How Keeping a List of Victories Can Help Gain Freedom Over Fear

Invasion of Fear

The invasion began three decades ago.

Everyone else was at work despite the snow-covered roads. I felt pressure to be there so I bundled up my oldest and headed down the road. I drove for miles without any issues until I rounded a shady curve on an exit ramp to I-85. We slid to the side of the road. As I was getting out of my car to meet a gentleman who had stopped to help, a woman driving too fast for conditions skated around the curve and plowed into my car. In turn, my car hit me and I landed in a nearby gully and the car, along with my eight-month-old son, sailed down the ramp. The policeman said if he’d not been in a car seat he would’ve been thrown from the vehicle. {Thank You, Lord}

Fear laid low like a crouching tiger for two years. Then one night while driving in a rainstorm an eighteen-wheeler crept into my lane causing me to swerve. In an instant, fear lept into action. Over the years, the severity increased. Driving or riding on highways, it didn’t matter. I started avoiding all highways, then busy roads, then bridges and tunnels.

 

Fear is never satisfied⏤it always desires more, invading the abundant life God desires for us.

 

I’ve missed out-of-town birthdays, trips to my husband’s hometown in DC, and early on, even a few family beach outings. Truth is, I’ve missed out on much more⏤but even I can’t bear to admit how much.

At one point, I considered stepping away from teaching adult Bible studies, something I’d done for over twenty years. Guilt pursued me whispering how can you call yourself a Bible teacher when you struggle with all these fears? Recognizing this voice was not from God but still feeling the weight of the accusation, I sought counsel from a wise scholar of the Word. He helped to infiltrate my weary soul with a soaking of grace⏤something I’m quick to offer to others but sometimes slow to offer to myself.

I began keeping a journal of God’s faithfulness. When a difficult trip came up, I wrote it down. Sometimes the sentence was as simple as Lord, help me drive to the grocery store in the storm. Every time God chose to miraculously clear the skies or the roads, I gained confidence. And on those days when the skies refused to clear or a kiss from the back bumper left me rattled, I found comfort in knowing God was there, allowing it for my ultimate good.

Almost two years ago, in an effort to move closer to our grandchildren and to the mountains, we considered leaving our beloved century-old home and the city we’d lived in for twenty-five years. Leaving everyone and everything I knew to move an hour away (which was approximately 55 minutes outside my comfort zone) was overwhelming at times. But during the process, we found a home perched on a hill with a spectacular view of the mountains. The only downside was the drive to civilization. Instead of taking five minutes to reach the closest Starbucks (is there a better point of reference?), it would require twenty. Yep, a 40-minute round trip for a grandi-licious cup of coffee.

Fear tempted me to re-think the move. I had enough trouble driving around the corner on rainy days. How could I even think of driving twenty minutes to anywhere? But I had allowed fear to invade too much of my life already. I refused to let it determine we where we lived.

 

With the words, Enough is enough! the heavy strike of my foot hit the dirt, claiming my right to freedom.

 

We moved to that house on four acres with a mountain view a little over a year ago. It is an act of faith to drive forty minutes on a two-lane road dotted with roadside crosses but it feels like a kick in the enemy’s shin every single time I do it.

 

Journal of Victories

 

Another shin-kick was dealt at Disney last November. While there, Brian insisted I make a list of everything that tested my anxiety on the trip⏤but did anyway, even if done so poorly. (Let’s just say I WILL ride something on the next trip!) When I returned home, I made the list. Words flowed effortlessly, as did the tears. Mini-victories measured 8-1/2″ x 11″ that day. And as the victories increase, so will the pages. Each one reminding me of God’s desire to live abundantly and that He is here, with me, in the struggle as well as the victories.

 

Journaling our mini-victories over fear reminds us of God's faithfulness, giving us the courage to take another step toward freedom. Click To Tweet

 

Friends, I wish I could end this post in true David and Goliath style. But my fears aren’t totally slain, or honestly, even close. I can, however, say that with every small declaration against fear, freedom gains ground.

And I suppose this is where victory over fear begins for us all.

I covet your prayers on this journey. Maybe I’m not alone. Is there some way I can pray for you? 

 

Why Be Yourself When You Can Be So Much More? + Starbucks Valentine’s Day Giveaway!

Becoming a Swan

Be yourself, but always your better self. Karl G. Maeser

I received the call on a blazing hot afternoon⏤family was coming for an overnight stay. While I was thrilled with the idea of seeing them, I began stressing over details that multiplied quicker than the bunny next door.

At one point, I was convinced that my innate Southern hospitality would override the anxiety. I mean, surely I could put on a smile like the one I do when walking into church after arguing with Brian all the way there. *wink*

 

Or, I could be myself⏤a woman who deeply desires to love others without surrendering to anxiety.

 

The inner struggle continued up to a mere hour before their arrival.

Brian wasn’t home and I was scurrying from room to room trying to convince myself I could cover all evidence of the ever-encroaching anxiety. But God wasn’t having it. I slowly made my way to the couch, plopped down, and stayed quiet until this prayer emerged from my weary soul:

 

Father, help me to be who I cannot be without You.
Father, help me to be who I cannot be without You. Click To Tweet

God knew my heart. He knew I wanted to love and enjoy my guests. He knew I wanted them to feel welcomed. But He also knew my limitations, struggles, and above all, my sinful nature that often desires comfort at any cost. Even at the cost of loving others well.

I can only say (due to the wonder of it all) that at one point during their visit, Brian looked over and asked what I’d done with his wife. You see, my hubby is also well acquainted with the struggle between my desire to be the woman God created me to be and the anxiety. Too often, he’s seen the latter win the battles. He could barely recognize a win.

I’ve prayed the same prayer more than once since that summer afternoon, not because those eleven words help me to be a better me, but because the sincere desire releases God’s power to help me be more like Him.

I wish I could say that all my desires are this pure, but they’re not. I am what God calls a WIP — Work In Progress. Maybe this is why we like hanging out together. 🙂

If so, this is my prayer for us:

 

A Prayer for 2018

 

Is there a particular role in your life that longs for God’s leading?

 

Valentine's Day

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought I’d share a little yummy-licious giveaway today! I wish I could give one to every gracious person who takes time to read what the Lord lays on my heart to share but since I can’t *sigh*, I’ll randomly draw a name from the comment section this Friday. I hope you’ll take a moment to leave a comment because if your name is drawn, you’ll win this nifty Starbucks reusable cup (=discounted coffee) and a 5.00 cup o’ coffee gift card.

Starbucks Giveaway

 

 

 

Swan Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

We Love Our Church So Why Are We Leaving?

Church is not a Building

“This is our time on the history line of God. This is it. What will we do with the one deep exhale of God on this earth? For we are but a vapor and we have to make it count. We’re on. Direct us, Lord, and get us on our feet.” –Beth Moore

 

Our time with Summit seems too important, too intertwined with our lives, to settle for a simple goodbye.

Summit Church Upstate in Greenville SC has been our church home for almost seven years. From the get-go, Jason and Kyle welcomed us warmly, loved us deeply, and challenged us through biblical teaching. We developed friendships that will not be deterred by a change in address because the Church isn’t defined by brick and mortar. We are the Church and wherever we go, we take with us their love and influence.

Stop to consider the reasons why you love your church. Write them down. It's good for the soul. Click To Tweet

 

 

Let’s see if some of your reasons resonate with mine.

 

An Inclusive Mindset

 

During our services, we prayed for churches across the world but we also prayed for those across the street. In fact, the teaching team at Summit never shied away from building up other churches in our area because they recognized⏤and reminded us⏤that we’re on the same team. We’re not competition. This is a foreign concept in some churches today, many of which are dying.

 

Teaching Team

 

When we first began visiting Summit, we sat under Jason Malone and Kyle Estepp’s teaching. Jason’s well-timed zingers made us laugh one minute and be contemplative the next while Kyle’s tender delivery of the Word melted the hardest of hearts. A few years ago we helped a new Summit campus get started. We discovered more lasting friendships and another engaging and solid pastor, Nathan Forrest. We miss them so much!

 

Behind-the-Scenes

 

I was delighted and honored to serve on the staff communications team for almost two years. What I saw behind-the-scenes was exactly what we all saw on Sunday mornings and every day in between. Not perfection, nor the desire to be, but rather, authentic Christ-followers with a robust faith who desire to share the gospel with every man, woman, and child.

 

People Family

 

There’s not enough space to share the many reasons why I love our church family. Deep relationships deepened and new friendships were forged. We enjoyed serving alongside them in the music and hospitality ministries. And in a very real way, we still will, wherever we land.

 

I hope it’s obvious as to how much we love Summit Upstate. So why are we leaving?

 

Well, we moved almost an hour away from our home campus and while there is another campus closer to us, it’s still thirty minutes away. In the big scheme of things I suppose that’s not terribly far but after months of prayer, we sense the need and desire to serve our little community at the foot of Glassy Mountain. If there’s a need, we’ll be close enough to deliver a meal before it gets cold and who knows? We might actually bump into someone we go to church with at the only grocery store within 20 minutes or the best restaurant around, The Hungry Drover (and I don’t say that just because they carry my books!) *wink*

 

Leaving a church is never easy, especially one you love, but we have Summit’s blessings (which came as no surprise) and we look forward to seeing where God will lead us.

“We’re on. Direct us, Lord, and get us on our feet.” –Beth Moore

 

What’s one thing you most love about your church? It matters!