Unraveling Anxiety

I dance with worry and anxiety too often. Sometimes I let anxiety lead the rhythm of my step. I find my feet walking to it’s beat.

Just like you when a child naps in the afternoon who usually does not I may begin to worry that he may be ill. I am walking in anxiousness waiting for that thermometer to read above 100.5.

Or other times when my husband is not home at the usual time and is also unreachable on his phone. My mind assumes that something is really wrong, most of the time assuming the worst and waiting for an officer to show up at my doorstep to tell me my husband has been in a terrible car accident. The rhythm of anxiety causes my mind to pace just to keep up with it’s steps.

Most of the time what I see in myself when I am dancing is really just the symptoms of anxiety. I see the dance of anxiety and I am beginning to recognize it’s luring rhythm. Racing mind, racing heart, outrageous thoughts,  sweating plams, edgy tone, words that spew out of my mouth like an unredeemed child with an out of control God. Words like:

I fear…

I can’t…

It won’t…

I try to cover up the symptoms of anxiety with prayer and verses memorized from scripture or verses found in the Bible topic glossary under the bolded words: worry and anxiety. But the worries come back. I find myself back in the luring rhythms dancing with worry and anxiety because I am only seeing what is above the surface.

I forget to go down deep below the surface and take a good look at the giant glacier below me- where worry and anxiety are breeding a faulty foundation completely out of sight.

Tip of the Iceberg

I am lured by worry and anxiety in my thought life because beneath the surface I have an unbelieving heart.

Beneath the surface I am drinking from the broken cistern of control. (Jeremiah 2:13 For my people have committed two sins. They have forsaken me the spring of living water and they have dug their own cisterns:broken cisterns that cannot hold water.)

Beneath the surface I am a beautiful jagged mess of pride and unbelief. 

My pride desires to be in control. I want to know what is coming. I want to prepare my heart. My pride believes if I know what’s coming I can be more prepared. My pride tells me I am able to do all things. Like Eve, I want to taste the fruit so my eyes will be opened and I will then know like God knows.

My unbelief is screaming I have giant patches of cold glacier where I fail to know the character of a loving God. In my unbelieving desire to control I forget that God is in control of all things for his redeemed children. In my unbelief I choose to dance with the enemy instead of the One who truly loves me and knows the plans He has for me. (Jeremiah 29:11)

I’ve always known I am prone to worry. When I sing the words from “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing”

Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love- I think of my anxious adulterous dance. My constant pattern of leaving the God I love to wander over and let the rhythm of worry and anxiety control my steps.

shoes dance

It has just been recently that I have had the courage to look deep beneath the surface at the giant glacier of pride and unbelief breeding below me. Where the desire to control and the unbelief in my Great God are growing beneath the surface of my anxious symptoms.

Before I can examine what is tangled up beneath the surface I need to know how loved by God. I need His presence and His Spirit to be present with me.


So with courage and the armor of the Holy Spirit I have been willing to go down beneath the surface. When I see the beautiful jagged mess below. I am heartbroken. I didn’t even know about my broken cistern to be in control. But with the armor of the Holy Spirit I remember that God knew this about me anyway and He still sent Jesus to die on the cross for that icy jagged mess. I place my hand on my head to remember that no matter the mess my helmet of salvation is secure.

image via "practical pages"

image via “practical pages”

With the armor of the Holy Spirit I can begin to unravel all the tangled up dances from wandering back and forth between belief and unbelief. With the armor of the Holy Spirit I know I have a Great Surgeon who helps me go to work, ever so gently to unravel the wandering mess I’ve made.

For now I am going down deep beneath the surface to fight the unbelief and pride of my heart. Not alone but with the armor of the Holy Spirit. With truth. With the gospel of peace. With the helmet of salvation secure.


I am called Sought Out. A city not forsaken. God remembers me and He cares for me SO MUCH that I am sought after. (Isaiah 62:12)

Why do I let the myths of anxiety lure me when I have a God like this?

I believe. Help my unbelief.


Where do you feel the lure of the dance of worry and anxiety? 




Job Security?

Relationship Security?

Final Exams?


Is God calling you to look beneath the surface at the glacier below you? Take your armor with you. 

Let the Great Surgeon help you unravel. 

And dance with the One who calls you Sought Out. 


Also read…

Unraveled Marriage 

Unraveled Identity 

It’s Not Like A Quick Wardrobe Change

And please, pass this on. I see you walking alongside me. Share this with someone walking alongside you. Seeking Jesus in every day life. 

They Can Hear You

We have kids. A few of them. Four to be exact and we had them all right in a row. Our three sons came first within three years of one another and then our daughter is our youngest. Our oldest will begin kindergarten in a few weeks which means for the last few months I have had the opportunity to take all four of my small children out into the world with me wherever I go.

If you have young kids, or have encountered anyone with young children, or even if you’ve read my blog before, you will not be surprised to hear the comments I have received when I venture out into the big world with my small family.

You have your hands full. 

Do you know what causes that to happen? 

Wow. Are they all yours?

Three boys, bless your heart.

You got your girl. (This is a new one.)

And recently my favorite, Wow, you are either crazy or very unlucky.

Now, I am not saying all of these comments are said with ill will or evil intent. Sometimes my four small children hanging off the Kroger shopping cart is quite a miraculous thing to see. Not everyone is out and about with all their children and I understand that when you see us you don’t know what to say. So one of the above comes out… (hopefully not the last one.)

For the last year I have processed these phrases I hear when I am out only thinking about how the words made me feel. It wasn’t until today that this has changed.

A kind man passed us by in the parking lot and said one of the above phrases. He was kind. He was applauding all my efforts. He was not intending evil but my four year old commented, “I heard that.”

He heard it.

For all these years it has slipped my mind that my children are hearing these phrases with their functioning ears and active minds.

They can hear the comments, see the looks and interpret the phrases. This has completely changed the way I think about hearing “you’ve got your hands full” when I am out in the world with my young family.

They can hear you. My kids can hear you.

What broke my heart in that moment was the sadness in my little one’s voice, “I heard that” was said with sorrow. He wanted me to know he can hear the words too. He is standing right there.

He is not a circus act. He is a person, a person created by the Most High God and perfectly placed in our young family at just the right time and that Most High God perfectly placed just the right amount of months…and days…and years in between all four of my young kids.

My children are not accessories in the stroller or shopping cart, they are people and they can hear you.

I began to imagine what it has been like for them to hear the uncomfortable phrases for all these years. Especially when someone calls me unlucky to have them or comments something implying that my boys were just unsuccessful attempts for my prize daughter. They probably have felt hurt, mistreated and unwanted when we are out in this big, big world.

I know my husband has his hands full with me but no one would say that aloud to him when I am standing right by his side. Any person would avoid saying, “is she yours?” It’s just bad manners.

Why in our culture have we deemed it acceptable to say things about children we would never say about adults?

My kids can hear what you are saying. I want you to know. You comment is ringing in their ears.

As a mom, I fight to teach my kids that they are important and loved by the Most High God. I fight to teach them they were brought into the world for a purpose, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. I fight to teach them they are precious to me because they are precious to God. Their existence is not unimportant or invisible to God.

God sees my kids hanging off the cart. God always sees them and He knows my kids by their names. God sees them as important. God knows all four of my kids so intimately that He knows the numbers of hairs on each of their heads.

So if you know they can hear you and you know God does not think of them as a handful, or a curse, or an unsuccessful attempt to have a daughter does this change how you might respond to us when you see us in the aisles of your grocery store?

Knowing they can hear you changes the way I think about “this way we have learned to talk about children” in our culture that is just bad manners.

I would like to share some encouraging comments I have received in hopes that we can redress these awkward encounters with the truth about children. I hope we can fight to redress the awkward comments to reflect how God views having lots of young kids hanging off shopping carts.

Next time try one of these instead…

Look at all your beautiful children. 

The Lord has truly blessed you. 

I bet those boys love their little sister.

What nice boys and girls you have, I’m sure it’s not easy for them to tag along on errands with mom. 

Pslam 127:3-5 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

They can hear you. I hope this might help you think about how you are talking about them.


One Simple Way To Survive Preschool

It happened on our eight minute drive.

DJ Shuffle was playing in the car as we drove down that one road on our way to preschool. I was half awake and mostly consumed with getting back home to get the end of the year teacher gifts in order.

What wasn’t on my mind was this was my last morning drive to preschool.

It wasn’t until our first stop light when I realized the last moment I was actually experiencing. The last morning to transport my son to school in the safety of my own vehicle before he transitions to the school bus.

My heart broke a little.

Just five years ago I was working as a first grade teacher figuring out childcare for my new baby and counting down the days I could be at home with him and pour into him before he went off to kindergarten.

Two moves and three siblings later here we are wrapping up preschool and I’ve realized that time is gone. Everyone tells you it goes by quickly but you can never know just how fast “the blink of an eye” is until you’ve experienced one for yourself.

I’m not going to tell you how fast it goes by. You’ve heard that before. What I am going to tell you is a story of the most important thing you can do for your preschooler and it has nothing to do with play dates, alphabets, numbers or trendy pottery barn monogrammed backpacks. 

On our last drive to preschool I turned DJ Shuffle down and I just did the one thing I can do for him as a mom on my way to school.

I asked him, how can I pray for you today?

This one phrase has gotten us through the last two years on that eight minute drive to preschool. Sometimes he is not sure how to respond so I ask if there is something he is worried about or something he is working really hard at learning. 

Then, I pray in the car. Then and there.

We have prayed for his safety. We have prayed for his social relationships. We have prayed he would obey his teacher. We have prayed he would have self control over his body. We have prayed he would count his teen numbers correctly and learn to color his entire coloring page. We have even prayed he would remember not to color on other’s clothes with markers.

On our last drive to preschool he just replied, “Mom… Today, I’m just really nervous about kindergarten.”

(Sigh and small tear.)

Me too.

I told him we would have all summer to pray about that and for today we can just ask God to help us enjoy what he has for us this day.

So we did. We forgot about what lies ahead and focused on that last day. That last blink of an eye and we covered it with prayer. 

The prayer is both for me and my preschooler. 

That little prayer in my minivan on my eight minute drive to school helps me remember that I am not the one controlling his “blink of an eye”. 

So whatever transitional stage you may be in as a parent, remember to pray. That blink of an eye should be covered in prayer. You all know and have heard before it goes by too fast. 

Cover it in the simplest way. Cover those mornings and those “blink of an eyes” in prayer. 

Parenting in The Pew Part 2: Where We’ve Been And Where We Are Going

This is Part Two of my Parenting in the Pew Journey. If you missed Part one find it here: Part 1: The Journey And The Destination

Part Two: Where We’ve Been And Where We Are Going
When we think of training worshippers as a journey, it is important to use your end result or outcome to help you develop achievable expectations. It helps to start with the end in mind. Just like a wise teacher or a smart business person starts with the end result we too should think about what kind of worshipers we want our kids to be 20 years from now.

For us our destination is two fold.

We want our children to understand worship is not about them or what they “need” from church and we want our children to develop into active listeners.

So the objectives I am working on look like this:

Worship is about God.

I want my children to be active listeners in church.

These two objectives shape everything on a Sunday morning for me. Everything.

Objective 1: Children will understand worship is about God.

This means worship is not about my kids and their entertainment. I have learned this the hard way. Mountains of coloring books, sticker books, matchbox cars, mazes. I spent almost four and a half years lugging around huge bags of activities until I realized those heavy bags were not only making me sweaty but those bags were working against my most valued objective.

Twenty years from now I don’t want worshippers that spend the service only doodling in the bulletin or playing tic tac toe with their brothers. The heavy bag was working against my first objective because I was showing my kids that I valued their entertainment over my first objective.

Worship is not about my children or their entertainment.

Worship is about God.

I have learned the hard way that coloring books and activities to entertain my kids during the service are actually working against me on the journey to my final destination.

Objective 2: our children will work towards active listening in church.

My goal is not, I want my children to be still and quiet statues in the pew. I can look still and quiet while I am counting all the tiny holes in the speakers up above the PowerPoint screen.

My long term goal is to have active listeners at the end of this journey. So if my children need to wiggle or make a joyful noise unto The Lord, as long as they are actively listening, I really don’t care anymore. I have small kids. We wiggle and we don’t completely know how to whisper.

I can give myself and them grace in this. Active listening and participation looks different in a five year old than it does in an adult. Honestly, visualize a kindergarten classroom compared to a college classroom or even an eighth grade classroom.

Currently, I am teaching active listening through recording tally marks. This keeps my sons busy and aligns with my two objectives.

On Friday I preview the sermon topic, look at the songs we will sing and I help my boys think of names of God they might want to listen for during the service.

They listen for the names of God during worship and tally them either on the iPad or on paper. In the beginning, I would give them a tootsie roll or a lollipop when the made it to five tallies. I needed them to see the reward quickly at first, Then I increased the reward to ten tallies and then twenty.

Recently I have found myself hardly giving out any prizes at all as they learn to just listen without the motivation.

My hope is this will turn into listening for different words, topics and eventually main ideas and note taking.

I use a free tally app on the iPad.


Not every week is perfect. Just on Easter Sunday my three and five year old where having a whisper fight whether or not to have eyes open or eyes closed during the congregational prayer. In these moments it helps to take a big breath and see the larger picture. One slip up on Easter might help you give yourself and your kids a little more grace when it feels like one step forward and three (or four) steps back on the journey.

Ah. And grace. There is abundant grace. I just read this Timothy Keller quote, “God does not give us hypothetical grace and a lifetime supply. He gives us what we need one day at a time.”

Ah. One Sunday at a time in the pew. God gives me the grace I need one Sunday at a time in the pew. And God is giving our kids the grace they need one Sunday at a time in the pew.

One Final Piece Helping Us Get To Out Destination
Location, Location, Location. We take a front row seat. If my conviction on worship is “worship is about God” we will have a front row seat.

I am a big Dave Matthews fan, like it or not, and when I go to a Dave concert it is all about DMB. I am going to sit as close as to the front as I can because I want the best experience I can have. Same with Reds games. No one calls the box office and says, “I would like to sit as far away from the action as possible.”

Location helps. We sit in the front so my small kids can see everything and do not have to squirm to see over rows and rows of people three times their size.

Also, in regards to location, sit in front of people who like you having your kids in the pew with you. I have developed a great friendship with the family that sits behind us. They know what I am trying to do and can fill in for me even when I am not able to be at church. My friend has even been ready to record a tally mark or her hands have been open for a quick pass of the baby when a curve ball comes my way.

Remember. This is a journey. Keep the destination in mind. Location. And grace.

“God does not give us hypothetical grace and a lifetime supply. He gives us what we need one day at a time.” -Timothy Keller

While on this parenting in the pew journey there is the grace we need. One Sunday at a time.

I Hope You Don’t Find Perfect Love…

As a young woman I saw perfect loves in the movies and heard of perfect love stories in ballads on my radio in my hatchback manual Saab.

The idea of a perfect love brainwashed me into thinking all my relationships would be saturated with whisk-me-away-romantic moments. I really at my core believed if I ever had a dispute with one of the men in my life it would only be moments before they would show up on my doorstep (in the rain of course) with an I’m-sorry-bouquet of flowers.

And that NEVER happened.

Darn love stories.

Darn love songs.

In a way I was disappointed.

My expectations gave me a twisted view of myself and others.

I was naive. My expectations for this so called perfect love ruined any relationship I ever had.

How could any of my boyfriends ever have competed with the image I had in my head-comparing them to a soaked and sexy Ryan Gosling  on my front doorstep with a drippy bouquet of flowers and begging of my forgiveness?

What I was seeing on the screen and hearing on the radio built up my expectations for perfect love and left me waiting in my home for ‘no one’ soaking wet with a bouquet of hydrangeas at my front door.

I was left questioning all the moves of my significant others. If my boyfriends couldn’t execute love like in the movies and the characters I compared them to I became suspicious of men…suspicious of perfect love… I became suspicious of myself.

I began to believe lies that I just wasn’t good enough for a perfect love and believed that maybe I didn’t deserve love at all.

The combination of all of the above became very dangerous for me and like a ticking time bomb my expectations literally blew up every relationship I had.

I would like to point the finger at culture and the misrepresentation of perfect love on the radio and displayed on the screens we hold in our hands.

However, I think the real person to blame is me and how I visualized love as being perfect right from the beginning.



: having no mistakes or flaws

: completely correct or accurate

: having all the qualities you want in that kind of person, situation, etc.

Anyone really in a loving and committed relationship knows that love is not perfect at all.

How can love be perfect when the two people in love are not perfect themselves?

As a Christian, I believe that on this side of heaven I will never be perfect. I believe that my self absorption, my bitterness with others, my desire to be righteous like God is all so bad that it requires the penalty of Jesus’ dying on the cross in order for me to be right with God.

I believe in a gospel, the good news, that on this earth I will never be perfect but I am loved by my God – even with

my imperfections.

I am in process.

I am perfectly imperfect.

Actually I am perfecting.

perfecting: in process of becoming perfect or coming to completion

What I know now is in real life love is not perfect. Love on earth between two people is full of mistakes and blemishes. Love on earth is two flawed people choosing to live and love all the imperfections of one another.

There is a misconception of love in our culture. The idea of perfect love is not only on our screens and radios but it breeds in our expectant minds it is spewing out of our lips.

 “Oh, he is perfect” or “You are the perfect couple”.

Sure the idea of perfect love is in the movies but we are perpetuating it with our words.

Loving relationships are not perfect. They are perfecting. Love is the perfect moments mixed in with the refining – imperfect ones. I can tell you with certainty I love my husband more now than I did when I met him. Sure he was charming back then and always on his best behavior but in perfecting love I get to be alongside him as he grows and changes into the better verison of who God is making him to be.

Perfecting love can be tough.

Perfecting love is a love that grows.

Perfecting love goes through seasons of giddiness, gladness, anger, sadness.

Perfecting love experiences disappointment.

Perfecting love dwells in the colder seasons knowing that a new season will come.

Perfecting love makes us better men and women as we walk alongside one another and experience a front row seat in the perfecting process of one another.

holding hands

Truth connection:

I want you to go back to that image of Ryan Gosling soaking wet at your front door with a bouquet of flowers. (Hard to go there I know)

I want you to know it is right to desire this kind of perfect love where from the beginning you are sought after and constantly pursued with a never giving up always and forever kind of love.

I want you to know this kind of love exists but we look for it in a man on earth when this never giving up always and forever kind of pursuing love is actually found in God.

Perfect love is only found when we find it nailed to a cross. Crazy I know but true. The idea of a man loving you so much that he would die for you originated with God. We are hard wired to long for perfect love. You just won’t find it in a boyfriend, fiancé or spouse.

I hope you never find perfect love in any earthly man. I wish you will find perfecting love. The kind of love committed to the process of you being made perfect over a lifetime of some of the coldest and warmest seasons.

And I hope you do not find perfect love anywhere else but on a cross – where a God that loves you so much He died for you. He pursued you. He is still pursing you. He is where you find the man soaking wet on your doorstep pursing you with a never giving up always and forever kind of love.

I hope you don’t find perfect love in anything else but Him.

Romans 5:8

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us.