A Daily Battle – Freedom From Anxiety

Let’s face it. Anyone who has emotions has experienced some form of anxiety this year. If you’ve not, please get in touch as I would like to know how the heck you haven’t! But for some, the anxiety and fear experienced hasn’t been to a level that would be considered ‘normal’ in these circumstances. I can safely say I am one of those people.

About 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with Anxiety. I don’t think it took too much to know something wasn’t right after a couple of years of going to the doctor two or three times a week, every week. No exaggeration. My anxiety is generalised, constant, (24 hours a day 7 days a week!) and extremely tiring but feels strongest around anything to do with health. So, you can image the havoc that a deadly global pandemic would wreak on anyone, let alone someone like me. Only about a week and half ago, I experience one of the worst anxiety attacks I’d had in a while, which included lots of shaking, crying, and throwing up.

If you’ve ever struggled with anxiety and have experiences like this, not only is it very distressing in the moment, but after your mind comes around, the difficulty is added to, when you feel depressed and disheartened about the fact that you’re so anxious and depressed. I have just released a series of prints called ‘Perfect Peace’ that are designed to encourage people to walk in peace with God, and here I am experiencing uncontrollable anxiety. How does that fit together?

There is huge freedom in understanding that despite overwhelming, sickening anxiety, God is still at work, and true peace, joy and hope are still possible. While I’ve experienced some of the worst anxiety I’ve had for years, I have also experienced the deepest, truest, most overwhelming peace I’ve ever known in my life. I want to share with you how God has made that possible, and I trust that if you’re feeling anxious, or living with clinical anxiety, it will encourage peace in your life even at the start of Lockdown 2.0!

You Have A Choice

Before the pandemic hit, I would say I delved into my bible and had a time of worship and prayer maybe once a month if that. Since the pandemic hit the UK, I pray constantly, I seek God daily through his word (well as daily as possible, lets be real, the odd day I don’t!), and I make sure at some point, a song of praise or worship is in my ears on my lips. Now, even as I write this, I shrink back into my chair in embarrassment at how that sounds. I am not bragging, I have nothing but God’s grace to boast about, so hear me out. I do it because I know in this moment, just how much I need God. My husband, has praised me for my change, but my response is always “I have no choice, if I didn’t, I’d be a hopeless heap on the floor!”

The truth is we do have a choice. A choice whether at this moment we will allow fear, anxiety, worry and stress to dominate, or whether we will let the truth of God’s goodness and His word, soak in our hearts and give us hope and peace. The choice is not whether you feel anxiety, the choice is what you do when you feel it. Clinical anxiety and mental health issues are far more complex, so at times we need help from medical professionals and those qualified to help treat these issues. But having clinical anxiety, I can very confidently say, I have still been able to find daily freedom from anxiety by the grace and love of God.

When I have anxiety attacks, I notice that in the steps leading up to it, I am dwelling on the stressors, the fears, the thoughts that are igniting anxiety in me rather that the truth of who God is in this situation. In the leadup, before anxiety builds up so much that it become uncontrollable, it’s important to make the choice to turn your eyes on Jesus. Even after moments of intense anxiety it’s still important to do the same as defence and preparation for future attacks.

These verses have been my mottos this year: “He will keep in perfect peace, the one whose mind depends on Him.” (Isaiah 26:3). “Peace I leave with you. My peace, I give to you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled or fearful.” (John 14:27)

The peace of God is not mere momentary calm or tranquillity; it is eternal hope and truth. It’s ours to receive, but we must choose to seek after it in our heavenly father daily, hourly.

Specific Prayers And Powerful Scripture

Prayer is not only a means to ask, but a necessity for hope and peace. It says in Philippians 4:6 -7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

After I had my anxiety attack the other week, I remembered this verse in Philippians. So, I started to pray, “God, please give me peace. Amen.” After I finished praying, I thought, gosh that was a rubbish prayer! Now, I’m a huge advocate for quickfire prayers, and minimal Christian jargon, but in that moment I thought; God knows what is on my mind and in my heart, so why not be honest and specific. I prayed, “God, I know ultimately I’m anxious right now because I fear death. I’m not really sure if it’s right to ask you for a sign, but please show me that I have nothing to fear in death, and help me to be assured of the truth that I will be with you in glory. Amen.”

Immediately after I prayed, I opened my bible to read the passage for my devotional in John Ch. 15, but I landed on a page where I had highlighted John 14:1-6. This is what it said:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

It was like I could audibly hear Christ speaking these words to me, and an overwhelming peace and a sense of God’s love for me flooded over me like a wave. Prayer is powerful, so be specific and persistent when you can. The word of God is truth, so know it well. God can and will through the power of the Holy Spirit, bring freedom from anxiety. It may not be in the same way and is not likely to be in one instantaneous moment, but God knows what you and I need.

The need for prayer is constant. Even after I’ve had multiple experience when God speaks to me and answers my prayers so clearly, it is easy to forget, to be distracted, and overwhelmed by anxiety again and again. The battle is ongoing, so the prayer needs to be too.

Satan Attacks, God Promises

Like the Apple ad says, “There’s an app for that!” Well, ‘There’s a verse for that!’ There is no anxiety that I have faced, that hasn’t got scriptural truth that nips it in the bud.  Satan knows that we are chosen, victorious, mighty in Christ, so his only option is to attack our peace, and distract us with fear, so that we won’t be effective and fruitful for the kingdom of God. His name is even derived from a verb meaning to obstruct or oppose. That’s why opening God’s word and knowing scripture is so important. So that when Satan tries to attack, we can obstruct his lies and accusations with truth. Now you might not be a big reader like me – it takes me a year to finish a book! But you can learn verses, read a short passage and dwell on its truth. Here are just a few anxious thoughts that have run through my mind, and powerful verses that have stopped fear in its tracks.

  • How do you know you’ll make it to heaven when you die? You’re a sinner!

“Truly I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life” John 5:24

“There is therefore now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. Romans 1:8

  • God is too mighty and far off to bother with my problems.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

  • I’m a weak anxious mess. I won’t be able to handle anything!

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

“Have I not told you? Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid. The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

  • I’m scared of what’s going to happen to me and my loved ones during this pandemic and in the future.

“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

“I will never leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 51:6

Finally, Be Strong In The Lord

In this life we will have trouble. This is a truth that I still struggle to find peace with at times, but its truth. God is not surprised when we face trials in this life. Even through this pandemic that has caused so much fear, job loss, anxiety and even death, God is still in control, and the fact that He is good, and uses all things for our good, gives me great comfort. I may not understand it all, but God has called me to trust in Him, and share the gospel and that is what I will chose to do. When I think through my life of the things God has protected me from, I know I can trust him with my future.

He has called us to be strong in His mighty power, (Ephesians 6:10) because He has purpose for us here. He has purpose through the pain, and we have a calling. I challenge you as I challenge myself, not only to pray looking inward at your need, but pray for God to be glorified through your life.

Whether you are living with clinical anxiety, or experiencing fear and stress, I pray that by the power of the Holy Spirit, our helper, that we will trust and obey, pray continually, seek His word, and find freedom in Him daily.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.”

Hosting a Workshop at The Creative Christianity Summit

The Creative Christianity Summit is a conference hosted by Cheerfully Given with the aim to create an exhilarating experience that explores amazing ways people can engage with who Jesus is through the creative arts. Ordinarily this inspiring event is held physically in London, but due to the pandemic, the event went virtual for 2020. Over five days, various speakers, business owners, artists, graphic designers and more, hosted 35 sessions exploring faith and creativity.

I had the opportunity to host a creative workshop for the event, and jumped at the chance to get involved in something that encourages people to experience Jesus through creativity – two of my favourite things! With my calligraphy, one of the most common questions I get is ‘how do you do it?’ So, I decided it was only fitting to do a brush lettering workshop.

There are so many elements to calligraphy and hand lettering, so I started simple with a how-to in cursive brush lettering, including which tools to use, how mix paints, how to write each letter of the alphabet in upper and lowercase. It also included a step-by-step so that by the end, those who took part would have created their own print. This was such a fun project to do, and even more fun to see the creations that attendees made! If you want to check them out, see them here in my highlights.

The Creative Christianity Summit was a truly incredible event, and if you’re wanting to explore more about art, creativity and Jesus, I would definitely recommend it if it’s due to make an appearance again in 2021. One thing I have learnt from this pandemic and making so much of life virtual, is that you are never short of an opportunity, or a chance for God to use you in some way. Doing lettering workshops, and creating more video content has been an idea on my mind for a while, so being thrust into it was a big blessing! I look forward to sharing more content with you via my YouTube channel, so make sure to subscribe and stay tuned!

Called to Fullness – Our Identity In Christ

I love it when God speaks so clearly, that it’s as if He is face to face with you. This happened to me, during a preach at church. The series was called Missional Church. Ill be honest, I was expecting lots of sermons about going forth to tough nations, where youll spend time getting seriously sandy being a warrior for Jesus! Praise God for the courageous people who do just that, but this practical international move hasn’t been strong a calling Ive heard from God over my life (as of yet). This preach was also during a year while I was on a church training course, when I had heard a lot of sermons like this, so I was ready to switch off a little.

Long story short, yes, the sermon was about us being called to spread the Gospel, but that being, wherever it is we find ourselves. It is a task that is our great commission. This is your purpose: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” During the sermon, the Holy Spirit spoke to me in a clearer way than I was used to at this point in my life. I heard Him audibly, saying: This is your identity in Christ.

The preacher made reference to a passage in Acts 16, when Paul and Silas were thrown in prison for driving an evil spirit out of the fortune telling woman. In chains and imprisoned, Paul still shared the gospel, and fulfilled his calling. At that moment, Paul knew his identity in Christ. He was not held captive by the prison walls and chains. Instead, the Holy Spirit reminded him of his freedom, and prompted him to carry out his purpose. His identity was not that of a prisoner, but that of a child of God.

No matter the situations or environments you find yourself in, as dark as it may be, have freedom, peace and worth, because your identity is rooted in Christ. No matter how friends change, if you lose family, or your job, your attempts to make something of yourself fail, people hurt you, or let you down, God remains the same, and so does who you are in Him. You are loved, chosen, adopted, and complete! “In Christ, you have been brought to fullness,” Colossians 2 v 10.

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Since that sermon, this message has stuck with me intensely for years, and I pray it will for the rest of my life. At the period of time when I was listing to this preach, I was just diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and was under the attack of the enemy. The day after this preach, my whole demeanour changed, and I started to feel the depression ease off me. The weight of me trying to hold my own had been lifted, and the emptiness in my life started to fill with the Love of God. Mental health is a very complex thing, and can be an ongoing battle, but there is hope in Christ.

It has taken years, for me to be very strongly prompted to share, and to encourage others (It’s a daunting task! I’m no preacher or theologian, just someone who has good news to share). At the moment I have many friends and acquaintances who are having the same struggles I do, and like me, can get very distracted by the many things of this world. So much so that Im somewhat writing this out of frustration, for them and for myself to remember to be continually rooted in my identity in Christ. In the act of sharing the gospel, comes great joy. It can be so difficult at times to pluck up the courage, but when we do, we are reminded of the things God has done in our lives; our salvation, miracles, our own testimonies. We ultimately become thankful for the cross, and the Holy Spirit leads us to a place of peace as we lean on Him.

Forgetting our purpose and identity in Christ, steals our joy. We get distracted by our wants and desires, comparing ourselves to others, and being comfortable, thinking we have all we need.

Things have changed a lot in my life, in the five years since this preach was shared. The amount I can be distracted by continues to change and update itself. For example, I am now happily married, working on fulfilling some of my aspirations, and we are comfortable where we are. A good friend asked me, “Are you complete, happier, and all sorted now that you have a husband?” That question hit me like a train, and I will never forget it. The answer is a sure NO WAY! I’m very happy yes, but my joy does not depend on the state of different aspects of my life.

Joy depends on where God is in our lives, and whether we are fulfilling the purpose He has for us. Father God wants us to live our lives with Him on the throne, and our identity firmly rooted in Him. If we seek him daily, hourly, I wholeheartedly believe He will do it. My prayer is that God uses this as a reminder to speak to anyone, regardless of where you are, that we would rest in the truth that we are chosen children of God with a Gospel purpose in life. Like the song says:

I am chosen, not forsaken, I am who you say I amI’m a child of God, Yes I am”.

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Anxious Thoughts for Perfect Peace

So, if you know a bit more about me and Living Letter, you’ll know that part of the reason why I started practising calligraphy and lettering bible verses, was because of my struggles with anxiety. I used to find it ridiculously hard to sit and read without my mind wandering to all sorts. I found that writing out the verses meant they were easier to take in and remember. It also took a lot of concentration, so I had less chance for my mind to go somewhere else.

If you identify with being a Christian, you know the importance of having bible verses as ammo against attacking thoughts that Satan can put it your mind. Even if you don’t call yourself a Christian, you know the importance of focusing your mind on the positive things about you that are true.

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God is Love. He is consistent, unchanging, gracious, good, perfect and sovereign. The bible verse says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your request to God.” Philippians 4:6 (NIV). We can rely on Him, and make Him the ultimate source of joy because all of the above is true. This is why I try to spend the majority of my time focusing on God, and His word. In my life, He needs to be on the throne; in other words, ahead of everything else!

I’ve had so many conversations with people who have the same struggle as me with anxiety, so I want to share what it might look like in practice, to put God on the throne, and not only manage anxiety, but experience real joy. I find for me it helps being able to see it in black and white. This is also a great reminder for myself, because I definitely haven’t completely mastered this!

  1. Acknowledge the thought.

This is what it means to start to take it captive. Take notice of the though you are having, and actually realise what it is before you convince yourself that it’s solid truth. The dialogue in your mind might go something like this for example – “I am so worthless”. “Wait, the thought I am having at this moment is that; I am worthless”.

  1. Discern whether this is a thought from God or from the enemy.

In other words, is the though condemning or edifying? If it’s the second, great. Dwell on it. If it is the first, which in this case it is, it is for sure from the enemy. Yes sometimes we can feel convicted, and need correction from God, but the bible speaks truth in Romans chapter 8 when it says, “in Christ there is no condemnation”. If you are feeling shame, condemnation, guilt or worthlessness, these are lies from the Satan.

  1. Find out what God would say about this thought.

His opinion is the most important. What does scripture say about this thought? The bible says “you are wonderfully and fearfully made” which means you have worth and serious value. “You are the salt of the earth”, you have been made for a great purpose. This is why it’s important to know your bible. Maybe some bible verses on the wall will help? Hint hint!

  1. Give it over to God in obedience.

Put God in His rightful place, and give the thought over to Him in prayer. “Dear God, when the enemy tries to temp me into thinking I am worthless, help me remember the truth, that I am precious in your sight, and have been made for the greatest purpose. Bring my heart and mind to your peace that passes all my understanding, and let your Holy Spirit live actively in me. Amen.” Leave it in His hands. His Spirit will guide you in truth.

  1. Yes, there is one last stage, and that is what you decide to do after.

A few things I would suggest are; first asking someone to pray with you, someone you trust, and respect. If it can’t be in person, it can be a simple text; “I’ve been having overwhelming thoughts that I’m worthless. Please pray for me. Thanks.” Then do something that you enjoy. Put on music, (make it a good choice though!) go out for a walk, try something new that can keep your interest!

This process takes practice, and it is not easy! I still have times when I can’t complete it, and forget to even try. But I firmly believe it needs to become second nature. Someone once told me, it takes doing something 28 times over before it becomes a habit. That is a lot of times to take thoughts captive. But note to self; if I did this every time Satan tried to temp me, I would spend nearly my whole day in prayer. That’s a pretty good way to be!

(Above print is available for purchase here.)

Meet the Maker

Well hi! Welcome to Living Letter Designs new website.

My name is Temi, and I am the artist behind the hand-lettered prints. Here’s a little bit about me!

I live in the south with my wonderful husband, about a five-minute walk from the seafront, and I love it. I grew up in Bedfordshire, and moved when I went to university on the coast. I have been hooked by the sea ever since.

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I have always been creative. My nickname growing up was ‘paper and pencil’. Anytime I was doing anything remotely artistic, I would hear from across the room *place Nigerian accent here*, “What is paper and pencil up to now!?” So I think its appropriate that I now sell artwork, and spend the majority of my time being creative.

Art and hand-lettering are my way of reminding myself of how real and powerful God is, and it’s how I get my daily dose of bible. Writing scripture out in the beauty it deserves, means I am “mind-full” of truth, and the fullness of God, and sharing this with others, makes it even more enjoyable.

Watercolour and brushes are my weapons of choice, and floral designs with lettering are my specialty; although creating custom designs can take this in any direction. My favourite thing about selling artwork, is creating custom designs. When a customer gets in touch with specific requests, and they see their vision in reality, it is extremely fulfilling.

Do explore the site, and some of the artwork and prints I have created. I hope you find something that catches your eye, and speaks to you!