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.
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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.

Positively Perplexed

Undulating road rolls under my chronically tumbling mind as I seek to soothe it by cycling into exhaustion. Call it my relief effort, or my ride to escape. However, I neither find relief nor escape. But I do find God.

Perplexed. That’s what I am. And being perplexed is like walking the side of a steep, muddy slope: one misstep and it’s a quick slide to the quicksand of fear at the bottom.

I know not what to do next. Answering that seemingly simple question is like putting pressure on a knot in my back that suddenly radiates threads of needles into previously unprotesting parts of my body. My whole network of nerves lights up with alarm, just as pressing into a tangled quandary of the mind lights up the whole network of interrelated areas of life: sin, personality, values, goals, beliefs, feelings, fears, purpose, culture, and more. The complexity of perplexity entangles me and threatens to strangle me into paralyzed fear.

 

Kimberley Mulder Fear (2)But who among us does not live in some amount of intricate confusion? Some live with health problems that radiate into finances, lifestyle, purpose, relationships and more. Others live tied up in challenging jobs riddled with sinful people and systems, fears of failure, lack of compensation, and questionable values. These are but two examples of the complexity of everyday life.

This is part of the human condition. We do not know all, and never will. No amount of understanding and figuring it out will free us of the puzzles of life. The danger is, in our attempts to escape the discomfort of perplexity, we despair and assume that our lack of clarity means God doesn’t know or care. We must find the peace in perplexity, the pace of it, for we will run our entire lives within its confines. How can I be positively perplexed and not slide into despair?

The Apostle Paul was perplexed. He wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” He accepted that his mortal body had its limits and would feel its sufferings in the midst of this complex world, and that God’s power and glory surpassed these limits, lifting him from the morass of natural fear into supernatural peace. He names perplexity as suffering, but he never translates these sufferings into beliefs that God was somehow against him or absent. For Paul, the only reason to despair, ever, was if God were to leave him, which is an impossibility.

Fear Kimberley Mulder

So I persevere through my puzzlement, allowing God to put pressure on my knots to release me from fear. Then I can be at peace even while I wait and wonder, knowing that He is keeping me in this difficult position of humility in order to bring about His glory and power in my life. I would be lying if I said that I wouldn’t be at peace if I could figure out what to do next. Assuming the Lord was directing my decision, then I would receive peace. However, I can have peace even in the perplexity. For I know the One who created me, called me, holds me, and provides for me is always for me. I cannot be separated from His love. I trust that He knows, cares, and walks with me even in the confusing intricacies of my life.

I am positively perplexed, embracing my limitations of understanding. Positive that the power of God reveals Him bit by bit to my easily overwhelmed earthen being, and that the One who forever has perfect knowledge is guiding me through this present darkness.


2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, runs her proofreading business, and shares on her blog Living a Mary Life in a Martha World.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

Finding Confident Faith in the Face of Fear

Author: Karly Grant

All of my life I’ve been a worrier. I still remember the prayer that I prayed every night before I went to sleep as a child, “Dear God, thank you for another day. Please help my family to sleep well and to stay safe. Please don’t let there be any fires, earthquakes, or anyone breaking into our house while we sleep. In Jesus name, Amen.”

As I’ve grown up, and grown in my faith, most of my fears have lessened and my prayers have become less rote (although I’m definitely not one to skimp on the “Help me, Jesus!” prayers that I often need). While most of these childish fears only return if I’m in real danger, there is one that has stuck with me from childhoodthe fear of failure. God desires for his children to live in freedom, and as he guides me through my current struggles, I am taken back to my childhood where this fear rooted long ago.

Karly Grant Fear

I revealed the litany I ran through nightly as a child, but once a year, on New Year’s Eve, I would also ask God not to let Jesus return that year. One of my earliest memories is accepting Christ at four or five years old. While I fully believe that I was saved that day, I didn’t automatically have all the answers and that scared me. I cried to my mom one day when I was about six because I was terrified of Jesus returning. I didn’t have the Bible memorized, and in my mind, I was going to get to Heaven and there would be a test. I was afraid I would fail God. My mom lovingly explained the truth to me, but for many years, I thought God would find I failed, and if I could just postpone a little longer surely I would get there. I still haven’t found perfection, but I have found grace.

God was on his own level but this fear seeped down to my relationships with family as well. There was a time when I was about eight that my family was visiting friends overnight. I woke up the next morning and the lady we were staying with told me that my parents were at the hospital because my mom had been struck with a migraine. This was a semi-common occurrence during this stage of my life, but somehow, being in a different city made it seem different. I, being the oldest of three kids at that time, felt the pressure of telling my sisters and comforting them. What if something happened to my mom? Would I know what to do? I piled unnecessary pressure on myself as a child, and I was afraid I would fail them all as I reached for my self-imposed unrealistic expectations.

_On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate._ -Psalm 145_5

Now I fear failing at life in general. I took some huge steps of faith in a direction that I felt God calling me and it looks nothing like what I thought it would. I can’t help but wonder am I failing those who supported me? I am currently unemployed and still living in a place that I am prepared to say goodbye to. My timeline has failed me, and the enemy is quick to step into this area of my life and hiss lies.

Here in the waiting is where God and I are camping. I’ve been fighting against the enemy and speaking truth about who God is and who He says I am, going from fear of failure to confidence that can only be found through God. Scripture and music have been key to remaining saturated in truth. My times of musical worship at home are anything but pretty. I often cry, sing horribly, and pound on the keys of my keyboard. While I may look miserable to an onlooker, these are sweet times with my Savior and some of the strongest points of warfare against our enemy. Michael W. Smith has a song that I’ve been listening to often these days called Surrounded. Some of the lyrics are “This is how I fight my battles… It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You.

I’ve been doing a Bible study called Psalms for Prayer. While I read these Psalms that I’ve read many times before, they have been hitting me anew.

“On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.” -Psalm 145:5

I find that reading scripture out loud and declaring the goodness of God is life-changing. God is so good. I realize in these times that I can be confident in Him. I don’t have to fear failure. He has a plan. He is with me. He never fails.


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. She is both terrified and excited to see how God moves and what opportunities He provides in this adventure.

My Zealous Adonai

Author: Linda Kruschke

Adonai, my Lord of love
How I long to see Thy face
Alight on me, Holy Dove

Bread of Life, strength for the race
Thy Word, my faith, sustain me
Resting, resting on Thy grace

Creator, who made the tree
Sun and moon, all life, mankind
Thou gave us but one decree

Deliverer, oh so kind
Even when I break Thy law
Giving sight when I am blind

Elohim, I kneel in awe
Before Thy majestic throne
In Thee is nary a flaw

Father, mercy Thou hast shown
To Thy undeserving child
Though to wander I am prone

Good Shepherd, meek and mild
Keep me in Thy safe lockup
Bring me back when I’m beguiled

Holy Spirit, fill me up
By Thy abundant measure
Overflow my blessing cup

Immanuel, my treasure
Savior of humanity
Surpassing all life’s pleasure

Jesus Christ, Thy majesty
Bestowed Thy eternal gift
Poured out upon Calvary

King of kings, Thy scepter lift
As Thou lifted on the cross
From me to Thee guilt did shift

Lamb of God, my gain, Thy loss
Light of the world shining bright
Burn from my heart wicked dross

Messiah, Thy way is right
By Thee death is defeated
Prophets foretold Thy great might

Name above all names seated
Now at the Father’s right hand
Thy work, my soul, completed

One True God, salvation planned
Setting Thy people apart
On Thy sovereign grace I stand

Prince of Peace, reign in my heart
That Thee be my legacy
Never let Thy grace depart

Qanna, in Thy jealousy
Oh, let my trust in Thee grow
Remember me tenderly

Redeemer, Thou love me so
Though my days with sin are rife
Paying all that I did owe

Savior, ransom of my life
Answer my fervent requests
Rescue me from pain and strife

Truth upon which wisdom rests
Count me in Thy census
Free me from temptation’s tests

Unchanging God, most gracious
To sing Thy holy praises
Beseech Thy faithful chorus

Vine, the severed branch blazes
Abandoned fields lie fallow
Lest a new crop Thou raises

Way, Truth, and Life, I’ll follow
Word made flesh, Thou art divine
In Thy grace life’s not hollow

Examine my spirit fine
Tune me to Thy lovely gaze
Holy Spirit, gift of mine

Yahweh, the Ancient of Days
Thy virtues I will extol
Help me follow Thy ways

Zealous protector, my soul
Under Thy gaze from above
Make my broken parts a whole

Adonai, my Lord of love
Zealous One, my Holy Dove


Linda_2017_01Linda L. Kruschke is the author of My Name Is Beloved, winner of the Unpublished Memoir category of the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest, as well as self-published author of two poetry books. She is a wife, mother, active member of her church, and former Bible Study Fellowship leader. After struggling through years of major clinical depression and finding God’s healing grace, she is now a fearless follower of Christ, living in the assurance of her salvation and God’s love. She blogs at Another Fearless Year and Broken Believers.
This poem was originally published at Another Fearless Year.

5 Bible Passages to Quiet the Thirst of a Noisy Soul

Noise is constantly slipping through the cracks of the quiet I long for. When I seek to escape into muted moments, the chaotic racket lurks ominously in the shadows, increasing the hunger I hear growling within me. I thrust myself into the delusive peace of TV binges and smartphone apps to no avail. Even in the silence, I hear it. To-do lists loom, notifications whip out onto screens with a snap, and the world tells me, “do more, be more, give more. More, more, more.”

The loudness of expectation from a world begging for me to listen to the seductive songs of leisure and mediocrity has threatened to leave my nerves strung out and dry. I feel alone, withering away on the scorching asphalt of the demands of everyone and everything except the one I long to serve most—my Lord and my God.

It is only in his presence that I can hear my soul delicately whisper, “shhhh, I am listening for the words of my Master.”

The only antidote I have found to the barrage of solicitation and thirst for more is the familiar cushion of truth found in the scriptures. These five passages bring balm to my blistered efficiency and calm to the chaos.

1.Luke 10:38-42

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’

‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”

This is the perfect remedy for the overstimulated soul. In the midst of the clatter that arises from within and around us, it honestly directs us to where the truest peace, power, and purpose is found—at the feet of Jesus.

Hunger and Thirst Chara Donahue

2.Psalm 46:9-11

“He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

We don’t always think of peace when we think of sitting in a fortress, but what this passage reminds our battle-weary thoughts is that God is the ultimate maker of peace. While rumors of wars accost our eyes as we scroll through news feeds, God is not to be forgotten. He is to be known. He is mighty and strong, just and merciful, and he is the one who was, is, and always will be. Our enervated hearts can know victory is his. He will be exalted, and because of him, our souls find quietude.

3.1 Kings 19:11-23

“The LORD said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”

In this passage, Elijah is in hiding. The threats from Jezabel swung over his future, and he ran for the hills, even after seeing God rain down fire and give victory when Elijah stood against the prophets of Baal. I hate that I recognize this pattern in my own life. That life reaches a high and I see the goodness of God right before my eyes, and still, I can turn, run, and hide when pressure pushes in. However, just as God meets Elijah, not in the wind, earthquake, or fire I find God gently leading me back to the places I can find him speaking. His patience relieves the shame that blinds me.

4.Philippians 4:12-13

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Few suffer as Paul did. He rejoiced and remained content in all circumstances. This verse reveals his secret—Christ who gives him strength. This passage takes away all our right to add to the noise that surrounds us with complaint. Yet it replenishes us by emphasizing that even here, even there, that wherever you are you may be content because you are one of the saved, redeemed, and children of the Most High.

Chara Donahue Hunger and Thirst

5.Matthew 11:28

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

What relief there is in the simplicity and succinctness of this verse. It meets me in my tired and tried places and reminds me that Jesus is not a slave driver. He is a refuge, and there is no true rest away from him. The voices from competing sources are drowned out when we bask in the truth—we are welcome with all we are to enter Jesus’ comforting care.


chara-donahue-head-shotChara Donahue enjoys freelance writing, biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds an MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is a regular contributor at iBelieve and her words have appeared at Christianity Today’s Women Leaders, (in)courage, Patheos, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara at One Anchored Voice, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Remembering the Birds

Numbers are not my favorite. I line them up, pencil it out, move things from one category to another. Every month, my heart rate unconsciously rises and the same budget conversation happens: Why am I so anxious? I remember before, when we had so much less. Why am I more high strung now, when so much more has been provided? How can I forget that the God who made me knows what I need?

We have never been hungry. My thirst is often satisfied with a drive-thru caffeinated creation, while I know there are people who walk miles and fill up buckets of water that may still be tainted with contaminants. Not only have I not experienced true lack, but I can point back to multiple times that I have seen God’s provision in my life. Yet fear and anxiety easily settle in as I forget.

I know I am not alone in my struggle to put away anxious thoughts. Over two thousand years ago Jesus spoke to a crowd of despondent, needy, sick, oppressed, broken, and hungry people and shook up the way things had always been.  He called them to a new and different kind of life. A life that seeks God.

Holly Hawes Hunger and Thirst

This teaching is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount, or the Beatitudes and is recorded in Matthew chapters 5-7.The whole thing challenged the way that people had been living. Whether the people listening thought they knew how to follow God, or they never even considered it, everything was changed that day.

Nestled in the midst of chapter 6 is a picture I often recall when anxiety grips me as the monthly bills roll in and we decide how to use the resources at our disposal.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Matthew 6:25-27

Look at the birds. Slowing down to observe is the last thing I do when I worry. Red-bellied spring Robin’s have begun to flit about my yard gathering bits of seeds or worm. They sing in the morning as the sun comes up, and fly freely. They are beautiful, colorful, and at ease. As unworried as possible. They are transitory, not relying on any single source of nourishment. They don’t work, or worry, and yet God provides for them abundantly. I can learn a lot from slowing down to watch the birds.

But the next line is the kicker: Are you not of more value than they?

Here lies the problem. When we forget that we loved children, we start craft contingency plans to take care of ourselves.

Hunger and Thirst Holly Hawes

I have seen this survival mentality play out in my home as a foster parent over the last few years. The anxious striving consistently appeared in dozens of kids in varying ways. Until they could trust that they would be safe and cared for, they worked with unrelenting determination to make sure their needs were met. The expectation: no one will help me. I must take care of myself. No matter what. How exhausting!

But their experience learning to trust, just like ours, is shaped by hundreds of conversations. More than that through thousands of silent needs met without fanfare.

“ No honey, go back to bed. We will clean up the puke”

“Would it make you feel better to keep a granola bar in case you get hungry tonight?”

“You don’t need to hide that away, we can get more.”

I am challenged to remember all the ways God has cared for me in my life. Sometimes the answer appears after much asking and praying, other times before I was even aware of the need.

I think of a grandma who welcomed me to my college dorm with a loaf of banana bread. When the car broke down but someone was there to help me. The times we just happened to get an unexpected bonus at exactly the right time.

People could say it is happenstance, but I see whispers of the abundantly good Father caring for every need of his children. Sometimes it comes through something tangible, and other times through the grace to trust Him. In either circumstance, we need not have anxiety. If you know Jesus, you are a loved child. Your Father knows what you need.

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

If we, as entirely imperfect parents, want our children’s minds to be set at ease that they will be loved, cared for, and provided for, how much more are we loved as God’s children?

As we begin to trust that we are loved and that God knows what we hunger for, we are able to live free, like the birds. Living in settled trust that displays itself as creativity, play, or satisfaction. No longer must we worry and prepare for the worst-case scenario. We are like the birds.


 

holly-squareHolly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

Manna from Heaven

My family has three character-filled dogs that traipse across our home’s floors and our hearts. Two of the three are miniature dachshunds, with two-inch legs and bigger-than-life personalities. Whenever any of the humans of the house are in the kitchen, you can guarantee the two short canines are in the vicinity, waiting for what I like to call “Manna from Heaven.” Scraps of vegetables, crumbs of bread—anything that drops, the doxies are close by to claim their treat.

The real manna from Heaven was a little different. The Israelites found themselves in the wilderness of Sin, between Elim and Sinai. They were bitter and full of distraught- Moses and Aaron had led them to a land they wished not to go. God’s chosen people voiced their frustration and even wished to have died in Egypt—where meat pots and fluffy, hot-from-the-oven-leavened-bread was plentiful (See Exodus 16).

God, in His glorious wisdom, let Moses know that He’d be raining bread from Heaven. The Israelites were to gather their daily portion, except for the sixth day—on this day these dear people were to collect a double portion in order to honor the Sabbath or holy day of rest. Moses and Aaron relayed the information to the Israelites, and naturally, some were greedy. They gathered too much manna, and it ended up rotting and covered in worms. God quickly put an end to this excess, and the people of Israel learned to take only what they needed.

Manna, as described in Exodus 16, was like coriander seed, came white in color, and tasted like wafers made with honey. This bread from Heaven was thin, and based upon caloric reasoning alone, shouldn’t have sustained the Israelites. But it did! For forty years the people of Israel accumulated manna in the morning, eating their fill and feeling satisfied for that day. The people of Israel also took two liters of manna and filled a jar to rest in the ark of the covenant. This jar was a reminder to show future generations the faithfulness of  God’s provision.mannafromheaven

What strikes me most about this passage, manna from heaven, is how God provided for the people He loved. He didn’t provide His people with nutrient-deficient food, causing the Israelites to overindulge and still feel unsatisfied. He bestowed a perfect daily blessing to His people—just enough and always in the morning as He promised.

As I think about my own life and my own wilderness that I am navigating through, I remember my own perfect daily blessing: knowing and loving Jesus. Jesus is always enough and never too much. He sustains me; He provides for me. He won’t leave me, nor forsake me. I am most satisfied in my life when Jesus is at the center of it. I need not fear what tomorrow will bring because He goes before me and behind me and provides a way for me (see Deuteronomy 31:8). girlindesertWhen I begin to complain or feel distraught, I need to center my life upon God’s perfect gift, Jesus. He will satiate every longing, and bring a peace that surpasses understanding.


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.