Fear to Faith: Turning Perceived Fears into Power and Love

Okay, I admit it. I have a fear of deer.

Yes, deer. Those quiet packs of field-roamers who eat on your summer vegetables in the early morning hours.

The moment I spot one my shoulders tense up to my ears, my eyes open an extra inch and my heart races so fast I have to clench my hands over my chest to keep it inside. Its an intense reaction.

My fear of deer developed back in 2003. While driving my now-husbands car home from spring break at his family’s house I collided with not just one lovely creature, but 2. The first one I hit head on. He went sliding up and over us, flying over the car and landing several yards behind. The second hit the front quarter panel and came to rest just outside the driver’s door.

For 14 years every time I spot a deer my grip tightens. It’s a sudden, uncontrollable reaction based on the emotions of fear. Fear like this is a response of the brain. It is a natural and healthy response programmed to keep us safe.

Fear stimulates your fight-or-flight response. If danger is near, it is fear that empowers you to run or punch. In the right context the emotional response of fear can save your life. For example, if you find yourself in a fire your fear can stimulate your body to be alert and have the energy necessary to find a way out. This is healthy fear.

Fear can also present itself in unhealthy ways. We can think our way into a flight-or-fight reaction. It is when we allow this perceived fear to paralyze us that fear becomes a problem. We worry and stress over how something will turn out. We exhaust our minds and our bodies. We let the fear of worry keep us from living.

That is not God’s plan for you.

God did not plant in us the emotional response of fear to wear us out. Fear is not intended for everyday use. 2 Timothy 1:7 uses the word fear or timidity to describe this type of perceived fear. This false grasp on what danger potentially lies ahead is not God’s intent. It is sometimes equated to faithlessness. The faithless fear that often stops us from reaching for our God given desires needs to be replaced by power and love. The power and love of God is all that we need to look beyond the things that could go wrong so we can walk in faith toward the things God has intended for us.

 

God gave us the emotion of fear to protect us from harm, not to keep us stagnant. He wants us to move past the perception of fear where faith reminds us who is in control.

 

Take a minute to write down 3 of your biggest fears. Are your top 3 fears protective or perceived?

Ask God to help you this week to lay aside the perceived fears, replacing them with love and power to put you on the path to reaching your goals.

Love > Fear

Yesterday’s post was supposed to be about fear. But as I awoke to the horrific news coming from Las Vegas, there seemed to be enough fear to go around.

I am shocked and saddened by the loss of lives. I spent yesterday with my eyes on the television watching survivors and heroes telling about their experiences. I watched as people began to try to make sense of the whys and hows.

I have no comforting words of wisdom or reasonable explanations. I don’t understand this violence. I, too, search for answers to explain the loss of innocent lives.

As I exited the coffee shop yesterday afternoon, a kind young man holding his toddler offered me a genuine smile and friendly greeting. It was truly contagious as I smiled back at him. All day I has wrestled to find a reasonable explanation for an act of such extreme violence but found nothing, yet a simple smile from a stranger was able to change my entire demeanor.

Every person we pass every day has a story. A reason she acts the way she does. A cause for her behavior. How can one smile or kind word change her day?

God’s love isn’t just a single historic event. It’s about every day. It’s about holding doors for others. It’s about checking in on neighbors. It’s about smiling and greeting people. It’s about loving everyone. And its life changing.

As we watch in fear and sadness the unfolding of the largest shooting in America, let us look for a way to change someone else’s day for the good. Let us love on each other like never before. Know your neighbors and pray for our country.

I heard someone say today that one act of violence opens the door to many, many acts of love. What will you do today to love?

Running on Need

I’ve been running on need.

I need to be here. I need to go there. I need to get this done. I need to better at that. I need to be enough.

And I’m tired. I’m stretched thin and feeling weary. Running on necessity has drained me from productivity and rest. Sure, it keeps me moving. Its also unavoidable at times (particularly with multiple children). Yet when we attempt to remain in the constant motion of “needs” we lose our ability to rest and recharge. We forget the joy we once found in certain activities and people.

It’s the taxi cab momma who forgets the idle chat in the car is important to her daughter. It’s the working woman who brings home take-out instead of remembering her love of cooking. And it’s the woman inside each of us who believes if she can just meet this need she will be more valuable somehow.

Running on need is robbing us of being a daughter of the one who made us. Its robbing us of joy and laughter. And it’s robbing us of just being.

When God’s people had finished rebuilding the wall in the days of Nehemiah, Ezra assembled them in unity and read to them from the Law. They had worked tirelessly to rebuild the wall and the nation, yet after hearing the Law read they wept and mourned. Time spent on the needs left them feeling not good enough for the God they were working to affirm. But Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites told them not to weep and mourn, for the day still belonged to God. “The joy of the Lord is your strength,” they reminded the Israelites (Neh 8:10).

Are you buried in your need list, feeling like you just don’t have enough?

I am.

Sister, you are enough. You are not a sum total of your “needs”- you are so much more. You have joy today simply because our God is still God.

I know your needs can’t be brushed off as not important. Mine won’t either. But you and I both can find moments of joy to give us the strength to keep going.

Run on joy, not need.

I’m at The Glorious Table Today!

I’m pulling up a new chair at The Glorious Table. Its refreshing, encouraging, and beautiful. Will you join me?

To pull up your chair, click here. Take a look around, find some encouragement, and don’t forget to subscribe! Follow us on social media so you can sit with us every day.

You’re always welcome at this table!

 

 

Three Word Instructions to Simplify Life: What a Fitted Sheet Taught me About Life’s Instruction Book

Fitted sheets. They frustrate me in so many ways. They shift and bulge on the bed. To fold one neatly requires four hands and an hour of time. And the bending and stretching required to put it on the bed burns the calorie equivalent of the candy bar I eat when I’m done. But the most frustrating part of my fitted sheet is determining its direction!

The first corner is easy. Nearly every stretch to the second corner comes up short. I inevitably start with the wrong corner. Just yesterday my sheet changing started this way again. But when I ran my fingers down the edge I felt a tag brush between my fingers. Curiously I paused to take a peek.“Top or Bottom.”

A smirk crossed my lips instantly. How many times have I skipped passed this tiny treat? Sewn right into the hemline in three simple words is the solution to many moments of frustration.

As I fixed my sheets I began to think about other sources of petty annoyance and frustration. I wondered what three word solutions I might find tucked in each situation. Have I overlooked the simple instructions tucked right inside?

 

If everything in life carried an instruction label we may feel more prepared. More able. More confident in our ability.

Life’s edges do not have tags of instruction, which often leads to struggle. Success isn’t clearly defined by top or bottom. In or out. There is not one right way of doing something. In fact, the individuality of the human mind allows us to get an equivalent positive result by more than one method. You and I can take two different approaches to the same task and both become successful.

So, then, how do we find the instructions for life? How do we know what is right and what is wrong? How do we know we are doing well?

Not by judging another.

Not by comparing our path to another’s.

And not by the cultural definitions of successful.

We must look at the instructions for life given to us in the Bible. Burlap to Cashmere, a Christian rock band from the late 1990s, recorded a hit song using the acronym “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth,” for Bible. The Bible is packed with advice and instructions on how to live life.  

Some even come in the simple three word format:

God is love. (1 John 4:16)

He is able. (Hebrews 7:25)

Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8)

Fear no evil. (Psalm 23:4)

Live in peace. (1 Corinthians 7:15)

Shine your light. (Matthew 5:16)

Every thought captive. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Love one another. (John 13:34)

Feed my sheep. (John 21:17)

Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Love your neighbor. (Matthew 22:39)

Love your enemy. (Matthew 5:44)

Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)

Love is patient (1 Corinthians 13:4)

The simple three words of instruction I found in the crease of my sheet eased my struggles of bed-making, but it is still a challenge. It is a starting point. A beginning. This week I choose to start my days with some of the three-word instructions of the Bible. It may not take away all of my struggle, but it is the beginning of a life well lived.

What three-word instruction can you put into practice this week to ease your struggles? Comment below, or join me on facebook to take part in the conversation.

 

The Pros and Cons of a Label

“Let the Janitor through.”

I looked through the crowd of middle school students before turning to glance behind me. I didn’t see a custodian anywhere. But as I took a step forward pushing my sweeper into the parting crowd my bucket brushed against my leg. Sweeper. Bucket.

I’m the janitor.

For a moment my heart fell to my stomach. I wanted to scream out that I am not a janitor: I’m a parent helping the school by cleaning once a week! I’m a substitute teacher. A writer. A mom. But a janitor?

The label was like a sucker punch to the gut called pride.

I made my way through the hallway of students and ducked into my next classroom. As I picked up my towel and began wiping down desks, the hallway interaction repeated in my head. Why did the label janitor offend me? Why was I so quick to defend against the title?

We often put value on a label. Perhaps it’s a job title or a class status. Maybe a disease or disability. A person’s value is often perceived as the value of the label. When we place a label on someone our thoughts and actions toward that person become slanted in its favor.

Some labels we want. Like wife. Or mom. Beautiful. Successful. Some are necessary, like woman. Still others are hurtful, like ugly. Lonely. Unworthy.

The woman at the well carried many labels. Her first reaction to Jesus’ request for a drink clearly defines the separation a label can bring: “How is it that You, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” (John 4:9, HCSB). The Samaritans were less than human in the mind of a Jew. They were considered unworthy and unclean. The Jews did not hold them of any value. As a result they overlooked their needs and their desire for God. Beginning with this interaction, Jesus broke the labels that separated them.

A variety of labels separate us today, but all of us are invited to interact with Jesus. Our labels do not make us better or worse than others. They simple provide a space where we can share our similarities and our differences.

What label is causing you to think more or less of yourself? What label is keeping you from interacting with your neighbors? I challenge you to shed the perception of those labels. Instead, use your labels and the labels of those around you to create conversation. Open a space for all to be labeled as friend.

Failure Keeps Me Going

Failure is the reason I keep going.

Yet another rejection deadline has passed, and in the publishing world no news is bad news.  The frustration is strong, and I want to throw in the towel- but that just leads to more laundry!

It seems as if everything I do is like banging my head on a brick wall- it gets me nowhere and it hurts! I know I have potential… I just can’t get others to see it! So I begin to make a list of motivation- what gets me to press on when I feel like I’m sinking? Failure.

Yes, failure. And its impending threat from someone ready to point it out.

I once worked tirelessly to earn a national designation simply because a professor told me I couldn’t. I swam the length of an Olympic-size pool because a classmate doubted me.

This seems to be a common path for me. I fear being a failure. When the threat of failing is clear and present something in me turns up the desire for success. And when there is a person ready to point the “I told you so” finger at me it escalates even more!

So, after this recent round of rejection I told my beloved I was giving up. I just don’t seem to have what it takes. I had come to grips with it- I have had other dreams I’ve left behind, and this dream of writing will go down as an “I tried.” And the words of the past came blaring in like an incoming tornado, leaving a wake of motivation behind: “You’ll never make it.”

Those words seem to plague me all too often. Many of my previous posts have included them, I think. Yet tonight as I stood facing this most recent rejection I heard them in a different tone. A challenge. A dare.

“You’ll never be good enough” will become a personal challenge instead of a weight on my shoulders. This place of failure has dropped so perfectly in my timeline as to become a mantra for the next six month publishing timespan. Paul says that suffering or trouble leads to perseverance, character, and ultimately hope. (Rom 5:3-5). Trouble has come, perseverance is now, and character is coming. Let this next writing period become the development of character.

Failure may not be my choice, but it certainly motivates me to go after my hearts desires.

 

 

Holiday Recipe Swap!

Time to prep for the holidays! This time of year I am always looking for a new recipe. Do you have a favorite? Maybe its something unique. Or a family recipe passed down. Or maybe its a new twist on a holiday standard. Whatever it is, I’m sure its good! So, lets swap some goodness!

recipe-swap

Post your favorite recipe in the comments below, then scroll through to find something you want to try! Don’t forget to come back and let others know how it went!

Participating in The Thanks And The Giving? Why not whip up a treat and drop it by a friends house just to let her know you thought of her!

 

 

The Thanks and The Giving

November. The month that reminds us to be thankful. To count our blessings. To gather together and say thanks. Its a time to slow down and refocus on the life in front of us. As we settle in this first day of November I can’t help but feel challenged to do more. Not more things to do, but more thanks to give. More love to give. More giving. So, this year I will focus on the thanks and the giving.

thethanksandthegiving-1Yet what do I have to give? Everything. The whispered prayers of help I offer up when the pennies are short are answered with the word give. But what do I have to give? Everything! I have joy, peace,  and patience. I have love and Good News. I have kindness.

I can spread kindness like confetti.

I choose to give what I have. I choose to give every day of November. I choose to scatter kindness and love. I choose to focus on the thanks and the giving.

Want to join me? Head on over to my Facebook for daily suggestions all month. I’ve got some fun stuff stashed in the month, too!

Let’s spend November in the thanks and the giving.

#thethanksandthegiving

Stop Believing You are Not Enough

I drank the milk straight from the carton this morning. Someone left the smallest amount of milk possible in the bottom of the jug, and frankly I didn’t want to dirty a glass. So, I gracefully hid behind the refrigerator door, put the carton to my lips and downed it.

It felt good to break the rules of being a good housekeeper.

Recently I have found myself in the midst of friends openly admitting our shortcomings of being a homemaker. Tales of laundry piled high, unmade beds, and bathrooms that need cleaned. Hearing my friends authenticity has given me the comfort that I am not a failure! And because I want others to know they are not failing I found myself carrying one conversation to the next and letting my own authenticity and shortcomings exit my lips.

We as moms seem to think that we fail when we can’t keep up. And we complicate our own feelings by falling into the comparison trap- you know, so-and-so has four kids and I’m surestop-believing-you-are-not-enough she doesn’t have a single toy on the floor. Oh, and her kids sit still at the dinner table, too.

Remember when Martha was upset because Mary wasn’t helping to clean and cook? Jesus didn’t reprimand Mary and tell her she needed to sweep the floors. Nor did he compare her to Martha! No, he commended Mary for making the hard decision to do what was best at that time.

 

Friends- it doesn’t matter if you are a single woman or a mom of ten- stop believing you are not enough! Do what you can do when you can do it. Make the best decisions with your time. And celebrate the day when you get around to scrubbing the tub.
Break the perfection. Admit you are a not-so-great housewife. You don’t have to be perfect. You are enough.

And go drink the milk- the rebellion against perfection feels good!