It’s the Little Things…and the Big

“‘The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’ -Numbers 6:24-26

Recently, while trying to cope with the profound fatigue that plagues me and other challenges of living with chronic illnesses, my childhood best friend reminded me… it’s the little things. So, in an effort to look for those little things…

I may not have the energy to go for a jog, but I can walk the block with my family.

I may not have the stamina to run full speed ahead in a family game of soccer, but some days I am blessed to kick a soccer ball around with my kiddos and play the goalie in a shorter soccer match.

I may not be in a fast-paced career anymore, but my body is more at rest and moving at the pace it needs to be right now.

I may not know the future, but I have the present.

I may not think the most positive thoughts at the moment, but I have His Word to give me hope.

I may not always be able to calm the storms of anxiety that afflict me, but I have a God who is bigger than my fears.

I may not see the sun shining, but the Son is always shining down on us.

I may not be living the life I imagined, but God has a plan for me-and His plan is far superior to mine.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. -Jeremiah 29:11

My “Fear Not” Playlist

Do you ever struggle with fear and anxiety? I know I do! It’s so important to connect with God during these times. One way I do this, is through music. It helps me to focus on Him so I can really feel His presence. Here is my go-to playlist when I’m caught in a cycle of anxiety:

  1. Sparrows-Cory Asbury
  2. Not Today-Hillsong United
  3. Holding Me Still-Elle Limebear
  4. Cast My Cares-Finding Favour
  5. The One I’m Running To (Acoustic)-7eventh Time Down
  6. We Won’t Be Shaken-Building 429
  7. Control-For King and Country
  8. Tremble-Mosaic
  9. When I’m with You-Citizen Way
  10. Peace Be Still-Hope Darst
  11. Shepherd of My Soul-Rivers and Robots
  12. Broken Prayers-Riley Clemons
  13. Breathe-Johnny Diaz
  14. Never Gonna Let Me Go-Tauren Wells
  15. Breathing-Elle Limebear

And, here’s my new favorite verse I’ve been meditating on when the waves of fear roll in:

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. -Psalm 56:3

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. 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 question 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 this question percolate in your mind:

Corrie Ten Boom said:

“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God, you’ll be at rest.”

Where are you looking?

My Hope Anchor

The dark cloud has touched down
Keeping my head up
Trying hard not to drown

Everything looks gray
The feeling of blah, 
smothering me each day

Needing some shining light,
The gloominess though,
hangs out night after night

Motivation lacking
and energy drained,
my outlook's been blackened

Color has washed away
Dullness sitting in,
despair I can't escape

Passion has disappeared
With joy long gone
depression's back, I fear

Thoughts, easily they spin
like a big vortex
don't want to get sucked in

So I'm hanging on tight
grabbing onto God
praying with all my might

He's my anchor of hope
and will lift the cloud
But not yet, so I cope

It may not happen soon
The weeks might drag on,
hopefully, not till June

Again, the sun will rise
In time, this will pass
and there will be blue skies

Smiles for another day
when the darkness leaves
and the cloud dissipates

Right now, nestling close,
in His wings I'll rest,
in the love that He shows

Copyright © 2021 Aimee Phillippi

Still, I Press On

So burned out and weary
this life looking dreary
Still, I press on.

Energy, it's lacking
the fatigue attacking
Still, I press on.

To-do's piling up
while emptying my cup
Still, I press on.

Day-to-day so routine
the season, in between
Still, I press on.

With my head in the race
continuing to pace
Still, I press on.

Endless tasks, there's no end
adulting, not my friend
Still, I press on.

Thoughts of getting a break
hoping, but a mistake
Still, I press on.

As the night settles in
day coming to an end
Still, I press on.

Time to sit and unwind
Nope! more needs done, I find
Still, I press on.

Then tomorrow, it dawns
and I wake with a yawn
Still, I press on.

Arising with the Son
this marathon to run
Still, I press on.

Remembering the prize
towards Him, I turn my eyes
Still, I press on.

Copyright © 2021 Aimee Phillippi

*This poem was inspired by the following verse I read last night: I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 3:14

Freedom and Hope In Jesus

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. -2 Corinthians 3:17

Held prisoner to memories, the torment of trauma had been weighing me down for far too long. The abandonment by my father and a nasty divorce from long ago had been surfacing a lot lately, after being triggered right before Christmas. Both last night and tonight, I was right smack dab in the middle of the trauma all over again and this boulder of pain felt like it was crushing my soul. After being stuck in this hopeless cycle of bondage, God moved a mountain.

He has recently been speaking to me about letting my father go, but the truth is, I hadn’t known how to completely do this. While I have done a ton of work on my dad and there have been layers of healing and forgiveness throughout the years, I was still experiencing the effects of this old trauma, and was struggling to fully forgive him. Each time I thought I had left the past behind, another trigger would smack me in the face and the wounds would spew, taking a week or more to move on with my life.

Yesterday, after communicating with my dad and having more hurt dug up, I was hanging by a thread. The trauma and pain were fresh again. Beyond weary, I had run out of steam to keep running the race and I didn’t know if my body could carry on. Looking at all that was on my plate for the evening, I thought I’d crumble, but I made a choice. I could have used a number of distractions to try to cover up the pain, but I reached for my Heavenly Father. Opening up His Word, I asked Him to speak to me and He spoke-Sing to the Lord. Not exactly what I expected hear, but it’s what He’s been telling me this past week-worship me in the wilderness. So, I did just that. I drew myself a bath, cranked my Worship Him in the Wilderness playlist found here and belted out songs, praising Him. That simple obedient act turned my night around. I was in a very dark place that could have spiraled down quickly, but He filled me up and lit me up. Shining hope, He brought light to my darkness. He showed me that He had this-that He had me. My Heavenly Father let me know that I could let go and trust Him with this suitcase of pain I had been lugging around for thirty-two years.

Then, tonight, the thoughts of my father returned and my heart throbbed again. The hopelessness was starting to settle in. Heading down that dark path of depression, the old wounds began crippling me. Knowing my warning signs, I had to act quick. I’ll admit, for years, distraction from the pain was my go-to-whether it be with food, my phone, sleep, work or binge watching shows. Thumbing through Hulu, I knew was the wrong choice, there was no relief there, so again, I drew myself a bath, turned on worship music and abided in Him. Tears streaming down my face, I sang and poured out my heart to Jesus. A few minutes later, I got on my knees and asked Him to break these chains as I handed Him my father and the situation. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle. I heard Him say “get up and walk”. Thinking, I’m in a bathtub, what does this mean? Did a miracle just happen? Yes, it sure did. That soul-crushing pain that had been bearing down heavily on my chest was suddenly lifted and I felt freedom.

This evening, He filled me with joy and broke chains that only He could break. I was depressed and had zero motivation to write before this happened, now here I am at my computer, telling my story. I’ve learned a lot about forgiveness in the last two days. What He’s taught me is that forgiveness is making a choice to release my father, then trusting Him to take care of what I can’t. It’s depending on God to carry the pain, resentment, and offenses, so I don’t have to carry it anymore. Forgiveness is choosing to trust that He will take care of the offender in His way, on His time, however He chooses. Do you trust me enough to set you free? This is what I heard Him asking me. Tonight, I made a choice to release my father to Him and I’m choosing trust.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. -John 8:36

**an update after writing this post, He spoke again and confirmed the broken chains. While reading another’s blog, this verse spoke right to my heart:

“Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” -Psalm 116:7

Catching Those Tears

Grief, it comes and goes

like a gust of wind that blows

It will knock you down

then up again you rebound

Out to sea and back in waves

no longer counting the days

The pain and sorrow

it may not come tomorrow

but it will be back

The loss you feel will attack

Wounds opened will bleed

and Jesus’s strength you will need

to walk through the ache

survive another heartbreak

because scars that deep

your body doesn’t release

Left are the imprints

days of old trauma remnants

They’ll surface again

when that gale of wind blows in

Grief it comes and goes

but Jesus is in the throes

with you through it all

catching those tears as they fall

© 2021 Aimee Phillippi

Hanging onto Hope

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. -Psalm 23:4

How do we hang onto hope when we’re struggling with hopelessness? It’s an answer I’m trying to find myself. Having battled severe bouts of depression off and on for years, there are times when my lens on life becomes blurred and my thoughts so negative, hope feels out of reach. But it’s there, because God is our hope and He never changes. We remember that He is the anchor that we ground ourselves to when being tossed about in a sea of despair.

With depression, come feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, a lack of motivation and energy, a loss of interest in things once enjoyed, unbearable fatigue or insomnia, and a mind flooded with negative thoughts. Attempting daily tasks can be a real battle. Some days are a constant treading of water to survive and keep from drowning. Some of my worst episodes of depression were best described to friends, this way-if there was a pill ten feet from me that could make me feel 100% better, it was just too hard to get out of bed and grab it. It was just too hard. Everything feels too hard-facing the day, brushing your teeth, taking a shower. Simple everyday tasks become mountain climbers. Depression sucks everything from your being. There is a deadness, an emptiness, a void inside. It’s a deep, dark abyss.

So how do we hold onto that hope-to Him, during these times? Taking captive each negative thought that comes to mind, we give them to Jesus, then we direct our thoughts towards Him and fix our eyes on the One who can give us peace. While keeping our focus on Him, we make make ourselves do one activity we once enjoyed, for fifteen minutes, setting a timer if we need to. Then, we force ourselves to find things to be grateful for each day, writing them down if we must, and we remind ourselves that every good and perfect gift that we have to be thankful for is from Jesus. And we remember that when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He is with us-always with us.

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.” -Psalm 62:5 So, we rest in Him. And we fill ourselves with His Word. When depression makes every little thing feel like it requires so much effort and even reading the Bible is hard, we can listen by turning on an audible Bible app, such as YouVersion, and listening to the Word. Psalms 130:5-6 says “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.” We wait. We pour out our hearts to Him. And we hope in his powerful Word. Then, reminding ourselves that this is temporary, we tell ourselves that this too, shall pass, because it will-even though it feels as though it will last forever. Having lived through too many bouts of depression to count, I am living proof. Grab that Anchor, hang on for dear life, ruminate on His Word and don’t let go. Let’s let Him be our light in the depths of our darkness.

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him. -Psalm 40:1-3

*This is not medical advice, nor is this meant to be a substitute for medical help. It is my personal experience I am sharing and what I am currently trying to do to help myself during a season of depression.

Lemonade Blessings

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. -Psalms 118:28

No matter how difficult life may be right now, there is always, ALWAYS something to be thankful for. When we are struggling to keep afloat during this pandemic, we may have to look a little harder for our blessings-but they are there.

If you are breathing, then you have life to be thankful for. There is air in your lungs, even when life knocks the wind out of you. If you can see the sun peaking through the clouds, if only for a few hours, then you have light to be thankful for. There is some sunshine brightening the dark days. If you were caught in a downpour, you have access to an element vital to the survival of the plants and animals we consume. You not only have access to water which is essential and refreshing, you’ve been given an opportunity to dance in the rain in a time of gloominess. If you can hug your child or a family member, then you have affection to be thankful for. You have some comfort, when life is uncomfortable. If you have food, then you have the energy to exist. You have a full belly, even when worry or circumstances turn your stomach upside down. If you have heat, then you have warmth. You can regulate your body temperature, even when the chills of life settle in your bones. If you have a brain and can read this post, then you can think and learn. You can change your thoughts and put a positive spin on the tornadoes that attempt to ravage you. If you have hands, then you can squeeze. You can make lemonade, when life hands you lemons. And if you have Jesus, then you have everything to be thankful for, because every good and perfect gift is from above. You have everything you need, if you have Him.

You, Lord, are all I have, and you give me all I need; my future is in your hands. How wonderful are your gifts to me; how good they are! Psalms 16:5-6

Let Him be Our Ice Bridge

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. -Psalms 62:5

This piece goes out to one of my dearest friends, who is needing some hope. I pray that this may speak to her, and that I can be a vessel, spreading His love to those reading this.

There are times when all we have left is that sliver of hope. That teeny tiny flicker of light at the end of the long, dark tunnel, feels so far away. We need Jesus all the time, but these are the times we need Him the most-the times when instead of trying to let the problems swirl in our minds for hours on end, driving us mad because we don’t have the answers-these are the times when we need to reach for Him. And we can ask Him to fight for us. If we can’t fix it and we don’t have answers to these huge mountains of problems, we reach for Him. We hope in Him and we wait in Him. We can thrust our load upon Him and He will carry it. He will fight for us because He is a BIG, BIG God who is for us, and not against us.

It’s those times that we feel like we are going to break, that we put everything we’ve got into grasping hold of Him and not letting go, because He is the One who will sustain us. If all we can do is whisper softly-“Jesus, help me,” we do that. We hold onto the hope of the His Word and meditate on it day and night, because it is alive and powerful-sharper than any two-edged sword. We hand over the load we can’t fix, and we rest in Him. We wait upon Him, having faith and not allowing the fear to overtake us. When I am weary and I am worried and I am burdened, I imagine taking those worries and problems and dumping them into His Mighty hands so I no longer have to hold them. Then, I close my eyes and picture myself curled up in His palm, resting in peace, and He gives me comfort, because He is all I need.

And then we trust in Him, even when we don’t understand. We trust Him with all our hearts, and do not lean on our own understanding. Jesus says we do not understand right now what He is doing, but someday we will. In the winter, ice bridges form over the rivers here in Alaska. When crossing a frozen body of water, we have to trust that the ice bridge will hold us and get us over to the other side. God is that ice bridge of faith and even though we don’t understand what’s going on underneath the surface, we trust that He will keep us from cracking and tumbling into the frigid waters of fear and despair. He will hold us up and get us to the other side, but there is something else we can do too.

We can serve. Whether this be calling a friend to listen to how their day is going, picking up a few items at the grocery store for an elderly neighbor who can’t get out, or praying fervently for a family member, this gets our minds off of our problems. It not only blesses another, but it blesses us with joy in the process.

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. -Psalms 62:8