2 decisions to combat worry

I don’t know about you, but I can sometimes get consumed with the “what if” questions.  What if a loved one passes away?  What if I don’t have enough money to be secure in old age?  What if my kids make a really bad life-altering decision?  When I start thinking this way, my serenity level plunges, and my anxiety level shoots through the roof!

Well, here are two decisions that both you and I can make in order to regain peace of mind:

1) We must decide to follow the instructions given in Philippians 4:6-7, which says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  In other words, we need to tell God all our concerns, ask Him to be in control, and then LEAVE the concerns in His hands!

2)  We must remind ourselves every morning that Jesus is FOR us and that we can trust Him to bring something good out of even the most daunting or difficult situation.  I mean, seriously, do we believe God loves us and that He is perfect in all His ways?  If we REALLY do, then we can relax and realize that, even in difficult circumstances, He has a plan to bring about good thing in the lives of those who love Him.  This is the essence of Romans 8:28… “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.

Getting unstuck

Most every person I know struggles with something, and often in the midst of that struggle, we get stuck in a rut.  Even though we don’t like where we are, we often do the very things that keep us mired down in that area.

Some people get stuck in a rut regarding a dysfunctional coping mechanism such as drinking too much alcohol, or overeating, or over-shopping!   Other people get stuck in a rut in terms of unhealthy and unhelpful communication with their family members.  They might get stuck in the habit of yelling and criticizing or complaining.  And still other people get stuck in a rut regarding depression and despair.  Obviously, no one wants to stay in this rut, but we can’t seem to get ourselves unstuck!

Please allow me to share a few Bible insights that have really helped me get unstuck so I can move forward with joy, peace, and hope.

  1. I’ve learned to do what Paul teaches in Philippians 3:13-14….  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.   Let me make this personal.  I lost my husband about 10 months ago.  It was shocking.  It was devastating.  My world tipped upside down.  And I could have easily got stuck in depression and even resentment toward God.  However, I distinctly remember the moment I decided to pivot from the pain and turn forward, asking God to open up new adventures and new joys in my life.  That was a choice.  It was a really good one.  I was able to heal and start grabbing hold of joy again.
  2. I’ve learned to pause and consult God when I notice dysfunctional habits in my life.  I ask Him to change my heart so that I desire good things, healthy things, and behavior that please Him.  On my own, I don’t really have the strength to make these changes, but when God comes in and changes my heart in response to prayer, then I have the strength and strong desire necessary to make those changes!  Listen to what God says in Ezekiel 36:26-27  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.   Ask God to change your heart. That’s the first step in getting unstuck from bad habits and unhealthy behavior.

** or view this topic as a 3 minute VIDEO BELOW

Common communication pitfall in marriage

How many times have you muttered to yourself “He should just KNOW!”.  Most wives have muttered this time and time again.  I know I have, and just the other day, my husband and I were counseling a couple where this communication pitfall rose to the surface so clearly.  She needed her husband to romance her a little before physical intimacy and he had no clue!  She started getting resentful.  He most definitely felt her cold shoulder, but was oblivious to the problem!!

Expecting your husband to know what you want and need without clearly telling him…is a common communication pitfall.  Unfortunately, your husband doesn’t just “know” because he doesn’t think like a woman and most men have no idea what a woman wants or needs from her husband.  We can’t assume our husbands know what we want!

Avoiding this communication pitfall is so easy.  As a wife, clearly, concisely, and directly tell your husband what you want. Clearly tell him what you need.  Let him know the specifics as well!  Let me give a simple example.  Let’s say you have company coming over and the house is a mess.  Plus, you’re trying to make a dessert to serve.  So, you’re feeling stressed.  Meanwhile, your husband is oblivious to your inner turmoil. He’s contentedly watching ESPN.  In most cases, the wife would finally say “Hey, can you vacuum the house please?”.  To which the husband says, “sure” and continues watching ESPN.  At this point, the wife blows a gasket in frustration.  Here’s the thing.  She didn’t give him the details of what she was asking for.  Instead of simply asking, “Can you vacuum?”, she needed to say “Can you vacuum right now?”  She needed to clearly spell out what she was asking for and when.

Clear, honest communication is a gift to your husband!  It reminds me of Proverbs 24:26 An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.

Overcoming fear of setting boundaries

I have seen so many women wither and die emotionally in their marriages because their husband is engaged in disrespectful or sinful behavior and the wife gives up too easily in terms of confrontation.  (I should know because I was one of those women in my first marriage!)  So why would a wife give up?  I believe it boils down to one main fear.

The wife fears that if she continues to confront the issue, or heaven forbid, draws a serious boundary, her husband may decide to leave her…and in her mind, she will lose what’s supposed to make her happy and secure.  But this is faulty thinking!  Your husband is not a reliable source of happiness.  God is the only one we can depend on for unconditional love, compassion, and security.  If your husband were to leave after you draw a line in the sand, I believe God is big enough to take care of you financially.  I know He is.  Do you trust Him?  Do you believe what He says in Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”?

Trust in the One who will never leave your side.  Trust in the One who can provide innovative ways to take care of your financial needs.  Trust in the One who can bring supportive people into your life to stand by you as you draw boundaries.  That One is Jesus.

Becoming a strong, unshakeable woman!

Do you wish you could be a more courageous woman, a more secure woman, a more confident woman, and a woman who is able to stand strong under pressure or hardship?  I think I’ve found the answer.  We must go beyond just accepting Christ as our Savior, and truly decide to make Christ our Lord!

When I think about the ladies I know who are strong, confident and unshakeable Christian women, they all have something in common.  They have made the courageous decision to surrender their lives to Jesus and they’ve truly committed to following him as the leader and master of their lives.  This is, in fact, what the Bible calls us to do in Romans 10:9…If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  It’s important to note that this Bible verse tells us to declare Jesus as “Lord”, which means “master” in the original Greek.

Have you truly made Jesus your master?  Maybe that’s the missing piece in your life.  I can tell you from personal experience that once you truly make a heart decision to make Jesus your Lord and master, all His promises to love you, comfort you, and counsel you start to come alive in your spirit.  You begin to realize that you can trust his leadership 100%.  Once that happens, you’ll find yourself strong, confident and unshakeable!

Finding joy despite hardship

I know this might sound too simple.  I know you could be rolling your eyes as you read this. But give this a chance.  A huge key to regaining some of your joy during challenges or after a heartbreaking event is…to focus on the things for which you can be thankful.

All of us tend to focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do have.  By doing so, we become bitter, jealous, and depressed women.  Now if you actually enjoy being bitter and depressed, you just go right on concentrating on what’s wrong in your life.  However, there is a better way to live.  God recommends it in the Bible.  It’s called being thankful for what you do have.  1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances“.  This means disciplining your mind to focus on what is good and right and beautiful. God puts it this way in Philippians 4:8 “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.”

Do you have shelter and plenty of food to eat each day?  Wow! You’re in the top 10% of the entire world!  Do you have someone in your life (husband, mother, friend, child) who loves you?  Wonderful!  Do your legs and hands work?  Can you see, hear, and taste?  Thank God for the health that not everyone enjoys.  Has God made himself known to you and drawn your heart to him?  Awesome!  That means he thinks you’re special and he decided before the beginning of the world to select you to adopt as his child!

Yes, there is a time to grieve losses in our lives.  But we can’t stay camped out there!  Let’s make a concerted effort to focus our minds on being thankful.  Little by little, you may find your joy returning, even during hard times.

** or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

How to become a confident wife

Do you lack confidence in handling disrespectful or sinful behavior by your husband (or boyfriend)?  If so, there are some common reasons.  Perhaps you avoid conflict because you grew up in a home filled with rage and verbal abuse.  Maybe you’re so insecure about your own worth that you can’t stand up for yourself if your husband is treating your poorly.  However, you need to recognize this truth.  If you remain insecure and scared of confrontation, it’s likely nothing will ever change in your marriage.  You’ll keep getting what you’re getting right now.

There is a solution.  First, ask God to give you courage to confront any sinful behavior in your marriage.  He will be glad to answer that prayer! Throughout the Bible, God continually tells his people to be strong and courageous.  In fact in Joshua 1:9, God says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Helpful hint:  When I need courage, I ask God’s Holy Spirit to be the one who actually does the confrontation.  I ask Him to simply use me as his mouthpiece.

If insecurity is the issue for you, then ask God to reveal your true worth and identity in His eyes.  Meditating on what God says in Zephaniah 3:17 is a good place to start.  He says, “The Lord your God is with you.  He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you.  He will quiet you with His love.  He will rejoice over you with singing.”  In addition, take a moment to close your eyes and ask God to speak one word into your mind about how He views you.  You will likely be amazed at the loving, encouraging word He has for you.  You may hear the word “beautiful” or “chosen” or “adorable” or “strong”….

Take authority against the devil

We have an enemy.  1 Peter 5:8 says “Be alert and sober-minded. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  The devil and his demons are looking for ways to destroy your marriage, destroy you, destroy your husband and destroy your children.  However, there is good news if you have asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior!  In 1 John 4:4, God says “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”   We just need to take authority against the enemy.  So often, we forget to do that!

Ladies, we have a critical role to play in spiritual warfare.  One of the first things we need to do is be alert to those moments when the devil is goading us to be critical, rude, grouchy or disrespectful to others.  Don’t take the bait!!  Realize the enemy wants to destroy your relationships!  In those moments, I picture the devil is sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear all his vile temptations for me to give in to my temper or toxic resentment.  Then I literally take my hand and (pretend) knock him off my shoulder with a loud shout of “BAM”!! 

If you’re married, a second thing you need to do is to pray EVERY DAY for God to protect your husband, to purify your husband’s heart, to give your husband boldness to take a stand for the Lord.   You also need to take a stand against the enemy….every day.  Jesus makes it clear that we do get to take authority in the invisible, spiritual realm.  Jesus tells his followers in Luke 10:19, “I give you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”   So, in Jesus’ name, command all evil spirits to leave your husband, your children, your home, and yourself.  Then, ask God to fill you and your loved ones each day with His Holy Spirit.  

Let’s all agree to take bold authority against the enemy, and let’s commit to doing this on a daily basis.

** or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

Defeating the demon of insecurity

Virtually every woman wrestles with the persistent and often debilitating problem called insecurity.  It can start so early in life as a 5 or 6 year old girl hears the neighbor girl described as beautiful, while nothing at all is said about her.  It can develop when other kids easily bring home straight A’s in middle school, but you struggle to maintain a B average.  It can suck the life out of you when no one asks you to the sophomore dance or senior prom, and you start telling yourself that you’re ugly and no one wants you.

What I’ve learned over the years is that the enemy is often the one whispering discouragement and ugly lies into our minds and we end up quietly repeating those lies over and over again until we sink into a pit of despair!  Enough of that!

We can begin to defeat the demon of insecurity when we start coaching our souls with the truth.  The truth is found in the Bible and what God says about us.  Did you know in Romans 9:25, God says “Her who was not beloved, I will call beloved”?  Wow!  That rocks my boat!  How about you? God says you are his beloved.  That word is a healing balm to my wounded heart.  That word “beloved” means God cherishes me and dearly loves me.  Yes!!  I needed to hear that.

God also tells us in Hebrews 13:5 that “I will never leave you nor forsake you”.  That means that no matter what crazy or oppressive circumstance I’m in, God will never leave my side. He is with me through all struggles and trials.  Yes!  I needed to hear that too!

Don’t listen to the voice of the enemy, and for heaven’s sake, don’t repeat his lies! Start coaching your soul with truth from God’s Word.  That’s when you’ll triumph over the devil’s plans to oppress you and begin to truly flourish as a woman of confidence!

** or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

Your signature temptation

About 25 years ago, I heard a line in a sermon that will always stick with me.  The pastor said we all have a “signature sin”…a sin that has our name written all over it!  Do you have a signature sin or temptation?  Is there one particular thing that trips you up all the time?  Yes, that’s what I thought.  And I’m sure Satan laughs his butt off every time you and I give into that temptation.

Well, we all might have a signature sin or a specific temptation that seems insurmountable, but Satan doesn’t get the last laugh!  Jesus promises to provide a way out of every temptation.  I just need to ask Him to give me eyes to see the avenue of escape and for Him to give me the strength to turn from my old patterns and take that escape exit.  1 Corinthians 10:13 says “…God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

I’ve learned that the first step in overcoming that signature sin in my life is this: discovering the lie I’ve believed!  For me, the “way out” of temptation to eat the wrong food is uncovering the ridiculous lie I’ve believed about food.  God is showing me that I have somehow been deluded into thinking that eating a boatload of sugary treats and a ton of french fries would make me feel better!  That’s a lie.  The truth is that eating healthy will make me feel better, so that’s what I’ve been choosing to do for the last 8 years.  And you know what?  I feel great…physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Do you keep repeatedly falling into the same temptation because you’ve believed a lie?  It’s food for thought (pardon the pun!).