fit into a social media image of what life ought to be like? One of my big challenges has been to take things off my to-do list. I’d wake up in the morning with a list three people couldn’t accomplish and then berate myself at the end of the day that I didn’t get it all done. I created a no-win situation for myself. So, now, I take a more realistic look at the lists I make and force myself to reduce them. Creative temperaments also are good at coming up with projects with lots of moving pieces that we want to do but really something simpler and less stress filled would work just as well. Give yourself permission to take the easier route.

   3.   Allow yourself to feel anxious. I know this seems wrong, but it really is a way through. This goes back to the should point above. When we say, “I shouldn’t feel anxious,” we just make ourselves more tense. Instead, we can say, “I feel a little jittery, but it will pass. It has before. It will again.” Allow yourself to just be in the moment instead of worrying about whether it will get worse. This diffuses the situation.

 I’ll be back here with a part two next week. Years ago, I used to have panic attacks that I thought would never end, but by the grace of God, I don’t anymore. Please let that be an encouragement to you if you are on this journey. I know when I experienced these symptoms, I searched to find someone else who had been through the same thing and when I did, it made a big difference.

God loves you and will walk every step of the way through this with you to bring healing and wholeness.

 “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:9-10).


Over on my Etsy store BeverlyVarnadoArt, you'll find a little book called Gifts of Hope. It's a forty-seven day devotional that I originally wrote for Lent during the time I dealt with PTSD. Perhaps, you will find it helpful. 

 

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

What love never does

“Do you listen to music when you write?” someone asked me.

I do not.

“What about when you paint?”

No, not then either.

I am a musician myself, and it’s hard for me to ever tune out music while doing something else. When I visit that big craft store and they play all those instrumental hymns in the background, I’m singing the words to the melodies in my heart. If I’m in an elevator, and I hear a strictly instrumental piece I know, I’m anticipating the next measure. In the car, if an instrumental song I don’t know plays on the radio, I’m tuned in to the instruments, melodies, and rhythm. I love music, all kinds of music, and it can hardly ever be background for me.

I tell you this to say that God never tunes us out. When he listens to the prayers of a mountain climber in the Himalayas of Nepal, he’s also listening to the cries of a construction worker in Georgia. When we pray, we don’t become part of some background stream to God. We’re front and center- every single one of us. Every single time.

Why?

Because He loves us. Love, love, loves us.

In this season when we speak so much of love, it’s good to know His love for us is incomparable and eternal.

There will be times when we’re grieving or suffering other kinds of pain that we may not have the experience of God’s love, but our feelings do not diminish the power of it.

“The Love of God” is a song attributed to nineteenth century Nazarene hymn writer, Frederick Lehman, but one verse may date to as far back as 1050-1096, when a Jewish rabbi composed it. Lehman learned of it from an evangelist at a camp meeting. The evangelist had learned of it from words inscribed on an asylum wall, words perhaps long memorized that brought comfort to a patient just before his death. The story so moved Lehman, he later wrote other verses.

“Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade.

To write the love of God above,

Would drain the ocean dry.

Nor could the scroll contain the whole

Though stretched from sky to sky.”


That kind of love never tunes you out. You are heard. You are loved.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

"God is love . . ." (I John 4:16).

HERE for arecording of “The Love of God” recorded by Mercy Me.

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available.  Also consider her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Being good enough

When I sit down to write these posts, I often ask the question, “What might be an encouragement?” Maybe someone today needs to hear, “Don’t wait until you think you’re good enough.”

Being good enough is like the carrot that dangles out in front of us and keeps getting moved further away, especially when it pertains to the creative realm.

Once at a writer’s conference, I met a man who was knowledgeable about the craft of writing. I asked him what he had written. He answered, “Nothing. I’m waiting to get good enough to start.”

My guess is it would be hard for him to begin, because the perfectionism would ever be whispering in his ear, “You’re not there yet.”

I understand. Over twenty years ago when I sensed the Lord calling me to write, I began with the protests even though it was something I really wanted to do—I might embarrass myself and my family. Who would want to read what I write? And then always—I’m not good enough.

I can take you to the exact spot in the street while on a walk one day when I clearly heard the Lord say, “Just start.”

And so, I did. That included studying and going to writer’s conferences, but I knew it would be wrong to wait until I thought I was “good enough.” I just had to put hands to keys and write. I received rejections. But in time, I also received acceptances. If you sense God calling you to something, you have to put your head down and go after it, despite other’s opinions.

A wise man once said, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might . . . “(Ecclesiastes 9:10). With all our strength, we have to apply ourselves, and leave the results to God.

These words not only apply to writing but anything the Lord may be calling you to—starting a new business, branching out into a new creative pursuit, going back to school. The list could go on, but the point is if God is calling you to it, and you do it with all your might, God will meet you there.

Someone has said, “God doesn’t call the equipped . . . God equips the called.”  We see this truth played on in the lives of so may Biblical characters like Moses, Gideon, and others.

So, if the Lord has placed something in your heart, and you keep making excuses mostly having to do with not being good enough, please, to quote a dear mentor of mine, “Don’t let the enemy cheat you out of giving.”

You have a gift, and the world will be poorer if you don’t put it out there.

Can’t wait to see what you do.

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available.  Also consider her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

 

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