A Scar to Remind Me…

I diagnosed myself with skin cancer this Christmas.

And no, I do not have any medical training. Impressive, I know. It’s amazing what Google and I can accomplish when we put our heads together.

Ben is not allowing me to google anything health-related ever again, because I totally freaked myself out, begged my doctor to do a biopsy (he didn’t really think there was much to worry about), and of course it ended up being nothing.

But you know those nights when you’re home alone, and you stay up too late, and you read too much stuff on the computer, and all the pictures look exactly like what you have?

Has this ever happened to anyone else? Anyone?

This whole thing started back in November, and I’ve been stressing/trying not to stress about it since then, and it’s what brought on my sudden desire to get control over my thoughts.

I never realized how little control I had over the thoughts that fill my mind. Quite scary, actually.

So for the last month, I’ve been working and working and praying and memorizing scripture and working on it, and it all felt very similar to when you start lifting weights. Oh, those poor, weak, tired muscles. They do not want to co-operate. But after awhile, you can notice a bit of a change. What used to take so much effort starts getting a little bit easier.

My mind is still nowhere near where it needs to be, but we are getting somewhere. Ben actually expressed how impressed he was over how little I mentioned the situation over the last few weeks. My biopsy was done right before Christmas, and I had to get through all of the Christmas festivities while waiting for the results. I knew that I was extremely capable of completely ruining my Christmas by worrying and panicking and imagining worst-case scenarios, if I let myself.

So I got to work.  I did all that I could to stop my mind from going into “forbidden territory”.

And when the doctor gave me the results, and said everything was fine, the first thing that popped into my mind was this:

I am so thankful for all the time I did NOT spend worrying about this.

I wish I had not spent ANY time worrying, but that would be a stretch for a beginner. All in all, I feel kind of proud of myself for the progress I made. We will work hard, and carry on.

The verse I keep hanging onto continues to be,

Do not worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough worries of it’s own.

And I can handle what’s on the plate for today.

In her book, Loving God With All Your Mind, Elizabeth George writes about how that verse gives us God’s boundaries for our thoughts. That is all we are allowed to think about. Very simple, no grey areas with those boundaries. He made us, and so He knows what we can handle.

So although this last month has been a little tough to go through, I am so extremely thankful for it, because it has been extremely eye-opening, and a very effective wake-up call.

Know what my favorite thing is about this little episode, besides the fact that it all turned out fine? I’ve got a lovely scar in a very visible place that will forever remind me of this experience, and my desire to keep my thoughts on today.

My doctor was worried about an unnecessary scar, but I felt like it was completely necessary.

Embrace today, live it fully, and don’t allow your thoughts to wonder to tomorrow. I want to remember that forever. Bring on the scar.

If You’re Trying to Change a Habit…

As promised in my last blog post, I am here today to tell you about the little secret I’ve learned to living a worry-free life.

It’s actually not a “secret”, because I’ve heard it a million times before. I just didn’t fully understand what it was supposed to look like in real life. Thank goodness for Elizabeth George and her fantastic explanation which finally made things hit home for me.

She writes a lot about this verse:

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own. (Matthew 6:34 )

That verse has never been a comfort to me – each day has enough trouble of it’s own? It sounds like each day is so full of trouble that there will always be lots to worry about. I’ll be mentally busy for the rest of my life…

So I have always just ignored that verse, and worried about whatever I chose to worry about.

But what Elizabeth George writes about in her book, Loving God With All Your Mind, is that this is a command from God. All that we’re allowed to think about is today. He doesn’t want us filling our minds with worries and concerns about the future. He wants us to trust Him, and live today.

Do you know how many thoughts are eliminated by only thinking about today?

That means no thoughts about mistakes I’ve made in the past, and no thoughts about annoying things other people said or did. And it means no fears about the future, no concerns about things that haven’t even happened yet.

Obviously, it is necessary at times to plan for the future, and to be responsible in our preparation for the days to come.

But what I was doing a majority of the time could not be classified as necessary or responsible. On my first day of attempting to “only think about today”, I could not believe how many times I had to remind myself that I was mentally heading into forbidden territory.

“Oh, that’s dwelling on the past.”

“Oops… that’s worrying about the future.”

“Nope, that’s still worrying about the future!”

All day long, I was constantly reminding myself that my thoughts needed to stay on that day only.

And the strangest thing started to happen! I had so much “space” in my head that I hardly knew what to do with it. I had no idea what to think about all day. I could definitely see how it would be about twenty times easier to pray or memorize verses if I didn’t constantly have all that junk whirling around in my head.

For someone who doesn’t struggle with worry, that probably sounds really silly. How could it take me thirty-three years to figure that out? I guess we just get stuck in sinful habits, and for each of us, we have our areas of weakness that seem to get us every time.

So now what? It’s been a week since I started to give my “mind muscles” a workout. I can see how this will take some time to get used to. I’m getting better at recognizing what I’m doing, and seeing my thoughts for what they are. But I think it will be a while before this becomes natural or easy.

There are a couple of things that I keep thinking about:

1) Because it’s sinful to worry, and God commands me not to do it, I will be able to resist temptation, with His help.

2) The body naturally want to do what feels good for it. A while back, I shared this link to a message entitled “A Beautiful Mind”. The speaker talks about how our body begins to think, “Hey, this is a good choice. It makes me feel good. If I continue to repeat this action, I will feel good in the future.” And a new habit is born. Bad choices can feel good, in a different way than good choices do. If we continually focus on the good feeling that comes from good choices, our bodies will help us in the habits we are trying to form.

You know what? It feels so good to have less worry in my life! Who knew! Um, God did. (And Ben did, too! Man, I wish I could naturally be as calm and easy-going as he is!)

3) God created our bodies to function best without worry. Jesus tells us not to worry because He knows it’s best not to. It’s not just a friendly suggestion. It’s a command because He knows what’s best for our lives, and He knows that we were not created to carry that burden, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, or physically.

4) Changing a habit is hard, but I can do it for today! When I think about the thoughts that pertain to today, the load looks really light. I can carry the load for today! Changing the entire way I think sounds daunting, but…I only have to do it for today!

So maybe worry is not your area of weakness. But most of these thoughts could probably apply to any area that we struggle with.

What’s your area? What do you struggle with that’s sucking the peace out of your life, and making you feel worn out and defeated? I wish I could share of burst of energy and encouragement with you today! God knows! God cares!

We say those things in such a glib way sometimes, and yet that’s what it all comes down to. It’s what I base my life on.

Want to share? Any struggles and/or words of encouragement you want to pass on to the rest of us?

Killing the Worry Habit

Keeping my thoughts under control is the biggest struggle of my life. By far.

It’s such a slippery thing, because I can be going about my day, appearing for all the world as though I’m a completely normal person, capably living life, and yet inside I can be following thought patterns that are rapidly spiraling out of control.

For me, it’s worry and anxiety that have held me captive for many, many years.

Sheesh, that sounds dramatic. And yet recently, as God has been convicting, teaching, and enlightening me over the last few months, I’m thinking that words like “captive” are pretty accurate. I keep begging for freedom.

There are a few reasons why I have felt it is absolutely necessary for me to develop a healthier thought life:

1. Worry is sin. It doesn’t seem as sinful as some of the other things I could be doing, but I’ve been seeing that it is just as destructive for my life.

2. Worry is the root of most of my health issues. I’ve been told that the stomach holds the stress. I don’t have any kind of series illness, I just have a lot of issues with digestion, as well as tension throughout my body that is inhibiting me from function in a normal, relaxed way.

3. Worry is holding me back from where I want to be in my life. I want to be in a place of trust. I want my prayer life to grow. I want to be growing by leaps and bounds in my relationship with God. I want to be fully present in my life as a wife and mom. I want to be relaxed and happy.

I used to think that I would easily be able to stop worrying once my problems went away. I had legitimate reasons for feeling worried and anxious. Surely anyone would feel anxious if they found themselves dealing with the stuff I was dealing with.

Uh, hello. My life will never be free of problems. It would be much easier to deal with those same problems if I wasn’t mentally freaking out all the time. I make my problems about twenty times bigger than they actually are.

Absence of worry does not equal absence of problems. It just means absence of worrying. I will stop worrying when I stop worrying, not when I stop having problems.

Because if worrying is a sin, and Jesus commands us not to do it, that would mean that we are fully equipped to stop doing it RIGHT NOW.

Yes, please. I would like some of that.

How do you get it?

Which brings us to the fantastic book I promised to tell you about.

It is presently changing my life. That also sounds dramatic, but it’s true.

It’s called “Loving God With All Your Mind”, by Elizabeth George.

My sister gave it to me awhile back, and I started reading it, but I usually have about five books on the go, which means I don’t get anywhere fast. My goal is to finish one fantastic book before I delve into another one. After I finished “So Long, Insecurity”, by Beth Moore, it was time for Elizabeth George’s book to get a little love.

Oh, my word. If you struggle with worry, go get that book.

Funny thing is, my first impression was, “This is kind of basic. I know this stuff already.”

But I don’t. If I did, I wouldn’t be worrying about everything from morning until night.

It’s time for that to stop. I’m feeling motivated, convicted, challenged and inspired. So off we go.

It’s hard work. There’s a reason why they say, “Old habits die hard.” Yes, they do.

But I’m ready to dig in. And I’ll tell you all about it next time!

Right now I have an old habit to kill… And a fantastic book to read!

The Temperature of Our Home

Loved this quote from Emerging Mummy:

That these tiny ones mimic, that their hearts are settled when my heart is settled, when I spill love and patience they are filled, that I am – inexplicably, amazingly, sometimes frighteningly – the influence sweeping them with me, one moment a river of life and the next a rooted oak and the next withering for water still, ever needing just enough for today. And when I take the time to savor, they savor.

So true, right? Elizabeth George has written about how a mom is the thermostat of the home – she’s the one who controls the emotional temperature.

I needed this reminder to be more conscious about the temperature of our home.