Deer and Cardinals: A Reminder of God’s Fulfillment

I didn’t manifest this. I didn’t write this down every day in a journal for 7 years. I didn’t hustle for this. I didn’t even dare to pray for this, y’all. I could tell you the whole story, but what it comes down to is this: I —my family— was given this. By God Himself. Being able to live at Camp Zephyr has been such a gift to my family, and has taught me so many valuable lessons. I’m sharing one with you today.

When I am outside, at Camp Zephyr, I am in a state of being I never thought possible. I am at peace. My kids roaming, and exploring the amazing trails. I am playful. I’m spontaneous, and can go from one trail or plan to the next in a heartbeat. My desire for productivity ceases. I have no to-do list other than to play and explore and be with my children, and I intend to repeat that continuously. 

I never knew this could exist. My whole existence before Zephyr revolved around to-do lists, goals, and other people’s expectations.  And was coupled (or crippled may be a better word) with LOTS of anxiety.

But here? In the middle of nowhere? I can breathe. I can step outside our RV and instantly see the lake, deer, rabbits, and cardinals. My kids can join me, and I’m not mad about it. I don’t have this constant desire for “me time.” I look forward to coming home, and I enjoy staying there. I no longer want to escape. I want to linger. I want to explore. Go deeper into the woods with my kid’s muddy hand in mine. Who knows what’s out there?

I feel like a door has been unlocked to my heart. There was a longing. There was always a longing. A longing for the country.  A longing for space and stillness. A longing to rest.

But I hardly voiced it. Maybe a few times I talked about living out in the country, just to get shut down by the reality of our circumstances. You better believe I never asked to live at Camp Zephyr. That was something I never thought would happen. But you know what? My kids asked. Every day when we were at Camp Zephyr last summer, they asked us to live here. There’s a reason (well, many reasons) God instructs us to be like the children… they ask and they ask with faith. But me? It was barely a whisper in my soul… but God heard it. He heard it and He continues to hear the whispers of our souls.

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Last summer, I was sitting in my sister’s, Rachel, backyard in Virginia. I had flown there the night before. We were drinking a quick cup of coffee before starting our road trip to Texas. Her backyard backs up to a forest, so wildlife and trees and NATURE are plentiful. We happened to see a deer and cardinal in her backyard that morning. And in that morning, I said (probably with an ache in my voice), “I wanna live somewhere with deer and cardinals.” 

Fast forward a few months later. I’m talking on the phone with Rachel, and she asks how living at Zephyr is going. I start going on and on about how I love it, and how I see deer and cardinals every day. She stops me mid-sentence, and says, “Sister! You got your deer and cardinals!” Y’all I had completely FORGOTTEN about that statement I made in Virginia months ago. When Rachel reminded me of that full circle moment, I lost it. I cried on the phone, and she cried on the phone, and we were reminded of the goodness of God.

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He longs to fulfill those whispers. He longs to bring us closer to Him. He fulfills those whispers to share His goodness. To show us just how big He is… and in my case, I think He fulfilled the whisper also to show me that He fulfilled this longing. Not me and my efforts. Your whisper might not be deer and cardinals, but God knows it. He can fulfill it.

I continue to be amazed. Who am I? That you are mindful of me?

Top Five Tools for Mental Health

Some days anxiety is the furthest from my mind. Other days it seems front and center. Lately, my mind is becoming more of my friend. I have taken these last nine months or so to find what works for me. I think it’s important for us to realize we aren’t slaves to the battle in our mind. We can learn to win the battle… but we’re not gonna win it if we just sit back and take it.

I personally need to get in front of my anxiety. I’ve listened to my body to know how it responds to certain foods, supplements, and essential oils. I also had to become more aware of my energy and emotional well being. I had to learn to say no to things that were not serving me, and make time for activities that fueled my soul. Here are some of the things I put into place to reduce anxious feelings.

1. Counseling: Y’all, if your anxiety is taking over your life then GO GET HELP. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you need help. I cannot stress the importance of having an objective view into my thoughts and life. My counselor, Lorena, has a way of peeling back the layers during our counseling sessions to really get to the root of the problem. 

I also want to stress the importance of finding a good counselor. You’ve got to be willing to put in the effort to find someone you will work well with during this time. So, do some homework: ask around, check out reviews, and read up on some of their background. Also, even if someone looks amazing on paper, doesn’t mean they’ll be a good fit for you. I’m sure you didn’t marry the first guy you dated, right? Well, it may also take a few rounds of counselors to find the match for you. It took me three other counselors to find one who I felt was right for me.

2. Supplements: Some people love supplements, and some people hate them. I say, you can’t personally hate something you’ve never tried before. I had tried my share of supplements in the past. I was already taking a natural, whole food vitamin, and while it may have been helping me physically, it surely wasn’t helping my mental wellbeing. So I stopped taking my former vitamin, and decided to try out doTERRA’s Lifelong Vitality Pack after hearing others find results in their mental health from it. Y’all, it’s a game changer.

When I started taking doTERRA’s Lifelong Vitality Pack a few years ago, I felt a significant difference in my mental state: I slept better, my mind was taking less trips down that super dark road, I had more energy, and even my husband noticed a difference. Now, it’s a must have, non-negotiable for me. I encourage you to do some research, and try out some high quality (don’t just go to your local drug store and expect quality) supplements.

3. Community: This is huge for me. So many times someone is struggling with a mental illness, it become easy to believe the lie that we are all alone. This is not true! Many of us have family and friends that we can go to to share and seek support. I personally have a handful of girlfriends I can go to, and I know they are by my side and praying for me.

Do you feel alone? I understand that sometimes in new seasons we’re in a place of making new friends. Go do it! Join a church/Bible study, find a fitness group, or check out some networking events. Facebook makes this incredibly easy. I know the process of getting to know people can be difficult for us introverts, but it’s worth it.

4. Essential Oils: These are life to me. I know, some of you may think just I’m promoting essential oils because I sell them, but I sell them because of how much they’ve helped me and my family. If you don’t wanna buy them from me, cool! But don’t buy them from your local super market. I’ve gone over the quality differences before, so I won’t spend time here. Find a doTERRA leader that you trust to purchase from, and have them walk you through your best options.

I’ll be writing a separate post on specific essential oils you can use to reduce anxious feelings, uplift your mood, and help you stay cool. In the meantime here are a few general guidelines. Citrus oils are super uplifting. These are great to diffuse throughout the day. Woodsy oils like Balance, Frankincense, or Sandalwood all will have a grounding effect. These are awesome to put on topically when you’re feeling frazzled. There are also some awesome blends doTERRA already has made for mood support.

5. Faith: My relationship with the Lord has grown so much in this season. I’ve realized that for months I was trying to earn my own righteousness. I was trying to check off boxes, stick to the list, and striving for perfection. Friends, this is an exhausting road to take. If this sounds like you: just realize our righteousness comes from the Lord, He loves us unconditionally, and He is the only Perfect One. His road is easy and His burden is light. Simply receive His love, we don’t need to earn it.

I’d love to hear from you. What’s something you do to take care of your own mental health?