Light and Loveliness

Reflections of Emily Sue Allen

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Life & Faith / Prayer / Soulful Simplicity

The Real Price of Worry

Welcome friends.

This is day 16 of Soulful Simplicity, a 31-day series through the month of October. The first two weeks can be found here. I hope you are enriched by this series. If you have any questions or would otherwise like to connect, feel free to send me a note: lightandloveliness [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Today I want to open a conversation about worry and what you don’t realize it is costing you. In doing so, I want to acknowledge that this might be a slightly sensitive topic for some, and I will attempt to handle it with care.

I would be willing to bet you have a few things you are worried about if you stopped to think about it for a few minutes. You can worry about pretty much anything you can think of. You can worry about money, worry about safety, worry about relationships and falling on your face and what you’re going to wear in public that isn’t stained with baby spit-up. Maybe that’s just me.

Worry is a real and common experience, but most people don’t realize that worry comes at a cost. Worry is costing you peace. It is costing you true rest. It is costing your spouse an engaged and light-hearted companion. It is costing your children an attentive and enthusiastic parent. When you worry, you put your energy toward managing every detail you can to avoid falling victim to the things you are worried about, and that is energy that comes from somewhere else.

Worriers respond to life with a desire to control as many circumstances as possible in order to cope with the weight of the worry. Worriers balance and juggle and jostle around, trying to maintain a safe distance from every danger they see, believing that their worry will actually keep them from pain.

Unfortunately, that is not really how it works out in practice.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a worrier. As a hyper-aware and hyper-sensitive child, I constantly worried about every different kind of hardship that could befall me. From a young age, I remember being on the lookout for danger, never able to truly relax or lose myself in the fun of anything. When I became a mother, this experience only grew more serious and more gripping as I entertained thoughts of all of the terrible things that could possibly happen to one of my children.

Worry actively inhibits our ability to celebrate the beauty and blessings that are right in front of us.

On day 1 of this series I wrote, “The practice of soulful simplicity is a daily intention to clear away whatever is unnecessary to make room for what is lovely and life-giving.”

Worry falls into this category for me. It keeps me from lovely and life-giving things, and as such, I’ve had to figure out how to get it out of my life, or at least keep it in check, which I will admit has been a slow and painstaking process—but one that has been worth every ounce of effort.

It starts with thoughts and where I let them go. What thoughts do I entertain?

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-6

This means, I keep a careful watch on what I will put in my mind. It means I think twice before clicking on a link that is going to make me terrified to feed my children anything except food I grow in my backyard, or links that predict the end of the world by whatever heinous means. It means I do not watch psychological thriller movies that depict terrible things that will stay in my mind for years afterward.

It means I diligently seek to fill my mind with true and lovely things like the Word of God and the incredible things He has created.

Do I still worry? Sometimes yes, but I will only engage my worry while I engage in prayer—which means if I start worrying, I also start praying.

When I pray, I acknowledge that I am not in control, but that God is and He is worthy of my trust. When I pray, I put my worry into God’s hands instead of holding it tightly in mine.

Through this process I find relief from worry and instead am able to receive the rest and peace that God promises me. I am not guaranteed tomorrow, but while I have breath in my lungs today, I can breathe out love to those are around me in prayer and in the daily practice of exchanging my worries for His peace.

When I worry for my children, I breathe out prayers for God’s guidance, protection, investment in their hearts as they develop into adults, so they will be equipped and prepared for whatever they will experience in their lives. In prayer, I can remember that God is greater than all darkness (and its actually no contest there).

I will leave you with Psalm 91 and a prayer that you who worry find peace in God’s care.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!’
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
You will only look on with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.
For you have made the Lord, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place.
No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent.
For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways.
They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and cobra, The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.
‘Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see My salvation.‘”

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“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

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I have some exciting things to share in the near future, and would love for you to be among the first to hear about them. If you’re so inclined, please sign up for my email newsletter here and I’ll send out updates as they become available. Your address will never be shared. Thanks!

 

Creativity / Poetry / Prayer

Paris

They spill
Tears like arms flung out
Desperate to console, comfort, understand
Where tears fall short, prayers move and maneuver
Going quick where tears and arms cannot reach

It howls pain, the city of love
Torn deep at the hands of evil men
Whose hate compels them to hurt; to wrestle violent for power
With the banner of widespread fear

They will not find what they seek
For love cannot be quenched
Love cannot be banished, or imprisoned, or stamped out
For it lives and springs from ashes in tears and arms and prayers
That refuse to let darkness be the pen that writes the end of the story

We raise a banner of love with prayers for the broken
The ones wronged, and the ones wrong
May love ever have the last word

Prayers for Paris

“Evil will not deliver those who practice it.” Ecclesiastes 8:8b

“Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:24

Family / Life & Faith / Prayer

Inspired Prayer // Strength

Do Not Copy

One sibling photo a week throughout the year. 13/52

This week, I spent several hours reading some hilarious serious entries in a journal of mine from 2004. As I read, I revisited pages of pre-married (and actually pre-engagement) angst and sappiness that made me laugh out loud, but I also rediscovered a thread of continuity that I’m still learning to accept about myself. I have always been annoyingly serious about life.

For as long as I can remember, I have believed that there is a spiritual reality that is something unlike what we can see with our physical eyes. The natural and spiritual worlds are interconnected, and while I have plenty of questions about how all that works, I have repeatedly experienced things that reinforce my belief that Jesus is the hope of the world, that the Bible gives us a reliable look into the heart and story of God’s work in humanity, and that engaging in prayer puts me in a position of openness, connection, and communication with God.

Through prayer, I have had countless tangible, real-life needs met in unlikely ways. I have seen emotional wounds healed, relationships mended, babies conceived and delivered to parents who endured years of unexplained infertility, brokenness redeemed, depression turned around, life-long anxiety replaced with unexplainable peace, deep sorrows turned to joy, profound purpose in ordinary life…the list goes on.

Do Not Copy

A few years ago, I began creating themed collections of scriptures with paraphrased written prayers interspersed between the verses to help me stay focused in my prayer times as I began to engage in prayer more intentionally. It was a quirky thing I found a fair amount of joy in, and while I shared a few of the collections here and there with friends in different tough circumstances, I have mostly kept the practice a private/personal one. For some reason, I now feel prompted to share these collections in a more public space, in the event they would be helpful for others who desire to grow closer to God through prayer. Do I think this is the best/only/right way to pray? Definitely not…but perhaps this resource will enrich your life the way it has enriched mine? My prayer is that it would!

So without further ado, I present to you “Inspired Prayer // Strength“, the first of many themed scripture collections with paraphrased prayers that can be used as a springboard into more intentional prayer. Feel free to print it out, tuck it into your Bible, hang it on your wall, write on it, or share it with someone you know. As the first of it’s kind, I welcome your feedback, encouragement, and suggestions as I prepare to make more guides to share going forward.

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16b (NIV)

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Update on goals for week 13:

1) Run/walk at least 10 miles per week. Week 13 ~ 14 Run/Walk miles traveled, 143.5 cumulative in 2015
2) Write 10,000 words weekly. Week 13 ~ 10,025 words completed, 54,225 cumulative in 2015

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681. easter egg coloring, 682. fuse bead fun, 683. raising one voice in worship together, 684. meeting my weekly writing goal for the first time this year, 685. being on the other side of family-wide sickness, 686. personal breakthroughs with self-discipline, 687. promise of restoration, 688. flowering trees at green lake, 689. easter meal with new friends, 690. truth