Finding Peace in the Midst of Anxieties

I woke up at 4:30 am today feeling very anxious. My mind kept thinking about situations that triggered my insecurities and it caused me to re-visit my past moments of hopelessness and defeat. I began questioning my self-worth in Christ and I felt discouraged that I was struggling with these kinds of thoughts again.😳

I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I decided to wait for the sunrise instead. As I stared at the ceiling, I prayed to God and shared what was in my heart. He then reminded me to look back on God’s faithfulness in my life and start thanking God for the little and big things. I ended up reading an old entry from one of my journals and I came across Psalms 90:13-17. Verse 14 struck me! It says:

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

At that moment, I felt the Lord re-assure me to keep my eyes on Him — the only One who can truly satisfy my heart. Even if I was feeling anxious, insecure, and worthless at 4am…

It was also an opportunity for me to choose Jesus and be satisfied in Him and His unfailing love. Not only in the morning, but in ALL the days of my life.🙌🏼

I went to our veranda and sat beside the window overlooking the sunrise as I listened to Mallary Hope’s song entitled “Me”. In a few minutes, the Lord displayed a playful sunrise right before my eyes. My family was still sleeping (even our dogs) and it was such a beautiful, peaceful, and re-assuring moment between me and my Heavenly Father.🥰 I thanked Him for the anxieties that woke me up at 4am because it led me to having that humbling morning with Him.

Despite not being a morning person, I was able to organize my gardening tools, remove weeds from the container beds, prepare my breakfast, cook ginger tea for my throat, and sang more songs to the Lord. I remember telling God a while ago, “Why do I feel this way, Lord? I have peace and joy and in my heart now, compared to when I woke up! I’m actually smiling now, as I boil ginger in water!” And He immediately reminded me of Philippians 4:4-7. By God’s grace, He made those verses very real in my life this morning and I am even more encouraged to continue abiding in Him and in His Word.

Anxieties may still linger in the coming days or even decades. But, in the midst of these, I am learning that we have a constant, faithful, and loving God who is graciously available 24/7 for us. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can also surrender our thoughts and emotions to the Lord and be victorious over them! He tells us to rejoice in Him always, to be gentle, to not be anxious, and to pray in every situation with thanksgiving! And as we obey, His peace will guard our hearts and minds indeed.

Thank You, Jesus!

When Anxiety Attacks

Earlier today, I sent out messages to some of my accountability partners because of my heavy heart. I remember having anxious thoughts about certain concerns that I have been dealing with recently. After asking for their prayers, the burden felt lighter. However, on my way home from work, the thoughts came back again. This time, they were darker.

As soon as I stepped out of the office, I knew that I had to talk to God about my anxieties. So, while I was driving, I played the songs I wrote last year which were based on Biblical truths. For the first 30 minutes of my drive home, I felt peace in my heart as I was in awe of how amazing and comforting God’s Word is. I thanked Him for His grace and the privilege of writing and singing His truths. But, during the second half of my drive home, fear slowly crept in my heart. I felt my heart tighten as I heard SPECIFIC words spoken to me. Words such as “FEAR, HARM, and RAPE.”

As soon as I felt the fear, I immediately prayed and asked God to remove them from my mind and protect me from whatever attack that was. After praying, I remember feeling the fear still, so I continued to open my heart to the Lord. I reminded myself that He was in control, good, sovereign, and loving, no matter what. I  also recited verses in my head, verses about who He is and the promises that He has for us.  After doing so, I closed my hand and pounded my heart as I rebuked the fear and lies in Jesus’ name. By that time, I was already inside our village and was about to park when this song randomly played in my Spotify playlist: “Don’t Be Afraid” by Brandon Heath:

For the one who keeps it all inside
Or the one who says: No, I’m just fine
For the one who hurts too much to cry
Don’t be afraid
For the one who knows but will not say
Or the one who’s blinded by the pain
Anyone just trying to be brave

Don’t lose faith
Don’t lose heart
He is with you wherever you are
Don’t give up
When you fall apart
He is with you

You gave Him your heart
He’s keeping it safe
When you’re in the dark
Caught up in the fray
Wherever you are
Whatever you face
You’re held in the arms
That nothing can break
So don’t be afraid

I took a deep breath as I thanked the Lord for His reassurance and the security that we have in Him. Tonight, I was reminded of the importance of these three things:

1) NOT TO LET SIN LINGER ANY LONGER – During the attack, I remembered Ephesians 4:27 which says: “and do not give the devil a foothold.”  N O T  E V E N  A  H I N T. I saw how Satan can use our sins (even our anxieties) to try to distort our view of God and His truths.

2) REMEMBER WHO GOD IS AND WHO WE ARE IN HIM – 1 John 4:4 says “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” How ironic that this happened right after I listened to songs about God’s Word and the day after I posted a blog about making 1 John 4:4 a reminder for me this new year. But somehow, God allowed these moments to happen for a reason. Tonight was a reminder for me to be intentional in seeking the Lord and His Word each day.

3) KEEP MYSELF ACCOUNTABLE – I cannot grow in my spiritual walk without being honest and accountable to God and people who will lovingly rebuke me and pray for me, when needed. It says in James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” By God’s grace, I pray that I will continue to improve in this aspect. Thank you, prayer warriors, for fighting with me, on your knees.

Of Grace and Phone Giveaways

I find it ironic that I took up Entrepreneurship back in college because generally speaking, I was and still am not a risk-taker. I’m the type of person who always orders the same Java Chip Frappuccino at Starbucks since I first tasted it eight years ago. I don’t go out on the streets and eagerly persuade people to buy products from me nor do I naturally confront people whenever I have concerns. I guess it has something to do with my personality as an introvert. So, when random, crazy, and risky ideas pop in my mind, it’s very hard for me to ignore them.

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A few nights ago, while I was driving home, I felt a strong nudge on my heart to give away the phone that I no longer use because I recently upgraded to a new one. Selling the old phone wasn’t an option for me when I thought about it that night, even if it would have been very practical and helpful. Somehow, it was crystal clear that God wanted me to give it to someone who needs a phone soon.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it even after I arrived at home. So, I prayed about it and I was led to post a status online that same night about the phone giveaway. I gave my Facebook friends two nights to leave a comment if they needed a phone or if they knew someone who did. I also mentioned that I would be randomly picking a name to announce the winner. Honestly, I expected a few comments that had “Me!” or “Yes! I need one!” on my status. But, after two days, most of the 28 friends who left comments shared heartfelt stories about their desire to bless their family members, friends, and even strangers. Somehow, I got to know their hearts even more through what they shared online. It was encouraging.

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After the reading comments, I wanted to give each one of them a secondhand phone. But, for obvious reasons, I couldn’t. And so, I lifted them up in prayer instead because I knew that God was and is more than able to provide for their needs. The night before I announced the winner, I received a lot of comments from different people on how I should pick the winner for that phone. Some gave their votes for specific people who left comments, while others expressed their disappointment towards those who left “less meaningful” comments. However, God reminded me of the idea that He placed in my mind that night while I was driving home. He specifically impressed on my heart to RANDOMLY pick a winner for that phone. So, even if I wanted to give the phone to a certain person, I decided to draw lots the day after.

 

When the time came for me to announce the winner, I recorded a live video on Facebook to encourage the viewers and to show them the process of selecting the new owner of my pre-loved phone. Doing a live video is a nightmare for an introvert. Okay, maybe the other introverts wouldn’t mind it. But, it wasn’t natural for me. Hahaha. However, it was one of the most humbling experiences that I had this year because it was an opportunity for me to share God and His grace and provision to random viewers online. Sometimes, I’m learning that you just have to step out of your comfort zone, step out in faith, and believe that God is able to use ordinary people like you and me to be a blessing and to share Jesus to those around us.

Congratulations, Ode! You won the phone. :) Woohoo!

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The day after I chose the winner, I still kept thinking about those that left comments on my status. In particular, I had one friend (RJ) in mind who left a comment that deeply touched my heart. Because of this, even though I didn’t plan on giving away another secondhand phone that I had, God encouraged me to do so this week. I remembered that I still had a Nokia C7 (in good condition) inside my drawer. That phone has been inside my drawer for over a year now and immediately, I thought that it would be better if someone else will use it from now on. I sent a personal message to RJ on Facebook and shared to him about what God encouraged me to do.

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Today, I met up with the two friends that were chosen for the phone. Before I gave them the phones, we talked about God’s grace and how He is able to meet our needs. It was such a refreshing time to catch up with them and be encouraged by this experience. My friend, Ode, shared that this experience is helping her draw closer to the Lord. While, RJ shared that his friend (who was a student missionary) has been praying for a phone recently, so this secondhand phone would really help him a lot! He also shared that recently, he has been encouraging his friend to fully depend on the Lord’s provision. So, this experience was very timely.

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After we parted ways, my heart felt like it was going to burst because of the overflowing joy and peace in me. By God’s grace, He allowed me to have the privilege of sharing His blessings and being an encouragement to my friends this week. But, more than that, God reminded me of His unfailing love and grace for you and me. These are just material things that would soon fade away. But, many years ago, God showed us His grace by sending His son, Jesus, to die on the cross and to rise again just so we could spend eternity with Him in Heaven. We didn’t need to leave comments on God’s Facebook status. We didn’t have to explain our past, present struggles, and stories to Him. We didn’t even have to pay for the penalty of our wrongdoings. Even before we were born, He already chose to love, forgive, and give us  (sinners) His grace through Jesus! We just need to humble ourselves before Him, acknowledge our sinful ways, and receive Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” –Ephesians 2:8-9

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In the live video that I recorded on Facebook, I mentioned that God knows our hearts more than we do. It’s true. I may not know you personally or what your heart is going through right now. But, I want to encourage you as well to take some time today to get to know your Maker, our Father who loves us deeply. Did you know that you are dearly loved by Him? I hope you do.

Have a grace-filled week ahead! Keep on sharing His grace to others!

THURSDAY TUNE #31: To Love You Back by Jamie Grace

I was having a conversation with one of my officemates a few hours ago when he said something that caught my attention. He said with a smile and a deep sigh: “You know what, Nicole? Recently, I feel that God has been pursuing me. It’s amazing because even though I’ve been struggling week after week, He still continues to pursue me.”

When my officemate shared this to me, it reminded me of how humbling it is to be pursued and desired by God. He made the heavens and the earth. He made every part of our bodies. He can even make miracles happen in a heartbeat if He wants to. And yet, this same God is our God who loves us; who knows exactly what is in our hearts; and who desires to have a personal relationship with us.

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“If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

(Psalm 139:8-10, 14-18)

As I read through the Bible verses mentioned above, I find myself thanking the Lord for His relentless love for me. Yes, He has been pursuing you and me. But, have we been pursuing God? Have we been delighting in who He is and in His Word?

I’d like to share a song by Jamie Grace which has been very instrumental in encouraging me to draw near to God and pursue Him more than anything. I hope that this will bless your hearts as well as you seek the Lord this week.