I was in a conversation with a group of women and all of them mentioned they were on anti-anxiety meds.  At one point they began talking about the pros and cons of their medications. This wasn’t at a doctor’s office, a counseling center, or a group therapy session.  They weren’t even people I knew that well. It was just in everyday passing conversation.


It seems like this is the norm for the world we live in.  For example, if one reads or listens to most media, it seems structured to produce the most alarm.  People then feed on that panic and (whether the story is true or not) it gets passed on to the next person.  What do you do when the other person has just handed to you a heaping portion of their fear and that begins demolishing your own emotional equilibrium?


I remember when I had my first panic attack.  Didn’t even know what it was when it hit.  I felt frozen and in terror both at the same time.  The bottom had dropped out of my world.  I didn’t think that life would ever be calm again.  In our particular situation, the last thing I needed to hear was about a person who had fallen into financial hard times and ended up homeless.  However, that is the narrative my mind became fixated on. So, what helped?


I added to my tool belt. People, situations, conditions, etc. can all change or disappear overnight. Through the events on and following that year, I’ve discovered that the Word of God is the only solid ground I’ve found to stand on.  Sometimes I might not be happy with what God says, but that has nothing to do with the veracity of it.  What I’ve learned to do is to hold on and keep holding on, regardless of how things look.  Afterall, I’m dealing with an Eternal God and He doesn’t change. He has it figured out for today, tomorrow, and the rest of eternity.


This is one of the verses in my tool belt: I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of a horrible pit [of tumult and of destruction], out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock, steadying my footsteps and establishing my path.He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear [with great reverence] and will trust confidently in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3 AMP)

What’s in your tool belt?


It was unfamiliar territory for me – the pit of despair I found myself in. That lonely place where misery is your only companion and hopelessness weighs heavy on your soul. I didn’t want to be there, but I found myself there just the same. In previous struggles in my life I had found relief in God’s grace and mercy. But this time, I was feeling lost and alone, unsure that I could bear this anguish much longer. My husband had been suffering from depression for years, but it was getting progressively worse and it was affecting our marriage. We argued more and talked less. He ignored my suggestions to seek professional help. I prayed for healing and wisdom to know how to help him. But he wasn’t getting any better and I was weary from watching him struggle.


As I cried out to God, He brought me to the realization that I was relying on my own strength instead of giving it completely over to Him. I was reminded of the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. It’s a familiar story. Joseph was the favored (spoiled) son of Jacob and Rachel. His brothers were so deeply consumed with jealousy that they sold him into slavery, eventually ending up in Egypt as the servant of an officer of Pharaoh. Isolated from his family and everything that he knew, Joseph began to gain his master’s favor. Things looked good until he was wrongfully accused of sexual assault and put in prison. If anyone should have been in a pit of despair, it was Joseph. But throughout the biblical account, there is no mention of Joseph feeling self-pity or despair.


So how did Joseph not only survive, but actually thrive, during his ordeal in Egypt? Joseph remained steadfast in his faith in God. He never took his eyes off of the One who provides, his Jehovah-Jireh (definition: the Lord will provide). As a result, Joseph prospered in Egypt. He eventually saved the Israelites from being destroyed by famine. What Joseph’s brothers intended for evil, God used for good. When Joseph reunited with his brothers, he had no ill will for them; but rather he assured them that it was all in God’s plan to save their people.


Joseph was unwavering in his faith in God, which allowed him to endure the trials and ultimately prosper. He knew God was with him and that awareness brought light into a dark situation. Joseph lived out the truth of Psalms 37:7, “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.” I know that this is where I fall short. I’m not always good at waiting on the Lord’s timing. When I finally got out of God’s way and let Him take charge, I saw things begin to change for the better. God is faithful and He is bringing me and my husband through this valley into a place of healing. “This I declare of the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God and I am trusting him.”  (Ps 91:2)

How do you handle the challenges that life brings your way? Have you fallen into your own pit of despair? Are you trying to handle it on your own strength? Or are you like Joseph, waiting on God to act on your behalf? Every step along our life’s path has been planned by God for His glory. Let’s get out of His way so we can experience his bountiful grace and mercy.


Heather O’Brien’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing in the weeks since Hurricane Ian hit. The owner of a towing business, she already has responded to hundreds of situations where boats were sunk, displaced or need to be recovered because of the storm. “It just doesn’t stop,” she said. “The calls keep coming. Right now, it’s at five or six thousand in the queue and we expect a lot more. It’s going to take a long time to clean up.”

Do you think that Heaven views many of us believers that way, as lined up in a queue, broken by the storms of life and waiting to be taken to safer waters? The Apostle Paul describes In Ephesians 4:11-16 the plight of immature believers “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of people, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.” Believers who have lost their moorings.

Hurricane Ian blew all kinds of property into places it didn’t belong.  Believers can find themselves blown about emotionally, mentally and spiritually into locations they didn’t plan and where they don’t belong. Their new address is in a wilderness of loneliness and sin. This is not God’s ideal for the Church. His design is for believers to be anchored into God’s Word and to be firmly embedded into healthy relationships with other believers.  Believers may sit in a physical church building, however without healthy connections they are not in the Body of Christ as God designed it. 

In my own walk with Christ, there are angry conversations I might not have had, impulsive decisions I might not have made, and there are seas of regret I wouldn’t have gotten lost in if a more mature Christian would have had the courage to patiently build a friendship and taken the time to lovingly speak Truth into me.  Notice, I said “lovingly”.  Pastor Shawn Thomas makes the great observation, “Most of us have a natural inclination either to just “love” someone and not want to tell them the hard truth — or just “blast” someone with the truth, without really caring for them from our heart. Both of these are wrong.

The Apostle James describes the importance of this type of relational ministry: My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.” (James 5:19-20)

Are you purposely building associations with other believers, both those who are more mature in Christ and those who need a leg up in their walk with Christ?  We don’t have to end up like those boats and debris tossed by the wind and the sea, broken and useless.  God’s goal is for us to help each other to become mature, speaking “the truth in love, and to be growing in every way more and more like Christ, Who is the head of his body, the Church.” It can save a heap of trouble if we intentionally follow God’s storm plan for when the hurricanes rage, the winds of false doctrine blow and people try to trick believers with lies so clever they sound like the truth. I know, it could have saved me.


Dust Bowl

In the spring of 1935, the wind blew 27 days and nights without stopping. Black blizzards of windblown soil blocked out the sun and piled the dirt in drifts. Families would have to climb out their windows and shovel the mounds of dirt away before they could open their exterior doors.  Day after day, they would dump out buckets of dust from the interiors of their homes. People and animals began to die of suffocation and “dust pneumonia.” Year after year, farmers kept on plowing up the dust and planting crops, hoping that the rains would finally return during the years of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, 1930-1939.  “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity” are the beginning words of the Book of Ecclesiastes.  Can you hear those words echoing in the hearts of the approximate 2.5 million who were witnessing the burial of their hopes and dreams during the 1930’s? 

“All [that is done without God’s guidance] is vanity [futile, meaningless—a wisp of smoke, a vapor that vanishes, merely chasing the wind]. What advantage does man have from all his work which he does under the sun (while earthbound)?” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3, AMP)  Maybe you have not experienced mountains of dirt blocking your back door, but have you ever felt “existential angst“, a sense of dread, disorientation, confusion, or anxiety in the face of a an aimless or absurd world? Does your life resemble a Dust Bowl in which both the black clouds private and world events have robbed your ability to see a future?  Have you felt despair?


An atheist himself, psychiatrist Ralph Lewis wrote: “Atheists do not believe that life is inherently purposeful or meaningful.” Left to our own devices, we just fill up days with what feels good for the moment, even though it quickly decays.  We are left with lives in which we are aimlessly shoveling away the dirt, day after day, after day. The good news is that God has built us for so much more. He has hot-wired inside of us a desire for Himself. That’s why Jesus asks: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”. (Mark 8:36) The author of Ecclesiastes examines the emptiness and futility of a life that does not consider eternity and the writer arrives at the conclusion there is an absolute necessity of a worldview which embraces eternity. 


Is there something that reaches beyond the best tomorrow you could ever imagine that a loving God has designed for you? “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2: 10) This is the hope and yearning of the believer, a purpose that was designed long before time.  We can rejoice in Psalm 5:3 “In the morning O Lord, You will hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to You, and eagerly watch.” We can go earnestly before the throne of God, declaring: “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.” (Ps. 138:8)

Stephen King made the observation: “I don’t want to speak too disparagingly of my generation, but actually I do, we had a chance to change the world — and opted for the Home Shopping Network instead.” The darkness of daily scooping up shovelfuls of futility is the alternative to an active working faith life entrusted to a generous God.  As C. S. Lewis stated, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world” (Mere Christianity). God did not create His children to exist in lives that merely chase the wind or shovel out the dirt – day after day, after day!


An acquaintance spent $10,339 to buy 36 buckets of food which are all stored in the bunker of his basement.  The food is supposed to have a shelf life of 25 years.  My friend is a “Prepper”. According to Google a prepper is “a person who believes a catastrophic disaster or emergency is likely to occur in the future and makes active preparations for it, typically by stockpiling food, ammunition, and other supplies.”  The shipment in his home contains 507 days of food, and he only needs 4,320 cups of water to reconstitute all the packets.  What has he got for his money?  Nary a vegetable in site and lots of carbs.  His “Prepper Pantry”, consists of freeze-dried foods, with the emphasis on “dried”. This goes way beyond when my mom canned a full pantry of food each summer to prepare for winter.  In contrast, my friend has spent a quarter of his current yearly income to take care of himself so he can be all prepared for his last days on this earth.

This is the problematic attitude addressed in James 5:1-6 addresses the world view of the rich.  The difficulty is when people forget the transitory nature of their wealth and think it all belongs to themselves.  Material blessings come and go, eventually turning to dust.  “Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have corroded, and their corrosion will serve as a testimony against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!” (James 5:2-3).   I like the Amplified version of that last phrase: “You have stored up your treasure in the last days [when it will do you no good]”.   These people are filling their calendars with possessions and attitudes which will carry them through the day, but not through eternity.  My friend is prepped for a catastrophic physical disaster, but he has not comprehended he presently has a catastrophic spiritual disaster going on in his heart.  He has forgotten eternity.

What does God think of this heart attitude that says, “Life is all about me”?  James makes clear that it has “come to the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth (the Lord of Hosts)” (verse 5).  God is not pleased when we think that life is all about us; when we short change others to assure our own comfort.  The mark of a mature Christian is that they have an extreme attitude of generosity.  Their overriding attitude is to give, rather than take.  They open the doors of their pantry and share, regardless of the personal price to themselves.   

Whatever God has given us on this earth eventually turns to dust, and that even pertains to all those shopping carts filled to overflowing with toilet tissue at the beginning of COVID.    I Timothy 6: 17 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to set their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 18 Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.  Whether or not you feel it, as believers we are rich.  Our Father owns everything in the universe.  How are you giving regularly and deeply to others, rather than yourself?  Why not become an “Eternity Prepper”?  (I coined that phrase myself).


“When you control the controllables — that’s when your hope starts coming back.  When we’re upset or nervous, we tend to downshift and freeze. We stay glued to our electronic devices, consuming more information or unplugging and numbing out.

Instead, get your dose of news — and unplug and engage in the things you can control.  Remember, when you control the controllables — that’s when your hope starts coming back.  Who doesn’t want more hope?” 

Great advice from author Dave Ramsey.


Worried about the future?  Buy gold and silver from Rosland Capital.  Protect yourself from chaos &defend your assets.”  Ever heard that commercial from the expensively groomed silver haired actor?  (By the way, he is an actor, not a financial advisor).  Were those same questions bouncing around in the mind of the rich man in the parable of Luke 12:13-21?  Rosland Capital didn’t exist in the time of Jesus, so the rich man resorted to taking care of his abundance in another way.  Richie (what better name to give him) had a dilemma. “‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ Then Richie said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself, Richie, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’” Richie wanted to rest easy, take care of what was his and his alone, and not to have a worry in the world. 

Little did Richie know that there would be an accounting that night from the Eternal CPA, God Himself.  In verse 20, “Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight, you die. And your barnful of goods—who gets it?’ 21 “That’s what happens when you fill your barn with self and not with God.” (From The Message paraphrase).  Was Richie wrong in being a diligent businessman, a good farmer, a good provider?  No, God had gifted him in all of those things.  The problem was that Richie thought that the world centered around him.  Personal pronouns such as “he, I, & my” pepper this parable.  Richie’s thoughts were entirely about defending his personal assets.

 Why did Jesus drop a parable like this in the middle of Luke 12?  Two brothers came to Jesus with a problem; they were quarreling about their inheritance.  Jesus says in verse 15: “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one is affluent does his life consist of his possessions.” Merriam-Webster defines greed as, “a selfish or excessive desire for more than is needed or deserved, especially of money, wealth, food, or other possessions.”  How much did Richie think he needed?  Enough so that his future would be worry free and remain grasped tightly under his control.

 Isn’t it interesting that when we were poor and needy, Christ died for us?  When God gave Jesus as our Savior, “His love bankrupted heaven for you. His love doesn’t consider Himself first. His love isn’t selfish or self-serving.” (Cory Asbury) James 2:14-17 say, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”  Richie’s faith was dead, dead, dead.  He could build all the barns in the world, but it would never protect his riches from becoming dust in the wind.  

Who owns your wealth and everything and everyone you love?  Is it all held tightly in your fists, protecting you from worry about the future?  Or have you instead handed the keys over to God to use at His discretion?  Richie was concerned with taking it easy and having the time of his life.  He had no clue that the secret to living without worry is to trust in the God Who controls and takes care of the Universe.  God can even take care of your nest egg.  In comparison, Rosland Capital wouldn’t and doesn’t stand a chance.


Have you ever thought your head was going to explode due to stress or worry about the unexpected?  I have to confess, I made Joseph’s head break off the other day….yes, that is Joseph, as in the husband of Mary.  I was straightening my ceramic nativity and lo and behold, Joseph fell over and his head broke off. 

I wonder if that is how Joseph’s physical body, heart and soul felt around the time of Jesus’ birth.  He had a young wife who was carrying a child which was not his, he was told to stay married to Mary (no matter what the town gossips were saying), the young couple were forced to take a hard journey on dirt roads at the time Mary was due to give birth, there were no accommodations waiting for them at their destination, and the earthly welcoming party for their beloved baby was a group of social outcasts – shepherds.

To make these circumstances even more complicated, Joseph’s people were under the thumb of the Roman government.  What was God thinking when He had His beloved Son Jesus to be born under the rule of the murderer, Herod the Great?  It is pretty sad that by the time the Magi arrived in Jerusalem searching for the Christ, Herod had already annihilated many from the Sanhedrin and had slaughtered three hundred court officers.  Herod’s trail of bodies included his wife, his mother-in-law, and he would also end up murdering three of his sons. In true irony, the Roman Emperor Augustus once said, “It is safer to be Herod’s pig than Herod’s son.”  That’s the kind of world and government that Jesus entered into as a baby.  It would be enough to make Jesus’ earthly papa weep.

          It is interesting when I hear people say they would never want to bring a child into our current world.  It is certainly easy to get freaked out watching the news, reading present-day events and adjusting to what a dangerous setting we live in.  Yet, that is exactly the kind of world Jesus was born into.  He was born into a place that hated Him and denied Him.  Yet God chose specifically that exact time for this wonderful and miraculous event. 

          God never let the plans of evil to men slow Him down.  God worked regardless of those who openly rejected His Son or were indifferent.  The chief priests at Jerusalem could tell from what the Magi said where Christ was born, yet they never went to worship Him.  The religious leaders had no particular interest or sympathy; they were unconcerned.  Supposedly, the Jews had looked forward to the Messiah’s arrival with great expectation, yet when He arrived, the majority chose to either reject or ignore Him.  However, we have the account of the social outcasts, the shepherds, coming to worship.  Also, in Matthew 2 we have the telling of the scientific men, the geniuses of that day, coming from a great distance with three gifts to lay before Jesus, recognizing “there is infinite power even in an infant Savior.” (Spurgeon)  Note how these men, who were truly wise, phrased the question, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?”  Usually someone has to be a prince before they become a King, but Jesus was born The King. 

          For Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, these had to be troubling and worrying times and yet God provided time after time.  When the magi placed at the feet of Jesus a treasure of gold, God was providing for the midnight trip Joseph would have to make with his young family in order to escape the murderous clutches of Herod.  God knew what He was doing and even though Joseph’s head hurt, with all the twists and turns in this miraculous journey, God was faithful. 

Is this the God you intimately know?  The faithful God Who is constant in the midst of the storm?  I had to glue my ceramic Joseph’s head back on, but God kept the real Joseph in one piece.  Joseph knew Psalm 31: 1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.2 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.3 Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.4 Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.

WILL HE PROVIDE? By Michele Cushatt

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? — Matthew 6:26

 I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations. — Ezekiel 34:29

 It’s a terrifying thing not to know whether you’ll get another paycheck. I’ve experienced this only twice in my adult life, thank heavens. Twice is more than enough.  What if our best efforts aren’t enough?

 In my first season of financial insecurity, the cause of the crisis sat outside myself. It wasn’t something I chose. The second season was a choice. In both cases, however, I ended up with what I needed, when I needed it. No more. No less.

 I learned something during those seasons of financial famine.   It’s both simple and solid: God can be trusted to provide.   He can be trusted to see our needs and do something about them. What concerns us concerns Him, and He will provide what we need in ways we often don’t expect.

 This comes in handy when my need for provision extends beyond the financial. When my needs include peace, forgiving love, patience with my family, and wisdom for a complicated relationship.

 And yet, to my great relief, God reaches deep to meet those needs as well, providing the wisdom or will or truth to soothe my anxiety. Just as He delivered daily manna to a group of wandering Israelites, God promises to dish up what we need.   Rarely enough for tomorrow, but always enough for today.

 No, the numbers don’t add up.  But it’s never been about the math. It’s always been about the Provider.

 Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient, we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real thing will happen tomorrow, later, and somewhere else. Be patient and trust that the treasure you are looking for is hidden in the ground on which you stand—Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey

 Who Am I?

 Out of all Creation — the fish, plants, trees, frogs, insects, elephants, and sparrows — only humans struggle with a chronic and debilitating case of anxiety. We are the pinnacle of God’s creation, the culmination of His creative efforts. And yet we, alone, struggle to trust His provision. We could learn a thing or two from the creatures of the land and sea and sky. What do you need most right now? Financial provision? Comfort? Renewed relationships? Consider how the creatures of the earth trust their Creator’s provision. Ask God to reassure you of His care and build up your trust. He knows your needs even before you do.

From I Am by Michele Cushatt


I remember the night my heart dropped to the floor when my husband showed me clips of the rioting that had started in Wisconsin.  We knew the town in question from the years we lived in Zion, IL.  Weekly we had driven over the border to do our shopping.  So how does one make the shift from one’s lovely memories from few years ago to pictures of violence, fires and destruction?  How do you not fall down the hole of despair?

Maybe some of us try to escape.  I have found out I can only watch so many British TV dramas, read so many books, play so many matching games on my Kindle, and only take so many naps.  They can offer a short respite, but they don’t really change anything.

So what did King David do to when his world began falling apart?  After secretly being anointed by Samuel to be the next king of Israel (I Sam. 16), David ended up under the present King’s service.  Remember, David was one of the good guys, however, all his good deeds only seemed to bring more trouble into his life.  David defeated Goliath, eventually became Saul’s son-in-law and was best friends with Saul’s son Jonathan.  Every success of David gave further fuel to the fire of King Saul’s maniacal jealousy.  Saul’s paranoia grew so much out of control that he plotted David’s demise.  Talk about dysfunctional families! How’s that for an uncomfortable family dinner when the one at the head of the table wants his son-in-law’s head on a platter.  David ended up fleeing for his life, losing his marriage, being cut off from his closest friend, falsely branded as an out-law and having a price put on his head.  He even had to move his parents out of the country for their own protection.  It got so bad for David that David had to fake his own mental illness so he wouldn’t be killed by one of the neighboring kings.  Talk about a fall from grace. 

Under these circumstances David composed Psalm 34 (from The Message paraphrase, but worthwhile in every translation).

  • I bless God every chance I get; my lungs expand with his praise. (David’s habit of praise.  Get out your pen and begin making your praise list – doesn’t matter how trivial!!!)
  • I live and breathe God; if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy: Join me in spreading the news; together let’s get the word out. (No matter the circumstances, keep sharing the truth of Who Christ is)
  • God met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears. (Maybe take a step back from what is making you so anxious so that God has a chance to get a word in edgewise?)
  • Look at him; give him your warmest smile. Never hide your feelings from him. (God can handle honesty from you even if you are totally bummed)
  • When I was desperate, I called out, and God got me out of a tight spot. God’s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray. (Love that picture!)
  • Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see— how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him. Worship God if you want the best; worship opens doors to all his goodness. (Hmm, worship does seem to be a recurring theme, doesn’t it?)
  • 10 Young lions on the prowl get hungry, but God-seekers are full of God. (Are you currently full of God or is your heart and mind full of every junky thing the world is handing you on a platter right now such as anger, fear, worry, malice, doubt, hatred?
  • 17 Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you. 18 If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath. 19 Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time. 20 He’s your bodyguard, shielding every bone; not even a finger gets broken.  (Words worth memorizing)

These are the words to meditate on to keep your mind, soul and spirit from falling down the hole of despair.  You are too valuable to get lost in the darkness.