You’re a Daughter, Not a Slave to Fear

I like to watch my kids when they don’t know I’m looking.

I eavesdrop on interactions between firstborn and little brother. I overhear whispers of imagination, hide-and-seek and Legos.

It’s not because I’m trying to catch them doing something wrong. On the contrary, I catch glimpses of their lives I might otherwise miss.

When they notice me, their response is always the same.

“What?”

And then comes the shoulder shrug. Like they’re waiting for a rebuke. As if I’m going to chide them for running or yelling.

I realize it’s partly my fault. Because many times, I do those things. And while I don’t apologize for it, I also want them to know I watch them because I relish in seeing them grow.

I’m a witness to these lives I helped create, and I love seeing them discover new things.

The other day as I was driving to the market, the new David Dunn song, “I Wanna Go Back,” came on the radio. It describes how as we grow older, we often lose our childlike faith and belief that we can do or be anything. Instead of being grateful we have neighbors next door to play with, we feel like we have to keep up with them.

So what does the artist want? To go back. He says he wants to go back to “Jesus loves me this I know…”

As I sat in the car listening and singing along, I thought, “Don’t we all?” I realized somewhere along the line, I forgot God watches me the love of a Father instead of an angry parent waiting to punish me.

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing over at PurposefulFaith.com about how we can let go of fear and embrace who we are as daughters. You can read the rest of my post here.

 

Linking up here: #RechargeWednesday

Are You a People Pleaser? {A Guest Post}

kellypic

Today I am delighted to share the words of my dear friend Kelly Balarie with you. I can’t tell you the number of times this woman has encouraged me to be brave in my walk with Christ. I’ve been blessed to be part of the Purposeful Faith family over at Kelly’s website for the past two years, and it’s been an honor to watch the community grow as Lord moves and transforms hearts. Today Kelly releases her first book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears! Make sure you check it out and please give her a warm welcome!

Are You a People Pleaser?

God told me to pray with all my heart. So, I did. I don’t think they liked it very much.

I think they had thoughts about it. Opinions. Perspectives. Perceptions.

Ouch!

What do you do when God prompts your heart, but man judges it? They may not say it. They may not whisper it. They may not even admit it, but somehow you know, under the cover of their Christian guise it brews. What do you do with that?

This is what I’ve been considering. Do I take care of man or do I take care to follow God’s lead?

There’s risk, big risk, in following God. Moving outside norms, beyond bounds or having an air of “different” can feel like a punishment waiting to happen.  It can feel like you’re letting people down. It can feel like their charge over you marks you condemned.

Even more, the fear of being judged, ostracized or talked about behind your back – is real. It is really real. Even worse, in some cases, it is likely to happen. Add that to the enemy, who spits out ugly words, like: “Bad child, you are messing things up and stirring up problems,” and, at this point, you can be thrown into the sea of doubt, in a split-second.

Still, I want to do what is right by God, don’t you? I want to live for Him – first. I want to answer to Him – above all. I want to be like Christ – in every way.

God knows, I want to be brave. I think he sees my heart. So, like a gracious father, He leads me, his child, to truth; He brings me to these words:

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Gal. 1:10

please-god

I can either with the approval of man. It’s fleeting and tiring.

Or, I can win the approval of God. It’s enduring and up building.

I can either please people. It’s short-lived and peace-depleting.

Or, I can serve Christ. It’s long-lasting and peace-giving.

What man gives today, is gone tomorrow. What you put in to satiating him, is eaten up by his desires for more – the next day. However, the will of God, does not waver. It does not grow old. It does not change course. It has a destination. There, lives joy, His glory and grand purpose.

Will we push into it? We can’t do it if we are sitting on man’s lap and eating up the delight of his face of approval. Jesus didn’t get a face of approval on the cross. His on-fire pursuit of doing God’s appeared nuts to man. It appeared worthy of their highest condemnation.

Still, Jesus didn’t change course. He stood fast to his belief in what his Father had called him to. He walked the road assigned to him, anyway.

What road do you need to walk anyway? What person’s demands do you need to release? What calling of love do you need to pursue?

“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” Jo. 12:26


Paperback3DTemplates_5.5x8.5.inddAuthor and Speaker, Kelly Balarie didn’t always fight fear – for a large part of her life, she was controlled by it. Yet, in her book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, with God, Kelly charts a new course. Join Kelly, on the journey to go and grow with Christ’s bravery, the Spirit’s counsel and God’s unending love that squelches fear. This book reads like a love letter from God, while offering practical heart-calming prayers, anxiety-reducing tips, and courage-building decrees that will transform your day.

About Kelly Balarie:

Kelly is both a Cheerleader of Faith and a Fighter of Fear. She leans on the power of God, rests on the shoulder of Christ, and discovers how to glow in the dark places of life. Get all Kelly’s blog posts by email or visit her on her blog, Purposeful Faith. You can also find a variety of resources for your fight against fear at http://www.fearfightingbook.com/.

When You Feel Abandoned By God

abandoned-by-god

“Well this isn’t how you prayed this moment would turn out.”

The thought passed through my filter of truth and circled my mind on repeat. I knew it was a lie, but I listened to it. I stood there with my four-year-old, who was starting a new school, and tried to hold back tears.

His own tears flowed freely.

“I want to go to old school,” he said repeatedly. The school staff gathered around, trying to calm him.

“Buddy, this is your school now. You’re going to have lots of fun and you get to go to school with Jay,” I said, faking composure.

Big brother stood beside us, cool as a cucumber. He told little one everything was going to be okay and talked about the things he was going to do with his class.

I looked at my firstborn’s cherub-like face with amazement. He was a little beacon of sunshine in this mess of a morning. A reminder from God that He was still there.

The guidance counselor distracted little one with a walk over to the school’s pet lizard and settled him. With her prompting, I snuck outside to my car, praying my baby’s day would improve.

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing at PurposefulFaith.com about how God speaks in those times when we feel abandoned. You can read the rest of my post here

Anticipating Grief: Embracing Grace in Oncoming Fear {Rays in the Storm Series}

rays in the storm series

To continue our Rays in the Storm series, I’m excited to introduce you to my friend Jami Amerine. If there’s one word I’d use to describe Jami’s writing, it’s “real.” She says the things most of us want to say but are usually afraid to put out there, and I respect and admire her for it. She is truly one of a kind and gives fresh perspective to often difficult subjects. I thank God our paths crossed in the writing world, and I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome today as she talks about grace in the midst of a grief that goes deep.

Anticipating Grief: Embracing Grace in Oncoming Fear

My husband walked the floor with the little cherub.

She was perfect.

All of our last foster placements were boys.

It was a joy to have this doll baby in our home. And we came to serve, not be served.

But the truth is, I had wanted a little girl for a long time.

Not my will be done, but thine.

As my husband walked the floor with the pink bundle, he sang George Straight lullabies. She cooed and a tiny hand reached up and touch his beard. I saw her smile at him, he smiled back and continued to croon.

My heart lurched. My throat tightened. My eyes burned.

“Oh honey,” a whimper escaped my lips, “she will only be here for a while, don’t get…”

The words caught in my throat. How I hated when people told me not to get attached. Still, he was already madly in love with the wee Kewpie-like infant. Big blue eyes, black eyelashes, and rosebud lips.

Anticipating Grief- Embracing Grace in Oncoming Fear

She was perfect.

My husband turned abruptly and shot me a glare. “Don’t what?”

“I, I um,” I stammered. I knew it was nails on a chalkboard to him too.

Don’t get attached. Don’t get hurt. Guard your heart.

His dark eyes latched onto mine and he stated flatly, “She will be loved, FEARLESSLY.”

“You’re right.” I quipped.

And then… I went in my closet and wept.

I dread the hurt. I dread the grief. I dread the image of an unknown car pulling from my driveway with this little one strapped inside. I dread the empty crib. I dread a tiny sock that was lost… and then is found at the most inopportune time.

I dread missing her. I dread my husband, kind and dear… losing her.

In a heap on the floor and grieved for that which hasn’t come to pass, but that we signed up for. And I heard my whimpers, “not fair, why, and please no more.” And somewhere in the midst of heartache grace appears.

Scripture written on my heart breaks through the self-absorbed state of mourning. Yes, mourning that is mine. Mourning that is our family’s, but mourning that needn’t be celebrated yet. And I recite it out loud, although I cannot remember how it is possible I know it so well.

There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

And I rise from my fetal position and wash my face. Showered in grace and a new breath of strength. I go to my husband and foster daughter and laugh. Weeping will come. I dance with them to country tunes, mourning is for later. Now is not the time to refrain from the embrace, now it is not the time to give up.

For every activity under the heavens, there is a time…

And with the fresh grace poured over me like living water I save grieving for such a time under heaven when the season is ordained. In this time of grace, I simply love; fearlessly.

 

job 1-21Jami Amerine is a wife and mother of 6-8 children. Jami and her husband Justin are foster parents and advocates for foster care and adoption. Jami’s Sacred Ground Sticky Floors is fun & inspirational. Jami holds a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (yes Home Ec.) and a Master’s Degree in Education, Counseling, & Human Development. You can find her crazy amusing blog at http://sacredgroundstickyfloors.com/ or check her out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sacredgrounds.stickyfloors/ or Twitter at https://twitter.com/jamiamerine

 

 

When the News Makes You Want to Run in Fear

When the News Makes You Want to Run in Fear

Until last weekend, I thought Siri could get me anywhere I needed to go. If I was unsure where an address was, I slid into the driver’s seat, stated my destination and waited for her monochromatic voice to tell me my next move.

That is, until my husband and I tried public transportation. On a weekend trip to D.C., we reasoned that driving anywhere would be difficult and expensive. Opting to take the metro, we parked thirty minutes outside the city and trusted a time-tested tool to direct us to the hotel: a map.

It turns out, if you don’t know which direction you’re going, maps don’t help out much. And if you’re unclear about your current location, they do even less good.

Thankfully, my husband and I are easygoing people when we’re on vacation and were able to laugh about the situation. We ran around stations all over the city, trying to figure out what we were doing and watching other tourists do the same.

But even while I was scurrying from one stop to the next, smiling and rekindling a connection with my love, my mind kept going back to the Paris attack. It had happened less than twenty-four hours before we left, and the news kept popping up at various places around the city.

In the hotel lobby.

In the art museum where our bags were searched.

In passing conversations, flitting in and out of earshot.

I knew this city was a likely target. As the train buzzed through tunnels underground, I thought how easy it would be for a suspect to hop onboard, undetected by anyone.

In a moving car flying down a track at over one hundred miles per hour, my thoughts raced with increasing speed considering all the possibilities. I had no map or compass to direct my endless brooding. It was scattered and aimless.

After spending the day touring various sites and snapping photos, we returned to the safe confines of our home. I pet the dogs and did laundry. And then I heard the news of a threat to D.C.

Immediately my thoughts became anxious again, until I remembered the map. I recalled our wandering and the need to find bearings.

I realized knowing our position made all the difference.

Until we define Christ as our starting point, all forward progress will be aimless. We can’t get anywhere worthwhile if we don’t know where our home is.

Everyday, we can turn on the news and see stories that make our hearts sick. And if we choose to dwell on the horror and evil of it all, we will begin questioning the One who doesn’t change.

In a world full of evil and corruption, he is still good.

In a city thick with chaos and confusion, he is steady and secure.

When we fix our eyes on the Author of our hope, our steps are sure because we know where they’re going.

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.

Psalm 59:16 NIV

We can keep singing because we know this world is not our home, and we can keep praying because we know the same God who spoke the planets into orbit hears each and every one. Mark your home base, friends. Draw an “x,” a circle, or whatever you have to do to remember.

And then know that no matter what, it can’t be moved.

 

Linking up with these beautiful communities: #RaRaLinkup, Intentional Tuesday, and #TellHisStory

Stuck in the Safety Net

life unstuck intro

When life gets hard, I tend to navigate to one of two extremes. Let’s call them “hyper-busy mode” and “bubble mode.”

In hyper-busy mode I clean my house until it is spotless. Since I can’t control anything else in my life, I attempt control my environment by creating a crumb-free kitchen floor and a shining toilet bowl.

Hey, I never said this method made sense. It’s just my natural response to the storm brewing outside.

Then there’s bubble mode. With this response, I watch marathons of my new favorite shows on Netflix and numb myself to the world. When I see news that breaks through my façade of oblivion on Facebook or the internet, I exit the app and curl up with a book or my new favorite, a cro-dough. (If you have not tried this delectable treat, which is half croissant, half donut, do yourself a favor and run to Martin’s)

Do either of these extremes work? Temporarily, yes. But here’s what I’m learning, slowly and imperfectly.

God does not call me to a safe-zone life. He never promised my walk with him would be pain and trouble free.

When I take the flight response to chaos and refuse to fight for the freedom Christ promised, I get stuck in fear and insecurity. I let my environment dictate my happiness and forget that the source of all joy goes beyond this world, these circumstances and season.

This month, I had to remind myself where my peace comes from. My family is going through a season where the future is uncertain, financial concerns mount, and stress continually threatens to take over.

There have been days where I can relate to the disciples in Matthew 8, when Jesus decides to take a nap during a storm described as being, “furious,” overtaking the boat.

Lord save us! We’re going to drown!

Matthew 8:25 NIV

 Yes, men. I feel your frustration. God, what are you doing? Are you asleep? Do you see what’s going on?

And yet, Jesus was completely calm and actually rebukes the men for having so little faith.

“Why are you afraid?” he asks.

Matthew 8:26

I think at this point the disciples must have looked at Jesus in shock and disbelief. I mean, seriously? Who would ask such a question?

Only the one who can calm the storm with one breath.

So the question becomes this. Do I believe God is still in control? Do you?

storm

Faith based on a trouble-free existence isn’t faith. It is worship of “the good life.”

There is no doubt that storms will come. And when they do, we have a choice. We can ignore them or become hyper-busy, as I often do, creating a safety net of our own oblivion and spotless kitchen floors.

Or, we can fix our eyes on the one who remains constant, unwavering and sure in the midst of all uncertainty. Our circumstances may not change, but our outlook can.

We can stay stuck in fear and uncertainty, or take God’s hand on a wild adventure.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.

*Linking up with #CoffeeForYourHeart and #LiveFreeThursday.

When You Want to Hide From Fear

bicycle 2

All I wanted him to do was pedal.

I pleaded and coerced, ran behind the bike and offered words of encouragement.

“You can do this. You know how. Just keep going.”

But as soon as I let go of the seat, his feet went down. Every time, without fail. And as much as I tried to hide my frustration, I knew it was as obvious as the sweat gleaming on my face.

I wanted him to succeed at this, but I couldn’t do it for him.

We put the bike away for a few weeks and he went back to racing his Dodge Viper around the cul-de-sac. Yes, my six-year-old was driving a nicer car than his Mama, complete with a rechargeable battery, radio and gear shift.

Little brother rode shotgun, occasionally grabbing the wheel and crashing the car into the overgrown flowerbed. A loud mixture of laughter and aggravated shouts poured out of the vehicle.

I buried myself in my latest copy of Hello, Darling and told myself the training wheels would come off eventually. He wouldn’t start high school with them on, right?

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing what God showed me about fear over at PurposefulFaith.com. You can read the rest of my post here.

How Do You Let Go of Fear?

perfect light

I awoke from the dream covered in sweat, trembling. Where was my phone? I needed to call my in-laws.

Yes, that’s where the kids were. Were they okay? Had something terrible happened?

Perhaps this was God’s way of telling me about some impending tragedy. I couldn’t get the visual of the body bag out of my head. Everything trickled in and out of my subconscious but was so real, so palpable. I grasped my surroundings to remember where I was.

My mother-in-law immediately texted me and told me the boys were fine. I sighed and my body relaxed little. It was the morning after a weekend blogging conference and I busied myself with packing and checking my flight itinerary.

But no matter how much I occupied my hands and feet, I could not occupy my mind.

For days, the images flitted in and out. I analyzed possible meanings and wondered if the enemy was plotting an attack.

My mind went down an endless trail of what-ifs. God’s grace was nowhere to be found in my endless wandering around the land of the unknown.

When I considered telling others about the dream, I held back, thinking I’d be judged. Or perhaps, even worse, my fears would be confirmed.

Over the next few days, my thoughts were consumed. I was convinced something catastrophic was going to happen and I braced myself for it.

One morning as I sipped coffee and checked email, dear friends sent voice texts back and forth. After our usual pleasantries the topic shifted. Here was my opening. They were discussing fear. Still, I hesitated.

When you bring your worst fears out into the open you have to encounter the worst one of them all: the fear that they are real. With everything in me, I longed for this not to be the case.

With obvious uncertainty, I told my story. I brought my burden before my sisters and relayed all the horrific details of the nightmare. And instead of judgment, I received love.

God’s perfect light cannot cast out fear which is left in the dark.

When we bring our worries out into the open, the body of Christ can speak life into us and help us see the truth. They show us that fear is not of God, but of the one who wants us to live my life in a state of paralysis and what-ifs.

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 NIV

Friend, if you’re struggling with fear today, I encourage you to bring it to your Heavenly Father. He already knows, and is more than capable of easing your anxious mind. And then, tell someone else you trust to help you gain perspective. It’s amazing how often our mind exaggerates situations which are beyond our control.

That afternoon, as I stepped out of the dark and into his glorious light, I saw everything around me more clearly. No weapon formed against me would prosper. No, I was safe in the arms of the Father.

Stepping out into the lingering warmth of summer, I had spring to my step for the first time in days. And the view was magnificent.

 

*Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday. Come join us and be inspired.

Where Do We Find Peace When Chaos Rules?

safe harbor

The news came across the waves of a Christian radio station a few days before our family vacation. Nine people were shot in a church.

In a place where people gather to find peace and comfort, the Enemy prowled like a lion and a hate crime was committed. And in the midst of packing to return home to this state, my mind raced with questions so deep it ached.

Why, God? How could this happen in a place where your children gather to worship?

A couple of weeks later, the same radio station shared information about a new drug which is becoming popular on the streets. Parents of a young teen who tried it were called with the report that their child was in a coma.

Chaos rages at home and overseas. Images of children being sold to a terrorist organization whose name gives me chills bombard social media. It is easy to feel weak and helpless. What can be done? What kind of world are my children going to be entering as adults?

Fear, in many ways, is like a virus. It starts out small and then spreads at increasing speed until it consumes every part of our body. It affects our sleep. Our thoughts are overcome by it.

If we aren’t careful, it can cripple us in ways we don’t foresee and may not even realize. I have been there. I have wanted to keep my child in a bubble, to stay in one place, to refuse to move. All my inertia was in the name of the toxin which afflicted me: fear.

And while I haven’t arrived to a place where I have all the answers or expect that I will, I know someone whose peace goes beyond the circumstances surrounding me.

When the chaos of the world overwhelms us, Jesus is our safe harbor.

He is the sure anchor for our souls, immovable by the changing tides of the world. (Hebrews 6:19)

In a world where people hate based on religion, color, geography and status, His love is not a respecter of persons. (Romans 2:11)

When the world which changes with the climate and the latest trends, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Where philosophy and intellect fail us, his love makes fools of the wise.

Despite my anxiousness and worry about the state of this world, I’ve seen God work miracles. In a city mourning the loss of brave souls, a community came together and stood firm despite tragedy. On a globe wrecked with terrorism and evil, men and women are banding together in an effort to provide refuge for the vulnerable.

If I don’t know anything else in this life I will stand on this promise: His love never fails. I cannot wrap the hurt and the heartache that consumes this fallen place in a bow and make it go away, but I know when my King comes again, he will wipe every tear from our eyes.

Until then, I remember this place is not my home. And while I sojourn here and do my best with the precious gifts he’s given me, I hold on to the only thing which is constant.

His love.

 

*Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday. Come join us and be inspired.

Waiting for the Shoe to Drop and Other Lies

fear

I am learning to be brave.

Not in an obvious way like scaling mountains, speaking to thousands or entering a war zone. Perhaps those endeavors await me in the future.

But for now, I am learning to be brave in love.

I am saying, “yes” to risky, extravagant love and, “no” to the fear which gripped my heart for too long. The fear of being left behind. The fear that in the midst of the calm, there is a storm brewing.

When I was eighteen, the boy I envisioned spending the rest of my life with moved across the country. We exchanged a few letters in the following months, but I never saw him again.

Although I now know it was for the best, at the time I was heartbroken.

My life is sprinkled with similar stories of people I fiercely loved either leaving or getting so entangled in the mess of life, it was as though they’d left. Though physically present, their spirit was gone. I became a recluse, afraid that any relationship I formed with someone would turn into a good-bye.

Somewhere in all the coming and going, I projected this fear of being left onto a constant, never-changing God.

When I confess my wrongs, I wonder if my slate is really wiped clean. When life is going well and I’m counting my blessings, I wait for the shadow. The other shoe lingers in midair, and I just know it’s going to drop.

These are the lies that haunt me. My enemy comes to me in my dreams, turning them into nightmares of mistakes which can’t be forgiven, accidents which can’t be reversed, and farewells that come far too soon.

I’ve had enough of living in this perpetual state of what if.

I want to trade my clenched hands for audacious abandon.

When the voice of fear overwhelms my heart, my Creator’s voice must become louder.

As I dig into his Word, I see that the voice of fear does not come from him.

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.

1 John 4:18 NIV

And there you have it. I have not been made perfect in love.

Does this mean I am not in Christ, and his Spirit isn’t dwelling in me?

No, my friend. It simply means the process is not complete. His Spirit is still working in me, and will continue to do so until the day of Christ Jesus.

Friends, we will never be perfect on this side of eternity. But the more we drown our fears and what ifs with the unchanging truth of his Word, the more like Jesus we become.

When I apply the Word to my anxious heart, I see that I don’t have to be afraid. I know no matter what circumstances lie ahead, my God will never leave or forsake me.

He is not waiting, like some reckless dictator, to take away people I love or punish me for every ill, misguided thought. He loves me with a consuming love which goes far deeper than anything I can imagine.

But we cannot remove the fear and simply leave a vacuum. We must replace the lies with his truth.

Let’s delve deep and form roots that go beyond the changing tides of the world today.

Let’s drink from the Living Water which never runs dry.

 

*Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday to encourage and be encouraged. Come join us.