Fear

I don’t think those who know me realize how deep fear was rooted in me. There were times I feared going outside my house, feared sleeping, feared breathing. Yes, it was that bad. If I went outside I might literally step in the wrong spot and inadvertently cause harm to another person. If I slept, nightmares took over. I literally feared being taken from my bed while sleeping. If I breathed, I worried I might say the wrong thing, or breathe in the wrong air space. And I always feared rejection.

I remember the first time I entered a church as an adult. A young adult, but an adult. I think I was around twenty years old and with a two year in tow. My husband and I weren’t married at the time, but he’d gone the week before and for some reason I had stepped beyond my fear and allowed a complete stranger to pick me and my daughter up and take us to church.

No sooner had we arrived through the doors, someone escorted us to the nursery, a room away from the sanctuary. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know it was okay to say no. I didn’t know it was okay for me and my child to sit in on the adult Sunday School class. My fear of rejection took over and I felt as if we were being hidden away, that children weren’t welcome, that unmarried mothers weren’t welcome. Sure, the people were welcoming, and as I continued to attend that church I knew how loving and kind they all were, but at the time I was doing what I was told and I had no understanding of how things worked.

When we walked through the nursery doors, we were met with the sound of gut-wrenching sobs. I’ll never forget the image of that woman curled on the floor hiding behind a rocker. My heart went out to her, but I didn’t know her. I wanted to leave. The person escorting us quickly left, leaving me standing there with my daughter. My fear of not doing as I was told kept me from leaving, my fear kept me from offering this unknown woman words of comfort.  Within a few minutes our escort returned with the pastor. The look of disbelief on the pastor’s face, the outrage, crushed me. Was he mad at the woman? At the situation? At me? Most likely. Growing up, it seemed like I was always a disappointment in one way or another. It seemed like I could never measure up, was always judged and found lacking. So, it was automatic that I assumed, the pastor was angry with me, but I didn’t know why. After all I was doing as I was told.

During the sermon, my fears were confirmed. I had done something wrong. I’ll say it now, it’s so much easier for the human mind to remember words of negativity than the positive ones. The pastor stood behind the altar and told the congregation that he’d witnessed the rudest thing he’d ever seen earlier that morning.  Tears sprang to my eyes. Even when I was doing what I was told I couldn’t do it right.  Every muscle in my body flinched, ready to flee, but if I did, then every single person in that building would know I was the offender. They probably did anyway, but my fear of being seen, kept me rooted to the chair in the very back of the church.

I understand now that I should have stepped out of the room and allowed the woman her privacy, but then, my fear of breaking some sort of rule kept me from doing so.Silly, I know. But that was the trap of fear.

Over the years I’ve seen my various fears settle on my children. It took me a long time to realize they were taking on my fears. My oldest daughter could only enter the mall from one door, never the ten others, without having a panic attack. My second oldest would have panic attacks at the thought of going to the grocery store. My son gave up on trying to measure up to expectations and ended up behind bars for a time. I sort of understand, I mean why try if you’re never going to be good enough? My youngest has anxiety issues with cars. My kids are so strong in so many ways,  but the spirit of fear that led me around, and still tries, like a dog on a lead has leaked into their lives as well. Okay, maybe leaked isn’t the right word: FLOODED.

2 Timothy 1:7 says, For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (KJV)

I’ve been a Christian for a long time, but there is constant growth. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I understood the power of praying scripture over people, especially my children. The following video brought me a sense of peace. I’m not alone. I’m not the only mother out there who suffered from fears, who allowed her fears to settle on her children.

I’m not going to lie, I have to constantly recite 2 Timothy 1:7, sometimes daily. Sometimes while I’m sitting on my bed, rocking back and forth with tears streaming down my cheeks. The more I allow Jesus to take over my life the easier it gets.

I hope this video from Lisa Bevere and Joyce Meyer blesses you.

http://bcove.me/vey1md79

Father,

I lift up those to You who are struggling with the spirit of fear. May the stronghold taking over their mind be broken and replenished with a sound mind, a mind focused on Heavenly things, Godly things, pure things, things of goodness and mercy. And Father, I lift of the children of all those who’ve suffered from living in fear, free them, Lord. Free them from the bondage of fear! Release the power of the Holy Spirit into their lives.

I ask all these thing by the authority given to me from Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen

Jeremy Camp’s I Still Believe (Review and Giveaway)

jeremy camp

Christian recording artist Jeremy Camp has written songs that have touched millions of lives. His lyrics reveal a heart that’s been broken and a faith that has been tested and restored.

In I Still Believe, Jeremy shares, with unflinching candor and emotion, the extraordinary story behind his award-winning lyrics–from his impoverished childhood, rebellious teenage years, and spiritual awakening at Bible College, to the tragic loss of his first wife, Melissa, to cancer and the heart-wrenching spiritual journey that followed–a journey that reignited Jeremy’s faith, inspired some of his most beloved songs, and paved the way for a second chance at love with his second wife, Adrienne.

This memoir is a must-read for Jeremy Camp fans everywhere, and an inspiring, encouraging read for anyone who has ever experienced loss.

 

When I first say Camp’s Memoir I was excited and knew I had to read the book, but as I was reading the book I kept thinking he’s too young to have experienced the kind of pain he has.  I knew his songs were written deep from the heart and no matter what I was going through at the time, they never failed to touch me and challenge me into a deeper relationship with God. I knew the book would do no less.

And I was right.

Over the years, I’ve heard bits and pieces of his testimony about loosing his wife to cancer, but I never could have imagined the depth of his experience, both with the pain and God’s healing. For the Camps to share their testimony is humbling. I Still Believe is an amazing, powerful testimony of God’s never ending love, even in the midst of our darkest moments. I don’t want to give too much away because there is a something about reading his testimony that jumps off the pages and reaches deep within that makes you say, “I want to be sold out for Jesus”, but this is a must read. I believe in this powerful testimony so much that I will be giving away a printed copy to one commenter, and no, it will not be my copy. It’s a keeper.

*Must be U.S resident. Winner will be selected using http://www.random.org/ Drawing will take place February 28, 2013.

*This book was provided to me by Tyndale Publishing. Their generosity has in no way shape or form, yada, yada influenced my opinion.

January 2nd

On Writing

A few of my writer friends decided they wanted to do a NaNoWriMo sort of thing in January. We could work on something we already started on or start something new. I’m opting for revising what I started for Nano and then finishing up the word count I need to finish the book. I need at least twenty thousand words. That’s about six hundred forty-five words a day. Between yesterday and today I only increased a little over five hundred. *sigh*

It seems slow going and it’s giving me a headache just thinking about it, but I intend to stay the course. Ever little bit forward is progress. I know this. I preach this. So I just need to settle it in my mind and be content with what little progress I’ve made.

I did put in a solid hour of work on my manuscript, so that’s good. My hope is to eventually be working at least four hours a day five days a week. I’m certain not all that time will be dedicated to actual writing, but to plotting and research as well. One thing is I don’t want that time to include networking, that should be outside my writing time.

On Blogging

One of my goals this year is to blog a little more. Problem is at times there are too many topics running around in my head and others there’s nothing. It’s one of the reasons I tried to set myself a schedule. I’ve heard if you do anything for thirty days it becomes habit. I don’t know that I can blog thirty days straight. I guess I’m going to take it one day at a time.

On the Lord I know this should be a first topic, but I wanted it to be the last in your mind before you close the tab. I woke up this morning not wanting to get out of bed. I’m suffering from a kidney issue, could be a stone or it could be something else all together. Not having insurance for years on end I’ve learned to read the symptoms and to know when it’s time to go to the doctor’s office. I don’t like the pain pills he describes and won’t take them anyway so what is the point? I pay him an exorbitant amount of money for him to tell me what I already know? I think I’ll keep my dollars for now.

Anyway, I was laying there not wanting to get out of bed. There’s a lot going on as there always seems to be at the first of the year. I cried out to God. There is so much on my plate at the moment that there is no way I could handle it all on my own with a healthy body. How am I going to do it with a sick one? :/

No, this isn’t intended for a pity party. God heard me as I know He always does and He gave me two differing scriptures from two differing sources.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (KJV)

Psalm 37:5 Commit thy way until the Lord, trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass. (KJV)

These gentle reminders filled me with peace. I can’t do things on my own but I can do them through Christ Jesus who strengthens me. It doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s working on financial papers, mailing a letter, writing a blog, or dealing with a kidney stone I need to commit it all to Him. In committing it all to Him I’m showing my trust in His abilities to carry me through.

There is a song that Hillsong sings that says it best:

You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvelous for words
Too wonderful of comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp you infinite wisdom
Who can fathom the depth of your love
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty enthroned above

And I stand, I stand in awe of you
I stand, I stand in awe of you
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of you

His infinite wisdom, the depth of his love–it just amazes me. I mean the little bit of stress I experienced this morning is nothing compared to so many things going on in this world, but yet He cared enough to encourage me.

2013

So everyone seems to be talking about their goals for the new year. It’s hard not to when it’s one of the biggest events to roll around each year. This event tends to cause people to look backward at all they’ve accomplished and to look forward at what they long to achieve.

Every year, at least since 2009, I’ve set a goal to become published. 2012 I signed that contract. It’s huge. Even though most people won’t physically see the progress of my publishing goal, I know it’s on the way forward. And I can’t wait to share each moment with you.

As for 2013, well, I obviously would like to sell more books. I’d love to obtain an absolutely wonderful agent, one who would work with me to further my publishing career.

But–

1. I want to grow even closer to God
2. I want to be used by God to glorify His name.
3. I want to cherish moments with my family and watch them grow in the Lord.
4. I want to see my children experience the gifts God has given them to further His kingdom.
5. I want to praise more.

6. I want to start eating right.
7. I want to exercise a little more.
8. I want to lose weight.

Specifically in my writing, well this is what I’ve come up with to start for the month of January.

PRAY, PRAY, PRAY my writing needs to be completely in God’s hands.

1. Write at least 5 days a week. I’d love to work on writing like a full-time job, but that’s not possible at the moment.
2. Finish the 2nd Biblical story. You can see my progress on the right hand side.
3. Blog a little more.
4. Mentor/encourage

What do you want to accomplish this next year?

Faith-Digging Deeper

I was going to talk about faith, but Patty Wysong does it so well that I’m going to refer you to Patterings.

Once you’ve read her post, come back here if you’d like.

Okay, are you back?

Mark 2:5

The Message (MSG)
A Paraplegic

2 1-5 After a few days, Jesus returned to Capernaum, and word got around that he was back home. A crowd gathered, jamming the entrance so no one could get in or out. He was teaching the Word. They brought a paraplegic to him, carried by four men. When they weren’t able to get in because of the crowd, they removed part of the roof and lowered the paraplegic on his stretcher. Impressed by their bold belief, Jesus said to the paraplegic, “Son, I forgive your sins.”

Jesus knows we’re human. He knows we’re weak. We often focus on circumstances. This passage shows us that the faith of friends is also important. The friends had heard about Jesus, they believed in Jesus, and they acted on that belief by taking their friend to see Jesus. And they didn’t just walk right up to him. No, they carried their paraplegic friend to the roof, removed part of the roof and lowered him down.

These friends were determined, their faith bold. Can you imagine the smile on Jesus’ face?

There are times when we are weak. Times when our circumstances overwhelm us and our faith falters in the situation. It’s good to have friends, friends who will carry our burdens to the feet of Jesus.

If you are burden, if your eyes are on your mountain and you can’t see your way around it, if you need prayer, please let me know, I’d be honored to carry you to Jesus. You don’t have to give me specifics, you can just type a simple ‘me’ in the box. If you prefer not to leave your prayer needs in the comment sections you may email me. The address is at the side.

Christina

Finding Contentment in Trials

It was late Sunday evening and I felt led to write a blog on God’s leading me to be content with my season in life. It started something like this:

I went into Lifeway the other day with the intention of buying two specific books. I walked out with neither. I ended up with The Resolution for Women. I read the back, read the contents–put it down and browsed around. I kept coming back to the book. I didn’t need the book. I know I’m a child of the living God. I know He has plans for me. I always try to be aware of His voice, His leading in my life. I have tried to live out Micah 6:8 to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with my God. I have tried to guard my tongue. I have prayed for my enemies, forgiven them.

My blog post was interrupted. My sixteen year old son had asked me to come sit with him and watch television with him a while, actually, he asked be to ‘rub’ his back. It’s something I’ve done since he was a baby. I really didn’t want to. I’ve been kind of dry on the blog posts lately and I was feeling the blog bug again. But I did. You see several months ago, maybe even last fall I had been sitting in church. The following piece recounts that day.

I wanted to push him away. There was so much hurt and anger built up from his actions that I didn’t feel like loving him. I couldn’t love. Or could I?

I don’t recall much about that day. Other than we’d just finished praise and worship. Pastor had walked up the isle. In one hand he held his Bible, with the other he turned on his mic. Candles flickered, their light vanilla scent covering the mildew. I know this because it’s the same every Sunday. Pastor walks down the aisle to the front. Bible in one hand, turning on his mic with the other. Candles flicker. Every Sunday these two things are the same.

Pastor, Bible, mic, candles.

Pastor, Bible, mic, candles.

This particular Sunday I couldn’t remember if the candles were purple or if they were white and it’s something I should recall, but I don’t. This Sunday I couldn’t remember if Pastor wore a tie or the T-shirt with our church logo. Was it communion Sunday? I don’t recall.

All I knew was I was sitting in church on a Sunday morning having just finished singing praises to God, my heart full of joy, when one little action, one little request for love flipped a switch in me so quickly that I wanted to react. I wanted to push him away.

The instruments, the overhead, the people sitting around me all disappeared. All that was left in that tiny church were the gray upholstered chairs, my teenage son’s head in my lap and the raw anger bubbling within my chest.

I wanted to push him away.

My hand hovered inches from his head, ready to shove him off my lap. The months of rebellion, the lying, the drugs, the alcohol, the court dates, it all hung in those few inches between the palm of my hand and his head in my lap. And every bit of it was tied to the pain in my heart.

I wanted to push him away.

His actions were indicative of his rejection of my love for him. The love I’d shared with him when I nursed him. The love I’d shared with him on those late nights when I rocked him back to sleep. The love I’d shared with him when he scraped his knees. It’d been tossed in my face. His actions were proof my love for him wasn’t good enough. So, why did he want it now?

I wanted to push him away.

The rejection and the anger vibrated in my fingertips.

I never finished the story. I couldn’t bring myself to finish it. I will tell you that I had decided right there and then that it didn’t matter how I felt I would always choose to show my kids how much I loved them, even when they upset I would make sure they always knew my love for them was 100%, unequivocally, without a doubt was unconditional. The kind of love God gave when He sent his Son to die on the cross for us, the kind of love Jesus displayed as He hung there.

The days with my son didn’t get much easier. He ended up in rehab, ended up meeting with bigger trouble, which landed him in the county juvenile detention center. He was there for two months and this without having been convicted of a crime. We prayed, as we had prior to this, over him, with him. We prayed for the needs of other inmates and their parents. We spoke with parents and encouraged them. God moved in many ways. So, many Godointments that we knew this was all part of God’s plan.

Somethings have happened. I’m not ready to discuss them and I may never as parts of the story involves other people and I’m just not willing to publicly put out there even though these other people have no qualms . . . it doesn’t matter. They need Jesus. Plain and simple.

We’ve prayed about moving. God hasn’t been loud and clear on that bit. And with such a huge decision . . . well maybe that is a lack of faith. We now look back and regret not moving, but it seemed as door after door was being slammed shut whenever we found a home. We can’t change yesterday. So, instead of moving my husband and I prayed for God to prepare a table for us in the midst of our enemies. The meal thus far has been bitter.

On July 24 Joyce Meyer Ministries posted this: Faith is not for the good times, it’s for the hard times. I reposted it, but deep down I knew that through the last months of difficulties, the hard times had yet to come. I prayed I was wrong.

I mean everything we’d already been through had been so hard. The twenty minute phone calls, no more. The twenty-five minute visits three times a week. The inability to hug, to kiss his forehead. It was hard. Harder than anything I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. I know, I should be so fortunate, right? And I was. I was content. I knew where my kid was. And I could sleep at night knowing he was at least somewhat safe.

But see we, God and I, hadn’t really covered that whole contentment thing. Yeah, I was content. For a short time. When I started the blog about the contentment I had no idea that in less than eight hours my son would runaway. When I started that blog, I had no idea we’d get into a fight. I had no idea that I wouldn’t tell him I love him. I had no idea that my last words would be anything but unconditional love.

Somehow I have to forgive myself and heal from the self-inflicted pain. It’s bad enough when your kid disappears whether through death or running away, it’s worse when your last words weren’t I love you. And somehow I have to find contentment, a peace that surpasses all understanding, that ultimate shalom nothing missing nothing broken kind of contentment, knowing that a piece of me is missing and may never be found. Somehow I have to trust that God will grant our family new strength. That He will carry us through this time of trial.

I know there are many parents out there who have no idea where their children are. Parents whose children have been missing for years. We understand the pain, the loss. We have no idea how we are to go on, how we are supposed to get up in the morning and go back to our daily lives when so much is missing. At least when he was in jail we knew he’d come home eventually. Now. . . we just have to have faith in God’s ultimate plan. That doesn’t mean He’ll grant our request and bring our son home to us and He very well may not, but we have to put our hope, our trust in Jehovah-Shammah, Jehovah-Nissi. My God is my banner, a banner over our household, over my children.

Father God, the great I AM, I look up to the heavens, the night sky and the twinkling stars You placed perfectly and I know Your ways are much higher than my own, your plans much more perfect than I could ever imagine. Father God, there are families all across this earth who’ve lost a child. Jehovah Raphi, bring healing to broken homes, restore these familial units, make them whole, complete with You at its core, with You at its foundation, with You as its covering.  And Father God, I thank you for the outpouring of prayers for my family. The support has been phenomenal. I know their prayers are storming heaven as we speak. And Father God, I remind you of David’s Psalm 143:7-12 (CJB) PLEASE, Answer me quickly, ADONAI, because my spirit is fainting. Don’t hide your face from me, or I’ll be like those who drop down into a pit. Make me hear of your love in the morning, because I rely on you. Make me know the way I should walk, because I entrust myself to you. ADONAI, rescue me from my enemies; I have hidden myself with you. Teach me to do your will, because you are my God; Let your good Spirit guide me on ground that is level.  For your name’s sake, ADONAI, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of distress.  In your grace, cut off my enemies; destroy all those harassing me; because I am your servant.

by the power of they Holy Spirit and through the name above all names, Jesus,

Amen.

Do You Constantly Feel Condemned?

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:1-New International Version

A few years ago, I ran into a lady I used to babysit for when I was in high school. I was excited to see her, as newer Christians often are when they encounter people from their past, but she took one look at me and couldn’t run away fast enough.

Family gatherings never fail to bring up accounts of my transgressions. “Remember when Chrissy handcuffed her feet together?” or “Remember when she tried to braid her hair and ended up with a mass of knots?”

Oh, there are plenty more. I know, because the accounts are constantly brought to my attention. The funny thing is, most of the time only the bad or embarrassing things are remembered. The flies on the wall probably think there was nothing good in me at all, nothing redeemable.

Now, nothing I may or may not have done in the lady’s home while I watched her children would have warranted her instant freak-out. I can only imagine she was a fly on the wall, or the neighborhood flies gathered together and conversed about the ‘rebellious, sinful’ girl down the street.

I was never given a chance to share the changes in my life. Never given a chance to tell her I was happily married with children of my own. Never given a chance to ask her about her own children, children I spent years watching. Never given the chance to tell her I found Jesus. No, she took one look at me and brought down the hammer of judgement. No questions asked.

And, what’s worse is, I’m quite sure she was a Christian.

This woman is no different from the people we continuously encounter from our past, or even those who are supposed to offer us love and support because they are family. Unknowingly on their part, their words and actions toss us back into the pit Jesus reached down and pulled us out of. Their words heap piles of stinky condemnation onto our heads making us feel worthless. Worthless of a Savior sent by His Father in Heaven to die for our transgressions.

The spirit of condemnation can be just as difficult for the Christian as it is for the non-Christian to handle. Yeah, I know right. I bet you thought it was one-sided. It’s like a set of scales. On one plate we know in our heart of hearts that Jesus died on the cross and rescued us from our sinful nature, which should by far out-weigh anything that might be on the other plate. But that’s not the case, especially when someone might simply say, “Why didn’t you . . . ” and we hear “You worthless piece of cow dung, why didn’t you . . .” Once the ball starts rolling, every word and action that we encounter through the rest day becomes another nail in the coffin of condemnation. It really can be a living hell. I mean seriously, when those around us don’t see anything good in us, how can Jesus?

We know we’re supposed to take every thought captive, we know we’re suppose to renew our mind with the living, active Word of God, but it’s not always that easy, especially when we’re constantly reminded of our shame by the past and we don’t want to share our struggles with the present (new church family) for fear of more condemnation. It’s hard to be washed cleaned when mud is constantly being thrown at us.

As difficult as it can be, those of us who have a tendency to stand beneath the umbrella of condemnation we need to stand on God’s word. The scriptures say that “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10) and “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NIV). It may sound a little depressing, but the fact of the matter is, those who are carrying around that hammer of condemnation aren’t any less a sinner than those they condemn. Only those who have accepted Jesus, God’s only son, as their Lord and Savior, are set free from condemnation.

What about those who call themselves Christians, believe Jesus died for their sins and carry the hammer of judgement? God’s word clearly states in Matthew 6:14-15 that if we forgive men when they sin against us, our heavenly Father will forgive us, but if we refuse to forgive, God won’t forgive us either. Yes, that includes forgiving those who are forever reminding us just how horrible a person we are.

So, the only thing we can do is pray. Pray for them just like we’d pray for the condemning non-Christian. Pray God will open their eyes to the harm they cause. Pray God will help them forgive us for our transgressions. Pray for wisdom in dealing with them. And, pray God will help us forgive them.

Father, I pray for those who live under the constant barrage of condemnation, including myself. I pray, Jehovah Rophe that You, the ultimate healer, will infuse us with Your peace that transcends all understanding and that You’ll guard our hearts and our minds from the enemy’s poisoned arrows. And Father, God Most High, I pray that You help us forgive those who carry the hammer of condemnation in their hands. I pray You loosen their grips and heal their hearts too, that they may forgive those who have transgressed against them. And Lord, for those who don’t know You as their personal savior, I pray You reveal yourself to them.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

If you can relate and you’d like me to pray for you, please leave a comment or feel free to email me privately. You’re not alone.