Live with Courage

  • On repeat.
  • Stream of consciousness for today: I flew on a plane. I survived flying on a plane. I had little issues flying on a plane (except for probably a ruptured eardrum, but that's another story). I can fly on another plane. I CAN GO BACK TO PARIS. And spend my day walking through this charming street market and come home with every kind of cheese and these perfect little grapes. Today is a good day.
  • I'm showing my age here, but remember playing records on your record machine? If you're not old enough to remember, just google it;) My first record was a Mickey Mouse exercise routine. Anyone surprised by this? Ha!
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Anyhoo, you place the record onto the machine and drop the needle into a groove to get it playing. And as long as the needle stays in that groove, the record plays on. Unless...your brother is playing football in the house and his aim is off and his ball knocks the needle off the record. The needle scratches and the song is over.
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My brain is like that when I am struggling with anxiety.
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It's stuck in a groove and I need a needle scratch.
So I've got to trick my brain to think in a new groove. To do that, I start pointing out obvious things around me.
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The carpet is blue.
The sun is shining.
My shirt is wrinkled.
We are out of milk.
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However many basic and obvious things I've got to point out until my thoughts settle, I keep doing it.
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But I don't stop there.
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Then I open my Bible and start filling my brain with verses that settle my heart. It's a new groove pattern and it works to calm my breathing and shift my focus on Him, instead of my anxious thoughts.
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Someone mentioned a comment in an earlier post this week about listening to music also. What are some of your favorite songs to listen to when you are anxious?
  • The customer rang the bell from behind the counter. I hustled to the front from the back of the bakery. The manager had taken off that afternoon and I was the only one in the little sweet shop. Expecting to help the customer choose a cookie or a cupcake for an afternoon treat, I was shocked when she asked for her daughter’s birthday cake.
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We had no birthday cakes that were decorated and ready to go in the freezer in the back. I checked again, just to be sure. No. No decorated birthday cakes. I apologized profusely to the mother while my brain furiously tried to come up with a suitable solution. The bakery’s owner had forgotten to decorate the cake.
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I was the cookie baker. This was my role. Arrive early. Cream the butter, sugar, and eggs. Add flour and seasonings. Roll, cut, spoon the cookies onto the baking sheet and into the oven they go. And repeat. Newbie baker that I was, I had not graduated to the cake-decorating role as of yet. But the frazzled mother was standing in the bakery on her way to Sayer’s fourth birthday party. I could not let her leave empty-handed.
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Twenty minutes later, I emerged from the back, covered in powdered sugar and pink icing. Sayer would have her birthday cake. That was the day I learned that I had a bit of talent in the cake-decorating arena.
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Sometimes, we are prepared for the unknown and sometimes we are thrust into it blindly. Either way, we would be wise to recognize when it’s our turn to take the lead. If we’re listening, God will tell us when it’s time.
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With God’s guidance, we must chart our own course. You must be solely and exactly who God designed you to be, and not someone else. God has designed and equipped you to do a very specific job at a very specific time in a very specific place.
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Chin up if you are facing a new task today. I'm rooting for you, always.
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#readystudy
  • On my mind this morning:
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If we’re waiting for things to be perfect, we might miss out on the things that would bring us the most joy today. How many times have I wasted an opportunity for blessing because I was unwilling to deal with imperfection? Having an incurable genetic disorder has taught me that I can’t afford the luxury of waiting for all the pieces to fit perfectly. I live in the broken and life is *still* precious. The world will move right along and we might miss the sweetest parts of what's before us if we aren’t willing to get our hands dirty.
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Every day, you and I wake up with things that are broken, imperfect, and ugly. If we trust Him, God promises to transform it all. He’s not just working on the broken things around us, He’s also working on the broken things in our hearts. Day after day, baby step after baby step, one divine brush stroke after another, He is redeeming and refining every detail of our story, until the day when we’ll stand perfect in His presence.
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Take the risk this week. Say the prayers. Step into the broken. Give all your imperfect things to God and trust Him to work. He wants to bring you joy.
  • I’ve often read through the four Gospels, arriving at John’s account of Jesus’ life and ministry and feeling like I had landed on foreign soil. There is a heaviness to it, a profound way of thinking about the magnitude of who Jesus is, one that you encounter in the very first verses of John.
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Tozer describes it this way:
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“Any man or woman really sensitive to divine Truth discovers there is truly a kind of spiritual suffocation often felt in the attempt to wrestle with the opening verses of the gospel of John, or with the opening verses of Genesis, for that matter. No man is really big enough and adequate in his own faith and experience to try to expound for others these key Bible passages.”
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I typically wade through John 1:1-18 and stop there. Then I start over and repeat the process until my soul is satisfied with the awareness that there is a mystery to Jesus about which my frail human mind will never fully understand. He was not merely fully human and fully God, teacher, friend of sinners, rescuer, Savior, and determined pursuer of my soul. He was the Word made flesh. Constant from the beginning and the source of life for all. It’s with this awareness that John wants you to absorb his account of Jesus’ life.
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If you find yourself wrestling with what you read in the Bible, sit with it. Don’t fear what is difficult to comprehend. Remind yourself that Scripture tells the story of a Savior who has dominion over your life because He has dominion over all of creation. Let it be a comfort to rest in this truth.
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Where we are not, Jesus is. What we are not, Jesus is. Who we are not, Jesus is. For today and everyday, this is enough.
  • Here are three quick steps I use to press pause on anxious thoughts:
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Step 1: Find a new groove. Trick your brain into thinking about something else by pointing out obvious things (the carpet is blue, my shirt is wrinkled, we are out of milk...)
Step 2: Read the Bible.
Step 3: Breathe deeply. I trust you, Jesus.
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I repeat that process as many times as I need to throughout the day. And for me...it works. I hope it does for you too.
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What tangible tips do you use to manage anxiety?
  • I hate flying.
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I hadn't done it since my carotid artery ruptured - not just because I'm afraid of flying. But also because my body is pretty wonky and I never know how it will react to new situations post-carotid surgery.
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But this time last week, I did it anyway. In the few hours before my flight left, I cried, I forgot things, I sweated buckets, and I ate half of a cheeseburger. Normal Heather would have eaten the whole darn thing.
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Facing our fears is tough. But God often calls me to places of fear to remind me I can trust Him to get me safely through it. Maybe your faith journey has been like that too.
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On the other end of that flight was a wonderfully sweet gathering with fellow Abingdon Women Bible study authors to collaborate and encourage one another on how to do women's ministry well. Know what we talked about? You.
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Because our goal is to serve you to the best of our abilities, to trust God where He is leading our ministries, and to follow Him without question. We showed up with tattered Bibles and generous hearts and we left with the keen awareness that God was on the move.
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👉Here's why I am sharing this with you today:
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Courage matters. Stepping outside of your comfort zone matters. Stepping into where God is leading you matters. Yes, it's hard and yes, I would rather stay under the covers than step foot on a plane.
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But you and I agreed a long time ago to live by faith, with courage, even when we don't like what's ahead of us. And maybe you're facing something that feels terrifying today too.
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Do it. 👊
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Do it knowing that God has gone before you and that you aren't alone. Do it knowing we'll high-five each other at the end of this day. Do it knowing that your life and your voice matters to this world because God has work for you to do.
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Put two feet on the floor today. And know that I'm rooting for you, always.
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PS - if you aren't following these amazing women already, you'll want to remedy that. They're tagged, go find em.