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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)

*******

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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What storms have you been through?

storm

storm

What storms have you been through in your life? 

Several years ago, Ray, our daughter Leah, our cat and I were under a tornado warning at our house in the country just outside Garden City, MO.

A tornado had been spotted on the ground and the sirens were going off. Fortunately, we had a basement where we lived and we ran downstairs to take cover in the basement, with a battery-powered radio and Leah holding tightly onto her calico cat, Sierra.

My husband Ray doesn’t give into fear very easily. He went to grab Sierra, who had escaped out of Leah’s arms and ran upstairs. While upstairs looking for her, Ray looked out the den window and saw the green sky and the black tornado coming straight toward our house to hit it. He came down the steps three at a time, shouting, “Lord God, I plead the blood of Jesus over me and my family and our property!”

We could hear the storm raging outside. I was screaming and covering Leah’s head with a blanket and my body to shield her. Then it was over, gone as suddenly as it had come. We cautiously ventured outside, where our entire neighborhood was outside, examining the damage. 

The tornado had hit a couple of our apple trees, bent the antenna on our car, and twisted the satellite dish on top of our house, but otherwise, our home was virtually untouched. Our neighbor’s house’s roof was partially torn off.

One of our other neighbors on the opposite side of our house came over and told Ray that he had watched the entire thing from his window, and said the tornado had SKIPPED OVER OUR HOUSE! I am convinced it was Ray’s prayers, invoking Jesus’ blood and asking for protection.

I have been through a lot of storms in my life, emotionally and spiritually. Through them all, God has always been with me and never abandoned me. Jesus will speak peace to your storm, whatever you are going through.

Storm Tossed

In my video today, I share more about this topic and my first ever fiction book, Storm Tossed, coming July 2015 at Amazon. 

Just click here to watch the video. 

“O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires.” – Isaiah 55:11, ESV

 

 

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Lost in a Texas storm

my husband Ray, by the plaque dedicated for LeTourneau University's original EMS program

my husband Ray, by the plaque dedicated for LeTourneau University’s original EMS program

This weekend my husband Ray and I traveled to Texas for the plaque dedication service/reunion for LeTourneau University’s original EMS program, of which Ray was a part as a student and working as an EMT for the city of Longview, TX, about 30 years ago. He was so happy to see his old friends there, and longed to spend much more time with them.

Ray has worked so hard and faithfully in the emergency services field for his entire career serving as a Navy corpsman for over 14 years, a fireman and a firechief, a police man and a police chief, SWAT team medic, and a paramedic since he was 18 years old.

Since I’ve been married to him, he’s always done nearly back-breaking work like War Horse, going days and nights for years without sleep, going into work even when he was sick, exhausted, or just needing a break, all to put food on the table for our family.

In my eyes and our children’s, my husband is a hero every day of his life.

Ray’s mom Judy and his stepdad Leonard live near Quitman, Texas, which is close to Longview, and they graciously offered for us to stay with them at their home while we were there.  They live near a lake, which is so beautiful and peaceful. 

lake by Ray's parents' house near Quitman, TX

lake by Ray’s parents’ house near Quitman, TX

They have a big back deck with a large bird feeder and a hummingbird feeder. I’d never seen a hummingbird in person before, but this time I did and was so happy! They are so cute!

I’m planning to get me a hummingbird feeder for our house here in Missouri, to put near my sunroom. In this picture below, you can see the yellow goldfinch on the white bird feeder. It was the first time I’d seen one of these birds in person, too. 

bird and hummingbird feeders on back deck

bird and hummingbird feeders on back deck

I really enjoyed waking up early before everyone else got up, cooking my egg, and then sitting on the back deck looking at the lake, watching the birds, and praying. The sun was shining through the trees.

I’ve been needing to get away from everything and just relax. This time of peaceful solitude was balm to my soul.

Me by the lake

Me by the lake

The first morning I saw a male red cardinal; each time I see one, I feel it’s God’s “sign,”  letting me know in a special way that He loves me. Interestingly, this often happens on very bad days (although this time was a good day).

Sun shining through trees near the lake

Sun shining through trees near the lake

Ray and his parents would then join me on the deck for coffee, which was so relaxing. Ray’s mom put my coffee in a sunflower coffee cup (I love sunflowers!), which she blessed me with to take home.

My cute sunflower coffee cup

My cute sunflower coffee cup

The first night Ray’s stepdad Leonard smoked ribs for us. Ray was very happy about this, because on the way driving to Texas, Bodacious BBQ (allegedly the best bbq anywhere) was closed by 7 p.m.

Ray’s mom Judy also cooked fried chicken (Ray’s fave dish of hers, which I’ve never been able to master!) and fried fish (which I love!). It was all so delicious!!!

She also cooked breakfast, telling me she enjoyed doing something special for Ray that he liked:  she made biscuits with home-made plum jelly and Mayhaw jelly (a berry I’d never heard of); scrambled eggs; bacon; and fresh strawberries. I’m not a morning person and hate cooking, so Ray was thrilled with this. (I repent in dust and ashes.)

 

Ray, his mom Judy and his stepdad Leonard

Ray, his mom Judy and his stepdad Leonard

Ray and his mom Judy

Ray and his mom Judy

Ray was so disappointed about Bodacous BBQ being closed and about a store in Bogota, TX, running out of hot links when he arrived there. He did get some on the way driving home.

Bogota, TX store where Ray always gets his hot links

Bogota, TX store where Ray always gets his hot links

When the beautiful black woman working at the store asked Ray how many hot links he wanted, he said, “All of them.” He cleaned them out! He also got boudin sausage, another Cajun favorite in Texas. 

Ray in line for hot links

Ray in line for hot links

hot links and boudin sausage

hot links and boudin sausage

A girl sitting at the cafe in the store was eating crawfish. Yep, we’re definitely in the south now! I’d never eaten one before and asked her if I could take a picture of them.

I asked her how you eat them and her dad said, “You bite their heads off.” I wasn’t sure if he was serious or not.

It reminded me of the time I visited my sister Maria and her kids in Georgia, and my darling nephew Nicholas said to me with disgust at a seafood place: “Aunt Beth, you don’t eat fried catfish with a FORK! You eat them with your HANDS!”

Ray says you can eat crawfish like lobster or crab and that they are good. I’m not so sure I’ll be eating them at all. Nor did I taste the boudin.

crawfish

crawfish

Paris, Texas is on the way to Quitman, TX. Naturally as a joke, I had to stop and take a picture in front of it. I’ve been to the real Paris, France, twice and would love to go back some day! Our daughter Heather and our granddaughter Annabelle want to go, too.

Me in front of Paris, Texas sign

Me in front of Paris, Texas sign

Naturally, Ray had to act silly taking his pic in front of it. 🙂

Ray in front of Paris, TX sign

Ray in front of Paris, TX sign

For supper, we ate at a Mexican restaurant in Paris (does that sound like an oxymoron?). It was called Ta Molly’s, and silly me, I didn’t realize until we were inside that its name was a play on words (tamales)!

Ray really wanted to eat Bodacious BBQ,  but in my humble opinion, you can never go wrong with Mexican! I thought the restaurant had palm trees outside, but Ray said they are yucca plants. I’d love to get one for my sunroom.

I liked all the live green plants inside the restaurant and the white Christmas lights. 

Ta Molly's Mexican restaurant Paris, Texas

Ta Molly’s Mexican restaurant
Paris, Texas

 

Inside Ta Molly's

Inside Ta Molly’s

Ray was able to go fishing at his parents’ house while we were there. This was one of the highlights of the trip for him. He LOVES to fish.

“And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” ~ Matthew 4:19, NASB

Ray fishing at his parents' house on the lake, Texas

Ray fishing at his parents’ house on the lake, Texas

Ray loves to fish

Ray loves to fish

 

me and Ray on deck by lake

me and Ray on deck by lake

The dedication/reunion

Ray and I got dressed up to go to the reunion. Here’s a good pic of us in front of his mother Judy’s beautiful red fireplace at their house.

me and Ray ready for the reunion

me and Ray ready for the reunion

The dedication service and banquet for LeTourneau University’s EMS program was on Saturday. Here’s Ray with his colleagues. Ray is the first person on the 3rd row in the grey suit, with the military haircut. 

Ray and his colleagues at reunion

Ray and his colleagues at reunion

Here is the plaque unveiling at the afternoon ceremony at LeTourneau University, a private, interdenominational Christian university which originally educated veterans coming back from WWII. LeTourneau University recently added a nursing program, hence the dedication to the college’s original EMS program. 

unveiling of the plaque dedicated to the LeTourneau University EMS program

unveiling of the plaque dedicated to the LeTourneau University EMS program
LeTourneau President Dr. Lunsford, Glen Butts, and Jack Lanier

The university’s vision statement reads: “Claiming every workplace in every nation as their mission field, LeTourneau University graduates are professionals of ingenuity and Christ-like character who see life’s work as a holy calling with eternal impact. Amen!

On Saturday night, the university served a food and dessert banquet. We sat with 2 really nice couples, one who were missionaries in Peru (the missionary wife met her husband there and married him!) and the other woman was from Canada, living in America now. When I asked if she missed Canada, she said, “I miss the snow.” (Ray groaned at this; he hates snow.)

Ray and I shared some of our missions stories with them about Haiti, Israel, and Africa. 

banquet dinner table

banquet dinner table

 

banquet

banquet

Afterward, they had the dessert banquet in another building and those who had attended the university’s EMS program and worked as instructors and EMT’s for the city of Longview shared both funny and sober war stories.

After this is when Ray and I got LOST IN A TERRIFYING TEXAS STORM. 

Ray’s stepdad Leonard had given Ray short-cut directions to get to LeTourneau University, with which Ray wasn’t familiar (he grew up in Texas and Louisiana, and normally knows Texas roads and highways).

Before coming to Texas, I’d seen weather reports and didn’t have a peace about going there. I’d been caught in a bad thunderstorm cell, driving home after a movie one night last year, and the rain coming down sideways and the lightning striking so fast and close to my car really scared me. I didn’t want to go through that again!

Joyce Meyer says, “Let peace be your umpire.” 

Longview had just had a tornado, which totally destroyed Jack Lanier’s house (one of Ray’s colleagues there at the reunion).

I sensed the storm before we went to Texas

 I was very concerned that if Ray and I went on this trip, we’d run into a storm(s). It just wasn’t the weather reports; I sensed it spiritually. But my family and my friends thought I should go with Ray, so I went with him in faith, to show my support for him.

Things changed fast

It was a clear night when Ray and I left the university to go back to his parents’ house near Quitman, Texas. Suddenly it began thunderstorming badly.

 The rain was coming down sideways, hard. There was small hail.

The wind was blowing so violently that Ray had trouble controlling our little Toyota Yaris on the road. I was yelling for him to slow down, and he said if he drove too slow, the wind would knock us off the road. 

The worst part was that whole trees had fallen on the highway. It was like an obstacle course.

Ray kept swerving to avoid hitting them, and he did accidentally hit a couple of them. By a miracle, none of our tires were punctured!

I was pleading the blood of Jesus over us and taking authority over the storm, rebuking it. Ray and I were both praying in the Spirit.

I was trying to have faith, but I felt terrified that we’d crash or another tree would fall on top of us.

Later I soberly realized that if we had left the reunion earlier, this is exactly what would have happened and we would have been critically injured or even died. 

Then we got lost.

We were on the right highway, but the visibility was so poor that we couldn’t see the road that had a gate leading to Ray’s parents’ house. 

Ray accidentally left his phone at his parents’ house. (He always carries his phone, so this was rare!). I didn’t have Ray’s mom’s phone number with me, just her email address.

I called our grown daughter Heather to pray and alert intercessors to pray for us as we were in real danger from the storm.

The phone cut off just after I told her we were in danger and to pray. I tried to call her back to ask her to call Ray’s mom and have her call us with better directions, but I couldn’t get through again.

We were both stressed out trying to find the road with the gate. Ray said he felt we were going the wrong way and turned around in someone’s driveway.

As we pulled up into it, I saw a big white sign with large letters that said something to the degree of, “Prayer changes things.”

I knew it was a direct sign from God to KEEP praying and taking authority over the storm. God amazes me how He does these kinds of things!

Ray told me to call 411 information for his parents’ phone number. They answered and gave us the number immediately (a miracle!).

Ray’s mom answered frantic. She had messaged me on Facebook that she’d seen the news and a bad storm was coming, and to come back immediately.  She got Leonard on the phone.

They didn’t know exactly where we were, but Leonard was able to determine enough to tell Ray to take a different highway nearby, which was the highway we were much more familiar with. We were able to locate a church on that highway, where we turned that took us to Ray’s parents’ house.

All I could do when we got inside his parents’ house was get on the floor with my head in my hands and praise God for our safety.

I’m not afraid of dying; I don’t want to live and suffer, crashing in a storm! 

The storm died down shortly after we arrived at his parents’ house. While we encountered some heavy rain traveling on the way home to Kansas City, MO, it wasn’t real bad. Thank God for travel mercies!

My sister Maria said this when I told her about what happened:

“I think it’s very interesting y’all weathered a storm together but came out unscathed, together. I feel it is significant that you two went through the storm. And were still together. I feel it may be God saying, “I will keep you together, no matter what comes because you belong together. No matter what the storm looks like, I am in control. And you are through the storm.” Not a thus saith the Lord, but that’s why I found it interesting.”

Interesting word, isn’t it?

I’m thankful that Jesus is the Master of the Wind and He can speak peace to the storm. (Matthew 8:23-27)

The storm outside of us in the natural, and the storm inside of us emotionally and spiritually. 

I’m so thankful to be home safe and sound!

Have you ever been caught in a sudden, violent storm? Share your comments below. 

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