Tag Archives: Faith

Fight or Flight… or Faith?

In November of 1994, I was held up at gunpoint.

I lived in the city.  I was walking alone at night and a man came up with a gun and said “give me your bag”.  I gave him my bag and then I ran as fast as I could.

It changed everything.

For months after that, I went through a transformative experience.  At the time, I didn’t know what was happening to me.  I couldn’t get on the “El” or a city bus without being completely out of breath and shaking.  I thought I was having a heart attack and couldn’t breathe.  There were times when my chin or my arm would go numb.  I had cat scans and EEGs and EKGs. 

Two really important things happened at this time.  I was talking to my mom about it and I was really freaked out.  I was not sure what was happening to me but I knew that I was not okay.  She said to me, “Have you prayed about it?”  No, I had not prayed about it.  I had talked about it with everyone, I had seen many doctors, I had tried to fix it myself, but I had not prayed about it.  I went to everyone who I thought could fix it and I didn’t go to the One who actually could.  It was an “AHA moment”.   My mom, again, was wise and faithful.  That moment stands as a turning point in my life and in my walk of faith.

The other really important thing that happened was that I went to a doctor many times hoping for answers, getting tests, often just hoping she would give me “something” to take away the symptoms.  I guess it’s a Western thing but we love medicine.  We love the idea that pills can make us better.  I know this is not true but at the time, I was desperate.  I would have welcomed a prescription. 

However, God had other plans.  He led me to a doctor that was enlightened.  She asked me what is going on in my life.  I went through a list of things, I told her I just got married, I just got mugged…she stopped me there.  She asked for details and we talked about what happened. Then she pulled her chair closer and said, “You are having panic attacks.  Your body senses that it is in danger because your mind is telling it so. Your body is reacting with a fight or flight response.  Your mind is tricking your body into this reaction.  Your mind and body are intricately linked. We need to address the mind and the fear in order to stop the panic attacks.” 

Then she taught me how to breathe.  She essentially taught me yoga breath. She told me I should practice this breath to calm my central nervous system.   I practiced this breath as I was facing my fears of the “el” and the city bus and walking alone.  It worked and my symptoms were gone.  When they would return, I would “check in” with my mind and then begin my breath.  I would tell myself, “In this moment, I am not in danger.”  This was the beginning of my walk with Mindfulness.

How ironic that in the middle of what could be the worst thing that has happened to me I learned two things that now define me. 

1. Rely on God. What matters to me matters to Him.  Talk to Him. Pray.

2. Be mindful. The mind and body are intricately linked. Take care of both. Be present and in the moment. Do not fear.

The Lord is my light and my salvation–whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)


I am excited to be posting an entry from my second guest blogger.  Her name is Mary and we are in a faith sharing group together.  Mary is insightful and kind and interesting and thoughtful.  She has a great curiosity and her willingness to learn and grow is inspiring.  You can read Mary’s thoughts on Mindfulness by clicking on Voices at the top of the blog, under the header.  Enjoy!

©2011 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved

Bieber Fever

OMG! I have Bieber Fever! I saw  the movie “Never Say Never” about Justin Bieber.  It was A-w-e-s-o-m-e! And in 3D!

Seriously, I feel 12 again.  

I was happy to see J.B.  has talent.  He is not just some pretty boy who fit the suit. (Like Greg Brady as Johnny Bravo)  He plays the piano, the drums, the guitar and other instruments.  He sings beautifully and dances like a maniac…in a good way!  Am I sounding like I’m in junior high? 

The thing I really liked is learning about his family.  His mom was young and separated from his father when Justin was 10 months old.  His grandparents helped raise him.  You could feel how much love he received from his mom and his grandma and grandpa. His mom said that it was tough being a single mother and she knows how much her faith in God helped her. 

Actually, their faith played a big role in the movie.  Justin and his friends said grace before dinner in a pizza place.  (LOVE THAT!) He also prayed before going out on stage each night. 

The other day, my daughter brought something to my attention.  It is a Justin Bieber video of a song called, “Pray”.   Here’s the link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9tJW9MDs2M&feature=player_detailpage

There are a lot of things I can talk about regarding this video but I’d like to focus on the fact that Justin Bieber has chosen to sing about Prayer.  He has the means and the opportunity to sing about anything and he chose to sing a song about prayer.  That’s powerful.

There’s a scene in the video where they show him above the crowd singing to thousands of people.  They love him, they are going crazy.  Has he made praying cool?  Can he influence others to pray? 

Who knows?

We can’t control what other people do with the things we share.  We cannot guarantee that anyone is listening or acting upon our suggestions.  We don’t even know that with the people we love…did they hear me?  Do they understand me?  Will they follow my advice? 

The only thing we can control is what we do.  When we are given the opportunity to share our faith, do we?  When we are given the chance to share a life affirming message of hope and love, do we? 

What opportunities are before us right now?  Where can we share our love?  Who needs our prayers?

I like to think of it this way…when I lay may head down to sleep at night, have I done everything I can to be kind, spread joy, show love?  Did I take advantage of the opportunities before me?


My stomach hurts from laughing last night. 

My throat hurts from talking too.  The band was loud and I was shouting and at one point, my husband leaned over and said, you haven’t stopped talking all night. (Of course, he didn’t mean this in a bad way…) I guess I hadn’t been out in awhile.  I had a lot to say. 

I was at a fund raiser for Epilepsy Research.  I am so inspired by the women who started this group.  They are neighbors and they both have children with epilepsy.  They decided to start a fund to raise money for research to help families that are dealing with the devastating effects of this disease.  They started with a block party to raise money and over 400 people showed up.  Check it out at www.rocktheblockforcure.com.

These women are amazing.  I don’t know them personally but I see their passion and I can feel their power.  They are amazing as mothers and friends and advocates and fund raisers. They are not going to sit around and wait for a cure for epilepsy. They are out working and willing it to happen. 

The love and support they are receiving for this cause is overwhelming.  Everyone wants to help because no one wants to see a child suffer.  We watched a video of some of the families that are dealing with this disease and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  Every person there felt the pain of these parents and cried in solidarity with them. 

But hope was there too. 

That’s the thing.  Pain doesn’t show up alone.  If you accept it, it brings hope along. 

Here’s what I saw last night:  Pain, hope, worry, faith, fear, courage, doubt, certainty, sadness, joy, laughter, love, encouragement, support, friendship, humility, and power.

It was a full night.  It was like life.  A little bit of everything wrapped in Hope and Love and Friendship.  I feel full.

I’m praying for a cure for Epilepsy.  I hope you will join me.   

Oh, and for all the women out there who are changing the world. 

There is in every true woman’s heart, a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.
Washington Irving