Look Up, Look Out, Breathe Deep

Life is hitting us all hard these days. Everyone I know is going through some majorly stressful and difficult challenges. Call it escapism, call it avoidance, but I have found something that helps me like nothing else.

I look up. I focus on Christ, the author and perfector of my faith.

I look out. I see the trees, the sky, the animals, the things that He has made.

I breathe deeply, if I can. Sometimes the stress is too much, and I get a pitifully shallow breath, but I refocus on God’s things, and try again. Breathe, and breathe again.

Find the things you love. Clouds, birds, your pet, your best friend, your parents, a delicious cup of tea, a piece of homemade carrot cake. Relish it. Sit in the moment of enjoying it for as long as it takes.

Here is a photograph of a jet-lagged, pain-weary me arriving in Ireland a few years ago. It had been a hard journey, and my ankle was hurting. But my husband stopped the car by the ocean on the side of the road. I got out, and the unmistakable smell of Ireland overtook me. The clean strong wind cleansed all the gunk out. I could breathe. The look you see in those tired eyes is pure joy and relief. Look for your Ireland today, wherever it may be, whatever form it takes. God never leaves you, never forsakes you, ever.

Looking up, looking out, breathing deep.

Blessings, Lisa

Peace

Gleniff Horseshoe, County Sligo, Ireland, 2015.

“When everything seems to be against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford

“A quiet conscience makes one strong.” – Anne Frank

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.” – Isaiah 26:3

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. – Isaiah 54:10

A Stone at a Time, or How Not to Plow a Field

My favorite castle in Ireland, Ballycarbery, was built one stone at a time. They did the work. Photo: Ed Lyons, 2009

Worries. Anxiety. Circular thoughts that go nowhere. When these things hit me, I head outside to the garden. Pick the beans, discard the bad leaves, plant fall spinach, kale and carrot seeds. Water. Just doing the work in God’s good earth quiets my mind every time.

As I dig my hands into the dirt, I am thinking of some of my favorite quotes about work.

“You’ll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind.” – Irish proverb

“Castles were built a stone at a time.” – Irish proverb

“Pick the potatoes yourself, Joseph; you ambitious boy.” – Far and Away, film 1992, directed by Ron Howard

So now, instead of snapping and freezing the green beans, which I was going to do, I am writing this. But that’s ok. Work is work, no matter what kind of work it is. It keeps the hands busy, the mind active on positive things.

Which reminds me of another good quote I heard a lot growing up: “Idle hands are the Devil’s playthings.”

The Enemy likes nothing better than for me to be idle, to be aimless, to worry, to fret. It breeds fear and anxiety. It is not good.

So now I will snap the beans. I am grateful. I am feeling productive. God will take care of the rest.

Love to you, Lisa

Unfreezing the Rabbit

Lately, my coping methods have been a combination of the following:

-“I’m fine…” Said in a slightly manic, overstated Ross Geller way

-Smile and wave, smile and wave……in my best Queen Elizabeth II manner

-Frozen rabbit that has been spotted in the yard…..holding very still and barely breathing until the danger has passed.

None of these are good, or healthy, or helpful. The only, only, only thing that helps unfreeze the frozen rabbit is the Lord Jesus Christ. Wrenching my eyes off the chaos of this current world and gazing upon the wonder of Who He Is.

God has been placing Psalm 46 in my mind lately. Some key verses:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and mountains quake with their surging…..

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – excerpts, Psalm 46

Christians quote the Be Still and know that I am God verse all the time, but for years, I did not know the context that this verse is placed in the Bible. It’s not quite as peaceful and serene as I had thought. In this psalm, total chaos, destruction and disasters are coming upon the earth. In the midst of all this, God is our refuge, our strength, our help. As we see all of these things, we are to quiet ourselves, look to him, and know, without a shadow of a doubt, that He Is God. And every knee will bow to Him.

All creation, all created beings of the Living God, find rest, peace, an unfreezing of the panic, when they realize that God is in charge of their every breath, their yesterdays, todays and tomorrows.

Pray for me to keep remembering this, and not to look to useless coping mechanisms in these days. Pray that I keep my eyes firmly fixed on Christ. And as always, please know that I would love to pray for you. Let me know in the comments if I can. Love, Lisa