Celebrating as a Family

As we approach August, my husband and I are anticipating the biggest celebration we’ve yet to experience during our entire time of knowing one another.  Yes, we do have four kids and each of those birthdays was a celebration – but I only carried each child for nine months.  This, this has been carried, prayed through, cried through, struggled through, cheered through and anticipated since two weeks after we met ten years ago.  It’s been ten intensive years since starting this long journey (when neither of us knew what we were saying “yes” to) for my husband to become a family nurse practitioner.

These years have been filled with much life, much heartache, much celebration and much trial.  We’ve moved four times, bought our first house, had four children, started homeschooling for our oldest kids, had job changes, finished one degree just to turn around and start the next, had family struggles, had money struggles, and had a lot of loneliness.  So many good and hard aspects of life have happened in these ten years but as I look forward to the next two months, I see so much worth celebrating.

Celebrate Kayla Anderson

I see my husband, his dedication to schooling, and his heart for being able to serve others in a wholesome way in the health field. I want to celebrate that beautiful vision, determination, and strength to follow what he felt called to.  I see my children who are understanding life in deeper ways because their dad is amazing at devoting special time to them. I see their hearts yearning for more of that, the day coming over the horizon when he won’t have to spend endless days studying at the local coffee shop.  I want to celebrate their great attitudes, perseverance, and that they are almost there, too!  I see my days of solo parenting changing and looking differently after August.  I celebrate having my partner coming alongside me in fuller ways as we work through many more of our parenting years!

I see both our family time and our bank account being less stretched.  I am celebrating the idea of less stretching and more of the fun family outings that my adventure-seeking family thrives on!  I see so much good in store for us after these long 10 years of often painful hard work, taking the next steps in obedience and waiting for the graduation date to near.  But just as my time always came for childbirth, there will be a day arriving soon where the intense schooling is in the past, where we can hardly remember any of the pain and struggle but only the celebration of graduation day.

John 16:21 “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.”

So, when those friends and family ask what we’ll be doing in August when he’s done – despite conflicting feelings of “is it silly to celebrate a college graduation when you’re 32?” or feelings that after so much isolation from schooling, he may not even really have friends anymore – I eagerly tell them, “we’re going to celebrate!”

Yes, we are going to celebrate.  I don’t know much else about what we’ll be doing aside from that, but I do know we are going to call up all our friends and family and gather everyone who has been on this journey with us and we are going to celebrate this long and hard season coming to a close. We are going to celebrate what the Lord has set out before my husband to accomplish.  We are going to celebrate that we have seen blessings even in the trials of this long season.  We are going to celebrate lessons, hard work, and perseverance that we have been taught as a whole family.  We are going to celebrate that we’ve never lost hope in His plan because God has given us all strength and endurance.

All the while of anticipating and preparing for this celebration time, the verse that keeps coming to my mind is Psalm 34:8a, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.” This Psalm is an invitation from David to trust in the Lord.  To celebrate in what the Lord has done for us.

Kayla Anderson Celebration

My family has waited, pursued and trusted in a calling from the Lord.  And now?  Now we are so eager to celebrate what the Lord has done for us, to give thanks to Him.  As we get near the end, we are getting a taste of what life will be like on the other side of graduation and there is no doubt, the Lord is good.


 Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery, and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance, and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.
Photo Credit: Pexels and Pixabay
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3 Women of the Bible Who Brought Unexpected Celebration

Author: Karly Grant

June is often a time of celebration. From graduations, end of a school year, Father’s Day and the beginning of wedding season, there is often one party after another. In my family there are several birthdays and retirements as I have always been surrounded by educators. All of these milestones are absolutely deserving of recognition, the accomplishments honored, and an acknowledgment of the hard work it took to get there. However, I would argue that it is equally as important to celebrate the victories, blessings, and accomplishments in life that may not be as planned or anticipated in our lives.

Life has not been easy lately as I’ve seen plans that I have made seemingly unravel around me. Things that I anticipated celebrating simply haven’t happened. However, God has remained faithful in showing me the small victories hidden in every day. He has used these disappointments to pave the way for His plans to find life down the road.

For example, I recently started a new job. A job for a company that I didn’t plan to work, in a state that I didn’t plan to be in, and at a different time than I would have liked. On paper, this new path I’m walking is the exact opposite of what I had planned. However, with this job comes opportunity down the road that I hadn’t anticipated, which may actually make my eventual move an easier process. I can celebrate the fact that God is opening doors, even if they are different than the doors that I have been trying to pry open myself.

Celebration Karly Grant

As I have been rejoicing in these unexpected celebrations, I can’t help but think of women in the Bible who found themselves also celebrating things they may not have anticipated or that worked out completely differently than they planned.  

Mary

The mother of Jesus. I have never walked in her shoes, who has, but I doubt that as a child she dreamed of growing up and immaculately conceiving as a teenager, which led her to give birth in a stable to the Messiah.

Even when we dream big, we can’t out dream God. His dream is likely grander than anything we have ever dreamed for ourselves. Mary didn’t plan this life and was understandably terrified as the angel said, “Do not be afraid.” Yet it didn’t take her long to trust God and celebrate. Luke 1:46-55 tells of Mary’s song which begins, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” (Luke 1:46b-47 ESV). Mary rejoiced even when things didn’t go as planned.

Sarah

Let’s go back in time to another example of a woman rejoicing about pregnancy. Genesis tells the story of Sarah and Abraham. God had promised that Abraham’s offspring would become a great nation, yet Sarah found herself in her 90s with no children. She was so set in her own understanding of God’s plan that she laughed when she heard that it had been prophesied that she would give birth in her old age. She doubted God, as any of us would in that situation. Yet her laughter was turned to celebration when she named her son Isaac which means “he will laugh.” Genesis 21:6-7 records her response, “And she said, ‘Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.

Esther

While childbearing was a common theme for women in the Bible and often seen as a sign of God’s favor on these women, God uses women such as Esther to show you don’t have to pop out a baby to be powerful. Esther’s bravery brought about celebrations that she never could have anticipated. When her own people were being threatened with death, she entered the palace and became the queen.  She boldly approached the king, which could have led to her death, and pled for the lives of her people to be spared. Esther trusted God and believed Mordecai’s encouragement, “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, ESV)

She confidently went to the king, saying, “If I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16, ESV). Esther was shown favor and her people were eventually saved from the fear of death. Esther became a leader in the land as a female, and that was a huge thing to celebrate. Even though God is not mentioned at all in the book of Esther, it is clear that He was using people in this story, and especially an orphaned girl who seemed to have no hope, to show that He gives strength and boldness to those who serve Him. Not only was Esther’s life spared, but so were many others, and we still learn from her story today. She only saw the beginning of the celebration that came from her faith and boldness.

Karly Grant Celebration

Mary, Sarah, and Esther are all examples of women laying down their own plans and living out God’s, and this is worth celebrating. Not only in the lives of these biblical characters, but also in our own lives. I have seen His faithfulness in my own life and trust that it will continue. Celebration doesn’t always come in the form of long-awaited successes or recognition. Sometimes there are blessings that God simply offers us that we can’t strive for, things to celebrate that only He can provide. I am grateful to serve a God who sees where I’m at, knows what is best for me, and shows me how to celebrate what He celebrates.


Karly Grant headshotKarly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year, she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm of adoption. God has laid this heavily on her heart and she is willing to trust Him. This homebody is taking the biggest leap of faith yet this spring and moving 1,700 miles away from the life and people she has known as long as she can remember. She is both terrified and so stinking excited to see how God moves and what opportunities He provides in this adventure.

The Most Captivating Celebrations

My favorite holiday when I was a kid was always the 4th of July. I loved the fireworks, my family’s tradition of making homemade ice cream and running around in warm weather with my brood of cousins. It was enough to make it the most anticipated family gathering of the year for me. It beat out Christmas and Thanksgiving hands down. The fireworks were always the highlight of the evening and they filled me with awe and wonder.

Jacqi Kambish Celebration

As an adult, awe and wonder have been harder to grab a hold of. Life has a way of stealing joy and laughter if we let it, and there have been times when I let it. There have been times when I crawled into my hole of darkness and forgot there were reasons to laugh, or sing, or dance. There have also been times when other people thought that I should laugh less loudly, less heartily, and less often—I let their ideas dampen my joy. There have been times when it seemed the seriousness of life demanded that I apologize for finding the silver lining.

There are many reasons in this life to be depressed, hurt, angry, lost, resentful, and bitter. But I’ve found through the love and grace of Christ Jesus that there are plenty of every day joys to celebrate as well.

Even in the midst of sorrow, hardship, uncertainty, and pain there are often moments of pleasure, reasons to laugh, and opportunities to be filled with awe and wonder.

As a child the big celebrations grabbed my attention and held my esteem. But as an adult, I’ve learned to look for the little daily surprises and sweet moments to fill my heart with gladness.

Moments like my kids playing nicely together, the back yard flowers blooming with a sweet aroma, and the colors of the sunset.

Moments when my kids show undeserved kindness, plant pop-cycle kisses on my cheek, and talk to me about what’s happening in their lives.

Moments when we celebrate birthdays, academic successes, and new opportunities.

Big moments, like when my daughter reached the 6-months-seizure-free mark and the anticipation that, soon, she will reach the one year mark.

Celebration Jacqi Kambish

Celebrations over potty training successes and the kid’s remembering to flush…and wash hands!

Celebrations like 13 years of marriage to my best friend.

Celebrations like the grass coming in green and the roof holding out for just a bit longer…

Thankfulness for a working laundry machine, summer breezes, and quiet moments watching the kids run in the sprinklers.

And there is more…

Celebrating the way God provides when the money isn’t there, and watching as he moves in the hearts of my kids.

Watching as God turns the sorrow of Epilepsy, and a truck load of other diagnoses, into the development of strength and character in a struggling little girl.

Turning a regular boring night into a family dance party just because.

Celebrating all those little moments; moments I was given to spend with my family, just living and laughing together.

I wouldn’t change it, and I don’t want to miss it.

As a child, I watched the fireworks, but now I watch my kid’s faces.

At one time I was hoping for the man of my dreams. Now I’m proud of the man I married.

The every day celebrations beat out the big celebratory festivities of fleeting seasons every single time…but only if I notice them.

I wouldn’t change that for the most spectacular fireworks display.

Because the most captivating celebrations of my life are the ones I almost miss.

“The LORD has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3

 


Jacqi KambishJacqi Kambish is a Christian mom to three spirited children striving to balance the daily demands of parenting a child with special needs and meeting the needs of typically developing siblings while working full time and writing.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Bible Theology and Youth Ministry from William Jessup University.  Jacqi lives with her family in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and enjoys reflectively writing about parenting, faith, and the joys and trials of life while leaving her readers with hope and encouragement.  Her blog The Presumptuous Ladybug can be found at and you can connect with her on Facebook.

Book Review: The Road Back to You

When I first heard about the Enneagram, I was skeptical. Another personality test—a set of questions used to place me into a category I think I might not necessarily fit into. My church, however, had an upcoming one-day conference utilizing the Enneagram to gain a greater depth of knowing and relating to the congregation. Hesitantly, I took the plunge and decided to take an Enneagram online test.

The Enneagram is a typology test, separating a person into one of nine personality types, which emerge from childhood. Some say that the Enneagram number you best match up with is the way God originally made you to be, before everyone else told you who to become.

When I took the online test, I have to be honest: I was sort of disappointed. It wasn’t until I read Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile’s The Road Back to You, that I gained clarification in my typology and began to understand the complexity of the Enneagram itself. My initial disappointment quickly turned from intrigue to understanding and finally to acceptance.

As long as we stay in the dark about how we see the world and the wounds and beliefs that have shaped who we are, we're prisoners of our history. We'll continue going through life on aut

In the book, Ian describes burnout from the church he was pastoring, and how he sought out spiritual direction from Br. Dave, a Benedictine monk. It was Br. Dave that introduced Ian to the Enneagram. “What we don’t know about ourselves can and will hurt us, not to mention others … As long as we stay in the dark about how we see the world and the wounds and beliefs that have shaped who we are, we’re prisoners of our history. We’ll continue going through life on autopilot doing things that hurt and confuse ourselves and everyone around us. Eventually, we become so accustomed to making the same mistakes over and over in our lives that they lull us to sleep. We need to wake up.”

I’m a 2w1 (two wing one), meaning my personality type most lines up with Type 2, The Helper (or my personal favorite title for a Type 2, The Befriender). The wing represents the number that my personality also leans toward—it’s adjacent to my typology number, and I tend to display characteristics of my wing in my personality as well. Type 1 is titled The Perfectionist. You might be able to see why I was initially disappointed when I found out I was a Helping Perfectionist. Yikes. Thankfully, The Road Back to You left my heart encouraged. I can now identify the parts of myself that are unhealthy, and the parts of myself that, when healthy, mean I can lovingly serve God’s people the best, without losing a sense of self.  

I can now identify the parts of myself that are unhealthy, and the parts of my self that when healthy, mean I can lovingly serve God's people the best, without losing a sense of self.

The Ennegram intends to bring illumination to those who take the test, and Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile’s book beautifully describes each personality type. As I dove into my number’s chapter, I began to relate to the characteristics explained, including the deadly sin my number gravitates toward when unhealthy. Colossians 3:10 shares, “So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Learning more about myself has encouraged me to know more about God: His creativity, His love for us. As Thomas À Kempis says, “A humble self-knowledge is a surer way to God than a search after deep learning.”

The Road Back to You is a useful tool in discovering a deeper knowledge of your Enneagram personality type. Its intent is to help people rediscover who God created them to be, and allow God’s people to relate to one another on a more complex level.

Have you taken the Enneagram test? If not, here’s one we recommend. If you have taken the Enneagram test, what’s your typology? What has God been teaching you through this discovery?


sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Instagram.

Conquering People Pleasing with Peace

I will be honest here from the get-go; I struggle constantly with the fear of man. Most days my mind is flooded with questions like, “Did I word that right for them, or did that come across unintentionally rude?” “Did her text message response seem upset towards me? If so, why? What did I do?” Of course, like most things, these small worries of mine ebb and flow with seasons of life. It often feels like I become more fearful and worrisome when I have been distant from God.

There is a proper balance of all things in my life, only when I am remaining close to my Source. I have less fear of man when I am abiding in Christ where I see my true identity and value. When I let life drag me away from my Bible and prayer, I often get very wrapped up in the evil one’s schemes against me. What more could please the evil one than a Christian too fearful of man to pursue God?

Fear Britney Bradley

“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.” Galatians 1:10 A favorite worship song of mine, “Forever Reign” by Hillsong is playing on repeat in my mind today. It is deeply connected to my struggle of fearing man and life circumstances, and not serving my Lord.

You are peace, You are peace,

When my fear is crippling;

You are true, You are true,

Even in my wandering

 

You are joy, You are joy,

You’re the reason that I sing;

You are life, You are life,

In You death has lost its sting!

The Lord is near, my dear friends! He is close and He is available to calm our fears and draw us close. I pray that this post, if nothing else, is a simple reminder that we Christians have direct access to the Author of Life, the Mighty One, who fights for us and loves us deeply. We cannot let fear of man grip our hearts and distract us from God’s call on our lives. My prayer for you and for my own heart today is:

Lord! You are near to us, You promise that. Please convict us of our distracted and fearful hearts. Let us lay down in Your comforting presence, and let us move forward this day towards peace in You alone.

Britney Bradley Fear


britney-squareBritney Bradley loves being a wife to her loving husband, Brian. She is mother to 4 little girls, Ruby, Cora, Lily, and Opal, as well as auntie to 8, and friend to many. She has always dreamed about marriage and motherhood, and is now navigating God’s will each and every day in these realms. She enjoys writing when she gets a chance, and of course, coffee.

Diagnosing Fear

Author: Kate Franken

I hung up the phone, after having received the results of my liver ultrasound. I felt strangely calm, despite the words the doctor had spoken. I dialed my mom. The minute she picked up, the calm dissipated and the tears formed. With a shaky voice, I relayed the call, “The calcifications they found on my liver likely mean I have cancer in a nearby organ.” In response, my mother remained calm. Her words reassured.

In the hours that followed, my mind raced. I sat stuck in my classroom, grade sheets strewn about, unable to regain the pace I had been working at. Amidst the wandering of thoughts, I recalled a sermon a few Sundays before. Our congregation had been ruminating on Paul’s words in Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” and my pastor had posed the questions: “Can, in all honesty, I say for me to die is to gain? Do you believe that departing and being with Christ would be far better than your life?” I had wanted to say “Yes” and for it to be true of me. But now as I contemplated, feeling the ticking of life’s clock, I knew “No” to be the more accurate response. I didn’t want to die.

Once I escaped the classroom, a long weekend unfurled. Visits and phone calls from friends and family kept me fairly occupied, helping me process the potential diagnosis. I got lost a time or two or more on a trail of google searches. From one conversation to the next, a long list of questions to ask the doctor arose. Invariably, tears streamed. An inordinate amount. I couldn’t control the tears. In addition, to the puffy eyes, the tears left me with redness under the eyelids that burned to the touch.

Fear Kate Franken

I felt shame that I worried. I tried to muster strength, repeatedly assuring others with “God’s got this!” A while later, in a Sunday morning sermon, God addressed this shame. The guest pastor averted our eyes to Jesus, how he wept, and how he was emotionally invested in the world. Then he posed the question: “Does Jesus know that the Father is in charge of everything? Of course, Jesus knows.” He owns his emotions and doesn’t put up a facade. Our hurts our real and we shouldn’t put up a pretense either. I loved the guest pastor’s directions to, “Feel. And look to the glory that is coming”.

Finally, Monday came. I sat before my doctor, listening to him expound on a number of potential causes for the abnormal findings on my liver. He eased my tension, conveying less certainty I had cancer than the doctor on the phone.

The next six weeks slowly passed as I took the tests ordered originally by my primary care doctor, then by my gastroenterologist, and then by my oncologist. The tests were never hard. It was in the waiting, that I crumbled.

I attempted to soften the blow of a diagnosis by imagining I already had the disease being tested for. I was already considering the cut and color of the wig I would purchase when I lost all my hair. These thoughts would come and go, particularly when I was alone. But largely, after that first week of processing my ultrasound results, I felt peace. It didn’t make sense, with what seemed to loom ahead. Frequently, I was questioned as to why I wasn’t more distraught. I didn’t have to search for an answer.

Only God can give us a peace that surpasses all understanding. No human can fabricate it. But they can pray for it. For me, God used community to bring about peace. The frequent check-ins, the intentional visits, the prayer said over and for me were constant reminders that I am not alone, God is with me.

In time, breast cancer, cervical cancer, gastrointestinal cancers, ovarian cancer, lymphoma, tuberculosis, Hepatitis A, B, & C, and HIV were ruled out. However, it was discovered that my liver and the surrounding lymph nodes were enlarged. The concern for the size of the liver and lymph nodes was debated upon, but ultimately a tumor board determined that it likely isn’t cancer. I will have a cat scan in a few months to check, just in case.

Sarcoidosis remains a potential cause of my liver abnormalities. It is hard to diagnose, and even with a diagnosis, nothing can be done. There’s no cure for Sarcoidosis. I will be monitored annually with blood tests, to be privy to changes in the functioning of my liver.

I’ve learned a lot, having walked this road with its’ roller coaster hills. The fears it stirred up reminded me I’m not God. I am powerless and dependent. Power emanates from God alone.

I gained awareness of how I misplaced fear. Only God is worthy of fear. I feared cancer, just as the disciples feared the wind and the waves one stormy night. Cancer, wind, and waves are not to be feared. God controls all things. With a love that is unwavering, He chooses how to exercise His sovereignty.

Kate Franken Fear (2)I tackled a question that gnawed at my trust in God: Does God care? When things aren’t going the way we think they should, it’s easy to wonder if God even cares. But all one has to do is look at Jesus on the cross. He knows our pain. His sacrifice shows he cares infinitely. Author Bob Goff says it like it is, “Fear calls out doubts; God calls out our names. Be picky about who you listen to.” Don’t be ruled by your doubts, but be attuned to God’s voice amidst your wilderness.

 

 

God has awoken me from my slumber. While there’s is no definitive answer to my liver abnormalities, there is greater clarity on how I want to spend my life. I want Paul’s words in Philippians 1:21 to be my own. Pastor John Piper restates the verse in his own words as, “Christ is most magnified when we’re more satisfied in him than in what we lose in death and what we have in life.” May we continue to grow in our hunger for Christ and remember this is not our home. May we be like Paul, not caring what happens, just wanting the gospel to be advanced.

 

 


kate-squareKate Franken is a 4th grade teacher and a volunteer coordinator at her church in Oregon. She enjoys indulging in raw conversation whilst savoring a cup or more of coffee. Her hunt for good books and podcasts is endless. She finds refuge surrounded by trees, on hiking trails, with her two dogs in tow. She is especially fond of mountaintop views, wit, “best teacher ever” love letters, breakfast, a painted sky, and Jesus. She has a heart for connecting people to His church and encouraging others into relationship with Him.

2 Lies that Leave Me Stuck in Fear

I was five years old. I had already been asleep for a while, but the deep night was about to be disturbed. I woke with a start to thunder crashing over our house and lightning illuminated my room. When I realized my sister had left her bunk and I was alone, I grabbed my blanket and ran through the house to my parents’ room.

A lamp was on and they were awake talking while my mom was rubbing my sister’s back. I threw my blanket on the floor and buried my face in it, praying out loud “God, please make this thunderstorm stop!” Not sure what to do next I kept my head in my blanket and waited. It was silent. I jumped up from my crouched position and exclaimed to my family, “I prayed that God would make the thunderstorm stop, and it did right when I said stop!”

Keri Nikkel Fear

Oh to have faith like a child. It is crazy for me to think about that story sometimes and remember how I felt in that moment. Scared out of my mind, but confident in my God. As an adult, trust like that hasn’t come as easy. When fear comes upon me, God isn’t always the first one I turn to and it’s taken me a long time to realize that. I do pray about my fears, but I don’t always have an open hand when I am giving them to Him. After realizing this I dug deep into my heart as to why I don’t always fully trust God with my fear and two main reasons have stood out.

Lie 1: I believe the lie that God doesn’t care or is too busy for me.

Of all the things in the world that He must be paying attention to, why would he care about my fear? Surely there are more pressing matters, especially when many times my fear ends up being irrational. So I shrug it off and think it’s not important enough to bother Him with. But Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 5:7 to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”.

As a parent, I have seen my young son fall down many times and the first thing he does (after getting up, of course) is run to me. While I don’t relish in the fact that my child is hurting, it makes my heart swell knowing that He comes to me for comfort. There is a reason God is referred to as “Father”, He loves us and wants us to come to Him with our worries and fears.

Fear Keri Nikkel (1)

 

Lie 2: God can’t handle it.

It’s hard to see that written, but it happens to me often. I get wrapped up in the “what ifs” and details. My mind spins, and I can’t find a solution to change something or make it go away. It paralyzes me and coaxes me to think that God surely can’t do anything. But that is not what is shown all throughout the Bible. David, for example, did not question whether God was mighty enough to help him defeat Goliath. Saul was trying to keep him from fighting the giant since he was just a boy and David replied, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:37

Whatever our fear is, our God is bigger. I’m still not great at handing Him my fears, I am stubborn and tend to want to control the outcome. But as I spend more time with the Lord reflecting on scripture and all He has done in my life, I remember that He is the one in control. As David says in Psalm 27:1, “The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” We may not be able to control the frightening storms that disturb the peace of our lives, but we can trust in a mighty God who loves us.


KeriKeri is a wife and stay at home mom. God has, and is, using many situations to teach her to abide in Him. She believes we are all given a story that can help encourage others and hopes to offer hers as an encouragement to you.

Fear Doesn’t Get the Last Word

The first time I met Robert*, he sat quietly with shoulders hunched, looking like he wanted to melt into the white plastic chair we’d offered him. His gaze fell to the floor, eyes telling a story devoid of hope or joy. Most men his age would have traveled alone, but Robert came with his father, who now spoke on his behalf. The reason was clear – a massive tumor protruded from Robert’s jaw, hindering his ability to eat or speak, and bringing him ridicule or rejection from most of society.

The two had traveled several days from their village to reach our hospital, in hopes that Robert could receive surgery and leave his tumor behind. For the next few days as he awaited surgery, shame and fear kept Robert secluded in his room, hidden away from everyone else in our center.

Rachel Olson Fear (1)

But when the morning of his surgery finally came, Robert was nowhere to be found. He’d heard the fearful rumors of his village louder than the reassurances of his father. He ran away at the last minute, terrified of the one place offering free relief from his burden.

When Robert disappeared, his father spent every minute trying to find him. After about a week, Robert returned in spite of the fear and had a successful surgery. Not only that, but a few months later he returned with 4 friends from his village to see if they could also receive help for their medical needs! Once crippled by fear, he now wanted others to know the freedom he’d found. I hardly recognized the young man in front of me who now stood tall and confident, grinning ear to ear.

The details of Robert’s experience go far beyond my ability to understand or relate to – so I want to be sure I don’t minimize that in any way when I say this – but on some level, there’s something about his story that resonates. The voices of our culture, people close to us, and our own doubts and fears speak loudly at times, telling us what to value and how to live; clamoring for us to cling to the security we think we can see, even in times when God is calling us to embrace risk and make decisions that require complete trust in him. Whose voice will we hear louder?

Fear Rachel Olson

When I look at fear through the lens of this story, it becomes powerless. I see the reflection of the One who is worthy of my love and trust. While we may not always understand what he asks of us and it may be a long and windy road before we see the purpose in some of it, he is good and his ways ultimately lead to freedom. May we set aside our own village rumors and trust fully in the reassurances of our Father.


Rachel Olson HeadshotRachel Olson recently moved back to the United States after making Africa home for 2 years. She hopes to live there again someday soon, where she enjoyed sharing life with hospital patients, learning (and eating!) new things and seeing God offer hope in life’s hard places. Here in the US, she loves a good street taco, card game or deep conversation with friends and family. She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes, joys, and struggles, and writing helps her make a little more sense of it all. You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram.

 

*name changed

3 Paths to Lead You Away from Fear

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word “fear” is our car accident nearly a year ago. I’m reminded of how I felt as I crouched on the dusty sidewalk off Hwy 22. Sobbing, I clutched my four-year-old, my two-year-old, and my six-week old baby and assured myself that they were okay. My chest felt like it had been crushed (just some deep bruising from the seatbelt), and the fear was overwhelming as I thought of what could have happened to us.

That fear developed into flashbacks, difficulty driving, and anxiety attacks. The last year has been a journey confronting my fears. Here are 3 things to do when you find yourself in the middle of fear.

Live in the day God has given you.

Sarah Clews FearEach day I can easily find something to fear—things that could happen, things that have happened to people I know, things I can only imagine. But I only have today. I have wasted countless hours fearing things that haven’t even happened.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” -Matthew 6:34 (NLT)  

This scripture couldn’t be truer. I’ve spent so much time borrowing trouble when I actually have so little control over any of it.

Trust that God is in control of it all.

It’s hard to trust that God is in control when I know He might allow hard things to happen. I know the story of Job, but I also know the goodness of God is unchanging. It’s His plan for my life that I want, but His plan may include tragedy and heartbreak I don’t want. I can’t stop trials from happening, but I can depend on the character of God.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

After our accident, I frequently listened to this song “Even If” by Mercy Me.


Fear Sarah Clews
“I know you’re able

And I know you can

Save through the fire

With your mighty hand

But even if you don’t

My hope’s still you alone”

 

Look forward to eternity with God.

It might sound a little morbid, but sometimes the only comfort to me, when things are hard, is remembering that one day it will all be made right. Whatever goes awry in this world, God will one day redeem. On the new earth one day, all our tears will be wiped away and all the difficulties ended.

He will swallow up death forever!
    The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears.
He will remove forever all insults and mockery
    against his land and people.
    The Lord has spoken!

In that day the people will proclaim,
‘This is our God!
    We trusted in him, and he saved us!
This is the Lord, in whom we trusted.
    Let us rejoice in the salvation he brings!’ -Isaiah 25:8-9


sarah-c-squareSarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She received her degree in English from Corban University and still loves the craft of writing. She also helps her husband run a martial arts school. In her free time, Sarah enjoys talking with grown-ups (!), finding new authors, doing online research, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.