Sunday, November 25, 2012

Finding my way back to Fall....

Saying that I loved or even liked the fall season is not something that was in my vocabulary for the last few years; In fact, last year during the end of summer I had 3 dreams, nightmares rather, of looking out my window only to find all of the trees without leaves.  Skinny brown branches covered in a clear, frozen frost were all that remained.  I woke up so relieved it was a dream, yet left with the realization that a new season would soon be approaching.  A season that meant colder weather and shorter days.  Long, dark evenings were a big fear of mine and added immensely to my anxiety, so having daylight disappear at 5:00 p.m. was more terrifying to me than I could ever put into words.  Due to anticipating what was to come, I didn't pay attention to the beauty of fall.  But that has all changed this year!  Why?  Simply put, because I have changed.  I've learned and continue to learn how to enjoy the things that are in front of me and not worry about what's ahead.  Because of this new found outlook, I have come to see a side of fall that I ignored for so long.  I now notice and love the color of the leaves and even though they fall off of the trees, I don't focus on bare branches; instead, I see how pretty the ground looks with swirls of orange, red, and gold.  Even when the darkness comes, I choose to see a beautiful sky filled with stars rather than an overshadowing cloud of doom. 

I guess the life lesson I discovered is to relish in the present.  How many times do we look ahead anticipating what's to come and then miss the moment we are in?  Most times the things we are fretting over don't turn out as bad as we thought or don't ever happen, which results in us spending our time worrying over nothing and all the while blind to the beauty that we were surrounded by. 

While I am thankful for so many things this year, I am grateful for a renewed trust in God.  A trust that assures me that I am not alone no matter what season of life I'm in, and all I need to do is take one day at a time. Spring and summer will always be my favorite seasons, but I can now say without a doubt that I am fully content in all of them.  I tell myself, "No matter what may come my way, God is with me today." Whatever "season" of life you're in right now be sure to fix your mind on the positive things you have, not the possible outcomes that may or may not happen.  Always do your very best to live in the present because that's really all you have.  The past is gone and tomorrow is not promised. 

Have a great day everyone and remember to walk in love and speak in peace!


Saturday, April 28, 2012

If God be for me....

There was a time in my life, about 8 years ago, where I can honestly say that I didn't feel like I had much of a purpose.  I was consumed with severe anxiety and panic attacks for five years, and the quality of life I was living was not what I wanted yet I had no idea how to stop it.  Without a doubt I knew and believed God had a plan and a purpose for me, but what it was, I didn't know.  When you're in the midst of anxiety, it's hard enough to get through each day let alone trying to figure out your calling in life.  I would hear these great messages at church on fulfilling the vision that God has planted in your heart, but most times I wouldn't be able to make it through one service without leaving because the feelings of panic were so heavy.  All that I was then left with were feelings of depression for not being able to simply sit in a service.  For those of you that can relate, you know how the viscous cycle of anxiety debilitates your life.  During that time I couldn't possibly understand how anything great or divine would ever come out of the constant feelings of worry and fear that I was living with everyday, but that's where God stepped in. As I began to lean on Him instead of trying to fix myself, that's when my breakthrough started.  God challenged me to open up His Word and see what He had to say about fear, worry, and peace.  When I began doing this my life completely changed.

I never blamed God for what I was going through because I personally do not believe He has anxiety to give to anyone.  In fact the scriptures I was led to, explained how God doesn't want us to have anxious feelings or carry the burden of anxiety.  Philippians 4:4-7 reads, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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."  1 Peter 6-11 reads, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

After I broke free from the bondage anxiety had on me, I started to feel a strong desire to reach out to those that are dealing with the same problems I had.  As that desire continued to grow and still does, it was crystal clear to me that my purpose is to help others break free.  Another way I knew is because almost every where I go, there seems to be an opportunity for me to help someone with their anxiety issues. Many times it will be a complete stranger.  I actually just met someone in the checkout aisle the other week that was having some difficulty and I was able to identify with her, which in turn gave her hope and relief that she's not alone.  

I still sometimes marvel at how God took the mess I was in, and used it for good.  I love it!  I encourage you, no matter what your situation is, to surrender it to God and watch Him work.  Don't feel as though you can't rise above your circumstances, or that your dreams are too big to ever come true.  We serve a God that can move the mountains and calm the seas!  He is bigger than your dreams and all things are possible for those that put their trust in Him.  Ask yourself, if God be for me, who can be against me?  I would say this daily and I could feel myself getting stronger both spiritually and emotionally. 

I wanted to share something with you that is so special to me.  In the very beginning of realizing that I wanted to help others with anxiety, it was on my heart to help thousands and even millions of people.  At that time I didn't really know how to help one person, so I asked God how to do this and what He was about to do was way more than I could have imagined.  It's a long, wonderful story how God aligned all of this, but I was asked by the Midwest Center, a place that specifically works to help those dealing with anxiety and depression, to appear on their new infomercial!  This was 3 years ago, and at that time they had the second longest running infomercial in the world.  What an amazing way to share with others all over the world that being an over comer of anxiety is possible, and an awesome testimony about how God could take something that was meant to harm me and turn it into a blessing.   Feel free to watch my interview by clicking on the link below:

Click here to view my portion of the infomercial

Have a great day everyone, and remember to walk in love and speak in peace!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Because He lives, so do we!

Christmas is my favorite Holiday, but I have to admit there were times when it totally stressed me out! I'm sure you can relate to the stress of trying to find the right gifts, hoping all are happy with what you buy them,and of course hoping that we are happy with what we receive (it's okay we all have those thoughts!).

I know the Christmas story and why we celebrate; however,until this year I don't think I ever experienced the true meaning in such a powerful way. Through some amazing friends of ours, Kevin and I had an exceptional opportunity to serve a wonderful family this year, and what a blessing it has been not only to them but to us. God is doing awesome things for them and to be part of the plan He has for this family, has me overjoyed. I learned that there is no limit as to how God can use us when we decide to step out in faith.

In addition, it's not about what we get but what we give. After all, our Savior did nothing but give from the time He was born until the day He was crucified. Because He looked at you and me and saw value, He unselfishly gave so that our lives could have meaning and purpose. John 10:10, "I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly." - New English Translation. Even after His crucifixion, Jesus still continues to offer us the ultimate gift of eternal life. What an honor to be a part of this divine connection with our Savior.

Merry Christmas everyone, and remember to walk in love and speak in peace!


Monday, September 26, 2011

Grandma's 82!

I want to dedicate this blog to my Grandma who is 82 today! For over 34 years she has been such a blessing to me, and even longer to our entire family. Her kindness and encouragement faithfully throughout the years has definitely contributed to who I am today. I will always remember the excitement I had as a young child when getting to go to her house, and the disappointment of having to leave! In that time of my life, there was nowhere else in the world that had as much food and love than grandma and grandpa’s house. I knew without a doubt that no matter what I did in this life, she would always be proud of me just because I am her granddaughter.

As I look back at Dalton with grandma (his great-grandma) throughout the years, and even now, I see the same joy on his face that I had as a child. Like me, he has come to realize that there is a never ending supply of great snacks, fun, and love. In addition, tears were not an option when with her as sadness would be turned into joy by any means necessary! I remember one time in particular when I was around 8 yrs. old. She took me, my brother, and my mom shopping as she always did every Friday night. This time she bought me a Beach Barbie, and it was the very first doll I ever got with sunglasses. I couldn't wait to open up the package when I got in the car, but my mom told me to wait until we get home because if I try to open the box I am going to break the glasses. Well, I decided I knew better and guess what I did? Yep, I broke the glasses. I started to cry and mom was not giving in and rightfully so; however, I soon learned the power my tears had with grandma as she stopped the car, went into the store and came out with another doll for me. Needless to say, my tears stopped!

I actually still have both of those dolls and every time I look at them I think of grandma’s love. It’s one of many memories of course, but I hold this memory dear to my heart because she gave me something I didn't deserve. Grandma may get accused of spoiling me, but she will never ever get accused of not loving me!

Thank you Grandma for who you are. I love you with all my heart.

Happy Birthday!

Love, Anita

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Suffering Was Not In Vain

We all experience trials in our lives that we wonder why we had to go through.  Having to be anxiety ridden for many years wasn't something I wanted, and during that time I certainly couldn't figure out why this had to be happening to me; However, now being on the other side of this and getting to be a blessing to others who deal with the same thing I went through, I can't help but be thankful and know that the suffering I dealt with day after day was not fruitless.  In my opinion, I had to go through those challenges in order to understand how to reach out to others.  It has always been my passion to help those in need.  In fact, as a small child around the age of 9, I can remember feeling an overwhelming sense of love and compassion in my heart for people. 

A little less than a month ago, I finished teaching a 6 week course at my church on anxiety.  The topic was how to understand and cope with anxiety and panic attacks.  I basically taught what I had learned through my own experiences.  It was such a privilege to meet those that came to my class, and to hear their stories.  I could relate to them, and it was awesome over this time to see how they could begin to open up and express their thoughts and feelings, pray with one another, and start to experience healing.  The last week, week 6, everyone had the opportunity to share any type of progress they had made throughout our time together.  There were several people who had great breakthroughs, and what a joy to hear them speak with hope and enthusiasm.  When the class was over, I began to thank God for the positive results the people had, and for the blessing of being able to teach the class.  It was in that moment, as I was praying, that I realized I was also thanking God for what I went through with anxiety and panic.  Had I not gone through that time in my life, when I dealt with anxiety and severe panic, I wouldn't of had a class to be thankful for. Then and there I understood that my suffering was not in vain.  After all, how could I influence and help others that deal with this condition, if I don't understand how they are feeling? I couldn't tell others that the coping techniques work, if I myself didn't ever need to use them. Explaining that God's Word can set us free would be difficult to do if I didn't experience it firsthand by daily reading and proclaiming what the scriptures say about fear, worry, panic and peace.  I may not fully understand why we have to face tough times, but I know that God took my hurt, healed it, and has placed me in the position to help others break the bondage of fear and worry.  For that I am grateful beyond words.

I want to encourage you if you are in the midst of any type of trial or tribulation to hang on, and keep pressing through.  Right now you may be going through a situation that looks hopeless.  I know how that feels, but what may look impossible in the natural (our point of view), is possible with God. He can take your situation and restore what you may feel is lost.  I know this to be true because I wouldn't have ever thought the adversity I went through would have opened doors to the blessings I have already received, and the exciting upcoming opportunities that I am going be a part of.

Have a great day everyone and remember to walk in love and speak in peace!


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day Mom!

It's that time of year again when Mom's get their own special day! I love the cards, flowers, and best of all the hugs and kisses I get from the two men in my life. It's such a blessing to hear them thank me for the way I take care of them, the house, the animals, and so on because I am one the who feels thankful everyday when I get to see their smiles at the dinner table, or when we are at a baseball game relaxing with one another. Simply put - I love being in their world!

The other part of Mother's Day that is a favorite of mine is showing appreciation to my Mom. When I think back, there are countless times that she gave me her best without hesitation. As I go through different stages of life with my own family, I begin to understand the sacrifices that we as Mom's make, yet to us it's always worth it.

One of the best memories I have of my Mom is taking the time to read scripture to me. I remember around the age of 8 yrs. old sitting on her lap as she taught me and my brother, John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." This was just one of many good seeds she has sown into my life. Thank you doesn't seem like enough, but I know how much it means when we as Mom's hear our children say it, so thank you Mom. Thank you for leading me, guiding me, teaching me, and loving me. Happy Mother's Day with all my love.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you Mom's reading this as well! Have a great day everyone and remember to walk in love and speak in peace.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Have A Teenager!

13 years ago Kevin and I witnessed a miracle. Dalton Joseph Southam was born on March 24, 1998 at 3:06 a.m. I will not ever forget the thought that kept running through my mind which was, "In this world, I have a son." Even though I was well aware I was pregnant and already a Mom, seeing him for the first time filled me with emotions that are hard to describe. I knew that I would love him no matter what, and guard him with my life. It is so amazing to watch him growing up.

I know this is hard to believe, but he looked like me when he was first born, though that very quickly went away! As you can see in the photo, he is a splitting image of his Dad and still is today. I feel very blessed that I was able to be a stay at home mom with him, but yet I get a little freaked out sometimes when I think back and can't remember everyday we spent together. I can still hear my Mom telling me how fast the time goes and thinking to myself, yeah right. But it's true! It seems like it was only a minute ago he was calling me mommy, then mom, and now I'm mom-o! Even if I can't remember every single day, I know that I have enjoyed every stage with him.

When Dalton was almost two, friends would warn me of "the terrible two's" and now I hear them talk about the "not so fun" teenage years. I don't pay any attention to that. I am happy to say that Dalton did not have "the terrible two's", plus I am not worrying about raising a teenager. Kevin and I have and continue to do our best to sow good seeds in his life. We continually thank God for the wisdom He has given to us already in parenting, and pray for Him to keep pouring it upon us. I have always remembered Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." We may not be perfect, but I know God is faithful to His word and as we do the best we can to raise Dalton with Godly principles, I know He will do the rest.

Happy Birthday Day Dalton! Mom-O loves you lots and lots!!

Have a great day everyone and remember to walk in love and speak in peace.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Give As You Have Received

My last blog was about receiving God's grace and forgiveness, and recognizing that it is a gift because we don't deserve it. While that is true, I felt it necessary to point out that just as we received, and continue to receive this undeserving gift, we must also remember to give it to others. God takes this very seriously; In fact, there is a story in the Bible where Jesus speaks about this very subject when Peter asks Him how many times he should forgive others. His response is in Matthew 18:21-35,

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven." Jesus continued by saying, "Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents (millions of dollars) was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell on his knees before him and said, 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii (a few dollars). He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my Heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from the heart."

When I read this, I was amazed at how quickly the servant in the story forgot the mercy and forgiveness he was shown. It says that right after he left his master's presence he punished his servant for the very same thing he was guilty of, and even though this servant begged for mercy, he threw him in prison!

If someone comes to you asking for forgiveness, in my opinion, give it to them. I believe we look at the severity of what someone has done, and then decide whether or not they deserve our compassion. But who are we to decide that when our sin is no different then theirs? I think we should always be willing to extend the same kindness we have been shown, remembering that because of God's unmerited favor, we aren't getting what we really deserve.

I personally understand that there are people who intentionally hurt us, and don't seem to care for whatever reason. While I am not trying to say that we should just overlook bad behavior, I am not going to join them in their misery by having an "eye for an eye" attitude, or live my life with a chip on my shoulder because of someone's bad attitude toward me. I would rather let their consequences be up to God, and do what He wants me to do, which is to show the same compassion, grace, love and mercy that He has given to me. It's not easy and almost impossible to do if you keep your focus on the circumstance or the person who has wronged you, but if you keep your eyes on Him who loved you enough to not even spare His own Son, then all things are possible. Thanks be to God for His never ending love!

Have a great day everyone and remember to walk in love and speak in peace.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Gift Of Grace

Grace is my favorite word. I believe it's because I have come to understand that grace is God showing us His greatest favor, when we deserve His greatest punishment. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -not by works, so that no one can boast." How wonderful it is to know that we are loved and have found favor in the sight of our Creator. We aren't perfect and He knows it, but out of love His grace is given to us every day and is available to all.

While it seems everyone should be excited about this truth, I know of so many hurting people that have such a hard time receiving grace because they don't feel they are worthy of it. It's usually because of guilt from something in the past and wrong choices that were made. Then the negative thoughts of "You messed up beyond repair" and "You're not good enough to go back to God after what you have done", rings in their ears and keeps them discouraged. I understand, as I have been there, but fortunately I have found that my relationship with God is not that fragile. It's not a "mess up once and done" kind of deal. I say many times that you are no shock to God, and it's true. He knew you before you were born and all of the choices you would make and are going to make, yet He still decided you were worth it and sent Jesus to the cross so you could receive salvation. If you are someone that is living in condemnation over things you can't go back and change, you need to know that you can always go back to God. God corrects those whom He loves, not condemns.

There is a difference between correction and condemnation. I use my son as an example when I am speaking on this subject. As a parent, I correct Dalton when he makes a mistake because I want him to understand why the choice he made was wrong. I take the time to do this because I love him and want him to realize that I am trying to protect him from consequences that could cause him pain and tribulation if he does not heed my advice. Sometimes a punishment is necessary depending on what he has done, but I don't tell him that he's worthless because of the bad thing he did, or that since he has messed up quite a few times he is no longer welcome in my presence. I couldn't imagine ever saying those words to him! He's my son and I love him no matter what mistakes he has made, or will ever make. That's exactly how it is with God, our Father. He loves us far more than we love our children, spouses, family, and friends, so why would He turn away from us? The answer is He wouldn't; however, when we choose not to seek Him, we are the ones turning away. As a good parent, He will correct us by making us aware of what we did, but guilt and condemnation are not of God. I believe this is a direct hit from the Enemy to keep us depressed and sad so that we don't make progress in our spiritual walk. If you think about it, when we are feeling guilty we aren't being very productive. You can't move forward when looking back, nor can you be a blessing to others when you keep thinking of yourself and how bad you feel. This doesn't mean that we take sin lightly, in my opinion it means that we recognize what we did wrong, confess it to God with genuine repentance, and then move on in faith knowing that we are forgiven.

Furthermore, when guilt tries to come against you, don't forget who you are in Christ. The Enemy wants you to believe lies like you're not good enough, or that you are too far down for God to reach you, but you can fight back with the truth of scripture. Scripture is a spiritual weapon against the Enemy. Tell yourself that you are dearly loved and have value in God's eyes, you have been made the righteousness of God through Christ, and that He who is in you is great than he who is in the world. You'll find that condemnation will have no place in your life when you begin to speak what God says about you!

Have a great day everyone and remember to walk in love and speak in peace.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

His Mercy Is New Everyday!

As 2010 ends I, like every year, start to think of resolutions I want to make. For many years my resolutions would always start with me reflecting on the past year, and thinking about the things that I should have done, or could have done better, and then telling myself that this year will be the year for a new beginning. I would hear the old cliche, "New Year, New You" and it made me somehow feel better about starting new, as if I now had permission to forgive myself for wrong choices, and even to let go of past offenses. In fact, I actually hear this same resolution of starting new from many people, and while I think it's great to make resolutions and set goals for yourself as I myself still do, I believe it's important for us to remember that we as God's children, have the freedom to begin new everyday. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, "Because of the LORD'S great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." How awesome to know that God loves us enough to give us His gift of mercy every morning, and that our new beginnings are not dependent upon a new year!

As you make your resolutions, don't be discouraged as I have already, when you slip up and make a mistake. God knows our hearts, and He is fully aware that we need His mercy daily, or else He wouldn't have made the verse in Lamentations known to us.

I would love to hear your resolutions! Please feel free to share them by commenting below. Happy New Year everyone, and remember to walk in love and speak in peace!