I have always believed we can learn so much by watching children. In fact, it is one of the reasons I became a teacher. I just never realized how great a lesson one could teach you, until today. Now that I work from home, my son only goes to child care a few days a week but we always make that drive time special. Each morning we pray and sing songs and each afternoon we talk about his day. Today was no different. We started out by thanking God for the sunshine and the great time we had on vacation this week. We remembered to pray for Grandmas and Grandpas, cousins and our dog and to thank Him for things like trucks and tractors. But my three-year old does something else each time we pray that today touched my heart in a distinct way. He thanks God for his biggest fears. This kid is fearless when it comes to heights, heavy equipment or airplanes but is terrified of the hand dryers in public restrooms, hates elevators and is not a fan of escalators or using the potty. About a month ago, I noticed he would thank God for these very things as he prayed. “And sank you God for elevators and escalators and hand dwyers and the potty”. At first I just thought it was really sweet, but as he prayed it today my eyes filled with tears and God spoke to me in a very real way. Thanking God for our current circumstances creates a cord of hope that connects us to His ultimate desires for us. Sometimes God changes our situation and other times he offers the strength to endure it. Either way, our current struggles have been lovingly planned by a Father who will never let us bend so far we break. I spent years going back and forth in this constant struggle of viewing every problem as an attack or at the very least an obstacle. Life became me versus the world and at times even felt like God versus me. There were times I even began to look at problems as punishment. When my son was born, anxiety issues I had dealt with my whole life were suddenly magnified and on many days I found it hard to breathe. I knew God was big enough to take that feeling away and my prayer was that he would, in an instant. I kept praying and waiting for the magical moment when God would just say “storm be still” and all that was raging within me would be no more. That was not the way he chose to deliver me. From that dark and frightening place, God chose to draw me near to his side; to come to know him in a new and more personal way. He became my very breath, my strength to rise and my song. The cord of hope was extended and the journey to the me he created me to be began. My struggle did not end in an instant and my circumstances were not suddenly changed; I was. I began looking at things differently and learning from the trials in my life. As my perspective changed, my situation changed. Years later, I can look back on times of trial and realize God was doing something there. For some situations, I still have no answers but I trust in the One who does. As my son thanked God for his four biggest problems in life, I began thanking God for mine. I started visualizing what blessings might be born from brokenness and started speaking those blessings out loud. I thanked Him for the things that irritate me and the things I still wish I could change about myself. That act opened the door for God to begin working in those areas. The cord of hope grew. What if one day, I looked at everything as one more love knot in the tapestry God is weaving in my life? This journey to our ultimate home in eternity could be so much more vibrant if we only let love win. If we learned to be grateful for our faults, fears and failures and let God use them for his glory what an impact we could make with our time here on earth. This one step, this one lesson from a three year old will be my starting point. “Sank you God…”
Fear. This filthy little monster creeps in unexpectedly to rob joy, steal hope and stifle dreams. Fear causes immobility because it whispers the “what ifs” that lead to deception. Fear is the one lie that offers a bounty of lies in its wake. It creeps in slowly, unknowingly and often disguised as reason, logic or reality. It takes the fragile flower of hope and crushes it with doubt. It leaves confusion where there was peace and fog where there was vision. Fear breeds rapidly if not recognized and removed. It gives life to deception which leads to discouragement. Discouragement causes defeat and defeat leads to despair.
Despair; “the complete loss or absence of hope”.
God does not give us the spirit fear. He “gives not a spirit of fear but one of love, power and a sound-mind”. Fear comes from the “enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour”. Fear is one of the enemy’s most powerful tools and it comes so often in disguise that recognizing the root of our rot as fear, can be difficult. Yet, nothing is impossible for our God! “For we know all things work together for good for those that love God and are called according to His purpose”. All things. Our God is mighty, strong, a consuming fire. “He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it”. For “all the days ordained for us were written in God’s book before one of them came to be and we are God’s masterpiece”. He has “created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago”.
Fear says, “its impossible”, God says, “I’ve already made the way”.
“Let us then strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us”.
Let us run. Not from fear, but without it. Let us drop our chains, the ones God never intended for us and let us run. Run in hope. Run with vision. Run with purpose. Run in the direction of the dreams God has placed in your heart. Run in freedom.
2 Timothy 1:7, 1 Peter 5:8, Romans 8:28, Deuteronomy 4:24, 1 Corinthians 10:13, Psalm 139:16, Ephesians 2:10, Hebrews 12:1
Most of my anxiety and frustration in this business, and in life in general, comes from comparing myself to others. On those days, which are frequent, when the couch is covered in laundry, my to-do list is growing instead of shrinking, and I have no other option but to feed my family Wal-Mart fried chicken it helps to look at myself the way Christ sees me. He never sees me as less-than but simply as his perfect creation. Right here, right now, in the middle of the mess, I still look wonderful to Him because I am filled with his wonder. Instead of choosing to play that tired recording in my head that tells me every other woman I know has it all together, I choose his voice instead. He tells me I am covered by his grace so whether I tackle the laundry or curl up in it and cry he loves me just the same. His love doesn’t grow with my success or fade with my failures, it is constant and unchanging. It covers my frustration and anxiety and fills me with life and peace.