Blessings · Faith · Uncategorized

Praise: Five Minute Friday

I’m joining “my people” from Five Minute Friday today and responding to our prompt: Praise.

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One of the most difficult months in my life was September.

I felt the arrows of the enemy piercing me around every turn. Bad news surrounded me and my anxiety levels returned to a scary-high level. I was worn out, scared, and overwhelmed.

But as I turned the page to October I decided to focus on the positive things in my life. Instead of expecting the worse-case-scenarios I began expecting good. Instead of cowering in fear I embraced change. Instead of making excuses not to spend time with Lord I decided to praise Him.

After all, He has given me so much to praise Him for.

Whenever I feel the wave of anxiety course through my body I’ve tried to list 5 things for which I am thankful and that has really changed my perspective. This simple exercise has helped me to combat fear in a logical way.

Today I am praising God for:

1. My beautiful family

2. Some exciting news in my family that I’m sure I’ll be sharing soon (no, I’m not pregnant!)

3. My job where I am able to make a difference EVERY DAY

4. My church family who love and support my whole family

5. My friends who let me vent when I can’t carry my burdens on my own and who love me despite my flaws

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

Link-Ups · Uncategorized

Complete: Five Minute Friday

I’m really looking forward to this week’s link-up with Five Minute Friday. I’ve had a tough week and knowing that I can plug in with a family of positive writers is exactly what my soul needs. Every Friday we gather at Five Minute Friday and create short posts on the same topic. This week the topic is Complete. It’s a hard one when I’m feeling fractured in so many places this week.

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The road before me is so unclear.

I tread each step with strength and fear.

The fog surrounds me as I drop to my knees.

It’s only there where I am complete.

 

I’m worn out from pushing through.

It’s not easy to talk to you.

But if I’m honest it’s what I need.

Lord, help me pray. Make me complete.

 

My heart is aching.

My hands are reaching.

I’m in need of healing now.

There’s so much hurting.

And it all surrounds me.

I want to help, Lord, show me how.

Faith · Uncategorized

Clinging to Promises

Romans 8:18-30 (NIV)

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified he also glorified.”

Wow! That’s a lot of great text. It’s scripture penned and gift wrapped by Paul. The promise of glory and the blessed hope we all can possess really got me through some of the hardest months of my life. At times I felt like I was sinking. All I could really do was cling to the promises in this passage. Promises like:

-our suffering now does not compare to the glory we will one day see

-liberation from bondage

-redemption of our bodies

-hope

-the Spirit intercedes for us

-God works for our good

All of these promises of God became mantras for my soul. Whenever the darkness crept in I sang these words or repeated them over and over to myself. And it is by the grace of God that I am able to stand on and claim those promises instead of letting despair have the last word.

Two weeks after giving birth to Aleah I started getting out and moving around. My c-section healed nicely, and I went to the doctor and was cleared to do most activities. The day of my first venture out of the house I remember thinking how blessed I had been with this delivery. Things went fairly smoothly and Aleah was as healthy as could be. When I awoke that morning my leg was a bit sore, but I didn’t think too much about it because I had been almost sedentary for two weeks.

Fast forward to the night time.

The girls were both finally asleep and my husband and I were settling into bed ourselves. Out of no where I had this feeling that something just wasn’t right. Yes, my leg was sore, but it just seemed like a charley horse…nothing serious. I turned out the lights and tried to sleep. But the tossing and turning I experienced I realize now was the Spirit trying to get my attention. After a bit my leg hurt more and more and I decided I needed to get to the hospital. Quickly!

Sure that I was over-reacting I told my husband to stay home with the girls and I phoned my mother to take me into the Emergency Room. I kissed him good-bye and thought I’d be home a few hours later with nothing but a diagnosis of paranoia.

I presented my symptoms to the nurses who felt my leg. There was no visible symptoms, but they decided since I was two weeks out from surgery that they would run a couple of tests. They skipped the d-dimer test which usually is the first step in diagnosing a blood clot, because my c-section would certainly cause that test to show positive. A CT scan was run and a couple of blood tests.

After nearly an hour my doctor (who minutes before was talking about discharging me) came into the room and started with, “Don’t shoot the messenger…” (a very odd way to deliver a diagnosis I must add)

What I felt in my leg was in fact a blood clot, but it had broken off at least in part and traveled to my lungs. My diagnosis was a Pulmonary Embolism, a life threatening condition. I was admitted and almost immediately started on heparin, a blood thinner. In that time I was so thankful for my mother. From the moment I found out about the clot until about three days later I was in shock. The fact I had this clot and was only two weeks past delivery really messed with my hormones and mental stability. I barely spoke for days and my mind went to a fairly bleak place.

I let fear in as I tried to cope. I saw the doom and darkness over the redemption I had been given. I tried to have a heart of gratitude that the Spirit had gotten me the help I needed in time, but in all honesty I couldn’t do much but tremble with fear. I thought about how my family would be taken care of if I wasn’t there…and let me tell you–those are not happy thoughts. I was messed up, my spirit was broken. But through it all I called out to God.

A few days after I came home a friend shared the scripture above on Facebook. I remember crying as I read it, because I needed it. I hadn’t really spoken much yet and I didn’t even really know what to say, but I was comforted by the words, “the Spirit intercedes for us,” and “all things work for good.” This spoke to me because when I sat trembling at the hospital I sensed the presence of God there. At the time I didn’t know what to pray, but I know the Spirit interceded for me. The Spirit knew my heart and God answered my terrified prayers.

The more that time passed the more I began to see this situation as a miracle. Not everyone with this diagnosis lives. In fact, a third of them don’t. My symptoms were not typical, and when I first entered the ER the nurses and doctors thought everything was fine.

Six months later I am hoping to glorify God with my testimony.

I am clinging to the promises of Romans 8:28. God has saved my soul and my body to live according to His purpose. Knowing His Word and reading it daily has equipped me to overcome the struggle.

I can’t tell you how many times I sang, prayed, and quoted scripture in those days. Being immersed in His words gave me the strength I needed to make it through and it is continuing to help me move forward. I am encouraged to share what he’s done for me, but it all starts with the time I spend with Him everyday.

The next three months I took blood thinners and was on a first-name basis with the receptionist at the doctor’s office because I visited so frequently. I ran the gamut of tests, but in the end I was cleared! I prayed that all blood tests would come back normal, and they did. No blood disorders! And I am now at no-elevated risk for recurrent clots and I am no longer on blood thinners. The clot was likely caused by the combination of surgery and heightened estrogen levels post-partum. No matter the cause or the purpose I know that my God is good and He works everything out according to His good will.

The Ameri Brit Mom

PS-This picture was taken the day of my PE…just goes to show that everything looked fine, but before long I would learn that it definitely wasn’t. Also…can you see the baby I’m wearing? I was trying to figure out the holds for a newborn and snapped this picture to show that I got it wrong, so don’t worry I didn’t carry her around all day like that!

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Faith · Uncategorized

Good

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Some days are worse than others.

Some nights seem like they will never end.

Some breaths are heavy.

Some worries are dark.

But through the fog of anxiety I can see a flicker of light. If I focus hard enough I can see illumination. Like a lighthouse, God’s Word calls my heart home. There are moments of paralyzing fear, but they are followed by moments of remembering. I remember that I am a Child of God. I remember that I am His and so there is no need to fear. I remember that HE IS GOOD.

I may not understand all of the pain, but I can rest in knowing that God’s will is perfect and His purpose is good. I pray for beauty to come from this season and for light to overcome darkness. Through it all, the Lord is good!

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

bullet journal · Uncategorized

August Plan With Me: Bullet Journal Updates

A new month starts this week. I get excited about the dawn of a new month. A turn of the calendar is a blank slate–a chance to establish new goals and to forget about the shortcomings of the month before. A new month is a reminder that the world is continuing to spin despite my circumstances. As I set out to create my new pages for August in my bullet journal I wanted to share them with you.

July Re-Cap

Before I set out to make my new spreads I always like to look back at the previous month. I take inventory of what went well and I brainstorm ways to improve my bullet journal for the upcoming month. Here’s a look at how some of my July pages turned out:

July was the first month I included a Fitness Log. I really liked keeping track of the exercise I participated in for the month. Having a visual graph to categorize my workouts was also helpful. On the far left column I kept a tab of how much time I spent exercising for the month.

Ever since I had my daughter in February I have been battling with anxiety as a result of some health issues. One thing my doctor recommended was to record my anxiety levels each day. In May, I started a monthly spread for anxiety tracking and it usually follows the theme for the month. As you can see, my theme for July was fireworks. On my anxiety tracker I also listed out one thing I was grateful for each week.

My weekly spreads for July looked a little different than usual. This is because I was in England for the whole month. Instead of a calendar for to-do lists I decided to make my weekly spreads more of a journal style where I wrote a paragraph each day describing what I did in England.

August

This month my pages are made using the following tools: The Happy Planner “Teachers Rule” sticker sheets, Tombow Brushpens (452, 620, 451, 243, 761, 991), Union Jack Washi tape (purchased at Primark UK), and Tombow Monodraw pens.

August’s theme: School

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My title page is where I set out the theme and goals for the month. I try to keep it simple. This month I decided to use stickers instead of drawing my theme. This month I will be returning to the classroom after nine months of maternity leave so I am getting myself ready with this school theme.

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For August I’m back to my usual weekly spreads. The columns give me room to create to-do lists and also to journal at the bottom of each day. I am still in England for this first week so I continued the use of Union Jack Washi for this first week.

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Going with the theme, I have my new anxiety tracker set up in the shape of a ruler. Each number on the ruler represents a day of the month. The key down below correlates with the levels of anxiety. The numbers to the right of each color are just the marker numbers so that I make sure I am using the right color.

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My Fitness Log for August looks the same as July. I wanted to recycle this spread since I enjoyed it so much last month. The only difference will be the colors used in the graphing portion.

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One spread I am bringing back for August is a Weekly Review. I like to spend time reflecting each weekend on the previous week and listing something for which I am grateful.

Those are all the pages I’ve done for August so far. Let me know if you like this post or find it helpful at all. I’m trying to decide if I want to do a post like this every month. Bullet journaling is something I’ve been doing for almost two years to help myself get organized and I love sharing my ideas and experiences with my awesome readers.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Faith · Uncategorized

Done: Five Minute Friday

I’m back at it!

Every Friday I like to join a band of inspired writers over at Five Minute Friday.com. There is a weekly link-up posted here with a prompt for a blog post. The goal is to write on the topic for an uninterrupted five minutes. This week the topic is done. Check out my break-up letter with Worry, a long-time companion and a disloyal friend of mine.

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Dear Worry,

I am so done with you. You’ve hung around too long battling my mind and injuring my soul. After the past six months I’ve realized that by letting you into my life I have only made things worse. When I thought you were the only thing I could control I clung to you like a cat on a limb. But you’ve let me down hard. The wounds barred into my skin threatening to scar.

You see, with every chance you had you inflicted fear. At times I was paralyzed and choosing a direction was impossible. In the thick of the battle, though, I heard the still, small voice of a God who never left me.

When darkness closed it’s grasp around my mind the light was never forsaken. When your weight sat upon my chest I was being held. When trouble came knocking and pain was agonizing there was a Healer in my midst.

Now I know that when I’m afraid you aren’t my only option.

There’s a God who is watching over me providing the way out. I don’t need to suffer any more. He is ready to offer me the peace I desperately need. His respite is mine for the taking.

So, Worry, this is my good-bye. We’ve grown rather close these past few months, but our relationship is an unhealthy one. It’s not me, it’s you. I’m calling it quits. This journey has been a lot of things, but most importantly it’s done!

The Ameri Brit Mom

Family · Uncategorized

Catching You Up to Speed: Part 2

I took a year hiatus from blogging for many reasons. The major reason behind my break was because I was pregnant and exhausted. And as any parent knows, the months that lead up to and follow the birth of new little one are tiring. I didn’t have the energy or drive to write on most days and much of what I did write during that time was private prayers and thoughts for my daughters.

Earlier this week I shared some photos with you from my pregnancy (Catching You Up to Speed: Part 1). You saw my oldest daughter, Arianna, preparing to be a big sister and I finished that post with the first picture of our baby girl, Aleah Isobel. So here is a look at the second part of my hiatus-the time since she was born four months ago. I hope you can handle all this cuteness 🙂

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And now you are pretty much caught up to speed. It’s been a great year in many ways, but it has also been extremely hard in others. But one thing I know: I am one blessed Mama.

I’m returning to this blog because when I started it back in 2015 it helped me through a really hard time in my life. I’ve always been a writer, but the action of publishing my thoughts and creating a network of other bloggers really helped me to push past some of the anxiety I was facing at the time.

At some point I plan to share with you my testimony, but for now suffice it to say that I’ve been battling with anxiety yet again. I had a very traumatic event occur shortly after Aleah’s birth and although I’ve been very happy I’ve also struggled a lot with anxious thought patterns and PTSD. Writing has always been a calming outlet for me as is prayer. So it is for that reason that I’m returning to this blog. It’s a therapy that blessed me before and if it can be used to bless another person too I will be even more grateful. I’m excited to jump back in to the encouraging community that this blog once created and I look forward to sharing with you all once again.

So, here’s to moving forward.

Here’s to blessing and encouragement.

Thanks for checking in.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Family · Uncategorized

A Lesson in Spontaneity

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I’m not a spontaneous person. Creating lists and plans are part of my coping mechanisms. When I’m stressed I rely on my bullet journal to get me through. I start each day knowing what needs to be accomplished and I develop plans for getting it all done.

This weekend, our family was on the way to another basketball show for my husband. I was talking about school and rambling on as I always do during long car rides. Somewhere between a classroom anecdote and my daughter asking to stop so she could go to the bathroom, my husband made the outlandish suggestion that, “Maybe we should get a hotel for the night and stay in this town.”

My first reaction was a knee jerk response. “But we don’t have any of our stuff.”

I thought the conversation was over and it was on to another discussion. In my mind, there was no way we could just get a hotel room on the spot and stay in a city two hours from home. It wasn’t that bad of a drive and we could probably make it home before dark.

“We’ve been doing a lot of driving lately, and it might just be nice to slow down and relax for the night,” was his very reasonable reply.

I knew as soon as he dropped the “R” word that I had been hooked.

It’s no secret that the past few weeks have been hectic in our house. My husband has had several shows a week as we’ve hit the climax of his travel season. We had a guest stay with us for a week. School is entering the insanity of standardized testing periods. Relaxation has become a foreign word, which is how I was enticed.

I handed my husband excuse after excuse as to why it was a ludicrous idea. A lot of it came down to my fear of spontaneity.

After the promise of a stop at the mall to pick up essentials, we decided to spend Saturday night in St. Clairsville, Ohio. My husband had two shows and once they finished we found a hotel with a vacancy and we relaxed.

A few years ago this type of weekend would have sent me into a full fledged panic attack. Doing something that wasn’t pre-planned was outside of my comfort zone. Showing up to a hotel with nothing but a plastic bag containing a toothbrush and undergarments would have made me cry. But I felt freedom this weekend from all of the chains of anxiety that used to bind me. I realized that life doesn’t fall apart when we make last minute plans, and actually it was a lot of fun. We made many memories on the trip and we enjoyed the power of relaxation as a family.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Faith

Five Minute Friday: Doubt

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is doubt. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over toKate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:

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Do you ever struggle with doubting God? I will assume your answer is yes, because it is human nature to doubt God at times. Some of us may find ourselves doubting God in the big stuff like salvation or His ability to bring healing. Others of us may doubt God when it comes to the day-to-day issues in our lives. My latest doubts would include the doubting of my calling. Why do I always begin to question the things that I know God has clearly called me to do?  I’ve been in a place over the past couple of days where I’ve truly struggled with the question, “Am I truly called to lead and advise the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at the high school where I am employed?” despite the fact that God has proven faithful to me time and time again in this ministry.

I had found myself in a place of exhaustion and dealing with a lot of planning for an upcoming FCA retreat (the most stressful event of the school year for me.) I know that event planning is not my strength. I learned that in college while working for the Office of Advancement and planning so many fund raisers. It was a lot of fun, but definitely not something I feel called to do.

As I questioned my position with the FCA and whether or not God had really called me to fulfill the responsibilities of advising a group of seventy high school Christians God reminded me why He has placed me in this position. When I was exhausted from all the time that goes into planning and executing weekly meetings as well as the upcoming retreat God gave me a message to renew my purpose. This message came in the form of an encouraging letter from a parent.

This week when I was in need of reassurance I walked out to my mailbox and found a letter from a parent of a student involved in the ministry. In this letter the parent expressed their gratitude for my role and explained the impact that this group is having on their son. This was a parent who also is an administrator in the district and whose opinion and wisdom I truly respect.

The letter brought me to tears as I received it exactly when I needed it.

I hate that in this scenario I had become a doubting Thomas. I had forgotten my purpose and focused on myself and my weakness. Alone I could never balance the role of advising a large club with all of the other demands of life, but over the past five years God has truly given me strength and worked through this club. Sometimes I surprise myself with how short-sighted my memory can be. It just takes a look back at the many ways that God has provided for and worked through this organization to remember that He ordained me for such a time as this.

From what I’ve heard doubting your calling when you are in a place of ministry is pretty normal. We pour ourselves into our ministries and when we don’t see the results we pray for it can easily become discouraging. I’m learning even after five years that God’s plans don’t always align with mine, but His plans are always so much better than my own. Doubt is a natural step in the believing process. Doubt helps bring us to a point of faith. Doubt calls into question ourselves and can actually be beneficial for getting our eyes off of ourselves and back on God. We were not created to fulfill our purposes in our own strength. God is almost always the missing piece when we find ourselves in doubt.

Faith

Living in Peace

Lately, I have been focused on defeating anxiety in my personal study of the Bible. Anxiety is something I struggle with daily (as you can gather from my posts.) Through my studies I have learned that the opposite of living in anxiety and fear is living in peace. So what is peace? What does peace look like? These are the essential questions that drove my quest for finding peace and contentment in my own life. Here is a glimpse into what I am learning:
What is peace?
Peace is defined as freedom from disturbance; tranquility and quietness. (Mirriam-Webster Dictionary)
From the definition above I can tell you that I have not been living a life of peace. Try as I might to achieve freedom from disturbance I have struggled to find tranquility and quiet in my life. For me, anxiety is at its worst when I try to settle down and find rest. It is when the busy schedule ceases that anxiety attacks. In the moment that I try to turn off all disturbances in my life the worries begin to flood my mind and keep me from the rest and tranquility that peace promises. If I keep myself busy and don’t focus on my worries they seem to be non-existent, but that is not what the promise of peace is. Peace isn’t making yourself busy or ignoring the fact that you’re living your life in a state of fear. Peace isn’t appearing to have it all together.
If the words of Psalm 85:8 are true and God promises peace to His people why am I not experiencing the peace of God in my life? The answer is simple and lies in several verses throughout both the Old and New Testament: I am not seeking after peace in the way that I should. “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:14) Peace is indeed a gift and promise from God, but because peace is a product of contentment it is something we must fight the enemy to obtain. Satan is always looking for ways to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) and he does so in sneaky and devious ways. (1 Peter 5:8) One thing he is constantly out to rob us of is the joy of taking possession of God’s promises. He puts doubts, anxieties, and fears in our minds and robs us of the peace that God has gifted to all of us.
So how do we defeat this master of deception? We seek peace. We look for peace wherever we can find it. We make the conscious choice to be content with our lives and our circumstances. We intentionally set out to create some quiet time and we reflect on all of God’s blessings in our lives. Peace will never come to those who constantly live in fear or timidity. Peace will come to those who seek it just like all of God’s other promises for us. (Jeremiah 29:13- You will seek me (God) and find me when you seek me with your whole heart.)
Some days it is easier than others to put a disciplined foot forward and race after the peace that is rightfully yours. Everyday we should make it our prayer that God give us peace in every situation. It is imperative that when we feel weak, impatient, and attacked by the world that we present our requests to God and seek peace!
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
What does peace look like?
Peace is accepting whatever wrenches are thrown in our plans. It is choosing to be grateful for all that we have been blessed with instead of wanting more and better things. Peace is smiling in the face of adversity and rising above the competition. It is giving back to God as a way of thanking him for all he has done.
Let us now throw off all of the things in our lives that keep us from peace. For me, that means getting rid of my natural instincts toward anxiety and releasing control of my life to God. It isn’t until we empty our hands that we will experience the perfect peace that passes all understanding.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. (Hebrews 12:1)
Additional Verses about peace:
1. Psalm 29:11
2. Psalm 37:37
3. Romans 8:6
4. John 14:27
5. 2 Timothy 1:7
Questions to consider in your life:
1. What in your life keeps you from seeking peace?
2. How can you begin a journey of seeking peace in your life?
3. In what ways can you see the results of peace in your life?
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