Living with Anxiety: Having a Thankful Heart

I have a tendency to be discontent. I know the devil does this to me on purpose as he sees the weaknesses of my heart and plays upon them with a vengeance. Add this weakness to the silent, whirling pool of anxiety swallowing my brain and you have a giant monster of emotion called Cay-Cay. That’s me…. In case you didn’t know.

God continues to shine truth into my life through these times. Sometimes the truth is uncomfortable and a truth I don’t necessarily wish to think about, but I’m so thankful for God’s grace in these areas. Without it, I really don’t think I would be able to move forward.

There are times where we may stop and think, “if only we have more money we wouldn’t have to worry anymore” or “if only we didn’t have school debt then we would be okay” or “if I had this or that then I would be more content.” These are lies from the devil and I have learned and continue to learn this the hard way. I see something I want and convince myself I need it – and then afterward I realize I am still not filled with peace but rather with more guilt over spending money we didn’t need to.

A discontent heart treated with the wrong solution preceded by guilt that feeds our anxiety.

This has been my problem and struggle.

It’s so easy to think that the grass may be greener on the other side and I tend to think that if only I had something or other it would be better. We forget that God is the only one who can truly fill us completely. He is the only one who can give us peace and a heart of contentment.

It’s a comfort to me knowing that God is for us. He knows exactly what we need and He will continue to take care of us even when we run to worldly things rather than to Him! Why do I need to worry and suffer anxiety when HE has overcome the world?

As I live with anxiety, I have come to find that if I take the time to PRAY and ask the Lord for a thankful heart, surviving the day without guilt is a little easier.

When I take the time to stop and look around and list all the things I DO have – I am less likely to become prey to the devil’s tricks and lies which lead me to dwell on the things I don’t have.

When you feel anxiety creeping up on you or contentment escaping your heart, take the time to go to your knees before God. Pray and ask the Lord to take your heart and mind captive. Ask him to remind you of what’s most important. Ask Him to show you the blessings He has already bestowed upon you. Ask him for a fresh outlook on life so you can see just how much you already have.

Take the time to look around your house and to see every little thing as the gift it is. Are you sitting on a couch? Praise the Lord! For some people don’t even have a home. If you have a warm coat, you are blessed. If you have fresh water, you are blessed.

Whatever it may be, down to the smallest thing, remember how good you have it. For you could just as easily not have it at all.

“What you have in Christ is greater than anything you don’t have in life…… Anchor your heart to the character of God. Your boat with rock. Moods will come and go. Situations will fluctuate. But will you be left adrift on the Atlantic of despair? No, for you have found a contentment that endures the storm. No more “if only.” It is the petri dish in which anxiety thrives. Replace your “if only” with “already.” Look what you already have. Treat each anxious thought with a grateful one, and prepare yourself for a new day of joy.”    -Max Lucado, ‘Anxious for Nothing’

Find a notebook or piece of paper. Take the time to write down the things you are thankful for. Write down the things you DO have. Focus more on what you do have and less on what you don’t. Let God be the salve for your anxious thoughts and let Him be the contentment of your heart. Thank the Lord for he is good!

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”     -Matthew 11:28-30

The Loss of a Mother


A personal friend of ours asked us to write about a topic that is a little close to home. She wanted to know about how growing up without a mom has affected us as mothers. We agreed wholeheartedly without realizing what a tough topic this would be.

As I began to think about it, I wasn’t at all sure about what to write. I hadn’t really thought about it in great detail. How did I feel about it? How has it affected my mothering? These questions have rolled around in my mind the past few weeks as I pondered writing this article.

Today marks the 21 year anniversary of my mother’s death. On Dec. 5th, 1996, Sara Nadene Hill passed away from cancer. That is a long time when you really think about it. She has been gone longer than the length of time any of my siblings even knew her – longer than my father had been married to her. Twenty-one years! A lot can happen in twenty-one years – for example, myself and three of my other siblings getting married and becoming parents ourselves.

So much is missed by someone who should be here to enjoy it with us.

I still cry at times when I think of her. Even though I was only seven years old when she died. The sad truth is, I barely even knew who she was. I believe that is the most painful part of losing her. Someone I should know so much about, I know very little. How I would have loved to get to know her over the years of growing up. How I would have loved to hear her tell me the story of how she fell in love with my dad. How I would love to call her and ask for advice when I’m struggling with how to parent my children. How I would love to see her hold my boys and rejoice in the grandchildren she has.

As I ponder and cry over our loss of her, I begin to realize something – I remember her as a beautiful, loving mother! The memory of her is good, and lovely. When others share the memories they have of my mother, they are that of a woman that people loved and admired. A woman that loved Jesus and loved others.

But here is the shocker. She wasn’t a perfect mother!

This truth opened a painful spot in my heart and started to help me heal from the emotional scars I have inflicted upon myself. I began to heal from the shame and guilt I felt of messing up as a mom.

You see, I remember some not so great times with my mom.  Allow me to share a personal memory…..

The whole of the memory is foggy. I don’t even recall what caused my mom to get so upset that day. My sister’s and I were probably fighting and being little stinker butts like young kids can be. We ended up pushing my mom over the edge. Maybe she was hormonal or perhaps she was stressed or sad. Either way, she was not happy with us.

“Sometimes you guys make me want to get in the car and leave!!” she said with a loud and emotional pitch in her voice. 

She went into the bathroom and closed the door. After that, I remember my older sister, Raquel, and I began to cry. And behind the door of the bathroom, my mother cried too. 

Eventually, we braved it and walked into the bathroom. We hugged our mother. We cried some more. “I’m sorry,” my mom said minutes later.

I have done this! I have told my little boy that I wanted to leave. And when I did it, that memory flooded back to my brain like a frightful tsunami taking out an entire country. I did exactly what she did. I even went to the bathroom and cried.

I see a lot of my mother in myself. Even though I barely knew her she still has etched herself within the layers of my life. I am passionate and emotional like she was. I’m quirky and fun and love Jesus. My mom was able to make an impression even in such a short time.

You are probably thinking that the whole point I am trying to get at is how us as parents pass on parenting techniques and how what we do will affect our children later on down the road. That is true but surprisingly, not my main point.

What I want others to realize is that I still think of my mom as a wonderful mother. Even amidst the not so lovely times. I still see beauty and joy when I think of her. I knew she loved me and my family. I know that she loved Jesus. Mess ups on her part did not change that.The best photo editing features for free.

You see, even though you may have messed up with your kids, or raised your voice or got angry at something minuscule, you are still a good mom. If you are leaning on Jesus, and working to be the best mom you can be, then you are doing well. Jesus has so much grace for us. It is sufficient.

My memory of my mother is good. Was she perfect? No. She was human. She loved us with the love of an imperfect human being. And for that love, I am ever grateful. I hope that as my boys grow into adulthood they will realize that I was an imperfect woman doing the best I could. I hope as I did with my mother, they will remember the joy and the good times. The bad memories will still be there but I hope they remember them and show me grace.

Many other parts of me as a mom have been affected by the lack of a mother in my life. There would be a large list. But I will allow my other sisters to share their point of view so I don’t steal all the thunder. In the articles to come, my sisters, Caylen and Raquel will share their stories as well.

A Special Thank You

To end this article I would like to say thank you to so many women who did step up to the plate and helped me mature as a woman and a mother even after mine left this world. Without these women, I would not be who I am today. These women showed me the heart of Jesus and showed me the love of a mother.

First and foremost, my sister Raquel: Without your love and care I don’t know where I would be. You cared for me as a mom for so many years. For you I am ever grateful.

Aunt Juanita: You loved us with such intensity. I knew you felt protective of us and cared for us. I still remember you making the sacrifice to come be with me at the Mother’s Day Tea party I had in 2nd grade. I will always remember that.

Grandma Mollie: Though you are no longer with us, I still remember you and feel the love you had for me. Your lovely songs and warming hugs will forever be with me. As well as your beautiful garden –  forever etched in my mind.

My mother-in-law Pati: You have been patient with me as I have taken so long to be confident enough to ask your advice and share intimate conversations with you. You are a beautiful woman and I am so glad I married your son.

Angie Steffen: Oh what a joy you are! You loved me in all the awkward stages of life and made me feel important. I remember you curling my hair and having fun sleepovers. I will always love you. (I still sing the “Bed Bug’s” song we made up. I sing it to my boys when they go to sleep 🙂 )

Maureen Palmquist: I know now how important is to be polite and say ‘thank you’ because of you. I was always glad to come to your house. I felt loved and safe there. You hold a special place in my heart.

Jane Otott: If ever there was a woman who showed me the heart of sacrifice, you are the one. You are such a kind and faithful women. The fact that you came every Friday for so many years and asked for nothing in return amazes me. I think of you and think of Jesus.

Thank you to all the beautiful women who love as Jesus loves. Without joyful, Godly women this world would be a sad and lonely place.

~Shiree

 

Have You Lost Your Joy?

Losing Joy:

I have a confession to make…..

I have not been a joyful woman lately. I’m sure that when you read my posts you think I’m a joyful, smiling mommy that is thankful in all things. But guess what? I’m not!!! Much of what I write is what God has been teaching me of late and let me tell you, I have been needing some teaching.

This article contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through our site is of no extra cost to you. Thank you. 

Everything in my previous posts that I mentioned not to do. I DID THEM!!! I have been ungrateful, grouchy, lacking in joy, and sometimes just plain angry. I got frustrated with my 2-year-old because he knocked over the cat’s water bowl again. He is clumsy and not well balanced. Not just toddler clumsy. I mean, horrible, trip over a grain of sand, clumsy! It is a trait I passed onto him, unfortunately. And since we live in a small space, he knocks over a lot of things. To my shame, I let it get to me and my reaction was not that of beauty.

Why have I been like this? After all my talk on being joyful, you’d think I would have it figured out by now. At least, I sure wish I did.

To be honest, God has placed the importance of joy on my heart because He graciously showed me that I was horribly lacking. I’m not a depressed or horribly angry woman, mind you. Yet, joy evades me more often than not. The stresses of life bog me down and I let my emotions get the best of me. If disappointments come my way I let them ruin my day. If I woke up grumpy, I chose to be grumpy. I honestly didn’t even know how to choose differently. I knew something was wrong, and at times it still is wrong. I don’t want to be the kind of woman that is only filled with joy when the occasion is fit for it. I want to be able to rise up from underneath the pain in my heart and the lies in my mind and choose joy. Even when I don’t FEEL like it. I’m done being ruled by my emotions and my negative thoughts. I pray for change.

Treat Yourself to a Monthly Surprise!!

 

A HARD PAST COUPLE WEEKS

My grumpiness stems from disappointments that have come my way these past few weeks. The sheet-rock in our house should have been up over a week ago. Unfortunately, the insulation has not been finished. The bat insulation was delayed and then we received the wrong order. The spray foam insulation was held back because of broken machinery. To say the least, things are not going as planned. (As they seem to do. 😉 )

We have been hoping to be moved into our house by Christmas but that goal has started to fade away.

“Hopefully by Springtime we can move in,” my husband said the other morning at breakfast.

He was teasing. Yet, also very serious.

By the looks of it, we might be delayed a few more months than planned. My heart hurts at the thought of it. I have been dreaming of moving into our home for a while now. I am so ready. The disappointment of a longer wait time is gnawing at my insides and I literally ache.

Do you know that feeling? That feeling of wanting something so bad you feel like your chest could burst? That’s how I feel. Then add the crushing weight of disappointment on top of that and you have one heck of an emotional bomb ready to go- KABOOMB!!!!!

My lack of joy is my own fault. I want something and I want it now. Am I looking to God and trusting in His goodness and His glorious timing? No. My focus is inward, not upward. I am not thinking about things above but on the things of earth.

When the light goes out…

Oh, how the light goes out when we focus inward! Have you ever noticed that? When we are focused inwardly upon ourselves and concerned only with our own lives, it’s as if someone snuffed out the flame that is supposed to be emanating from within us. We are to be the light of the world showing others the beauty of Jesus. But when our only concern is SELF, that light no longer shines. It has become dark; within and around you.

It saddens my heart knowing that I am guilty of such selfishness. And I know that the enemy loves my self-preoccupied thoughts. It is in that thinking that he dwells and makes his home. He sits down quite comfortably in my mind as I stew and fester on all that disappoints me.

“Yes, keep going,” he says with delight, “Keep focusing on all the annoying, aggravating things in your life…..Oh, and don’t forget to pile the self-loathing and guilt on top of that. Because everyone knows it- You are a bad mom and God is disappointed.”

I am sure that I am not the only woman that deals with this problem. It is hard to be strong amidst the screaming and crying of children. It takes all the will-power you have to not freak-out as your child barfs all over you in the hardware store. (Yes, that happened last week.) It requires strength and discipline to not be frustrated with your unthankful child as they complain about the dinner you spent time making. It requires a lot of patience and self-control as your toddler puts their hand in their poopy diaper and gets poop ALL over themselves. Oh, the joys of motherhood!

How do we get out of that mom funk that causes the light within us to be snuffed out? How do we find joy in the midst of frustration, disappointment and all the stress of life?

Well, I don’t have all the answers but I can share a few things that God has shown me in the last few weeks.

How to get the light back:

  1. Tell God all the junk that is being stored up in your heart. Through your discontent and frustrations. Don’t hold back. He already knows. Just let it out and cry.
  2. After the spilling out of emotions and the tears, Ask God What You Can Do About It.  Don’t continue to wallow in it. If you want God to work you will have to admit that you might have to change something in your life….For example, last week I was pretty upset with my husband. There are times men are not as sensitive as us women and they can come across harsh or lacking in love. My husband does not have a lot of tact. He is a very good, God-fearing man but he says it like it is and it really bothers me sometimes. To make it worse, I can be a little too sensitive. In my outpouring of my frustrations to God about it, He merely reminded me of something. “You can’t change your husband. He isn’t perfect. I’m still working on him. The only thing you can do is deal with your sensitivity. If you don’t want to be perturbed about your husband’s lack of tact then grow a thicker skin. Ask me for help in dealing with it with grace.”  Now does that mean my husband was right in his actions? Perhaps not, but he answers to God, not me. I am responsible for my own actions.
  3. Pray for Who is Frustrating You. Not just a, “I lift so-and-so up to you, God.” Not that easy. I mean really pray for them. Ask for God’s blessings over them… Perhaps your family is treating you with a lack of respect. Maybe your kids take you for granted or your husband can be impatient and angry when life gets too stressful. Pray that God does beautiful works within their hearts. You want what is best for your family even when what they are doing is wrong. With humility, ask God for his changing power in their lives.
  4. Give Thanks. When I realize that I am grumpy with my kids and my husband, it can stem back to me focusing on all the negatives. So, I begin to thank God for 2 or 3 things for each of my family members. And then I name 2 things that I am thankful for in general. It really helps my brain be rewired. I even do this with my 3-year-old when I realize he is getting grumpy or lacking in thanks. I tell him he has to name 3 things he is thankful for before he can continue on playing. It is amazing how a smile slowly forms on his face and he loses his grumpy countenance. (*Even start a thankful journal. It is a blessing to look back on all that you have thanked God for. :))
  5. Ask for Help. I am horrible at this one! For some reason, I feel like I should be able to do it all or I am just inconveniencing others when I do ask for their help. But last week, I knew I needed some assistance. My son and I were not getting along. I was grumpy and therefore causing him to be grumpy. We were knocking heads pretty good and I could feel anger rising up in me. I called my mother-in-law and asked her if she would take him for the rest of the day. I wasn’t being selfish or wanted an excuse for a mom break. I knew that if my son and I were able to part ways for awhile, we would be better for it. No matter how much we love others, it is always good to get away. Jesus did it. So why shouldn’t we?……Now, I do realize that some of you don’t have family readily available to help. But I think more often than not, there are friends and those within our church that are willing to help us. We just have to be humble and brave enough to ask. I don’t just mean help with babysitting. I mean help with all sorts of things. We as a body should be willing to be there for each other. May we be willing.
  6. Pray for the World, the Church, or the Poor. When I realize that I’m inwardly focused, I shamefully become aware of the fact that I have only been praying for myself. So, in order to get my mind off myself, I pray for the Body or for those with bigger needs than I have. It helps get me out of my mind and gets me aligned with God’s agenda rather than my own. I need to remember that the world is not centered on me. As Christians, we should never want the world to revolve around ourselves.

ClothDiaper

There you have it. The 6 Things I do in order to bring the Light of Joy back in my mothering and my wife-ing (Is that a word?) This is what I have been doing in order to gain the joy back in my life the past couple weeks. I can honestly say it works. I hope that some of you can implement them in your own life to help you as well.

I would love to hear from you.Let me know what You do to get the joy and thankfulness back. New ideas are always a blessing.

~Shiree

6 Daily Priorities for the Overwhelmed Mom

6 daily priorities

If you are anything like me, life can quickly get chaotic and priorities can easily get skewed. Some days I can’t seem to wrap my head around all the things that we as Godly wives and mothers are called to do and be on a daily basis. From the vital tasks to the smallest little thing that needs doing,  I can get overwhelmed with anxiety about all of it. Therefore I decide to do absolutely none of it and instead do something completely different and pretend I’m not ignoring what truly needs to be done while feeling guilty and STILL anxious – because it’s NOT GETTING DONE. Yes… I know it’s a problem.

TIME TO REFOCUS

Today has been one of those days that I really need to just pause for a moment, pray, and refocus my thoughts on the priorities. Not necessarily the specific priorities down to “clean toilet” or “fold laundry” but rather, the absolute TOP PRIORITIES for my life as the Lord intended – as a child of God, loving wife, and happy Mom. There are many times we can lose sight of what is TRULY important. When this happens we aren’t always the best mom or wife, we tend to be grumpy and usually focus only on the negative. THIS IS NOT HOW I WANT TO BE!

 There are so many tasks on our “to do list” we can forget to take care of the priorities – either we say, “I’ll do my devotions later” and we never do. Or, “I’ll work out tomorrow” and we never do.  Or, “My kiddo can entertain themselves, I’m just going to browse Facebook for a few minutes.” Obviously browsing Facebook isn’t bad, and skipping a workout here and there is okay and missing Jesus time once in a while doesn’t mean you lose your salvation – but often times we can neglect the things, and people, that really matter because our days are just TOO BUSY.

 So today, let’s lay our day before the Lord’s feet and ask Him to remind us about the daily priorities we should focus on!

 Every one of us will have different daily priorities as the Lord lays each upon our hearts. Write them down. And when things start to feel overwhelming, focus on your list and take care of your priorities so you can more gracefully and with a joyful spirit accomplish the other tasks set up for your day!

Our priorities help center our minds and prepare our hearts. And this week, I want to remember every morning that THESE are the most important things for me to get done. I’m not saying that you have to accomplish every one of your daily priorities, and ONLY THEN can you take care of everything else that needs doing. I often won’t get one on one time with Kyle until later in the evening! Rather, use your own priorities list as a centering tool and a reminder to focus on the positive and important – it doesn’t matter WHEN you talk with the Lord, but that you DID talk with Him. It doesn’t matter if you have quality time with your husband at 11 o’clock at night – what’s important is that you made the time.

6 DAILY PRIORITIES

This list is what I personally feel I need to make priorities – yours may look similar or maybe completely different. It’s all good!

1.       DEVOTIONS – whether you wake up early and talk with God or you wait until nap time, spending time with the Lord can make or break your day. There are days I definitely don’t feel like sacrificing “my time” to sit with the Lord (ironic right, considering the Lord is the one who gave me the time in the first place :P) but on the days I take the time to talk with God,  I tend to feel more content and joyful and my overall outlook on life is typically more positive.bible verses come and talk with me lord i am coming It’s okay if you only have a couple minutes here and a couple minutes there. Pray continually and take advantage of any spare minute you may have. Welcome the Spirit into your day and allow the Lord to work through you and in every part of your day.

2.       QUALITY TIME WITH YOUR HUSBAND – take the time to love your husband. Whether you talk about your day, play a game, watch a movie or simply just enjoy each other’s company. Whether you have 10 minutes or 4 hours. Spend time with your man. Quality over quantity. This is important for both of you and keeping a happy marriage!

3.       QUALITY TIME WITH YOUR KIDS – some days it’s so easy to just let Lillian entertain herself and leave her to her own devices while I try to tackle more tasks for the day. I have to remind myself how fleeting this time is. Lillian is only a child for a little while, and the time I invest in her life TRULY MATTERS. The dishes can wait. I can do the online shopping later. I can focus on my work later.  Unplug, and focus your undivided attention on your little ones for a little while. This is time well spent and you won’t look back and regret it later. Love your babies <3

4.       WORKOUT – for me personally this is something I try to make a priority. So often I find myself complaining about the way I look and groaning with unhappiness about myself. 1 corinthians 6:19-20I take this part of my heart to the Lord and say “Help Me, Lord!” and He reminds me that I actually have to DO something about it. Unfortunately, He isn’t going to give me a rocking body overnight… dang it! But I know that He will motivate and encourage me to get to a happy, and healthy, place physically. Sometimes this means a brisk 10-minute walk, or sometimes just 10 minutes of squats, crunches, and planks. Whatever time you’ve been given, use it. Doing even a little something is better than doing nothing.

5.       SPIFF UP THE HOUSE – yes, I know this shouldn’t be THAT big of a priority. But for me personally, when my house is in a somewhat tidy condition my anxiety is less intense and I feel more motivated throughout the day. It makes me feel more confident and I like for Kyle to come home and feel comfortable. Something as simple as a clean kitchen and empty sink with no dishes can completely change your mindset and mood.

6.       5 MINUTES “ME” TIME – at least five minutes! This is a lot easier said than done for many mamas – I know! But sometimes having just a little bit of time each day to do something that YOU want to do can truly lighten your spirit and encourage you to keep going. It’s easy to forget about yourself, especially when you have children and haven’t taken a shower in 4 days (don’t judge bro) I personally love a few minutes in the morning with a nice hot cup of coffee and a chance to just browse around on the internet. For some reason this helps start my day more positively – I get a few minutes to relax and wake up and it gives me a little time to do what I want to do. Without a little “me time” it’s easy to get irritable and swallowed by discontent. Try to snag a couple minutes for yourself! Even if it’s just throwing a brush through your hair and wisping a little mascara on!


It’s easy to get swallowed whole by our busy days and to-do lists! My goal this week is to refocus my attention on the things that are most important – not to allow myself to be choked by anxiety or allow the devil to heighten my feelings of being overwhelmed! I pray the Lord does the same for you and that every day, and in every moment, we know his presence and allow Him to guide and mold us into women of God.

What are some of your daily priorities?