Becoming a woman of confidence

Becoming a woman of confidence

Life in this world is unsettling.

We ask ourselves how we’ll make it through today, and wonder what on earth tomorrow holds.

It’s easy to let fear and uncertainty rule our lives…

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

When we stand on truth, we find reason after reason for confidence.

Join me at Club31Women where I talk about three of those reasons today.

Club31Women.com_3-Reasons-You-Can-Be-A-Woman-of-Confidence

Fearless of the Days to Come: 3 Surprising Lessons from Proverbs 31

Fearless of the Days to Come: 3 Surprising Lessons from Proverbs 31

 

It seems so strange, doesn’t it? This choice of words… laughing at the days ahead?

But there it is.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” Proverbs 31:25

My brow has been frequently furrowed as of late. How about yours?

But maybe that’s telling us something. That we’re human… yes. We’re made of dust and we are indeed weak and often fearful.

But I think there’s something else. I think we’re quick to focus on our problems… the world’s problems… and forget Who’s in control and what our responsibilities are.

There’s something to the laughter of the Proverbs 31 woman. Something we need pretty desperately today.

(Join me at Club31Women for more!)

Blessings,

Jennifer

Proverbs 31 Woman

 

 

In over my head: choosing my focus

In over my head: choosing my focus

Some people have serious problems that we rarely hear about; others have less serious issues that are brought to our attention quite frequently.

I’ve spent time pondering this. (Yes. Really.)

I’ve wondered if the Eeyores among us really have more problems than the rest, or if it might have something to do with perspective.

My personal conclusion?

Some people really do have what seems to be an unfair amount of trials heaped upon them.

And I don’t understand that.

But…

Amatteroffocus

If you read my ebook (available for Kindle or Nook) last week, you know that panic and anxiety were a very unwelcome part of my life for a few years and that my focus during those years was crucial in my recovery.

Here I am now, on the other side of that journey, tempted to think I can let up a little with the focus thing.

But the truth is, the deep darkness of fear that threatened to suck the joy out of life has merely changed to a sea of new issues — distractions, stress, busyness, and sure, a few problems.

There is always something…

…something that wants to steal my focus away from God’s goodness, His life-giving Word, and the joy found in His presence.

God’s whisper about focus found it’s way to my heart once more as I finished a chapter of my memoir this weekend. This chapter fills you in on some of the details preceding my panic attacks:

We celebrated the first day of 2010 with a dive off the shore of Fort Liberty. Our friend and instructor, Nick, had discovered a steep underwater cliff laden with bright corals, sponges, seaweed, and tropical fish. It would be our first group dive; so far, Nick had tutored Jarod and me one-on-one, but now that we were becoming more advanced, he was confident the three of us could dive together.

We swam a couple hundred feet into the little bay before we began our descent. Careful to equalize our ears every few feet, we sank lower and lower into the blue. To our right was a jeweled wall — yellow, blue, and purple fish, pink and orange corals, and delicate sea crabs. Above, below, and in every other direction was the deep blue of the sea. Had I been watching our dive on an Imax screen, I would have leaned forward in awe.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was awed, but as Nick and my husband pushed forward and downward, my heart and mind rebelled. Detachment, uneasiness, and anxiety pressed harder than the weight of the water. I did my best to shake it off — to focus on the breathtaking beauty around me, to avoid being the wimpy one in the trio, but it was no use. I kicked ahead and tapped Jarod. I pointed my thumb up, feeling like a fool, yet desperate to rise to the land I knew.

Back on top of choppy waves, I apologized for messing up the dive. Jarod encouraged me to try again — I would be fine. But, I knew something weird was going on. I swam back to shore and let the guys finish the dive on their own.

As they dove down once more, I shuddered. I would never go back in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In a matter of hours, my panic began in earnest. If you read Take Courage, you know the diving wasn’t the problem; it was just one more proverbial straw that helped break my back.

But the darkness that I entered paralleled perfectly with that Fort Liberty dive:

My battle was one of the mind. The underwater cliff of Fort Liberty became my reality; I was surrounded by deep, dark blue — enough to overwhelm and defeat me. Only this time, swimming ashore was not an option. There would be no escape, no chickening out of the test. I had been provided with the appropriate gear; the Spirit of God would be my breathing apparatus. This wasn’t a test to the death — though it felt like it. But it was a test of my focus. I could look at the treasure cove on the one side — mining the truth and beauty of God’s Word, or I could feed my fear with the endless blue on every other side.

Today, I am still tempted to stare into the blue. Like I said, it’s not about fear and panic right now… it’s just about the negative. It’s so easy to be Eeyore. But it’s not harmless and certainly not cute — it’s wrong and deadly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But I’m reminded…

whatever the depth of all that blue around me, however trivial or heavy it may be,

there is treasure to be found off to the right.

It imparts joy.

It restores the soul.

It renews the mind.

And its beauty is best beheld by those in over their heads.

My new ebook (free PDF this week!) — Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear

My new ebook (free PDF this week!) — Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear

Take-CourageLR

Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear is a concise, two-part ebook offering hope to those, who like me, have found themselves in the grip of anxiety, adrenal fatigue, and trauma-related issues.

In the first section I share glimpses of eight drama-filled years in Haiti preceding my own personal crisis and in the second I offer insights for making spiritual, mental, and physical choices of courage.

If you are a jenniferebenhack.com blog subscriber, you’ve heard bits and pieces of my story. Download the ebook for the bigger picture!

Find Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear for your Kindle at amazon.com for $2.99

Or

Sign up for my newsletter and receive the PDF version of Take Courage for free this week!

Send an email to subscribetojenniferebenhack@gmail.com and you will receive the link to download your PDF copy of the ebook!

*If you have not yet subscribed to receive regular blog updates via email, remember to click the “Subscribe” link to the right to do so!

(…But, remember to send me an email at subscribetojenniferebenhack@gmail.com to receive your free PDF!)

My new ebook (free PDF this week!) — Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear

My new ebook (free PDF this week!) — Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear

Take-CourageLR

Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear is a concise, two-part ebook offering hope to those, who like me, have found themselves in the grip of anxiety, adrenal fatigue, and trauma-related issues.

In the first section I share glimpses of eight drama-filled years in Haiti preceding my own personal crisis and in the second I offer insights for making spiritual, mental, and physical choices of courage.

If you are a jenniferebenhack.com blog subscriber, you’ve heard bits and pieces of my story. Download the ebook for the bigger picture!

Find Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear for your Kindle at amazon.com for $2.99

Or

Sign up for my newsletter and receive the PDF version of Take Courage for free this week!

Send an email to subscribetojenniferebenhack@gmail.com and you will receive the link to download your PDF copy of the ebook!

*If you have not yet subscribed to receive regular blog updates via email, remember to click the “Subscribe” link to the right to do so!

(…But, remember to send me an email at subscribetojenniferebenhack@gmail.com to receive your free PDF!)

How to change your mind — literally

How to change your mind — literally

Phil.4-8

Want a cheery verse to start your morning?

How about “Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat…” (Luke 22:31)?

Those inspirational words rang in my head as I opened my eyes just the other day.

God, should I be worried? What’s going to happen? 

Of course I hoped it was completely random… like waking up with “The Song that Never Ends” in your head.

But within a few seconds, I allowed fear’s seed to take root. My imagination was in gear.

As I drove away from home a couple hours later, I received a text about a lockdown on our school campus (which includes our house). I realized too late that I’d left our front door unlocked.

This might be it, I thought as I drove away. I might come home to face a criminal (I didn’t).
Or worse yet, our school might be under attack (It wasn’t, thank God).

Later that afternoon I left three kids home alone (in our cozy neighborhood consisting of ten other Christian families) to pick Jaden up from school.

I’d better kiss them all goodbye. Who knows what might happen to me or them once I leave this house? (Nothing did.)

My paranoia eased a little over the next couple days, but I’d entertained thoughts of disaster long enough that it refused to make a permanent exit. Any songs on the radio or verses in my head about trials made me uneasy. It took a little longer to fall asleep. Since I didn’t want to be caught by surprise, I had to imagine all the possibilities… turns out there are a lot of possibilities.

And so I entertained my old friends:

  • Fear
  • Worry
  • Anxiety

Toxic Thoughts.

Could this be what God wanted for me with the thought of Luke 22:31?

I suppose the Lord very well could choose to warn me of trials to come, but even if He does, am I doomed to anxious thoughts that rob me of peace and joy?

Back when I was recovering from adrenal fatigue and symptoms of PTSD, I had an arsenal of verses for my battle with panic and despair.

Two of my favorites are Philippians 4:6-7.

Phil.4Large

One of my favorite books for dealing with the war of the mind (in addition to the Bible) is:

Who Switched Off My Brain? Controlling toxic thoughts and emotions by Dr. Caroline Leaf

whoswitchedoffmybrain

You and I have heard that God’s Word renews our minds, but it is truly astounding to understand how that plays out scientifically.

Thoughts are basically electrical impulses, chemicals and neurons. They look like a tree with branches. As the thoughts grow and become permanent, more branches grow and the connections become stronger.

As we change our thinking, some branches go away, new ones form, the strength of the connections change, and the memories network with other thoughts (Leaf 19-20).

brain
Dr. Leaf goes on to explain that when a thought is formed, information then swirls through our hippocampus to the front of our brain for the next 24 to 48 hours, constantly being amplified, molded, and changed. We either reinforce the thought the way it is, or change it in some way.

Proteins are made and used to grow new branches to hold your thoughts, a process called protein synthesis. So, if we don’t get rid of the thought we reinforce it. This is quite phenomenal because science is confirming that we can choose to interfere with protein synthesis by our free will. If you say you “can’t” or “won’t,” this is a decision of your free will and will actually cause protein synthesis and changes in the real estate of your brain. Now “bringing into captivity every thought” (2 Corinthians 10:5 KJV) starts to become a lot more important. Thoughts are constantly remodeled by the “renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2 NIV).

When we do this, we actually change the physical structure (called neuroplasticity) of the brain… (Leaf 59-61).

Sunflower Field with setting Sun in Background, nice Sunburst and Sunbeams

I am reminded:

I am not enslaved to my current toxic thoughts: My mind can be renewed.

Even if  the Lord is trying to tell me something through his warning to Simon Peter…

Even if  the very worst case scenario should happen…

I have a choice!

2 Timothy 1:7

When I’m afraid…

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5)

When I’m overwhelmed…

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

When I fear Satan’s attacks…

“in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Rom. 8:37).

By the power of the Holy Spirit, I can literally change my mind.

2Cor10-5

How to change your mind — literally

How to change your mind — literally

Phil.4-8

Want a cheery verse to start your morning?

How about “Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat…” (Luke 22:31)?

Those inspirational words rang in my head as I opened my eyes just the other day.

God, should I be worried? What’s going to happen? 

Of course I hoped it was completely random… like waking up with “The Song that Never Ends” in your head.

But within a few seconds, I allowed fear’s seed to take root. My imagination was in gear.

As I drove away from home a couple hours later, I received a text about a lockdown on our school campus (which includes our house). I realized too late that I’d left our front door unlocked.

This might be it, I thought as I drove away. I might come home to face a criminal (I didn’t).
Or worse yet, our school might be under attack (It wasn’t, thank God).

Later that afternoon I left three kids home alone (in our cozy neighborhood consisting of ten other Christian families) to pick Jaden up from school.

I’d better kiss them all goodbye. Who knows what might happen to me or them once I leave this house? (Nothing did.)

My paranoia eased a little over the next couple days, but I’d entertained thoughts of disaster long enough that it refused to make a permanent exit. Any songs on the radio or verses in my head about trials made me uneasy. It took a little longer to fall asleep. Since I didn’t want to be caught by surprise, I had to imagine all the possibilities… turns out there are a lot of possibilities.

And so I entertained my old friends:

  • Fear
  • Worry
  • Anxiety

Toxic Thoughts.

Could this be what God wanted for me with the thought of Luke 22:31?

I suppose the Lord very well could choose to warn me of trials to come, but even if He does, am I doomed to anxious thoughts that rob me of peace and joy?

Back when I was recovering from adrenal fatigue and symptoms of PTSD, I had an arsenal of verses for my battle with panic and despair.

Two of my favorites are Philippians 4:6-7.

Phil.4Large

One of my favorite books for dealing with the war of the mind (in addition to the Bible) is:

Who Switched Off My Brain? Controlling toxic thoughts and emotions by Dr. Caroline Leaf

whoswitchedoffmybrain

You and I have heard that God’s Word renews our minds, but it is truly astounding to understand how that plays out scientifically.

Thoughts are basically electrical impulses, chemicals and neurons. They look like a tree with branches. As the thoughts grow and become permanent, more branches grow and the connections become stronger.

As we change our thinking, some branches go away, new ones form, the strength of the connections change, and the memories network with other thoughts (Leaf 19-20).

brain
Dr. Leaf goes on to explain that when a thought is formed, information then swirls through our hippocampus to the front of our brain for the next 24 to 48 hours, constantly being amplified, molded, and changed. We either reinforce the thought the way it is, or change it in some way.

Proteins are made and used to grow new branches to hold your thoughts, a process called protein synthesis. So, if we don’t get rid of the thought we reinforce it. This is quite phenomenal because science is confirming that we can choose to interfere with protein synthesis by our free will. If you say you “can’t” or “won’t,” this is a decision of your free will and will actually cause protein synthesis and changes in the real estate of your brain. Now “bringing into captivity every thought” (2 Corinthians 10:5 KJV) starts to become a lot more important. Thoughts are constantly remodeled by the “renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2 NIV).

When we do this, we actually change the physical structure (called neuroplasticity) of the brain… (Leaf 59-61).

Sunflower Field with setting Sun in Background, nice Sunburst and Sunbeams

I am reminded:

I am not enslaved to my current toxic thoughts: My mind can be renewed.

Even if  the Lord is trying to tell me something through his warning to Simon Peter…

Even if  the very worst case scenario should happen…

I have a choice!

2 Timothy 1:7

When I’m afraid…

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5)

When I’m overwhelmed…

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

When I fear Satan’s attacks…

“in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Rom. 8:37).

By the power of the Holy Spirit, I can literally change my mind.

2Cor10-5