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Keep praying

woman praying

woman praying

The curve is flattening for the Coronavirus in states across the United States and the world. I am praying God ERADICATES this virus from the Earth forever, protects my family and me and our loved ones from getting it, that He heals the sick, and that He restores people’s jobs and income so their needs will be provided.

Keep praying! God hears your and my prayers. 

 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

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Blog, Ebooks, Family, Friendship, Writing

True friends

Me and my BFF Maria

Me and my BFF Maria

“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.”– Elisabeth Foley

In my blog on spring, A Chance at Life Again, I shared about my first children’s book that I’m writing, which should be launched in mid-March or late March 2020. It is about my and our daughter Leah’s black cats, Natalya (Nat) and Jax. The theme is friendship. 

Jax and Natalya

Jax and Natalya

I’ve never been the type of person to have tons of friends. Usually, I have anywhere from two to 10 close friends, with whom there is a depth of relationship, instead of having a lot of friends, where the relationships are shallow and even superficial.

In high school, there were cliques. Depending on your looks, clothes, type of car you owned, class grades, your family’s economic status, and more ridiculous things, the cliques were:

    • the “popular” group (usually rich, good-looking people who everyone wanted to be friends with);
    • nerds (intelligent students in the accelerated learning classes, and sometimes the popular kids were in this group, too);
    • jocks (students who played football or basketball, wrestled, were on the gymnastics team, and/or who participated in other sports and were good at them–they were often in the popular clique, too);
    • druggies (kids who usually smoked cigarettes and/or pot, drank alcohol, and/or took other drugs. Some of the popular kids indulged in drinking and drugs, and would have parties);
    • others who didn’t fit into any of the above cliques.  Painfully shy and socially awkward, I was in this group, often eating my lunch alone. It was a difficult, lonely time. As I matured and grew older, I learned better social skills and began developing close friendships. Today my friends are a vital part of my life, and I love them so much! You know who you are!

     

    I believe that Jesus’ ministry time here on earth exemplifies the types of relationships we can have with others:

  • The crowds of people whom Jesus taught. This would be similar to your and my Facebook “friends,” who are really more acquaintances (or even strangers we don’t know), our social media “peeps,” audiences where we speak, readers of our books and our blogs, etc.
  • Jesus’ disciples. These included men and women who followed Him more closely. These would be friends who we start to spend more fun time with, such as having over for dinner at our houses, doing a Bible study with at church or in our homes, etc.
  • Jesus’ 12 disciples. Your friends who you begin to confide in, asking prayer requests from (I have a team of intercessors who pray for me and my family), hang out with for a bbq and a movie at your house, people who are aware of the more personal details of your lives, whom you can really trust. Jesus chose these 12 men after all night in prayer, so they would spend time with Him, to preach, and to cast out demons. They would later spread the gospel throughout the world. These would be like my friends Liz, Ruth, Gala, Susan, Jane, Stephanie, and Dana.
  • The inner circle of 3, Peter, James, and John.  They are always listed first in the Biblical record whenever the apostles are listed by name. Peter along with his brother Andrew, along with James and his brother John, were the first set of disciples called by Jesus to follow Him. These three were the only disciples to witness the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Mark 5:37-42; Luke 8:50-55); Christ’s Transfiguration on the Mount (Matthew 17:1-2); and Jesus travailing in prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane, before He was crucified (Matthew 26:36-39; Mark 14:32-36).  Jeff Atchinson said, “the Perfect Leader, Jesus, showed us the importance of narrowing in on a smaller circle for the highest degree of intimate training.” These would be like your best friends, who you’d trust with your very life. You know they  are loyal and they always have your back! These are usually people who, even if you go separate ways (such as moving), you can always pick right back up where you were the last time you saw each other, such as my friends Shelley Valasek and Kim Weber.
  • John who lay on Jesus’ breast, hearing His heartbeat. This is your very best friend. For me, that would be my daughters and my sister Maria. These are the ones I laugh with and cry with. They really know me–and love me anyway! My sister and I talk about everything, and we understand each other so well (we both have the same kind of warped humor!). 

Sometimes we meet people who are definitely not and will never be our friends. They simply rub us the wrong way, and/or vice versa. 

The Bible says in Romans 12:18 NASB, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”

I believe this passage indicates that sometimes it is not possible. I think this is often due to personality types. They (or you!) are bossy, manipulative, narcissistic, controlling, rude, hateful, arrogant, or have something about them that just irritates or angers you. Sometimes people rub you the wrong way and/or vice versa. You know the type: people with an attitude who you feel like just slapping, but you control yourself!

woman shooting bird

I’ve experienced this in my own life, even recently. There was a woman at a part-time job where I worked for a season who, for whatever reason, seemed to not like me at all and would get easily angry at me. I tried my best to be nice to her, but she’d storm out of the office, offended over what seemed to be little, ridiculous things. Sad to say, we never got along. I no longer work there, and I’m so glad that I don’t have to deal with her any more!

Not everyone is going to like you or get along with you, or you with them. We can try our best to walk in God’s agape, unconditional love and forgive, but you and that person may never become friends. 

Woman in jacket. Source: Unsplash

Woman in jacket
Source: Unsplash

However, sometimes it IS possible. My children’s book is about that hope. I’m praying to launch it soon.

If you aren’t already signed up on my website’s mailing list, be sure to sign up with your name and email address on the welcome page at the bottom of the page. You’ll also get my free video training for speakers and writers about sharing your heart’s message, when you do. 

I’m personally so thankful for the friends I do have. Like my salvation through Christ and my family, I consider them a precious gift from God. 

Me and my precious friend Shelley Valasek, at the fountains by Crowne Center, Kansas City, MO

Me and my precious friend Shelley Valasek, at the fountains by Crowne Center, Kansas City, MO

 

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Blog, Faith, prayer, Stress

Fear is optional

fear is a prison

What are you afraid of?

I’ve been scared all my life. 

When I was a child and growing up, I had a lot of fears. I was afraid of:

  • the unknown;
  • the dark;
  • storms;
  • strangers;
  • loud noises;
  • big dogs;
  • failing in school;
  • getting in trouble at school;
  • being called on at school to answer a question;
  • public speaking;
  • heights;
  • crowds;
  • rejection;
  • my parents;
  • and more. 

As an adult, my fears are much more intangible, things like me not mattering (not making a difference here on earth) nor leaving a righteous legacy.  Of my children not loving me or having nothing to do with me. Of failing as a mom. Of something horrible happening to one of our children or grandchildren. Of never fulfilling my calling and purpose from God. Of never succeeding as a speaker and author. Of growing old and unloved. Of declining health. Of news headlines, such as the Coronavirus, violent shootings, terrorism, persecution for my faith, and natural disasters.  Fears many people share. 

God has delivered me of many of my childhood fears, but I still have to fight against new fears the enemy Satan tries to throw at me, such as the one above. I must keep my gaze on Jesus and choose to trust in Him!

Leah at our house with her ankle elevated, pre-surgery

Leah at our house with her ankle elevated, pre-surgery

 

Leah's heavy black ankle boot

Leah’s heavy black ankle boot

I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety and fear lately because our youngest daughter Leah fell on ice and snow near Christmas, and it broke the fibula in her right ankle. The fracture required her having surgery, which was extremely scary to me.

I know that God is going to completely heal her, but that doesn’t mean I am not battling fears, such as her falling again and re-injuring herself. But I must choose to trust that God is going to protect her and quickly, completely heal her!

Fear is something Jesus addressed a lot with His disciples. One of the most well-known passages is when they were on a boat in a storm in Matthew 8:23-27, NASB.

The Bible describes it as a “great storm.” This was not just a little summer shower. The men were experienced fishermen, and had been in plenty of storms. But they were afraid in this storm.

 “When Jesus got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?””

The men were scared out of their wits that they were going to die. And there Jesus was, asleep! They woke Him up, asking Him to rescue them. Jesus challenged them. He called them out for their fear, asking why they were afraid.

Why are you and I afraid, too? Jesus is always with us in the boat of life! He is at peace, and we should be, too, trusting in God!

storm

In my email inbox today, I received the Faith Gateway ezine in which author Max Lucado writes, “Storms are not optional, but fear is.”

On my Facebook wall today, one of my friends didn’t agree completely with this quote. She said, “Fear is a natural human emotion. It moves us to take action. To seek safety. Fear can alert us to REAL danger. Ignoring it, burying it, or minimizing it won’t save us if we’re in a serious situation. Fear can prompt us to make quick decisions. Some people have physical strength during scary moments and they can rescue others from a fire, car accident, and dire conditions.”

This is true. And in fact, my friend Judy in Florida just experienced this during a storm. She and her husband Bob are staying in a mobile home right now and were going to a concrete building storm shelter during a tornado warning about 10:30 at night. As her husband was getting his sweat pants, Judy went outside to knock on a neighbor’s door.

The wind became powerful and she saw rotating clouds. Judy laid quickly on the ground and prayed for Jesus to help them. She was pelted with debris but God protected her. About 15 houses away, a tree was uprooted and mobile homes were damaged. It was later confirmed that a tornado was on the ground in their area. If Judy hadn’t paid attention to her feeling of fear when she saw the rotating clouds, she might have been seriously hurt or even died. Her fear did alert her to make a quick, and potentially life-saving decision: to lay down on the ground for protection.

Fear can be useful to caution us. We need to pay attention to our fears, because God gives us emotions for a reason. But God doesn’t want us to stay stuck there. He wants us to rise above the fear and intentionally choose to trust in and believe in Him, God Almighty, who is all-knowing and all-powerful. God is greater than any fear or danger that we may be experiencing. Fear is the opposite of faith and is our enemy to trusting in Jesus.

faith deco in sunroom

faith deco in sunroom

Yes, fear is a natural response to frightening, dangerous situations. God understands this and doesn’t condemn us for the fear. But we can’t stay a slave to our fears. We must master them and choose to believe in and trust in God. We must get our eyes off the dangerous storm, whatever it is, and keep our eyes on Jesus, who will never leave us. This is not an easy task. But with God nothing is impossible. Renewing our minds with the truth of God’s word is the key to conquering our fears. (Romans 12:2)

Here are some verses on fear and faith that you and I can meditate on to help us renew our minds and to conquer the enemy of fear.

“So do not fear, for I AM with you; do not be dismayed for I AM your God. I will strengthen and help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.” (Psalm 56:3)

“Peace is what I leave with you; it is My own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

“But now thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel; Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are Mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)

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Metamorphosis: Transformed from Fear to Faith

my butterfly book at Amazon

Are you struggling with fears, anxiety, or stress? Be sure to check out my book, Metamorphosis: Transformed from Fear to Faith, available for sale at Amazon here

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