Tag Archives: Anxiety

Let Go, Let God – Yes, We’ve Heard it Before

Some parents were laughing at the lacrosse game last night about “control freak tendencies” that we all have to some degree.  There was a stadium sign a bit askew, and one of the moms wanted to run down and adjust it.  I think we can all agree that we try and control things in our lives at one time or another.

This past holiday weekend, I had everything under control.  And I mean everything.  Itinerary for college visits printed?  Check.  Appointment for MRI and surgeon visit confirmed?  Check.  Animals accounted for?  Check.  Son with appropriate supervision?  Let’s hope so.  102 fever when I woke up Sunday morning to leave on our trip?  Not on the list.

I have heard it said that, “We plan; God laughs.”  That’s not to say that it is bad to plan or that God does not want us to think ahead and plan for our lives, but our lives are just not entirely in our control.  They are in God’s control, and as much as we would like to play God and control everything ourselves, we need sometimes to simply be ourselves, and let God be God.  It’s OK to be needy, and it’s OK to ask for help.  Especially if we are needy and helpless in front of God.  As Americans, we like to be proud and self-sufficient – not needing to ask for help, even if we desperately need it.  However, there is a reason that we are all given different gifts and talents.  We cannot do it alone.  We need one another.  We need to be needy in front of our Father.

I am doing a Bible study on the Book of John, and we are currently talking about “Jesus, Our Peace.”  If we let God be in control instead of trying to handle it all ourselves, it will bring us increasing peace.  In the study, there is a great quote:

“Do not look ahead to what may happen tomorrow.  The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day.  Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you His unwavering strength that you may bear it.  Be at peace, then, and set aside all anxious thoughts and worries.” – St. Francis de Sales

There is a Laura Story song called “I Can Just Be Me.”  It talks about being yourself, and not trying to be God.  Not trying to be in control all the time.  Let God be in control, so you can just be you – the you He created you to be.

“I Can Just Be Me”

I’ve been doing all that I can

To hold it all together

Piece by piece.

I’ve been feeling like a failure,
Trying to be braver
Than I could ever be.
It’s just not me.

So be my healer, be my comfort, be my peace.
Cause I can be broken, I can be needy,
Lord I need You now to be,
Be my God, so I can just be me.

I’ve been living like an orphan,

Trying to belong here,

But it’s just not my home.

I’ve been holding on so tightly,

To all the things that I think
Could satisfy my soul.
But I’m letting go

So be my father, my mighty warrior, be my king.
Cause I can be scattered, frail and shattered,
Lord I need You now to be,
Be my God, so I can just be me.

Cause I was lost in this dark world
Until I was finally found in You
So now I’m needing, desperately pleading
Oh Lord, be all to me

And be my savior, be my lifeline, won’t You be my everything.
Cause I’m so tired of trying to be someone
I was never meant to be

Be my God
Please be my God
Be my God
So I can just be me
So I can just be me
I can just be me.

Songwriters: Jason Ingram / Laura Story – I Can Just Be Me lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

See the video here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VRUU8UBXCk

“Be anxious about nothing.  But in all things, with prayer and supplication, with acts of thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God.  And so shall the peace of God, which exceeds all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7.

 

O When the Soup Comes Marchin’ In

I was sick for a solid ten days before I dragged my sorry self to the doctor.  “Bronchitis and Sinusitis,” she said.  Four prescriptions later, I was on my way to recovery, or so I thought.  When the antibiotic kicked in, I was sleeping 12-15 hours a day.  Laundry was piling up.  My feral children were wondering if I was going to throw them some raw meat for sustenance.  I would get up, wander around, and wonder when I could go back to bed.  We were surviving on take-away pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches.  That’s when the soup started arriving.

First, a frozen batch of tomato bisque arrived from my friend Cathy – a definite “open in case of emergency” soup.  Next, my friend Gae brought Italian Wedding soup.  It fed my family for three to four meals.  My daughter said, “Thanks for the nice dinner, mom.”  I told her to please thank Miss Gae instead – I could take no credit. When all this ran out, St. Tricia of Alpharetta came through the back porch with baked potato soup with all the fixings.  That’s when I realized that soup is love.  Soup warms the tummy and the soul.  It is comforting and sustaining.  Soup is communal and often comes from a family recipe that means something to the giver.  Soup is little bit of love.

Jesus said, “whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.”  When you donate a bag of rolls to My Sister’s House, make a homemade cake for the men’s shelter, donate onions or apples or a turkey to Campus Ministry at Thanksgiving, you are feeding people both body and soul.  You meet their immediate need of hunger, but also their deeper need to know that someone loves them and cares about their well-being.  You are feeding their need to be seen and recognized as important and as a valued member of the body of Christ.

I promise that there are far greater needs in our Marist community and beyond than my small and temporary situation.  I just hope that my recent example reminds you that as Saint Mother Theresa said, In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

Here’s to all the small things that we can be thankful for in this week leading up to Thanksgiving.  I am incredibly thankful for my family, friends and faith community who sustain me body and spirit during good times and not so good times.  Small gestures are never forgotten by the receiver, and are certainly never forgotten by our Father in Heaven.

I know that our children are coming up on exams, which brings stress and anxiety.  Here are some prayers for both exams, as well as for older children who are traveling back from college or work to be with us during the holidays.

Wishing you all a peaceful and blessed holiday with friends and family.

Prayer During Exams

 Notre Dame, Our Lady, they call you the “Undoer of Knots.”

Turn your eyes to us during our exams, and undo the knots in our minds,

that we may think creatively and compellingly in those critical moments.

Undo the knots in our bodies, that we may channel stress

in good health and with noble composure.

Finally, undo the knots in our souls, that in our study and success,

we may not become puffed up with the wisdom of this world,

but come instead to know the Wisdom of God, and the heart of your Son, Jesus,

who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Amen.

(Source:  Fr. Chase Pepper, CSC – University of Notre Dame)

 

Prayer for Exam Anxiety

Heavenly Father,

Only your peace can sustain me through the anxiety and stresses of exam nerves.

Your peace surpasses all understanding.

I ask for this gift and choose to lean upon you at this time.

Lord, come and remind me of your unfailing love.

Remind me that you hold me safe, you understand me, and you cherish me.

I lay down my fears before you.

I leave them at the foot of the cross, for you have overcome the world.

I choose to give you all my concerns, worries and fears of failure.

I trust that your loving hand will hold me through these exams and lead into a bright future.  Amen.

(Source:  living-prayers.com)

 

Prayer for Travelers

 God of the journey, your grace and favor has always been with us as you called us by name before the foundation of the world. Thank you God for your faithful, steadfast love. Jesus traveled from his home to share your good news with all lands.

May the Holy Spirit surround all who are going to new places or sites of past visits. Lead the pilots, drivers and all passengers to be patient at all points. Remove all fears and anxieties about those left behind and those one meets at the end of the trip. Open my eyes, open my ears to see You and hear You each moment of the path. Amen.

(Source:  Rev. Jim Bracke, CSC – University of Notre Dame)

 

St. Christopher Motorist Prayer

Grant me O Lord a steady hand and watchful eye.

That no one shall be hurt as I pass by.

Thou gavest life, I pray no act of mine

May take away or mar that gift of Thine.

Shelter those, dear Lord, who bear me company,

From the evils of fire and all calamity.

Teach me to use my car for others need;

Nor miss through love of undue speed

The beauty of the world; that thus I may

With joy and courtesy go on my way.

St. Christopher, holy patron of travelers,

Protect me and lead me safely to my destiny.

(Source:  Catholic Online)

 

The Storm Around Us

This past weekend, my daughter and I were trying to escape the literal and virtual storm that was surrounding us.  Hurricane Hermine had blown through south Georgia and northern Florida, and somehow we had escaped with only a temporary loss of power and a lot of debris strewn around my mother’s house on Amelia Island.  We were fortunate, compared to so many.  However, the hurricane of loss that swirled around our family could not be escaped.  My mother and my children’s grandmother was gone.  My mom’s house – full of family, flowers, and food – felt so very empty without her.

More than 20 years ago, my husband and I were also in a hurricane on the island.  The day following, we went shell-seeking, as the storm tossed some real treasures on the beach.  We collected lots of shells that still adorn my mother’s house.  My daughter and I thought that maybe we would be equally fortunate.  We desperately needed to get away from all the swirl of of planning and executing a funeral – for just a short time, for our our own well-being.

Of course, if we had been logical, we would have realized that the storm came from the Gulf, so we should not have expected any real finds.  However, she and I walked hand in hand to the end of the island, unsuccessful in finding any shells, but tossing lots of “live” sand dollars back into the surf to survive another day.

We have had a tradition in our family the last few years of collecting sharks teeth.  Each of us has a bowl with our personal booty.  I said to my daughter, “I feel like I’ve been looking down so much for sharks teeth and shells today that I haven’t even enjoyed the beauty of what’s right in front of me.”  Because of the hurricane, the sky was as beautiful as it has ever been – it was bright blue, and full of big, fluffy clouds.  She reminded me, that despite the immense beauty of the sea and the sky because of the storm, that there was still tremendous beauty as I was looking down at the sand in front of me.

Given this past summer, that struck an incredible chord in me.  I have been looking down all summer – mostly at the floor of a hospital room.  My head has hung low.  My heart has hung even lower.  I have been looking down, and not out.  Not up to God.  But down at my own sadness, fear and anxiety.

But as my daughter reminded me, in looking down, there was still immense beauty.  The sand was full of shells in all colors, shapes and sizes.  It demonstrated the beauty of God’s creation, in its most simplest form.

In the lowest points this summer, when I could hardly look up from the floor, there were nurses who did the hard work of caring for a dying soul, who they did not know, but who mattered to so many in real and concrete ways.  There were friends of mine and my mother’s who took the time to reach out to me and to my family in practical and sincere ways.  When I got home from the hospital late at night, my mother’s friends fed me, and welcomed me into their homes, before I collapsed in a heap in the bed.  Just to start again the next day all over again.

As a Catholic, I did not overlook the fact that my mother was in a hospital named for St. Vincent de Paul – whose members “serve individuals who are in need and are part of an international society of friends united by a spirit of poverty, humility, and sharing, which is nourished by prayer and reflection.”  Every day as I walked to the cafeteria for coffee by a statue of St. Vincent de Paul meeting a man in need, I knew I had a cheerleader by my side.  Every day I saw families in much greater need than me, caring for their loved ones in the best way that they knew how.  Truly, pain, suffering and grief do not have an zip code or a social class.  We are all one.

I am thankful for my daughter for reminding me that beauty resides not only in the big picture, but also in the very smallest parts of our lives as well.

Open My Eyes

Open my eyes that I may see the deepest needs of men, women and children

Move my hands that they may feed the hungry;

Touch my heart that it may bring warmth to the despairing;

Teach me the generosity that welcomes strangers;

Let me share my possessions with people in need;

Give me the care that strengthens the sick;

Help me share in the quest to set prisoners free;

In sharing our anxieties and our love,

Our poverty and our prosperity;

We partake of your divine presence.  Amen.

– Vincentian Prayer

 

It Bears Repeating: Humility and Simplicity

Marist School cycles through a series of six themes each year that reflect Marian values and the pillars of the Society of Mary. This year, our students have been reflecting on the theme of “Humility and Simplicity.” From the first opening Mass with Bishop Zarama to the last day of classes, students have been challenged to consider how they live their lives with these two values, in a school geared toward achievement and success.

We have incorporated this theme into our family in both a serious and a lighthearted way. If we hear something said that might be a bit out of line, we will say “humility and simplicity please!”.

I have often said to my friends and family that we tend to live in “La La Land.” Our lives are so abundantly blessed. When we do not leave our bubble of comfort, we forget that there are so many who have considerable need. We forget that our problems are merely “first world problems.” Thank God for Marist school, where are children are gently marinated in the lifelong importance of quiet, humble service.

Without our choice, my family learned to live humility and simplicity in the past year as well – albeit to a much smaller degree than most. My husband learned that he was to lose his job of more than 15 years around Christmas of 2014. He was very happy at his job, and was at the height of his career. We went through all the emotions you can imagine in the year following – how is this going to change our lives? Our future? Our childrens’ futures? Why is this happening now when the children are so happy at Marist? When we are so close to college? We prayed, we went to adoration, and we had many moments when we lost our trust in God and God’s plan for our family.

Father Tom Ellerman (Class of ’58) is a regular fixture at the MMPG rosary on Friday morning. All the moms love having him, and he has added both humor and guidance to all of us gathering to pray. In a Marist Way meeting in September, Fr. Tom was speaking on Marist values, and told the group that the Latin word for humility comes from the word “dirt.” He reminded the group that listening to the voice of God and opening our minds with a humble heart will, as Jesus did, make all things new. He said that in the end, we are “dirt,” and to dirt we will return.

For a while, my husband and I felt a bit like dirt. We had to do things we didn’t think we’d ever have to do. We had to say things we didn’t think we’d ever have to say. We made changes to our lives that we didn’t think we’d ever have to make. We were humbled.

Humility can certainly be expressed through simplicity. We were forced to simplify our lives – we stopped doing certain things that were part of our routine. We started doing new things. For one thing, when you are on a strict budget, you do not eat out. Or get Starbucks. Or shop because you are bored. Instead, we regularly ate family dinners together that were homemade. Was it a blessing? You bet it was. There is nothing like getting a teenager to talk like sitting around a proper dinner table with comfort food to get them to open up and tell you about their day. Through this experience, we were truly blessed, and our children learned a lot of powerful lessons in both humility and simplicity.

We have tried (I emphasize tried) to teach our children not to boast. However, we should encourage them to boast of what their God has done for them. I was touched by the second reading last Sunday from Romans 5:

“We boast in hope of the glory of God.

Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions,

knowing that affliction produces endurance,

and endurance, proven character,

and proven character, hope,

and hope does not disappoint,

because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts

through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

So I would like to boast that through our family’s challenges, God has continued to pour out His love for us. Our brother Jesus walks with us daily. The Holy Spirit continues to guide us on our journey, and we continue to be strengthened by the Spirit of Mary that touches each member of our family.

Love, Your Biggest Fan

This week at Marist we celebrate the accomplishments of our graduating seniors as we bid them “farewell” with a Baccalaureate Mass and Graduation. Maybe you have a senior, maybe you know a senior, or maybe you already have a graduate who is back visiting from college. Either way, we can all remember our own graduations or those of loved ones and revisit the swirl of feelings – happiness, anxiety, joy, sadness, trepidation – they mix together into one blurry memory.

As my own children inch closer to that day, I look to the seniors that I know and care about. My daughter has been fortunate to play Varsity Lacrosse, and has had the blessing of getting to know some amazing upperclass women through that team sport. These women have grown on me as well, and I cannot wait to see what they will accomplish in the years ahead, as they have been a great influence on my daughter. This year I think it is hitting her harder as well – she is losing some great friends to college life.

When I was sitting in the bleachers at my own Baccalaureate Mass at Marist 30 years ago this month (we only had Old Kuhrt at that point), the Marist Singers sang a song by Michael W. Smith called “Friends.” A line that has never left my head to this day is “Friends are friends forever, when the Lord’s the Lord of them.”

I have heard it said that God puts people in your life for a reason, for a season or for a lifetime. I have been truly blessed by Marist friendships that have continued for my lifetime as it continues to roll along. As teenagers, I dragged my friends to church with my family if they spent the night at our house, whether they were Catholic or not. We have celebrated engagements, marriages, births, graduations and deaths together – in a church, a chapel or our backyards. When we have been in health crises, the call for prayer went out, and it was immediately answered without question. Usually followed by a casserole or blondies on our back step. The Lord has been the Lord of us. He has held us together by something much stronger than simply having fun together on the weekends.

When MMPG met two weeks ago to celebrate our senior moms, I could feel their mix of emotions. We teeter between pure pride and happiness for the adventure of our graduates’ lives unfolding before them and the opportunities that are at their doorstep, and yet we can’t help but personally grieve for the loss of their infectious presence in our home on a daily basis. Thank God that He has them in His hands, and is walking with them daily, even if we cannot walk along. All the moms recited this prayer:

Prayer for Releasing My Child into God’s Hands

Lord, I come to you in Jesus’ name and give my child to you. I am convinced that you alone know what’s best for them. You alone know what they need. I release them to you to care for and protect, and I commit myself to pray for everything concerning them that I can think of or that you put upon my heart. Teach me how to pray and guide me in what to pray about. Help me not to impose my own will when I am praying for them, but rather enable me to pray that your will be done in their life.

 Thank you that I can partner with you in raising my child and that I do not have to do it alone. I am grateful that I don’t have to rely on the world’s unreliable and ever-changing methods for child rearing, but that I can have clear directions from your Word and wisdom as I pray to you for answers.

 Thank you, Lord for the precious gift of this child.   Because your word says that every good gift comes from you, I know that you have given them to me to care for and to raise. Help me to do that. Show me places where I continue to hang on to them and enable me to release them to your protection, guidance and counsel. Help me not to live in fear of possible dangers, but in the joy and peace of knowing that you are in control. I rely on you for everything and this day and every day I trust my child to you and release them into your hands. Amen.

 I sat tonight in a meeting for rising Junior parents where we discussed the upcoming steps in the college search process, so I know that I am not far behind those who will be watching their children walk across the stage this weekend. I completely expect to be a puddle on the floor when that day comes for me – I hope someone hands me a tissue or at least wipes me back up. Please, please take a minute to click and enjoy this song by Nichole Nordeman called “Slow Down.” I would write out the words, but the video is so much more powerful. I’m still cross at my friend for sending this to me, as I can’t look at it without getting weepy. I dare you not to get misty.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clcNB_EUao8

Peace and happiness to all the graduates of 2016 and their loving parents – their biggest fans!

Stress Comes Next Week. Or Not.

For some reason, I do not have the anxiety and stress that usually accompanies my Christmas preparations. I do not have a single reason for this, other than the Holy Spirit has already given me a well-needed, pre-Christmas gift. We were out of town after Thanksgiving (and spent some wonderful time as a family), so nothing got decorated – until the last few days. Christmas cards have not even arrived to be signed and sent, but I’m OK with that. I have gifts yet to purchase and not a single one wrapped. My Bible study met this week, and instead of reviewing what we were supposed to, we listened to our friend whose brother was just diagnosed with cancer. Who really cared what was on the to-do list?

Does that mean that I am not going to be a crazed lunatic next week? No. I can pretty much guarantee it as I prepare for three separate family gatherings that I will be hosting. But I’ve been given a gift this week, so I’m thankful for it. In fact, as I put up decorations today that I haven’t been able to put up the past few years because I haven’t been healthy enough, I was nothing but thankful over a few strands of garland and a red bow.

In that spirit, instead of writing something myself, I am using the beautiful words from a website I love called Proverbs 31 – and I’m thankful yet again. I have a little table full of angels by my back door, which makes this even more appropriate. Thank you Lord for this website and the insight of its authors, which is giving me the gift of peace of mind, heart, and time tonight. 

The Most Important Christmas Choice

“Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.’” Luke 2:13-14 (NLT)

Tis’ the season to be merry… and stressed. Although it should be a season of peace, this month can often make us feel more tangled up inside than a messy string of Christmas lights.

Some people dread the hustle, bustle, and emotional rustle this time of year brings, knowing that irritability, loneliness, or depression will threaten. While there are others who may love the Christmas season, but worry, busyness, family conflicts, and unmet expectations take their toll.

In either case, we have a decision. We can choose to get bogged down with stress or we can choose to bow down in worship.

Scripture gives us a beautiful picture of praise in Luke 2:13-14. When Jesus was born, an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds sharing the good news. Then many other angels joined together and praised God.

“Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.’” (NLT)

That’s not the only place the Bible records angels worshipping the Lord. In Hebrews 1:6 it says, “And when he brought his supreme Son into the world, God said, ‘Let all of God’s angels worship him.’” (NLT) And Revelation 5:11-12a says, “Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus.” (NLT)

Angels serve as role models of worship. They bow down before Jesus. They shout with incredible joy as they sing songs of praise. Through worship, angels spread the news of God’s glory and exhibit holy reverence. Angels intentionally and deliberately spend time praising God.

Keeping Christ in Christmas is more than just a cliché. It is an intentional act of worship. It requires a heart of adoration, much like the angels had. When Jesus is the focus of our holiday, we’re centered on His love, peace, and joy.

This prompts us to be His hands and feet to others in need. When worship fills our hearts, it leaves little room for aggravation in long lines at the store. We focus on what Christmas is truly about—the amazing gift of a Savior—rather than stressing out over buying the perfect presents. We exhibit grace to someone when we’d rather do otherwise. Worship turns our attention to giving thanks to Jesus for all He has done, rather than letting stress strip His joy from our hearts.

And it might even mean joining in with the heavenly chorus to sing praises to Him, even if we can’t carry a tune!

The holidays can bring a flurry of heightened emotions and can often result in an unhealthy level of stress which can prevent us from engaging in worship and praising the One we are supposed to be celebrating.

There will be lots of choices to be made during the month of December: where to serve, what gifts to buy, and how many events to attend. The most important choice we can make is to worship and sing praises to our Lord. For His gift. For His love. For His peace.

And when our hearts are at peace, our holidays can be too.

Lord, I choose to intentionally worship and praise You during this Christmas season. Help me stay focused on You and Your goodness. Amen.