4 Tips for Loving a Person When You Can’t Stand Their Politics

4 Tips for Loving a Person When You Can’t Stand Their Politics

She wasn’t laughing or joking when she said it. 

We were at a staff lunch when my friend and co-worker snarkily shared that she’d no longer be inviting “those neighbors” to her home. “Those neighbors” were people who had political signs in their yard for the presidential candidate I planned to vote for.  

That was 16 years ago. I still remember the pit in my gut when she so easily dismissed people who didn’t see the world as she did. And in doing so, she essentially dismissed me.

Messy Miracle, it doesn’t need to be this way. 

What if we decided to promote unity instead of adding to division? What if we saw each other as individuals whose unique life experience influenced their ballot choices? What if the next time someone important in your life pitches a yard sign or posts on social media for a candidate other than yours, you make a deliberate decision to look beyond the politics to the soul of the person sharing it?

We can do this!  We can love a person even when we can’t stand their politics. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it.

People are more important than politics.

I wanted to test this statement, so I asked my Instagram followers if they believed it to be true. Most of them did. And while my Instagram community doesn’t perfectly represent our entire country, they confirmed what I had suspected. We BELIEVE people are more important than politics, so why don’t we BEHAVE like they’re more important? I think we want to, but end up getting in our own way. The good news is that we can get ourselves out of the way!

I’m not suggested you subject yourself to unhealthy people or be best friends with everyone on the other side of the political aisle. Boundaries are important and unhealthy people need not consume your energy. However, I do believe we should avoid burning a relational bridge with someone in our life S I M P LY because they vote differently than we do. Are you with me? Let’s go…

 

Here’s how you can practice loving people who have different political views without giving up your own.

1. Recognize the Wall and Push It Down

Unless you’re Jesus, Mr. Rogers or Pollyanna, your first inclination when you see or hear a view that’s different from yours is to put up a wall in your heart and mind. I actually feel my wall go up in my body too. It’s an innate defense mechanism that launches you into fight, flight or freeze mode. Most of us stay there with our wall up and begin to defend our point of view. This is REACTION mode. You want to stay out of that place. Nothing good happens there. Instead, notice when your wall goes up and make a decision to RESPOND instead of REACT. You do this by pushing down the wall. Take a deep breath and tell your internal wall that you are perfectly fine and don’t need it to defend you. This is not an emergency.  After you push it down, it will probably keep trying to come up. That’s ok. Just keep knocking it down. Again. And again. And again.

2. Find Perspective

With open space between you and the person you disagree with, give yourself some perspective. In politically charged seasons, every disagreement feels amplified. It can FEEL like our future happiness, success, even life itself depends on putting this stake in the ground. Voting is important, yes. Your viewpoints are important, yes. However, there is a much bigger story taking place that is way more important than this election. Call it the universe. Call it destiny. I know it to be God. And God is truly in control. I think He looks at our obsession with politics much like a parent views their child’s obsession with the latest toy. It’s a phase. And it’s a phase that changes like the wind. I’m not belittling the impact of your vote. I’m only saying that God is greater and can handle whatever outcome occurs. He works the good in everything and one day when you are on your death-bed, I don’t think you’ll be thinking about who won in 2020. I do think, however, that you’ll be reflecting on the people who came in and out of your life. When my life on this side of heaven ends, I want to know that I loved them well.

3. Engage Your Curiosity

People who are different from you are actually very interesting. What a boring place it would be if we all looked, acted and thought the same way. So, why do we try to force people into a boring black and white box? I’ll be honest here. I used to feel uncomfortable when talking or listening to someone who didn’t see the world the same way I do. In fact, I would start to make counter-arguments in my mind and often tune them out completely. Then I stopped trying to defend my point of view and started practicing RADICAL CURIOSITY. Instead of issuing counter-arguments, I started asking questions. Instead of defending, I started engaging. And what I found is that the more curious I became, the less frustrated I was at our differences and the more encouraged I became about the values we all share.

  • Curiosity does not equal agreement. You don’t have to agree with someone in order to listen and love them. 
  • Here are some great questions/phrases to foster curiosity in your relationships with people who think differently than you.
  • Your viewpoint is so interesting. How did you come to that conclusion?
    What experiences from your past shaped the way you look at this issue now?
    I know we disagree on this subject, but I really want to understand more about your views. Do you mind helping me understand how you landed on this perspective?

 4. Agree to Disagree and Move On

After you’ve listened and learned, you can acknowledge your differences and move on. Remember, the point isn’t to change anyone’s mind. The point is to understand where they are coming from. Often, after I’ve engaged with someone in this way, I no longer feel annoyed or resentful of their opinion. And even if they don’t reciprocate the understanding or ask me about my views on the subject, the relationship just feels improved, overall. Taking the high road is a lesson worth learning. If more people did, there would be so much more room to breathe.

Remember my friend who hurt me without even realizing it? I hadn’t yet learned these tips back then. Instead, I allowed hurt and bitterness to grow in my heart, much like many of us do today. Just like every vote matters, so does every person. Will you join me letting the world know there is hope for love to win, even when we disagree?  Save the image below and post on your social media feeds. Let’s cut through the chaos today and light up the digital landscape with love.

Be Still,
Laura 

Enter Below for a FREE Energy Edit Session with Laura!

Winners will be notified on October 15, 2020

Tattoos, Anxiety, Depression & Jesus

Tattoos, Anxiety, Depression & Jesus

In this episode of the Two Kids and a Career podcast, host Jill Devine interviews Laura about why she created Seeking The Still after she was taken down by depression and anxiety at the age of 37. Jill and Laura talked about Laura’s journey and the process towards healing.

In the episode, Jill also asked Laura a lot questions about Christianity/Faith and why Jill would even think Christians would frown upon visible tattoos. Laura reminded Jill that Jesus is for everyone … no matter what you look like, no matter what music you like, no matter what! Laura said she has noticed the church has been typically known for what the church is against and not what the church is for. Laura would like to spread more awareness about what the church is for so more people know they are welcome, no matter what.

How to Not Do It All (And actually feel good instead of guilty)

How to Not Do It All (And actually feel good instead of guilty)

I kissed my girls goodbye and stoically rode shotgun with my husband to a treatment center for anxiety, insomnia, and emotional and physical exhaustion.

A life can be so full that it’s actually empty.

I see you there. The lovely one who volunteers for PTO, class parties, and church boards.

Yes, you, who not only chauffeurs your own kids to volleyball, dance and soccer, but also the neighbor kids and the straggler whose father frantically texts you that he is stuck at work and would you please…?

Yes, you, the employee who wins teamwork awards and gets promoted for achievements (which may mean more money, but always means more work).  

Yes, you, the one who looks at her calendar every night and feels her chest constricting at the rainbow blocks of commitments on deck for tomorrow.

You can’t remember the last time you had no one to take care of except yourself. The last time you filled a day with only the things that fill you. The last time your mind felt happily still, your body rested and your soul satisfied. And let’s not even mention the ever-growing distance between you and your partner. When’s the last time you talked about the dreams you once shared?

New research published this year found a significant increase in stress among mid-life people compared to just a decade ago. When did it become normal to be burned-out, stress-out and checked-out? How do you change the course of your life to avoid a full-on breakdown and anxiety diagnosis like mine? 

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not by committing to fewer things, it’s by committing to the right things for you and joyfully opening your hands to let the rest of it go.

It’s Time For An Energy Edit

I had an “ah-ha” moment yesterday as I binge-watched a new Netflix show called The Home Edit where organizing gurus Clea and Joanna tackle rooms in homes of celebrities like Reese Witherspoon alongside ordinary families like mine. There is a method to their magic, and I realized that the way they organize things is similar to the way I’m learning to organize energy and time. Here’s a quick overview of how I’m learning to stop living like life is an emergency and start being intentional about savoring moments of my life. You can do this too!

ASSESS your time

Ask these key questions about your current commitments.
– What on your list do you have to do?
– What on your list do you enjoy doing?
– What gives you energy?
– What steals your energy?
– What makes you feel lighter when you imagine not having to do it?
– What time of day do you feel most energized?
– What time of day do you crash?
– What tasks could you delegate to someone else?

what are your GOALS

It’s important to dig deep when thinking about the goals you have for your time and energy. Be specific. Consider all aspects of your life as well as your body, mind and spirit.
– What are your priorities? God? Family? Work? Hobbies?
– How much margin do you have? How much do you need?
– Are you scheduling every bit of your time, or do you have margin for when things go wrong (which they will)?
– Do you practice a Sabbath? One day a week when you practice downtime and delight. If not, it’s time to fix that.
– How are you prioritizing people over projects?

just say EDIT

When it comes time to edit your commitments to make your time and energy correspond with your goals, remember that “No” is a complete sentence. Feel free to consider me your official “Noach,” AKA No Coach. It is not selfish to protect your time! I remember when I was overwhelmed with three part-time jobs. I was literally sick to my stomach when I thought about resigning from one of them, but then I remembered that I work to live. I don’t live to work. I resigned and immediately felt the weight lift.

If you’re worried about hurting feelings of people who depend on you, here are some phrases I’ve learned to use when editing my time. You’ll be amazed at how you empower others when you model the wisdom of editing your schedule. And contrary to what you may believe, you are not the only one who can perform tasks well. Often stepping aside allows someone else to rise to the occasion.

Steal These Lines For Saying “No”

– Thank you for asking me, but I’m carefully protecting the margin of my schedule right now.
– I’ve really enjoyed serving with you, but I’m editing my time and need to step down from this volunteer position.
– I appreciate your faith in me, but adding another responsibility to my schedule will take away precious family time and I am prioritizing that in this season of my life.
– No, thank you! 

ORGANIZE What’s Left

Look at the flow of your energy and schedule. Just like you organize objects in a closet to make it more efficient, you can organize your time. Right now I’m experimenting with “batching” my work schedule. Mondays are for my team and weekly planning. Tuesdays are for organizational meetings. Wednesdays are for tackling my to-do list, Thursday is my video day and Friday is Freedom Friday. When I work hard to get everything done throughout the week, I can use Fridays to do things I enjoy and work on Seeking The Still. By scheduling similar tasks together and theming my days, it makes sense in my head, which helps me stay on track. I try to do my creative work in the mornings when I have the most energy. I find that I can do writing projects in much less time because I’m focused (the coffee helps, too). 

ENJOY THE FREEDOM

My default mode used to be pleasing everyone and saying “yes.” Kind of like my shopping habit and overflowing closet, my schedule was packed and my energy was tapped out. This was a big reason I broke down. I’m still learning and will continuously have to go through the Energy Edit process, but there is such freedom in knowing that I can choose to do what God created me to do and say no to the rest.

If you find yourself saying that you don’t have enough time in your day, it’s time to take a look at how you’re spending that time, where you can edit things out and how you can maximize your efforts. There is no reason you can’t have a weekly Sabbath day where you have downtime to only do things that connect you to others and delight you. In fact, that’s what God commands you to do! Free yourself from your overwhelmed life. It is possible and so worth it. I’m here to help.

Be Still,
Laura

P.S. I am sharing more Energy Edit hacks over in my Instagram stories this week and am also offering three free Energy Edit sessions where I’ll walk you through this process and help you implement it in your life. If you’d like to be considered, answer these three questions. The best is to come! 

Enter Below for a FREE Energy Edit Session with Laura!

Winners will be notified on October 15, 2020

Seeking The Still: Psalm 23 and The Good Shepherd

Seeking The Still: Psalm 23 and The Good Shepherd


At this live speaking event for Fearless Women, Laura Fleetwood explains why she had a nervous breakdown and how Psalm 23 reduces anxiety, worry & fear to help you seek the still in the midst of your chaotic life.

To receive the free CHAOS KIT, text MessyMiracle to 444999.

For more anxiety tips and Messy Miracle messages, visit https://www.seekingthestill.com/blog-vlog/

To invite Laura to speak at your church, school or event, visit
https://www.seekingthestill.com/speaking/

To learn about Fearless Women, visit http://fearlesswomenstl.com/

Until we meet again…
Be Still,
Laura

[Podcast] Will you Choose Fear or Faith?

[Podcast] Will you Choose Fear or Faith?

In that moment when things don’t work out the way you planned, you have a choice.

Will you choose fear or faith?

 

 

In that moment when things don’t work out the way you planned, you have a choice. Will you choose fear or faith?

thatupcycledlife.com | SCROLL DOWN FOR SHOW NOTES & LINKS!

GIVE US A “THUMBS-UP” AND COMMENT IF YOU WERE ENCOURAGED BY THIS EPISODE!

In this episode, Laura Fleetwood reflects on episode 2 of That Upcycled Life with Christine Chappell and TUL Uncut Interview with Bobbie Schae and Niki Hardy. When something doesn’t go the way you planned, you can respond one of two ways. With faith. Or with fear. To learn more about Laura Fleetwood and her mission to help you seek the still in your chaotic life, visit seekingthestill.com.

———- Episode description: In episode 2 of “That Upcycled Life,” host Christine Chappell discovers familiarity with a project doesn’t mean it will be easy to complete. Watch as she pauses her vintage window rehab plans to upcycle an old thrift store glass container, and travels to Virginia to take another stab at completing her original window shelf project. This episode’s Upcycled Minute guest is Niki Hardy, writer/speaker and soon-to-be author. (nikihardy.com) In the minute, she shares encouragement about experiencing Jesus’ promise of “fullness of life,” even when current circumstances aren’t going our way.

———- Sign up to be notified about new TUL content weekly and receive 6 free phone lock screens as our gift to you! Join here: goo.gl/jB65pq

———- If you are a Christian author, writer, speaker, teacher, or conference/ministry leader whose passion is to encourage others through hard times, or to share your testimony of how God has “upcycled” pains from your past, we’d love to connect with you! Email us at team@thatupcycledlife.com ———- Be sure to connect with TUL on social media for even more DIY, faith, & fun! Facebook: facebook.com/thatupcycledlife Instagram: instagram.com/thatupcycledlife

———- “That Upcycled Life” airs new show episodes every other Friday. Stay tuned for the next episode of “That Upcycled Life” to air Friday, March 23rd!

Niki reflects upon personal grief, tragedy, and a medical diagnosis that lead her to discover that thriving in the midst of life’s storms was not mere wishful thinking, but a difficult-to-grasp reality that God promises to those who belong to him. Through her story, we also get to see how the Lord has upcycled that difficult season in awe-inspiring ways. Even the most broken things can be upcycled in the right hands! TUL Uncut is an unedited, unscripted video interview series that digs deep into real life stories about real pain to share the redeeming hope of the gospel message. It airs on opposite Fridays of the TUL show. Set your calendar for Fridays at noon EST so you’re the first to see new episode content.

———- Sign up to be notified about new TUL content weekly and receive 6 free phone lock screens as our gift to you! Join here: eepurl.com/dgB7qj

———- Connect with Niki! Here are some helpful links to learn more about Niki’s writing & speaking ministry: Website–nikihardy.com Free resources mentioned in this episode–goo.gl/tKaWHv Connect with Niki on Facebook: www.facebook.com/NikiHardyaut… Connect with Niki on Instagram: www.instagram.com/niki.hardy/

———- If you are a Christian author, writer, speaker, teacher, or conference/ministry leader whose passion is to encourage others through hard times, or to share your testimony of how God has “upcycled” pains from your past, we’d love to connect with you! Email us at team@thatupcycledlife.com

———- Be sure to connect with TUL on social media for even more DIY, faith, & fun! Facebook: facebook.com/thatupcycledlife Instagram: instagram.com/thatupcycledlife

 

 

 

Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open!

Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open!

Dear Messy Miracle,

How do you know when “busy” becomes “too busy?” Where in the world is that magical line?

I’ve been pondering that question a lot recently, because there is SO MUCH going on. When I cross the line between comfortably stretched and completely overwhelmed, the result is never pretty. Even though I know this, my tendency is to want to do ALL THE THINGS. Because they are all good things that help good people.

I’ve recently discovered something that truly helps me with this dilemma.

Have you seen the movie/musical The Greatest Showman? If you haven’t, you must! There is great music and several awesome messages about life hidden within the story and the songs. The soundtrack is now an anthem for my girls and me.

One of the songs at the end is titled, Come Alive and it repeats the phrase…I’M DREAMING WITH MY EYES WIDE OPEN.

The first time I heard those words in the the song, I wanted to sling my arms up in a perfect cheerleader pose and shout “YES!” That’s it! That’s the perfect phrase! I want to dream with my eyes WIDE OPEN.

You see, after my burnout & breakdown, I was afraid to dream at all. I was scared that I’d revert back to my perfectionist, too-much-activity ways. I was afraid I’d sink back into the darkness and the anxiety and the unrelenting overwhelm if I took on new projects, new commitments, and new dreams. And going back to the darkness was my greatest fear.

But God has been showing me that I’ve learned so much! I’m NOT the same Laura that achieved her way into an anxiety disorder. I’m different. Praise God! Because I’ve learned I’m not the One in the control. It is ok to dream and commit and do things I love because THIS TIME, I’m dreaming with my eyes wide open. I know I have a limit. I have a plan, and most importantly I am learning to live in God’s strength, not mine.

I hope this encourages you today as you face a new week ahead. There may, indeed, be some things on your schedule that need to go. There are some commitments on mine that I’m going to graciously surrender this week. And what’s left, I will give to God and ask Him how I should spend my days. With that attitude and by simply doing the next right thing, there is always more than enough time.

Thanks for reading & Be Still,
Laura

P.S. Here are a few things I shared over the past week. I pray they bless you!

 

To The Gal Who “Has It All Together”: Recognizing These 7 Hidden Anxiety Symptoms Can Radically Improve Your Life

To The Gal Who “Has It All Together”: Recognizing These 7 Hidden Anxiety Symptoms Can Radically Improve Your Life

People expect everything you touch to turn to gold.

You’re an achiever who’s always prepared. The go-to girl. The person everyone wants on their team. You’re so good at hiding your anxiety that you may not even know it exists. 

You appear to have it all together on the OUTSIDE.

But you are one mistake or unkind word away from falling apart on the INSIDE.

 

I know this woman well.  She was me.

For more than 3 decades, I thought I was slaying life. I was a model student. The first born of four girls. After college, I was a corporate jet setter traveling the world. I married an amazing man and eventually left the corporate job to stay home with my beautiful girls. Then at age 37,  I had an emotional and physical breakdown and discovered that while my external life was thriving, my internal life was slowly being eaten away by anxiety.

Looking back, all the signs were there from the time I was 7 years old.

I completely missed it. My family missed it. I was so capable. So smart. So headstrong. Sure, I was a perfectionist, but that earned me straight As and accolades. Sure, I worried all the time, but that meant I was prepared for any outcome. I was a problem solver. A dependable fixer.  I stuffed my feelings, which meant I was pleasant and nice to be around. I was diplomatic, never making waves or causing pain.

My anxiety masqueraded in qualities that the world rewarded.

But make no mistake. I was suffering quietly even as I relished in the praise.  All those years, the struggles remained hidden and dismissed where they grew and grew and grew, until my human mind and body could no longer contain them.

Please hear this. Anxiety is treatable. It is manageable. And there is great hope for those of us who struggle.

But FIRST we have to recognize anxiety for what it is.

7 Signs of Anxiety You Might Be Missing

 


#1 PERFECTIONISM
It’s great to do your best, but NOBODY is perfect. Fretting over anything less than ideal, cringing about the smallest mistake or imperfection, thinking about what could have been over and over and over again are just a few ways perfectionism revealed itself in my life. These tendencies often mask an intense fear of failure, a hallmark sign of anxiety.

#2 DISLIKE OF ASKING FOR HELP
When life gets overwhelming, it makes sense to ask for help. But people who have anxiety can view it as weakness or failure. I took extreme measures like regularly sacrificing sleep, self care, and joy in order to get things done.  I refused to ask for help. For someone with anxiety, asking for help feels a bit like crushing the soul.

#3 HIGH ACHIEVER
For some people, it’s difficult to be still. For most of my life, as soon as I completed one project or achieved one goal, I was immediately on to the next. This makes for an impressive resume and stellar accomplishments, but it’s exhausting and unsustainable. Individuals with anxiety often have a difficult time relaxing, so they fill their time with one achievement after another. It feels easier to chase self-worth through accomplishments rather than digging deep to see where the need to achieve is originating.

#4 REHASHING CONVERSATIONS
Overanalyzing conversations and outcomes can be a sign of anxiety. For some people, this presents as being off-the-chart diplomatic or a people-pleaser. An off-hand, flippant comment may mean absolutely nothing to one person, but someone with anxiety may obsess about that same comment for days.

#5 OVER-SCHEDULED
It’s healthy to have boundaries for your time and schedule, but people with hidden anxiety have difficulty saying, “No.”  They don’t want to risk disappointing someone or lose out on an opportunity. As a result, they are often frazzled and stressed by their busy schedules without recognizing that they have the power to make better choices about their commitments.

#6 IRRITABILITY (PARTICULARLY AT HOME) WITH UNEXPECTED OUTBURSTS
People with high-functioning anxiety tend to be on their best behavior around others. They do not want to cause waves or upset the status quo, but those pent up emotions eventually burst. Often family is the misdirected target of such feelings. (Ask my parents about the time I threw roller skates into a wall or my girls about how I used to go ballistic when they left tiny footprints on still-wet hardwood floors). Anxious people may blow up at their loved ones over something small, because they have suppressed frustrations with others.

#7 EXTREME PREPAREDNESS
Planning is good and valuable, but planning for worst-case scenarios over and over again is not healthy. There things we cannot control, which is difficult (but not impossible) for a person with anxiety to accept. Individuals who struggle with anxiety desperately want to control their life. Part of that control is doing everything possible to keep their true feelings a secret. They becom adept at hiding their anxiety and are often the ones you LEAST expect to struggle.

 

But here’s some good news … Whether you are seven or thirty seven, all of these habits can be addressed.

 

 

You can live free from anxiety. But contrary to what you might believe, it won’t happen by trying harder or doing more.

As I continue to share my story of burnout, breakdown and transformation, many find it difficult to believe that a “wonder woman” (their words, not mine) was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder at age 37. Sadly, I’ve learned that is more common than you’d think. If you (or someone you love) has a life that appears worthy of superpowers, try viewing their success and accomplishments in a new light. TRUE superpower is the bravery it takes to recognize underlying anxiety and reach out for help. Hopefully it doesn’t take a breakdown like mine to force you to do it.

You CAN have a successful life. You CAN accomplish great things. You CAN take pride in your efforts. And you CAN learn to do it without the enormous internal pressure constantly threatening to take you down.

I’m living proof that it is possible. That anxiety does not get the final word. Freedom is awaits.  Claim it, my friend.

Be Still,
Laura

Did this resonate with you?
Perhaps today is the day you take a step toward freedom, Messy Miracle.
Here are a few steps to guide your way.

About The Author

Laura Fleetwood is a Freedom Guide for women and girls who look like they have it all together on the outside, but are falling apart on the inside. She is the creator of SeekingTheStill.com where you can read about her own journey through clinical anxiety, find inspirational stories, helpful videos and practical wisdom about trading anxiety, burnout & breakdown for freedom. There is hope and you are NOT alone.

It’s Ok To Celebrate When God Answers Prayer

It’s Ok To Celebrate When God Answers Prayer

“I asked God for $800…”

After those words left my mouth at dinner, I smirked and shrugged at my husband and two daughters.

“It’s so strange,” I continued. “This conference in New York called VoxCon keeps popping up in my path. I feel like I’m supposed to go, but we don’t have the money.

“So…I asked God to give me $800 if He wants me to go.”

The fact that I asked God for the money was a mini miracle in itself.

I have a spending dragon. Clothes. Home decor. Make-up. Trips. My nature is to buy now, regret later.

But I’ve been working on it. REALLY working on it. Mostly because my spending dragon was driving a wedge between me and Justin. He stresses about money. A lot. And we (mostly me) had built up a hefty balance on our credit card.

So at the advice of dear friend, I completely turned my spending over to Justin a few months ago. He took my credit card. He gave me cash to spend each week. And it was hard. I had to say no, turn the other way, and keep my spending dragon at bay.

But it worked. We paid off our credit card in December. For real.

So…the fact that this VoxCon conference kept appearing in front of me truly intrigued me and bothered me. I was obeying God in this aspect of my marriage, so why did He keep putting this conference in my path that I couldn’t afford?

The thing is…
I have learned that there is so much more to life than what we see.

And the intuition God gifted me was sizzling. It was just two weeks before the conference date, but I prayed something a little like this…

Dear Jesus – There’s this amazing conference in NYC that has captivated me. I don’t know why. And I definitely don’t know HOW it would even work for me to go. It will cost $800, and I can’t spend the money unless we have it. If you really want me to go, will you please give me $800?

 

Truthfully, I felt guilty even asking.

A trip to NYC was a luxury, not a need. And so many people have such bigger problems. My shame dragon kept trying to suck me down. But each time, a new email appeared in my inbox or a Facebook ad popped up, I prayed the same prayer.

Please give me $800 if I’m supposed to go.

Just a few days after I shared my prayer with Justin and the girls, I had a massive panic attack. The kind that leaves me in bed and quaking with uncertainty about the future. On the first day I made it back to work, I received this text from Justin.

 

Allow me to explain.

Due to hail damage, we needed to replace our roof. For a variety of reasons, it was a 5 month long saga. The one thing we knew for sure was that we’d have to pay AT LEAST our $1500 deductible and likely more. So we had that money socked away.

Do you see what I’m showing you here?!?

We were told we HAD to pay $1500. But when we got the bill it was only $700. A difference of $800.

Mind blown…but wait. Remember that I was now in the throes of an anxiety rebound. What recently sounded like a fun adventure, now seemed like a death trap and the worst idea in the world. Thanks, anxiety.

So what’s a girl to do?

Let’s take stock, shall we?

  1. The Spirit had been stirring me up about this conference.
  2. I didn’t have the money.
  3. I asked God for $800 if He wanted me to go.
  4. He gave me exactly $800.
  5. I had a panic attack out of nowhere.
  6. Now I didn’t want to go.
  7. But God clearly showed me He wants me to go.

In all situations, we have a choice Messy Miracle.

We can listen to the Voice of Faith or we can listen to the voice of fear. If my journey has shown me anything, it’s that the voice of fear is a liar and the Voice of Faith is freedom. Every. Single. Time.

So…I told my team. I sought wise advice. I asked my Dad if he wanted to take a trip to NYC with me, and I booked our flights.

As I type these words, I’m sitting at the St. Louis airport waiting for our delayed flight to Manhattan. I still don’t know why this conference is calling me, but I am obeying that call.

I could feel guilty that my prayer was answered when so many aren’t.

But that’s the voice of fear. That voice WANTS ME to minimize this blessing. That voice IS DESPERATE for me to keep my answered prayer silent. That voice DOESN’T WANT us to share any hope or help or healing.

So to combat that vicious voice of fear, I choose to CELEBRATE the God who loves us so much that He answers us so specifically, right down to dollar amount.

There’s so much WE DON’T KNOW. And will never know this side of heaven. That’s the whole point. To ask. And go. And praise. And simply do the next right thing, trusting the outcome to God.

If you are in a place of doubt or fear or questioning right now, may I suggest one thing? Ask yourself…

What would happen if I stop TRYING to make this thing happen and PRAY for The Hero to show me IF and HOW.

I promise you this. No matter the outcome, the pressure you feel will be lifted.

And that thing will be in the only place it belongs…the Hands of God.

Be Still,
Laura

P.S. If you’d like to see how this trip unfolds, follow #SeekingTheStilNYC on Facebook and Instagram. I’ll be sharing my fears and my fun and the ever-unfolding path of seeking the still amid the chaos of life.

 

Radical Trust

Radical Trust

Allow me to introduce the idea of Radical Trust.

  Trust not in myself or any man-made thing, but in the only One who deserves such trust. The One True God. A friend emailed me this verse today, and it was a much needed reminder of where my trust needs to be:  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:5 Read that last phrase again: We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. Did you know that fear, all on its own, triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses and activates more than 30 different hormones? Fear is just a thought. That’s all it is, yet it has enormous impact on our bodies. I don’t have much control over much in this world. Especially things like anxiety disorders, depression, and medication. But I CAN control my thoughts. I can take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. The Bible tells me I can. So here’s what I’ve been doing since I read that verse. Every time my mind wants to worry about how I’m feeling…or how long this yuckiness will last…or whether I’m going spiral further downward…or whether I’ll have to feel like this EVERY TIME I change medication… or whether I’ll be able to make it to Anna’s party tomorrow… or whether I’ll ever get off this medicine or whether…you get the idea. As soon as a FEARFUL thought enters my mind, I’m TAKING IT CAPTIVE and handing it over to Christ. Literally, in my mind, I snatch it and give it to Jesus. And then I tell myself. I trust you, Jesus. I trust you. I trust you. I trust you. If God is who He says He is, I can trust Him. Not just with the big stuff, but the everyday fears and worries. Yes, even my messy medicine tapers. If I TRULY believe Jesus walked this earth and loved me enough to take my place on a cross and that He rose from the dead, then I have to be able to believe He loves me enough to help me make it through this current trial. On my own, it’s impossible to take every thought captive, I know this. So, I ask Jesus to help me. Take this fearful thought, Lord. I trust you. Take the what-ifs and should-haves and could-haves. I give them to you. Again, and again, and again. I trust YOU. I love you. Jesus. Only Jesus.   That’s Radical Trust, Messy Miracle. If the only way out is through, then Radical Trust in the healing power of Jesus is the only way I’m making it. I think it’s time for a Radical Trust revolution, don’t you? I believe it would look something like this. Snatch…Hand it over…I trust you, Jesus. Snatch…Hand it over…I trust you, Jesus.  Snatch…Hand it over…I trust you, Jesus. He is the Almighty One. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Through Him all things were made. He is All Knowing, All Powerful, Omni-Present. He is BIGGER THAN MY FEARS. He is WORTHY OF MY TRUST.  He STANDS ALONE, I STAND AMAZED, Jesus, only Jesus. Snatch…Hand it over…I trust you, Jesus. Snatch…Hand it over…I trust you, Jesus. Snatch…Hand it over…I trust you, Jesus. P.S. Please remind me that I wrote this tomorrow when I forget, ok? In fact, let’s all remind each other, and often. Because your story matters, too. Where is He gnawing in you? Where are the cracks in your armor that let His light shine through? Don’t try to stop the unleashing, love. Let it flow from your mouth, or your pen, or your fingertips. It may just be your time. Maybe you were created for such a time as this. QUICK QUESTION If I could help you with one struggle in your life. What would it be? What is making your soul R E S T L E S S today? Send me a message and let know, ok? BE STILL, LAURA

 
But Now I’m Found

But Now I’m Found

There came a day when it was time to re-enter the land of the living.

  I attended my last session of intensive outpatient therapy, and my work leave ended. The annual off-site retreat was first time I would see my colleagues from the church & school. I felt like a piece of driftwood bobbing on the waves. I barely knew what had just happened to me, and I had no vision for the what the future held. Doubts and questions whispered in my head. What have they heard? Do they know where I have been? What will they think when they see me? I knew I couldn’t handle the overnight stay, so I planned to drive to the retreat center early Saturday to join the rest of the crew. It was my first time traveling to this location, so I dutifully entered the address in my phone and let Siri be my guide. I knew the retreat center was in the middle of nowhere, so I wasn’t worried when the roads began winding and wrapping with few houses in between. However, as the clock ticked toward starting time for the morning session, I knew something was not right. I should have been there by now. My anxious thoughts about my co-workers were replaced with another realized fear. I was lost.   Great, I thought to myself. Now I’ll have to make an entrance in front of the entire group. That will only make my recent absence all the more obvious to everyone in the room. My insecurities were about to push me over the edge when I saw it suddenly appear on my right hand side. I slowed down, stopped, and stared. There, in the middle of fields of corn, sat a beautiful, abandoned church. The remnants of stone walls stood, but the roof was all pale blue sky.

I had a moment then.   I get these feelings from time-to-time, like the Holy Spirit is tapping me on the shoulder. I didn’t have time to process what I saw as I drove by, but that feeling told me it was significant. Just then, Siri rerouted my map, and I saw I was only 10 minutes from the retreat. My sense of responsibility kicked in, and I followed the remaining instructions to my destination. I did have to walk into a meeting already in session, but I made it through the day with no awkward moments. Until the very end… We stood in a circle. About 30 of us holding hands, and we took turns praying out loud. When the prayer made it’s way to me, I was shaking badly. I knew It was time to be honest. My mask fit me no more. So, I prayed thanks for the people who had stood by my side. I prayed gratitude that Jesus never once stopped holding my hand. And my voice cracked with tears when I shared how difficult it was to simply take the next right step. The tears really came then, and I didn’t try to stop them. I had done what I came to do. I showed up. I was in the arena once more. As I quietly returned to my van to head home, I felt the nudge again. The church. I knew I had to find it, if only to prove to myself it was real. I retraced my route on those winding roads until I saw it on my left side, now. I parked the van, grabbed my camera, and stood in awe. It took my breath away. This broken shell of a church was me. Crumbling, but standing. Fragile, but strong. Rooted in a God who gives miracles to the lost. I stepped through the empty doorway and walked reverently to where the altar must have stood many moons ago. The open circle still marked the space where the sun once shone through colored glass. I knelt down on that hallowed, rocky ground and sobbed. I cried till there were no more tears, and I felt a burst of something in my heart. Something I hadn’t felt in a long time…hope. If God could use a lost travel route to give me this incredible gift, what else could He do? My past was raw and my future was uncertain. But that day, the gift of an abandoned church etched a truth on my soul. The destinations that I plan may not be God’s plan. But no matter where the winding road leads, I will NEVER be too lost to be found. Darling, you also are never too lost to be found. Sit with that, savor it, revel in it. XOXOXO, Laura

 
I Once Was Lost

I Once Was Lost

It was one of those days.

  A day where my anxiety reigned and shrouded me with it’s dark veil. This thing called anxiety had barreled into my life over the past year, and I was still waiting for rescue. I barely made it through each day as a wife, mom of two, and Director of Communications at my church.  

During this dark time, I often felt suffocated and paralyzed.

  Like I was living under water and struggling to make my way to the surface for a breath of air. When panic overcame me at work, I sought refuge in the only place I had privacy – the back of my van. I curled up on the folded seats. I prayed. I meditated. I breathed. I did anything that might calm the surge of adrenaline coursing through my body and irrational thoughts in my mind. If close my eyes, I still see myself laying there in isolation, desperate for saving. I cried, I raged, and I prayed.  

I felt alone. So very alone.

  Outside the van, kids were running around at recess. Happy and carefree, they paraded by, unaware that a shell of a woman was lying on her back just feet away, praying for the pain to stop and for the strength to rise. Then I heard it. A knock on my back window. Sitting up, I saw a friend and co-worker. Her face pressed up against the tinted glass, searching for me curled inside.  

“I’ve been looking for you,” she said as I opened the hatch.

  Climbing inside, she sat cross legged with me – two grown women finding respite from the world in an unlikely place – the back of a mini-van. My friend acted like it was the most natural thing to sit there with me. I talked about my fears, and she listened. Her presence calmed me. She didn’t have answers, but she was there – she came to find me, to listen, and that was enough to get me through another day. I wonder if you have that same tendency to retreat when the world just seems to be too much? Do you hide away and try to go it alone?  

Messy Miracle, there is Someone knocking, waiting for you to open the door and let Him in.

  Jesus, too, says, “I’ve been looking for you.” When I was young, I was fascinated by a painting of Jesus knocking on a door. It was so interesting because there was no knob on the exterior of that door – it could only be opened from the inside. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Jesus will come looking for you no matter where you are, what you’re feeling, or what you’ve done. Scripture tells us that as our Good Shepherd, He will leave the 99 to look for the one. That one is you. He will peer through the window in the door of your heart and wait as long as it takes for you to let Him in. It’s as simple as word, a whisper, a silent prayer. “Come, Lord Jesus.” And when He enters in that most unlikely place, you won’t be lost anymore. XOXOXO, Laura  
The Whisper in the Leaves

The Whisper in the Leaves

Crunchy leaves swirl wildly in the vortex.

I stand mesmerized each time I see them spin. Where is this unseen, whirling wind and how do the leaves always find it? My life is like these leaves. One minute gently floating and the next spinning out of control.

As the autumn leaves dance and fall, my soul stirs and stills. Something in this season grants permission to enjoy the chaos I see. If anything else spilled from the sky, collected everywhere, hid the familiar, calamity would strike.

But these beautiful, dead leaves bring peace and knowing. They fall chaotic, yes, but there is divine order in their very being. They remind that the earth is ushering in a deep sleep.

A time of rest and restoration is on its way.

In my life, too, I feel the chaos. The dreams I once held, the person I used to be, the masks I once wore are no more. They swirled away in a vortex of change. My soul is like the last leaf that clings to the tree. You know the one? I always notice those lone beauties. The others let go, set themselves free, and trust the divine wind to carry them.

Oh how I want to do that. To trust God’s control and let His whirling Spirit send me on a divine dance. I know He can. Why am I still here clinging?

I close my eyes and breathe. Letting go of the chaos in my mind requires a deep exhale and a shift.

It’s easy to talk to God, but I’m still learning to listen.

When it happens, my heart stills in wonder. It’s not an audible voice. More like a deep knowing from within. And peace. Lots of peace.

In Old Testament Bible days people literally heard the voice of God out loud. Then God spoke through the prophets. When the time was right, He spoke through His Son. And now He speaks within. As I watch the leaves spin, He speaks.

What do you have for me today, Lord? I’m listening. I’ve set down my agenda and laid my fears at your feet. Help be open to your spirit. Please tell me.

I listen. I close my eyes and hold a vision of Jesus in my mind. I set my pen on the paper and write what I hear Him saying to me.

Did I really hear Him? I believe so.

The messages that came from my pen were words of hope, complete opposite of the fearful voice that filled my head.

“You are closer to healing than you think.
I will give you the strength you need to carry on.
It may not always be comfortable, but it will always be doable with me.
Do not doubt me or you will be like a wave tossed on the wind.
Let go and trust me. You will be healed.
Don’t fight the fear, give it to me instead.
Rejoice always!”

Be Still,
Laura

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