Tag Archives: fear

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 24)

When I started this series “2018: A Year For Hope” in December 2017, chronicling my story was definitely not what I envisioned doing. And yet here I am, picking over and kicking over memories like rocks that haven’t been disturbed in decades. Truth be told, all this wondering down memory lane has been a little exhausting.

But I’ve also been rejoicing in the recognition of all that God has brought me through. He redeemed the pain of my childhood, rescued me from cruel and abusive husband, healed my/my children’s hearts, and completely re-directed the spiritual trajectory of my seed line. All that would be plenty enough – but He didn’t stop there. He also blessed me with a successful 20+ year career that I love, inspired me to Entrepreneurship in 2014, and continues to lead me into new and exciting adventures of business as a ministry including a side-gig that launches this month. He alone has transformed my life and truly given me beauty for ashes.

For those readers who know me personally, you can attest to the fact that I work hard at being a “glass-half-full” type of person. Occasionally, life will kick the stuffing out of me and leave me a bit ‘wobbly’, and I may take a while to rally back. But give me some time, and I’m gonna get back up, dust the dirt off my boots and hat, and get back at living life with a positive attitude. I’m gonna “take another swing!

Hey, I bet you have ‘wobbly’ days too. We all do.

So today I’m going to take a short break from my life saga to share something else. A revelation or epiphany. I’ve had it before, but I had forgotten it (as we are prone to do).

Buckle up and get ready for another spaghetti trail story. 😊

A few weekends ago I went camping – the first time I’ve camped in probably 20 years. And along with a car load of borrowed gear, I took my rarely-used fishing pole and the saddest little tackle box you ever saw in your life. I was living the dream, baby! I fished Saturday morning. I fished Saturday afternoon. I even fished Sunday morning before it was time to tear down the campsite. It was liberating and refreshing, and I had such a great time I committed to going again in a few weeks.

Take A Swing, PuttingHopeToWork.com
Take A Swing!

I returned home on Sunday and by Monday afternoon, my right shoulder started hurting – and I mean REALLY hurting. Can hardly move my arm hurting. Winced and yelped a few times hurting. Can’t get to sleep hurting. By Tuesday, I seriously considered cutting my PJ’s off because I couldn’t manage the shoulder movements.

“PAIN IS LIKE A MIST”

Now most of you probably know where this is headed and what was going on. But I’m a little slow on the trigger sometimes, and I’ve also got an enemy. Oh wait – you do too!

Well that enemy (of my soul) was busy whispering into my ears everything that could possibly be wrong with me:

• I got a mosquito bite and am now suffering the initial effects of West Nile Virus
• I somehow dislocated my shoulder while sleeping on the hard ground for 2 nights
• Tent camping triggered a family history of arthritis and I’ve not got arthritis in my shoulder
• I’m an old woman and my body is starting to decline
• I have tendonitis in my shoulder that will take 8+ months to heal (that’s how long it took for my hand to heal after a gardening incident last year – but that’s another story)

And on and on and on. Taunting me. Ridiculing me. Trying to make me afraid. Trying to get me to open my mouth and come into agreement with him.

I’d like to say that I’m much too spiritual to fall for that old trick. Basically, it’s the same old trick he’s played me with about 5,497 times over the course of my life. And unfortunately, he’s had a greater than 50% chance of my taking the bait (pun intended) … at least for a little while. It was no different now. I’m not going to embarrass myself by telling you how fear-filled my response was, but I will tell you that at one point I broke down and cried a little for the frustration that my body isn’t doing as easily (and painlessly) in my 50’s what it could do in my 20’s and 30’s.

 

img_20180614_080136538_hdr614949423.jpg
My Tackle Box and Catch of the Day

 

Eventually, I figured out that I had overworked some unused muscles with all that casting and reeling I was doing to haul in my ‘big fish’ pictured above! Pfft!

By day number six I was settling into a pattern of icing and muscle rubs and pillow cradling at night when the miraculous happened. I woke up one morning and my shoulder didn’t hurt.

And here is the revelation. My epiphany.

Pain is like mist. The more attention you pay to it, the more it closes in on you. Blinding you. Choking you. But if you will just relax into it, and breath through it, the wind will carry it away.

Isn’t that so true? Not only about physical pain (such as a fishing-shoulder injury) but true about emotional and spiritual pain. Our tendency when hurt is to recoil, withdraw, self-protect. But friend, you and I make lousy protectors of our own hearts and souls. We are easily duped and confused and misdirected to people and circumstances that are not really the source of our pain.

But there is One who is a most excellent Protector. One who will give you the strength to “breath through’ the pain of transitioning from the place of hurt and fear to the place of forgiveness and liberty.

In hind sight, I realize that what brought me to tears wasn’t the actual shoulder pain itself. It was listening to the voice of fear tell me that my life was going to be “less” because of this. That I would have “less” healing and mobility. That I would have “less” joy because I would be able to do “less”.

Grrr – I fell for it again!

But thank you Jesus, it was not very long before the Voice of HOPE spoke up in a louder (and more familiar and loving voice) and said “Not so, daughter. For I’ve purchased an abundant life for you, and you are Mine.”

I hope this truth (of knowing who you are and whose you are) is as much an encouragement to you as it is to me.

And hey – guess what? Yup, I’m going fishing again in a few weeks!

I’ll resume my the continuation of my childhood and testimony next week. Until then, be blessed and do this. Pray, Trust, Breathe.

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All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

911 (Part 2) – When The Enemy Is At The Door

I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of this post.  Thankfully, it turned out that my imagination was the enemy that day.  But not all my enemies have been imaginary, and a few of them have been terrifying.

My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me.  Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.  I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!  I would fly away and be at rest.  I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”  (Psalm 55:4-8)

There have been times when I’ve found myself standing toe-to-toe against an enemy that (seemingly) had every advantage over me.  I am reminded of a small apartment, and a summer afternoon about 20 years ago.  I had a restraining order against him, and yet there he was – on the doorstep, trying to kick-in the door while screaming horrific things.  I had dared to stand up against him, and he was livid … and I was near paralyzed with fear!

TERROR:  a very strong feeling of fear

TYRANNY:  cruel and unfair treatment by people with power over others

OPPRESSION: unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power

I yelled back that I was calling the police.  Whether I did, or didn’t, I can’t recall.  I do remember sinking to the floor and curling up into ball, wishing I could somehow just disappear. But instead of disappearing, from somewhere deep within spoke a stronger voice (the voice of Himself, my Lord and my God), telling me to GET UP! To STAND UP!

This is a challenging post to write, but perhaps not for the reasons you think.  Sure, when I pause to reflect on darker days, I’m somewhat saddened by the life I had back then.  But praise God, I’m not that woman anymore, so it’s not the memory of those days that makes this a challenging subject.  It’s the awareness that you, the reader of this post, might at this very moment be under a full-on attack by your worst enemy (flesh-and-blood, or spiritual).   Or perhaps you have fought and have emerged the other side of a battle (physical, emotional, or spiritual), and now bear the wounds and scars from all that was inflicted upon you during the fight.   In either case, here you are – reading this post.  And that, beloved, deserves reverence in my writing.

Spiritually speaking, we all have an enemy that is constantly trying to ‘take us out’, and the simple truth is that the more of a threat you are to him, the more vicious and strategic his attack.

But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cushand Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you..     (Isaiah 43:1-4a)

I’ve been blessed to know several spirituals “Oaks” in my life, men and women whose faith is unshakable and can face even the most violent storms of life with barely a blink of the eye.  These are the people I like to surround myself with, and these are the people I turn to for comfort and support when I’m facing an impending fight or am battle-weary during a long and drawn out conflict where victory seems to be elusive.

Now back to my story.  At that point in time, my enemy (who I now realize was not my ex, but the evil that was controlling him) seemed so much bigger than I was capable of dealing with.  And in truth, he was – which is why I’m so grateful that all God asked me to do at that very moment was to GET UP and STAND!

And so I got up.  I took a stand.  And my God stood with me!

Was I still afraid? Absolutely. Did things change overnight? No. Was I wounded in the battle?  Yes, but healing has come and I am now a more skilled warrior as a result of the battle experience.

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and his powerful strength. Put on God’s armor so that you can make a stand against the tricks of the devil. We aren’t fighting against human enemies but against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in the heavens. Therefore, pick up the full armor of God so that you can stand your ground on the evil day and after you have done everything possible to still stand. So stand with the belt of truth around your waist, justice as your breastplate, and put shoes on your feet so that you are ready to spread the good news of peace. Above all, carry the shield of faith so that you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word.  (Ephesians 6:10-17)

Armor of God
Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18)

In this broken world, you and I will encounter many trials and be called to battle against the enemy many times.   We may suffer some hard hits in the warfare; let us fight on. We may be tempted to ease up off that territory we were trying to overtake, considering it better/safer/saner to find contentedness in dry valleys than to press on to conquer farer pasture lands; let us press on.  We may be so terrified of our foe that we can barely manage to keep a grip on our weaponry; let us then STAND!  

Let us be found STANDING!   Snot-nosed but STANDING!  Weak-kneed but STANDING!   Bug-eyed but suited up in the Armor of God, and STANDING!  It’s His Armor we are wearing, and He is in the battle with us.  If we will be obedient to follow the instructions He gives, then when the dust finally settles – we can be assured we will be found STILL STANDING!

And that is how we grow from acorn to Oak, by standing and standing and standing until those roots-of-faith grow so deep and so strong that we then become a place of solace and refuge for others during their storms.

The song ‘OCEANS (Where Feet May Fail)’ by Hillsong UNITED beautifully describes the mystery of walking by faith when moving into deep waters.

When the storms of life come, may our roots prove deep!

Blessings,
Jenny

Who Cares

MH900400301One of the more recent additions to my ever-growing audio/video message library is entitled “Who Cares, Living Free From the Weight of Worry” by Jeremy Pearsons of Kenneth Copeland Ministries.    Jeremy does a fabulous job in bring home the simple yet profound truth that once we really know how deeply and completely we are loved by God, fear looses it’s power over us!

Somewhere within the message series, Jeremy Pearsons makes an observation in reference to Romans 8:31 that really struck a chord with me.  To the best of my recollection it goes like this:

“If God is for us, who can be against us!  And if God is against us, who can be for us?”    ~Jeremy Pearsons

So what are we going to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?  He didn’t spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. Won’t he also freely give us all things with him?  Who will bring a charge against God’s elect people? It is God who acquits them.”     (Romans 8:31-33)

Think about that.   I mean, if you and I truly believe that God is for us (as in deeply loves and cares for us) – then what does that say for every person, circumstance or power that is against us?

Said a little differently, if God is for me – then by contrast it also means that God is against everything that isn’t for me!  And if God is against something or someone … brother, that’s just BAD news!!!!!

Many years ago, I learned a little chorus.  I don’t know the name of the song, nor the author … I suspect that it might be a snippet from a Jewish or Messianic psalm.  In any case, I have never forgotten it and if often brings me comfort on challenging days.

“This I know, my God is for me
This I know

This I know, my God is on my side
My God is for me
This I know.”

~unknown

I encourage you to take some time to meditate on the love of God for you.   Search the Word for His promises to you, feed your spirit!  Keep your focus on the love of God vs whatever challenges are facing you today.  You are His beloved, and He does and will continue to care for (watch over, protect, attend to, teach/train, protect, defend,) you!

According to Hebrews 2:14-15, Christ has ‘render the devil powerless’ and made free those were all their lives held captive to him through fear.  You and I have been set free from fear!

So like I said in an earlier post, ‘me and Fear have had a ‘break up”.  I’m not taking his calls anymore, and when Fear knocks on my door … I don’t answer, and fear not!   And if Fear won’t leave on his own accord,  I make an introduction!!

“Jesus, may I introduce you to Fe…… ”  (insert sound of running feet)   Hmmm … where did he go?”

Works every time!

Be blessed,
Jenny

PS – if you happen to know the origin of the song/chorus, please do tell!

The Break Up

photo provided by Dez Pain.

As a young girl (of about 8 or so?), a few of my brothers and sisters hid under my parents bed, and when I went into my folks room to find my mom one of them reached out and grabbed my feet.  Of course, they all thought it was hysterically funny and I’m sure broke into immediate laughter.  But by my recollection, from the moment of ‘first grab’ to the revealing that it was them hiding under the bed (as opposed to some horrid monster who was going to tear me to pieces and then eat me alive), it was several very long and terrifying minutes!  OK, so maybe I watched a few movies I shouldn’t have been watching at my age – but back then, families rallied around the TV to watch horror movies like The Birds and The Pit and The Pendulum as family bonding experiences.    Anyways, by the time they revealed themselves, I was so completely traumatized that for many years afterwards, I adopted a new routine for going to bed.  I flipped off the light switch, took three running steps, and then leapt onto my bed to avoid anything/anyone that could be hiding under it.

It’s now 2014 and I’m well past the age of hiding under a desk with my head between my knees.  But even now, whenever I hear the sound of a low-flying plane overhead, I am immediately transported back to elementary school where we were taught the principles of “Duck and Cover” and have to fight hard to resist the urge to look outside for signs of a crashing plane or bomb falling from the sky.

I guess I’m old enough to have had some “stuff” happen in my life … and if you’re reading this blog so have you, and there is more “stuff” on the horizon.  I’m not trying to speak pessimistically or out of a doom-and-gloom mentality.  I’m just being honest.  This world does not operate (at present) in accordance with God’s original design for it, nor are we enjoying (at present) all the victory and fellowship with the Father that God originally intended when He created us.  Sure we have mountain top experiences in life – can I get a whoot-whoot for the mountain top!!  Yea Baby!!

But alas, we don’t stay on the mountain tops, do we?   As described so beautifully by Hannah Hurnard in  “Hinds Feet On High Places” , residents of the High Places are called to routinely go back down into the Valley to encourage and invite others who would also make the journey upward.   And sometimes, I do visit the valleys from a position of strength so that I can encourage a valley dweller, and invite them to dare to journey outside the boundary lines of that kingdom and change their citizenship to that of a higher and better Kingdom.

But not always, and truth be told – not as often as I would like.  I would say that for most of my 53 years, when I visit the Valley, it is because I wasn’t wearing my armor  (read earlier post) nor watching where I was going, and next thing I knew … Ker plop!

Sooner or later, I always seem to make my way back down into any number of valleys;  the Valley of Humiliation, the Valley of Loss, the Valley of Loneliness, the Valley of insert name here, hanging out with my much detested former buddies – FEAR, SHAME and all the other family members of the FEARING family! Visiting a valley for God’s purposes is one thing.  Living in the valley’s is something altogether different.  I hate the valleys!

It was about a year or so ago that the Lord began showing me how much of my life has been influenced by FEAR.   I’ve let Fear steal so much from me!  Fear of failure.  Fear of loss.  Fear of what people with think.  Fear of being alone.  Fear of screwing up my kids.  Fear of being uncovered.  Fear of rejection.  You name it, I’ve probably been afraid of it.

Faith declares a positive confident hope and expectation in the Word and promises of God, while Fear declares a negative confidence and expectation in the inability of God to do what He has declared!

 

But no more!  I am finished being romanced and courted by Fear!

It’s taken me a long time to figure it out, but praise God (and thanks to countless hours of listening to faith-filled teachers like Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyers, Charles Capps, and many others), I have finally gotten it through my head that God hates Fear!  And why, you ask?  Because FEAR is the complete opposite of FAITH!   Faith declares a positive confident hope and expectation in the Word and promises of God, while Fear declares a negative confidence and expectation in the inability of God to do what He has declared!  Once I finally saw it like that (like God see’s it), I made a decision!   

Me and Fear are “breaking up”!  And we are NOT going to get back together again!!   EVER!!!  

Sure, I know it’s going to require a lot of effort on my part to quit taking Fear’s calls, answering Fear’s emails, etc.   But I’m done with that liar Fear!  Who is with me??

Out of respect for your time, I’m going to close here and continue under separate posts which will be filed under a new Category entitled “FEAR NOT!”   I hope you will check back periodically, and also share your thoughts on this post in the comment section below.

Be blessed,
Jenny

911 – What’s your emergency?

The other day, my oldest daughter and I were practically rolling on the floor laughing!  She had one of those moments when she realized … gasp … that she is becoming more and more like her mom.  Hey, we’ve all had those moments – and not all of them are funny.  But this one was!!  Hysterical in fact!   And in the telling of her own ridiculously silly story, she reminded me of an incident back in the late 1990’s when we were still living in California.    But first a little background…

I have raised my two daughters, both married now to fine and godly men, as a single parent since they were 4 and 7.   And as a single parent, I think I felt the weight of keeping my family safe a little differently than many moms might – after all, there was no husband around to check out those bumps in the night.    In addition to being a light sleeper (listening for noises that don’t belong), I regularly checked the doors before going to bed, ‘cleared the house’ when we’d all been out for a considerable period of time, and all the other things that one does to protect their children.    After all, that’s what parents do.

Well, by the time of this particular event, my daughters were well into their teens, and I had just returned home from work about the same time as they arrived home from after school events.   It was while I was moving about the house that I discovered a rather large clump of ‘freshly cut hair’ in the bathroom.  You know, like when you go to the salon for a major style change and they cut off locks of hair which then fall to the floor in clusters (for example, large ringlets of wavy hair)?  Well, it was like that.  Like someone had cut their hair in my bathroom.  But this was just ONE clump of ‘freshly cut hair’, and it wasn’t ours!!!!

I was completely freaked out!   My brain could make no sense of this!  Feeling very violated and very vulnerable, I began to panic.  They tell me that with hair in hands, I ran back and forth through our little 900′ house chanting “what kind of pervert breaks into someone’s house to cut their hair???”  I was even considering calling the police!  I suspect it would have gone something like this:

FB_emergencyApp_911911 Operator:  911, what is your emergency?
Me:  I think someone broke into my house!
911 Operator:  Is there evidence of a break in?
Me:  No, not that I can find.
911 Operator:  Is anything missing?
Me:  No, not that I know of.
911 Operator:  What makes you think someone broke in to your home?
Me:  There is a clump of hair in the bathroom!!!

Well, you can imagine how that would have sounded!  Thankfully, my daughters are a lot smarter than their mom.  I now blame it on that strange mysterious thing that happens when you turn 40.  You know … when the brain kinda flickers on and off?   After about an hour of looking like a complete lunatic before my daughters, they both start laughing hysterically and point to a patch on the top of my head where my hair suddenly goes from about 8″ to only 2″ in length!   Yup, I had burned off my own hair with the curling iron that morning and didn’t even notice it!!!!   Which also means I also went to work looking like that!

Well, there is a reason to my telling this story … but you’re going to have to wait for it.  My youngest daughter,  still very much smarter than her mom, has pointed out that shorter blogs are preferred to long dissertations.  So you guessed it – this is a “Part 1 of 2” type of blog post.  But while you wait, hopefully you have had a good chuckle and maybe even remembered a few silly things you’ve done over the years.

“A merry heart does good, like medicine.”   (Proverbs 17:22a)

It’s good to be able to laugh at yourself, even better if others can laugh with you!!  Why don’t you add your own story to the comment section and we’ll keep the laughter going!

Be blessed,
Jenny

PS – don’t forget to check back next week for Part 2!!