Fear wears a mask named Responsible

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In the few days since the fire (click here to read about it) I have noticed signs of trauma.  It happens mostly at night.  As I snuggle down into my pillows and feel the normally comforting warmth of my blankets I get edgy.  My ears are heightened to sounds around me and I find myself opening my eyes to glance out the window.

I’ll hear an animal scurry or a limb crack in the woods but something tells me, “It’s a fire!”  What was that?  A pop, a rumble?  Are the trees glowing?  My heart starts racing and I want to get out of bed to look.  I quickly recognize my anxiety is irrational.  It’s very unlikely another one of my neighbor’s houses will explode in a roaring inferno.  And, yet, I feel it…

Fear.

The type of fear I felt the day of the fire spurred responsible action.  It caused a respect for the danger and potential reality of a fire.  As a result our family took action steps to be as prepared as possible in the case of a house fire. (Click here for a safety checklist.) But this, this feeling I’m having at night, is not the same kind of fear.  It doesn’t cause responsible action it causes worry and sleeplessness.  This type of fear sneaks in like a villain.  He masquerades as Responsibility.  Like a bad insurance policy he promises security but demands a hefty payment and never delivers.  He’s really a thief.

He steals peace and leaves worry.  He steals sleep and leaves weariness.  He steals trust leaving a sense that my life is all dependent on me.

Fortunately, I’d seen this villain before so I recognized him quickly.  And did what you do with a thief who comes in lies and betrays you and tries to steal your precious possessions.  I kicked him out.

Hope, peace and trust in God are some of my most valuable possessions.  An abundant life does not exist without them.  I can not sit passively allowing any type of thinking displace them.  I cannot deny I experienced trauma and that it’s normal to experience triggers that reactivate the feelings of a trauma.  But I won’t allow that to be an excuse to partner with the villain who wants me to think that worry, heightened intensity (aka jumpiness), and anxiety are going to protect me and my family from fire – or any other threat for that matter.

Intimacy with the God who loves perfectly allows a trust that imprisons the villain fear.  The peace that follows isn’t rational.  It transcends understanding.

Fear is a conniving little snake.  He’s not your friend or protector. Has he snuck in on you?  Sometimes we don’t recognize that fear has trespassed until we notice the shortage of what he’s stolen.  Here are just a few examples.

Fear of the future steals our hope.
Fear of the unknown steals our peace.
Fear of rejection steals our relationships.
Fear of failure steals our success.

Do you lack hope in any area of your life?
Do you lack peace?
Do you lack depth and satisfaction in your relationships?
Do you lack momentum towards your destiny?

Perhaps there’s fear there.

Last night I slept without one worrisome thought.  How did I kick out the thief?  I remembered who my God was.  He never promised me a life without trouble but he did promise me a life of peace.  I began to thank him for all he is and all he’s done in my life.  I made a conscious choice to think about those things.  And without another thought fear was gone.

Do you want freedom?  Freedom from fear that causes worry, anxiety, loneliness, depression, perfectionism, performance driven, controlling behaviors is available through a relationship with Jesus.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. Andthe God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9 (emphasis mine)

Do you believe you know at least one person who needs freedom from fear?  Would you share this on your Facebook, Twitter or your favorite social media site?  Recognizing how fear works could be all someone needs to gain back what’s been stolen from them.

Be a herald!  Together we can make a difference!

Too Close for Comfort, How Fear could Save You

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The trees outside my balcony sliding door glowed an eerie orange as I was awakened with what I first thought was gunfire. Pop…..pop, pop.  But then I heard breaking glass and a strange rumble. Something wasn’t right.  It shouldn’t be this bright yet.  It’s not morning.  I got out of bed, opened the door and stepped outside to see the house just three doors down engulfed in flames at least 80 feet high.  I hollered in to my husband, “CALL 9-1-1!”

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The view from my second floor balcony.

“What?” he said – trying to rouse himself.

I stepped inside and grappled for the phone on his bedside table and called for help.  It was a dark 4 am and all I could hear was the hungry flames devouring  the entire backside of the three-story end unit townhouse.  As I informed the 9-1-1 operator the fire began to reach into the forested park that stretches behind our houses.  Finally, (although only a minute passed) I could hear the nearing sirens of the fire engines.  The fire burst and climbed higher as a nearby tree was enveloped.

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I felt the rush of adrenaline that inspires flight in times like these.  I felt relief once I knew my family was safe.  I felt intrigued to observe the life altering drama just steps away from my front door.

It was a 2 alarm fire and the wonderful men and women of our local fire department worked seamlessly to keep the devastating fire from consuming the several attached town homes.  It took an hour to contain the blaze.  Seven hours after the pop’s that awakened me the owner is still unaccounted for.  As I type I hear axes hitting the charred wood as the investigators attempt to search the home for cause and…remains.

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All morning my heart has been stirred with overwhelming fear of the uncontrollable and a healthy respect for fire.  I live in a home with three small children ages 5, 4 and 2.  My husband is a heavy sleeper.  My house is cluttered with scattered toys, books off shelves in walkways, piles of laundry, briefcase and backpacks on the floor in the foyer, shoes spilling out of the closet into the path of the garage door.  All of this normal, bothersome clutter I suddenly saw as a life threatening hazard.  How fast could we get out of the house?

I had the privilege of serving breakfast to the woman who made the first 9-1-1 call this morning.  Her townhouse was the one next to the blaze.  She shared with me how fast it all happened.  The pop’s woke her up.  She smelled smoke and could see glowing out her window, she called 9-1-1, got dressed all before the smoke detectors went off! After 2 minutes the whole house was filled with smoke and she had to crawl to keep breathable air – she made it out safely but not before the entire back side of her neighbor’s home was an unapproachable inferno. From waking up to getting out it was less than 3 minutes and her house wasn’t on fire.  As s looked around at my children playing on the floor she told me how grateful she was that she her son was grown and she didn’t have pets to worry about getting safe.

My husband and I have talked on many occasions about creating a fire escape plan, the importance of checking smoke detectors and even about getting a fire escape ladder.  But we have never actually done it.  Any of it.  O.K.  we’ve changed a smoke detector battery but only when it makes that incessant and irritating beep every 60 seconds warning that the battery is about dead.

That changed today.

At first light, Jonathan went online and found this checklist from FEMA.  We changed our fire detector batteries, ordered a fire escape ladders, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors and probably the most important thing;

We did fire drills with our kids!

We made an escape plan.

Found our meeting place across the street.

Taught them how and why to crawl or stay low.  (We used Turbo the racing snail as an example – low and fast!)

And explained how to go to the neighbors to call 9-1-1.

They did great.  Perhaps it helped that we had such a tangible example for them to see, fire engines and Marshall trucks still blocking the street.

I cannot imagine if I woke up to a blaze in my house like the one I witnessed this morning.  May I never know what that’s like.  But the experience caused a healthy fear that helped spur my family to make a plan and be prepared should an emergency happen.  I pray we never have to use it.

It’s fire season.

Do you have a plan in case of a fire?  Do your children know what to do?  Do you follow a fire safety checklist to keep your household safe?  Have you done a fire drill in the last 6 months?

Please help spread the word about how taking small steps can prevent catastrophe, share this on your Facebook, Twitter or other favorite social media site.

Be a herald.  Together we can make a difference!

Have you ever seen a house fire up close?  How did you feel?

Jesus isn’t a Republican… (and why you should vote)

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I heard a statistic on Sunday that 60% of evangelical Christians don’t vote.**  The day before I heard about the thoughts of a young man who is passionate about his anti- government ideas and, yet, when asked if he voted the answer was no. I suspect he is not a lone individual.

It baffles me (and then it doesn’t) that more people don’t’ vote.  It wasn’t long ago that I was so preoccupied with my own life that I didn’t think about voting.  Later I remember thinking one little vote wouldn’t matter nor did I have one clue about the world, our nation or how it worked.  I was ignorant.  I’m still working to educate myself.

As Christians, who by nature typically care about people, how can we justify not voting?  Some might claim their prayer meetings for leaders and our nation is more powerful than any action taken in the natural.  Pray for our nation.  Yes.  Pray that it would be righteous and just. Pray her people are cared for and their liberties defended.  But prayer alone is not enough.

Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; be warm and well fed,” but does nothing of his physical needs what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  James 2:15-17

Praying for transformation of this nation and not participating in the privilege of voting is faith without action.

Jesus cares about government but he’s not a Republican, a Democrat, Independent or a Libertarian.  Voting carry’s with it the responsibility of staying informed.  It is not good enough just to vote party lines because Jesus isn’t associated with one particular party.  We need to educate ourselves on how our government works.

We might not like how it’s working but the ONLY way it’s going to change is if we participate.

In many states across the Nation tomorrow, November 5th, is Election Day.  If your state is having an election tomorrow GO vote!  If your state is not having an election tomorrow here’s your opportunity to get ahead on the issues that are important to you and how you can make a difference in coming elections.  Our government is complex and overwhelming, I still have a great deal to learn.  But thinking you don’t have to vote or that it doesn’t matter if you vote is one of the very reasons our country is not working as it should.

Are you frustrated with society, economics, education, immigration, insurance, taxes, restrictions and regulations… etc.  Then get informed and get involved.  Ask yourself, “What is the role of local, state and national government?”  Find answers.  Read your Bible.  Research online, get books from the library, and talk to people you respect.  But don’t believe everything you read – know your sources and use your brain.

Register to vote and then actually vote.  But only if you use a better method than “eenie, meenie, miney, moe.”

Complaining is worthless and prayer alone is not enough. Your voice is important and what you do matters!

***

If you are moved to action by this article or you think others need to have greater value for their civil responsibility please share this on your Facebook, Twitter or favorite social media site.

Be a herald. Together we can make a difference!

(**I was unable to verify this stat before publishing.  It could be inaccurate – but it  got me thinking, which led to this article.)

The problem with Christians today (and ever since Constantine)

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Christians today continue to sell Jesus as the answer to life’s problems.  But what many provide their convert is the way to do church losing the heart of Jesus and the freedom of His Kingdom.  This method of “evangelism” has become ineffective at impacting our culture where Christianity no longer has the largest influence.  Frankly, this was never good form.

For decades, Westernized Christianity ruled American culture through social pressure.  Divorce was forbidden, and many steered away from breaking the legal contract, yet fear of being shunned did nothing to bring wholeness and joy to marriage.  Stigmas that followed the promiscuous youth along with fear of pregnancy (pre free contraception and readily available abortion) was effective to curb the overt actions of some but did nothing to create purity in a generation.

Today, non-traditional ideas and lifestyles tout new social pressure.  Christian expressions of opposition to these ideas are taboo and in some settings literally outlawed.  Christianity was wrong to use it’s popularity as a method of conversion and control.  Similarly, Constantine legalizing Christianity, making it the religion of the state, was ineffective at creating a society of true converts in the fourth century .  Heresy was intolerable. Becoming a Christian was the way not to be killed or imprisoned or a new way to climb the Roman Empire ladder. Sadly, not much has changed in the hearts of mankind.  Church going is often used as a way to keep parents or a spouse happy, to draw customers to a new business or to help fund a political campaign. Church attendance may swell but it is not the “building up” of the church written about in the Bible.

Modern Christians need to let go of the illusion that conformity is indicative of a heart that has met Jesus. The tree of life is not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  These were two separate trees in the garden of Eden.  And the fruit of knowing right and wrong is not the same as the fruit of the spirit of the tree of life.

Christians need to stop pressuring people to agree with truthful statements and start introducing people to Truth.  Rules, regulations and behavior modification is more manageable and less messy than a relationship with a loving, untamed, passionate God.  But transformation, both individual and cultural, will only come with authentic spiritual relationship with the Creator.

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Do you feel Christians need to change their approach to better represent Christ?

Do you want others to know the Truth,  Jesus Christ, and not just learn how to go to church and “act right?”

If so – would you share this article on Facebook, Twitter or your favorite social media?  Be a herald and spread the word.  Together we can make a difference.

Miscarried… A Letter to My Unborn Child

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My sweet little one,

I’m sorry.  I’m sorry that for whatever reason you couldn’t join us here.  I’m sorry for all you missed and didn’t get to experience.  I am so sorry I didn’t get to meet you, hold you, nurture you and watch you grow.

I rejoice in your life none-the-less.  And I rejoice that you are knowing an incomparable LOVE in the eternal moment of Heaven.

Today I mourn the loss of your life, grateful that you are in the arms of your Creator.  Yet I have hope.  Hope that you will change the world; not by your feet walking the Earth, the power of your words nor the impact of your decisions.  You will change the world because you existence changed me, hoping for you altered my perspectives.  The presence of your life growing in my body showed me the power of our God and the fragility of life.

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I will not know your personality or passions during my lifetime – but someday I will know you…I just have to wait longer than the few remaining months of my pregnancy.

I will not allow the shortness of your life lack impact on the Earth.  Your life, though brief, will not be without meaning.  You will never know breath in your lungs, the taste of sweetness, nor feel the tenderness of my kisses.  You will never know the burn in your lungs when you run full force across a field for the ball or the exhilaration of jumping from the diving board into a pool for the first time.  You won’t know the butterflies fluttering in your stomach as you fall in love nor the beauty and intimacy of marriage or the joy of having your own children.

Nor will you know disappointment, fear, anger, sickness nor despair.  You will never cry.  All you will ever know is LOVE, JOY and PEACE nestled in the HOPE we wait for.

You were designed to be royal and priestly.

You were knit together with a destiny and it will not go unaccomplished.

What He begins, He finishes.

Your LIFE marked me and I will never be the same.  You made an impact.  And because you changed me – you changed the world.  To what degree, perhaps you can see now, but I will have to wait for.

We named you Hope.  And now you live in our hope because of where you are.  The remembrance of your  life has become a declaration:

Our true HOPE is in Heaven!

I love you and can’t wait to meet you.

Love,

Mom

Are You on Track to Your Destiny?

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Where there is no vision the people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. Proverbs 29:18

…the people cast of restraint, the people let loose, the people are not directed…

The word restraint or restrained is not attractive.  It doesn’t feel welcoming or comforting.  A normal reaction would be to CAST off or FIGHT restraint.  Initially, “restraint” doesn’t bring thoughts of freedom.  And freedom is what we are made for.

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A train is restrained in that it must ride the rails of it’s tracks.  It only travels where the tracks lead.  In truth it could move along without them but a train driving without tracks would slip and slide.  It would move, but slowly and in many directions.  In contrast, a train on rails is focused, gains speed and quickly reaches it’s destination.  It’s restrained but purposeful!

If one would heed

be alert to and take action with

the instruction of wisdom,

the revelation or vision they have been given,

they can lay track

restrain themselves, limit where they put the focus and energy, know what to say “yes” to, direct their path

and will reach their destination. 

Attain their destiny!

Freedom allows us to let loose!  But wisdom in freedom allows us to choose how to restrain ourselves in order to give our life focus and direction.

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Seek wisdom, heed it’s instruction and lay the tracks!

Reaching your destiny depends on your vision and self restraint!

What is your vision? What has Wisdom instructed you towards?

In what ways can you restrain (direct) yourself in order to see your vision realized?

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reNEWed

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We love New.  New beginnings.  Fresh starts.

Clean slates.

We like January Firsts, Mondays, New fiscal quarters; to flip the page to a new month or week in our calendar.

DSC04887We like new ledgers, balanced books and untainted goals.

We like Resolutions. Solutions. Resolve – unmarred by failed attempts.  The hope in them still bright.

Hope is empowering!  It reminds us our dreams can still come true, our destiny actualized.

One month into 2013 you may have already found yourself falling short in your new years resolutions.  Maybe you set financial or exercise goals, perhaps you made a plan to read more or serve more, be angry less or forgive quickly.  Perhaps you are not seeing the progress you envisioned. Whatever you resolved to do, don’t dismay!

I have some encouragement for you!

The mercy, grace, empowerment and hope of God is available in every breathe.  Mistakes covered, shortcomings made up for, debt paid.  We need only to turn to what He provides.  We do not have to flip the calendar to a new year, month or week.  We don’t need to wait until the new fiscal quarter.

Every. Day. Is. A. Fresh. Start.

His mercies are NEW every morning.”

“The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”  Lamentations 3:22-23

You can start over right now.  Now is your fresh start.  Now is your new beginning.

Now is your NEW.

In Him you have ALL that you need.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness”.  2 Peter 1:3