I Should Probably Just Watch Television For A Living

Commit your work

I am considering writing about contentment versus anxiety. This creates anxiety within me.

It is a topic that will require a lot of thought and study and writing and re-writing. It feels like a subject that needs to be written by a seasoned writer, not a novice writer. In the past, when I was spending more time writing and journaling and in the middle of a hard journey regarding contentment, this would have been easier for me. At this juncture, while not spending much time at all on my writing, it feels very heavy. But I know that you eat an elephant one bite at a time, so I will try that approach with this.

Maybe today I will just write about my intention to write about this topic. Exercise my weak writing muscles with some simple warm-ups to begin. I would hate to strain an unused muscle and set myself backwards from the get-go. Right?

My present thoughts are to write maybe a series. Contentment with things. This will be the easiest one to write. Contentment with locations and situations. Is this one too broad? Where you live, where you work, a difficult marriage, a hard place with your kids or extended family members, health. Should health be a separate topic or combined with locations and situations?

See? I’m already overwhelmed.

I think I’ll go open the refrigerator door and stare inside for a while.

I decided to take a bathroom break instead. There’s not much in my fridge anyway.

I’d give anything for a Snickers Ice Cream Bar right now. Maybe I should write about contentment with food. It’s not an issue I struggle too deeply with, though. Should I write about parts of contentment that I don’t struggle too much with or just stick to those areas where I do struggle?

How much should I actually discuss anxiety if the main purpose of the series is contentment?

And then there are the benefits of contentment versus anxiety. Contentment helps me see and hear and know God more fully and clearly. This quells anxiety. Should this be a separate part of the series or discussed at the end of each specific topic? Probably discussed at the end of each specific topic. Did I just manage to make a decision? Well, good for me! I might change my mind later.

I am going to go make myself some green tea now. Did you know that green tea has L-theanine which helps with anxiety? I have found that to be true. Should I write about natural ways to calm anxiety in my contentment series? Or is that a whole nother topic to possibly consider at a later date?

This has been 20 minutes in the life and mind of Paula Brazzell. Welcome to my head.

Green tea, anyone?

 

God has given us all hands ~ hands to serve. Let’s use them to serve Him well.

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Contentment Is Better Than Anxiety

I have learned to be content... 2

Yes, I am frustrated with myself. I tell myself I’ll type/write at least a little bit every day. I will call myself a writer as I am supposed to do so I will eventually believe it. But I sit down and try to think about something to write and nothing pours out unhindered, so I go find something else to do. My self-motivation is not just lacking ~ it appears to be non-existent.

I need to come up with a blog post to follow my anxiety-ridden post of over a month ago, but I can’t quickly think of anything, so that last cliffhanger of a post sits leaving the few who are still periodically visiting my blog to wonder what’s up with me in the present. I feel like I need to come up with something that will answer that question rather than just come up with some kind of new post that ignores it. So, since that is a hard thing to do, it remains there without any moving forward by me.

I’m a terrible person.

Not that terrible. But still.

Okay, here goes. A new follow-up blog post.

*Complete silence*

*3 very loud helicopters flying over my house. I must take a moment to inspect the situation. First on my front porch. Then through the house to my back porch.*

*Back to the computer.*

*Staring off into the distance.*

Well, hello there! I’m baaaaack!

(Perfect intro. Doesn’t get any better than that!)

I promise all one of you who continues to check this blog periodically that it has not been abandoned.

We had a brief panic in our home over some physical issues that now appear to be manageable and non-life-threatening. Our family doc would prefer that we continue to have more tests and see a specialist “just to be sure” but with a deductible as high as ours, we have decided to put the whole of it in God’s hands until we have the means to do so more comfortably. Living by faith in a world of high science, experts in every field of medicine, and scare tactics imposed by those experts is not popular in the 21st century, but here we are living it and doing our best to trust the God we earnestly profess to be our all-in-all. It is a daily, sometimes moment-by-moment, process. But we are growing as we have in past tests of our faith and, believe it or not, it can be a glorious place to live and grow.

At this point in my post, I can either take the time to come up with something that will require a lot more thinking and writing and thinking and writing to give more of a glimpse into the last several weeks, or I can simply sign off now and hit Publish so there will be something new to read for anyone who may be wondering what’s up.

I think, for now, I’ll choose the latter since I seem to be in a bit of a writing slump and something new desperately needs to be posted.

We’re coming back to life here in our home. We praise our God from Whom all blessings flow. There will be more posts soon as I’m able to organize my thoughts better. I know many people care. Thank you and love to you all!

 

God has given us all hands ~ hands to serve. Let’s use them to serve Him well.

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Anxiety is a Witch with a B

Do not be anxious about anything

If you are the eternal optimist who lights up every room you walk into, I love you so much and am ever so thankful that I know some people like you to help counter the negativity in my more pessimistic personality.

However, you may not be able to fully understand what I am about to say. Just a warning.

For my whole life, I have dealt with anxiety. Sometimes it is just a nervous stomach when I have to do something I’d rather not do. Other times it attacks my whole body and leaves me nauseated with a burning feeling in my arms and a fear I can’t seem to control. I need to get up and walk because I am so antsy, but as soon as I try, I get weak and ill and have to sit back down. If it happens on a day I need to be working, heaven help me. I can’t even function. This goes on and on and on and is tortuous.

I have experienced some of that, yet again, over the past few weeks.

There are so many things I do believe the Lord is teaching me through all of this. Not the least of which is to be able to fully, fully trust that He is good and that He has all of my fears and potential upcoming trials under His complete control. Of course, trusting is a much simpler task when life is going pretty smoothly. When an upheaval hits, my true colors come to light once more and I again have to admit that I am not there yet. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

This is going to be vague today because I don’t believe now is the time to talk about details. (For the record, my marriage is good and our kids are fine.) But I needed to get on here and say a few things about anxiety and how it relates to my walk as a Christian.

I believe we all have our thorns in the flesh that help keep us humble, grounded, and centered on our walk with God. I believe mine may be this crazy anxiety that overtakes me when I can’t seem to trust as I should. I know this may not be a theologically correct teaching that a pastor may preach from the pulpit, but it makes sense to me. Every time it happens, I realize again that I don’t have it all together. I have nothing in which to boast. My reliance is on God and God alone and I have nothing in myself on which to fully rely for that peace that passes my understanding. Of course, I do believe it is something that I can work through and conquer with God’s help and His continual reassurance, each time it happens, that He continues to direct my every path and always will.

Someday, I will post more of the details about all of this. I may even write a small book about it! But for today, I just needed to come to my blog and do some thanksgiving for all that He is and all that He is doing in my life.

Thank You, God, for the beauty surrounding my home. The nature You have created is magnificent and to think that little old southern Oklahoma, not even a tourist destination, was given so much beauty by Your hand is overwhelming to me and I am so grateful for it.

Thank You, God, for all of the many blessings that You have blessed me with. They are too many to number. Family, friends, church, a wonderful home, the calling to homeschool, the freedom to worship, the freedom to raise my children as I choose, the laughter You have returned to my life after years with very little of it, Your obvious hand of protection and blessing that I sometimes don’t see but it’s always there.

You have given me so much. I just needed to praise You for it all today. Thank You, God.

My requests will continue to be presented, but I pray I never lose sight of all the blessings I have to be so thankful for.

“I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

“The battle is the Lord’s.” I Samuel 17:47

Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.” I Peter 5:7

 

God has given us all hands ~ hands to serve. Let’s use them to serve Him well.

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I Just Wanna Be Myself

Let the words of my mouth and the meditationof my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Oh, people.

I have dreamed about blogging for so long and now that I am here, I am struggling. I feel like there are rules I need to be following, but I am not comfortable within the confines of them. Many of my posts so far feel forced, like I’m trying to “teach” or something. I’m not a teacher. I’m more of a come-along-sider. I’m a poster of long Facebook posts to my friends and family when the words just need to come out.

I have recently joined a Godly community of writers who give so much wonderful advice about coming up with plans and editorial calendars. Techniques and narrowing focus. The important first sentence. Picking a topic and breaking it down. I love the things I am learning and I have no doubts (maybe a few) that it will all help me become a better writer.

But I’m not there yet.

So I think I’m going to take a step back for now and just write what I know. This blog may sound like a Facebook post for a while, but I want to keep writing, and I believe it will help me stay comfortable with the writing I know while learning to stretch my boundaries. (Can’t I just stay a Facebooker?)

Hopefully I will grow into this. If not, it will have been a good learning experience!

My prayer today: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

 

God has given us all hands ~ hands to serve. Let’s use them to serve Him well.

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Parenting Trenches

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everythingin the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

 

Having recently gotten our third and final child graduated from high school (yippee!), my heart goes out to young moms who are still deep in the trenches.

I remember the days. The long, long, long days. The tears and loud voices and angry words from my kids…and me.

I see the pain on the faces of moms who just want reassurance that they are doing this parenting thing okay. I see that smile that fades too soon after our polite conversation is over. I can relate to the fears late at night when thoughts won’t shut off as the brain ponders what in the world she’s going to do if her children get hurt or sick or rebellious beyond easy repair.

Of course, the beautiful moments are there also. Those Springtime park days when everyone gets home happy just in time for a long exhausted nap or when those sweet kids are just so darn cute you can’t stand it!

It’s blissful, but it’s not easy. It’s your favorite moments and most fearful moments all mixed up together. It’s breathtaking one minute and slow breathing exercises the next.

Today I want to encourage my young mom friends that God is always there. He’s in every moment as you walk throughout your day. He’s with you in the loud screamy writhing-on-the-floor moments just as much as He’s with you in the blessed teary sweet-sleeping-baby moments.

And I want to also remind you ~ In everything, on the best days and the worst days ~ the words you say, the deeds you do ~ do it all in the name of Jesus. And never forget to give thanks to God for being right there. He never leaves. And when you do forget (which you will unless you’re a WAY better parent than me), there’s always grace.

The tagline on this blog is Running the Race ~ Resting in Grace.

Young mama, while you’re running the beautiful, crazy motherhood race, cut yourself some grace. God does.

And when you remember to keep Him front and center, your reactions in the day-to-day will go more smoothly, and your perspective will err toward the positive.

So in case I haven’t said it enough already ~

The words you say, say them in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

The deeds you do, do them in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Busy Hands ~ And whatever you do, in word or deed,

Folded Hands ~ do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,

Lifted Hands ~ giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

 

God has given us all hands ~ hands to serve. Let’s use them to serve Him well.

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Pain and the Beauty of New Life

The Lord is near to the brokenheartedand saves the crushed in spirit.

I saw it on my Facebook memories page this morning, and all the overwhelming stress of those painfully difficult days came flooding back on me. Four years ago today, I posted this to my family and friends on Facebook:

Yesterday’s recap:

Early doctor visit with Mom turned into a 5-hour one with unexpected infusions. Errands run for her and Dad while Dad waited with her at the doc’s office. Late-night ambulance trip to ER and early-morning (middle of the night) admit to hospital. Doug worked both of his jobs and had tire trouble on his way home around 10:30 p.m. – on his birthday. Happy Birthday, Dear! We were all on the same road going in different directions – us to the hospital and Doug on the side of the road toward home. Dad came home from hospital to get 3-4 hours sleep and up again early to try and be at the hospital in case the docs happen to be making early Saturday morning rounds. Colin found himself unemployed due to a youthful error (we’ve all made them – don’t judge) which I’m sure he’ll never make again. Mom’s day, though, makes the rest of ours pale in comparison. We all got to sleep in our own beds, help ourselves to the restroom and take deep breaths whenever we felt like it. I pray she gets to do all of that soon! Now off to share a ride with Doug into town since we’re down a vehicle at the moment. He’s back to work this morning and I’m back to the hospital. And by the way, we still serve an awesome God. :o)

“And by the way, we still serve an awesome God.”

We did not know it at the time, but that was the last day Mom would ever be at home. We lost her 3 weeks later while still in the hospital.

I am not a crier by nature, but it seems every year around this time, the tears flow more freely than they did the year before. I still miss my mother terribly but the knowledge that she is pain-free, anxiety-free, and in the presence of the Lord she served and lived for fills my heart with unexplainable peace and joy. She no longer sees “in a mirror dimly” but she sees Him “face to face.” (I Corinthians 13:12) I cannot fathom it.

Fall used to be my favorite time of year. Crisp, cool days after a hot summer. Bonfires and warm soups. Colorful leaves.

But since my mother passed away during the Springtime, I now have a new revelation of the beauty of the Spring season. As we went through those dark days from Christmas Day 2011 through April 19, 2012, the trees that line my front yard changed, seemingly before my very eyes, from bare and lifeless to green and full of beauty.

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The dogwoods, redbuds, and fruit trees started showing off in all their magnificent glory as God brought forth their flowers.

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As the days began to warm, I started to need just a jacket rather than my heavy coat as I sat on my front porch. The birds began their Springtime songs. The iris started to bloom.

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My mother was getting more ill by the day. My stress level and the emotional pain was taking its toll. But the beauty unfolding outside my front door was breathtaking. Peace flooded my soul during those dark days as I began to feel the cool breeze blow across my face in my front porch chair while spending time in communion with my Father.

After the darkness, after the death, after the barren trees ~ new life springs forth as a reminder that better days are coming. We will not live forever in sadness. Weeping only lasts for the night. Joy comes in the morning.

“And by the way, we still serve an awesome God.”

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Count Others More Significant Than Yourselves. What?

 

but in humility count others more significantthan yourselves. (1)

My husband processes thoughts externally. I process thoughts internally.

He talks. I think.

So imagine my angst over the past 33 1/2 years as I am constantly (constantly!) having my perfectly organized and single-focused thoughts interrupted by someone who needs to discuss something.

 

berry trellis

Hey, can you come outside for a minute and look at this?

Sure. (Silent translation: Well, I’m listening to a COMPEL podcast at the moment, but whatever.)

Okay, I’m going to put the blackberry and raspberry bushes here along the back [waves arms] and the strawberries will go along the front in two rows [sweeps hands out across the ground].

Mhm. (Silent translation: Not sure I’m exactly following but sounds good.)

And if we ever need to expand, I can [I am not following the line of thinking at this point.]

Okay, sounds like a good plan. (Silent translation: I don’t know exactly what you’re talking about because my internal vision doesn’t work as well as yours, but I know it’s probably a great idea you’ve got going there.)
But will that interrupt the sunshine for the strawberry plants? (Silent translation: Hey, I had a good thought!)

Hmm, well, [he comes up with some other idea that might work].

Yeah, that could work. (Silent translation: I’m good.)

(More conversation. More conversation. More conversation.)

It’s good for you to be out here with me while I plan these things. It really helps me come up with ideas when I talk them through with you.

Good, I’m glad! (Silent translation: Seriously? It really doesn’t take a lot to make that man happy. So glad I didn’t protest when he asked me to come outside for a minute!)

——————————————–

How often do we put our interests above the interests of others? Take the opportunity this week to put someone else’s interests above your own. In doing so, you “in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

It goes against the grain, doesn’t it? But putting others above ourselves is a powerful teacher. It teaches us to be humble, caring, and more like Christ.

And isn’t that the goal?

God has given us all hands ~ hands to serve. Let’s use them to serve Him well.

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Today I Am A Daughter

Mom 2011Today I am a daughter.

My mother would have been 80 years old today. We lost her a little under 4 years ago to the hateful and vicious disease of cancer, and I have missed her every day since. The pic to the left was taken just a few months before she left this earth.

I will not place the crown of sainthood on her head for none of us are worthy of that. However, she taught me many wonderful lessons throughout my life and on days like today, her birthday, I take the opportunity to pause and remember.

She taught me by example that your word is to be kept and your integrity is an important part of who you are. When she said she was going to do something, you could be sure she would do it. And when I had told someone I would do something, she made sure I did it.

She taught me by example the importance of honesty. I always knew that my mother would tell me the truth. I would a little hesitantly ask her if she liked my new dress or haircut because I knew if she didn’t, she’d tell me in the nicest way she could think of. But knowing that my mom would never tell me a lie was one of the most comforting things in the world to me.

She taught me by example to care for and serve others. She loved visiting the ill and home bound. She was ready on a moment’s notice when one of us kids, even all grown up, needed her. She didn’t love cooking, but she served her family a well-rounded meal every night, always had two or three dishes to take to family reunions, and spent two weeks planning and shopping for a week’s worth of food for her children and grandchildren every Thanksgiving week. She was known as the Cookie Lady at a monthly meeting she and my dad would attend. And when I grew up and had my own family, she loved going with us when we periodically worked at the soup kitchen. She truly and genuinely cared for people.

She taught me by example to value all people. She never allowed us as children to leave food wrappers on fast-food tables, drop trash on the ground, or throw litter out the car window. While others might have thought it was okay to let someone else clean up their messes, our mom insisted that we always be considerate of others.

She taught me by example that devotion to God was the highest priority on the list. She struggled with many things throughout her life, but her faith stood strong.

I have done my best to teach my own children about integrity, honesty, service to others, the value of all people, and the highest priority of devotion to God. Time will tell how well I have accomplished it all. But this thing I know ~ my children have watched my example as I watched my mom’s.

I have been a mother for 27 years.

But today I am a daughter.

 

God has given us all hands ~ hands to serve. Let’s use them to serve Him well.

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