My 3 p.m. Habit

Intro: This week I spent the time working on determining the “cue” for my 3 p.m. slump and down spiraling mood. Author Charles Dihugg talks about this in his book The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business about determining the cue first before changing the habit. Here is my journaling:

Saturday, January 9, 3 p.m. I had been working on a project and watching a football game with family in the afternoon. I felt tired, but the world wasn’t ending. I could have taken a nap, but I was too busy to think about this habit I needed to figure out.

Sunday, January 10, 3 p.m. I had a photoshoot. It was short shoot, but just enough time to set my mood to be forward thinking. Earlier in the day I was in bed, crying. I was tired and frustrated. My house was a mess and I felt behind. My girls were tired from their sleepover the night before so they snuggled in for a nap. I grabbed my favorite mug and filled it with coffee before an afternoon meeting, and grocery pick-up prior to my session. I am not good at taking a day off. I decided this will be my next priority.

Monday, January 11, 3 p.m. I was in a meeting, doing my best to listen to understand what was being said. I was tired after the meeting, but I had grabbed coffee prior as a treat and pick me up. Since I was actively doing something productive, I didn’t take time to think about my emotions.

Tuesday, January 12, 3 p.m. I didn’t sleep well overnight. My mind was racing after a challenging evening. My 4-year-old woke me up in the middle of the night and my alarm clock came too soon. Coffee was a must to start my day. Self-care has been needed today. My slump came as I drove to my friend’s house for a play date with our children. I downed my coffee on the way and walked into her house needing the pick-me-up of friendship.

Wednesday, January 13, 3 p.m. I was feeling tired all day while I worked. In hindsight I wasn’t feeling great. Around 3 p.m., after working my tail end off, I lost my energy. I continued to work, but it was noticeable. The world wasn’t ending, but I didn’t have any momentum.

Thursday, January 14, 3 p.m. I was back at work and having a great day. I felt well and full of determination to do my job with energy. My work was life-giving and full of hope. I did not experience a slump. Three o-clock came and went and I realized the slump hadn’t happened. I realized my slump happens mostly when I am at home or when I don’t have anything productive to do.

Today, Friday January 15, I realize this week has been emotionally tough. I took care for myself this morning and refocused my attitude towards gratitude. In review, it appears my habit of an afternoon coffee comes from allowing my emotions to become negative. I may feel overwhelmed, tired or sad and I race to make myself feel better. I heard it said this week on a podcast “my emotions are not my boss”. This hit me to the core. Without realizing it, I allow my emotions to become my boss in the afternoon.

This coming week, I am going to change the way I do business with my emotions. I want to be the boss of them. I can choose to dwell on other things such as gratitude, joy and goodness, especially in the afternoon. To make a new habit, I need my brain to rewire by consciously making decisions instead of allowing the old pathways in my brain to continue.

What about you? Is it time to look for the “cue” in a habit you want to break? Being aware of a habit has been eye opening for me. I encourage us to make sense of why we do what we do so we can start making new habits of self-care and resilience. Maybe start a journal to record what cues you have around the habits you do without thinking about or the habit you want to break. A little step in the right direction, even just becoming aware of the decisions we are making, will help us when times get tough.

Next goal: learn to rest. If you are driven like I am, learning to rest can be a negative goal. Or resting might be easy and you want to make the goal of moving something forward in your life. We will talk about both. Let’s look at the healthy reasons to rest first. Can’t wait!


Creating New Habits

Let’s talk about habits. How do create them? Why are some habits easy to start and keep and other habits just take me a day or two to unlearn? I decided to look into this more this week.

Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business, talks about his habit of an afternoon cookie in the cafeteria at work in his promotional video. After extensive time of getting a cookie every afternoon, he wanted to break the habit. Let’s be honest. I have habits like this I want to break, but I don’t even notice that I do them. Instead of just substituting a piece of fruit or a carrot for his cookie, he wrote a book. Just kidding, he went on the adventure of learning how habits work. He says he learned that habits have “a cue, a routine and a reward”. In his adventure he took time to determine what triggered the urge. He determined the time of day when the urge started. He also had to determine the reward.

The reward of the habit doesn’t mean it’s the habit itself. Duhigg started doing the same routine while interchanging the cookie for something else. He attempted walking around without getting a cookie. He attempted eating something else at his desk. He learned that the reward wasn’t the cookie. The reward was socializing with colleagues. Once he learned about the habit, he changed it to have a better one. Around the same time every afternoon, he gets up, walks around to talk to a friend in the office and then goes back to work. The reward of visiting with a colleague is the same, just without the habit of the cookie. (You can enjoy this video as well on and find his book there or on Amazon.)

Because I like to dig more, I found out the science of what is happening in our brains. I found the interview with Charles Duhigg from NPR. The interview included this. “Neuroscientists have traced our habit-making behaviors to a part of the brain called the basal ganglia, which also plays a key role in the development of emotions, memories and pattern recognition. Decisions, meanwhile, are made in a different part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. But as soon as a behavior becomes automatic, the decision-making part of your brain goes into a sleep mode of sorts.” – the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. (last viewed 01/07/2021)

What I gained from this is that when we make decisions we use one part of our brains. Once those decisions are in repeat it moves to a part of the brain which doesn’t have to think or make decisions. Habits forming initially takes decisions and this can make patterns harder to form. We may have formed behaviors with rewards we haven’t had to decide over for years.

Let’s talk about one of my habits. Around 3 p.m. every day I go into a slump. I determine the world is ending and I loose my energy. In looking at the cue I learned it started when I worked night shift three days a week. I would nap in the afternoon, get up to eat and drink coffee in preparation of staying up all night. I would often dread the long night and worried about missing out on whatever was happening in the evening with my friends. On the days I wasn’t working I wouldn’t nap. Around 3 p.m. I would feel a slump and rush to get coffee as my reward for my sadness.

I had noticed this habit (3 p.m., slump, coffee, life was okay), but chocked it up to a low blood sugar issue. I stopped working the night shift and if I was busy during 3 p.m. I would be fine. When my oldest started kindergarten I picked her up at 3 p.m.. I had purpose and the reward was seeing my daughter. My slump seemed to go away. This year, school ends earlier and I went back to the night shift. The same slump returned.

Maybe you have a similar habit you aren’t aware of. I have to determine what cues the habit. This is my next step. I know the world isn’t ending. I can drink less coffee, but I need to change the cue. I am going to focus on the cue this week and I’ll get back to you. Meanwhile, check out the promotional video I found, maybe read Duhigg’s book. It is definitely on my read list.

More and more I am convinced (and will keep talking about it this year) that the habits we have can help bring us back to a place of resilience when the tough stuff hits. When we don’t have to think about the helpful and healthy things we do every day, we can more quickly return to a place of peace and rest after experiencing a stress cycle. (I can’t wait to share what I am learning about the stress cycle in the next few weeks.)

Let’s work on the goals and habits which make every day healthy. Once we do, we plunge into resilience. See you soon and have a great week!


Finding your New Year Resolution

Happy New Year! It’s 2021 and hope is in the air. It might be possible you plan on setting a resolution. It’s an American tradition, however, unless we have appropriate goals our resolutions may not make it past January.

Before we can talk about resiliency, let’s talk about goals. Goals give us a sense of direction. Accomplished goals give us something to celebrate. When we accomplish a goal, no matter how big or small, we get a small dopamine hit. This can keep us motivated, but our goals need to be manageable so we can accomplish them often.

Donald Miller in his course on life planning (Business Made Simple) talks about this concept. For example, instead of making a resolution to workout every day at the gym for an hour and a half, 30 minutes of cardio and 60 minutes of lifting weights, but would have to join a gym, fit into workout clothes and find time in your already busy life, set appropriate goals. Start with choosing to walk every day for 5 minutes. This is accomplishable. When we miss a day, the consequence isn’t as great. When we complete our 5-minutes walk, check it off our list and feel great about our accomplishment, we are more apt to do it again the next day. We will most likely walk for longer than 5 minutes and our dopamine hit can keep us motivated. Over time, the habit will be formed and can be built upon.

Resiliency starts when we choose goals we could accomplish. This year my larger goal is to be healthier at the end of the year than I am now. Adding my desire to grow in resiliency I have decided to be more consistent in my yoga practice in the next 6 months. My smaller goal is to practice yoga at home five days a week for at least 10 minutes. (I’ll share with you how it goes.)

Accomplishable goals help our minds and bodies find consistency and routines for when we have a rough day. On a low day, it is easier to get back to a routine and accomplish goals when they are part of our daily life. This year, in preparation for resiliency, let’s choose goals we can incorporate every day.

Looking forward to celebrating accomplished goals and successful resolutions with you by the end of 2021.


Wrapping up 2020 – New Goal for 2021

Day 350-

I started the year excited to blog about my journey of overcoming anxiety. Not every day has been successful, but identifying my anxiety before my head starts spinning has been a win. I more quickly recognize my fears. 

One of the exciting aspects of this 2020 year was the expansion of my world. I have been in health care for the past 16 years. I have learned about burn-out and resilience in my work as a pediatric ICU nurse. I have lead trainings on self-care and created guided journaling for colleagues. I am passionate about resilience. As I have been more involved at my girls’ school and stretching myself to understand more about my community and our nation’s politic, I have realized the topic of burn-out has become a part of every industry. There is work-trauma and added stressors, especially in a year of a pandemic, which can capsize any individual. 

Mental health needs are increasing. We as a society seem to be are talking about anxiety, stress and loneliness more often. We may feel alone in our stress, but the data of increases in anxiety say otherwise. (We will talk about the data soon.) We are not alone in the experience stress has on our minds and our bodies.

This year the stress factor for most of us has elevated and stayed elevated. Generally, before 2020, I would guess that the pattern for most individuals is when stress elevates we adapt for the short time stress exists and then we recover. This is the model which works under the fight or flight mechanism we innately have in our brains. Normally, this mechanism only needs to sustain for a short period of time before we return to a normal state of peace and rest for our minds and body. This year, however, the pandemic stress hasn’t gone away.

The stress from 2020 continues and it’s possible we have experienced stress upon stress. For a lot of us we haven’t returned to a normal state of peace. If we don’t find a new “normal” for our mind and body, we will stay at a high level of stress. This is unsustainable and opens the door for burn-out to come into play.

In the midst of 2020 I have taken what my training around resilience and burn-out as a front line worker and applied it to stress around on-line learning for my girls, the disappointments as vacations were cancelled, and the drastic financial decreases in my business. I have pushed myself to grow and to find new normals in all these areas. I have more to go, but in 2021 I want to take you with me as I blog about burn-out, resiliency, stress reduction, and self-care. I want to help you grow in your response to gratitude and joy, two antidotes for burn-out. 

Anxiety does not have to be our end story. We have the power to change how our minds work and we have an opportunity to get-up every morning to face the day. No matter where we work or what our situations are at home, we can work towards finding peace and decreasing stress for the betterment of our health and well-being.

I cannot wait to get started on this new goal of 2021. I wish you peace over this holiday season. Thank you for joining me on my journey around anxiety.

Isaiah 57:14

And it will be said; “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.”


The Mud of 2020

Day 318-

I was headed over a the Loveland Pass close to home and I couldn’t see. My windshield was covered by muddy crud. 

As I left for my short trip to our Colorado mountains last Sunday I checked to make sure I had what I needed. Gas. Check. Water. Check, A snack. Check. Camera. Absolutely. About an hour into my journey I headed towards the largest pass of my quick trip. The road was a bit sloshy with dirty snow and my window filled with grim as other cars kicked up the grey snow.  I began to wash my window and the suds fizzled to nothing. I was out of windshield fluid. My windshield wipers aren’t at top performance. This just accentuated the problem.

The road was becoming icy in spots and the temperature outside began to freeze the dirt onto my window. I quickly became unable to see. No amount of dry swishing of my wipers could do the trick. I needed a solution, quickly.

This 2020 year has often felt like my muddied windshield on a mountain pass. At times I have felt paralyzed by what seemed to be lack of vision or perspective. I started 2020 ready to conquer the world and make changes for the good of my and my family’s life. I was on the road I need to be on, but, like so many of us, the view became covered by outside circumstances. 

I began to consider my options. I could pull over and trying to wait it out, but without the right tools, I might not get moving again. I could use my water to clear my view, but this might not last long once I got back on the road. I could charge ahead, hoping the window will take care of itself. I knew the road was the right one, but charging ahead could lead to others running into me or me into them. I could throw up my hands and give up, but I don’t think we need to talk about that option. 

As I quickly processed options, I noticed at the bottom of my windshield a small clear spot. I could see where I was going just enough to stay in my lane and see if ice was on the road. I clung to this slice of clarity and pressed forward.

The pass includes a tunnel. I went through it preparing for icy conditions, slow semi trucks and a steep road. I could feel myself tensing up as the opening to the tunnel appeared. To my relief, the sun was out. Through my passenger window I could see the view. It was gorgeous, the highlight of my day. A good rain would have cleared up my problem, but I would have missed the view.

I made it to the gas station safely and filled my windshield washer tank to the brim. I realized this quick interruption of my life represents how 2020 has been for me. Here is what I have learned:

  • I know where I am going, the view just got muddy from exterior issues.
  • I could decide to be too anxious to go on, but I would have never made it to my destination.
  • The mud (life’s situations) wasn’t the problem. My inability to deal with the mud was my problem. I could have been upset with how other people kicked up the mud, but I choose to focus on keeping myself pulled together. I kept everyone around me safer that way.
  • It’s important to look around to enjoy the view. I would have missed the best part of the drive if I had not taken my eyes off the difficulty momentarily. It reminded me where I was going and how much I desired to be where I was going.
  • I have to go one step at a time. Sure, I slowed down to be safe, but I still got to my destination.

As I take time to enjoy the view, 2020 has been one of the most transformative years of my life. I have pushed myself to find small clearings in my window. I have tackled anxiety and put habits into practice to help diminish it. I have enjoyed where I am going as a person despite the mud on my window. There is plenty of mud still, but I know it will not last forever. This too shall pass and we will get to clean the window soon.

May the rest of your 2020 bring perspective and peace.



Day 307 –

Have you every stopped abruptly during a social media perusing and wondered how your day was going so wonderfully until that moment? This happens to me often. I began to reflect this past week on how social media can cause a down spiral of my mood. Why, I wondered, does my day need to be interrupted by an overt case of anxiety when I choose to be on social media. I came to the conclusion that my mood changes when I allow comparison to come barging in and social media accentuates this.

This diary blog of overcoming anxiety has induced me to pause more quickly when I recognize my anxiety. Now redirecting my thoughts around my triggers is my new challenge. I want my anxiety triggers to become easier to identify. I have realized many triggers in the past, but comparison is one I still don’t see coming.

Anxiety looked different than when the pandemic first hit. My children may come home to do school soon and I won’t burst into tears this time. My activities might be cancelled, but I have fewer places to go now. I suffer less disappointment. Our vacations have been constantly cancelled this year, so we have already resigned to stay home for the foreseeable future. I cram fewer things into my life and I am grateful when I get a few hours of uninterrupted work time in my office. Life seems simpler some days for sure. Life seems simpler, that is, until I jump onto social media and thoughts of comparison show up.

Some of my triggers in the past have been money, health, the status of the world and life seeming to move forward without me. I have learned that there is never enough money, but somehow there’s always enough. Health is not a guarantee, but we usually make it through another day without thinking about it. Our world seems to be in upheaval, especially now, but it only triggers me if I participate in certain conversations, or when I am caught off guard by watching the news or looking at social media. Life continues to move on whether we join it or not. I have found that whether I worry or not, it doesn’t change a thing about the external world around me.

This year the antidote of anxiety has been gratitude. When comparison is the root cause for my anxiety, celebrating others has become my antidote. In my new on-line photography course I talk about celebrating other photographers instead of feeling defeated when someone else seems to win the day and posts amazing photographs. When a photographer is creative and is courageous they share their work with others. Celebrating each other has been the only way I have found joy in the midst of comparison.

Growing up, celebrating others came from my need to be notified. Being kind and being generous with my words brought generous words back to me. Once I learned this about myself I test my motives more quickly before offering gushing words to celebration. Are my words genuine? Are my words for the benefit of others or for my own attention? The balance between celebrating others to decrease the comparison game and celebrating others to look awesome doing so can be tricky. Testing motives can also be difficult when we discover that our motives are rooted in the wrong ambition.

How do we celebrate others with the right motives? I have found that we must choose to celebrate others for their benefit. When I celebrate someone else, even if I don’t tell the person directly, I acknowledge the creativity they are expressing. I am acknowledging that they are allowed to create and to thrive in what God has given them. I can leave comparison at the door and move forward in my own creativity. I allow the celebration of others to propel me toward greater levels of creativity in my work, in my relationships and in my ambitions.

In a practical way, as the holidays approach and more perfect family photos show up on social media, remember to celebrate what you see. Let’s challenge each other to not let comparison affect our day. Behind the scenes we all have messy lives and a photo is quick snapshots (1/125 of a second or so) of perfection. Obtaining those moments is hard word and worth the celebration. In doing this, maybe we will be a little less anxious and a lot more gracious with ourselves and with others.


Isn’t It Over Yet?

Day 251 –

Shouldn’t the pandemic be over yet? I forgot to write. It hasn’t been because I have gone without anxiety during the past few months of this pandemic. I wish this had been the case, but no. Instead, I have been busy moving forward despite my anxiety in hopes this pandemic would just seem to go away.

After learning to sit still on my porch swing and process new things, I got up and started attempting to fix somethings. First, I wrote the governor an email. I had never done that before. I decided just talking about problems doesn’t create solutions. I didn’t hear back from the governor’s office. I didn’t need to. I was content knowing I did something.

Next, I spoke up to our school board, then joined the school board. Although being on a board was a bucket list item, I hadn’t planned on joining one in this season. I did though, so anxiety has a new name and a new object for it’s time.

Following this, I’be been forcing myself to hold financial needs more loosely since, like most of us during this, life hasn’t looked the same. In the past I have been anxious even when the money has been there and when it hasn’t. I need to daily let it go. I tried gripping it again today. My heart rate was up and my mood was down. The book I am listening to, “The Me I Want to Be”, John Ortberg writes to take a concrete item which represents our worry (like a bill), and pray over it. I did this today. I prayed over a bill and moved on.

Social and racial justice have been constantly on my mind for the past months. I have felt inadequate to blog because I have little perspective on the big issues at hand. I like to be knowledgeable and these important topics have definitely brought me down a few notches, which I am so grateful for. I have consumed more books in the past bit than I did in the few years before. This is a season for listening, not speaking. My anxiety, although important to work on, pales in comparison to the deep-seated issues in need of reconciliation. I am humbled and grieved and grateful all at the same time. These feelings are still being processed.

Just when I thought I was getting ahead of my anxiety today, I got word tonight my girls and in-laws were in a car accident. They are all fine. My youngest slept right on through it all. But, once I knew they were okay, my stress was over the fact that I wasn’t there. I was working and was miles away. I had no control. It is hard to be out-of-control. Maybe, this is where my anxiety stems from — the need for control. I am sure this is the place of anxiety for most of us, but it was quite evident in the moment. I felt it sweep over me. I paused and I prayed. I offered up my need for control. I felt peace. I will be ready to repeat the steps with the cycle of anxiety begins again.

As this storm continues and we feel often out of control, let’s remember to reset, to remind ourselves this is just a season and to strive for something new (whether in our minds or our actions). Keep moving forward, even when it seems like this pandemic will never end.


The Symptoms of Anxiety

Day 174-

My stomach hurts. My eye twitches. I was determined to overcome it, but my normal anxious feelings distract me. Sometimes I am doing new things and sometimes familiar things. Sure, being anxious about trying new things is normal, but the symptoms of anxiety in my physical body taint my life more often than not. 

Last week I headed to a photoshoot. I am usually not anxious unless, like this shoot, it had been planned for months. The details have been processed and reviewed multiple times. This shoot means hours of thought, as well as hopes and dreams. I know my photography is consistent. I know my work will show itself well. What I offer is what I provide, if not better. Although my mind did not need reassuring, I noticed my body was displaying signs of anxiety.

Here is a list of anxiety symptoms from MayoClinic.Org (

  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
  • Having difficulty controlling worry
  • Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety

In a pandemic, the fear of coming down with virus symptoms can exacerbate these feelings. If my stomach hurts and I am a bit shaky, I will automatically check my temperature. I never did this before. I know it is from my anxiety, but my symptoms of anxiety (GI symptoms, nervousness, shaky feeling and increased heart rate) can easily be tied to the ever growing list of the current novel virus symptoms. Add a headache and we might be off to the testing facility.

So how do we know if it is anxiousness or a virus? I run through a few exercises. I pause, slow my mind down which is often more anxious about being sick than being worried, and think through what is causing my anxiety. I ask the questions: Do I have reason to be anxious? Is my temperature up? Have I had enough water today or relied only on coffee? I then do a quick inventory of my life situations in that moment. I ask myself what has been hard and what I want to run from. I look at where I am physically headed to evaluate if this is the source of my increased heart rate. 

Once the internal tests are complete, I drink water and refocus my eyes on my Provider. My key verses are on my lips. 

Psalms 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!

Phil 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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.

Worship music interrupts our home’s atmosphere and my hands go up. “I’m going to see a victory” with Brandon Lake is declared around my kitchen. My symptoms begin to subside. This is how I know my symptoms are from anxiety.

God says to write his Words in our hearts so it can be available at a moment’s notice. God told my guy, Joshua, these things.

Joshua 1:8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 

In the past, when I have been sick, my symptoms show up bolder and send me to bed. I am sure my illnesses have often been worsened by my anxiety, but even when my focus is on worship and God’s Word, I have remained unwell. No one wants to be sick, but learning to test the symptoms of nervousness and illness will help calm our spirits more quickly. 

I put my tests into place before my shoot and drove to my session with a refocused mind. I was calm and allowed God’s Word to refresh my mind. My anxiety permeated from wanting to be safe for my clients, to be exceptional in my work and to bring the client’s hopes to fruition. I gave these desires to the Lord and focused on giving Him the glory in advance for the creativity and joy of the work. 

There is so much going on in life right now. So many things to think about, to learn and to process with our families and friends. Anxiety is high and the world around us plays into it. Let’s be committed to settling our hearts first and then move forward in our hearts and in our minds. 


The Antidote for White Guilt

Day 163-

I believe we are at a crossroad in our country. With the generational patterns of racism being brought to our attention, all people have a responsibility to evaluate how racism has played a role in our own lives and in the lives of those who came before us.  The events and the conversations in past few weeks have brought me to my knees, reduced me to sobs, and induced me to listening to and read about the experiences of black people. This listening, with the intent to understand, requires a diligence of heart and commitment to listen instead of creating conclusions in the moment. I have only begun to scratch the surface of learning. I am not naive to attempt to speak on the subjects where learning is the goal. I do, however, believe I should speak to us, my fellow white people, about white guilt. 

For some of us, in our hast to do something to rectify racism in our own lives or in the past generations, it would be easy to believe we, as white people, need to reside in guilt over being white. Even if we don’t subscribe to white guilt, somehow, we can still experience anxiety over believing we need to have longstanding white guilt. 

If the white guilt has any similarities to other guilt, I have experienced the symptoms of maintaining it. Guilt causes me to feel stuck, as if my feet have sunk into solidified concrete. Guilt is like mosquitos’ bites in the summer. It bites us, leaves us paranoid and irritated from scratching and distracted us from joy. 

Repentance is guilt’s antidote. Repentance changes the way I view myself. It chisels away at the concrete, breaking my feet free. I become free not so I can run and hide, but so I can return to life with new perspective and a softness of heart.  Repentance also allows the anxiety of guilt to subside.

In the Old Testament, when kings died, their sons would take over their kingdoms. Time after time, as recorded in the Chronicles, the son would either do what was right in God’s eyes or not do what was right. If the new king did what was right it usually entailed repentance, a broken heart towards God and then, action. Restoration of God’s house and destruction of idols and the worship places of false gods followed. Consequences for sin can be passed down to other generations, but throughout the Bible, I have never seen God pass on guilt. 

The places of idol worship and false gods were found in “high places”. For me, high places have represented patterns of behavior both in my life or in the lives of the generations before me which need to come under the authority of God. These places must come down in order for me to grow. Repentance is most effective in our lives when we allow the break down these places. Once torn down, there is space for new patterns of our minds, new relationships to be formed, and reconciliation to be cultivated.

Guilt can become a high place for many of us. It is an emotion which we can either try to die by, or we can allow it to trigger our hearts to repentance. Guilt does not need to become our identity. God never instructs us to stay rooted in guilt. Ephesians 3:16-17 says Paul prayed fervently that the church might be strengthened through the Spirit so that Christ could dwell in and through us, and that we may be “rooted and grounded in love”. 

Repentance uproots guilt. Repentance of past sins of racism, both our own and of the generations before us, can bring a salve to this disease. Repenting for sins of previous generations, does not make us accountable for those sins. Repentance of past sins acknowledges that they existed and that we no longer will turn a blind eye. Doing this allows space to be open in our hearts and minds and propels us towards changing the patterns which have integrated our own lives, our own upbringing and our own beliefs. It gives God an opportunity to do His best work, the forgiveness of sins, through His Son, Jesus. Repentance begins the journey to reconciliation.  

During an interview between Dr. Anita Phillips and Pastor Carl Lentz this past weekend through Hillsong East Coast’s on-line service (Check it out on YouTube), they spoke about guilt. Dr. Phillips says “Guilt is a paralytic.” The way to undo the paralysis is through repentance. This can be the first step in replacing guilt with action. She went on to say there are two things we can do after repentance. The second step is to lament. The final step is to know what part we each can play in this cause.

Brothers and sisters, I think we get grieving and guilt mixed up. Lamenting is found in grieving, but residual guilt gets in the way of grieving. We don’t need a human loss to grieve. We are allowed to grieve the loss of relationship, the promise of unity in our country which is missing due to racism and the length of time it has taken for this moment to come. This list goes on. Grieving mends the heart and prepares it for action. Guilt, however, prevents us from moving forward.

I keep going back to the feet of Jesus. I need direction in what to think and how to respond. Each time guilt and anxiety comes out to play, I head right back to Him. He has the power to replace my sadness with forgiveness and peace. As I wait for Him to make my role clear, guilt must not have a grip on my next steps. We must not be paralyzed from doing the next right thing. As white men and women, I believe we cannot be rooted in guilt because our world needs our help building unity, listening to understand and showing up when it is uncomfortable. 


Porch Swing Ponderings

Day 150-

I was anxious when I woke up yesterday. I can’t pinpoint the reason why exactly. Fit filled dreams and a momentary panic over thinking I was supposed to be at work might have been the cause. As I attempted to calm myself down I started pondering the current state of our world. It might not have been the best idea. I moved on to review my plan for the day and glanced at the clock. Maybe my girls would sleep a little longer. 

My porch swing has become my morning mission. Breakfast for the girls, coffee for me and the app which contains my Bible in a year plan are all prepared before I head to my sacred location. Yesterday, my Bible app lead me through the some of Chronicles and a few verses in the book of John. I breathed deeply as I settled into my swing. John lamented over Jesus’ grief for his friend, Martha and Mary, over the death of their brother. John spoke of Jesus weeping. I journaled and prayed. Does Jesus still wept for the sadness we are going thru as a community, and as a world?

I am a thinker. I wonder if those close to me call me an over-thinker? I’m not sure. It doesn’t matter, I can’t help myself. I have always been a thinker. I really do enjoy processing the significance of moments before they pass too quickly. How do we tackle things when they seem too big to handle? How do we respond with the right words and the right hopes for the future?

My little one comes sauntering to the swing at some point and interrupts my stream of thought. Her eyes twinkle with some sort of mischief. She holds up a little toy and declares “Look what I found!” My simple response of “Great” seems to be enough and she runs off to play with or bother her sister who is not a morning person. 

My porch swing is a safe place to think. My anxiety I felt during my first moments of consciousness seem to have subsided. Or maybe they have just been pushed away with a moment of stillness, of Jesus and of thoughts over my morning agenda. It is time to get the girls going, lunches made for our adventure and my unwilling hair tamed. Quarantine hasn’t been good to my hair apparently, but I will have to deal with this anxiety later. I am sad to leave my swing and promise to return as soon as possible.

Even in this season of slowing down, and being at home, it seems stillness doesn’t just come. I must continue to be intentional. My habit is to increase my busyness when I feel anxious. I accelerate instead of contemplate. I make a to-do list in my mind instead of finding my head in it all. To be still, for me, means enjoying the trees and the light in my backyard. It means texting a friend and finding gratitude in hopes of moving my focus off myself. It means reading and learning about the things I’m contemplating. It means snuggling with my girlies and telling them how much I love them. It all must be intentional.

I think Jesus created me to be a thinker. Perhaps this means, if my mind isn’t right, I am more likely to experience anxiety. If so, I have the opportunity to learn how to manage my mind in a way which allows me joy instead of anxiety. I am also a dreamer. There is a better world which can be achieved. There are better ways which are still yet to be created. There are more causes to fight and more porch swings to sit on while pondering this life. These are all good things. I am compelled to keep thinking, processing and pointing my mind to the Creator to find intentional joy and stillness. 

I am praying you find some stillness and joy in your own space this weekend.