Paralyzing Fear

Do your fears ever overtake you - paralyzing you, either momentarily or long-term, to the point where you sit out on life?

Fear is a strong force that God may use to protect and guide us but it’s also a tool the enemy will use to keep us in stalemate preventing us from experiencing and trusting God.

A few weeks ago our daughter had her end-of-the-season soccer party at a new gym in our area. It’s in an old warehouse and high above our party was the ropes course with six platforms and in-between each is a variety of ropes and obstacles.

It looked awesome and the girls immediately asked about it.The manager offered us a deal if each child had an adult to accompany them. We couldn’t pass it up so we did the mini-training, strapped in and waited our turn to climb the rope ladder.

I was with my son, Noah, who quickly climbed the ladder as I belayed him. He made it look easy and I was eager to join him at top. However, as I began my climb the narrow ladder, it began to twist and sway. I quickly realized it was going to be trickier than it appeared.

I felt uncoordinated as I climbed. When it came time for me to reach from the ladder and step onto the platform, a fear of heights took over me that I had never experienced before. I stood on the platform, grasping the pole and afraid to move. I wanted to go down - immediately.

I didn’t want to let Noah down so I tried to gather my nerves. He waited for me to clip him in to his first course while I mentally tried to think of a way to get out of it and without disappointing him. Maybe he’ll hate it and “need” me to go down with him.

No such luck – he loved it.

It was my turn to lean out, grab the rope and step off the firm platform onto a swinging rope. It was unnerving and I hated it at first but I didn’t fall and even ended the day with an adrenaline high.

Here are a few life lessons it taught me. 

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Why Won't God Bless Me?

Do you ever feel God blesses everyone but you? You pray for the job promotion but it’s given to a co-worker. Your dream school sends you a letter politely telling you to go away but your best friend is immediately accepted into hers. It feels as if your dreams are on the verge of being fulfilled but are instantly yanked away, sending your emotions on a wild rollercoaster ride.

While in my twenties, I lived in Atlanta and was a dancer – a hip-hop dancer. Most people laugh when they hear this but I was a white girl who had a few moves and I dreamed of using dance as a way of reaching the inner-city youth.

I prayed, fasted and trained but I only met closed doors that were bolted shut. Every so often there were doors that were “cracked” open but never enough to lead me anywhere. I wondered why God refused to bless my dream when I was doing it for Him? Why did He tease me with the times of “almost” making it?

Unfortunately this was not a one-time thing. Many events in my life appeared as if God was about to bless me but changed His mind at the last moment – playing a cruel joke on me. However, now that I have more years behind me, I look back and I see that these times of struggle actually had purpose. 

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Power of Pain

Years ago our family lived in Munich, Germany and while there I ran my first marathon. Completing this distance was something I had dreamt about for a long time but always doubted my ability to run that far.

I had a love/hate relationship with the training. I enjoyed the challenge but often asked, “Why am I doing this to myself?”

Race day was no different. There were moments of highs and lows. One in particular was as I neared mile 18. My energy began to drop and I feared I was about to hit the infamous “wall” where the body threatens to shut down. My legs became heavy and it took more effort to move them.

As I came to the 18th mile marker the course tuned into a city park. It was there I saw a man holding a sign that read…

Where there is pain, there is life.

Did Jesus Have Culture Shock?

Communication is a tricky thing. In your head you know what you are trying to communicate but it’s not always interpreted properly.

Some times this is due to body language or facial expression - other times choice of words. One time while we lived in Chile my mother-in-law came to visit. We were at the grocery store when she came up to me, “I think I just offended someone while trying to use my Spanish.”

Oh I love these types of stories!

She went on to explain that another customer asked her a question in Spanish to which she told them, “I’m sorry but you don’t speak good Spanish.” But of course she meant to say, “I don’t speak good Spanish.” Oh I got a good laugh out of it.

When Anastasia was in preschool her best friend was as little girl from Japan.

How to Believe God in the Midst of Chaos

Is it just me or does the world seem to be falling apart. Wars all around us, natural disasters altering lives in the matter of minutes and the economy, etc. Do you ever find yourself wondering why is God not intervening?

Easter Saturday I walked with our daughter, Anastasia, to her soccer game. We talked about it being the day before Easter and wondered what the disciples felt that day. Were they scared? Did they feel as if Jesus had lied? Were they mourning the loss of Jesus and the hope they held in Him?

I’m sure they felt as if their life was imploding. Political unrest, Jesus was gone, their new “careers” as disciples seemed to be over and feared for their lives. They scattered, one denied, another betrayed. Stability had vanished.

Little did they know that God had a miracle waiting for them around the corner that would restore their peace and fill them with confidence and strength.

I know what I believe about God but sometimes it’s hard to believe what I believe about Him – especially when life around me seems to be spinning out of control. I often find myself crying out to God the same as Jairus, “I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.”

Three things I’ve found have helped me find God in these times of struggle:

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Best on the Worst or Worst on the Best?

I volunteered in Noah’s 3rd grade class the other day. As our time came to a close, ten minutes remained in the school day. It wasn’t enough to begin a big project so the teacher gathered the kids in a circle in front of her and pulled out a stack of cards that had random questions on them. She read this question to the kids…

Would you rather be the best player on the worst team or the worst player on the best team?

The kids took turns going around the circle, answering the question and randomly she’d ask a kid to give a brief reason why.

“I wanna be the best player on the worst team because I want to have the most home runs!”

“I’d be the best player on the worst team because I want people to cheer for me.

From Defeated to Determined

Have you ever run in a road race and the finish line is just up ahead? Doesn’t it seem like an eternity awayt?

Boise hosts a handful of road races for kids. Our kids love these events and make sure we sign them up every year. Their favorite is a 1-mile race held near the end of school. There are over 1,000 kids that participate in this spirited event.

Last year Mark and I placed ourselves a few hundred yards before the finish line. Usually the race runs one gender at a time and divides the kids into age groups – with the older kids going first in order to prevent overly ambitious14-year-olds from running over an absent-minded 6-year-old.

It was near the end of the boys run and Mark had taken off to find our son Noah who had already crossed the finish.

Our Reaction When Life Changes Tracks

Last week was our kids’ Spring Break so, Mark and I took the week off and we all headed to Disneyland. Now to some this may sound more like torture than a vacation – especially when you consider that we drove there from Boise, ID (Yep…15 hours in the car each way!) But it was a great time.

I love Disney – it is the land of adventure but it’s also the land of meltdowns for both parent and child. Thousands of people corralled through a handful of entry points who then walk miles, only to wait in line for hours (in all kinds of weather), for a 30 second ride.

Expectations are high. Kids are over excited. All it takes is one little kink for one’s patience to implode and we’re over reacting and saying things we don’t really mean.

Talk about highs and lows of emotions.

The Damage of Words

Words are powerful. It’s amazing. They have the ability to heal, encourage and give a vision. Or they can demean, tear apart and damage even the strongest of personalities.

I grew up in a family where some of the older, extended females thought it was their duty to list everything that was wrong with me. My thighs were too fat. I’d be pretty if I’d get a nose job. I shouldn’t play sports because it’s not becoming of girls (but what about the fat thighs??!) I spoke too fast and was way to shy to ever do anything great.

That hurts…a lot!

I was a young child when I heard those words and I’m still insecure about all of these.

It’s not only the words that were spoken, but the way they are delivered.

Hearing God in Daily Activities

I attend a Bible study on Thursdays at our church. We are reading through the Bible and as you can imagine, we have lots of questions. Some of the hard ones that baffle the minds of scholars, others are common to many and a number are based on curiosity alone.

We covered I Chronicles this week when someone asked the question, “Why was David able to hear God’s voice so clearly?” Was it because he and God have a special relationship or was it reserved just for David? Is this something we can have too?

This spurned talk and theories as we tackled the topic - the Holy Spirit – positioning ourselves to hear God – knowing His voice and many other explanations were discussed. But how do you know it’s God’s voice that we are hearing and not our own chatter that rambles around in our head?

We are clear in that the Holy Spirit doesn’t tell us anything that contradicts the Bible but what about the silly little things that happen during the day, like, “Should I stop home and make a ham sandwich for lunch or should I save time and hit a drive-thru in order to begin my errands sooner?

Now this may seem like a frivolous question but it’s the exact one that entered my head after Bible study.

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Laurie is author of I Love Him, I Love Him Not, I Finally Love Him. She asks hard questions, and shares transparent, sometimes funny and sometimes embarrassing, stories all while seeking to find Jesus in daily life.

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