My Addiction to Fear

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I’m learning that I can’t be the mom who saves my kids. From a lot of things. 

I have operated out of fear, in the name of protection, for too long. And it has taken from me. My sanity, my ability to trust, my peace.

More importantly, my fear has taken from my kids. Their love of new things, their desire for adventure, their confidence in their decisions. Yeah, I did that. (Or rather, I allowed my fear to do that!)

I couldn’t see it before because I was happily living in a padded room of my own making. Quite like the rooms you see on t.v. in the haunted mental institutions. This was my brain on fear. I was safe but isolated, left to deal with my tormenting thoughts all on my own.

What sobered me up was my gut-wrenching decision to put my kids in public school this year after only homeschooling them for the past 6 years. Just making the choice to do it felt like death hovering over me as I shook from fear withdrawals.

I felt sick at the thought of letting them go when all I (and they) had ever known was our home, our rules, our ways. But then, after the waves of nausea started to decrease, I felt something new and, honestly, it scared me.

Freedom.

Not in the sense that freedom is only delegated to the school-going families. No, freedom in the sense that I could actually walk away from something that was no longer working for our family. It was keeping me bound in despair as I wrestled every day with watching my kids cling more and more to me and less to their own amazing personalities.

You know when you just get to that point when enough is enough? You are afraid of the new thing staring you in the face but you know that the old thing has just been done way too long? That’s where I was when my husband came to me and introduced the idea of putting them in school. I had a choice to make, albeit painful.

I decided that I was not going to be a fear-addict any longer.

So, we did it. And it’s been great! It’s also been hard some days. But better all around. They are standing on their own two feet and learning to take responsibility for their choices without me there to prompt them. They are embarking on new friendships and engaging in activities that they would have not had the chance to do otherwise. Most importantly, my fear of them not needing me anymore was proven totally unfathomable. They get to take care of themselves when not at home but the evenings are my time with them. Time for snuggles and homework help and bedtime prayers.

They say fear is an illusion. I say fear is also a drug. It incapacitates you and leaves you wanting more and more of it until it’s all you can think about. Thank God I have a husband who listens to God’s voice and calls me higher when I’m living beneath the level of freedom God has for me.

Thank God, the taste of freedom is way more satisfying then the taste of fear.

Living Under the Freedom of God’s Grace

allowing myself to get caught up in yesterday to the point of missing out on today is not okay

I’m guest posting over at Only a Season today! Gloryanna and I hit it off almost immediately. She has a heart for the things of God and a wonderful way with words to deliver that beautiful message. When she asked me to guest post, I was humbled and honored because I highly esteem her blog. I had a hard time picking a subject to write on because there are a ton of topics looming in my head these days. However, a conversation with my best friend kept coming back to my thoughts and it therefore became the catalyst for my piece.

Want a snippet? Here ya go!

My BFF’s heartfelt words spoke to my spirit and caused an awakening of sorts to take place within. Am I showing up for my own life or am I just going through the motions? Am I allowing pain mixed with wine and trips down memory lane to trump the here and now with my beautiful family? After all, they are my future. So, in essence, avoiding the responsibilities of today is stealing from my tomorrows. OUCH.

Come on over to Only a Season and check out the full post! Thanks!

The Best Big Bro Ever

Romans 8:29 says, “For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like His Son, so that His Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

Take a minute and really read the verse above. Let it sink in for a second.

Jesus is our big brother.

This is such a simple yet profound concept. It struck me right in the heart as I was reading my Bible plan today. You see, I am the oldest of three sisters. I have felt the sting of losing a sibling way too early in life.  And my baby sister just had her first child yet I couldn’t be there. We live many states apart and the distance makes it difficult to be actively involved in each other’s lives. Both the loss and the separation are extremely hard for me to deal with some days.

Can you imagine how hard these things are for our big brother, Jesus? He has to deal with loss and separation ALL THE TIME.

Those that turn away from Him because of the harshness of this world. 

Those that reject the free gift of family He offers and choose to do life on their own.

Loss. Separation. My whole perception of family changes when I think of it like that.

I have always cheered my sisters on. I have always tried to lead them down good paths. That’s what big sisters do. Don’t we all want someone rooting for us? Don’t we all need an example to follow?

But I have failed many times in my efforts to love them well. I have fought with them over hair dryers and clothes. I have chosen my own comfort over their well being. I have made bad choices that they saw and sometimes chose as well. I am, at most, a flawed big sister who has always wanted the best for my siblings but didn’t always get it right.

The amazing thing is: Jesus doesn’t mess up. He is the best big brother a kid could have. He fights for us not against us. He sacrificed physically, mentally, and spiritually so that we could live a life of freedom. He only chooses what’s in our best interest. He never leads us down a trail of mistakes or mishaps.

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He is all we could ever want in a big brother. And more.

For those of you who have felt loss and separation in your families- Jesus truly understands. He hurts with you.

For those of you who have never had an older sibling to watch out for you and lead you well- He can be that for you. Jesus is the most overprotective brother you could have.

For those of you who are the oldest in your tribe and have had to carry extra responsibility- Jesus wants to take that burden off your shoulders and carry it for you. He has super strength!

He’s holding up a big foam finger right now and screaming,  “You’re number 1! You’re number 1!” Can you see Him?

Ask Him to make the heartwarming truth of His brotherly love real to you today.

A Four-Letter-Word Christians Should Be Talking About More

I am so excited to have my new friend, Gloryanna Boge, guest post today! She writes for Only A Season about motherhood, marriage, and faith. I believe, in one way or another, that we can all relate to the sensitive topic she addresses.  Prepare to be encouraged through her authenticity and blessed by her truth filled words. Please like, share, or comment to show her some love! Thanks, friends!

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Sweat trickled from my brow as I dabbed my chin to try and keep my makeup from smearing. I had worn my favorite bright pink dress, with “cork” heeled shoes. I wore Adidas perfume religiously during my teenage years. I went to my favorite church camp every summer for three years in a row during my middle schools days. Of course camp was during the hottest days of the year. Meetings took place outside. If we’re all being honest, camp was about seeing that boy you had a huge crush on, wearing that pink dress, and what little makeup I wore was all about impressions.

I think back to those times when I would sit outside under a huge tent and listen to the pastor talk about pleasing God. I remember when the messages hit my heart hard and crying and praying and going to bed feeling the love of God wash over me. Then there were the nights when the pastor would talk about how to please God and what seemed like “rules” we had to follow in order to feel his love. I remember a particular night when the pastor talked about idols in our life and for us to “take a good hard look” at ourselves and what we were worshipping as idols instead of focusing on God. As a 13 year old girl who had eyes for the boy sitting in front of her, idols was a topic that seemed ridiculous. No one worshipped statues anymore.

I’m gonna be honest here and say that the word “idol” is not one that I use often these days as a 30 year old, and most times, I associate those crazy people in the Bible who worshipped an actual object made out of, what was it, gold? And since we’re being honest, I tend to get glossy-eyed when I hear pastors talk about “modern day” idols and how we need to be on alert against the enemy or something like that. Idol was a four letter word that was rarely used in my “Christian” vocabulary.

It wasn’t until one restless night when I felt the Lord tugging on my heart. I couldn’t sleep. I was tossing. Turning. And you know what I was thinking about at 3:00 A.M? My blog. I was thinking about all these topics I should write about. I was thinking about how I needed to be on social media more but then my stomach started to turn because social media is draining. I felt like I was trying to be someone I wasn’t. I was focusing all my energy on this hobby I call writing, and losing my peace in the process. Yet, I kept coming back for more. I kept returning to this empty well, searching to be satisfied. Then that tug on my heart became pretty clear.

Those moments of nodding off in church when the word “idol” came up had bolted me awake in the middle of the night. My blog, which initially started out as a means to encourage others in their relationship with Christ, had become an idol to me.

I’m not here to throw fire and brimstone. All I can do is share with you how I was choking the life out of something that I initially gave to the Lord. Satan had taken something good and was twisting it for his purpose. It started when I quit waking up early for my quiet time with the Lord. This was a result of me staying up late working on the back end logistics of my blog. Instead of taking a few minutes during lunch to pray or read a devotional, I was flipping through all the social media on my phone trying to promote my blog and build blogging relationships. Not to mention times I was messing with my phone while my son was crawling about waiting to play. Then it got worse. Instead of spending time with my husband after our son went to bed and the dishes were done, I would whip out my laptop to research a plugin I needed for my blog. Some of my other relationships started to suffer because of the time I was spending with my blog.

Do you see the picture here? Slowly, God became smaller in my life as my blog became the image in my forefront. The image I was pressing towards to make bigger. After all, part of the definition of idol is an “image” of worship. If you dig deep into its etymology, you will find that “mental image” is part of its meaning.

All I was focusing on was this image of myself as a blogger and where it was taking me. God wasn’t a big part of that picture anymore. Until recently. Until that night at 3:00 AM when I made the decision to give my writing back to the Lord.

I think what bothered me the most about this revelation was how easily I let it happen. How easily I let down my guard down. To keep myself guarded and reminded of His truth, I have made the conscientious decision to speak out loud God’s Word anytime I feel like I am losing balance in my faith.

When I feel like I am not being my authentic self, I speak His Word about being a Child of God and holding on to my child-like faith in him.

When I feel like my blog isn’t growing enough or I let social media affect my peace, I speak His Word finding favor with men for God’s glory. Not mine. I remind myself that life is not about likes. I don’t need others to validate my work. God will do that in a way that is best for me.

I speak His Word out loud to keep His image in front of me. To keep myself from letting idols creep up into my life.

I encourage you to take a step back and look at what is robbing you of peace in your life. Is it something that you have inadvertently turned into an idol? Yes, say it. Idol. It’s not some vague word that doesn’t apply anymore. It’s a word that we need to talk about more often. A word that we need to guard our hearts against.

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Gloryanna is a teacher turned SAHM whose identity is found in her relationship with Christ. She is married to her high school sweetheart who insists that dirty clothes can be left on the floor. Gloryanna writes to encourage others in their walk with Christ, no matter what season you’re going through. If you want to be encouraged, you can follow her writing at Only a Season. You can also catch snippets of her faith and scribbles on Twitter, FacebookInstagram and Bloglovin‘.

 

Blind Belief: The Only Way to Really See

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Do you have to see to believe? This question has been on my mind lately. The world we live in only understands believing in something if there are tangible reasons to back up their beliefs. You know, like evidence or proof.

But what about those things that God has told us in the stillness? What happens when what we see in our daily lives doesn’t line up with what He has whispered to our hearts? It’s at these moments that we have to make a choice:

Am I going to believe beyond what I can see

or doubt because I can’t see? 

In John 20:29 Jesus says, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.” 

What are you believing for that has YET to come to pass? What promise are you holding onto despite evidence to the contrary?

For your spouse to prioritize you over his favorite sport even though he just skipped going on a date with you to watch the game?

For you to be well even though your doctor said that you’re going to struggle with this disease forever?

For your children to make good choices despite the bad ones they are making right now?

It’s so easy to lose sight of the rainbow to come when we are living under a rain cloud, isn’t it?

We have to be blind believers. Faith must be our sight. This means that I let my hearing sense take precedence over my seeing sense. That I let God’s voice of truth become the guiding force in my life. EVEN WHEN MY CIRCUMSTANCES DON’T LOOK LIKE THEY’RE EVER GOING TO CHANGE. (Anyone else struggle with this like I do?)

Let’s retrain ourselves to speak what God has said instead of what our physical eyes can see. The more extravagant the promise, the more we should speak it thus reminding our hearts to believe when the circumstances of our lives become unbelievable.

I BELIEVE: that my spouse does love me more than football and He will show me because God blesses those who believe without seeing. I BELIEVE: that I walk in health and wholeness because God blesses those who believe without seeing. I BELIEVE: that My children are choosing to live wisely in an unwise world because God blesses those who believe without seeing. 

Trust me, your YET is on its way.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”

Hebrews 10:23 

In Hot Pursuit

Pursue (verb)- to follow and try to catch or capture (someone or something) for usually a long distance or time (Merriam Webster)

Synonyms for “pursue”: chase, run, shadow

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What are you chasing after? What is the one thing that you have been pursuing above all else?

I’ve been asking myself this question lately because when life gets hectic, it’s time to re-evaluate priorities. Considering my recent personal loss, I’ve been in a state of “what’s worthwhile and what’s purposeless?” in my daily life.

I’m a deep thinker so everything must have a meaning. And I truly believe that everything does have significance. Nothing happens by chance in my book. No coincidences. However, I can get lost in thought as to what the meaning behind things are and forget about the purpose of today.

Like…neglecting to laugh with my kids right now because my heart is so focused on why I chose to act impatiently with them yesterday. Like…refusing to enjoy my husband’s presence today because my mind is so distracted by why I said harsh words to him last night. My kids and my hubby have let it go. Why can’t I?

The why’s of life can stop us from actually living life. The why’s of life keep us stuck and we end up pursuing things out of pain from our past instead of going after things out of promise for our future.

So, in an effort to pursue the right things, I’m challenging myself to do what Paul says in Hebrews 12:1-2,

“…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…”

I can’t possibly be pursuing future joy if I’m holding on to the weight of my past. This means that I have to make a choice about whose shadow I’m going to be standing in…

The shadow of my sin or the shadow of God’s grace?

Both options permit me to chase, to pursue, to run after something “for a long distance or time.”

The shadow of my sin leaves me in the dark always groping for hope and forgiveness. The shadow of God’s grace leads me out of the dark assuring me of hope and forgiveness. The shadow of my sin haunts me in the night and reminds me of my shame. The shadow of God’s grace lavishes me with unconditional love and acceptance because of His Son.

I can be grateful that He has let it go (like my gracious hubby and kids) or hold onto what I’ve done (the sin that entangles) and refuse His mercy.

But the joy, oh the radiant, inexpressible joy, that comes when we look ahead and lay everything else down. He is patiently waiting for us to seek Him with all that is in us. To place Him in the seat of highest honor in our hearts. To pursue the One who has never stopped pursuing us.

How could I resist an offer like that?

 

photo credit: Run 70/365 via photopin (license)

3 Day Quote Challenge

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The rules

One quote a day for three days. They can be your quotes, or quotes from other people. Post one a day for three days and nominate three bloggers per post. Also, thank the person that nominated you.

My nominees

CorrineAlanaAna

Thanks Kat for tagging me in this fun challenge!