My Go To Therapist

This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. Psalm 91:2

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There is something therapeutic about spending time in the salon. If the completely selfish date with oneself is not enough to make you feel better, than certainly the head massage that magically soothes a migraine, the silky feeling of a blowout, or how fabulous you look when you first walk out the front door can add to the appeal of a day spent getting pampered for a bit. Add to this a few minutes of talking to your “head” therapist about life, kids, and your daily gripes, a few hours in the salon chair can be a much needed escape from an otherwise crazy reality.

Besides the fact that I was in desperate need of a cut and root touch-up this past weekend, the few hours I spent in a chair, or under a dryer were definitely a reprieve from the dark mood that had taken over my spirit that very morning. I needed to get out of the public for a while, and chat up the stylist, or my “head” shrink for the day.

And, it sure is a good thing I had decided to leave Facebook alone for a while, because on this particular morning, or the entire day for that matter, I certainly wanted to let everyone know what kind of morning I had. I left my wallet AND phone at home, and discovered this after I had pulled into the gas station, on empty, mind you. I was now 15 minutes late, behind a log truck, stuck in horrendous traffic thanks to the arrival of students and parents, and by 9:15, I was fed up with anything and anyone who happened to cross my path.

Once I pulled up in front of the place responsible for my once a month “me” sessions, I could not wait to tell someone about my crummy morning. 

And for about 3 hours I chatted to my stylist about my life, my kids, and my gripes.

Then I thought about something.

I had not once chatted with God about what I was feeling. And, I have certainly never chatted with him for 3 hours!

I cry out to God: yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was deep in trouble, I searched for the Lord. Psalm 77:1-2

While, there is nothing wrong with a little beauty shop therapy, God wants me to communicate and share my struggles with him with the same intimacy and intentionality with which I share them with my stylist. He already knows what my struggles are. He already knows my gripes. He already knows about my kids, my life, and my circumstances.

And, he also wants to be my therapist. He wants to be the first person I seek when I need a few selfish “me” moments to share gripes, praises, and requests. 

He wants me to seek Him when I want to blow-up in traffic. He wants me to seek Him when I want to scream in the car on the way back home for my missing wallet. He wants me to lean on Him when I just can’t handle one more thing. He is just as selfish about His time with me, as I am about my “me” time under the dryer. 

No, God can’t touch up my roots, but He can definitely touch up my mood. God can’t trim my dead ends, but he can groom the frazzled pieces of my heart. And, while my stylist may require an appointment for the three hours I spend in her chair, God never requires that I make an appointment with Him, just that I make Him my go to therapist. 

 

Feeding the “Monster”

Hunter Hungry

For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:9

Remember that monster I told you lived in my home? The one who is cranky, often mute, and frequently unable to express how he feels? Well, since this monster is our five-year old son, we also must take this monster with us on trips…which means he also must follow us to our vacation destination. Like this week long vacation destination. The one I so desperately needed to relax, reflect, recharge, and unwind, and maybe forget some of my own monsters for a while.

Now, restaurants with our little monster are not relaxing. Whether at home or on vacation. And this night has been no exception. See, our monster needs constant meals. After 20 minutes of eating, he is usually hungry again. While he is declaring his hunger, he is also rummaging in cabinets for snacks unseen, kicking kitchen chairs, grunting, screaming, and cowering on the floor in a ball of anger. Once again, tonight, we have failed to feed our monster at the appropriate times, and he is downright angry. We have waited too long to give him what he craves, and now he is beyond consolable, and unable to cope in this situation. He needs to eat NOW!

Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35

He isn’t the only monster in our home. The only monster that comes along on vacations. I can be a monster at times, too. Especially, when I have not been nourished as well. When I have not been feeding on the Word of God. I am doubtful when I don’t spend time asking God to calm my fears. I am quick to speak when I don’t take the time to ask God to guide my conversations. When I don’t spend times with him at the start of my day, praying and reading His Word, I can be a total monster for the rest of my day. And, when I don’t ask God for direction, I can also be found rummaging for something that isn’t there, kicking in frustration, grunting, screaming, and complaining.

All because I didn’t feed the monster.

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk, so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment. 1 Peter 2:2

To face the demands of or daily lives. To love others, fulfill our purpose, and navigate the circumstances that turn us into monsters, we have to feed our bodies. Not simply our physical bodies, or our stomachs, but we must be fed spiritually. This isn’t something we routinely indulge in at three times a day, but consistently and frequently. It means asking God to feed us with patience while we wait in traffic in the morning. It means seeking God when we are afraid of what’s next, so he can nourish us with reassurance and peace. It’s thanking God for all He has done even when all we want to do is complain, so he can fill us with praise in our hearts.

So, what happened when our little monster was fed? He certainly didn’t resemble the raging and screaming ball of fury that results when his poor little soul gets hungry. He was happier, more at peace, a little less anxious, and much more willing to try something new.

And, God wants us to feel the same way-nourished by His Word, at peace with what he promises to provide, or what he already has, and full of a happy, joyful, and thankful spirit.

Nourishment that can soften and ease even the toughest of monsters!

Peace in the Noise

“But the Lord is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.” Habakkuk 2:20

Some days are just anything but peaceful. From the time the alarm lets off it’s annoying buzzing, to the time the TV is finally shut off and the house is awash in utter darkness and silence, the world surrounding me emits one noise after another. Stealing my peace. Drowning out my thoughts. Wrecking my mood.

At work it’s the telephone that rings, or the ping of the new email that has arrived. It’s the beeping of the printer that is broken for the one hundredth time, or the sound of the overhead paging system.

At home, it’s the dogs howling and barking outside, or men on the roof next door. It is the bird sounds, “potty” noises and awful squawks that come from the mouth of Hunter, our five year old. It’s the 30 minute long wails that then erupt when you ask the squawking five year old to stop making those “potty” noises. It’s the bickering between siblings, the “Mommy, can I’s,” and the “Mommy, he/she dids.” It’s the call on the phone to remind us of an appointment tomorrow, the sound of Peppa Pig on the TV, the ding of the oven timer, and goodness….does that dog ever stop howling?

Yes, some days just are not peaceful, and on those days I want to find the highest cliff, and shout to the world as loud as I can to just SHUT-UP, and STOP MAKING ALL THAT NOISE!

Not only does all this noise steal my peace, rob my thoughts, and wreck my mood, but it also means I have less time to listen to God.

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

Finding time to simply be alone, away from all the noise, is tough, especially on these days. Especially when my bathroom hideout has been exposed, and I can still hear the “Mommy, can I’s,” and “Mommy, he/she dids,” from the outside of that door. It’s hard to find five minutes when you are staring at the still ten things left on your long to do list. To find time alone when you are rushing from work, to the bus stop, back for an appointment, to church, and all the stops in between. And it is hard to find quiet when the iPhone is vibrating or chirping, the kids are fighting and yelling…and, why is that dog still howling?

Yet, I am challenged. Throughout the Bible we are told of busy people who have been called to do God’s work making time to be alone to pray and talk to Him. To seek peace in the noise of the world around them. We have Moses in Exodus 33. There is Elijah in 1 Kings 19, and of course, Jesus, who left his disciples on many occasions in search of peace so he could hear God.

Certainly, I can find a little time for this peace, too, even if that means I have to get a bit creative with my time.

It means keeping a devotional in my car to read when I am stuck in traffic, or to read before I even leave my car at work. It means I invite God on my runs, and spend time praising Him for the beauty around me, or praying for endurance. It means that I can shut the email off at work, close my office door so I do not hear the beep of the broken printer, and open my Bible.

We can’t drown out all the noise around us. We can’t turn off every voice, every scream, or even the howling dog. And if you are like me, most of the time we can’t find the “perfect” time or the “perfect” place to spend time in complete quiet and peace. But, we do have small opportunities to find peace, to keep us from letting the noise steal our peace, rob our thoughts, or wreck our mood.

I mean, really. Think about it. While climbing to the highest cliff to scream at the world may seem like some type of freedom, and not to mention great exercise, with all the noise, would the world really even hear my plea for everyone to “shut-up?”

No, probably not. But, God will. God hears us. In a world filled with noise. When the phone is chirping a new notification, when the kids are fighting, when the dog is still howling, he hears our cries and praises, and gives us a moment of peace in the midst of the noise.

The One Thing that Needs to be Done Right Now

For everything there is a season, and a time for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

And sometimes that time is not right now.

This is what I have been trying to grasp lately-the realization that while I may think I can juggle every thing I have to accomplish, I really can’t do it all. And, it certainly doesn’t all have to get done right now.

And as a perfectionist, a people pleaser, one who has not learned the fine art of saying “no,” and a mom who wants to meet her childrens’ every need, feeling the need to do everything at the exact minute asked has become a priority for far too long. I swoop in and rush to fix, rush to please, and rush to respond, that I have made every little task an emergency.

That text needs to be answered right now.

That cup of water needs to be fixed right now.

That email needs to be answered right now.

That appointment needs to be made right now.

Until slowly I am buried under a heap of small emergencies.

And then Paul reminds me that I can do all things through Him who strengthens me, but all these things don’t have to be done right now.

Because all of these “nows” diminish the strength I need to take care of my family, my friends, my home, my church, myself. Because all the “right nows” diminish the time I have for God.

Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

See, since I keep myself focused on all the “emergencies” I have to handle, I can’t do anything wholeheartedly. I am only able to give a portion of myself to each task, so I can move on to the next one. Never focused on one thing intentionally. Never able to complete one “emergency” before I have started working on another. And, since I am not making time for God right now, I cannot adequately accomplish what he has asked me to do.

So, I am apologizing in advance if I don’t answer that email right away.

If I let voice mail take your call.

If I slack a little on a text message response.

If I make my kids wait five more minutes for their water.

In order to serve others, I must make Him the top “emergency” in my life. So, for right now I will be locked away in my bathroom spending time with God.

For this is the one thing that must be done right now!

Be Still and Listen Already!

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When the landscape is blanketed in snow, it is hard not to simply be still. During these storms, traffic is a little less congested, and people are a little less anxious to rush through their day. In these moments when all the world around you is still and frozen, you also start to notice things, and I have noticed something about myself…I’m really not a very good listener.

It’s not like my teen has not mentioned on several occasions that I didn’t hear him as I answered a text or scrolled through my Facebook news feed. Or that my husband has not said on occasion, “January, I just told you that.”

Truly, I thought I was a good listener. People often come to me for advice, to vent, for good conversation. But, really…I’m not a very good listener.

Why? Because most of my conversations occur in the midst of other distractions. The radio dial while my teen is talking. The frying pan while my mom chats away on the phone. The paper yet to be done on my laptop while my husband tells me about plans for the next day.

And, unfortunately, most of my conversations with God are the exact same-full of distractions.

During my devotion time in the morning, it is the dog in my lap, the trash truck outside, or the dishes in the sink.

During my prayer time, it’s the grocery list, or the to-do list that is running through my head.

During Bible Study, it’s the list of homework assignments that must be completed by the end of the week, or the train that seems to pass by every Wednesday.

There’s a quote I love from the movie Eat, Pray, Love that describes my so-called quiet time perfectly-“I can’t focus. All I think about is how to decorate!”

With all the chaos, information, and stuff that is thrown at us at any given minute during the day, it’s no wonder we have problems with being fully present, with being able to focus, with just being still and listening already!

“And so, my children, listen to me, for all who follow my ways are joyful.” Proverbs 8:32

How many times have I missed connecting to my son over his interest in a new worship band, because I was distracted by my Facebook notifications?

How many times have I missed connecting with my husband because I was too distracted by constructing the best discussion board response for a class?

How many times have I missed the instruction provided in a Bible Study lesson because I was mentally checking of my to-do list or redecorating my kitchen?

How many times have I missed something great, missed an awesome opportunity, missed the point, simply because I was too distracted to just listen already? Because I was too distracted by my thoughts and the world around me to listen for that still, small voice.

Listen, you heavens, and I will speak; hear, you earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. Deuteronomy 32:1-2

Or like the gentle, white snow that blankets the cold and barren winter ground.

I want to relish in the stillness that overwhelms the Earth on a snowy day. I want to be able to shut off my earthly thoughts, forget all the distractions around me, and simply be still.

Still enough to put down my phone and talk to my son about his taste in music.

Still enough to put down the schoolwork and hear about my husband’s day.

Still enough to calm my wandering mind long enough to gain instruction from studying His Word.

See, I want to be like Samuel. I want to be able to still my mind, get rid of the distractions, and say to God, “Your servant is listening.” Still enough to hear the voice that will guide me through the next chaotic moment. The voice that will tell me where to go, what to say, how to love, when to move, and when to let go.

I want to be still and listen already!