Friday, October 29, 2010

Down in the Depths of my Heart

I've been so grateful for all the encouraging messages since I last posted.  What a wonderful place "blog land" really is, filled with incredible people who truly know how to reach out in friendship and caring to one another.   You really bless me!

So, some have been wondering how my journey is coming along.  On the weight loss front, things are going slowly but good.  I've been continuing every day with my walking and enjoying it tremendously.  Had a few weeks where I hit a big plateau but finally lost another 3 lbs this week so that's good.   And my faith journey is becoming a real adventure too.  I'm amazed at how God is helping me to learn new things all the time and providing me with wonderful friends for comfort and prayer support along the way.

Do you remember that old Sunday School song "Down in My Heart?"

(If you want the lyrics for the whole song you can find them here in this children's song book:  All the Child)

Lately, the words of one of the verses has come to mean something special to me.  It's a bit of a tongue twister and if you know the song, you'll know that this is one of the hardest verses to sing, especially because as kids we used to try to sing it as fast as we possibly could without making a mistake on the words:

I've got the wonderful love of my Blessed Redeemer right down in the depths of my heart,
Down in the depths of my heart (where?)
Down in the depths of my heart (where?)
I've got the wonderful love of my Blessed Redeemer right down in the depths of my heart,
Down in the depths of my heart to stay!

And I'm so happy, so very happy,
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart, 
Down in my heart,
And I'm so happy, so very happy,
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart!

So WHY has this song become so meaningful to me now?  Well, I've been waking up with panic attacks lately in the middle of the night.  I'm not sure what's causing it but I've been waking up with my heart pounding and feeling horribly frozen in fear.  One of my friends suggested that maybe I should get tested for sleep apnea because it's possible that this is why it's happening.  My sister thinks it might be just a hormonal thing.  But whatever is causing it, I don't like it!  I wake up frozen in fear and so afraid that I'm scared to even turn over and reach out to my husband for comfort!  It doesn't last long .... just a moment or so, but it seems like a life-time to me.  

I've tried to "pray" my way out of the attacks and since I'm a very visual person, I have been trying to picture my way out of my panic.  So I have been searching my Bible for various "images" that will help me to picture my way out of the situation.  For instance, I thought about that lovely verse in the Proverbs that says that the name of the Lord is a STRONG TOWER, that the righteous can run into and find safety (Proverbs 18:10).   The only problem I have with this image is that when I'm frozen in fear, it doesn't seem possible for me to run anywhere even if it is to a strong safe tower!   I end up frozen in fear with this frightening picture of a little girl fleeing through the darkness, trying desperately to reach a safe haven.

So I talked to God and asked Him to give me the perfect visual to help me through the fear.  I know He doesn't want me to be afraid, after all, His word says that "God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power, love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).  That's exactly what I want - power, love and a sound mind!   So I prayed that He would help me .... and a couple of days later, this is the Scripture I read:

We know that we live in him and he in us, 
because he has given us of his Spirit. 
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son 
to be the Savior of the world. 
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, 
God lives in him and he in God. 
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. 
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
1 John 4:13-16

Yes, I've read these verses many times before, but suddenly I was struck anew with the fact that I don't have to go, run, walk, or flee anywhere to find God!   He, by His great mercy, has chosen to live inside of me!  He's right there in my heart with me through my most difficult moments!  I am not alone.  And that God who lives in me, is a God of LOVE!  So even though I feel like my whole being is flooded with fear, a big part of me is actually taken up by the unconditional, unmatchable, unchanging LOVE OF GOD! 

So for now, I am singing that little children's hymn over and over again in my mind, reminding myself that I really do have the "wonderful love of my Blessed Redeemer right down in the depths of my heart!"  And I'm continuing to feel incredibly humble and blessed that God answers my prayers when I seek Him.  He doesn't tell me to "buck up and get a stiff upper lip and get on with my life" ... instead, He has great compassion on me and addresses my fears directly by helping me to find the perfect Scripture that brings me comfort.

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.  
Søren Kierkegaard

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

MIA but not Missing in Action

Just thought I'd pop in today and explain why I have been MIA the last little while.  Truthfully, while I have been "missing internet action" I have not been "missing in action!"  In fact, the very reason I have been less faithful with my blog lately is because I have been more active in real life.

This past summer, I have really struggled with anxiety issues for the first time in my life.  I am generally a very happy-go-lucky kind of person who has floated through life feeling pretty good most of the time.  So when I started noticing this past year that I was becoming a real "worry wort," I simply told myself that I needed to stop worrying and make some changes and things would improve.

One of the changes I made was that I started this blog.  In one of my first blog posts, that you can read about here if you are so inclined, I expressed the hope that I would start feeling better as the summer went on.   And I did most definitely benefit from all of the sunshine we received this summer!  I soaked it up and reveled in all that incredible Vitamin D.   And blogging helped me to make new connections.  I've met some wonderful encouraging friends whom I hope get a chance to read this so they know how much their kind words mean to me.  But at the same time, my anxiety levels were not going down, but rather seemed to be getting worse.

I decided it was time for further action!  And by action, this time, I mean literally ACTION!  I did some research and came to the conclusion that at 43, my body seems to be going into that awful "perimenopausal" state that so many women struggle with.  My hormones are a jumble, I'm having bad PMS, I've gained way too much weight, and it is time for me to take better care of myself physically.  I wasn't sure where to begin to make things better, but I knew I had to starts somewhere. There are few things I knew had helped me in the past so I thought I'd start there.  They are as follows:

 - make sure I have regular meaningful quiet time everyday where I read a portion of the Bible and spend time meditating on it and talking to God.

- make sure I get enough sleep every night but not too much sleep.  Get out of bed at 7 am every day!

- make sure I take a good brisk walk every day.

- make sure I eat regular meals that are healthy and supplement those meals with fresh vegetable juice made in my juicer.

- make sure I take my multivitamins, Vitamin D supplement, Vitamin B6 supplement and Estrosense supplement daily.  (Estrosence is a natural health product for women.  You can read more about it here if you are interested.)

As a result of the changes, I am feeling much stronger and healthier, both physically and emotionally.  I am walking 4 kms every day and have lost 20 pounds.  Although I know that I need to lose more weight, I am feeling like it is now a manageable task with reasonable goals rather than an impossible uphill battle that I can never win.  My pattern of "worrying" is being broken as I am working to renew my mind through reading more of the Bible and disciplining myself to turn off the negative thoughts by handing them over to the Lord whenever I start feeling anxious.  I picture myself handing Him all the things I'm worried about, and receiving a soft, fluffy comforter back in exchange.  It's a visual that helps to remind me that He offers to give us peace and comfort if we will turn our burdens over to Him.

Daily exercise, eating proper meals, juicing everyday, spending quiet time with the Lord --- all of these things take time and so I find I am not always able to fit blogging into my schedule as well.  But I will keep checking in here at least once a week, to keep you all up to date with my life, and check in to see how you all are doing.  It's so great to know I am not journeying through life alone, but have many wonderful friends along for the ride!




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