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Don’t Apologize

When COVID first hit, the need for personal shoppers was a big deal. We needed people, who were healthy, to do our shopping due to compromised immune systems and illnesses. Now that COVID has subsided, I’ve heard the argument that we should not utilize that lazy way of shopping.

As a working mom, I have found that this service has been a huge help to me. I work far away and on a good day, it takes me 45 minutes to get home (a one way 45 minute trip). By the time my family and I get home. make dinner, do the dishes, give the little girl a bath, it is almost time for me to get to bed.

I used to do my shopping on the weekend but I found that I was still very exhausted by the end of the weekend. I felt like I had no time for myself and my passion for art, reading and writing started to become more of a fleeting dream. I became depressed.

Utilizing the shopping service was a way to give myself more time to work on my passions. I was able to use those three extra hours on the weekend to paint, draw or write.

As working moms, whether stay at home or working, it is important to have that time for ourselves. Just because we become mothers does not mean we cease to be the women we were before. If you find that utilizing a shopping trip to give you that extra time, don’t apologize for doing so. Make sure you find what works for you.

Heart Growing Pains

“There is blood flow!” Those are words that came as an excitement but also came with confusion. Our cardiologist explained that I moved from being a high-risk case to a low-risk case which you would think would make me happy but so much fear still sat in my heart and in my mind. You see, I was diagnosed with Anomalous Origin of the Right Coronary Artery in January of 2020. This rare heart defect is only found when athletes or active people pass away suddenly. So when I got the news that I was diagnosed with this heart defect, I feared for my future on this earth. With this diagnosis came a lot of tests to see if there was proper blood flow to my heart or if I would need open heart surgery.

After all the tests were done, I was told I am a miracle. The cardiologist himself was shocked at the proper blood flow and the fact that I wasn’t such a high risk case. The other reason he was so shocked was that my major artery took a 90 degree angle and that can cause more issues as well. He said only 5% of cardiologist cases have ACA (Anomalous Coronary Artery) and only 2% of the cases can live with them. On top of that, he said that only 1% of those cases don’t need surgery. So I’m rare! Now, I had been told I had to find a way to manage my stress to help alleviate the symptoms I was experiencing.

Easy enough, right? Man, you’d think so. Stress and anxiety have always been an issue for me. I hold onto my stresses which, in turn, builds my anxiety. So for me to just let go, has been a huge lesson for me. Over the past year, I have been learning what my triggers are and how to alleviate the anxiety  without going onto anxiety medication.

Remember what the bible says, “Do not worry about tomorrow”? Yeah, for some that is easy, for me, it seems almost impossible. So I have been working on turning to God during those times of stress. I am learning to rely on Him and not turn straight to anxiety. I know that He will take care of me. When those moments of anxiety come my way, I do one of the following things:

  1. Listen to worship music. Listening to worship music has taught my heart to pause and think about all of the blessings God has given me. It has reminded my soul to relax for I know God has this. He has me in the palm of His hands.
  2. Reading His word. Again, this is one I struggle with but reading Psalms has reminded me that I am not the only one who faces the feelings of loss, fear, depression, and all of the other feelings of hopelessness.
  3. Devotionals and Christian self-help books. I know some may think “self-help books are not for me” but I mean it when I say they truly help. I have learned so much about myself and about my relationship with God by just reading these books. I grow closer and closer to the Lord every time I read them. Give them a try. I promise you won’t regret it!
  4. Prayer. Just being able to ask God for peace in my heart has helped me get my feelings out in the open. Plus, of course, God always loves to hear from us. There are days I don’t feel like speaking out loud and that is okay. I write down my prayers and stick them in my prayer closet (or war room as others call it). Whatever way you want to pray, pray. God is listening to you and cares about you.

If you are struggling with anxiety, try these steps. See if they work for you.

To God Be the Glory

Our world is changing so much and having a child, I want her to follow God the way we are called to do. My husband and I have feared our society leading her a stray for years. Even before she was born, we asked God to show us how to raise her in this chaotic and sinful world. At one point, we decided she would go to a Christian school from Kindergarten through High School no matter what it took. We would work the best jobs or work two jobs in order to make this happen.

And then it happened. Our daughter is in daycare currently and she came home one day telling us that she was told not to pray before she ate her meal. We have taught her to pray every time we sit down to eat, when she wants to talk to God, when she wants to ask her Heavenly Father for something, or when someone is hurting or in need of something. So she did what she was taught.

We called her school to discuss this as we were very concerned for what they were telling her not to do. When I dropped her off the next day, the director sat with me and told me the opposite. She said that Brianna bowed her head to pray for her food as she had done every day in school but for some reason, this time, her friends asked what she was doing and wanted to do it too. Since our society is against teachers teaching about prayer, the teacher felt stuck in what she could say. When the other kids asked Brianna what she was doing she told them. She told them she was thanking God for her food and talking to God. They asked who God was and Brianna started telling them.

The teacher said she told them how God is almighty, He is always with us, and that Jesus died for us. Of course, being only four years old, the children were confused so they turned towards the teacher with questions. The teacher tried to spin it off by talking about wishes but my daughter thought they were telling her not to pray and talk about God. Later, the teacher pulled her aside and told her she was more than welcome to talk about Jesus and God with her friends if she wanted.

After all this was done, of course we were proud parents, but we realized something very important. If we keep her in a Christian school to shelter her from the world, we are hindering her from witnessing to her friends. We quickly realized that our fear could hold another child back from knowing God’s love. So we changed our plan.

The money we were planning on putting towards our daughter’s Christian education would go towards sending her to Awanas, Christian camps, and other biblical places where she can learn and grow. Of course, we as parents, have to keep up with teaching her. We have to teach her what God says is right and is wrong according to God’s word. We have to pray with her and for her to grow to be more like Christ. We have to love on her the way God wants us to love on her.

I know there are probably tons of other parents out there reading this with the same fear that we have. But if we stand up and raise our children the way God would want us to, we have nothing to fear. Let’s build that foundation in our children so that they stand firm when they face the storms of sin in our society.

Where Do You See Yourself in 10 Years?

When I am asked by a supervisor or boss, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years”, that is a difficult question for me to answer. I am currently working as a Compliance Officer at a credit union in Colorado and have been told that my boss wants me to be the Chief Operations Officer. What an exciting opportunity for me! Right? I feel blessed and honored for him to have thought of me and have the confidence in me to take on that task. I know I can do the job and I think it will open up so many opportunities for me in the future. So why don’t I feel excited sometimes? During this time of studying to be a COO, I have been assigned to meet with a coach and talk about my career. He gave me a book to read and in the book, it asks, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”

This question haunts me and is a difficult one for me to answer. In 10 years, I don’t want to be in the financial industry any more. I want to be in the art world or editorial field. I want to hold regular gallery showings, make money off of crafts I have made, write childrens books and illustrate them myself. But is that where God wants me? That is the ultimate question. Luckily I work for a boss who shares the same religious background as I do so talking to him about this topic is not such a daunting task but there is still a part of me that fears this conversation in the future.

If I were truthful, I would say I am not passionate about my line of business. I am a hard worker and will come to work to do my job, but at the end of the day, I do not have the passion that I see in most of my coworkers. So what should I do? Do I pursue a career that would provide nothing at first until I am further down the road with the possibility of it never turning into anything? Or, do I stay in a career where I have no passion but will make enough money in the future to provide in ways I never thought imaginable? It is the ultimate struggle for me right now.

I don’t know the answer and will continue to pray while I wait but that is the most crucial point. John Waller signs a song called, “While I’m Waiting”. It talks about all the things to do while you wait. John Waller sings, “moving ahead bold and confident”, “taking every step in obedience”, “I will serve you”, “I will worship”, “I will not fade”. Wow, what some powerful thoughts during a time of waiting. So let’s break this down.

Moving ahead bold and confident: Being stuck thinking about what you want instead of moving forward is one of the worst places to be. If I sat all day at work thinking about what I would rather be doing with my life I wouldn’t get my job done and would probably get fired. Instead, I should move forward with my life being bold and confident that God has an amazing plan for me. Even if His plan is not going to be what I want or what I expected, I need to move forward and know that there is something great in store for me.

Taking every step in obedience: How silly would we be if we told God that we didn’t want to follow His plan anymore. What we think we want for our life could end up being our downfall and make us crash and burn in so many ways. But if God tells me, April, your place is in this Credit Union until you retire, I should listen. I would be stupid to disobey my Heavenly Father. He has my back and I need to trust that.

I will serve you: During this time of waiting, the greatest thing we can do is get involved in the act of service. Go serve at your church, your local food bank, or nursing home. There are a thousand ways and places to serve. During that time of service, you will grow spiritually. So during your time of waiting, you can grow spiritually in ways you would have never grown if you didn’t serve.

I will worship: Worshiping God in what He has already done for us is so important. We can complain and whine about what we don’t have all day but then we will miss out on the many blessings God has already given us. For example, I can whine and complain all day about my job and sit at home at the end of the day to pout but then I would be missing out on the wonderful gift God gave me in my daughter. She is one amazing girl and, honestly, is becoming one of my best friends. Being thankful is a part of worshiping God. Be thankful for all of the things you have in this life. Start by writing down ten of them.

I will not fade: The only way we won’t fade during this time of waiting is to be in God’s word. Being in the Word gives us a supernatural strength for each day. If we do not have that strength, we will wither and fade away. This is an area I am failing in even today. I feel myself slowly fading away because I don’t see how our future will be set and what I will be doing. I am fading in the thought of doing this job that I am not passionate about. I need to jump back on the wagon and start reading God’s word on a daily basis. Want to join me?

Look, I am not perfect, I say this time and time again. I am learning and growing just like you but no matter where we are in our journey, let’s plant our feet firm in knowing that we are where we need to be and see how God wants us to grown and serve in this place of waiting.

What Kind of World Do You Want to Leave Your Kids?

I was asked this question in a work training environment this week. “What kind of world do you want to leave your kids?” The lesson was to get you to think about what kind of world you would want to have and how you could be a leader in that world but as I sat there with the question beaming back at me, I struggled to put words on to paper. What kind of world did I want to leave them?

If I’m completely honest, I wrote down a lot of different things; a world with no more hate, no more pain or sickness, a world where everyone loves Jesus. I didn’t want to feel scared anymore. I didn’t want to have to worry about anything. And then it hit me, I was describing heaven. In our world, we will never completely have these things. Our world is so full of hate and pain and darkness that this world I imagined would never be. We live in a broken world. James 1:2-4 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

This idea was a sad one for me and is often times a struggle for me on a daily basis. I don’t want to face trials and dark times. I’ve been through so much that the thought of going through more was exhausting to me. I didn’t want others to go through dark times either.

The second part to my work exercise was to take that idea of the world I wanted to leave and find my purpose in it all. What was my drive to wake up every day? How did I want to lead in order to build that world I had described? I searched in my heart for the answer but came up empty. Truth is, I have no drive to get up every day. I have no passion to change the world. The thought of changing this world sounds daunting. I know it is a broken world, so why try and fix it if it will always be broken?

Then it hit me. I have lived a life full of dark moments as well. Moments as dark as this world. When I think back on all those times, I wish I would have had someone to lead me through them and be by my side. Why not become that kind of a leader? There are thousands of people hurting in the world. If I can help lead them through a dark time, wouldn’t my job as a leader in this world be complete? This could be done by simply being there for them or sharing how God lead me out of my darkest times and showing them how He can do the same for them. So often, I went on that dark path I crossed and felt alone. If I simply had someone to reach out to and talk to step by step, I wonder if I wouldn’t have felt so alone.

My goal and my passion from this moment on is to wake up each morning with the intent of being there for one person a day. If they are struggling, I will be there in whatever way they need. I will serve them in any way I can. William Arthur Ward once stated, “Leadership is a serving relationship that has the effect of facilitating human development.” Serving is a crucial part of leadership and now I know what my purpose every day is.