fear

Journey with Jen: Faith over Fear

Journey with Jen: Faith over Fear

As a parent, there are days that stick with you.  There are days that grip your heart so tight you, and the way you approach parenthood, are permanently changed.  This month, Journey with Jen, as she tackles failure and fear head on!

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Carla's Column: The Privilege

Carla's Column: The Privilege

Carla's Column confronts the realities of a crisis in her post this month.  Maybe we desire to know the plan, or we question if there is goodness for our lives.  Fear or doubt, worry or despair, inadequacy or insecurity, there is light at the end of the tunnel and there is One who walks us through it.  Be comforted and encouraged as you read these words she shares with our hearts.  

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Big People Get Scared Too

Big People Get Scared Too

RECENTLY I THOUGHT ABOUT OUR LITTLE PERSON BEING SCARED, BECAUSE TO BE QUITE HONEST, I’VE BEEN FEELING A LITTLE SCARED MYSELF.  

Do reports of bad news sit heavily on your mind? Do current social circumstances weigh on your heart?  Do you you feel anxiety over what may happen and anticipate worst-case scenarios?  

I encourage you to read this week's post on how to overcome fears when we big people get scared too.  

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When We Just Don't Know

Back in the days of sending group emails, before we had social media sharing, I received one along the lines of The Fifty Best Things About Having a Baby. If my memory serves me right, I believe I was expecting Jaron about the time I read it. Within the top three was getting to name a person. Are you kidding me?! Some people consider that to be one of the most wonderful things about having a baby? I thought it was one of the most difficult things about having a baby. Brandon and I read the entire 100,001 Baby Names book, both girls’ and boys’ names just in case one gave us inspiration. And I still was asking the Lord, “Can you please send me an angel like in biblical times to say, ‘Heather, you are with child and you shall name the child [fill in God-given name]’?” There was so much pressure picking a name for this little bitty being, and pressure in hoping that it was a name they would like to live with--- for the rest of their entire life.

It was just the beginning steps of our challenges in parenting. Many times over I have thought how awesome it would be if I showed up to the post office, opened that little mail box and pulled out a step-by-step manual of what do to with and for the fabulous people God has given us called children. I realize God’s Word provides all the ins-and-outs we need, but wouldn’t it be great for a chapter covering cell phones and social media?

I remember a similar feeling when I was in nursing school. Where does He want me to work in this ministry of nursing? I did an externship (same as an internship) in three different areas during my journey through school. People would ask me, “So what area do you want to go into?” My response was always, “Wherever God leads me.” Talk about a vague answer. But it was true. I didn’t really know where God wanted me to be. I would say, “I’m believing the area I’m suppose to work as a nurse is packaged up like a gift with a red bow under the tree on Christmas morning, and when it’s time, I’m gonna unwrap it and be so excited to find out!”

You all know that the angel never appeared to name our children, the book hasn’t shown up in the mail, and the gift was not under the Christmas tree. However….my children all have names which suit them quite well, Brandon and I have never been hanging out to dry on what to do for and with our kids (even though at times we have certainly felt like it), and I found my work home in the area of neonatal nursing with four years of reassuring moments that it’s right where God wants me to be.

The point is, for those of us who cherish itineraries and game plans, the unpredictable things in life can feel downright scary and may I add, confusing. Even though there are times it seems like a roadmap would be an appealing amenity for life’s journey, it would deprive us of some essential components to walking with the Lord—faith and trust.

What is faith if everything can be explained?

What is trust if we know what is to come?

Walking in faith and trust in the times we don’t have explanations or any idea what will come produces the most peculiar result—joy!

There is an on-the-edge-of-my-seat excitement knowing the Lord is going to orchestrate things beyond what my mind could think or imagine. It’s living in anticipation of seeing His hand at work in the difficult moments, knowing that He will provide what we need when we need it.

You have either experienced, are experiencing or will experience the unpredictable, scary and confusing, but you’ve got what you need to get through it. Let your faith be strengthened, your trust be deepened and your joy be completely full as you keep your focus on the One holding the road map.

Psalm 16:11 ESV You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

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Control Freak

Getting in the car with my mom I must be prepared for one thing, the possibility she may honk her horn. And I don't mean a little "toot-toot." I mean, lay-on-the-horn, blaring-loud-for-all-to-hear kind of honk. It doesn't end there. Whatever ability she has to demonstrate her displeasure on the outside of the car is only a glimmer compared to her expressions on the inside of the car. And my Mom is a nice person! However, she gets all riled up on the road. Inconsiderate people who pull out in front of her causing her to slam on her brakes. Distracted drivers, talking, or yes, even texting away on their phones. Rushed workers ignorning the lane closure signs to squeeze in at the last possible moment. It infuriates her. When she rides with me she'll identify every moment I should utilize my horn. My neglection of such an opportunity produces much discussion as she'll inform me that I need to let them know what they did so they won't do it again. There's where her hope is. It's not an angry, difficult, short little lady. It's a woman who intends to help people out, highlight the error of their driving, so they can do it better the next time.

My take is different. Number one, I wonder if the person who pulled out in front of me, or cut me off, may be a mother who has a screaming baby in the car, a tired toddler and an argumentative child. Believe me, that causes some distractions and enough stress without being honked at. Or possibly, it's a nurse who lives forty-five minutes from the hospital and got called-in before she had a shower or a trace of make-up on her face. It happens. Secondly, and most importantly for me is, I don't care. I don't care about honking at someone and getting all worked up over them, because I have no relational connection, nor any ounce of influence on them to change anything. If a driver is flat-out rude, they're going to be flat-out rude whether I blast my horn or not. It's just not worth the aggravation to me.

Now don't misunderstand me. I do get worked up. I do get riled to the point of feeling steam come out my ears. Okay, not quite steam, but you get the picture. Flaming mad. Like Anger on Disney's Inside Out or Donald Duck when he's "had it up to here!" (Yes, that's what he sometimes says, although it almost requires a translator to comprehend his lines.)

I tend to get all upset with things I think I have control over. Emphasis given to the word, "think." It's like a quantitative study. I have variables in an experiment. The independent variable is manipulated to produce the dependent variable. Since my lab puppy, sweet little Ruby Sue, is turning one this weekend, let's consider dog food. The type of dog food is an independent variable because it's something I can change (or manipulate), and the results I get are the dependent variables like her weight, her likability to the food, and maybe her coat being more shiny.

If I have no influence on the outcome, I don't get too engaged. It's that whole, "it is what it is" kind of situation; “que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be.”

But let me share with you where I do get hung up. It's again, in those areas I think I have control.

My parents were told, on more than one occassion, during my years of rehabiliation from my burn injury that I may develop an addiction to narcotics. I'll share more about the topic when the book project pieces together, but for now, let me focus on this subject of control. Although I desire to be as out-of-it as possible when I'm recovering from surgeries, I'm quite eager to stop taking the medication when I no longer need it, because I don't feel in control when I'm in a fog. Too much of my childhood was out of my control. As an adult, I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for the care I received. Absolutley overwhelmed. I'm living a life today because of the care I received. Nevertheless, I remember as a child wanting control over the situations I had absolutley none.

Memories of being restrained, with my arms braced out to my side, unable to move. Memories of a tube down my throat breathing for me, but occluding my ability to communicate. Screaming for help when those precious nurses were tearing bandages off my raw body. Fighting against amazing physical therapists as they ripped scar tissue to stretch my contractured body.

Yes, I have control issues.

I also have a good, good Father who loves me as I am, but desires me to grow in Him. Just as He provides opportunities to make the impatient patient and the prideful humble; He's given me many opportunities to release control and grow in trust.

A reoccurring theme for 2015 was trust. As I felt challenged in 2014 to rest, 2015 was about trust. Here's a bit of what I journaled toward the end of the year...

As I’ve sought the Lord, as He’s challenged me to trust Him, using situations to strengthen my trust muscle, I can see the control shatter. I needed to be here and He was preparing the time for me. I needed to grow in the quality, in this characteristic.

‘Do you trust God?’ Yes, I’ve always trusted God. However, do I trust God when I have no control, no influence over the outcome, when I have nothing to contribute, or even manipulate?  Not in a bad manipulate-evil-devising way, but in a manipulate as, take it in my own hands and change what it needs, or what I think it needs to be, to form it and mold it on my own. Do I trust God even then?

Oh, how I thought He was teaching me through the writing to trust Him. Oh, how I thought He was teaching me through the speaking to trust Him. Oh, how I thought my obedience to step away from full-time nursing was trusting Him, or being given our website was trusting Him- but, those situations were PREPARING me for the biggest trust exercise the Lord could have set before me….

I know where my desire to control comes from. It's fear. I wanted control when I was little because I was scared. Not much has changed. I still to this day fight fear. The fear is a bit different, but I fight nevertheless. But again, God is so loving and kind towards me. His Word says, "perfect love casts out fear" (I John 4:18). Which means I don't have to be in control. I just need to trust in Him.

Therefore, as you're stepping into your dreams, visions and goals for 2016, be aware of the vision killers we've discussed the last few weeks: feeling overwhelmed, making assumptions, and fear.

Fear has no place. You serve a great God! And the same power that raised Jesus from the grave lives in you (Romans 8:11).  Remember that fact, and exercise that muscle to trust in the face of any fear this year!

Isaiah 30:15 ESV For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and REST you shall be saved; in quietness and in TRUST shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling,

This was one of the verses I've stood on, encompassing the Lord's challenge for me to rest in 2014 and to trust in 2015. But unlike the people of Israel, may we be willing.

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click on the link to hear this song-- No Longer Slaves  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxkNj5hcy5E

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It Is Time

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney

There are few things I enjoy as much as I enjoy “walking right down the middle of Main Street USA,” grabbing a hot dog at Casey’s Corner and watching the three o’clock parade in Magic Kingdom. It’s like stepping into Bert’s painting the way Jane and Michael did with the one who is “practically perfect in every way,” Mary Poppins. However, there is a part of Disney World that doesn’t feel quite so magical to me. It’s the roller coaster rides.

“Cautious” is the word. Or maybe it’s “scaredy cat.” The scene is a bit similar to when Brooklyn was attempting to walk on her own. She wanted to walk, but she wanted something to hold onto, even if she didn’t need it to balance. I tried to supplement a sharpie marker for my finger, but she didn’t “fall” (pun intended) for that. For the longest time, she’d cruise along with my index finger barely within her grasp. She was just too cautious to let go. The same goes with roller coasters and me. I want to ride with the group, but it’s the unpredictable course, the unexpected turns and surprising drops that almost make me bow out. I know, that’s why people ride, but “thrill” is not in my vocabulary. “Family memories” is though.  So I gather up the nerve and ride anyway. When the ride is over, I’m always glad I got on.

How many rides do we skip because we don’t have the courage to experience the unexpected? When is that little something in our grasp keeping us from having the courage to let go and take those first steps? What do we miss in life because we don’t have courage?

In my time recovering from surgery, the Lord whispered into my heart repeatedly, “It is time.”

“But I went to nursing school to be a nurse.” I felt Him speak that He gave that to me.

“But I have these beautiful children who I’m always so busy with.” I felt Him speak that He gave them to me too.

Then there’s my sweet husband, but the Lord gave him to me as well.

What I really wanted in life is what I thought I’d never have, my husband and my children. I have all I ever needed with them.

“It is time, it is time;” the message stirred in my spirit.

Yes, it is time.

This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. I Corinthians 1:25 NLT

We want to be right where God wants us to be, when He wants us to be there. His plan is wiser than all others.

The place He’s calling me to be, took me back to the place where it all started on April 27th 1988. It was the ditch where I laid, my body burning; my brother dead. It was the scene of a horrific accident. This course of life changed.

That ditch. That place of tragedy, photographed for its symbolism of triumph!

Here I am, stepping on the ride. Here I am letting go of what’s in my grasp that I can feel and see and know.  Here I am silencing the "what if's" and "hows."

Steps of courage: setting a three-year time line to write a memoir of this journey

Steps of courage: sharing with others through speaking opportunities

Steps of courage: developing brochures to capture who we are, our past speaking experiences and testimonials

Steps of courage: seeking options for where our online home should be

Steps of courage: sending our story to different publications

Steps of courage: asking for your prayers and requesting your support in following this blog, sharing it with friends, and connecting us with others to share our story publicly

These things which God has done must be shared. “To God be the glory for the things He has done!” Sharing what He has done gives hope. Giving of ourselves brings encouragement. Telling our stories inspires, sharpens, motivates.

What has the Lord done in your life that could make a difference in another’s?  We all have a story to tell.  Whether it's to forty or four thousand, whether it's over coffee or in a presentation, we make a difference when we share where we've been.  That may look a little different for each of us, but make no mistake, it still makes a difference!  So take those steps of courage with me when God opens the door.

In the next few weeks I’m going to be sharing some people with you who have inspired me. These individuals are courageous in being who God has called them to be, and encouraging to all who have the privilege of knowing.

This journey has unexpected turns, twists, and curves. But when it’s over, I’ll sure be glad I got on.

“Decisions are not always easy…especially ones that are life changing. Faith gets you founded. Courage gets you moving.” Pastor Steve Lee, Coweta Assembly

If you know of an occasion where I could share my story,                                                                       click here to complete and submit the form.

View More: http://malloryhallphotography.pass.us/heathersblessedjourney

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Fear

We all learn something about fear as we’re growing up. We have unsound fear; like the darkness or the boogieman. We have protective fear; as in looking both ways before crossing a street or keeping our hands away from a hot stove. Fear is something both healthy and unhealthy. My Pastor of seventeen years, Gary Rogers defined fear as, False Evidence Appearing Real. In his article, The (Only) 5 Fears We All Share, Dr. Karl Albrecht offers a definition of fear to be an anxious feeling, caused by our anticipation 
of some imagined event or experience. Merriam-Webster defines the noun as, an unpleasant emotion caused by being aware of danger; a feeling of being afraid; a feeling of respect and wonder for something very powerful.

Let’s think about the descriptive word Merriam-Webster offers, an “unpleasant” emotion. I would say so. My Grandma lived right next door to me when I was growing up. We shared the same driveway. Not too far to walk. Unless it was in the dark! I remember my Mom would hold the door open to watch me walk past our front porch, dart across the driveway where I felt I would be attacked by coyotes (we live in the country, so it seemed to be a rationale fear to me), all the meanwhile Grandma would be standing there waiting for me with her door open. What high maintenance. As badly as I wanted to spend the night with my Grandma, the hop, skip and jump to her house was highly “unpleasant” at night.

We’re familiar with fear. Regardless of psychological research or formal definitions, we understand the feeling of fear.

So what good can come from fear? Scripture tells us the role of fear as one of reverence.

Deuteronomy 13:4 Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.

Psalm 31:19 How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.

Proverbs 1:7 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

And the One whom we stand in reverent fear is the One who holds each and every unpleasant emotion, each and every anxious feeling just as He did for our family this past Saturday evening.

The night started with a 25th anniversary celebration for my brother and his wife. A party my sister-in-law had worked to prepare food, decorations, music and fun. It was a beautiful evening. Everything was perfect, except for my brother, who seemed winded, was cool to touch; but said he felt hot, going outside for numerous breaks over the course of the party. Signs of him passing out warranted a call for an ambulance and a ride to the hospital.

As he lay on the couch, awaiting paramedics, surrounded by his family and friends, my husband came to pray over him. Holding his hand, I discretely tried to palpate radial pulses, but couldn’t, nor could I get one post tib. My sister-in-law, also a nurse, was quick to give him aspirin, as we all thought we were observing signs of a heart attack. Thankfully, hours of lab work indicated no MI, but monitoring substantiated the need for cardiac ablation to correct his arrhythmias. The procedure was performed Monday. Unfortunately, we heard words like, “severe conductivity disorder” and “pacemaker” in that post-procedure update. Therefore, my brother at 44 years old went in for a pacemaker Tuesday.

Now. Let’s talk about fear. Of course, you’d see how our family would be scared. But let me tell you a bit more of the story. The one parent my brother and I share, died from heart failure less than two weeks before he was to get an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator. Our Dad’s brother has had similar problems with arrhythmias and so has our first cousin. Do you see the tendency to allow fear to take root?

I suppose it’s my own acknowledgement of the fear welling-up within me, but during our middle of the night visit to my brother in the emergency department, I prayed for him, for answers, for a plan and against fear.

Psalm 34:4 I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.

Psalm 46:2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.

Psalm 112:7 They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.

We don’t know what the future holds for any of us. And I understand how fearful we can become when we don’t have the game plan laid out on the table. However, what is trust if it isn’t executed in the midst of something fearful? And…Do we trust God regardless of what the outcome will be? Do we truly believe He is in control of all things? If the answer to those last two questions is “yes,” then there is trust, and there is peace, the absence of fear.

Dr. Albrecht’s article addressed five basic fears. And I believe you can overcome any basic fear with three basic, yet powerful resources.

  1. Get in God’s Word- search His Word and find a scripture to speak out when your mind is tempted to think the worst. And when I say, “speak out,” I mean literally, speak it out. Sometimes we have to hear it. Plus there’s authority in His Word. Your spirit will find strength as you speak His Word.
  2. Pray- He knows your thoughts anyway. Be genuine and authentic and share them with Him. If you’re scared, tell Him; and ask Him to help you overcome your fear, same goes with anger, resentment or disappointment. He created you. He loves you. You’re His child. Share your heart with Him; even the unpleasant parts.
  3. Sing- sometimes we simply don’t have any words. Song can be a powerful tool to connect the emotions of our heart with our Father who loves and cares for us.

In those times we feel we’re running across a dark driveway, completely vulnerable to the elements around us, know that someone is waiting for you with His front door open. You’re running safe into His arms.

My Song These Last Several Days:

Your Great Name ~ Natalie Grant

Lost are saved; find their way; at the sound of Your great name

All condemned; feel no shame, at the sound of Your great name

Every fear; has no place; at the sound of Your great name

The enemy; he has to leave; at the sound of Your great name

Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, Son of God and Man

You are high and lifted up; and all the world will praise Your great name

All the weak; find their strength; at the sound of Your great name

Hungry souls; receive grace; at the sound of Your great name

The fatherless; they find their rest; at the sound of Your great name

Sick are healed; and the dead are raised; at the sound of Your great name

Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, Son of God and Man

You are high and lifted up; and all the world will praise Your great name

Redeemer, My Healer, Lord Almighty

My savior, Defender, You are My King

Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, Son of God and Man

You are high and lifted up; and all the world will praise Your great name

Songwriters: MICHAEL NEALE, KRISTEN L. NORDHOFF

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