Power. Love. Sound Mind.

Power. Love. Sound Mind.

Fear is not my friend.
It never has been.
It never will be.

Fear has done nothing but reek havoc on my life, paralyzing me in a web of lies and confusion. It has gripped me in believing the worst instead of focusing on truth. Many times it has kept me from stepping out into God’s best and hindered my passion to pursue and love the way Christ has commanded. It has caused me to fear the unknown and what is to come. It is NOT MY FRIEND or YOURS. It is, however, a friend to the biggest deceiver, satan himself.

If we choose to “be-friend” this lie, it can ruin us. So why do we continually welcome this unfaithful, lying, deceitful so called “friend” into our lives? Horrific circumstances happen. Sin happens. Tragedy happens. It can shake us to our core causing crippling effects both physically and emotionally.

I have learned that when I am entangled in this web, it’s because I forget who my God is…I doubt His ability. I question His sovereignty. I waiver on His unfailing love for me. And sometimes, I shamefully choose to sit and stay in the comfort of it all because it has become EASY. Battling fear can be draining. And when we try to battle on our own strength, we fall, we crumble. We become slaves to “our friend” fear.

IMG_4382God’s word says, “For God has NOT given us a spirit of fear, but of POWER and of LOVE and of a SOUND MIND” -2 Timothy 1:7.
These three things- power, love and sound mind, are a recipe for defeating the enemy when it comes to a spirit of fear.
Know the POWER of the living God that lives in you!
Know the LOVE of Christ that cast out ALL fear!
Know the peace of a SOUND MIND -His peace that will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
Fear cannot dwell in a heart who’s mind is focused on the things of God. We have the freedom to choose…Fear…OR…Faith.

Our God is so much BIGGER! And our FAITH in Him has to be Greater than our fear.
Jesus tells us, ” In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have OVERCOME the world.”-John 16:33
Our faith can rest in that…He has OVERCOME!!!

I want to leave you with this absolute truth bathed in a promise that God will be with you NO MATTER the trial, no matter the tragedy, no matter the sorrow, no matter the pain, no matter the fear….

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do NOT be afraid; do NOT be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”-Joshua 1:9

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Cheryl

 

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Cheryl is passionate about Jesus and making Him known. She serves as a leader in women’s ministry and on the worship team of her church. She believes that by His stripes we are healed and we are nothing without Jesus, but EVERYTHING with Him. She believes there is freedom that awaits all our brokenness, all our mess, all our shame, and all our past if we turn our lives over to Him. She is married to her college sweetheart and they are blessed with three beautiful children.

In Training

In Training

“You mean you do all that and you’re not even training for anything?” my girlfriend said to me from the passenger’s seat with a bewildered expression on her face as I described some of my workout regimen. I replied “I just want to be healthy and fit. And if something does happen to come up, like a race, or a long run or ride with a friend, I want to be able to say yes.”

WeightsAnd yet, her question did make me stop and wonder if I was being a bit excessive. I will be the first to admit that I have a tendency to go overboard on some things and become a bit obsessive in certain areas. I believe exercise is one of those areas. So it certainly wasn’t paranoia that made me take a step back and analyze my exercising habits. It is true that I want to stay healthy and fit. I want to be able to at least go out and run a 5k or 10k tomorrow, or join a friend on a long bike ride. And some day, I want to be able to run after my children and pick them up and twirl them around. I’m certainly not an athlete. But it does seem like the older I get, the more effort I have to put into staying fit. Can I get an amen?

The immediate afterthought was to ask myself if I put at least the same effort or more into my spiritual fitness. I’ve come to understand that anything that takes more time and energy from me than focusing on God becomes an idol. When I love something more than I love the Lord, it becomes my god. I don’t want anything to take that type of precedence in my life. And I know that these things don’t happen overnight; it’s a slow fade as they say, it’s a series of choices that build on each other. So, it’s best to nip it in the bud.

All of this thought on how important my physical training is made me reflect on what I am doing for my spiritual training…biblepic

1 Timothy 4:7-8 says “…train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

So it’s not a bad thing for us to want to be in good shape and stay healthy. In fact, I think we are even better stewards when we keep in mind that our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit and we are given the privilege to be good stewards, including over our bodies. 

But we are not just physical beings. I like the quote by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” So we need to train ourselves spiritually. What does that look like for you? In this area, one need not compare themselves to others, though it may be informative to ask around for ideas. There are many spiritual practices including reading the Bible daily, a set aside prayer time, a practice of prayer throughout the day, meditating on scripture, fasting, reading other literature, writing or journaling… I could go on and on. Though it remains, there are actions to take and ways to be that can incorporate a spiritual practice. But are we doing them? 

Just like my physical exercise seems to need more intentionality to it as I age, I feel the same is true for my spiritual exercise. I have to put a little more thought and planning into my spiritual exercise, switch it up from time to time to flex my muscles, and focus on it being the vehicle to keeping me healthy and fit for God. Jesus said, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Matthew 24:44. So be ready my friends, stay fit, and stay healthy. Blessings!

Kristine

Choose Love

Choose Love

When I was a child I knew that if I did the right thing, I would gain approval and for me, approval was equated with love. When I was a teen I experienced that overwhelming feeling of passion and need and I thought that was love. As a young adult I thought taking care of my significant other’s emotional needs was also love.

Today I view love differently. It’s an action, a CHOICE…and God is the key to understanding what it truly is all about.

IMG_2473For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (KJV) .. .

A few years ago a deep thirst began to build in me, a thirst to know God. It began when I decided that for the first time in my life I was going to begin to develop relationships with other women. While I am in my 40’s this would be a new experience for me.

To say the least this venture was scary. The committee in my head began, “what if they don’t like me?”, “what if I’m not good enough?”, “what if they heard about my past?”, “will they shun me because I am a recovering alcoholic?” and the list goes on and on….

One sunny Sunday morning I put my brave on and entered the front door of the church, trembling and sweating and ready to run. What I didn’t realize was that I was about to come face to face with Jesus with skin on. There were smiles and hugs and a welcoming that I did not anticipate. Through these people he was saying, “you are kind”, “you are good”, “you are worthy”, and most importantly, “you are redeemed”. They were living out His word.

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. John 15:12 (KJV)

Today, I will be entering through those same doors, light on my feet, accepted in the sight of God and loved by friends.

Most importantly, I get to practice being Jesus with skin on for the next thirsty, trembling woman that comes through the door. Do I smile timidly from across the church, or do I envelop them in an embrace of love?

I CHOOSE LOVE…which means I choose GOD.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 (KJV)

Jennifer

It’s About Time

It’s About Time

I am constantly in need of more time.  I can’t believe how quickly the Christmas season went by…there are still presents I need to buy…and it is almost March.  I started this post in January and just couldn’t seem to find the time to work on it – until today.  A few short hours ago my brother Ben and his wife Amy had their first baby – a beautiful little girl named Leah.  As soon as it really hit me:  my little brother is a Dad (and after I had a really good cry), I couldn’t help but feel the need to make the time to complete this post for them.

I am really good at finding the time to do things that don’t take any effort, such as watching The Bachelor, wandering around the Nordstrom shoe department looking for the perfect pair of shoes (preferably on sale), sitting around scrolling through Facebook or pinning beautiful decorating and craft projects to my dream boards on Pinterest.  I excel at wasting away the hours, only to complain the next day that I do not have any time left to do the things that really matter.

As is the case with most everything I have written, what I had down a few weeks ago is completely different from what I am writing today.  This post basically began as a list of complaints on how hard it is for me to find the time to do everything I need to do.  But as a parent, daughter, sister, aunt and friend, my time isn’t all about me.

The truth is that we have all been given plenty of time…what we really need is to learn how to best spend the time God has given us.

Loving and caring for your child, or anyone for that matter, isn’t about the things you give them – when it comes down to it is your time they crave and desire.  I spend a good bit of time regretting all of the moments I missed with my girls, family and friends because addiction stole them from me.  But, regretful thinking isn’t something I want to give time to anymore.  Of course, I want to remember my past in order to stay grounded in my recovery; but I can’t regret – it is one of the things that has helped shape me into the woman I am today and for that I am thankful.  I love this passage in Esther and should remind myself of it more often…and perhaps it is exactly what I should have tattooed on my forearm (don’t tell my Mom)…

Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created. Esther 4:14

Each and every moment…from this moment on.

Time just sitting quietly with a loved one, time spent listening and time sharing special moments…time is one of the greatest gifts we can give anyone.  Time is priceless.  In His infinite wisdom (that I really should not question as often), God has given me more time…in fact, God has given me exactly the amount of time I need.  He has given it to all of us.

Ben and Amy, the best parenting advice I can give you is to really enjoy and take in every moment with Leah that God has given you.

All of them…

When you are up with her at 3:00 a.m. and feel as though you haven’t slept in days – remember the love you felt when you first saw her and it will get you through those long nights.

When she’s four and throws up on the floor…and while you are cleaning it up, she leans over the bed and pukes on your head – laugh (and then laugh again when you are still cleaning it out of your ear two days later).

When she’s seven and you refuse to buy her that camouflage hat in Alvin’s Island that says “Buck Off” and she declares you the Meanest Mommy and Daddy in the World, stand proud…it’s like a club (listen for a silent round of applause from other members…I’m one, several times over in fact).

And…God help you…if she takes after me and calls you from college one day to beg for money because she spent all she had on a designer handbag or pair of shoes, forgive her (and me) and send the poor girl some cash…then have her call me so we can squeal together with delight over her new (albeit irresponsible) purchase.

Finally, remember God will never give you more than you can handle and has equipped you with everything you need to be Leah’s parents.  My favorite speaker and author, Andy Stanley, once said, “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.”  I have a feeling you are going to do an amazing job of helping Leah become the woman God created her to be.

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Enjoy every single moment with your precious little girl because in the end, it is all about time.

Time is very slow for those who wait. Very fast for those who are scared.  Very long for those who lament.  Very short for those who celebrate.  But for those who love, time is eternal.  – William Shakespeare

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Fighting The Good Fight

Fighting The Good Fight

Some statistics show that only around 8% of people that make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve their goal. That seems very discouraging to me and I wonder why that is sometimes. What I’m really pondering are the positive and negative consequences of reaching our goals. Fads versus lifestyle changes… One of my ideals would be to be able to just say no to sugar. But if you know me, you know how much I love ice cream and cookies. And that this goal seems nearly impossible – it would definitely be a fad.

I started to think about how people can often be so glorified for having some awe inspiring testimony, like overcoming cancer, losing a ton of weight, finally kicking the drug habit, or being a hardcore rock star then finding Jesus and becoming a worship leader. What about the guy who’s been a steady Eddy his whole life? Or the mom who has made many a sacrifice for her children and spends an hour a day in prayer? The person who lives upright and has been rock solid always. I don’t hear those stories as much.

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This line of thinking makes me ponder on the story of the prodigal son; the lost son of whom Jesus shares about. The son I most often think of is the guy that squanders his inheritance, comes crawling back, and is welcomed by a feast rather than a shaming environment. And then there’s the son who has been there all along and experiences jealously and resentment when his dad starts throwing a big bash for the bratty brother. The dad still loves them both in the midst of the tainted history and temper tantrums. Can you relate to either brother, or maybe both? Whichever end of this spectrum you may be in, or if you’re somewhere in between, take heart and be glad. God loves us, each and everyone. He wants to bless us with parties and long-term, ongoing abundance, even through trials.

I can definitely relate to both brothers. When I came to accept that alcohol and drugs really had created damage in my life, I had to look at not only all the negative consequences that had occurred, but also at all the positive consequences that did NOT occur. It was very revealing to me to think of the things I might have done with my life if I hadn’t been so consumed with the party lifestyle.

So I bring this all the way back around to what’s going on with me today. I was researching natural ways to treat an under-active thyroid, and the results are very similar to natural treatments for many other sicknesses: cut out gluten, take the right vitamins, eliminate processed foods and sugars, eat healthy fat, exercise, practice relaxation techniques, etc. There are very few people I know that really practice ‘clean eating’. It’s a battle in our culture and society. But I think about them and the positive consequences they experience like satisfaction with their bodies, higher energy, less illness. And then I think about all the negative consequences they might NOT be experiencing, like hypothyroidism and having to take hormones – and the list could go on and on, but I’ll leave it at my issue at hand.

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So I want to strive to be the steady Eddy this go around. The other brother that’s sticking around and intentionally hanging out with God, my Father (hopefully without too many temper tantrums). And making healthy choices all the way around that include nourishing my spirit through prayer, Bible reading, and meditation,
and nourishing the body through cleaner (I can’t imagine not eating ice cream) eating, relaxation, and exercise. The body, mind, spirit connection is far beyond what we’ll ever completely comprehend and I could write another blog just sharing my thoughts on that. But I’ll leave you with one last thought: may we glorify God through each decision we make today and enjoy the positive consequences and be grateful for not suffering through negative consequences that haven’t happened.

How about you? Do you feel like the older brother? The younger brother? Both?

Kristine

Attraction Rather Than Promotion

Attraction Rather Than Promotion

August 9, 2004 was the beginning and with every beginning there is an end. It was the end of being sick and tired of being sick and tired. It was the beginning of learning how to live without alcohol. I crawled through the door of my local 12 Step program. At the end of every meeting I was told to keep coming back, no more no less, just keep coming back.

Then….it happened! Someone said the word “GOD” and my heart dropped to my feet. “Oh no, not Him!”. I didn’t want to have anything to do with Him. He was the one that let me be abused, scared, lonely and surrounded with hypocrites! Hypocrites that put on their Sunday best and went to church to be “forgiven” so they could start all over again! NO WAY, NUH UH, this was NOT the place for me if they are telling me I have to turn my life over to His care! I was told, “First things first, just keep coming back.”

Years passed and my sobriety, health, and thinking all began to develop and eaglemature. “It’s not all about me” became my mantra and my heart was opened. I began to feel a thirst, a desire and need for more. God began speaking to me in small whispers. He whispered into my heart all of his promises, his love and his redemption. The “Big Book” in my 12 step program kept pointing the way to God. Thus, began my journey into Christianity. I would have never darkened the doors of another church if it had not been for the love, patience, guidance and wisdom in my 12 Step Program.

Sometimes Christians don’t always understand the value of 12 step programs and how they can be the catalyst for helping people find Jesus. With that being said, I feel the need to share with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ some statements that are sometimes made that could actually hinder our Christian witness to others who are struggling in the midst of addiction. 

* “You only need Jesus”- a majority of alcoholics come from a background where a significant amount of work needs to be done before they are even willing to talk to Jesus; but they will talk to another recovering alcoholic.

* “The Bible has all the answers and is the only book you need“- if others are anything like me I had no idea how to even comprehend the Bible let alone use it as a daily tool for living.

* “Quit identifying yourself as an alcoholic, you are a child of God“- it is of the utmost importance that we remember where we came from, in addition to it dismissing what is THE most painful experience of our lives and is to be used for our testimony to help others.

* “God would have healed you if you had asked“- Spiritual maturity is showing me that there is much more work involved than just asking. God does not help those who do not help themselves.

* “You don’t need those meetings now that you have been saved“- Yes we do! How do you reach others if you don’t go where they are?

I have been blessed with a loving 12 Step family as well as a wonderful church family. My 12 step program believes we should be an attraction rather than a promotion to the program. I believe that is what Jesus is requiring of us Christians as well, to BE the light. Embrace, support, love, and try to understand. If we do that, those struggling will return to Christ and the faith that was sown in us before we were ever born.

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Old Terror New Grace

Old Terror New Grace

Do you have someone in your life that hurts you over and over again regardless of your actions and behaviors?

The knife pierces my heart and I feel the searing pain and the questions begin. What did I do wrong? What should I have done differently? How many times do I have to apologize for the same old grievances? How should I change my behavior so this doesn’t happen anymore? The journey over eggshells begins; and yet the knife pierces again.

I have been in recovery for 10 years and I still have a relationship in my life that continues to shred me, scar me and plants the seed of shame in my heart. But……it’s a blood relation…I have to keep it right? This is where I stumble…my tools tell me “To thine own self be true”, my God tells me, “you have been washed clean with the blood”. What do I do? What is the right answer?

2Cor 12:9- But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

While I don’t have all of the answers, I do know that God doesn’t require me to be subject to abuse just because this person is family. Today- it is ok for me to walk away. Tomorrow, God may put something else on my heart about this relationship but tomorrow isn’t here yet so I will have to take today as it is.

2Cor 12:10- That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

So, if this holiday season has you in close proximity to a painful relationship lean into the grace that is reserved just for you, for your heart specifically. Know that you are not alone. You are the beloved of God and no one can interfere in that truth.

What painful relationship do you struggle with? What have you done to break free?

Jennifer

The Gift of Time

The Gift of Time

Recently I reached my one year milestone battling brain cancer. Part of my journey consisted of a total of seven MRIs this year. The MRI this month seemed strangely different. It was as if I was becoming a numb robot following the doctor’s orders. I was going through the motions hoping for good news then I would share it with family and friends so everyone could be happy till the next MRI in three months. The news of a clean MRI brought me relief—not joy. I was slowly detaching myself this routine, because I knew with each clean MRI it would bring me closer to the day when I get the news that the tumor has grown back.

Darkness crept in with feelings of shame and depression. How could I hear such wonderful news and yet my heart wasn’t able to process it? Because I allowed fear to come in and steal my joy.

With tears streaming down my face I prayed for forgiveness, I asked to feel joy and see His glory. I asked God to show me what I missed when I received His gift of a clean MRI. His response was, “The Gift of Time”. At that moment I was flooded with joy as the fear rapidly fled from my heart. I felt secure in His sovereignty.

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1 John 5:14-15(ESV)
14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

This “Gift of Time” isn’t to be measured by quantity but by quality. To much is given, much is required. As the days draw closer to Christmas my heart steers away from the quantity of gifts that will soon be under the tree. My heart is focused on the quality of our time spent together on Christmas. God isn’t concerned about my attention to details of what I think makes a perfect Christmas. Offering myself wholeheartedly to the ones I love is what He wants.

James 1:17 (NLT)
Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

Looking ahead to 2015 I sense God using this precious “The Gift of Time” to help my family and I grow closer together in Christ. By showing us what it means to be good stewards of our time together. Through much prayer, discussions with my family and the Brave Girls, I have decided to step down from the Brave Girl Community in 2015. If there comes a time when God puts it on my heart to write, the Brave Girls have graciously left the door open for me to come in as a guest writer. I have truly cherished my time with all you in 2014.

Shelly

Sunshine

Taking pleasure in our weaknesses isn’t something that comes naturally to us. Our pride puts up a strong powerful wall to protect ourselves from anyone who might use our weaknesses against us. What if we set our pride aside and put our trust in Christ’s protection? God’s word tells us to boast, be glad and take pleasure in our weaknesses. When we share our weakness we are saying, “God I don’t care how people perceive me or what they think of me. I want them to see the truth of who you are in my life.”

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians12:8-9 

Sunshine

Recently I participated in a cancer fundraiser in my hometown. Every year my employer has a team at this event. We have a small committee of six people who do the bulk of the work behind the scenes to prepare for this fundraiser. One of the assignments of the committee is to decorate our booth. We brainstormed decorating ideas. Now it’s time to put our ideas into action and what happens…. not everyone helps! The majority of the work weighs on a few of the committee members. My resentments start creeping in as I begin to judge those who aren’t helping as much as the others.

As I and a couple others start working on the decorations I start to see how creative it is. I’m convinced we will surely win the decorating contest! We won last year. We can do it again this year! My competitive and perfectionist nature go into overdrive. My tongue speaks toxic words that are critical and demanding. The tasks are no longer enjoyable. To do lists get longer. There aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done. To make matters worse I have brought home my frustrations and poor attitude as I work on the decorations in the garage.

Through all the preparations and turmoil I am praying to God, begging God to take away my inability to work with people. I was so consumed with my agenda I couldn’t see the depths of my actions.

The decorations went up minutes before the event started. For the next twenty-four hours there were conversational walkers, serious runners, variety of music, a busy silent auction, tons of food and most important warm weather. The fundraising exceeded all expectation!

BoothNow it was time to announce the winner of the best decoration. There was no doubt in my mind that we would win. My anticipation was building while waiting for my team’s name to be announced. The winner is……. not my team! How could this be? I worked so long. I took the time to redo things that weren’t right. I went to the store countless times. I planned the placement of the decorations. My thoughts went in every direction trying to make sense of why we didn’t win.

 

After cleaning up I drove home with a full car of supplies and the decorations. Still perplexed by the whole experience my youngest son says to me in the car, “Mom can we hang the sun in my tree fort when we get home?” It was at that moment I realized that my agenda had led me to wander off from God. I was busy focusing on judging those for not helping. I failed to notice all the times my son asked if he could help me. Being consumed by perfection I wouldn’t even consider allowing my 7 year old son to participate in making the decorations with me. My agenda was far different from God’s. God’s plan was designed to bring my family closer together after our battle we endured this year with my brain tumor.

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. Romans 8:37 

As we pulled into our driveway my exhaustion, body aches and poor attitude disappeared. Centered on God’s plan I didn’t waste another moment. We took the giant sun decoration out of the car, searched in the garage for the fattest nails, grabbed the hammer then headed up the tree fort. With a couple swings of the hammer the sun was shining brightly in his tree fort. We sat together on the wood floor gazing at this giant beautiful sun that filled an entire wall in his tree fort.

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He now had my undivided attention as he talked about the sun and anything else that was on him mind.

 

 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 1 John 3:18

 

God allowed me to wander off for a short while. He finds me lost and confused. He shows me how weak I am without him in all areas of my life. For that I am glad to boast in my weaknesses, I take pleasure in my weaknesses. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12 

Mom & Cougar

 

Do you struggle to share your weakness?

When was the last time you shared your weakness with someone?

 

 

 

Shelly

Fearless

Fearless

I am constantly learning more about myself and my relationship with God.  It can be quite exciting, not knowing from day to day what is going to happen or how I am going to react to a situation.  Well, maybe exciting isn’t the word I am looking for.

A couple of months ago I experienced a first – I had a full blown panic attack.  I had been to the doctor earlier in the day to have a mammogram and left unsettled and questioning whether or not I was going to have to return for more studies.  I didn’t really think much of it at first and just tried focusing on work when I made it into the office, but fear was growing.  I had not slept much the night before for a number of reasons.  By late afternoon I was incredibly tired, even though I had been drinking coffee all day long.

After leaving work, I decided to run up the stairs to my car, which was on the top level of our parking deck.  Bad idea.  By the time I reached my car I was hyperventilating and couldn’t catch my breath.  I had just run three miles the day before.  Running up a few flights of stairs shouldn’t have done that to me.  Still trying to catch my breath, I got in the car and proceeded to drive off – into traffic.  My heart was pounding – I have never felt it beat so fast and hard.  Terrified, I pulled over and parked my car at the mall and went in.  I decided I was too tired and needed more coffee – I went to Starbuck’s – still trying to catch my breath, and got a latte.  Another bad idea.  I drank a little off my latte – it wasn’t helping…why wasn’t it helping?  I was dizzy, my heart was pounding again and I determined I was having a heart attack or something else life-threatening.  I continued my walk through Macy’s – my breathing only grew worse and I hastily assumed I was officially dying in a department store.  I located the handbag department and found rest leaning against a display of beautiful purses.  Slowly I sank to the floor.  Several minutes passed and I still hadn’t died.  My heartbeat slowed back to normal – I began to be able to breathe normally again.  By this point, many people had started to notice the crazy lady sprawled out in handbags.  Someone must have alerted store management of my presence because soon a security guard came over to check out the situation.  Needless to say, I didn’t die; and, my mammogram results even turned out okay.  However, God took that opportunity to teach me a big lesson…

Ever since that day in the Macy’s handbag department I have been evaluating how I deal with fear.  I’ve always thought of myself as pretty fearless – I will try anything.  (So will my daughters, which terrifies me.  Strange how that works, huh?)  But, it’s not really that kind of fear I have issues with – it is fear of the unknown, what’s around the corner, what will happen if?  The ‘what ifs’ of life scare me!  What will happen to my daughters if they are still young when I die?  What will happen if one of them is sick or hurt?  What if I hurt them or family and friends again?  What if I am hurt by someone?  It’s the ‘what ifs’ in my life that have kept me from growing as a woman and growing in my relationship with God.  When I do not rely on Him to take care of the ‘what ifs’ in my life, I am not fully trusting Him with me and my family and I lose faith, little by little.  Oh, it can be so hard to just let it all go sometimes.  But, I need to…and I am beginning to want to.

Being fearless and brave for me is starting to look more like what I am letting Him do instead of what I am allowing myself to do.  All of my fears involve my heart – Who better to give it to?  1 John 4:18 says:

 There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

This first part of this year has not been what I expected.  Most of the time when I get content with life, God starts to work on me and I’m jolted out of my comfort zone and the past six months have been no exception.  I turned 40, and that birthday…that age…that year I dreaded, has been quite a pleasant surprise.  I never would have thought I would be okay with growing older…and wrinkles.  (I am not so okay with the random hairs I find growing on my chin.)  I am making new friends and taking on new responsibilities at work.  At the end of the summer, God is giving me an opportunity to share my testimony at a women’s retreat – talk about being out of my comfort zone – I am not a speaker, but I am excited about it nonetheless.

I read a quote from Andy Stanley last week:

 “When God initiated His relationship with mankind, it didn’t begin with a command; it began with an invitation:  will you trust Me?”

The day I had that panic attack, I was not trusting God—and when I don’t trust Him my relationship with Him suffers and I lose faith.  At times when I can see my faith getting shaky I am learning to recognize that He is working for my good – that is the only thing He can do!  When I can look for the good in every situation, I stumble on blessings I never even realized I had.  Choosing to see that He is doing something – even when the something might not be what I would have chosen for myself – is a sign of spiritual growth and ultimately that is my goal, to grow closer to Him.

Several months ago BraveGirl Stacey posted a song I had never heard on her Facebook page – it is called Here Goes by Bebo Norman.  I downloaded it for myself and love it now – here are a few lines that speak to me and challenge me to take steps in faith, knowing that God knows what He is doing (and maybe it is best that I sometimes do not):

And what good is change not taken? And what good is life not living?  And what good is love not given?

Here goes nothing.  Here goes everything.  Gotta reach for something or you’ll fall for anything.  Take a breath, take a step, what comes next God only knows, but here goes.

Giving God all of my heart and control of all of my ‘what if’s’ is just another step on my journey of faith.  He will take care of me and my family and show me I can be fearless in life and love.

What fears do you need to turn over to God today?

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