Monday, March 2, 2015

Fear Makes You Ugly!

This is the first of 3 posts in the series Fear Not! in which I hope to uncover 3 things: how fear negatively effects us and our relationships, how to dismantle our fears, and something constructive to do with our fear and worries.


He was late getting home. Thirty minutes dragged to 45, then into an hour. All that time, I continued pacing the floor. What began as a knot in my stomach had now turned into full-blown turmoil. Where was he?! In my mind various scenarios played out; none were pleasant. I pictured a car accident with him laying alongside the road, face down in a puddle of blood. With a hand on my pregnant belly while gazing at the faces of each of our seven children, I silently wondered--what will become of us?

I stared out the window, down the road, half expecting to see a police car. Do they still do that? Deliver bad news to unsuspecting family members when their loved one has been killed in an accident?

I would need to call Pastor of course. He would have to go with me to identify the body; there was no way I could do that on my own. I'm sure Pastor and his wife would help me make all the necessary arrangements as well...

Suddenly Terry's car was pulling into the driveway. At first I was relieved beyond words that he was safe. Praise God! I wasn't a widow with all these children to raise alone. I didn't have to worry about how we were going to get through the night. Or the next ten years.

But then he came strolling into the house, with a brief explanation of how he'd run into a friend at Walmart, like it was not a big deal that he was nearly 90 minutes late. Oblivious to the horror I had been through in planning his funeral and the rest of our lives without him, he smiled, kissed me lightly and asked what was for dinner.

I was furious!


That story seems hilarious to me now; but ten years ago, that was not the case!

I have battled fear for as long as I can remember. Fear of being embarrassed and humiliated. Fear of nuclear war. Fear of loss; of losing my parents (when I was a little girl) and loved ones to being afraid of losing a child. Fear of darkness. Fear of the unknown. Fear of pain. Of being alone. Fear of strangers. Of bad things happening to good people. Fear of death.

I once heard this acronym for fear that has stuck with me:



Not all of my fears have been irrational though.

For instance, I spent much of my 13th summer behind locked doors, confined to the house, as some creepy man had somehow gotten my name and our phone number and began making regular disturbing phone calls to our house, describing in detail all the things he would do once he got me alone. They might have caught the deranged man, but soon after our line was tapped, Mom had taken the phone from me upon hearing his evil threats and blew up at the guy, telling him they were going to catch him. He hung up before the call could be traced and he never called back. The phone calls stopped, but the residual fear was embedded deeply in my young mind.

Then there was the child molester who lived next door for a season...

There are those instances when fear is a normal response to our situation. I am not saying all fear is bad. A little bit of healthy fear can perhaps help us make better choices. For instance, fear of debilitating disease may prompt a person to quit smoking or to eat healthier. Fear of consequences can also motivate our children in the right direction. "If you play in the busy street, you could get run over by a car."

The unhealthy fear I'm addressing is the kind that does more harm than good. The fear that disquiets the soul and paralyzes us. As being fearful causes us to be controlling and tense, it makes us ugly. And just as perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), fear wields the power to cast out love, as demonstrated each time we lash out with words when terror strikes our hearts.This is exactly the kind of fear that God warns against repeatedly in His Word.

Boiled down to its root cause, fear reveals a lack of trust in God.

In my next post, I'll be sharing how the Lord freed me from a lifetime of crippling fear.


Do you battle fear?



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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Surviving Winter? (Revisiting Contentment)

The biting wind. Frozen water pipes. Gray skies. Ice and snow. Dry, chapped hands and lips. Extreme cold weather alerts.

Winter has settled in. Ugh.

I've tried to enjoy this season.

I honestly have.

I've even made a list of things to appreciate about winter in the Midwest.


Mom's List of Things to Appreciate About Winter:

  1. No bugs
  2. I love a blazing fire (we heat with wood)
  3. People tend to wear more clothes
  4. No mowing (we mow a lot of grass with push-mowers)
  5. It brings us together as a family


Number 5 though...

Can I be honest here? (Silly question!) That family togetherness thing...it starts wearing a leeetle thin around the end of February.

Now don't get me wrong, I adore my children. I love homeschooling and being a stay at home wife and mom! I am truly grateful that my hard working man allows me to be at home with our brood, and that I don't have to scrape ice off the windshield in -20 degree weather and drive on snowy roads away from my children. Been there; done that (and please know that I don't judge or condemn moms who do!).

I truly enjoy this lifestyle. However.

I've noticed this cycle:

November: 

As the weather turns bad, we begin adjusting to being inside more. There are still fair-weather days when the children can play outside and hike in the woods, so we get to ease into this concentrated family togetherness. The wood stove helps us feel cozy together and adjust. It is also the month of focusing on gratitude and I'm beginning to realize how vital this is going into those harsh winter months.

December: 

Focus turns to Christmas and the busy-ness of the season. Gifts to make and purchase and wrap keep even smaller hands occupied. Then there's all the holiday baking and cooking. White twinkle lights and songs of Christ's birth help set a worshipful atmosphere in our home. There are bountiful blessings to be thankful for during the month of December!

January:

With three birthdays this month, there is much celebration in our home. Plus Terry and I usually go away to celebrate our anniversary (Dec. 30), which helps break up the monotony of winter. Then there are occasional snow showers to facilitate impromptu sledding parties (we have an amazing sledding hill in the woods!). 

February: 

The house seems to shrink. It's too cold in the boys' room (the room furthest from the wood stove) to play in there. So the building blocks, cars, trucks, army men, etc. litter the living room floor. Along with dolls and dishes (the upstairs isn't really big enough for the little girls to play up there either). So the house looks and feels cluttered. All. The. Time. This alone wears on me. In addition, frequent sledding trips + snow shoveling = wet clothes which translates into more laundry, which makes more clutter. Cooped up children become bored and irritable and begin to bicker ("you're breathing my air"). We feel cramped and cluttered and we begin to complain. Ugh.

By the end of February I'm worn down. I am dreaming of summer. Of blue skies and green grass. Of warm breezes and beaches. I'm all for selling our shrunken house and moving to Florida. Anything to escape this craziness; away from the cold. Away from the small, cluttered house. Away from the murmuring and complaining that drains my energy.

But then I remember this one little phrase that packs so much truth:


My children are murmuring because I am complaining.

Then the ugly truth: Grumbling has settled into my spirit as cold and harsh as any winter chill.

The enemy of our souls loves to take the trials that God means for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28) to get us to murmur and complain.

The Lord brings to my mind a verse that seems to roll off my tongue whenever I'm counseling a friend who is walking through a trial. With these words--God's powerful Word-- I begin counseling myself...


In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 

THIS is where the Lord has me. Right here (in this cramped and cluttered little house). Right now (in the dead of winter during a brief season of my life). For such a time as this (to live out my faith as I train up Godly sons and daughters).

I've written about contentment here before, of how the Lord has used this little house to change my perspective, But come the end of February, I find myself in need of not only a new perspective, but a new resolve to be intentional in demonstrating gratitude as well.


How are you getting through this winter?


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