frankly friday | the onslaught

frankly…

i forgot how this moment felt.
the moment where your thoughts are spiraling,
your heartbeat speeds up,
it feels like you’re crawling out of your skin.
anxiety.
i hate it.
i loathe it.
i wish it didn’t exist.
and for the past year and a half…it was like it didn’t.

i had forgotten how an anxiety attack felt like.
almost believed i didn’t struggle with it.
had this “i am victorious!” mindset.
because i have traveled (alone and with friends), had new adventures, gone out of my comfort zone with little to zero anxiety.
i was able to “best” it…when i felt it coming on i would say this moment will either consume me or i will not allow it to and i was always able to tell anxiety to get lost…mind it’s own business…shut itself down.
not this time.
nope…it was brutal.
i was ambushed.
and i had no weapons on me.

i was trying to explain an anxiety attack to a friend recently, and it’s hard.
the best way i can think of even beginning to help others understand is this:
pretend there is a glass box inside of your head.
you’re inside of that box – and you’re aware of everything happening around you.
you see you’re safe, that you’re surrounded by friends who love you, that there is no threat.
but in that glass box…is your deepest fear.
you start convulsing.
you have zero control of your shaking body.
you can’t focus.
you can’t snap out of it.
you’re still aware everything is ok – and rationally you have nothing to be anxious about…
…but you’re stuck in that box.
stuck in the fear.
stuck with a body and mind you can’t control.
stuck.

or…let me put you in an empty box.
there is nothing inside – nothing to fear – nothing to get you bent out of shape.
yet somehow i convince your mind to believe your biggest fear is trapped with you inside of that box.
is it snakes? roaches? becoming harder to breathe? getting sick? ____?
and then i just tell you you’re fine, snap out of it.
can you do it?
can you immediately come to…even though you KNOW you’re fine?
are you still having after shocks from the fear, from the anxiety?
more than likely…you are.

that was me this past weekend on the mountain trip.
and i was angry.
i was ANGRY that i’ve gone so long without an attack to have one just come out of nowhere and take my knees out from under me.
i was under-prepared and hadn’t practiced my exercises to help me snap out of an attack.
i was angry because i felt like i had gotten my anxiety under control.
like i wouldn’t have any more anxiety attacks.
like it was defeated.

but it is my thorn.
and i will struggle with it forever.
and i have to be prepared for the onslaught.
i have to practice my breathing.
my safe place meditating.
my scripture memorization.
my “safety walk-through rationalizations”

i couldn’t snap out of it for two nights.
two nights of torture.
two nights of constant nausea, irrational fear, and feeling helpless.
two nights of feeling self conscious around women i know accept me as i am…anxiety struggles and all.
two nights of crying out to God to let this cup pass and to take this thorn from me.
two nights of His answering me that this will bring Him glory…even if i don’t understand it.
two nights of being consumed with self guilt…loathing…and frustration.
it had been so long since my last attack that i forgot how it felt.
how bad i get them.
how incredibly irrational it makes me.
and how one attack makes me even more anxious for more attacks – it becomes a horrible cycle.

i’m amy.
i’m washed in the blood of Jesus, goofy, weird, compassionate, hyper, always attempting humor, hamburger eater, weird noise maker, and ready for an adventure.
i also struggle with anxiety.
i won’t let that last one define me though.
i won’t let it chain me down or keep me from this beautiful thing called life.
i. will. not. let. it. consume. me.

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renew retreat | getting real

sigh.
yes…a big ol’ sigh.
this post is about to get raw, like really, really raw.
basically this is a frankly friday post haha.
so grab a mug of something warm, settle in with me, and keep your heart open.

the renew retreat weekend was so needed.
i needed to get out of town, to meet new people, to be surrounded by like-minded/hearted women in a cabin, in the mountains, in the cold. i needed it.
God knew i needed it too.
i went into the weekend with no expectations really, just open to whatever came my way…to whatever i could learn from the women, from the mountains, from God.

saturday morning i woke up and went for my phone (yes, horrible habit) and scrolled through my FB news feed. it was early, sleep was still in my eyes, i’m sure my breath was kicking, and then my heart skidded to a halt.
i scrolled back up.
blink.
blink.
no, i can’t be reading this right now.
blink.
long exaggerated sigh.
heart twinged a little.
my ex-boyfriend got engaged the night before.
it’s been many…many years since we’ve broken up.
throughout those years we’ve gone back and forth with each other.
used each other i suppose you could say – we were each others fall backs.
i actually talked to him earlier this year...and it ended badly…well at least not perfectly.
but there was a finality to it.
i could tell that time it was different – more weighted – more sure.
i actually wrote in my journal “i feel like it’s really finished. for good. for ever.
so we haven’t spoken, not once since then.
it’s been 9ish months.
so as i stared at my phone i didn’t really know how to feel.
was i happy? sad? let down? confused? joyful? grateful?
i think i was all of them at one point or another.

you see, the Lord had really been preparing my heart.
showing me that this woman, the one he had been dating, would be his wife.
as weird as it sounds, it was like 5 months ago the Lord first began whispering it – and it became louder and louder as the months passed.

so why does this matter?
why am i even sharing this? (or over sharing depending on how you look at it)
because…this weekend was about being renewed.
finding strength in Christ.
being surrounded and encouraged by women.

i took these heavy emotions downstairs and grabbed a (delicious) mug of coffee and headed out to the crisp fall air and a rocking chair on the porch. i stared at the mountains for what seemed like forever, then cracked the spine of my Bible and journal and turned to the Psalms. i didn’t need a devotional that morning – i needed the Word of God. i needed to bleed scripture. i needed my heart to be soothed because i was feeling a little wreckish.
and God was good (isn’t HE always).

“give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy! Attend to me, and answer me; i am restless in my complaint and i moan…” -psalm 55:1-2

“my heart is in anguish within me…” – psalm 55:4a

“and i say, ‘oh, that i had wings like a dove! i would fly away and beat rest; yes i would wander far away; i would lodge in your wilderness, selah. i would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest.'”
– psalm 55:6-8

“but i call to God, and the Lord will save me. evening and morning and at noon i utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. He redeems my soul in safety from the battle i wage; for many are arrayed against me.” – psalm 55:16-18

“cast your burden on the Lord, and HE will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved.”
– psalm 55:22

i wrote out a prayer to the Lord after reading through His word…
Lord, comfort me. Your word tells me that You listen and affirm and carry my burden. i look at the mountains – the daylight shinning down on them, and see how You sustain them. why should i worry about my own heart? i know You hear my cries. Remind me of your comfort and love. i need it. 

so this retreat…the beauty of it…the strength of it…the distraction of it….the joy and silence of it…renewed me. restored me, and it set me on a beautiful path.

i feel much lighter now.
i’m not carrying around the weight of heart break.
there is this beautiful (and needed) finality to my past.
this relationship is over (as it has been for a long, long time).
there is nothing i can do to change it. and i wouldn’t want to.

i feel like i’m rambling…but i want to get this out. i want to really SPEAK on what is on my heart, not just gloss over it. society tells me i should feel horrible that my ex is getting married before me. that he is happy and i’m not. which isn’t really true. i’m so happy for him and this new path he is walking on. and i mean, yeah, sure, i feel a little jealous…but i want to be clear – i do not (and have not) want him back. i suppose the weight and sadness i felt was from what we had/used to be – and this is the true closure of it being over forever. i don’t know that i’m explaining it well…but its just been weighing on my heart to write it all out.
i might feel foolish for clicking “publish” on this post one day.
and maybe i wont.
maybe you needed to read this too.
maybe you’re walking through a similar season and while you’re happy for their happiness there is still a small sting with the finality of the event.

but the beautiful thing about endings…
…are the new beginnings they bring. 

photo cred of me & megan with the coffee – meg

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frankly | He allures us

frankly…
it’s been a while since i’ve written something that’s been weighing on my heart. so today i decided to peel back another layer and share what God has been teaching me. there is something beautiful about iron sharpening iron right? let’s sharpen together today. 
i was working through the she reads truth hosea study and day three floored me. 
it inspired me to bring out my matthew henry commentary and dig deeper into the word and what God was trying to reveal to me. i kept hearing Him whisper keep looking, keep digging, you’ll see. 
and boy did i. 
“and i will punish her for the feast days of the Baals when she burned offerings to them and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the LORD.”

-Hosea 2:13


“therefore behold, i will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.”
-Hosea 2:14

“before we condemn this unfaithful bride (gomer), let’s ask the Holy Spirit to show us ourselves as the unfaithful brides of Christ. and, let’s watch the prophet Hosea as he demonstrates the LORD’S unfailing love for us – even in His severe mercies – ever calling us to Himself for reconciliation and relationship.” – shereadstruth 
. . . and forgot me.” v. 13b

“when it is said, she forgot me, one would think it should have followed, ‘therefore i will abandon her, i will never look after her more.’ NO, therefore i will allure her. God’s thoughts and ways of mercy are infinitely above ours.” -matthew henry commentary

// how often do we forget God?

// how often do we seek out other things for security and fulfillment?
// how often do we resemble Isreal and Gomer in turning our backs to God to seek our own pleasures?

and how does God respond when we ‘forget Him’? 
HE ALLURES US. 
God knows our desires, our temptations, our struggles.
He desires to draw us back to Him.
to remind our hearts we are His.
to whisper into our souls the depths of His love.
to lovingly nudge us back into His direction.
“. . .and bring her into the wilderness” v14
“those whom God has mercy in store for He first brings into a wilderness – into solitude and retirement, that they may the more freely converse with Him out of the noise of this world, and sometimes into outward distress and trouble, there by to open the ear to discipline. He will then allure htem and speak comfortably to them, will persuade them and speak to their hearts that is, He will by His Word and Spirit incline their hearts to return to Him and encourage them to do so.  this refers to the offers of divine grace in the Gospel, by which we are allured to forsake our sins and turn to God.” –matthew henry commentary 
“. . .and speak tenderly to her.” v14 
God allures us.

God takes us into the desert for solace, discipline, and communion.

then what?
HE SPEAKS TENDERLY.
definition of tenderly: delicate / gentle / affectionate / loving / considerate / careful. 
He knows the depths of our pain.
He walks with us in the desert. 
He continually speaks tenderly to us in guidance, discipline, and affirmation. 
where are you?
being allured?
walking through the desert?
being corrected/encouraged by God’s tender voice? 
keep seeking.
keep praying.
keep digging deeper.
and keep sharing and being authentic with those around you.
God is moving – we just have to pay attention. 
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frankly | rest

{excerpt from my journal while working through // she reads truth | hebrews day 4}
“…so then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of the soul and the spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” – hebrews 4:9-12
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what do you rest in? 

“i’m learning that all too often i put my value in the work of my hands or the imaginary commandments i keep.”  . . . “our work is good, a gift from God. routine is needed and helpful. but without a strong faith in the work of Christ, we will never be able to truly enjoy the rest that God has for us. deep, soul rest that speaks not only to how we spend our seventh days, but the how we view ourselves every moment of every day.” . . . “the rest God calls us into is restorative and real.”
. . . “He has already assigned you more worth than you could ever create or accumulate!”
she reads truth


>>>><<<<

// what do i rest in? where does my worth come from? 

honestly, lately, myself. i’ve been relying on me far too often. I expect things to get things right, to provide for myself, to _____.
i’m not resting in God.
i’m not finding my worth and value in God.
& i know that trying to find it elsewhere is in vain – yet i do it.

He has assigned me more worth than i can create or accumulate? 

that is so hard for me to fully swallow.
how can i have worth?
when all i do is sin and practice hateful tendencies and greedy characteristics.
i’ve found with my competitive nature it is always more, more, more.
more workouts, more strict dieting, more nice house things,
more meaningful conversations, more attention, more, more. more!

i see and know how dangerous that mindset is.
how it gets me nowhere but pain and more sin.

so i need a re-haul of thinking.
being competitive isn’t bad by itself – but i’ve taken it too far.
i can’t compete for God’s love, mercy, grace, or worth
scripture tells me He gives it to me freely.
i just have to accept it.
remember my salvation – and accept it.
and rest in it.

so why do i run?
why have i placed false security in other things over God?
am i afraid? uncertain of what is to come? of giving up control?

i can’t live in fear. (neither can you)
i can’t live trying to win everything. (neither can you)
i need to accept God’s love. (so do you)
i need to breathe in his mercy. (deeply)
i need to be flooded by his grace. (daily)
i need to rest in his presence. (always)

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frankly | trust and wait

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wait.

it seems to be the theme of my life lately.
i actually posted about God telling me to wait only a few short months ago.
you see, i am one of the most impatient people i know.
i want things done my way and on my timeline.
great character trait, i know. 😉

tuesday morning i was working through my devotional, kind of lack luster – heart heavy but not willing to really bend. you see, the night prior i had a long (few hours) conversation with my roommate. i was defensive, angry, bitter, and frustrated. i just kept telling her I’m tired.
and it is true – i am tired. i feel so incredibly overwhelmed in certain areas of my life.
i see things not crossed off of my ‘to-do list’ and areas where i need to do better, and be better, and share better. i keep setting these standards that are unreachable. normally my outlet is exercise – and i can’t even fully do that like i want (my body is a little beaten, strained muscles with a long healing time) – so my “outlet” has been a little useless.
so I’ve struggled with finding a way to really get things out – and my roommate just happened to take the brunt of it that night. she said some things i needed to hear, but they hurt – they needed to hurt. she also prayed with me and encouraged me – it was a night i needed.

through my devotional i came upon Isaiah 30:18(ESV)

“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him.”

and i asked myself – am i waiting for God? or being impatient and running?
i continued on through the devotional – writing down excerpts, nodding my head in agreement, scribbling thoughts…but that scripture just kept weighing on me.
so i went back and opened the study bible near me (NIV) and started digging a little deeper.

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you…”

foot notes:
// after punishing Israel, God will once again bless them
// leads to Isaiah 40:2

“Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for…”

foot notes:
// ‘speak tenderly’ – the Hebrew for this phrase is used also in 2 Ch 32:6 where Hezekiah ‘encouraged’ Judah to trust in God despite the Assyrian invasion.

all of this and so much more shows and affirms one thing to me.

– wait –
– trust –

God longs to commune with me. to envelope me in His arms and sooth my aching heart with balm. Scripture tells me that after punishment/desert God will once again bless me (in His terms, not what i think of a ‘blessing’) and to be encouraged within my struggle – especially when all seems lost and overwhelming.
my sin has been paid for.
God longs to be gracious to me.
to show mercy.
to give grace.

“…blessed are those who wait for Him.”
-Isaiah 30:18b

i must wait.
and trust while waiting.

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frankly friday | wait

 
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wait.
 
i’ve been working towards one of my june goals – getting in the word consistently.
it’s something you don’t realize how far you’ve gone until you start staring it in the face.
630am – cup of coffee next to me – she reads truth open on the ipad – and sleep in the corners of my eyes. my body is waking up, my mind expanding, my heart listening.
 
i’ve always been a morning person.
waking up, turning on some music, being incredibly productive before 10am.
i never really understood why i was wired that way.
until recently.
God wired me for mornings so i would spend them with Him.
what time did He wire you for?
 
i sometimes feel weird talking about where i am spiritually (not in an ashamed weird, just in a i really want to explain this right and i don’t think i’m giving it justice weird).
i believe i’m a seasoned believer.
i’ve gone through some serious trials – and some trials i have yet to face.
my faith has been tested – and i’ve failed and triumphed.
i pray.
i cry.
i sin.
i scream.
i beg.
i rejoice.
i…haven’t listened in a while.
 
prayer is important – essential really.
when i need to really connect with God i use this book as a guideline.
it shows you how to use imaginative prayer to build a deeper foundation – it was life changing for me.
 
prayer is essential – so is listening.
i’ve spent the last few mornings after going through a devotional praying for God to empty my mind, encircle me with protection, and to speak to me (through words, images, sounds, etc). while i have no right to demand God to speak; as His child i’m crying out for His guidance, for His direction, for His wisdom.
 
in the stillness i find myself empty.
void of thought.
void of distraction.
hearing only my fan pulse against the air.
 
then it happened….one word.
 
wait.
 
and again this morning…
 
wait.
 
followed by a bright light.
i sat there…still listening…and nothing.
God what does that mean? what does it mean….show me.
nothing.
 
so i end my moment in thanks.
open my eyes.
and start thinking – start assessing.
wait on what? on direction? on emotions? on a new path? on what God?!
 
then it slowly started to piece itself together.
wait.
followed by light.
while i still need to pray about what God is revealing to me…i think i’ve come to a small conclusion.
the bright light is a new start – a new beginning in something (not sure what) and i need to wait for it. not wait with impatience or with a bitter heart – but wait in the stillness with joy, with patience, and with my foundation being built on God.
 
one word – so much meaning.
 
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what is God  teaching you?
 
see other frankly friday posts here.
 
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