When Your Greatest Weakness is Strength

When Your Greatest Weakness is Strength

I couldn't stop looking at his ankles. Scrutinizing. Wondering if they were slightly bigger or slightly smaller. Was the edema coming back with a vengeance like it did in January? Were his protein levels elevated? Or was this because of something else? Because, we are finding, autoimmune diseases can be quite the puzzle. We began going over everything: exercise, nutrition, weight, water intake. And with everything, I kept scrutinizing. Wondering. Looking.

Stressing.

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Marriage Meltdown: Busyness (Part 1)

Marriage Meltdown: Busyness (Part 1)

Busyness kills relationships. Why? Because real relationships take time, effort, and energy. If we are constantly busy and on the go, we won’t be able to give each other or our marriage what it needs.

We will be too tired. Amen?

After an exceptionally busy weekend, Craig and I started talking about what motivates both of us to get (and stay) busy. This is where we start. If we don’t know the heart behind our choices, our behavioral changes won’t stick.

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8 Habits Worth Cultivating if You’re Stretched Too Thin

8 Habits Worth Cultivating if You’re Stretched Too Thin

Living life in this world can be brutal. There are days when every time I turn around, there is a new crisis—in my life, in my community, or in my world (and sometimes all three simultaneously). But the truth is, even on a day where there is no major catastrophe or unwanted surprise, life has the potential to be overwhelming. Work, chores, kids, spouse, friends, and volunteer work all clamor for my attention, shouting “Me first! Me first!” I bet you can relate, too. So how do we keep all this work, all this noise, and all these needs from pushing us over the edge? Here are my strategies:

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The Distractions of Anxiety and Self-Doubt

The Distractions of Anxiety and Self-Doubt

I love things to run smoothly. I like life to fit in the tiny boxes on my calendar, for schedule activities to always take "x" amount of time, and for the weather to cooperate with my plans.

I love meeting agendas, productivity, grocery lists where things don't get left off. I love it when people respond to my emails in timely manners and when I don't forget to do the same.

I love order. I abhor chaos. I love calm and I don't function well in a frenzy.

I know many of you who are just like me and many of you who are not. But no matter how you're built, no matter what your personality leans towards, I think we all long for peace—a deep inner peace that is not contingent on the outside circumstances. A peace that is so embedded in us that we function like a mighty oak in a storm. Our leaves and branches will for sure sway, but our trunk, our foundation, is so deeply planted that we will never forget who we are and Whose we are.

I've been working hard with Jesus lately to practice this rooted way of living. My deepest desire is that when people interact with me I will no longer be the whirlwind of things to do, errands to run, and a plethora of needs and wants on my mind. I want to exude the same kind of atmosphere that my living room does—fresh, inviting, cozy, and safe.

If I'm continually distracted from what God has asked me to do, if I'm filling my life with tasks because I'm trying to prove worth, and if my state of mind is contingent on things going exactly as planned, I will not be safe. I will not be fresh. I will not be inviting. 

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Why Surrender Doesn't Mean Giving Up the Battle

Surrender is hard.

Surrender is especially hard when you're a type-A emotional caregiver who struggles with anxiety. Hello, perfect storm.

I want to fix everything. I want people to be happy and healthy and free. My first instinct is to evaluate and plan. I find solutions, present them, and cajole the person into using them. And then I'm disappointed when they don't. I get frustrated, angry, and resentful. When they continue to struggle, I say in my head, "If you'd only listen to me!"

Please tell me I'm not the only one who thinks this way.

Ironically, when I'm in fix-it mode, trying to promote Healthy! Happy! Free!, I find myself feeling unhealthy, unhappy, and chained. I've found that the harder I try to bring about change in people with my own solutions, the more I find myself drowning in the fear of the problem at hand. I become antsy and restless, my mind spinning with more ideas, more "what-ifs," and a cascading list of new problems that might crop up because this one is still unresolved.

Praise the Lord there are some problems we can take care of with ease, but those issues that we find in others—the ones that rub us the wrong way, the ones that induce fear, the ones that seem to threaten our security—those are the ones that require surrender. Those are the ones where our solutions won't stick, where when we begin to talk to our spouse about the issue, we are met with silence, a blank "smile and nod," or empty promises.

Why? Because the problem requires their surrender, too. We can't make anyone raise their own white flag. 

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Give Grace: When Your Spouse Isn't Exactly Who You Thought

This week, we are continuing this theme of giving grace when confronted with unrealistic expectations, but coming from a slightly different angle. What do you do when your spouse ends up being different than you expected? Here, we tackle the gambit—what to do when they fart more than you think they should all the way to addressing an addiction.

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The Weapon of Self-Care (and how it can slay Anxiety)

The Weapon of Self-Care (and how it can slay Anxiety)

There are many benefits for all of us in the practicing of self-care in order to reduce the symptoms of anxiety: breathing, mindfulness, prayer, slowing down, exercise, and accepting comfort from God and others. And it is often hard for many of us to do these things because of how society tells us we should operate (push harder, go further, work longer, be better).

For others of us, though, practicing self-care is critical to uprooting the very cause of our anxiety. It's not just about mitigating the symptoms. It's a crucial key to solving the problem. And because of this, it may be even harder for us to practice it.

You, Emotional Caretaker. I'm talking to you. (And me, or course.)

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Because Who Wants to Feel Like They're Dying? (Tips on making it through a panic attack)

Because Who Wants to Feel Like They're Dying? (Tips on making it through a panic attack)

I was dying. 

At least, it felt like it. It was a normal day. One moment I was just fine and then suddenly, I wasn’t.  I remember feeling completely out of control.  My chest was tight, my heart was beating furiously, my breathing was really labored, and my brain was struggling to figure out what in the hell was going on.  My boss noticed that something was not right and walked over to check on me.  I remember telling him that I wasn’t sure, but I needed to leave.  Not only did he agree, he put me in his truck and drove me home.  When I got home, I immediately went to bed.  Though it wasn't a heart attack, this was the first in a series of panic attacks that would plague me for almost three years.  I was in the grips of anxiety. 

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Giving Grace: When Your Spouse has Anxiety

Email subscribers click here to see our video about dealing with anxiety in your marriage.

Not sure if you suffer from situational anxiety or if you have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)? Click here for info.

We wanted to provide you with some questions you and your spouse can discuss as you navigate together to health and learn how to manage anxiety. There is a "conversation starter" question for each of the strategies we've given in the video.

Question 1: What are some of the things that trigger your anxiety?

(Note: Sometimes anxiety seems to come on even when things seem calm. If this happens to you, be sure to let your partner know. Anxiety often lurks in our subconscious and rears it's head when we least expect it. It can be hard to explain why it's happening in the moment and we have a hard time making sense of it.)

If you'd like some more info on the difference between triggers and causes, I found a short article here.

Question 2: When you're experiencing anxiety, what are some of the ways your spouse can comfort you?

Helpful resources here , here and here.

Question 3: How have you seen growth in your emotional well-being? What further steps do you feel like you may need to take? What steps does your spouse see might be beneficial?

Prayer is always powerful. Here's a prayer card you can pray for yourself and for your spouse.

3 Ways to Steward Money Well (without being a control freak)

3 Ways to Steward Money Well (without being a control freak)

Organization, clean lines, matching baskets, tidy boxes—these things bring me great joy. 

Every paycheck, with a click of the "record pay" button in my budgeting software, the entire amount gets distributed across rows and rows of envelopes.

The dollars assume their positions. I know what I can spend and where. It's nice and orderly and the money obeys the boundaries I set for it.

But because it is the way life happens (two kids in braces at the same time???), my envelopes are hardly ever overflowing with money. In fact, it seems, more often than I would like, the needs are overflowing. And when the incoming needs outpace the outgoing amounts of money, my sense of orderliness and calm flies out the door and, in my anxiety, I invite in chaos.

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This is Us, Advent, and Marriage

This is Us, Advent, and Marriage

Did you see last night's episode of This is Us? Craig and I were bawling! After some reflecting, I realized what powerful implications the ideas in this episode have for our marriages—and (how fun is this!) our search for light.

(I don't think I'm giving too much away in this post, but feel free to save this post and come back to it AFTER you've watched it so you can be sure I haven't ruined anything.)

We knew before last night that Rebecca knew Randall's biological dad. This week, Randall finds out, too. He feels how you would expect him to feel: angry, hurt, betrayed, bereft. During the show, he starts talking to his dad (we know his dad is deceased, so to find out how he starts talking to him, you'll have to watch). At one point, Randall flashes back to his childhood. Even though the particular memory that plays out through a window in the cabin is filled with joy and love, all Randall can see is his mother's betrayal. The pain of his mother secret overrides and overshadows everything.

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