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Making the path for the light at the end of the tunnel

OMG. Holy Moly. I don’t know about you, but it has been a rough past few weeks for me! However, I can see the LIGHT at the end of the tunnel and I’m in a much better place. What happened and how did I get to the light?

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Ephesians 6:12 NIV

I believe wholeheartedly I’ve been under spiritual attack. Six weeks ago, my husband, Bryan, and I joined a Lifegroup through our church, LifeAustin, and we’ve been studying the “Detours” series. I wrote about this new experience for us in a previous post, which you can read about here.

This experience has been beautiful and uncomfortable as we’ve been sharing with fellow believers in our church (whom we didn’t know previously) the detours that have surfaced in our lives. We’ve been learning the purpose, patterns, and promotion of detours according to God’s word.

I’ve come to look forward to my Tuesday evenings. Our hosts welcomed us into their beautiful home each week, prepared a delicious meal, played the video that accompanied the week’s lesson, and led us into discussions about detours. It’s a great experience because I enjoy sharing my perspective, learning from the Bible scriptures, learning from others, especially Bryan, and bonding with new people.

In the midst of our Detours Lifegroup, I was feeling increasingly burned out at work and home. I’m a giver. I’m an overachiever. My hormones were out of whack (all over the place). I was not getting enough sleep. I was in the process of interviewing and hiring for one of my vacant positions. Deadlines I’ve been juggling for years began to feel impossible. My team was noticing I seemed different. My boss was noticing. Bryan needed an urgent heart procedure to determine if he needed a more invasive surgery. I was feeling overwhelmed…too overwhelmed to write a blog post last week.

My internal thoughts were attacking me, but I can only take so much. Despite how positive I am and how much I preach about self-care, I’m susceptible to setbacks like most people. We’re also susceptible to spiritual attacks. I must be doing something good and right because I felt the weight of the attacks on my spirit, mind, and body. Then, this week, the weight was lifted.

The path that led me to the light was this:

  1. Awareness – I knew I was off kilter.
  2. Vulnerability- I shared how I was feeling with others – my Lifegroup family, my husband, my sister, and a friend.
  3. Prayer – My husband prayed over me, our Lifegroup family prayed with and for us, and I prayed.
  4. The Word – On my commutes to and from work, I listened to sermons that encouraged me.

In the meantime, I also surrounded myself with people and the furry animals who love me.

Beignet and Cannoli. LPC

I got out and enjoyed the glorious weather when we had it.

Trip to an asian market. LPC

Lucrece and Bryan at the Capitol. LPC

I entertained my sister in law visiting from Illinois.

Sadie, Bryan, and me. LPC

I’ve continued to do my favorite form of exercise…DANCE!💃🏾

A little sweat session in the garage Thursday morning. LPC

I’ve been catching up on my zzzzz’s. Thank you time change. I’ve been going to bed earlier because of it.

I love this sleep mask. LPC

By the end of this week, I could appreciate my accomplishments and most importantly what God is doing in my life. We completed our 6 week Lifegroup, I hired an excellent candidate for my team, I continue to use my position at work to mentor and uplift others, my daughter got all A’s in her second semester as a freshman in high school, my son registered for his community college classes, I have a game plan for the dance I’m coordinating for our office holiday party, my spiritual and mental energy has been restored, and Bryan doesn’t need an invasive heart surgery.

My final thoughts are: Life is GOOD. Hang in there. Appreciate what you have. Pray incessantly. Have FAITH. Keep moving forward.

What encourages you during difficult times?

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Summer love

I’m a little late to addressing this fact, but summer time is here. Summer nights are my favorite! My husband and I enjoy walks in the park in the 45 minutes before it gets dark here in Austin (approximately 8:50 p.m.). I like to also sit on the porch sipping my tea or warm almond milk and listening to all the noisy bugs. You can glean from this picture my daughter’s agenda for the next 2 months. The only other thing she wants to do is go horse back riding on her birthday in August. She does do other things such as play on her trampoline, dance, and search for real estate in countries where she’s thinking of relocating. Yes, you read that correctly. She’s interested in free college education. Smart girl.

I don’t know about other parents, but I also appreciate the summer break from school. I think kids should lounge around and be bored because it sparks creativity. I was bored a whole lot during the summer when I was growing up. My son occasionally rides his bike to see his friends. I notice he’s slowed down likely because riding a bike in this Austin heat is no joke. He’s also been applying for jobs. However, overall, there is no pressure in the household or major demands on our family’s time in the summer months. How about for you?

I plan to catch up on sleep where I can. Sleeping has been more of a challenge lately because I’m still recovering from May. It feels like my body doesn’t want to cooperate with me on getting enough sleep. I have my nightly rituals, but something feels off. I will continue to work on it.

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You can change the atmosphere

Last month, I went on my first business trip in months – a sign that my work life is back to normal. I welcomed the trip because I was in a work “slump”. My attitude had not been the greatest due to some recent decisions made that were out of my control. Those decisions impacted a project I had been working on for 3 years. I often use the travel time to reflect and regroup, and boy, did I have some epiphanies!

I know I have the power to change the atmosphere (environment I’m in) with a positive attitude, but it takes work. Sometimes, it feels more comfortable to mope around, but it doesn’t provide any long term benefits. Here’s a personal example from my business trip of changing the atmosphere.

This incident occurred at the airport on my way to my destination. Yes (eye roll)…I hadn’t even left Austin, Texas yet and I was faced with a lesson. I’ve noticed over the years, I tend to get tagged for extra screenings at TSA. This day was no different. I was so annoyed because I got called to the side even after they practically made me strip down to the basics – shirt and bottom.

I was told by security the following areas on my body were of concern: my left wrist, my waist, my groin area, my left breast, my knee, my right hand, my right kidney, my second toe on the right foot, my lungs and my thyroid gland (not really on the last three, but you get my drift). Really??? This day was just ridiculous. It seemed like it was taking forever. I partially kept my gaze on my belongings in the bins. I didn’t want anyone to walk off with my stuff. I was impatient and annoyed with the questions and frisking.

By the time it was over, I was outdone with irritation. I went to grab my belongings, reached for my shoes, and the security guard asked, just as I managed to put one shoe on, “are those your shoes?” I looked at him and said, “Yes.” There was a slight delay in my mind registering what he had actually asked, so I came back with an, “I hope so since I’m putting them on MY feet.”

We exchanged a laugh. He said he was trying to cheer me up since I looked so serious, but he could see I didn’t get it at first. He said he was only joking and knows people only reach for their own shoes. I attempted to explain I was annoyed by the frisking process. Saying it out loud made me realize I was making a bigger deal about it than needed. We exchanged a few more words, then we parted ways.

The security guard changed the atmosphere in my mind. I was on my way to a full on melt down, but he stopped me. I walked away asking myself why I had been so annoyed. I know this is routine. I arrived at the airport early to account for the process. Hearing him tell me that I “looked so serious” reminded me that was the opposite of how I want to carry myself. This is especially true having recovered from a chronic, life altering health condition like breast cancer.

I strive to be lighter in mind, spirit and body. Even the use of the word “light” in my blog site title provides a clue of how I want to be. The experience at the airport did ENLIGHTEN me to my attitude. I’m not immune from reverting back to old ways. I also believe my oral medication for breast cancer treatment affects my mood. I’ve been more conscious of it and make adjustments as needed. For example, I’m more reserved at times by staying to myself at work and/or home to avoid spewing my agitation on some unsuspecting soul.

With humor, the security guard said something that sparked a change in the atmosphere of my mind. He changed the trajectory of my attitude and I loved it. That’s how I want to be for others. You have to believe you have this power. It doesn’t take much and can be accomplished through simple acts of connecting with others. These can be brief moments. You can also do it for yourself by engaging in positive self-talk. Out of habit, you may be feeding your mind negative messages (like I do) and not realize it. However, when I catch myself, I change my self-talk to that of encouragement, or whatever is useful in the moment.

I’m grateful the security guard gave me a reminder. I need to channel more of my humor, especially when I’m stressed, and share it with others. How do you go about changing the atmosphere?