Banishing Anxiety From Your Heart

Getting to the Root of It

You lay in bed, trying to sleep, but you can’t. The minutes fly by and soon the hours, but you can’t stop thinking– your brain is going a million miles a minute playing out scenarios, ideas, replaying past events, wondering where you went wrong. You ask why this is happening to you and what you will do about it. You see no answers or easy path forward. You are dealing with anxiety.

Photo by Joe Gardner on Unsplash

Anxiety is worry, impatience, restlessness, unease, or eagerness to see things happen— and if left unchecked can have disastrous effects on our health, relationships, even our faith!

To root out this issue, we have to dig deep.

Most of us believe anxiety is driven by our circumstances – financial instability, conflict in relationships, uncertainty about the future, feeling a loss of control, etc…but those are just circumstances. They are still part of the surface. What is the root problem when I am experiencing the financial instability, a broken relationship, or uncertainty about the future?

3 Keys to Choosing the Best Partner

I have many friends with stories of pursuing their dream of business ownership. Many of those stories portray success and accomplishment, inspiring onlookers to follow their own dreams and entrepreneurial spirits. Others, however, are stories of loss, betrayal, and bitter disappointment. Some have lost their business, been thrust into uncontrollable debt, or found themselves in prison for illegal activities their partners conducted unbeknownst to them. These stories can be terrifying and make us ask, “Is there any wisdom for choosing a partner that will protect my investment and ensure the greatest opportunity for success?”

Of course, there is risk. Starting a business takes risk– everyone knows that the risk-takers are usually the rain-makers, but some risks may not be worth taking in the long run– like choosing a poor fit to partner with in your new venture. Another term for this kind of partnership is yoking.

Who will you “yoke” yourself to when attempting a big venture?

Rgbstock- RKIRBYCOM

Rgbstock- RKIRBYCOM

If you have been around the church for a while, you have probably heard the New Testament caution, “Do not be yoked with an unbeliever” (2 Cor 6:14), which is most often applied in the context of dating and marriage. That is HUGE and I cannot underscore enough the importance of this in the context of personal relationships, but I believe this has a much broader application than most Christians know or practice.

Why He Might Cheat On You

She thought everything was fine…except that they HAD been drifting apart for a while now….and their time together was awkward and sort of dull….and he had been struggling at work and starting to question himself….and so what if it had been a long time since they were intimate. They were “fine,” she thought. “He’s just in a bad place” she thought...

No matter how often I hear these stories, (and being in ministry, we hear of this quite often I am sad to report,) I still find myself stunned and wonder, “What? Them? No way!”

From the outside, most of us never see something like that coming, but I believe there is a common thread in every story of infidelity. There may be a common denominator we can find to possibly avoid those same devastating results.

A Recipe for Peace and Quiet

SpaghettiSquash

Not my picture- this looks much better than how mine turned out!

Our family enjoys meal time. It is when we all can sit down, talk, and laugh. We laugh a lot because we have a son who innately understands that the most exhaustive efforts at comedy usually produce the most gratifying response. 

But there are times when there is no laughter. Or conversation. Or enjoyment of any kind while we eat.

That is usually because something has sabotaged our dinner.

Sometimes it is a busy night with too many activities and responsibilities.

Sometimes it is conflict over siblings struggling to get along or hurt feelings when the teasing goes too far.

Sometimes it is disappointment from plans that just don’t go our way.

And sometimes it is Spaghetti Squash Alla Carbonara.

How to Disarm / Dismiss Negative Critics in Your Life

Muppets_Statler_WaldorfMy mother worked at a miserable job for ten years. She described her boss as an arrogant, unhappy man as she was subject to humiliation and horrific verbal abuse, expected to operate then-new computers with absolutely no training, often suppressed her physical needs for breaks and lunches, and received meager wages with few benefits. She remained in a job she abhorred because of her reliance on the income for our family but deep down, a belief took root that she could neither do better nor deserved better.

We all have critics in our lives. Some critics are helpful. Some are harmful. Sometimes they are a parent, sibling, spouse or significant other. Or they could be a friend, co-worker, your in-law, or a boss. Oftentimes it is your own self. Depending on the nature of the relationship and the dynamics, the criticism can range from mildly irritating to devastating, but my prayer is that with wisdom, even if we cannot rightly end those damaging ties, we can learn how to dismiss and even disarm this critic that knowingly or unknowingly is doing such harm.

When facing our biggest critic, there are 3 things I believe we must consider:

  1. Consider the SOURCE.  Jesus taught the people to be on guard against false prophets by looking at their fruit- a good tree bears good fruit, a bad tree bears bad fruit. These were the wolves in sheep’s clothing and he warned against trusting them. With your critic, what kind of fruit do they bear? Are they known for their integrity and grace when dealing with others or are they known for being harsh, unfair, or impossible to please?                                                                                    If you see evidence (fruit) of healthy relationships, business practices, or general kindness towards their fellow man, then their criticism might be of benefit to you, even if it stings a little at first. However, if their life is filled with evidence to the contrary, it is entirely possible that their criticism is not even about you at all, but that you happen to be stuck under their tree and may unfortunately be hit with some rotten fruit.                                                                                                          Another aspect to consider with the source of criticism is their perspective and background. My 97-year-old grandmother grew up in an era where women’s roles and contributions to the family were different than today. Her experiences living through the Great Depression, WWII, and the rest of the twentieth century afford her attitudes and viewpoints that are very different than mine. Not always better, but different. Assessing the source of disparaging remarks and respecting another’s unique experiences helps us to disarm the critic that may intentionally or unintentionally do us great harm.
  2. Consider their MOTIVE. Why might this person be so critical of you? Is it out of genuine care and concern or does it possibly make them look or feel better to be so critical? Are they exercising a form of control through their criticism? Is this a deflection of their own insecurities? Are there any other motivations that could fuel the criticism whether it benefits you or themselves?                         Proverbs 20:5 states, “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” This verse implies that it is not always evident why people do the things they do or say the things they say, but a person with understanding can draw this out through observation, consideration, and possibly conversation.                                                                     Once we understand their motives, we can readily accept the criticism that is intended for our good, and dismiss the criticism that is intended for harm.
  3. Consider the TRUTH. Is what they are saying in fact, truthful, or contain elements of truth to it? In the story of Job, he spent a great deal of time listening to his friends’ assumptions about why he had lost everything and had been so afflicted. He told them in Job 12:11, “Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food?” He was listening to their words, testing whether there was any truth to them and he found them lacking– so he rejected their assessments. He refused to believe the lie.

We too, should not believe everything we hear,  but rather taste it, test it for the truth. If there is truth in the criticism, it is wise to consider that truth and act accordingly. If it does not represent truth, it is imperative to reject it, otherwise we buy into the lie and find ourselves imprisoned in an unhealthy job, relationship, or mindset. Lies put us in bondage, but truth sets us free.

In dealing with a critic, it is important to consider the source, their motives, and whether or not there is truth to their criticism- but without some type of framework or filter for these judgments and opinions, we may subject ourselves to years of damaging words, thoughts, and judgments. This fuels insecurity, an insatiable desire to please others, and gives rise to one of the worst critics of them all.

We will discuss that critic in a separate post, but it is even more devious and deceptive than the rest and wields a power over us that can cripple our self-worth and any hope for a brighter future. In order to understand and address that critic, it is imperative that we do a healthy appraisal of the other critics in our lives.

Until then, my prayer is that we can all better assess the criticism we receive by considering the source, the motive, and the truth and from there move forward into profiting from helpful criticism or dismissing that which could result in harm.

Challenge: Let’s try something together. The next time your critic hurls something at you, don’t blindly accept it, hold on to it, assess it, and then determine if it merits your emotion, action, or disregard.

The Way to Wisdom Podcast – Episode 12: Wisdom for Women

Welcome to “The Way To Wisdom Podcast” with Tracie Dawson. A podcast dedicated finding WISDOM in the Choices We Make and the Paths We Take!

Today’s Topic – Wisdom for Women
1. Subscribe in iTunes (Search “The Way to Wisdom” or plug in this URL – http://crowningwisdom.libsyn.com/rss).
2. RATE and REVIEW the Podcast to help us promote Crowning Wisdom.
3. Listen to Podcast on this page.
4. Download MP3 

 

60% of the Time…It Happens Every Time

WakeMeUpMy husband was being a jerk. In fact, I later found out that he was being unfaithful and everyone in our life group and church knew about it and sided with him, not ME, the innocent person in this entire scenario. Of course, when I WOKE UP and realized this was just a horrible dream, I was still mad at him. I nearly kicked him as he lay in bed sleeping just like EVERY OTHER TIME he had done something stupid in my dreams.

Instead, I went about my morning, fuming at him and wondering why he would have done something so horrible in my dreamworld which is so obviously contrary to his behavior in reality.

It reminds me of a story of another dreamer, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He had a deeply disturbing dream which shook him to his core. He called in every magician, enchanter, sorcerer, and astrologer in his entire kingdom to explain this dream to him. He told them they must first tell him the dream itself AND offer its interpretation or he would have them CUT TO PIECES and their homes destroyed. (Dan 2:5)

“Building” Self Esteem

ConcentratingThomasWanna hear something crazy? When my son arrived home from school the other day he walked in the front door and without stopping or hardly completing his usual hello! and walked right out the back door. I waited a few minutes to see where he went or if he was returning but he didn’t. Confused, I got up to see where he went and I saw him on our back patio hammering away. Lost in his own world. Blissfully happy. No ipod. No xbox. No Netflix. Just a pile of small blocks my dad offered to us for kindling and my son’s hammer and nails from his tool kit.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, that’s dangerous playing with a real hammer and nails….he could hurt himself. Yup. And he did.  He smashed his finger three or four times the first time he came upon these new blocks, but today he proudly reported that he only smashed his thumb twice!

Building and creating things is very important to my boy. He wants to build a robot out of his old bicycle parts. He longs to build a tree house in the gargantuan oak in our back yard. He puts this and that in his glass Erlenmeyer Flasks and prays something will explode. You can probably imagine why up to this point, I have felt the need to supervise his free time! Yet as I grow older and wiser, I doubt that is actually in his best interest.

You see, I am a newly grounded helicopter mom. I recently learned in a parenting seminar that helicopter parenting robs kids of developmental processes crucial to learning about the world and how they function within it. I also learned that by constantly enrolling our children in organized sports programs, instead of simply allowing them to play “pick up” games, tells them that we don’t believe they are capable of playing fair or even correctly as we have to monitor and supervise every aspect of their play.  And when we separate children during their arguments, we are saying they cannot come to their own peaceable solution. These approaches do not build confidence, responsibility, or self-esteem in our children, in fact they may destroy it.

New Podcast – The Way to Wisdom Episode 05 – Child Rearing

Finding the Wisdom in Parenting and Discipline

Welcome to “The Way To Wisdom Podcast” with Tracie Dawson. A podcast dedicated finding WISDOM in the Choices We Make and the Paths We Take!

Today’s Topic – Parenting (Child Rearing) 
1. Subscribe in iTunes (Search “The Way to Wisdom” or plug in this URL – http://crowningwisdom.libsyn.com/rss).
2. RATE and REVIEW the Podcast to help us promote Crowning Wisdom.
3. Listen to Podcast on this page.
4. Download MP3 

Training our Children…

4 Benefits to Training them to Know & Study the Bible

We all want the best for our children, right?  Never have I heard, “I hope you grow up aimless. I hope you make the same or worse mistakes than I have made. I really hope you have to wrestle with doubt throughout your entire life.”

No! Usually we strive to make things better for our children and to set them up for success whether that is with academics, sports, relationships, and more.  Sadly, though, we often forget to set them up for spiritual success as they grow and mature. It seems we have forgotten to train them to know and study God’s Word and the advantages this will yield throughout their lifetime.  I have listed at least 4 of these, invaluable benefits to our children.

Benefit #1 – They can know TRUTH

We all face people who do not personally know God or who have rejected the truth of who He is. Quite often, those people are friends, mentors, instructors, and even our bosses. In college, I sat under many professors, highly educated and intellectual men and women, who insisted that God was merely an idea, and that truth is what you believed it should be. How confusing! If it is different for everyone, then it is not truth, which Webster’s Dictionary defines as a “transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality,” but rather, it is an ideology or  persuasion.  There are enough struggles in this life without adding to it the confusion over the existence of pure, absolute truth. It is truth that sets us free.

Benefit #2 – They can know GOD’S WILL.

One of the greatest challenges our children will face is knowing God’s will. Somehow, we confuse knowing the will of God with knowing the mind of God. Solomon himself admitted, “then I saw all that God has done.  No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun…Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it”  Ecc 8:17.  Our finite minds cannot comprehend the mind of an infinite God. Even if we think we do, we don’t.

But it’s not about knowing His mind, anyway. Paul told the Romans “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”  Rom 12:2

We (and our children) can know God’s will by resisting conformity to the world’s patterns in thinking and living and by renewing our minds, allowing that transformative process to reveal His good, pleasing, and perfect will to us, (and our children!)

Benefit #3 – They can know what is SIN– and avoid it

When we train our children to know and study God’s word, it takes root in their hearts. David wrote it beautifully in Psalm 119:11, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

We often confuse mistakes for SIN. As children learn anything new, there are mistakes along the way, errors which simply need correction. Mistakes are not sin as they demonstrate ignorance and immaturity. Sin is failure to do what we know is right, or doing what we know to be wrong.

Benefit #4 – They can know His REWARDS.

Countless Scriptures reassure us that God is good and gracious. He loves and disciplines his children, but also blesses the faithful and “rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Heb 11:6

I hope my children grow up with purpose. I hope they avoid the same mistakes than I have made. And I really hope their confidence grows stronger in this loving God that speaks to them through His word.

We all want better for our children and since this is a matter of eternal life and death, training them to know and study God’s Word may be the most beneficial training we do as parents!

In my next blog, I will highlight some PRACTICAL ways in which we can train our children to know and study God’s Word. And if you are thinking, I don’t really know how to do this for myself much less my child(ren), this will be a wonderful opportunity for you to share in the endeavor with them! Stay tuned…