My Word for October

At the beginning of 2017, bloggers all over declared their “Word for the Year”.  One word that they hope to define their year.

Words like…..Create.  Build.  Pursue.  Grow.  Lovely.  Simplify.

I’ve never really joined up with them in that aspect, though I did set a few specific goals for the year 2017.  Today, though, I’m joining them in my own way.

This word will not define my entire year.  It might be part of my life for longer than a month, but I am simply committing that THIS MONTH I will focus on growing in this ONE way.

My word for October?

STRENGTH.

On the surface, this word will be well-reflected by the fact that I’ve joined a 12-week Kickstart Challenge Group.  I and several other women are challenging ourselves in physical fitness–which includes both strength and cardio training as well as a focus on nutrition.

Below the surface, this word is one that I think I’ve needed for a long time.

Word for October. Strength.

I have never been what I consider a STRONG woman.  I have always been both physcially weak, and emotionally easy to hurt.  I feel pain quickly.  Walking through my second miscarriage recently, I’ve found myself wanting to spend more time than is appropriate lying on my couch.  I’ve had poor motivation for homemaking, fun, and all the other things that I used to have such a great passion for.  I simply feel weak–not in the sense of “Honey, can you open this for me?”–but in the sense of feeling overtaken by all that is going on around me and the inability to handle even the most basic of things.

The simple routines of dishes, laundry, meal planning, and making beds all just seem too much to handle on most days.  Physical fatigue follows my emotional weariness, and keeps me from chasing my boys in the back yard, or walking with them to the park, or even on some days cuddling them on the couch.

Last week I started TWO big things.  First, my kickstart group began and I exercised more than I ever have in my entire LIFE!  And second, I “attended” the Online Homemaking Conference by Jami Balmet’s Homemaking Ministries, and I just feel encouraged.  I feel hope.  I feel like I can be stronger than I was in July, August, or September.  Or maybe even stronger than EVER before.

As I spent the last few days catching up on more Bible reading than normal, I know where my strength is found.  My strength is found in the LORD.  He IS my strength.  Both physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

As I pursue STRENGTH this month in so many ways, I want to meditate on a few verses.  Verses that I can feed myself when I feel weak or weary.  Verses that build me into a stronger woman.  Not as the world views a strong woman, but as the STRONG woman that God designed me to be.  The woman who walks in the STRENGTH of the LORD.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones.

-Proverbs 3:7-8

Take-Away:  Be careful about pride.  In order to be strong, I must humble myself and turn from any sin in my life.  Things that I might consider ‘no big deal’.  God says that to depart from those things will be “health” and “strength” for me.

She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms.

-Proverbs 31:17

Take-Away:  The virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31 is not a naturally-strong woman.  She “girds herself with strength.”  She works hard to become strong!  We see elsewhere in the chapter that she does manual labor in the fields.  She is not a weak woman, and WORKS to build physical strength in her arms.

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.

-2 Corinthians 12:9b

Take-Away: God gives me GRACE when I am weak.  My weakness is a perfect opportunity to let HIS STRENGTH shine as I submit to HIS leadership and walk by the Spirit rather than my flesh.

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

-I Peter 5:10

Take-Away:  God doesn’t promise that my life will be pain free.  He DOES promise, though, to strengthen me afterwards.  I’m not doomed to a lifetime of weakness.  He is still working on me!

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So what about you?

Do you consider yourself to be a strong person?  Do you struggle with physical weakness?  Or perhaps you struggle with feeling emotionally or mentally weak?

Do you want to join me in pursuing STRENGTH this month?

Gym Selfie
Rachel 🙂

Finding Perfect Peace

You don’t have to look far to find someone who struggles with anxiety.  Maybe you know several people in your church who deal with anxiety.  Maybe it’s someone in your extended family, friends, or work group.  Maybe it’s even someone in your home.  Or perhaps you are like me, and you’ve struggled with anxiety yourself–at least to some extent.

Finding Perfect Peace

According to this article from Elements Behavioral Health, here are 8 “facts” about anxiety and anxiety disorders:

  1. It’s normal to worry or feel anxious about some things in life.
  2. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States.
  3. There are many types of anxiety disorders:
    • General anxiety disorder (GAD)
    • Panic disorder
    • Social anxiety disorder
    • Major depressive disorder
    • Phobic disorders
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
    • Separation anxiety disorder
  4. Women have double the risk for anxiety disorders than men do.
  5. Anxiety disorders are often accompanied by other related disorders.
  6. Anxiety can cause or exacerbate physical illnesses.
  7. Anxiety may be hereditary.  (“Many researchers and medical professionals also believe there’s such a thing as inherited anxiety, while others think it has more to do with learned behavior than genetics.”)
  8. Anxiety can be managed and treated effectively.
    • Talk therapy (psychotherapy)
    • Coping strategies
    • Medication
    • Alternative therapies such as yoga, meditation and acupuncture

So apparently, as you probably already knew, anxiety is pretty common.  But what about for Christians?  What does the Bible say about it?

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus.”

“Be anxious for nothing.”  That sounds like a command!  So even if “It’s normal to worry or feel anxious”, God is commanding us not to be anxious.  If you struggle with anxiety, you might be thinking, “Easier said than done!”  I get it, but the Word goes on to tell us what to do instead of being anxious.  (The world call this a “coping mechanism”.)

“In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”  Whenever you feel anxious, STOP letting those feelings go through your head.  Get on your knees, if possible, and dive into prayer.  Tell God about all of your anxieties and ask Him for a solution.  Make your requests to God, instead of just worrying about them!  THANK God for being there, for being powerful enough to handle whatever it is that is worrying you.  Say that phrase out loud.  “God, You are strong and powerful.  You can handle this.”  Keep saying that phrase, until you believe it–even if that leaves you saying it for years!

If we do this, the Scripture leaves us with a promise!  “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Wow!  Now, you might be a skeptic.  That’s okay!  God says that you can’t possibly understand this peace, or how this peace is even possible!  You won’t understand it!  Quit trying to rationalize or understand it before you obey God.  You’re not going to understand, but you can begin to believe it if you will obey.  You can believe it, because when you obey–when you take your requests to Him and offer thanksgiving to Him, regardless of how you are feeling–HE WILL ALWAYS FULFILL HIS PROMISE!  If you are faithful to obey, you will experience His peace!  That’s a promise!

Lest you think that this one paragraph is all you have to lean on in Scripture, it’s not.  The Bible gives hope for you all throughout it’s pages.  Now, I’m not going to pretend that there might not be physical or hormonal imbalances that are causing your anxiety.  However, I will still say that God has an answer!  He might help you through His Word AND medicine, or through leading you to change your habits or even by changing the very circumstances that you are in.  Or he could just change your heart to one that is less anxious.  He can do that!  And He will change your heart if you will follow, obey, and seek the things His Scripture says.

Not long before Jesus died, He told His followers, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give it to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  (John 14:27)  Jesus left us His peace!

Psalm 94:19 says, “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.”  When you are anxious, He can comfort you and be a delight to your soul!

Matthew 6:31-34 says, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek.  For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Do you often get caught up worrying and feeling anxious about tomorrow, or next week, or next year, or even 30 years from now?  When our minds focus on all that has to be done, or all that could possibly go wrong, it’s nearly impossible to find peace.  But when we seek FIRST the things of God’s kingdom, God will take care of us.  He knows our needs.  Let HIM be the One to worry about them.  You just focus on today.

Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You.  Because he trusts in You.”

Is your mind stayed on the Lord?  Stayed.  That word means exactly what it says!  If your mind STAYS on the Lord–and doesn’t wonder from circumstance to emotion to worry to fear–but truly STAYS focused on the Lord, thinking of Him all throughout the day, then God will keep you in PERFECT PEACE.

PERFECT peace?  Not just a little corner of peace or a moment of peace.  Perfect Peace.  He will keep you there.  In perfect peace.  Why?  Because you trust in God.  When you trust in God, you will have peace.

Is your mind stayed on the Lord?  If not, this is where you begin.  Not in life change, or in seeing doctors, or in taking supplements.  God might lead you down that road as you seek Him, but don’t start there.  Start with the Lord, and trust that He is powerful enough to handle anything–even your anxiety.  Trust Him.  When we are weak, He is strong.

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May your day find you in perfect peace, as your mind is stayed on the Lord!