Feeling Anxious?

We are twelve days into the New Year and I wonder whether I should go on a media fast.  It seems every time I tune into the news, there is fresh outrage at something our politicians have said or done.  Other victims of sexual harassment have come forward in Hollywood; another natural disaster has occurred, and the “peace and good will” that was celebrated just a few weeks ago has all but been forgotten.  What happened?

My twitter feed is filled with people venting about anything and anybody.  No one is safe from the online bullying.  I cringe when I read some of the comments and opinions leveled at politicians in the U.S., Canada and around the world.  Fear mongering is rampant.  I’m shocked at the profanity and derogatory slurs that are commonly spewed on social media.  What is wrong with people?

You will have noticed that I have been silent the last few weeks (at least from a writing viewpoint).  It seems that the January doldrums or “blues” have hit me especially hard this year.  I have several friends who have lost loved ones over the past few weeks, and several more that are facing serious health crises.  I have bought three condolence cards this past week alone.  That is depressing.  My Connection group leader asked us in church last Sunday, “Does it seem like there are a lot more prayer requests and concerns than usual to start 2018?”

Yep…and there is more to come.

It would seem I am not alone in this New Year’s malaise.  It’s easy to say, “do not be anxious…” (Philippians 4:6-7) but the reality is: people ARE ANXIOUS!

I was reminded today, as I have been reminded at the start of every New Year, that casting my cares once more upon the strong shoulders of my Saviour is a choice.  It’s not easy to let go of my anxiety.  At times I wear it like a security blanket.  I become more comfortable in my stress than letting go of it.  Weird but true.

I want to let go of my anxiety.  It’s a daily struggle.  I truly want that “peace that transcends understanding”.  There is no easy method for letting go of anxiety, but there’s a proven, tried-and-true equation to follow: I am presenting my petitions to God through prayer yet again.  Ceaseless, daily prayer going before the Father for wisdom and guidance.  I know He is able.  I know He is “my help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1).  I may not be a math genius, but that at least is a good formula to work on every single day.

 

 

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A Fresh Start

A Fresh StartIt is the last day of the year.  Here in Alberta the temperature gauge is set at -29 C and factoring in the wind chill, it’s -40 C.  That is blistering cold!  To make matters worse, I have been experiencing a head cold that has kept me house bound for the past week.  For a germaphobe like me, this just adds insult to injury.

I should be used to our winters but naively, I still hope that one year Canada will be spared the Polar Plunge and we will experience an “unseasonably warm” winter.  Going against political correctness, Global Warming doesn’t seem to apply to us here.

Still, as the New Year is only hours away now, it’s not the cold or my head cold that has me frozen.  It’s wondering what 2018 will be like?  What awaits me this year?  What can I look forward to, and what will stymie me in the pursuit of meeting personal goals and aspirations this year?

I don’t make resolutions, because I fail so miserably in keeping them.  Still, I believe it is important to plan ahead, think “one-day-at-a-time” and pray God’s Will be done in every decision.  He’s in charge.  Not me.  It is a good thing to remember that and repeat it daily.

God is in control.

Not me.

Repeat…

A New Year should be a time of reflection and renewal.  I like to start the New Year thanking the Lord for His mercies that are new EVERY morning.  In an often perplexing and out-of-control world, HE never changes.  He is CONSTANT.  That gives me great confidence about this upcoming year.  Whatever circumstance I find myself this year, He will never leave me or forsake me.

And again, when I find myself in a circumstance, pleasant or unpleasant, that God has orchestrated to bring Glory to HIM, I must always remember:

God is in control.

Not me.

Repeat…

Amen.

 

 

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A Joy-Filled Christmas

Experience JoyThe tree(s) have been up for a couple of weeks now.  The house is decorated and we are experiencing “hygge“, the recently popular Danish expression that goes far beyond the definition of the word.  I can’t help but giggle that in the last couple of years, books have been written here in North America about how to experience “hygge” in your home.  My parents were Danish, so I understand the true spirit of “hygge”.  It truly is a lifestyle, but it’s way more than that, and it’s not just experienced in and around Christmas but throughout the year.

Truly non-Danes do not get it.

Danes, who are known as the “happiest people on earth”, don’t need to write books on “hygge” because it just comes naturally to them.  You’ve either got it, or you don’t.  Reading books on how to attain it, means you probably won’t ever have it.  Sorry.

It is like JOY but goes far, far deeper than the word itself.  You either have it, or you don’t.  You can read books on how to attain it, but if you equate happiness with JOY then you probably won’t ever have it.  Sorry.

You see, JOY is something you have within you, that is not associated in any way with your personal circumstances.  You can have great JOY without experiencing happiness.  Read my series on Finding JOY NOT HAPPINESS.  It goes into great depth about being JOYFUL in spite of hard circumstances.

Christians know that JOY is not associated with personal wealth, health, things, work, or career.  JOY is found in only ONE Person…Jesus.  If you have JESUS, you have JOY.

Some people spend their whole lives trying to discover how to fill that void that only Jesus can fill.  They think work will make them happy, or friends, or family, or possessions, or hobbies, or a host of other things that may give them personal satisfaction or happiness for a little while, but it is all transitory.  None of those things has any kind of staying power.  A job loss, a broken relationship, a health crisis will quickly cause happiness to crumble but great JOY will remain if that person has put their faith and trust in Christ Jesus.

This Christmas Season as you dash around the malls in search of that perfect gift for that special someone, why not think first about accepting and then sharing a Gift that will last for all time?  It won’t cost you a penny to give or receive, but it is invaluable.  It is JOY wrapped up in a Person.  Accept HIM into your heart and experience the kind of JOY the angels heralded on that night as Mary laid her boy-child into a manger bed.

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  (Luke 2:1-14)

Merry Christmas!

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