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What Everyone Should Know About Panic Attacks

What Everyone Should Know About Panic Attacks www.monahodgson.com

Let me introduce you to my friend, JJ.

During my first experience seeing JJ Heller and her hubby Dave on the stage at a women’s retreat in September, the Smothers Brothers came to mind. (I know…you’re probably too young to remember the Smothers Brothers Show.) The recollection had nothing to do with the couple’s stellar song writing and melodious voices. Everything to do with Dave’s droll wit. So fun! And their time onstage so soul-feeding.

If you ever have the opportunity to see JJ and Dave perform live, run don’t walk to the venue. In the meantime, you can follow JJ on YouTube or Facebook. Below JJ’s post, you’ll find links to JJ’s music.

What Everyone Should Know About Panic Attacks www.monahodgson.com

by JJ Heller

Perhaps like me, you struggle with fear. You’re not alone, you’re not going crazy and God is not disappointed with you.

Something that was and is really important on my own journey of healing is hearing other people’s stories, so here is a bit of mine.

I first started dealing with panic attacks in 2003 when, all within a span of one month, my husband, Dave, and I graduated from college, got married, moved to another state and decided to pursue music as a career. My body didn’t know how to handle the stress.

Because of my strange health symptoms, I was convinced I was dying of something.

The physical reactions seemed to come out of nowhere and would scare the living daylights out of me. I would be sitting on the couch and all of a sudden I would notice my fingers starting to tingle and go numb, my heart would start pounding, I’d have trouble breathing, and I’d feel dizzy like I might pass out. It was terrifying.

On several occasions I went to the doctor to figure out what was wrong, and each time I was told I was incredibly healthy. I had a heart monitor hooked up for 24 hours, but even that reported I was healthy.

Instead of feeling relieved, I grew frustrated that they couldn’t find the cause of my symptoms, and I was still convinced it was only a matter of days until I would be knocking on death’s door. It wasn’t until I started doing my own research that I discovered I wasn’t dying.

I was having panic attacks. (more…)

A Cheat Sheet for Defeating Distractions

A Cheat Sheet for Defeating Distractions www.monahodgson.com

During a stroll between morning meetings, I ducked into my favorite building on the grounds of the Mount Hermon Conference Center. The A-framed chapel ranks high on my list of favorite places to visit.

With each foot-lift on the redwood steps, the tightness in my shoulders eased.

A Cheat Sheet for Defeating Distractions www.monahodgson.com

A time-worn wooden pew welcomed me. As I settled against a corner at the end of the pew, my breathing slowed and my spirit quieted.

The chapel provided a perfect place for pondering and praising. The perfect place for shifting my heart away from niggling details and temporal concerns, to return my attention to the Divine and the eternal.

A Cheat Sheet for Defeating Distractions www.monahodgson.com

Seated in solitude, I gazed from the sheaves of golden wheat pictured in the stained glass to the evergreen-draped redwoods towering outside the window. Massive reminders of my Father’s faithfulness.

When my attention settled on the cross, praise to my Savior–my Salvation, my sustenance, and my strength–poured from my lips.

Then. I. Looked. Down. (more…)

3 Things Perfectionists Won’t Tell You

3 Things Perfectionists Won't Tell You www.monahodgson.com

Confessions of a (Recovering) Perfectionist came to mind as my initial title for this post. I know something about the dodgy distraction of pursuing perfection.

I’m acquainted with the compulsion to get everything right. To be right. All of the time.

Not long ago I was paralyzed by one version or another of the perfectionist’s creed: “If you can’t do something right, don’t bother to doing it,” or “If you’re going to do something, do it right.”

Yes, well, a perfectionist’s auto response to that kind of pressure includes a hefty dose of procrastination fueled by self-doubt and fear of failure.

There’s more. More often than not, the perfectionist sports a critical spirit, calling herself and others to answer unrealistic and exhausting expectations. Sigh.

Can you relate? We’re not alone.

Never mind that all-around perfect isn’t an option for earth-bound humans, the deceptive path to picture perfect is a crowded dead-end. (more…)

When Grief Gives Way to Gifts

When Grief Gives Way to Gifts www.monahodgson.com

Let me introduce you to my friend, Becky. I’ve not yet met Rebecca Rene Jones in person. But after reading her memoir, Broken for Good: How Grief Awoke My Greatest Hopes, I feel like I’ve sipped coffee with her on the backporch at the lake house and even cast a line with her at the lake’s edge.

As the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays fast approach, the reality of an empty chair at the supper table can run us down. Because Becky’s writing is so yummy and her insights are soul satisfying, I asked her to share some refreshing thoughts on grief with us. Follow Becky on Twitter and Facebook.

When Grief Gives Way to Gifts www.monahodgson

by Rebecca Rene Jones

People ask how I knew that I wanted to write the book, after Dad died.

“It’s so personal, so raw. How did you know?”

Over the years, I’ve often wondered the same. Why write, and in doing so, re-live? What was there to re-visit? To unearth?

Mine was a garden-variety grief; kids bury parents. Maybe not at 18, but it’s not unnatural. And Dad died of cancer–not exactly a headline there, either.

So why a book? Why tell the story? What was there to say?

The bald truth is this: what I found on the other side of grief surprised me. (more…)

3 Staggering Gifts of Gratitude

3 Staggering Gifts of Gratitude www.monahodgson.com

You balance loose envelopes and a package in the crook of one elbow so you can pull the post office door open for a stranger. Only to watch her blithely cross the threshold with nary a glance at you, let alone a “Thank you.”

Ever gone out of your way—or not—to do something nice for a stranger or a friend or a family member without receiving even a glint of gratitude?

Why the tendency to overlook kindness?

Sad to say, I am sometimes that person. Unaware. In my head. Self-absorbed. Consequently, I’ve missed countless opportunities to express thanks for another’s thoughtful gesture or service. And I’ve squandered far too many smile opps.

Being thankful and ready to express appreciation isn’t just a common courtesy or a product of good manners, but also a spiritual practice.

Gratitude is a heart condition commissioned by God. (more…)

How to Listen Like the Best Friend Ever

How to Listen Like the Best Friend Ever www.monahodgson.com

Nothing like a lesson in listening during lunch on a Thursday with me, myself, and I.

I ordered my Chili’s menu favorite—Caribbean Salad with Grilled Chicken. Next, I pulled a file folder from my tote, ready to edit a book chapter while waiting for the greens adorned with pineapple, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, green onions, cilantro, chicken, and more.

Before I got my head into marking up the manuscript, my 30-something waitress greeted her customer and friend seated in the booth in front of mine. A couple minutes later, she slid onto the bench across from her older friend and began recounting a personal saga that involved her troubled teenage son.

I perused the pile of papers in my folder while employing a few techniques I learned as a writer studying people for character research.

Here’s what I observed:

The listening friend’s chin drooped.

Her eyes narrowed in empathy.

A sad sigh lifted her shoulders and dropped them.

Her hand reached across the table to lock fingers with her friend.

Her mouth seldom moved as she listened. What?!

That’s what compassion and sisterhood look like. That’s what we want in a best friend, right? (more…)

5 Easy Ways to Stay Focused While You Pray

5 Easy Ways to Stay Focused While You Pray www.monahodgson.com

Let me introduce you to my friend, Sarah.

Motivated by her own serious and chronic health struggles, Sarah Forgrave became a wellness coach who loves encouraging others in their health and faith journeys. Then she wrote a book, Prayers for Hope and Healing: Seeking God’s Strength as You Face Health Challenges. When Sarah isn’t writing or teaching, she loves to shop at Trader Joe’s or spend time with her husband and two children in their Midwest home. You can connect with Sarah on Facebook and Pinterest.

Prayers for Hope and Healing www.monahodgson.com

by Sarah Forgrave

If you’re anything like me, sometimes when you attempt to pray the next thing you know your mind is wandering to the grocery list, the kids’ schedule for the day, or what you’re going to make for breakfast.

Distraction happens. Especially when our intention is to pray. Click To Tweet

I’m not saying I have this thing mastered by any means, but I recently realized my prayer life has been much more focused lately.

Taking a closer look, I discovered some patterns that have helped me stay connected during prayer. So I thought I’d share them today, along with a couple other suggestions that friends have found helpful. (more…)

How Messes Can Help You Master Perspective

How Messes Can Help You Master Perspective www.monahodgson.com

For at least a dozen years, I daydreamed of gliding past awe-inspiring scenery in a posh passenger train.

A ride on Amtrak seemed a fitting party favor for celebrating forty-three years of marriage. Bound for Seattle on the final leg of our anniversary trip, my hubby and I boarded a non-stop rail ride in Vancouver, British Columbia.

I pressed my nose to the glass, centered on the surroundings as the behemoth shuddered from its perch in the station and rumbled through the train yard. Anticipation fluttered my insides as we rocked and swayed through the industrial area of Vancouver, where thick trees shrouded the suburban backdrop.

True to my daydreams, we glided past fairy tale villages. Baskets full of blooming pink and purple petunias adorned the homes and business on one side of the track. On the other, sailboats dotted the sea. Peninsulas draped in pine trees framed the water.

All too soon, the rails carried us beyond the baskets and the azure ripples along the peaceful shore. (more…)

7 Liberating Facts for Testing Your To-Do List

7 Liberating Facts for Testing Your To-Do List www.monahodgson.com

Celebrated images of strength and hotness, Wonder Woman and Superwoman, both products of DC Comics, are boot clad, cape waving testaments to woman power.

From their perfectly-proportioned physique to their super hero prowess, Wonder Woman and Superwoman influence the female race, generation after generation. As does the notion that we can do everything and anything with aplomb and precision. Women of all ages—women like me—attempt to fill the boots of the imaginary Everything Woman, our cape looking more like a tunic. (more…)

How Humbling Yourself in Your Time of Need Changes Everything

Let me introduce you to my friend, Tricia.

When I faced a tight deadline for writing my debut novel eight years ago, I sought counsel from Tricia Goyer. An award-winning storyteller, Tricia is also the author of the book Walk It Out: The Radical Result of Living God’s Word One Step at a Time.

Motivated by her own experience of being a teen mom and the women who supported her, Tricia has a heart for mentoring teen moms and their families. Before moving to Arkansas, Tricia co-founded Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana. She currently leads a Teen MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) Group in inner-city Little Rock. Tricia and the love of her life, husband John, are the parents of ten and grandparents of two. Follow Tricia Twitter or Facebook.

Humbling Yourself in Your TIme of Need Changes Everything www.monahodgson.com

by Tricia Goyer

The other day I was cooking dinner when my six-year-old son rushed into the kitchen. Beads of sweat slid down his red face. “I’m so hot. You never get me anything to drink.”

I stirred my spaghetti sauce with one hand as I turned to him. “Excuse me?”

His voice rose in a full, high-pitched whine. “You never give me anything to drink!” He waved his hands and dropped to the floor. (more…)

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