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Welcome to Wednesday Writers. Our guest today is author Joi Copeland talking about her Christmas book Christmas Lights and Love, anxiety, and how she has dealt with her own anxiety. Welcome, Joi!

Thanks, Catherine.

Have you ever experienced guilt for something you couldn’t control? I know I certainly have. You see, I have anxiety. I have battled with anxiety for years. I’ve been to counseling, given up caffeine and diet coke (aspartame messes with the serotonin in our brains and triggers anxiety). I am on medication that I take daily to help. But before all of those steps, I would have anxiety attacks with my three young kids watching.

I’m talking about the debilitating attacks that leave me crumpled on the floor in a ball, thinking I am going to die. My three boys would gather around me, wrap me in their arms, and tell me I was going to be okay. I didn’t have the tools to deal with anxiety at the time. I didn’t know how to combat these attacks like I do now.

And oh, the guilt that follows! If I were strong enough, I wouldn’t have anxiety. If I had deeper faith, I wouldn’t be anxious. My kids shouldn’t have to see me at my weakest. They should see me be strong. I wondered if my anxiety affected my boys in negative ways. I wondered if my son’s stuttering was due to my attacks. I felt guilty for my lack of strength.

It took a few days to recover from my anxiety attacks. I wouldn’t play outside with the boys or take them to the park. I was a horrible mom and wife! My husband had to stay home from work a few times. What good wife asked her husband to do that? I should have been stronger. I felt guilty for my lack of strength.

Then, through counseling and learning the tools of how to combat anxiety, truth began to speak into my life. God showed me I wasn’t weak because I had anxiety. I wasn’t a horrible mom or wife because I struggled. If I had cancer, would I feel guilty for not feeling well enough to do certain things? No, not at all. Mental health is just as important as physical health. I had to learn to take care of my mental health and not take on guilt for something I could not control.

In Christmas Lights and Love, Denmark Carrington feels guilty for a situation she had no control over. She wears her guilt like a cloak, much like I did. She keeps people at arm’s length because she can’t forgive herself for her role in what happened.

We aren’t meant to carry guilt, deserved or undeserved. That’s what Jesus did on the cross for us. He took our guilt upon His shoulders and nailed it to the cross. If we have played a part in the reason for our guilt, confess, ask for forgiveness, and forgive yourself. Leave it at the foot of the cross. Because by carrying around our guilt, we take away what Jesus did for us. We tell Him the cross wasn’t enough to cover our shame. And it was.

So, whether you are guilty or suffering from perceived guilt, let it go. Live a life guilt free, full of grace and mercy that Jesus gives.

Have I conquered anxiety? No, I haven’t. It’s still something I struggle with. But I no longer live in guilt. Because His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

Christmas Lights and Love

By Joi Copeland

Will the Christmas Lights Festival bring them together or tear them apart?

Denmark Carrigan moved to Snow Globe, Montana, to start over with her two sons. Every year, she participates in the Christmas Lights Festival in hopes of finally winning. But her nemesis, Quinn Burkett, wins again and again. Hardening her heart to his charm and handsome face is easy, until he connects with her kids. 

Quinn Burkett longs to get to know the saucy woman who moved to Snow Globe three years ago. Yet she knocks him down at every turn. When he spies her with a man new to town, he wonders how the man cracked her hard shell. Will he be able to win her over, or will he have to let her go?

Book Excerpt:

Deni’s heart squeezed, pain slicing through her chest. No matter what her sister said, the truth screamed at Deni just as loudly as the empty space in her bed. If she hadn’t badgered Cliff about forgetting the French bread for dinner, he wouldn’t have gone to the store, wouldn’t have gotten into the car accident that took him from her.

Want to read more? You can find Christmas Lights and Love at Amazon

About the Author:

 Joi Copeland is married to a wonderful man, Chris, and has three amazing boys, Garrison, Gage, and Gavin. She lives in Galway, Ireland as a missionary.

Joi’s love of writing began at a young age. She wrote short stories for several years, and in 2009, she began writing her first novel, Hope for Tomorrow. Joi enjoys baking and hopes to one day make a recipe that will have consistent results, though she doubts that will ever happen!

Social Media Links: Amazon Author Page: Instagram: Website