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Dream Big!

I am a dreamer.  I’m not talking my crazy pregnancy dreams (there are plenty of those I could share with you at some point!)  But, I am a dreamer in the sense that I have high hopes and goals for the future.  As we serve here in Haiti, I have dreams of seeing lives changed and hearts of children given to the Lord as the gospel is proclaimed.

I dream big for my family, Trey, Colby, and I.  As well as our siblings and parents.  I dream about God’s plans for my life as His daughter.  I dream about one day writing a book…who knows?  I dream about where our lives may be 5 years from now.  This dreaming is not wishing away the here and now, but simply an inner excitement of what is to come.

As much excitement that fills my heart over my dreams I have for this lifetime, these dreams are small in comparison to the dreams I have for what is to come when our Lord returns for His children!

I was introduced to the song, In the End, by Natalie Grant yesterday.  I cannot get enough of it!  Although I gave up my dreams of ever being a professional singer (or even doing solos in church) a long time ago, I can still belt it out in the comforts of my home.

Check it out:

 

Keep dreaming and keep living, and don’t lose heart, we indeed will win in the end!  Enter into your weekend dancing and singing with this special truth!

Click here for In the End lyrics.

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The Anxious Heart

It has been one week since my last post, there are many “reasons” I can give for this delay.  But, the truth would be, I have been anxious about writing a post about practically dealing with anxiety.  Now how crazy can I get?  Let me explain.

My anxious thoughts concerning this post have been all over the board.  First, what if I desire to share practical ways to deal with an anxious heart and I end up saying something that is incorrect?  Am I a hypocrite to talk about fighting an anxious heart when that is something I battle almost daily?  What if no one else really cares about this subject and I end up just spinning my wheels and look like a crazy person as a result?  Are you catching my drift…

Before I say another word, let’s make sure our definitions of anxiety are the same.  Distress or uneasiness of mind is a way one dictionary described anxiety.  Some synonyms include:  fear, worry, disquiet…

For this post, let’s label anxiety as “those times when our hearts feel unsettled, our minds wander into the unknown, and a sense of uneasiness is experienced.”  I think it’s safe to say we have all dealt with anxiety at one point or another.  So, without further “anxiety” over this post, here are some practical particulars…

1.  Be in the Word-  Please do not allow this to sound cliché.  When a certain issue is on your heart, and you find yourself DAILY in the Word seeking after the face of the Lord, you will be amazed at how He uses the truths in Scripture to speak directly to your situation.  Point in case – “Anxiety” has been on my mind over the past week.  Friday morning, several of the ladies began a Bible Study here at the mission by Jennifer Rothschild, Finger Prints of God.

This entire first week of study have walked through how loved and adored we are by our creator!  His eyes are on His children and He cares for us!  We are the only thing in creation He fashioned with HIS hands.  Psalm 139, we see the Lord knows exactly where we are, He goes before us and stays behind us.  Day after day as I spent time in His word this week I could not help but think, “If I am reading these truths, I know I am chosen and seen by Him, how in the world can I be anxious?”

Enter into His word with a burden and a desire to see Him because He delights to meet with you!

2. Check your Company- Have you ever heard the term “Debby Downer” or “Negative Nancy”?  We all have these special personalities in our lives in one way or another.  If anxiety is an issue for you, check your company.  Are those you are with constantly pointing out the negative, or an encouraging word never flows from their mouth?  After a while, this company and defeated talk can wear on you.  Make an effort to surround yourself with the Positive Personalities, and while your at it, check yourself, are you a Negative Nancy for someone today?

3.  Know your Weaknesses & Seek Accountability-  True confession:  when I have too much “alone time” the anxious thoughts begin to flow!  My dear sweet husband has learned this about me.  He often jokes and says “2 hrs. of alone time is all you need, any more can become dangerous.”  While this is slightly exaggerated, the truth remains, I am prone to anxious thoughts when I am alone for too long.  What about you?  Be honest with yourself about your areas of weakness and ask your spouse or close friend to help you when they see you begin to slip. 

4.  Breathe & Abide- John 15, Jesus is speaking with His disciples about the importance of abiding in Him.  It is at this point I often wonder what I must do to “abide.”  When the reality is, the True Vine (Christ) is the giver of life.  It is His life that flows through us, we are simply the small branch and our job is to stay connected with Him and He will supply all we need.  (For more on this topic and others check out, Comforts from the Cross, Elyse M. Fitzpatrick.) In the midst of the practical of fighting anxiety, don’t miss the comforts of abiding in Him for all you need, rest in Him.

5.  Give Thanks- Lastly, as you seek to put off an anxious heart, you must put on a heart of Thankfulness.  If not immediately replaced by a heart of Thanksgiving, an opening remains for the anxiety to return.  Set your mind on things to be thankful.  When you are thankful, don’t hesitate to share out loud that thankfulness with others.  Be intentional on this hunt for thanksgiving, you will not be disappointed!  Author & Blogger, Ann Voskamp, has played an instrumental role in helping practically practice a heart of thankfulness.

These are but a few ways I have been practically combatting the battle of anxiety.  What about you?  What helps you when your heart becomes unsettled?

 

 

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Practical Particulars

I have mentioned this several times in previous posts, but I will say it again, a majority of the topics I choose to write about on this blog are not areas in my life I have mastered.  If anything they are pieces of my life the Lord is bringing to my attention, and as I work through them, I am encouraged by sharing them with you.   I am definitely an external thinker, as most of you already realize!

Often a blog post is simply me acknowledging a weakness while trusting there is a light at the end of the tunnel and choosing to push forward, all the while praying my transparency would push you towards our Heavenly Father.  A few posts ago, I wrote about watching the Sandra Bullock film, Gravity.  In a nutshell, from this film, I was reminded of how critical it is to realize I am not in control, I need to trust my God who is in control, and hold on tight on this “lightning speed” journey of life.  My sweet hubs, aka: blog editor & biggest fan, asked a simple yet stunning question after he read the Gravity post.

“I really enjoyed your blog Chelsea, but how do you plan to do what you wrote about on a practical level?”

What?!  I must be honest it took me a minute to know how to respond to this simple, yet direct question.  My flesh wanted to react and say didn’t you read the blog?!  All I need to do is not be anxious and trust Jesus…

Thankfully, I was able to hear his words for what they were, not criticism, but words seasoned with love and a desire to watch the Lord take me to the next step on my journey with Him.

Over the past several days Trey’s words have been playing over and over in my mind.  What is my practical approach to living a life that trusts the Lord instead of falling into anxious thoughts or discontentment?  How am I supposed to “enjoy the ride” and lean on Christ each step of the way?  These phrases are great to say, but what does this look like on a practical level?  As I studied Biblical Counseling, at Boyce College in Louisville, KY,  there was a phrase we were taught to apply to every counseling case we studied.  Our role as the counselor was to help our brother/sister…

Push Past the Platitudes to Practical Particulars.

In short, it is critical to push past the surface of a struggle.  Worried about an upcoming event?  Pray about it.  Anxious about a difficult family situation?  Trust Jesus.  These are what some may call “Sunday School” answers that Christians often give to others as advice.  While these two answers are correct in and of themselves, what does this look like on a practical nitty gritty every day living level?

As a result of Trey’s question, I have found myself pushing past the platitudes and creating practical particulars to help daily enjoy the gift of life and trust completely in the Lord, no matter how “lightning speed” or even “slow motion” it my seem.  Throughout the next few posts I would like to share with you some of the Practical Particulars I am implementing in different areas of my life.

These practical particulars will focus on a variety of topics such as: Bible Study, Health & Fitness, Marriage, Battling Discontentment, Anxious Thoughts, and more.

The Lord has truly given us all we need for a life of godliness!  Let’s not miss it.  Different seasons bring different ways to practically practice the truths of Scripture.  I look forward to sharing my journey of practical particulars with you, with high hopes you too will be challenged to push past the platitudes (surface answers) and grow deeper in your daily walk with the Lord.

Coming Soon:  Practical Particulars in the Battle Field of Anxious Thoughts

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Luggage, Escalators, and Tiny Stalls…

As I write this blog, I am pleased to announce, I am sitting on our couch in Haiti with Trey as our dog Creole sleeps on the floor and our boy Colby kicks me from the inside out.  It is good to be home!  3:15pm yesterday afternoon my heart danced as I saw my husband waiting outside the airport for me in the musty Port-au-Prince heat.  The arrival was worth it, and the journey was definitely memorable.

Although I have yet to see my son face to face, he has already changed my life forever!  Airport travels are a small picture of all the ways this little man is making a big impact.  I arrived at the Atlanta airport with 2 VERY LAGE and VERY FULL army duffel bags filled with baby items.  In tow was my “carry on” suitcase with all of my clothes and Colby’s clothes in vacuum sucked bags weighing in at at least 35 lbs.  Balanced on my “carry on” was my “purse”, a teachers tote which carried a laptop, i-pad, camera, Bible, and other “lightweight” items that could not fit in the suitcases.  Oh, and one more thing, I also had a car seat  with me to carry onto the plane, even though my baby is still in my belly.  I think you can say, I might have been a sight to behold.

Trey flew into Haiti last weekend packed to the brim as well, I knew my time was coming to carry my load, and I’ll admit I was pretty anxious.  But, as this 7 month, too many bags, slightly emotional “momma to be” made her way through the airports yesterday I saw and experienced many things.

As I ventured through the airport, it was pretty clear to others I had a need.  No, I did not sit in the corner and cry and wait for somebody to come and help me.  Neither did I run after every passerby ready to tell every detail of my story to them in hopes that they would provide me with some assistance.  Instead, I simply took one step at a time, sometimes slightly nervous, but always keeping my eyes open to how the Lord was going to get me through the airport.

At every turn He provided a way.  Upon arrival, my two large checked bags were slightly over weight, the checker did not say a word and I was given the go ahead to proceed to security.  Security check, workers actually placed my bags onto the belt to be scanned!  I was not rushed or hurried in the least, if you have done any traveling you know this simply does not happen!

Immediately after security I was faced with an escalator ride leading to a tram to get to my gate.  Even on a good day balancing myself and bags on an escalator is a sight to be hold.  As I approached the escalator a kind man and his wife asked if they could help me with my things in order to get down the escalator…yes please!  Have you ever tried to place an oversized belly, carseat, and two carry ons into a tiny airport bathroom stall?

If not, I advise you, do not try to!  However, a pregnant woman has gotta go when she’s gotta go!  I was blessed to meet several members of a mission team from Indiana who gladly watched my bags for me as I did a quick bathroom run before boarding.  This same group would later locate my car seat in the crazy baggage claim scene in Haiti.

After getting my bags and having assistance loading them onto my cart, not only was I unable to see over the cart, I was unable to even push the cart through the crowd.  Not to worry, a sweet Haitian man at the airport helped me get my bags outside and meet up with Trey, and no other “help” even tried to push in the way.  Once again, this simply does not happen on most occassions when entering Haiti.  I could go on and on with all the ways the Lord provided throughout my travels.

EVERY STEP of the way He had prepared.  Was it difficult at times?  YES!  Was I anxious at moments?  YES!  Were there times I wanted to stop in my steps and ask “why me”?  YES!  Yet, each step of the way He had cleared and made a path for me.

What a simple picture of what He desires to do in all aspects of our lives.  We each have our own unique, “7 months pregnant, way too much luggage, traveling international…” moments.  Look for ways the Lord is desiring to make himself known to you in the midst of your difficulties.  Take your time, breathe deep, look to Him, and be amazed.  You are NEVER alone.

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Gravity

A few nights ago I sat in the movie theater, 3D glasses and all, and watched Sandra Bullock on the big screen in her new movie, Gravity.  I must confess, I am not a fan of any movie that has to do with Space.  BUT, I love Sandra Bullock, movies that are not rated R, and any opportunity to sit in a theater and eat Raisenettes, hence, the selection of Gravity.  I will not say Gravity is my new favorite movie and has changed my life forever, but for the 2+ hours I sat in the theater, I was surprisingly entertained. As I watched Bullock be flung throughout outerspace and as I too dodged the 3D objects flying at my face throughout the film, I found myself holding my breath quite a bit wondering what was going to happen next!

After a series of intense struggle and difficulty, Bullock finds herself alone, trapped inside a small spacecraft hurtling towards Earth.  It is in this moment she begins to give herself a bit of a “pep talk.”

“In the next 10 minutes, I will either land on earth or I will blow up.” Said Bullock.

Note:  To all you movie goers. I promise I am not ruining the movie for you by sharing this small scene.

Not every day, but some days, I feel like I am Sandra Bullock being flung towards the Earth in lightning speed.  How have we found ourselves in situations that are simply out of our control?  Notice, I did not say out of control, but simply out of OUR control.  Do you ever feel like you are being hurled through life at lightning speed?  These past several months of pregnancy, working in Haiti, and travel to the U.S. have been out of my control.

In less than 8 weeks, our baby boy is expected to make his big arrival!  This is quick lightning speed!

Trey and I are going to be parents, and we are just now adjusting to the idea we are pregnant!  Quick lightning speed!

This weekend I will return to Haiti!  Quick lightning speed!

Almost 1 month of visits in the U.S. are coming to an end and there are so many more people I wish I could have seen!  Quick lightning speed!

What about you?  Where are you descending to in lightning speed today?  What are you grabbing towards, only to realize everything is out of YOUR control?  What do you wish would ‘slow down’ and give you just a minute to catch your breath and get a handle on things?

A few moments into Bullocks lightning speed descent, with eyes closed tight, she began to smile.  Seconds later, laughter came, and before you knew it she had accepted all her control was gone, she would enjoy the ride that Gravity had for her.

It was in that scene I too began to smile, as I thought about the lightning speed changes that are out of my current control, my heart swelled with satisfaction that I have something FAR better than Gravity in control of my decent.

The King of the Universe, my Heavenly Father, the Creator Himself has complete control on me!  This crazy speed, wish I had more time, everything out of my control lifestyle is not one that should lead to anxiety, but instead it should be enjoyed!  I may worry, shed a few tears, or have a few restless nights, all to no avail.  I find myself at a crossroads today…

Do I choose the anxious heart?  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phil. 4:6)

Or, do I smile at what is to come?  She is clothed with strength and dignity;  she can laugh at the days to come. (Proverbs 31:25)

The answer is clear, but the follow through is difficult.  Praise the Lord we are not flying at lightning speed with only gravity to decide our future.  Our Creator is at work, my needs and concerns are near and dear to His heart, it is for this reason alone I find myself with a smile on my face “laughing” at the days to come!  Will you join me?

Thankful for a day spent with my niece Annabel yesterday.  Her closed eyes and sweet smile in the picture above are the perfect example of what it should look like as we smile at those “out of our control” moments!

 

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