How To Calm Anxiety & Find Sleep

How To Calm Anxiety & Find Sleep

Welcome to day 2 of the series 7 Days Toward Calming Anxiety! This time of year brings a unique level of stress, fear, and even anxiety. So together, we’re taking a close look at Scripture and using this valuable resource to calm anxiety and embrace the joy of the Lord.

Calm Anxiety, Find Sleep

Any time I experience anxiety, my sleep suffers—tremendously. When I don’t sleep well, everything in my life is affected. And that causes, you guessed it, additional stress and anxiety.

Most nights I can fall asleep without any trouble. But then, for no apparent reason, I wake with a jolt, feeling worried and anxious about my situation. Sometimes anger and fear lie in wait for me in the dark of night, too, and I can’t seem to turn my anxious thoughts away.

That’s why I love these verses about sleep:

Psalm 4:8
I will both lie down and sleep in peace,
For You alone, Lord, make me live in safety (HCSB).

 

Proverbs 3:24
When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
You will like down, and your sleep will be pleasant (HCSB).

 

In context, these verses pertain to trusting the Lord and following His ways. When we keep God as our focus instead of our troubling circumstance, He surrounds us with His perfect peace—even while we sleep.

These scriptures remind me that the Lord is always with me, protecting, guiding, and promising safety. Sleep is His design and He intends that it is peaceful and restful every evening.

I’ve heard it said that since God never sleeps, He is carrying our concerns and working His diving solutions to our problems even in the dead of night. So, we can go on sleeping in pleasant peace and security knowing that He continues to work on our behalf.

Practical Tips for Restful Sleep

Here are a few helpful tips that I’ve adopted for falling asleep and staying asleep, even during some of my most anxiety-plagued seasons of life:

  • Before sleep, I agree with the Lord and what He says in His Word. Using the two verses mentioned above in prayer, I pray the scriptures back to Him. My prayers may resemble this:

“Lord, you alone bring peace and safety. I accept this demonstration of your loving kindness. When I lie down to sleep, I will dwell in your safety. You will help me sleep in peace. Tonight, I will not be afraid because You watch over me, my situation, and my family. Thank you for sleep that is pleasant and sweet. I look forward to feeling rested and restored in the morning.”

  • I play restful music. It helps me to listen to soothing instrumental music, nature sounds, or white noise as I drift off to sleep. There are several radio channels available on our favorite music apps that are pleasant and helpful.

 

  • When I wake in the night and have trouble going back to sleep, I play audio Scripture from the YouVersion Bible app. Before I know it, I’m sleeping once again.

 

  • I often get out of bed and read God’s Word or pray over what’s troubling me. Since I’m losing sleep anyway, I set out to accomplish Kingdom work. I find that the enemy sometimes plants doubt and insecurity while I sleep. When I use his untimely interruption for prayer, I find that he’s a lot less apt to disrupt my sleep.

 

What are some of the ways you ensure a good night’s sleep?

May God’s Word strengthen you, bringing peace, calm and joy.

 

 

 

 

Calm Anxiety with God’s Power

Calm Anxiety with God’s Power

Celebrations and resolutions. Goals and reflections.

For most, this is an exciting time of year. It’s a time to look back with satisfaction and look forward with eager expectation.

But for some, ushering in the New Year can bring an onslaught of anxiety. We seem to cast off comfort and familiarity, trading them for all things new and unfamiliar. Even things we look forward to—such as new goals, challenges, jobs, and upcoming family changes, the anticipation of forthcoming weddings, births, milestone birthdays, and other celebrations—can bring dreadful feelings of uncertainty, insecurity, and apprehension.

Moving toward unknown situations can spur a level of unease. Not only that but in the US, it’s also winter. That means less sunlight, fewer outdoor activities, and healthy farm-to-table food options which help us to naturally battle heightened fear and angst.

Finding the Right Focus

During any time of year, one significant way to calm anxiety is to fix our focus firmly on the Lord. It’s important to remember that when we feel anxious we’re allowing our circumstance to take a higher priority in our lives than the character God and our relationship and reliance on Him. The solution is to refocus and allow God’s truth to fill our hearts and minds.

Today we kick off a short blog series titled 7 Days toward Calming Anxiety. Each day in the upcoming week, we’ll examine a Bible verse in which the Holy Spirit points us toward the peace and calm we experience in the Lord’s presence.

Calm Anxiety with Today’s Verse

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment (HCSB).

In different Bible translations, the term fearfulness is expressed as fear, timidity, and even cowardice. It conveys a lack of bravery, courage, and confidence. The Lord did not give us such disposition. Instead, as this verse teaches, God provides us with a spirit of power, love, and sound judgment.

We do not find power in our own strength, but through the power of Jesus Christ that resides in us. This is the same power that raised our Lord from the dead (see Ephesians 1:19-20). It is capable of far more than we can imagine, giving us the strength to face all circumstances and accomplish all that we encounter.

God gives us love, which is the greatest of Christian qualities. It’s not fleshly, emotion-based love, rather it’s the perfect love of Christ, which as 1 Corinthians 13:7 states, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (HCSB).  This love helps us withstand trails, difficulties, fears, and anxiety.

Lastly, God provides sound judgment, sometimes translated as self-control. This pertains to our thoughts as much as our actions. Because we have the mind of Christ, we have the divinely-given ability to see ourselves as Jesus does: powerful and able as we walk in His strength.

As your stay mindful today in calming anxiety, work toward memorizing 2 Timothy 1:7.  Write it on a notecard or in your journal, then say it repeatedly until it begins to sink deep into not only your mind but your spirit. Let the truth of God wash over your anxiety and bring you His perfect peace.

Have a blessed, calm, and peaceful day as you allow the Word of the Lord to give you strength.

 

 

 


 

Finding Immanuel

Finding Immanuel

“All the outs in free!”

We shouted those words so that our friends could hear from their hiding places: from under trees, behind laundry piles, inside dog houses, or disguised beneath a collection of blankets. We’d search for and find many of our chums, but there was generally one in our game of hide and seek that went undiscovered. Yelling the familiar chant let the outstanding hiders know that they could step into visibility without penalty.

 

As I think back to the frustrating task of finding someone who did not want to be found, it makes me glad that Jesus doesn’t hide from us. Yes, there are times when I feel I can’t find Him. He feels absent from my life, as if He’s taken a “hands-off approach” and left me to my own devices. As I wrote in my last post, the process of searching for Immanuel can feel long and arduous.

 

In these seasons, we must intentionally dig deeper to find the fertile soil beneath our clay hearts. It’s there that Christ remains alive, active, and ever-present.

 

We may weep and lament as we search for Him, but through the process of searching, we find. That’s when the joy comes. That’s when we discover fullness of joy in His presence. In the journey of finding, we often recall what we already knew. We find truths that we encountered before.

 

The process of finding helps us to not simply know, but to know again.

 

As we seek what is hidden, the process of remembering proves a valuable tool. When I searched for my best friend in our childhood game, if I remembered how much she loved dogs and tended to hide somewhere close to them, I could spy her out almost instantly.

 

Finding Immanuel

 

By calling to mind—remembering—what I already know about Christ, I can also find Him more readily.

 

As I actively remember— things like His character revealed throughout the Bible, or the promises He declares in His Word, the blessings He lavished upon me in the past, or victories and freedom that He helped me attain—suddenly I can see His subtle fingerprints in my life. My eyes open to things that He is doing right now. I begin to identify ways that He is moving in my current trials and circumstances.

Victorious, Bible Study, Esther

When you can’t see God’s activity, you might begin to feel hopeless. Come and discover His active involvement in your life today with the Bible study: Victorious

The Christmas Story

 

The story of Christ and His birth in Scripture recounts many who found Jesus through a process of active searching. They took the time and trouble to recall the promises and truths of God’s Word, which provided a type of roadmap leading to the discovery of Immanuel.

 

The Magi

 

The wise men depicted in Matthew chapter 2 are believed to have traveled over 800 miles in their search for Jesus. Talk about a long journey! In the process, they examined promises of God’s Word and followed the star that led their way. When they found Jesus, Matthew 2:9-11 tells us that they were overjoyed beyond measure and fell to their knees in worship.

 

The Shepherds

 

Angels revealed the Word of the Lord to unsuspecting shepherds during the night. Through this miraculous announcement, the shepherds were compelled to seek Jesus. In doing so, they discovered for themselves the good news of great joy.

 

Finding Through Remembering

 

We, too, can remember the word of the Lord and His activity in our lives, which will help us find Immanuel when we are compelled to seek Him.

 

Active remembering can take on many forms:

 

Memorial Stones

 

Present day memorial stones help us recall the Lord’s involvement and provision. Reminders like photographs of special, spiritual milestones call the Lord’s mighty work to the forefront of our memories. Embellishing and decorating our homes with Bible verses keeps our hearts focused on Him. We can document our experiences in writing through letters or emails to loved ones, journals, or even blogs.

 

Prayer and Meditation

 

Prayer and meditation allow us to draw near to God with a true heart, in full assurance of our faith (see Hebrews 10:24).  After encountering the shepherds and hearing of their angelic experience, Matthew 2:19 tell us that Mary meditated on these things. She treasured the truth in her heart.  The psalms are also filled with examples of recalling and pondering on the mighty works of the Lord.

 

Communion and Worship

 

Communion is a practice that, as the Bible teaches, is a specific act of remembrance. We remember the work of Jesus on the cross, the power of His blood, and His ultimate sacrifice.

 

Worship is certainly a practice that calls to memory the promises, freedom, and victories that the Lord gives. I love to belt out old songs that helped carry me through difficult times. I also cherish the new songs that quench my thirsty soul and help me focus on the Lord’s character. The shepherds who found Jesus praised God for the fulfillment of the promises and for all they’d seen and heard. We’re wise to do the same.

 

As we face difficult trials and situations that make us question, “Where is God in this?” we do well to recall that He remains near.  When we seek, we will find Immanuel, God with us. We’ll discover that His promises still stand. We’ll learn to see God’s subtle fingerprints as readily as His indisputable miracles. And we’ll remember that He is with us always.

 

May God’s Word strengthen you today,

 

 

 

 

Finding Immanuel

 

 

15 Inspirational Gift Ideas (plus a few bonus ideas)

15 Inspirational Gift Ideas (plus a few bonus ideas)

My dad was a giver. I loved watching how he’d pour his energy and efforts into making the perfect gift for those he adored. From home-cooked meals (yes, my dad prepared the meals in our family) to a one of a kind, handcrafted step stool in a child’s favorite colors, from ornate, handmade Christmas decorations, to sacrificially purchased items, each gift originated deep in his heart. It was carefully considered, often met a need, and portrayed his incredible generosity.

Most of the gifts my dad gave to me are still displayed somewhere in our home. They were treasures intended to become heirlooms. Indeed, they have.

Gift-giving has since become an important and significant tradition in our family. I adore pouring deep thought and consideration of individual personalities into the gifts I give. When I choose a gift, my aim is that it will fulfill certain criteria:

  • It surprises its recipient, often because it’s something she hadn’t considered for herself.
  • It’s something that can be enjoyed for a lengthy period. I may not always aim for heirloom like my dad, but I do hope a gift will bless its new owner for several months, if not longer.
  • Its a gift he’ll love.
  • It doesn’t put me into debt. I like to pay cash, thank you.

That’s a pretty tall order, wouldn’t you say?

Inspirational Gift Ideas

As Christmas approaches and numerous gifts are needed all at the same time, it can be difficult to put as much energy as I’d like into my selections. Maybe you feel the same way.  So I’ve done some of the work for all of us.

Below, you’ll find a list of more than 15 inspirational gift ideas that the adults in your family are sure to cherish for months and years to come.

** This post contains affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase. This is at no additional cost to you. This helps cover the costs of operating this blog and ministry and help provide for our family needs. Thank you!

The Joyful Life Magazine

give the gift of joy all year long

A magazine, you ask? Yes! I received the premier edition in the mail a few days ago and The Joyful Life is unlike any magazine you’ve ever seen. It’s beautiful and robust (huge, actually) and comes out quarterly. If ever there were an heirloom-quality print publication, this is it. Over the last few days, I’ve savored one article each day as a part of my devotion time. This is a gift that will bless and bless. Click here to learn more!

 

Inspirational Jewelry

Nearly all women love jewelry, and with a touch of added inspiration, who can resist these beauties? Meaningful words, especially when they point to Christ, can encourage us all. Click here to shop jewelry!

 

 

 

 

Mug Me!

A little reminder for the morning to stay focused on God’s strength.

 

I’m a coffee mug junkie. With a cupboard (nearly) full of fun mugs, I can tell you where each came from. Morning after morning are filled with jokes, sentiments, photos, and memories from those I love. Click here to shop!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Flip Flops

Unique Gift IdeasWhat’s so great about the Sanuk flips? They’re ultra-comfortable, even when spending long hours on your feet. This brand is a favorite in our family—we’ve spent hours and hours in them at Disney theme parks and they are foot savers to be sure. PLUS they’re cute and far more reasonably priced at this time of year than in summer. Click here to purchase!

 

 

Portable Bluetooth Speaker

This is another family favorite – a water-resistant Bluetooth speaker that we sometimes argue over. It’s perfect for yard work or relaxing outdoors, it’s small and easy to pack when traveling, and it’s a device we use every single day. Shop here!

 

 

God’s Word

I know, you might be slowly switching to the Bible apps on your phone. I am too. But we interact differently with a paper Bible. I love knowing that the verse I’m looking for is on the top right side of the page, highlighted in orange with a star next to it.  The She Reads Truth Bible and the Study Bible for Women are two of my favorites.

 

 

Kindle Paperwhite

This is a tried and true e-Reader in my life. In fact, I left mine behind on a trip a few months ago, so this is on my personal wish list. I can read at night with low light so as not to disturb my sweetie. I also appreciate the non-glare screen that makes reading outdoors comfortable and easy. The newest version is even waterproof! Click here to shop!

 

 

Instant Pot

Another item on my wish list. I can’t provide a personal testimony about this one, but the time savings and delicious meal options look too intriguing to pass up. This is certainly a more practical than a sentimental gift, but the gift of time savings can sometimes change lives. Inspire those you love to re-establish the tradition of family meals at home. Click here to shop!

 

Essential Oil Diffuser

Inspirational Gift IdeasI’ll be honest. This investment was a game-changer in our family, especially during allergy, cold & flu, and “I-just-can’t-sleep” seasons of life. This is an amazing gift for newlyweds, new moms, or anyone looking for healthier lifestyle options. This one is available through my friend Jess Davis and her Young Living business. The link is for the retail option but there are wholesale/membership deals available too! (Be sure to check out their Black Friday specials!)

 

Picture Frames

One of my favorite gifts to give. There is a nearly unlimited assortment of frames available from simple to ornate. Decorating our homes with smiling faces and happy memories is a great way to help us prioritize what’s most important throughout the year. Click here to shop! Remember, Hobby Lobby always offers frames at 50% off!

 

Journals

A beautiful journal can make quiet times even more enjoyable and there are a plethora of beautiful options from which to choose! I have adopted the habit of keeping a nice journal with me always, to take notes at meetings, on the go, and even at church. It’s nice to have all my chicken scratches collected in one easy-to-find location. Click here to shop journals.

 

Quality Pens

It seems the older I get the more I enjoy a good-quality pen. Waterman has been a favorite for years and is a lovely gift for recent graduates, career-minded loved ones, or anyone who loves to write. It’s a great gift companion to a journal too. Click here to shop!

 

 

CodeNames

We adore family games and this is certainly in our top 5. It feels a little complicated to learn but is rather easy to grasp. And it’s easy to play with a small OR a large group. Click here to shop!

 

 

Willow Tree Figurines

I’ve only given a Willow Tree figurine gift once, but have received several over the years and I LOVE them! Their beauty and sentiment stir my heart and makes these figurines a classic and timeless gift. Click here to purchase.

 

 

 

What Christmas gifts have you already selected this year? And which are on the wish-list you prepared for yourself? I hope this list will help you with a few of the hard-to-buy-for loved ones on your list!

Many blessings,

 

 

 

 

 

When Unforgiveness Lingers

When Unforgiveness Lingers

“I’ve tried so hard to forgive her, but I can’t forget what’s happened.”

“If I forgive him, it’s like saying I’m okay with what happened—and I’m not!”

“I just can’t trust her, so I guess I can never truly forgive her.”

Have your thoughts regularly taken you to these misconceptions?

I struggled for years as I tried to forgive someone who had harmed my children. When unforgiveness lingers, the burden feels nearly unbearable. God’s commands and instruction seem impossible to carry out because we believe things about forgiveness that are simply untrue.

Most of us want to forgive others, unload the weighty burden, untangle the mess in our hearts and embrace the Lord’s blessing. But we’ve adopted some misconceptions about forgiveness. We’ve allowed the world’s perception about forgiveness to taint our view of what it really is.

We all have a lot to forgive, don’t we? We’ve been hurt, embarrassed, and treated inappropriately. At the same time, we’ve hurt others and sometimes struggle to forgive ourselves.

Discovering the Truth

If you desire to abide in God’s freedom and victory that accompanies it but feel hindered by lingering unforgiveness in your life, you’ll want to come and discover several myths about forgiveness. By realizing how God views forgiveness and how He equips us to walk with Him through the process, we can begin to embrace the goodness and divine purposes He has for our lives.

Today I’ve written a post for my friend, Kelly R. Baker and hope that you’ll stop by as I shine some light on lies the enemy uses to keep us in bondage. He deceives us into believing they’re true, but the Lord shows us the truth in His Word and through His example.

Come along, my friend, and take a step toward freedom in Walking With God to Untangle the Mess of Forgiveness. I look forward to meeting you there!

Read the Post here.

Blessings,

Cathy McIntosh

 

 

Other posts you’ll love:

Set Free from Shame

The Joy of Abundant Life in Jesus

 

When Unforgiveness Lingers

 

 

What if Esther Held Her Tongue: Offering Surrender

What if Esther Held Her Tongue: Offering Surrender

Have you ever pushed through fear to do something that terrified you?

Queen Esther did. The people of her heritage, the Jews, faced tremendous persecution by an evil leader who had the power to annihilate them. Esther was Queen with a divinely-inspired level of influence. She alone could do something to stop the coming madness.

But fear gripped her.

The king of Persia hadn’t called for her in many days— and to approach him without permission could lead to her execution. Esther lived in a long-ago era where women were deemed property and their intuition and acumen were disregarded. She had much to say but hadn’t received an invitation to say it.

Esther wrestled with the decision to get involved. She counted the cost and knew that her decision could lead to dire consequences. Offering surrender was the bravest thing possible: She presented her offering to God, surrendering to the Lord’s will, and uttered one of the most piercing declarations in Scripture:

“If I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)

After convincing persuasion by her uncle, Esther refused to let her people face destruction without stepping into action. She weighed the cost of her involvement then made the decision to entrust her life to God himself. He alone could protect her.

Her husband was a fickle king, ruled by his own emotions and acting as his moods determined. As Esther prepared to meet her destiny, she didn’t go alone. She encouraged the Jews to support her by fasting for three days. And when the fullness of time came, she respectfully, yet boldly faced her fears and approached the king.

Victorious, Bible Study, Esther

Available now on Amazon.com

Blessings of Offering Surrender

Sharing her news took several tries, but Esther accomplished her task. She revealed the evil plot to the king who made provision for the Jews to protect themselves against attack. Her people were empowered to gain victory in an overwhelming battle.

But what if Esther held her tongue? What if she let anxiety and fear stop her from stepping into service? What if she’d chosen her personal comfort and safety over the protection of her people?

Esther’s uncle, Mordecai shared his great wisdom when he said,

“Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this” (Esther 4:13-14 HCSB).

It’s true. Had Esther forsaken her calling, the Lord would have protected the Jews another way. But because Esther stepped into service, she experienced the manifold blessings of surrender to God. She witnessed miracle after miracle as God revealed His power and presence.

Through Esther’s story of courage and surrender, we continue to revel in God’s provision over the Jews in Persia today. Through God’s Word, we see . . .

  • unexpected, favorable outcome from Esther’s bold step
  • our God, Who, even while deafeningly quiet, remains active and present
  • God’s orchestration of all things for the good of His people
  • good that overcomes evil
  • how God uses fully surrendered hearts for His glory

 

God could have rescued the Jews in countless other ways, but he chose to use His beloved child, Esther—an orphaned woman in an oppressive culture—to accomplish His purpose. He gave Esther a kingdom assignment and she found the courage to accept the challenge.

Personally Offering Surrender

God gives each of us a kingdom assignment. Some seem weighty and are completed in the public eye. Most, however, present themselves as typical, daily tasks accomplished in mundane settings. Each type of call is equally as significant. Every Kingdom assignment is God’s way of using our fully surrendered heart for His glory.

How does the Lord want to use you? (If you don’t know, ask Him!)

What’s holding you back from obedience?

In what ways is God prompting you to surrender to His will?

How will you prepare to step into action for your Kingdom assignment?

May God’s Word strengthen you today,

Cathy McIntosh

 

 

 

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it on social media!

Other posts you’ll love:

Overcoming Fear

When God Seems Absent: 3 Unexpected Lessons from Queen Vashti

 

 

Offering Surrender

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