Vaccine Anxiety

Dear God,

Last Tuesday, was one of the scariest moments of my life. For a year now, I haven’t so much lived, as I have survived, in a little bubble, not really exposing myself to the outside world for fear of the dreaded Covid. Tuesday of last week though, took me for a spin. You told me to do something I wasn’t expecting and it turned my world upside down. I was to get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine-something I hadn’t even decided if I wanted. Not only was I afraid of what I would be injecting into my body, and the lack of long-term studies, I was very concerned with how my chronically ill body would react. And just when I said “yes”, I sure wasn’t prepared for the steps I would have to take to get the vaccine.

I would have to go get an Alaskan State ID at a hole-in-the wall establishment that had no regard for mask wearing. Not only that, but I would have to risk my life by taking off my mask with several non-mask wearing people in the room in order to get my photo taken. Sitting outside in the parking lot, watching person after person stroll into this tiny building with no masks, made me angry at them for their selfishness and lack of regard for those of us with underlying health conditions. I was fearful for my life-so fearful, in fact, that I was in tears. Doubting that this was what I was supposed to be doing, I heard “go in”. Was this me? Was this really You? I wrestled. Then, I felt it. I felt Your peace wash over me-the type of peace that settles like a blanket of freshly fallen snow-the type that only You can give. You told me to put my entire life in your hands and it was incredibly frightening. I was wrestling with anxiety and with You, yet, I did it, shaking in my boots.

When I walked out with temporary ID in hand, I broke down. A few minutes later, I got the gumption to continue on the path You were taking me down. There was no turning back now. It was off to get the vaccine. Anxiety still present, I kept telling You I was choosing to trust that this was what You wanted me to do, but deep down, I was still scared. Going through the motions, doing my best to be obedient, I filled out the required paperwork and then the vaccine was given.

It was done, or so I thought-done, until the symptoms hit-body aches, nausea, headache, chills. I felt like I had the flu. Anger welled up inside of me. I had been feeling so much better lately. The chronic fatigue had improved some and the Lyme disease had felt more under control and now, I felt awful again. I was mad-mad that I was sick and was losing yet another day of my life and who knew how many more to being unwell. It triggered the years I’ve spent in bed due to chronic illness and missing out on life and on my family. Again, I wrestled with the anger and the feeling of little control.

Putting my fears aside, what I realize now, is that You were blessing me with protection. Not only that, You were giving me an invitation to live-which I haven’t done in quite some time. You were asking me to trust You with everything in my being-which I again, wrestled with. You were teaching me that You are in control and You know what is best for me-far better than I do.

I’m sorry for doubting you, Lord, and for struggling to trust You. Please forgive me for fearing and wanting to have control, when You are the One who has the ultimate control. You know best, God, and so I put my life in your hands.

Worship Him in the Wilderness Playlist

As January of the new year comes to an end (how is that even possible already?!), some of you may be feeling weary. Maybe the beginning of 2021 hasn’t lived up to what you had hoped. We can’t expect life to change drastically just because the numbers on our calendars have flipped. Life with this Covid stuff is hard and it may never be like it once was. Or maybe there are other challenges trying to snuff out your hope. Maybe you are walking in the wilderness, like I am right now, and have been for some time.

During my time in the Word this week, God clearly spoke. His words leapt off the page-worship me in the wilderness. Not only does He want us to come to Him on our knees in the wilderness, but He wants us to go deeper and worship Him in the struggles. This has not been a daily practice, but it’s a missing piece in my walk. Lifting my eyes towards Him in worship feeds my soul and fills me up when I am running on empty, those times when I need to serve my family but have nothing left to pour out. He will fill us, but we must let Him. In doing so, we can pour from The Living Water, rather than keep driving our parched selves in the middle of the wilderness.

One of my favorite avenues of worshiping our Heavenly Father is through music. Here is my Worship Him in the Wilderness playlist that helps to direct my heart towards Him:

  1. So Will I (100 Billion X)-Hillsong UNITED
  2. Give me Jesus-Jeremy Camp
  3. Great Are You Lord-one sonic society
  4. Touch the Sky-Hillsong UNITED
  5. First-Lauren Daigle
  6. God of Wonders-Mac Powell, Cliff Young & Danielle Young
  7. It is Well (Live)-Bethel Music & Kristine DiMarco
  8. Oceans-Hillsong UNITED
  9. Our God-Chris Tomlin
  10. Olorun Agbaye-You are Mighty (feat. Chandler Moore & O/B/A)-Nathanial Bassey
  11. Nobody Like You (Live)-Red Rocks Worship
  12. I Stand for You (New Version)-Tree63
  13. Lead Me to the Cross-Hillsong UNITED
  14. Eyes on You-Mosaic MSC
  15. Christ in Me–Jeremy Camp

He is All that I Need

The Lord is my Shepherd. I will have everything I need. -Psalm 23:1

Last week, something odd happened. I awoke with this Bible verse turning over and over in my mind. This has never happened to me before, nor can I ever recall having God speak to me through my dreams. Maybe this is a first?

As I lay there dozing in and out, I remember rattling off these words again and again: The Lord is my shepherd. He is all that I need. For awhile now, I’ve felt like He has been telling me this and apparently, this particular morning, God was really trying to pound it into me.

What I find even more interesting is that I will often start drafts of posts, to later come back and write more. I had forgotten about this post until I came across it tonight trying to figure out what I wanted to blog about. In His most impeccable timing, I saw the title I had written and once again, knew it was His way of reminding me of this after a most trying weekend.

This past weekend was one of those-can-I-please-just-pull-the-covers-over-my-head-and-keep-dreaming-so-I-don’t-have-to-get-up kinda weekends. This, along with the last three years of our lives, made me question life itself. It can be difficult to not understand what God’s plans are and yet, keep running the race. Without going into every detail, we have had to move several times in the past three years due to toxic mold exposure and environmental sensitivities. We are in another temporary living situation and were supposed to move into a different cabin this weekend, however, after moving nearly all of our stuff, we were not able to stay there. The entire cabin had been freshly varnished recently and although it had been aired out, it smelled so strongly, our belongings even smelled like varnish. So, after moving everything, it all had to go back to the cabin we came from. It felt like such a waste of time, energy and hard work. I know that there are different seasons in each of our lives, and then the seasons change, but this season we have been in the past few years has been extremely challenging, to say the least. Yes, there have been many adventures that I am so very grateful for, but there has also been a lot of hard.

I can’t help but wonder, after losing nearly everything we owned to toxic mold almost three years ago, when we will have a more permanent home. It’s all just wordly “stuff”, I know, and we are not of this world. Maybe though, I’m still grieving our losses-our health, our home, our belongings, my social work career, and private school for our girls. That’s a lot to lose in one shot. And it doesn’t include the more recent loss of seeing family due to Covid and our big move to Alaska. It’s tough not to compare our life before toxic mold, to the hardships we have endured since, or to others lives, but I know He’s refining us. There are definitely lessons in all of this. We are learning to trust God more and choose faith over fear. And we are being taught to wait patiently.

Today, I’m weary, but I’m going to choose faith. I’m going to keep my eyes on Him and remind myself that my prize isn’t this side of heaven. He’s telling me that He’s all I need, and maybe until I really, truly comprehend that on a heart-level, He won’t give me any more.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. -2 Corinthians 4:18

Tightrope of Trust

I'm walking a tightrope
between the way things are
and the way they should be

Or maybe they shouldn't be that way at all
and they just are what they are
Maybe that's what they need to be
for the time being

Toe steppin' through life
afraid to cross that line
and accept what I don't want to

"Just for now," I tell myself
is what this has to be
"Just for now"
Where I am, is temporary

Like all of life
that fades into the wind,
this too, shall pass

More days will come
Then suddenly,
I will find myself in a new place
farther ahead than I thought possible

At a snail's pace, I creep forward
I land, but not for long
because change--that's what's constant

Into the unknown,
I glide again
while waiting for answers
and growing in my faith

Learning to trust
that where I am on this journey
is exactly where He wants me

© 2021 Aimee Phillippi

Fresh Juice on Squeezin’ Lyme

*Fresh Juice on Squeezin’ Lyme will consist of post updates I will write on occasion regarding what I’m learning while battling persistent Lyme disease and other chronic illnesses.

Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, -Psalm 103:2-4

Having health is an incredible blessing. As someone who lives with persistent Lyme disease along with other chronic illnesses that go hand in hand, I have my good days and I have my really, really terrible ones. (In a previous blog post here I shared my backstory and my journey of motherhood battling persistent Lyme disease) My quality of life has improved in the past few months, due to some new treatments. It has been such a long time coming-twenty-seven years long, and recently I’ve had more good days than bad, which I am so very thankful for. I still have to pace myself throughout each day, but I’m able to do much more than I was. When I am feeling well, I need to remember though, not to take those precious present moments for granted, because they aren’t guaranteed.

The other day, was a stark reminder that I am still living with these insidious illnesses. Not only are Lyme disease and these other conditions complex, Lyme is especially stealthy and symptoms will hit when I least expect them. Feeling like I had the full-blown flu and bedridden the majority of the day, I could hardly stand to be in my own body. It’s days such as these, that I can’t forget how truly blessed I am when the fatigue has subsided and hasn’t sucked everything from me and my joints aren’t aching constantly, when I can smile and laugh because I am able to live somewhat, rather than just survive. These aren’t illnesses for the faint of heart. Fighting persistent Lyme disease, along with other chronic conditions requires the endurance of a warrior, but more importantly, it requires God’s strength. Lyme disease is tricky to treat and often needs a multi-faceted approach.

Trying to describe life with Lyme to others who haven’t gone through it themselves, is an extremely difficult task. Just touching the surface of this illness, it would best be described as “pure suffering and misery”. To say the very least, it can be unbearable. It’s a kind of bodily torture where thoughts arise as to whether continuing to exist with these symptoms is even possible. The fatigue and weakness is incomprehensible to those who haven’t experienced it. The I-don’t-know-if-I-can-even-crawl-out-of-bed-the-few-feet-to-the-bathroom-and-back-to-bed, kind of fatigue and weakness, could be mentioned, but is an understatement. There have been days in the past, where help was needed and it seemed like death was sitting on my doorstep waiting to devour me. And on more than one occasion, I have actually thought I was dying. Those were the times I couldn’t fathom how anyone could continue to endure that amount of agony day after day and still be alive. While there are many other symptoms, fatigue and weakness are two of the biggest I’ve fought on a daily basis for as long as I can remember, until more recently.

I thank God for the new treatment regimen that has made my life and those around me a little easier. And while I don’t ever want to experience the debilitating symptoms I’ve gone through for years with these chronic illnesses, the really awful days do help me to remember that the present moment is just that-a present from My Father. Health is easy to overlook and not think twice about, until it’s gone. It’s those days though, when my symptoms let up and I feel healthier that I can see just how rich I am. To have health, is to live, not just survive. And that is a huge gift.

So let’s remind ourselves to live wisely and cherish each moment we do have, thanking Him for the present, because we will never have those same moments again.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. -Ephesians 5:15-16

30 Ways to Embrace 2021 and Remain Hopeful

A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, -Ecclesiastes 2:24

This year, more than ever, we need hope. Of course, Jesus, is the one we really need to hang onto and put our hope in. We can do other activities we enjoy to help brighten our days too. Here are some ways to help us embrace 2021 and remain hopeful:

1. Drink from the well that is Jesus

2. Pray fervently

3. Count your blessings

4. Take each day as it comes

5. Try something you’ve never done before

6. Remember God’s promises (here are a few to hold onto: Isaiah 49:13, Hebrews 13:5, Nahum 1:7, Deuteronomy 7:9, Isaiah 40:31)

7. Find something to laugh at each day

8. Seek out things that put a smile on your face

9. Help a friend in need

10. Look for ways to serve others

11. Love on people even when you don’t feel like it

12. Try a new recipe or create one

13. Memorize new verses

14. Rely on God for help

15. Make new memories

16. Create something every day (creativity can take many forms!)

17. Use your talents to bless someone

18. Gather songs that bring a sense of joy and hope, then create a 2021 playlist

19. Surrender every part of your life to God

20. Focus on the present

21. Snuggle an animal for comfort

22. Shift your perspective and focus on what you can do, as opposed to what you can’t

23. Come up with a bucket list for this year

24. Utilize technology to remain close to loved ones

25. Print out some of your favorite Bible verses and quotes, then post them throughout your house

26. Learn a new craft

27. Try Bible journaling

28. Ask God to help you choose one or two words to focus on this year that will help you become more like Him

29. Do everything as though you are doing it for the Lord

30. Make a list of books you would like to read this year, then cuddle up and choose one to read

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. -Colossians 3:17

21 Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2021

As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. -Psalm 71:14

It can be difficult to see the possibility of change and blessings in such dark times. Last year sure was a ride! And while the pandemic has turned our lives upside down, it doesn’t mean our future has to look bleak. What are you hopeful about this year? Here are 21 things I’m looking forward to in 2021:

  1. Drawing nearer to Jesus
  2. Finding creative ways to spend time with my family
  3. More game playing
  4. Growing closer to my husband
  5. New adventures
  6. Increasing my trust in God
  7. Coming up with fresh content for my blog
  8. Cooking with our girls
  9. Teachings from God
  10. Being more present
  11. Reading the entire Bible
  12. Writing more poems
  13. Capturing Alaska with my camera
  14. Observing Alaskan wildlife
  15. Catching fat salmon
  16. Writing my book
  17. Continuing to heal
  18. Finding other ways to serve God
  19. Canning salmon and veggies
  20. Moving to the beach
  21. Collecting seashells at the coast

Even when life hammers us, and we aren’t sure what blow we’ll take next, let’s continue to put our hope in Jesus. Let’s praise Him and enjoy what we have been given. Find and cherish the small joys. Sometimes it’s just a matter of wiping enough of the fog from our lens to clearly see all that we have to be grateful for and the opportunities that await us.

So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun. -Ecclesiastes 8:15

Fuel Your Walk Friday

Fuel your walk with some Jesus and Joe.

I love Jesus and I love me an iced cuppa fresh cold brew halved with vanilla almond milk, so I recently started something new on my blog called “Fuel Your Walk Fridays”. What better way to combine the two and perk up the beginning of your weekend, than to “Fuel Your Walk” with some Jesus and Joe. Once a week, I will be posting a little snippet, thought, or questions to ponder in relation to your walk with Christ. So grab your favorite mug, pour yourself a delicious cuppa Joe and get comfy as you let these questions percolate in your mind:

The pandemic we are living through has brought many changes to our lives, including a change of pace and more time spent at home. And as it continues into the new year, it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. What if God is using this time to draw you closer to Him? Will you heed the call?

© 2021 Aimee Phillippi

10 Verses to Chew on During the Pandemic

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I don’t know about you, but as someone who struggles with anxiety, living during this Covid pandemic has been extremely challenging. Fear pops up constantly.

What can we do to put the fear and anxiety to rest? Leaning on Him is first and foremost. We can also pray and meditate on His Word. Here are some helpful verses to get us through these trying times:

1. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. -Philippians 4:6

He says be anxious for nothing. NOTHING. Instead, send your prayers up, while thanking Him, and making your requests known to Him. We can thank Him ahead of time too, having faith that He hears us and will give us what we need.

2. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. -1 Peter 5:7

How comforting to know that we can cast it all on Him-every single worry, every single fear, we can throw His way, because He CARES. The definition of care is to look after and provide for the needs of. And He is the Great Provider. He provides for all of our needs, including the need for peace. We must be still and trust, knowing that He is God, and He will quiet our fears.

3. Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs him down, but an encouraging word brings him joy. -Proverbs 12:25

Focusing on our worries and fears will only perpetuate them. If you struggle with anxiety, it’s easy for a single worry to turn into ten and then comes the snowball effect. Pretty soon the anxiety is full-blown out of control and it’s heavy, oh so heavy and hindering. Instead of focusing on our fears, let’s fix our eyes on His word, because it can encourage us. His Word is alive. And He can use His word to uplift us and bring us joy and peace that the world cannot give, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

4. Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. -Matthew 11:28

When we are weary from the ways of the world. and the heavy loads of fear and anxiety are weighing us down, we always have a place to rest. Jesus says “I will give you rest.” Worry and stress can lead to an endless pit of exhaustion, but He will refresh us. Instead of grasping for a temporarily fix, let us rest in Him and be renewed.

5. And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? -Matthew 6:27

If anything, stress and anxiety will lower our immune system and make us more vulnerable to illness. And stress, can actually shorten our lives. So let’s put it ALL in His hands-every anxious thought, every concern, every uncertainty that is causing us distress. Let’s give every bit of it to Him. He will carry it for us.

6. Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. -2 Thessalonians 3:16

When I am stressing or my anxiety is running wild, I’m not resting in the One who can and will fill me with His peace. When the worry kicks in, I have to make a concerted effort to turn my eyes toward Him and keep turning them towards Him, because it’s so easy to get caught up in the chaos of this world and glance the other way. The world is not where our peace is. He is.

7. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. -Proverbs 17:22

Let’s break it down. Another word for crushed is overpowered. When our mind is overpowered by anxious thoughts, we can become brittle and more prone to a broken spirit. I think of how overpowering waves crash into land and slowly erode it. Stress and anxiety can do this to our minds and bodies over time.

When I think of crushed, I think of the word defeated. Medicine is used as a treatment for, or to prevent disease. Having a joyful heart can be looked at as being a preventative. It is good for our bodies and souls.

8. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. -Ephesians 6:10-11

We need to fight daily against satan’s schemes to knock us down with our fears and anxiety. And we do this by putting on the full armor of God. We need to guard our hearts, our minds and our souls from the devil’s fiery darts of fear and stealthy ways of worry.

Be proactive and tighten the belt of Truth, so you can stand firm in the real Truth, rather than the world’s ideas. Put on the helmet of salvation and remind yourself Whose you are. Hold up the shield of faith to protect yourself with His Word. Strap on that breastplate of righteousness, staying close to Him, so that he can give you the kind of righteousness that can come only from Him. Do all you can to live and love like Him, being humble, honest, upright, honorable, and good to those around you. Grab hold of the sword of the Spirit-the Word of God, and pray always. And ready your feet to spread the Good News of the gospel of peace.

9. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. -2 Timothy 1:7

He has not made us fearful. Fear is from the enemy. God gives us peace and a sense of calm that only He can give. And God gives us a sound mind. I like how the amplified Bible expands on “sound mind”. It states:

…[He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgement and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control.]

10. You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. -Isaiah 26:3

This is my very favorite verse. It’s one I turn to often when I am stressed or anxious. The peace He gives is beyond anything this world can give. He will blanket us with this peace if we keep our eyes fixed on Him and trust Him-but we must not let our eyes wander and let that fear slip in. We must guard our hearts and minds and not allow it to take over. Fear is the opposite of faith. And by putting our faith in Him, we are trusting. If we are in the fear though, we are not trusting.

Acceptance for the Win

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God can bring peace to your past, purpose to your present and hope to your future. -John 14:27

During this crazy, isolating pandemic, I needed a way to serve and God put it on my heart to share my story. Tired of posting snippets of my life on social media, where lives are made to look picture perfect, I took a break and God spoke. So, here I am! And I’m going to be real here, y’all. I want to show the messy, the imperfect, and the struggle in the journey. My journey has never been a straight line or even just a little crooked. It’s been a full on three steps forward, two steps back–again and again, twirls and zigzags, abrupt stops and detours, a cliff drop here and there where I’m hanging by a thread, a long crawl back up, and yet another stumble. I’ve battled abandonment issues, food addiction, chronic illness, postpartum depression and more. I often wonder why I was put on this Earth to begin with, because compared to the amount of suffering I’ve endured, I’ve experienced much less joy in my life. Maybe this blog is why. Maybe it’s not. I don’t know, but I have to believe that He has a purpose for my suffering. Maybe that purpose is telling my story to let others know they are not alone or maybe it’s to bring hope to those who are currently enduring hardships and need some light shed in their lives. Right now, I’m needing some light too. I’ll be honest. Today, I don’t have a lot of hope myself, but perhaps, as I write, I’ll find some in this blog as well, because this last week-heck this last year—or three, have been really, really rough.

A couple of weeks ago, the waves of life came crashing down yet again, just when we were beginning to get settled into our cozy little cabin in Alaska. This cabin, we found out, had toxic mold, so we had to move a second time. Not only that though, less than a week moved in and we have run into problem after problem with this newest abode. I noticed I was becoming REALLY angry-like blood boiling angry, and I know there is always something more behind the anger so I started digging around and realized that I’m struggling with acceptance. I have been in a full blown boxing match fighting with reality because I don’t like the temporary living situation we are currently in and since I haven’t been able to accept it, it’s causing me more suffering and more frustration. I don’t know why our lives have been full of trials-so many, many trials. But as I write this, I can see how exhausting and futile it has been to fight against the things I cannot change, so I must accept our current circumstances as they are for the moment. This doesn’t mean I have to like them or approve of them or that these circumstances are what I’m choosing, but they are what they are for right now. The more I resist, the more I will suffer, so I will choose the less painful road this time. I will be thankful for the things I do have and look for the lesson, while continuing to hope in the One who has carried me this far.

Tonight, as I wrestled with anger and acceptance, I remembered a passage from the A.A. Big Book that had helped me in the past. I pray that this will help you too:

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation-some fact of my life-unacceptable to me. I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake…unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.” Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book), 4th Edition P. 417