It’s almost impossible to be immune to the constant commentary on the coronavirus and to avoid devastating news of disasters and loss. Here’s the truth, this world can be a scary place.
While reassurances, reminders of wise actions, and fact checking are helpful, washing one’s hands will not make fear go down the drain with the germs. Fear compounded by divisions, blaming, isolation, and the unknown can spiral out of control.
Fear makes us face our humanity. It challenges our control. It tricks us into hesitation and uncertainly. Fear gets louder and louder until we are forced to listen and to respond.
Will fear freeze us or free us? It has the power to do both. It is how we deal with fear that makes the difference. Ignoring it will not make it go away; facing it, even in the smallest of ways, frees us to start focusing on other things. Our life.
A few tips to facing fear:
- Acknowledge the fear.
- Silence the noise (take a break from the TV and social media.)
- Make a list of all the things you are thankful for in your life.
- Recall a past fearful and scary situation, and think how you made it through it. What helped? What didn’t?
- Talk to a trusted friend, mentor, or pastor. No one should have to deal with fear alone.
- Read and repeat scripture. “He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” -Deuteronomy 31:8
- Relinquish control to God. This is often difficult to do. I find when my Will is not willing, I ask the L“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”-Psalm 56:3
- Allow faith to cover & extinguish fear. “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer.” -Psalm 18:2
“You have listened to fears, Child,’ said Aslan.
‘Come, let me breathe on you.
Forget them. Are you brave again?”C.S. LEWIS
Finally, I came across this quote in the book Prince Caspian and it gave me a beautiful image of faith and fear fighting. Susan, one of the main characters, was struggling with fear and disbelief, and Ashlan (who represents Jesus) encourages her by acknowledging her struggle and offering her hope and relief. He does not condemn her, but gently strengthens her with his words and the breath of life.
As followers of Christ, we have been left with the gifts of The Word and the very breath of life, the Holy Spirit. We can confess our fear and depend on the Holy Spirit for help, guidance, and power. With the Holy Spirit’s help we can take hold of peace and hope in all of life’s situations, and find the freedom from the bondage of fear.
I would love to hear your best fear fighting tips. Also, if you would like prayer or want to talk more about fear/faith, please send me a message. I would love to hear from you.
Six years ago, I experienced one of the most challenging events of my life- the birth of my son. His birth was the start of a journey through one of the deepest, unknown valleys I have yet to walk. It was a time that should have been one of the happiest moments in my life, but it will forever be marked with fear and grief, joy splintered by shattered expectations, and one of the most incredible seasons of seeking God and fireproofing my faith.
For months, I prayed and prayed for this child and on May 6, 2013, I was waiting to meet the little man I had fervently prayed for. I had spent the night in a hospital bed wondering when he was going to leave my warm, snug womb. Very true to his personality, he was making his entrance in his own time, in his own way.
Around hour eighteen of labor, the rhythmic machines I was connected to by the snaked and twisted cords, started making louder, more quickening sounds. A blur of multicolored scrubs, nurses and doctors rushed into my room. My head felt woozy and dazed. My oxygen level started to drop. I felt far away, like I was watching all this happening through a screen. I could see the worry on the face of my usually calm, level- headed husband.
Something wasn’t right. A wave of fear washed over me. My mind was unable to keep up with the noise and movement. My body was weak from the pushing and pain of labor.
The doctor said something about a C-section, followed by a push and a rush to the operating room. The white, blinding lights glared down at me. The curtain blocked my view. The medication blocked my pain. The fear attempted to block my faith.
I can not remember when my son was pulled from my womb nor do I remember hearing his first cry. I remember seeing nurses and doctors work on him and then on me. I remember someone bringing him close to my face so I could see him, to kiss his sweet face. Then I remember them whisking him away from me to the NICU.
I was wheeled back into the very same room I labored in. I felt an incredible amount of grief as I waited for my body to regain feeling. One kind nurse took pity on me and wheeled my over-sized bed down to the quiet, darkened halls of the NICU.
I saw my son through the glass doors of his hospital room. He was so tiny lying in a closed bed, hooked up to machines that made gentler noises than the hours earlier in the labor room. He looked so helpless, so alone.
The nurse positioned me as close to him as my bed would allow. She lifted him gently out of the enclosed plastic bed, placed him and all his connecting wires securely in my arms. Only hours before we were warmly connected to each other with a living life line, and now we were separated, connected to cold machines. I felt so disappointed, discouraged and then so guilty.
It wasn’t suppose to be this way. Everything I thought this birth was suppose to be, wasn’t. Every way I wanted it to go, it went a different way. My birth plan was completely overrided by unexpected events.
Guilt was a heavier weight. I felt guilty for not being more thankful. I had made it safely out of surgery. Shouldn’t I be happy? My faithful husband hadn’t left my side. Shouldn’t I be grateful? I had a community of people praying for me throughout the whole day. Shouldn’t I be rejoicing?? My son was alive! Shouldn’t that be enough?
I knew things could have been worse, so much worse, but I was caught up in the grief of “what could have been.” It’s amazing how feelings can powerfully cloud the truth. How fear can shame you into believing lies. I was weak in mind (and body) and trying to process the whole day. I was grabbing at anything to comfort me. Self-pity, discouragement, and lonesome lies were easier to find than truth.
It took four years before I was able to look at the first pictures taken of my son in the operating room. Four years. Up until then, every time I tried to look, I felt physically sick. It was too painful, too traumatic for me to be reminded and revisit that place, even in pictures.
One day with the healing that time grants, I felt brave to try to look again. It was then I was able to see things differently. A miracle of life was birthed in that room, but that was not the only thing.
A struggle, a season of suffering was birthed there too. A season that led to a bolder, braver, more faith-filled wife and mother of three. Walls I had pridefully built, God tore down. The need for control and plans to be craft-fully perfect was replaced with an invitation to trust and obey. God gave me fresh vision to see some of the plans for my life that He had written, and with His leading they were better than I could imagine.
A heart for fervent prayer was also birthed that day. Over the next long months, in the darkness of the weariest, loneliest nights, my friend Jesus walked with me, talked with me, wept with me, comforted me, and asked me to trust him time and time again. When I couldn’t pray, the Holy Spirit took over and He taught me what it meant to seek and wait.
It wasn’t a perfect time. It was a hard, difficult time. I endured lessons of failing and overcoming, patience and endurance. As my precious son grew in a stronger in a physical way, I grew stronger in a spiritual way.
We named our son, Jonathan, which means God’s gift. And God has used Jonathan as a gift that keeps on giving not only in my life, but in the lives of others as well.
From the very beginning of his life, he’s been loudly making his opinions known. He’s bold, brave and persistent. He’s playful and joyful, and his laugh and his giggles are contagious.
He’s makes me question my parenting skills more than any of my other children, but he has helped me know and stand firm in my convictions. He’s curious and asks the most interesting questions and this encourages me to research and know the most interesting answers.
On top of all these things, he has a heart of compassion. He is not afraid to go up to someone who looks lonely, say hello and even give them a hug. He can strike up a conversation with a stranger, and he asks the most poignant questions that goes straight to the heart. He teaches me more about child-like faith. Oh, and his prayers. He thinks nothing of laying hands and praying over people, and often we are following his lead in bowing our heads at any give moment, in any place, for any certain thing.
I am so thankful I get to be Jonathan’s mom. I’m so thankful for the son who God has made him to be and how Jonathan is growing up to be strong in so many ways. I am thankful for this journey of motherhood with him.
Although I wouldn’t want to go through the challenging beginning again, the valley of the sleepless nights, I can confidently say all of it was for my own good. It taught me a lot about myself and even more about God’s faithfulness and His love. God’s love is a strengthening, restoring, renewing, never fails, type of love!
If you are going through a valley, or a time that hasn’t gone the way you had hoped or planned, don’t give up. Keep moving forward, one step at a time. Maybe in a few more steps ahead, you’ll be able to look back and see something in the situation that wasn’t there before. A bit of new bravery, a root of resolve, a lesson learned. Often the best of what’s to be found is hidden in plain sight, but requires a fresh perspective to see.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Happy Birthday, Jonathan! You are a precious gift more than you ever might know! xo
Today is the National Day of Prayer! A call to unite together in prayer for our country and those who live in it. This annual spring observance was established by President Truman in 1952 and in 1988, set as the first Thursday in May.
For sixty-eight years, Americans have gathered together to bow their heads and ask God to guide, protect, heal, and bless our country.
In his 1983 prayer declaration, President Ronald Reagan said,
“From General Washington’s struggle at Valley Forge to the present, this Nation has fervently sought and received divine guidance as it pursued the course of history. This occasion provides our Nation with an opportunity to further recognize the source of our blessings, and to seek His help for the challenges we face today and in the future.”
Four reasons why we should we pray today (and everyday)…
Prayer connects us to God. Being a follower of Christ means being in relationship with Him. Relationships require communication and prayer creates communication pathways. It is a great privilege to pray. Our prayers do not need be perfect, wordy or beautiful. God loves when we come to him as messy, imperfect, broken people who desire to truly seek Him and His heart. When we come to Him with our praise, thanksgiving, hopes, dreams, requests, and needs, our relationship with God grows stronger.
Prayer is an act of obedience. God’s word calls us to pray and our response in an act of wholehearted obedience. Prayer should be done with joyful enthusiasm. The Bible says, “Obey him gladly” (Psalm 100:2a TLB).2
- “This, then, is how you should pray …” –Matthew 6:9
- “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” –Romans 12:12
- “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” –Ephesians 6:18
- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” –Philippians 4:6
- “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” –Colossians 4:2
- “Pray continually” -1 Thessalonians 5:17
- “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone …” -1 Timothy 2:1 1
Prayer equips us and empowers us through the Holy Spirit. Prayer gives us the courage to take the next steps in faith. As we seek the Lord’s guidance in our lives, for our callings and passions, the Holy Spirit will reveal, teach and illuminate the Truth. In a noisy world filled with loud voices, the voice of the Holy Spirit is a quiet whisper. Prayer helps us to slow down and listen. When we hear His voice, we can confidently embrace the Truth and walk in the power and freedom He gives.
Prayer Unites. Prayer builds community and brings people together for a common purpose or action. It joins us in the Lord’s presence and helps us to open our eyes and heart to the needs of others. Praying together focuses our eyes on the Lord and helps us to put our faith, hopes and dreams in His hands. Prayer helps us make unified steps toward where the Lord is leading us. “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20
So on this National Day of Prayer, I challenge you to find some time to dedicate to prayer. Maybe it’s 15 minutes, maybe it’s an hour. Maybe it’s praying on your own, maybe it’s praying with a friend or co-worker, maybe it’s praying with your kids. However long, whoever it’s with, wherever you choose to pray, connecting with God’s heart is most important. I believe the time you spend with God in prayer will be both powerful and beautiful.
If have a desire to pray and are unsure where to start, use the file I created (link below in green) or send me a message. I would love to mentor you in how to start a prayer life with our God.
The other day I was talking with someone about a situation and they said “I remember when you responded like this….” The response she was referring to, my response, was NOT something I was proud of. It was the kind of thing you wished could be buried away, forever forgotten, never to resurface again. Ugh!! I couldn’t deny it, it was all me, so I laughed uncomfortably and opened the door for revived shame to beat me down.
After dwelling on and rehashing the situation for a good amount of wasted time, I had had ENOUGH. This was a past situation. I couldn’t go back and “fix” it. My perspective has changed since then. I have learned and grown since then. My heart is in a different place now. And I am confident I would approach the situation differently. Repeating these truths broke the cycle of the worry and regret. I am (and always will be) a work in progress and progress is a present thing.
Friend, your past has passed. Don’t give your past tolerances, reactions, words, mistakes, and actions the power to haunt you. And don’t use them as an excuse to keep doing the same thing over and over again. We’ve all made poor choices, some which come with weighty consequences. Don’t let consequences hold you in the shadow of shame and guilt. Care about what you can change. Today is a new day. A right-now opportunity!
- set a new boundary
- change your perspective
- make a new goal
- choose a different reaction
- answer with kinder, gentler, or if necessary, more assertive words
- stand up for your convictions
- walk away
- try again
- ask more questions
- take a break
- learn from your mistakes
- say no to unhealthy choices/influences
- make a new friend
- ask for help
- choose joy
- take a chance
- start something new
- forgive others
- combat lies with truth
- give yourself grace
- keep moving forward one step at a time
All these things require courageous intention. Keep trying, keep learning, and keep going! ❤
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 3:13-15
Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.- 1 Timothy 4:15
The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars but do life’s common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.
– Robert Louis Stevenson
If we are not careful, we will miss it. We might overlook the joy and satisfaction found in ordinary things. We may fail to notice the extraordinary things disguised as common, everyday experiences. The brilliant lessons masked as seemingly dull duties. Within our routines there are priceless opportunities to build character and relationships, practice joy, and learn how to rest in contentment. These are the sweetest things in life.
Yet so often, these are the very things we cast aside and replace with desires and wants of enticing, more showy and sparkly things. The things we see in our Facebook and Instagram feeds that tempt us to identity crises, make us think we need more, need to do more, and make us question who we are. Envy, entitlement, and discontentment start cracking away at our hearts and seep into places that conquer and steal our attention away from the things right in front of us- the people, the tasks, the little tedious things that are often add up to some of the most valuable things in life.
We must be careful not to miss out on the work of our present circumstances. Faithful, ordinary work can be the extraordinary beginnings of dreams coming true. The hard and difficult situations, the ones we wish would vanish, are battle grounds of victory and strength that may be needed in the future. The daily grind of dealing with people and their needs can turn into connections that give us the resources and tools to move our hopes into new territories of growth and confidence. These are the sweet things, my friend.
My prayer for today is that we see clearly. When we find our mind and eyes wandering to greener pastures, may our hearts bring us back to the sweetness of nearer things. To the places and circumstances where good, sustaining things are found through common, hard work and mature into sweet, beautiful lessons that bring us lasting joy and satisfaction.
Twenty eighteen went out with a bang. An actual, literal bang.
I was having a great hair day. I had just left my hair stylist and needed to pick up a few things at the store before going home. The traffic was heavy, but I knew a shortcut. I zipped right by the line of cars and laughed at my good fortune of avoiding the long wait. When I arrived at the market, I was even happier and pleasantly surprised to find an open parking space right in the front of the store. Everything seemed to be in my favor!
About one minute later, my positive mood and character were challenged. Pulling into the parking space, I took the turn a little wide. An awful metal scrunching, fiberglass crunching noise accompanied the turn. It took me a minute to figure out what had happened. Did I really just bang into and swipe the PARKED car next to me? I hoped I had imagined the noise, but from the looks of the people passing by, I knew it really happened. I put my van in park, slowly stepped out and shamefully walked around the back. Silver streaks from the front of my van beamed and highlighted the dark gray fender of the other car. Ugh!
The driver of the car was not there. For a split second, I dabbled in the thought of what it would be like not to have a conscience and enjoyed a scandalous moment of how easy it would be to leave the scene. Conviction quickly crushed the faintest of wrong thoughts to a complete close. My conscience and the Holy Spirit gave me forceful push forward into the market on a journey to find the owner of the struck vehicle.
How do you find a stranger in a whole store of strangers? Embarrassed and annoyed at myself for getting into this situation, I mulled over the next steps. I called my husband for support. I walked in and out of the store several times. I talked to myself- possibly aloud. I most likely looked crazed. I needed help.
It seemed best to start at the market’s little café. I walked up to the hostess and explained my situation. She smiled a gracious smile and told me without criticism that everything was all going to be okay. She tried to encourage me with the fact that most people would have just left (yep! But, no, not an option.) She said she would do what she could to help me find the car’s owner.
Within seconds, the hostess had a team of people in action- she mobilized the servers. She sent word to the employees in the back room and at the serving counters. The open layout of the store provided me a full view of the word being spread. With each person told, I waited to see if they would stand up and move forward to me in annoyance and irritation. It took less than ten minutes to ask everyone and no one stepped forward. I thanked the hostess for her help and walked back out of the door disappointed the situation was not resolved.
Back at the van, I scribbled a note of apology, with my contact information, on a ripped piece of scrap paper. I tucked it under the other car’s windshield with a prayer. About thirty minutes later, I received a phone call from a very nice man explaining he was the owner. “Accidents happen,” he said. He even thanked me for being an outstanding person for taking responsibility. The hardest part was over, an insurance claim was made, it was all very easy, and we all went on with the rest of the day.
This small little blip in my day had not destroyed my peace or happiness. It did not wreck my good day nor did it cast a gray shadow over it. This tiny accidental bang gave me one more intentional opportunity to test out some things I had been working on all year.
Growth- my chosen word of the year. Growth in my responses versus my reactions. Growth in my resilience. Growth in the knowledge of what’s important and what’s not. Growth in the ability to ask for help, to let things go, and to be able to accept my mistakes with grace and understanding. These things and more.
If this small incident happened at the beginning of 2018, at a time when I was stretched too thin by over commitments, running around with my priorities out of sort, and in a place of depriving myself grace, this little incident would not have been so little. It would have taken up way more emotional space than it deserved and would have skewed my perceptions of my abilities. It would have left a negative mark on my day.
“All growth depends on activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort. And effort means work.”
In many ways, this was one of the most flourishing years of growth that I’ve experienced since becoming a mother ten years ago. It was also a continual season of hard work provided by challenging situations that were taxing physically, emotionally and spiritually. I experienced both the pain and beauty of growing. And it often came in unexpected ways at unexpected times.
The most important thing for me, was to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18.) With this as the foundation (or soil,) everything else I wanted to grow in would flow from it- the way I think, act, respond and love. When we are rooted in a place of truth, secure in our identity of Christ, and nourished by the grace and love of Jesus, the perfect atmosphere of growth is created. The more I meditated on things of God, the more I felt a greater inclination to change and an intentional shift to focus more on life’s important things.
When we are rooted in a place of truth, secure in our identity of Christ, and nourished by the grace and love of Jesus, the perfect atmosphere of growth is created .
My priorities needed to be rearranged. I reevaluated my schedule and our families activities. What once seemed pressing and demanding, seemed like things that could wait. I worked hard to create a balance of work and rest. I wasn’t perfect. Many times things went off-kilter. There were times I felt overwhelmed. But instead of staying in the rushed craze, I used those times of induced stress, hurrying, and irritation to remind myself why the balance was important. I breathed more slowly, lingered with my children longer, asked for forgiveness A LOT, and prayed constantly.
By the work of the Holy Spirit, grace and love for others grew in ways greater than ever before. My eyes were open wider to seeing people for who God created them to be and seeing their need to feel loved and valued in different ways. I tried to take time to sit and listen to people, give them my attention. I felt (and feel) compelled to hear their stories, give them a chance to use their voice. I pray my words and actions in those conversations and interactions, left streaks of grace and love beaming and highlighting their lives.
The hardest part of growth is the pruning part. The part when things are cut away,and weeded out to make room for healthy growth. This year brought about a lot of change and pruning. I had to say goodbye to expectations, to some people and a role I loved. I had to keep reminding myself that it was all for the good. That it would work out the way it was suppose to, all in the right time. I tried hard not to let the “goodbyes” be a distraction, but allowed myself some time to grieve. I kept moving forward in the direction I felt God calling me too. And I’m still moving. Moving and growing.
The hardest part of growth is the pruning part.
Growth doesn’t halt at 2019. It doesn’t change because a yearly focus word changes. It doesn’t stop, even when we wish it would. It is always a continual process in all our lives. The important thing is what we do with the opportunities and how will we respond to the situations that will grow our character. We will be embrace them? Or with the opportunities make us wither back in fear, anxiety and selfishness?
Growing is not easy. It’s messy, and effort is needed. But the end result is beautiful and good. For many of us, we do not have to grow alone. When we actively seek to grow as a person, desire to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord, and rely on dependence of Jesus, the courage and strength to do this type of character growing is available to us. There are people who want to help us too. They want to cheer us on, tell us that we are outstanding people (even when we feel unable, messy and foolish) and maybe mobilize a team of other people to help us find the things we need. Let them.
I think all of us should start 2019 with a bang! Hopefully, not an actual, literal bang like an accident. But a bang of growth. It’s a new year to take responsibility. A chance to reevaluate priorities. A time to embrace challenge. And an opportunity to ask for and accept help more often. Be on the lookout for the beauty that comes out of all of it. You may be surprised where you find it. I’m cheering you on. Happy New Year!