Cast Your Parenting Anxiety On Him

My son is nine today! He’s my firstborn, so his birthday always makes me extra sentimental. His birth signifies the beginning of parenthood for me. This means nine years of laughter and joy, but in my case it also means nine years of worrying.

I’ll never forget the intense anxiety I experienced as a new mom. My sons life seemed so fragile and I was worried about everything from SIDS and choking to random disasters. I remember constantly sticking my finger under his nose to make sure that he was breathing okay. I was so afraid all the time and emotionally I was feeling the weight of it all.

When I became a new mom I realized just how much of a control freak I am. Not with everyday things, I’m not one to try and micromanage, but with life. Trusting God was easier when it was just me. I could resign to His plans pretty easily, but when I became a mom trusting God felt a million times harder. Trusting God required me to let go of control of my baby and say, “I trust you with him God. I trust you no matter what happens. Good or bad.” It required surrender and I wasn’t ready to do that. I wasn’t ready to surrender. I wanted to control everything and naively thought that I could shield my son from pain.

It’s funny, because we never really have control, and yet we believe we do and try desperately to keep it. The truth is though, life was going to play out whether or not I liked it, I just had to choose who would walk us through it. Would I be driven by fear and constant worry, or trust in the God who would lead me through?

After months of worry and wrestling with God, I finally surrendered. Little did I know just how much I would need God to guide me through. The following years brought us three more babies, health scares and troubling diagnoses. In fact on more than one occasion I wondered if I would lose the precious babies that God had given me. Did surrendering my babies to God make me stop worrying? Nope! But it gave me hope.

When my daughter was in the hospital, tubes everywhere and progressively getting worse, I would sing and cry out to God. I was terrified, but I knew we were not alone. What a comfort that was. What a comfort that is to this day.

The truth is being a parent is scary. Kids are accidents waiting to happen and that can increase any parents anxiety tenfold, but we serve a God who is with us through it all, and He wants to lighten our load. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” What a comfort this is! I don’t know about you, but I’ve been worried lately. I’ve been reading one too many news articles and the world seems overwhelmed with fear over another possible pandemic. I can’t help but worry about all the implications it could have on us, but I’m reminded that God can handle my worries and fears. I know that whatever comes, we will not walk it alone.

I have experienced God’s comfort and peace my whole life, but never more than in the past nine years of becoming a parent. So today, on my oldest son’s birthday, I will not only celebrate him, but all that God has done, and how I found comfort in the surrender.

Jesus Please Hold My Hand in the Dark

We’ve been going through a bit of a tough season lately. A season where we don’t know what’s next and it feels like we’re walking through the dark grasping for a hand to guide us. In this season everything feels fragile and I fear it may all fall apart.

God is here with us in this season, I know it. He is guiding us through. I see His work in the all the little things that are carrying us. A cheque from a friend that arrives at just the right time, the support and encouragement of another, and that day when my online job went glitchy and I had no choice but to finally rest.

I’m scared though, because sometimes I don’t feel God’s hand guiding me and as someone who is security minded, I don’t like walking through life in the dark. I want … scratch that, I need to know what’s next. I need to feel secure and stable.

Instead I find myself asking “why”. Why us? Why are we standing here and it feels like the ground is crumbling beneath us? Is it me? Do I lack faith? That last question is rhetorical. I already know the answer. I do lack faith, BUT I also know God isn’t punishing me for it. Sometimes I have faith that is baffling in bleak circumstances, but this thing called security, it’s my kryptonite.

It’s crazy really, because I often fondly talk about years ago when we were in transition between jobs and had more money in our bank account than made sense. It was literally loaves and fishes, and yet here I am panicking, a complete and utter wreck.

I’ve always believed that we need to trust God no matter what, but that can be hard to do when you know bad things happen to Christians too.

How do I have faith, when so much is at stake. And is God really faithful in every circumstance? The truth is yes. God is faithful in the dark. God is faithful when I can’t feel His hand. He is always there. I can’t say I have constant peace in this season. It comes in waves, and then fear creeps back in, but thankfully I can say that He does provide.

I’ve been here before. I’ve walked through the dark when I couldn’t see. I felt alone, abandoned even, but in the end I’m glad to say I saw He was with me. He works in ways I do not understand, and many times it seems to not make sense, but He guides me through it. Now on the days when it doesn’t make any sense I will cling to Matthew 6:26-27 where Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

If God takes care of the birds, then surely we can trust Him to takes care of us! So even though I’m afraid and my legs feel shaky, I will step forward trusting He’s there to guide me, even when I can’t see His hand.

Dear Friend,

I wrote this months ago in a tough season. I am happy to report that so much has changed and God has taken care of us in big ways. I decided to share this to encourage others who need hope in a difficult time. If that’s you, don’t lose faith! God is with you and even though you can’t see it, there is light around the corner.

Don’t Just Dream It, Do It

It’s that time of year. The time when we recap all of the good and bad of the last 12 months and make goals to move forward. It’s exciting as we anticipate the new year and the opportunities it will bring.

For me, 2019 had a lot of lows, but it’s still a year I’ll never forget. 2019 is when I finally realized a dream I’d carried for years. This year I stepped out of my comfort zone and started this blog. It’s funny, because as I set out for this year I had absolutely no intention of starting anything. In fact, I felt a little lost.

I’ve been a stay at home mom for years, and I had no idea what my life would look like once all of my kids went off to school. That day seemed like it would never come and yet here I am less than a year out from having large amounts of actual free time. As exciting as this is, I found myself becoming more anxious at the thought of freedom, not because I’d miss my kids, I mean I will of course, but because I didn’t know myself. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had no clue what my purpose was beyond being a mom, and in you’re thirties, that’s a scary thing to admit!

Up until now my purpose has been clear, to focus on my kids. Caring for them and loving them 24/7. It’s been challenging, but also simple, comfortable even. Sure I’ve been pushed to the brink of exhaustion and I’ve had a lot of growing up to do, but my purpose was clear and I knew exactly what I had to do.

This year has been filled with uncertainty as I figured out what was next for me in 2020. I’ve spent countless hours worrying about what’s next. What am I supposed to do with my life? Do I chase a paycheque or work towards a dream? What exactly are my dreams?

In the spring, my husband started a blog and began to ask me to guest post. He mentioned it often and each time I would shrug it off saying, “I dunno. What would I write?”. Finally, on a sunny day in June, I was inspired. The words rushed out of me like water out of a tap. I wrote about my struggles. It was cathartic. It felt important. A couple of weeks later it happened again, and I poured my heart out into another guest post. Like a diary, for all to see. Suddenly I began to dream!

Now I’m usually a starter, not a finisher, but I felt this dream birthed in me. I felt a sense of purpose, so I prepared and launched this blog with intention.

I say all of this to say, what’s your purpose? What dream has God birthed in your heart? Are you doing your part to see it come to life?

I didn’t really realize it, but it turns out writing has been a passion of mine all along. Since starting my blog I’ve found embarrassing diary entries from my preteen years, odd little short stories, and blogs from two years ago that I didn’t have the courage to share. I found a dream that had been put aside too many times and was finally stumbled upon. I discovered my dream from long ago and I finally pushed my insecurities aside and stepped into my purpose.

So what is your 2020 going to look like? Are you finally going to step out and see your dreams realized, because if you’re like me you can become complacent in comfort. You can procrastinate on fulfilling your purpose. Dreams can seem like impossible fantasies, but God has called us to the impossible. He calls us to things we can’t do in our own strength. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength”. We can achieve our God given purpose, because of HIM! We know we have found our purpose, when we are living out our dreams that are just plain impossible without God. Let me tell you, it’s scary! It requires trust, and risk, and a whole lot of vulnerability, BUT it’s exhilarating! It’s a thrill relying on God for strength each step of the way as you navigate the unknown and dare to dream even more.

So in 2020, don’t settle for comfort, but beyond that, do more than just dream, actually do. When you’re captivated by your dreams, with the purpose God has given you, take action! You’ve heard it said, “Don’t just dream it, do it!”. Let this be the year! Step out and may your dreams become reality, as you “do it” in His strength.

Just as I Am

I am Hidden.

When I was in grade eight, I had a tough year in school, I was bullied, I was rejected, I was alone.

The next year someone I loved and trusted said to me, “I can kinda understand, you were pretty annoying that year”. I am scarred by those words. I have never forgotten.

Since then those words have served as a warning for me. They’ve propelled an inner lie, “Keep people at bay Sarah. They can’t handle too much of you. They’ll get tired and turn their backs on you eventually. It’s best not to get too close”.

Connection was risky. Distance was safe. The result though was loneliness.

I say “was” as if it’s a struggle from my past, but in truth it’s still very real to this day. I don’t trust people. I don’t trust them to love me as I am, and I don’t trust them to stay the course as I let them see me in my good and bad. The odd thing is that I think my best parts have also been the parts I worry about the most. See I’m bubbly and a fast talker, not only that, but I like to talk, like a LOT. People don’t always like someone whose chatty and bubbly at 7 am, especially when its natural and not a result of coffee.

It’s my default to quickly assume I’m too much for people, and I’m sure there are times when I am. Though sometimes I can’t help but wonder how much of the distance I feel with people is created by me. Maybe it’s not them rejecting me, but me hiding behind my walls. Me trying to protect myself from being hurt.

My husband sometimes says, “Don’t say no for people”. Now he’s never really applied it to this context, but as I mull over this connection issue of mine, I can’t help but think it fits perfectly. DON’T SAY NO FOR PEOPLE! Don’t say no for people when you meet them and don’t say no when you wonder whether or not to let them in. Risk discomfort and rejection in favour of genuine and quality friendships.

This blog is a step in the right direction for me. I am sharing my heart on these pages, and yet, it’s still from a distance. I can still see the struggle for me in my daily life. Friends that have stood the test of time, and yet barely know me. Cryptic conversations where I am longing to share my heart, but holding back so much because I just can’t bring myself to say the words.

Will they accept me? Will they love me? The real me, whoever that is, just as I am?

I know the one who loves me. His name is Jesus. He sees all of me. He understands me, better than I understand myself. He has held me in my darkest moments. When I struggle, He gently whispers to me and calls me to more. This is one of those moments.

The other day I was lounging in my jammies past noon daydreaming about this blog. I was lost in thought dreaming about what it might look like down the line. Maybe I’d find community with my readers and other bloggers like me, and who knows, maybe I’d get to go to a big fancy writing conference one day. My excitement was quickly overtaken with insecurity. I couldn’t get it out of my head that I don’t belong. See I am not polished like all those Instagram ready moms and bloggers. I can’t curl my hair into those beachy waves or apply anything but mascara, and I’m more a hot mess than the DIY mom. More than that though, I’m afraid to let people in.

Right now at this very moment I am very aware of just how hidden I am, and how much of a struggle that is for me. In fact my life is a tug and pull of wanting to be truly known and wanting to flee from any real connection.

I’m afraid of letting myself be known just as I am, but I cannot live this way anymore. I’m tired of being lonely and afraid, so I am choosing to drop my walls and connect. Not just on these pages, but in life.

True connection doesn’t happen over night. It takes time and investment, but I’ve got to accept myself first. Learn to love me just as I am, just as God made me, and live in that. Then maybe I’ll start with something simple like coffee with a friend and real, honest conversation. It won’t be easy, I might get hurt, but it’s a risk I’m taking.

Will you?

Inadequacy in the Box

Inadequate. A word that has hung heavily over my head for most of my life. A word that has kept me away from my potential. See my whole life I have felt inadequate for just about everything. Afraid of trying, because trying risks failure. Every job I consider, every new venture, parenthood, serving, and leading at church… inadequate. 

This very blog, almost didn’t happen because, as you can guess, I felt inadequate. In fact I’ve mulled over all the reasons not too. What if it’s all to depressing? What if I run out of things to say? What if no one wants to listen? What if I let them see the real me, and it’s all just too much? Risk is scary, and so I often compromise my dreams and settle for comfort.

In comfort, I wonder how much I’ve missed out on. Sometimes I even stop dreaming, because the dreams are to big for a person like me. Inadequate. Unqualified. Afraid. These feelings and fears are so real to me, constantly in the back of my head. The little voice that says, “Don’t do it, you’ll just fail, why bother.” Those words echo through my mind, but if there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that those words are from the enemy, and the enemy is a liar!

God has a plan for me. He has a plan for each of us, but the enemy wants to keep us in a box. On the outside this box looks like a box of comfort and safety, but it’s deceiving, because the box is a cage––the box is fear. When I wallow in my fear, God likes to remind me of my favourite passage in the Bible. In Jeremiah 1:5,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, 
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

Jeremiah knew exactly what I feel. He too felt inadequate and unqualified, but he trusted in God despite his fears of falling short, and God used him. God has called me, and you, to so much more than our boxes. He has called us to a full life of serving him– to a purpose and a plan. He has big things in store for all of us, and because of Him we are qualified. He gives us the words to say and the courage to speak, but only when we lean on Him. 

I find that sometimes when I believe the lies of the enemy, I keep God at bay, because I know He’s calling me to more, challenging me to obey Him and see what happens, but I just can’t bring myself to listen. I put my faith in my fear, instead of God.

Today, I’m taking a step out of my box with this blog. I am choosing to let God use me and speak through me. Trusting that he will give me the words. Here I will share with boldness, and trust that God will use my pain and struggles, joys and triumphs for His glory. It’s scary and daunting, but I know that God has strengthened me, and I’m excited. If you understand what it feels like to feel inadequate, I hope you’ll join me on this journey in trusting God, as we step out of the box.