Zero to Panic in 60 Seconds

My youngest daughter, Hannah (age 14), got home last week from a two-week visit with my husband’s sister and her family in Connecticut/ New York. They just moved from New York across the border into Connecticut, and Hannah was going to put her love of organizing to good use and help them get settled in. She had been looking forward to it for most of the summer. The best way I can describe Hannah’s personality is that she has a quiet confidence about her. She’s very comfortable with who she is and in the things she does. Whether things go right or wrong, she typically just deals with it independently. She uses her words sparingly, and doesn’t take extra efforts to be social with me—just for the sake of being social. I am STILL getting used to this since I am very social and like to talk about everything. She is totally content to be across the country and only call me if there’s an actual emergency, like asking if I could mail her a book she forgot at home. You know, important things like that. 🙂 She is always good about letting us know that she’s gotten to and fro somewhere safely, and I was glad to receive her text when the plane landed in New York. But then I didn’t hear from her for a couple days, so I figured I’d give her a call and see how she’s doing. I also just wanted to hear her voice. So I texted and called her phone, but no answer and no reply. After a couple hours of waiting, I called Jon’s sister’s landline and it rang endlessly, not even rolling to voicemail. So I started down the list of calling Jon’s sister’s cell phone, my brother-in-law’s cell phone, my father-in-law’s cell phone (since he was out there too). NO ONE was answering! Where in the world were they… and why was no one answering?! I’m beginning to feel uneasy by this point and checked Hannah’s Facebook to see if she had been on there at all since she got to New York. Nope. Oh, man. What now?! Criminy. Okay, deep breaths… I went from complete rest one minute to the deadliest feeling of fear the next. In the blink of an eye, I felt a helplessness that I haven’t felt in a very long time. My head took over, and in mere seconds, my mind went crazy. I was consumed with fear. It gripped me, and logic and reason could not be deader than in that moment. I told Jon if I didn’t hear from Hannah soon, I’d be booking a flight to New York… tonight! And I was not exaggerating. There’s something about DOING something in the midst of fear that makes you not care whether you’d be of any value, or care if you made a complete fool of yourself in the process. I stopped to pray a quick prayer that Hannah and everyone else was safe—wherever they were. But I kept on, still a wrought-up wreck on the inside. And watch out because I’m about to come unglued! Have you ever felt such a lack of control? By the grace of God, I realized I was calling their old landline in New York. I looked back in an old email to retrieve their new Connecticut phone number, called it, and someone did finally answer the phone. Surprise, surprise… Of course there was an explanation for everything. It turns out that nobody’s cell phones work in the mountainous area they just moved to. Ugh… Not only was I embarrassed for such a major FAIL at trusting God, but so thankful for a good outcome to a situation that I, ahem… created in my own head. In spite of all my fears, God still had angels watching over Hannah, and she was always in His care. Why would I ever doubt that? I apologized and asked Him to forgive me, and I know that He did. He didn’t tell me to go away and come back when I have more faith. He helped me to see my lack of faith, but didn’t make me feel bad for it. His love and gentle nature gave me peace in my heart, and I know He doesn’t hold my doubts against me. God knows we’re on a journey, and He knows we continually face some scary things in this life. He just lets us know that He’s always there, and worthy to be trusted. Next time you’re gripped with fear, I pray the peace of God washes over you like warm, gentle ocean waves, and...

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Time to Move On…

Today is the 4-year anniversary since my dad died. Every time I think of him, I try to remember the days when he was happy, and life was good for him. Not always easy, since the last fifteen years of his life was a long, painful battle with depression. I’ve shared in writing some of my personal journey in dealing with my dad’s suicide at age 50, but this time, I’d like to share a prayer I wrote to God this morning. Kind of raw, but that’s pretty much how our heart-to-hearts are. I’m okay with it if you are. 🙂 Dear God, I don’t deny the pain and sadness I feel some days. I miss my dad, and I still have times I want to wail and scream at the devil for how unfair the last four years have been for me and my siblings. But at the same time, I want to thank You for being so faithful on my journey of healing and forgiveness. I know I will never know or understand many things until I get to Heaven, but one thing I AM confident in is Your love for me, and Your faithfulness to teach me how to live today. I’m thankful you never stop teaching me how I can learn and grow from everything that I encounter on this earth. I never want the focus of my life and thoughts to be on my hurts, allowing bitterness to take root in my heart. The sadness of the situation is always there, but I have learned how not to dwell there. I have made great strides with each year that passes, as I lean on You and cast my cares on You more and more. You are my strength, and in You, I do find peace! You are never the cause of the bad things we experience, but You have taught me that even in the worst situations and tragedies, there is always a testimony of Your love and faithfulness to be shared with others. You have shown me how to rise above the sadness, and live my life with joy every day. It’s because of You that I truly am a happy person. You’ve shown me how to laugh at things in life, even when no one else thinks they’re funny. 🙂  It’s not a façade. It’s really unexplainably supernatural, and for that I sit at Your feet with thanksgiving. I love You, Lord, for how You love me. Sometimes I’ve wondered if you think I’m a whiner. I tell You like it is and how I’m feeling, and You comfort me as I run to You like a little girl with arms open wide. You shine on me when I feel like the lights of my life are dimming. You whisper Your truths to my heart when I feel shame and doubt. When the weight of the world feels heavy on my shoulders, You surround me with people who faithfully re-orient my eyes to only focus on and believe the promises of Your Word. I will never lose sight of who You are and all You’ve done, which is the main reason I write. You are my hope and my inspiration to keep pressing toward the things You’re calling me to do. In spite of the pain of the past, I wake up thinking about Your resurrection power. It’s a daily reminder that I’ve been redeemed from a life of heaviness, sorrow, and regret, for which I will forever sing Your praise. I know this may seem uncaring to some, but part of my moving forward in life is to remove my dad’s date of death from my calendar. In order for me to truly move forward, I am no longer going to memorialize this date, since it represents nothing but heartache and sadness for me. I will always celebrate his LIFE, and only remember his date of birth from here on out. He was a great man, and those are the things I want to remember. Thank you, Father, for making me a strong person… and an overcomer… because of Jesus. Please let my life reflect Your beauty and Your love no matter what. You’ve changed me at my very core these last four years, proving that You can bring good out of anything. And by anything, I mean anything. In Jesus’ name… Amen. John 16:33 (Amplified) ~ I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain,...

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No Apologies

Has anyone ever told you that they think you talk too much about God? Or maybe you’ve been made fun of in some way because you’re a Christian. You know, being labeled one of those “Jesus freaks” by a friend or family member. This has happened to me, and even though it shouldn’t surprise me, I’m still a little caught off guard when it happens. I’ve felt the blood rush to my face, and have been tempted to ask them, ever-so-nicely, to put up their dukes before I pop them right in the kisser! I know that’s not very Christian-like, and I’d like to say that I’m much more mature than that, but those thoughts come so fast sometimes. 🙂 There will always be people making judgments about us for the things we believe, how we live our lives, things we say (and don’t say), how we raise our children, how we do our jobs, how we keep up our home, how we relate to people, how we spend our money, and on and on. We’re all individuals with different backgrounds and opinions. So, who determines what’s “right” anyway? Our estimation of “right” will always be in flux, depending on the foundation we build our lives and our beliefs upon. It’s so important to determine what the moral compass is that’s directing your life. Our opinions and views on things are ever-changing, unless they’re founded on—and anchored in—the truth of God’s Word. What He said in the Bible thousands of years ago has never changed. It’s still true, and it applies to our lives today! What we want and what we feel can (and does) change from day to day, but… not God! When I didn’t have a foundation for my beliefs, I based my life and decisions on what I “felt” was the right thing, or what felt good to me at the time. I could never explain why I believed what I did, and was tossed around like a seed in a popcorn popper. I didn’t know who the real me was, and I was constantly changing so I’d be accepted wherever I was. It got me into a world of hurt. When we don’t have a firm foundation to keep us grounded, we’ll be subject to the  ever-changing winds. I have always been a passionate person. I think God wired me that way. When I was younger, I was passionate about being a vegetarian, saving the earth, a woman’s “right to choose”, cocaine, and many other things. I also rejected God—with a passion! Right, wrong, or indifferent, whatever you’re most passionate about is eventually going to come out of your mouth. You ARE going to talk about it! I’ve discovered that the things I believe and hope for are not always considered realistic or practical to the general public. I’m okay with that, because the truth is that none of it is even remotely possible without God. He’s at the very center of my life and all my dreams, so I just can’t HELP but talk about Him. When it comes to living my life for God or sharing Him with others, I don’t claim to know the Bible from cover to cover, but it IS my foundation. Even though I make plenty of mistakes, I base my decisions, my views, my marriage and family… and my whole life on it because of how He has touched and changed me. It has nothing to do with my opinion, but everything to do with my real-life experiences, and things I’ve come to learn about Him. This is the very reason that the passion I feel inside for Him spills over. I can’t help but talk about all He’s done. Jesus paid too high a price for my life and freedom for me to keep it to myself. I’m not saying it’s okay to be obnoxious, but clamming up is just not an option. How has God touched and changed your life? And have you honored Him by talking to others about it? Sometimes words aren’t necessary, but passion always speaks. If your passion for God needs some stirring, take time right now to recall how He brought you from darkness into His glorious light. That’s a hard thing to be quiet about, don’t you think? Let your life speak of His love, His goodness, and His grace! Luke 6:48 (NLT) ~ It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. Psalm 145:21 (Amp) ~ My mouth...

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What’s Done is Done… Flashbacks

I was minding my own business and getting ready for work this morning when out of nowhere, a painful flashback of something that happened when I was a teenager shot through my head. I haven’t thought about it in over twenty years. I was immediately racked with guilt and in a puddle of tears when I remembered the situation in vivid detail. The specifics of what it was don’t matter, but what does matter is what I do with those thoughts and memories from this point forward. When I gave my life to the Lord, I clung to the promise of being forgiven of every bad thing I ever did and every person I ever hurt. I had a rap sheet that could probably circle the globe, but thank God He doesn’t keep a record of all those things! As the Bible says, the old me was gone for good when I became born again… and I became a new creature in Christ. There is a transformation that takes place in your heart and mind when you don’t just go through the motions of trying this Jesus thing on for size, but genuinely surrender your life to Him. No one said once you turn from your old ways and trust in God to help you live your life for Him that your past just vanishes into thin air and is erased from your memory banks. We ALL have a past (some good, some bad, and some ugly), so we’re all going to have occasions to either let go of those memories or hang onto them when they come. So, why is it important to let them go? For one, because there is absolutely nothing you can do to change it. What’s done is done. There is no redeeming value in continuing to think about what you shoulda, woulda, coulda…! If you dwell in that place, it will only bring you down. The more you think about something, the more those ideas get ingrained and you begin to believe they’re true—even when they’re not! It will surely hold you back as those thoughts have a great potential to reshape who you believe you are from the inside out. The enemy gains entrance into our lives by getting into our heads. If he can change how we think—about ourselves, about God, about others—he’s well on his way to steal, kill, and destroy anything in his path. When I get those flashbacks, or painful memories crop up, I never deny they happened. I pretty much have a face-off when I start to feel condemned. I’m like, “Yep, I did that. I’m not proud of it, but I’ve been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb… and the word of my testimony!” He’d love nothing more than for you and I to be so consumed with thoughts and memories of mistakes we’ve made, and people we’ve hurt, because then we’ll lose sight of who we are IN CHRIST! In Christ, no matter what baggage you’ve carried around, you don’t have to continue having a victim mentality. You are victorious! You have power and authority over the works of the enemy. Outside of Him, you’re powerless. Don’t give the devil the power to derail your day… or your life! I am a completely different person than I was back then. God knows it… I know it… anyone who knows me knows it. I don’t need to sit here and passively relive any pain from my past like it happened yesterday. I have the mind of Christ and I have control of my thought life! All I can do from day to day is fill my heart with what God says about me, and thank Him for how He has changed me from the person I was yesterday into the person I am TODAY, and how He’s helping me be who I’ll be tomorrow! How are you going to reshape your today and tomorrow? What’s done is done! Luke 10:19 ~ Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm...

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