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Posts Tagged ‘Fears’

People hoarding toilet paper and sanitizer, limits on travel, cancelling of sporting and entertainment events, stock markets plunging and social media informing the populace on COVID-19 …

” … be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic … for the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
– Deuteronomy 31:6

We have observed students, parents and travellers roll their eyes, ignore professional advice or grow in fear each day.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” -John 14:27

I, myself, have the Wolrd Health Organization and the John Hopkins COVID-19 Global Map (in real time) in open tabs on my laptop, so that I can keep up to date on the facts of this global pandemic.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Yet, with all of the cancellations and changes, with all of the craziness, with all of this doom and gloom … there is a realization that we are not in control. With that realization comes the acceptance that our hope, humanly speaking, is not within our own humanity.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
– Psalm 46:1

In 1948, after the horrors of the end of WW2, people realized that, though the war was over, a new age had dawned … the Atomic Age … and people were perhaps even more fearful than during the war years.

It was then that C.S. Lewis wrote an essay titled, On Living in an Atomic Age (which was published with other essays in a book called Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays.

It would seem than many have been dusting this essay off lately … still wise words for tough times. I have gone ahead and replaced “atomic bomb” with “coronavirus” (noted by italics).

In one way, we think a great deal too much of the coronavirus. “How are we to live in an coronavirus age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the coronavirus was spreading: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by coronavirus, let that virus when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about the coronavirus. It may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but it need not dominate our minds.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 4:6-7

May we not allow fear to guide us.

May we be found spending this time doing sensible things … things like making good meals, washing our hands, offering others assistance, taking walks to breath in the fresh air, reading good books, cleaning out our closets, making long distance calls, stretching our bodies, praying, loving others in practical and spiritual ways … posting encouragement on social media.

Let us love.

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”
– Proverbs 12:25 

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images-2There was the program on television, a few years back, called “Fear Factor” in which people got closer to a goal or prize by completing a fear-inducing challenge. The money was big, something like $100,000, and the challenges were equally daunting.

The challenges tested strength (and stupidity … but that is just my opinion) physically, mentally, and it was all about testing the contestants level of fear.

Although I did not watch the program, I do remember catching one of those challenges. The challenge for the contestants was for one of the contestants to be pushed through the ‘Tarantula Tunnel” by their partner. Start watching the following video at about 1:50 (and stop when you just cannot watch anymore):

EWIE!

That has to be a fear factor for many of us!

Creepy crawlies are certainly fear-inducing, but not all fears are so tangible. I would guess that most of the fears that we humans have cannot be touched, but they do seem to fall upon us, and they can create a feeling of being paralyzed. Many of the fears we have are about our future, our loved ones, health, jobs, tests and the list goes on. Sometimes we are fearful, and we do not even know where our fear originates.

Fears can result in stagnation in life, missing out on experiences or learning, not maturing in the area of problem solving, and even health issues. Fears can hinder our growth and development in life, hold us back, and even prevent us from living the life that is available to us.

179862578837831550_MNgXK7Gj_bThe Bible speaks of fears frequently, and the message would seem to be consistent:

  • do not fear
  • be not afraid
  • be anxious about nothing

The reason for not needing to be afraid is also consistent:

47287864807334496_HgMZS9pB_b

Putting our hearts, our souls, our lives into the hands of God, is to trust our heavenly father with all of our life … fears included. To allow fear to determine how we live our lives is to withhold that trust in God’s wisdom, care and perfect plan for our lives.

Fears will come, after all we are fully human, living in fully human conditions and bodies, but God has given us the ability to speak to Him, in prayer. He has also given us the community of believers who are His hands and His feet, who can share our burden of fear and also lift them up to Him. In praying to God, we are given the ability to lay our burdens down at His feet. We are able to leave them there.

And, “He, who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” Jude 1:24-25

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Almost ten years …

Anniversaries are times for remembering, reviewing and reminiscing. And the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States is no different.

It is a time to reminisce about history before, during and after 9 11.

As today is 9-9-11 (two days before the anniversary of the terrorist attacks), I wonder how 9-9-01 (two days before the attacks occurred) might have been different, how we might be different, had the terrorism of that fateful day not occurred. I wonder if people awakening on 9-9-01 had concerns about flying, if they felt there way a terrorist threat, if they knew the name Bin Laden. Was 9-9-01 an age of innocence still? But I also wonder, did people say goodbye to friends and family more casually? Did people forget to tell their loved ones, ‘I love you’ before going off to work or school?

I also wonder about how we were different to our loved ones in the days following the attacks. I know that, for me, in the days following the attacks, I took more time to read and talk and snuggle with my kids at bedtime. I know that snoring from the other side of the bed, at night, was less annoying, and more a comforting sign that he was still there.

But, I also know that I have forgotten how the events of that day had scared me into loving unconditionally, for a time. But, I have become complacent, I take tomorrow (not just today) for granted, I have the freedom to take those I love for granted … because I forget that they might not be here (I might not be here) tomorrow. May I not have to be reminded again, at such great cost.

It is a time to remember the events of that day, and the human losses.

For any of us, where we were and what we were doing, when we heard of the first attacks on 9-11-01 will forever be imprinted on our brains. That is because what we heard, what we saw caused a trauma … a permanent scar, on our brains. I remember arriving at the gym, and seeing the first tower on fire, and thinking, “how awful.” Although true (it was awful), now that seems like such a trite, distant and removed response.

Our minds, our eyes were glued to the information we were hearing and seeing. We were shocked, we were unbelieving that what was going on, was really real. We remember seeing the footage … over, and over and over … of the first, and then the second plane hit the buildings. We remember hearing that the Pentagon had also been hit. We remember hearing of a plane crash in a field in Pennsylvania. We remember seeing people … falling, no … jumping … from the burning buildings … Remember?

It is a time to review where we have gone since the events of that day.

So, where have we gone from the horrors of that day? And I do not mean from the perspective of airport security, of retaliation, of government policy … I mean where have you and I, as observers of that day, gone? How have we changed how we live our lives? What have we learned? In what ways do we do life differently?

I cannot sit on a plane and not think of the unthinkable visions of 9-11-01, and realize that yes, it could happen again. I cannot hear people debate blame of politicians, and fault of agencies without thinking, ‘where there is a will, there will be a way’ (do we really think that we can prevent all attempts of terrorism with a policy?). I cannot hear of retaliation and not think ‘but there is evil in all men, when we eliminate one, many more rise.’ But, these are negative responses. These are not the responses that, I believe, any of the victims would desire us to have.

I cannot speak for the dead. And I knew none of the victims of 9 11. But, IF I had been one of the victims, I believe I know what I would want others to hear from me …

Live your life to the fullest.

That is it. Just live your life to the fullest. Love those nearest to you, and love them daily. Ponder what (who) is most important to you, and spend the bulk of your time, your energies on that thing … or, more realistically, with that person. Don’t sit on the sidelines watching others live their life, go our there and live, and live, and live …

… because, when life was coming to an end, that fateful day, I bet they each wanted just one more chance at life … and we still have it in our grasp … live it, because they didn’t have the choice.

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This one is gonna be a long one, because it is the culmination of a handful of blog entries that are still only drafts, they are … unfinished. So grab your coffee, or tea (from the unfinished blog entry ‘Re-Boiled Tea’, oh, and that’s for you mom … everyone who blogs knows that if no other person on the face of the earth reads your blogs, mom does … and dad, so get your glass of milk), and, of course, chocolate, and snuggle into your seat, it’s going to be a long one (if I get it ‘finished’)!

Now, where do I start? I know how to finish (I can finish the cake, finish reading the book, finish the chocolate, finish the yard work, finish the candy, but I digress). But starting can be more difficult.

I am not a news-lover! As a matter of fact, with hubby gone now for two weeks, the TV REMOTE is gathering dust! Oh, I spent countless hours enjoying reno. and do-it-yourself shows, but, my (undiagnosed) ADD (this is from the unfinished blog entry ‘My Daughter says I have ADD’) can stand TV for only so long!

I do love good news, though. And, recently I heard really good news.

My dad has been sick much of this past winter. He easily gets respiratory infections, pneumonia anything to do with lungs and breathing, he’s had it! He’s been admitted to hospital, drugged through the winter season with an assortment of medications that have been equally successful and failure in improving his condition, and had a butt-load of medical tests and procedures to uncover the root of his problems.

When there is ‘stuff’ going on in the lives of my family, I am so keenly aware of how far the east is from the west (from the unfinished blog entry of the same name). They live on the east coast, and I, on the west. They can watch the sun rise out of the Atlantic, and I can watch it set in the Pacific. They ‘get to have’ (they do not necessarily appreciate this privilege, as they got snow on April 1st  this year … April Fools!) snow in the winter, and I suffer (and everyone around me suffers in my vocal suffering) with a season called Monsoon Season. On the East Coast you can buy coastal properties for under $100,000, on the west coast coastal properties are too expensive to hotel at! On the east coast the humor is dry and sarcastic (from the unfinished blog ‘We Have Sarcasm Themed Dinners’ … Seriously!), on the west coast, humor is … shipped in from the east 😉  And, I digress, again!

Truly, living so far away is a sucky bummer (from the unfinished blog entry of the same name … you’re gonna love that one). There is no popping over for a ‘mom talk’, there is no being there for birthdays, and Father’s Day, and bumping into brothers at the mall, and having a house full of my kid’s cousins. There is also no spending occasions with cheek squeezing auntie (where I come from aunts is not pronounced ‘ants’. Ants crawl on the floor, but my aunts … hum, maybe this reasoning doesn’t work so well!), or that creepy uncle (lets face it, every family has at least one relative that is the personification of ‘creepy’) … hum, there are some benefits of living on the opposite coast 😉 .

So this week I heard good news, after all of the tests my dad has been going through, the results are in, and he is okay. No cancer (a relief, as his dad suffered with lung cancer before he died), no pneumonia, no nothing really, except for a virus that he had picked up while in the hospital, at some point. Apparently this virus will be residing in him, as long as he’s residing on planet Earth, and is not problematic unless it flares, but there is good, reliable medication for it that.

Ahhhhh! Good News is so Good!

And so, we all continue living our unfinished lives, in our temporary homes (from the unfinished blog of the same name). It makes me wonder, as I always do when confronted with news (good or bad) … what is the lesson, what is there to learn from this? I figure if something is going to get my heart rate up, or cause me to sweat, or make me laugh hysterically, or cry from the depths of my soul, or make me shake with anger … there must be something to learn from it (whatever ‘it’ is), that I can benefit from. Sometimes it is so much easier to see the ‘benefit’ than others, when it seems to only be a lesson, and a hard one at that.

It’s sort of like when a child touches something hot, after being told not to … that is a hard lesson, and, for the child, who is crying because her hand hurts, the idea of ‘benefit’ from the lesson goes unseen. But, as an adult, we can see that the lesson, although painful, has benefit, as the child will not enter into that danger again. Hum, I guess our experience provides a bigger perspective.

Kind of like our lives. But we are the child. We have ‘stuff’ in life that burns our hands, that burns our hearts, and hurts like crazy. We think there is no tomorrow (or wish there was no tomorrow, so that the pain, the agony the hard ‘stuff’ of life would be over). But, what we ‘children’ think we see as complete and whole … God, the bigger-picture seeing parent, sees as unfinished, and He sees a bigger picture.

I wish I had His lens!

But, for now I am thankful that my dad is okay, that his days are unfinished … I guess there is a lesson, something to learn from this  … for me, for him, for all of our family. I guess we need to seek out the answer to that, until it is … you know, finished.

We don’t yet see things clearly.

We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist.

But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright!

We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness,

we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation:

Trust steadily in God,

hope unswervingly,

love extravagantly.

And the best of the three is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:12-13

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So, I told you yesterday that I had a hiking story. And it comes from the retreat that I wrote about yesterday … so, this could be “Retreat … the Sequel”

On Saturday the weather was … west coast (aka. rain, showers and sprinkles, followed by monsoons).

We started the day with a delicious breakfast of Belgian Waffles, Oatmeal, Fresh Fruit, etc., etc., etc. … none of which did we have to make :D.

Then we had our study time on what is really awesome, and learned that to use the word awesome to describe waffles (no matter how mouth-watering good … mainly because we didn’t have to make them) is really not the way to use ‘awesome’.

The study time was followed by lunch, and it was awesome really good (and we didn’t have to make it).

The afternoon was open to ‘free time’, but there were the options of a craft …

OK I need to segue …

crafts … this is an area of failure for me, in my life.

And, what’s worse, one of my kids LOVES to do crafts.

As a matter of fact, once, after hubby and I had been away,

said (crafty) child says to me, upon our return,

“Mom, look at the crafts our babysitter taught me to do,

do you think that she could teach

EVEN YOU

how to do crafts?”

(my, silent, response, ‘NO’)

… and a hike, and a nap, and games to play, and (because it was a ‘woman’s’ retreat … chocolate to eat). So, I did the craft (photo of that tomorrow), had a nap, ate the chocolate, and took a hike, because the sun had come out.

The hike was described to me this way, ‘it take about an hour and starts out muddy, it’s pretty easy in the beginning, then gets more steep towards the top’. I was up for the challenge, besides, the sun decided to shine and it gave me the opportunity for an intake of Vitamin D. Besides, I love the great outdoors! I just have a problem with the great outdoors that is fast enough, big enough and hungry enough to eat me (is this sounding familiar from my post “Walking Alone in a Wonder-filled Life”?). So, hiking with a group should eliminate this fear … right?

Because I have such strong feelings towards … wet weather, I donned my water-proof jacket, to ensure that it would, indeed, not rain (had I not brought my jacket, Murphy would have guaranteed a 60 minute down-poor, equal only to Noah’s flood).

Sure enough, the path was muddy, in the beginning. But certainly passable.

Then it got steeper and steeper … a good challenge to my ‘maturing’ body. I enjoyed the increase in heart rate, and oxygen intake. And I was having a delightful conversation with a young woman (when I was still able to breath … huff and puff … from the steepness of the path) … life was indeed … good.

Then it happened. The worst thing that anyone could EVER say to me (next to, ‘there is a bear behind, in front of or beside you’), “watch out for the snake.”

Well, if you have ever wanted to see fear personified, you should have been on that hike with me.

I looked up, not down, because I knew that if I had actually seen the snake at me feet, I would have fainted, and then it would, certainly, have crawled on top of me and waited on my chest, peering into my eyes so that, once I came to, it would have killed me, so that I would know it was killing me.

Then I moved my feet in a manner similar to a leprechaun’s dance on St. Patty’s Day, while, of course moving forward, in hopes that my forward was the snakes backward.

OK I need to segue …

I HATE snakes!

If you ask hubby, he will tell you that

when I am having a dream/nightmare/night terror

about snakes

you DO NOT want to be the person sleeping beside me.

What is ‘just a dream’

to him

Is VERY REAL to me,

and I will do, and scream, what I must to ensure

that I get freed from the snake.

… enough said …

(but, this might be a future post)

Then I stopped, a good many feet ‘forward’ looking to my companion, who at about the age of sixteen, was laughing hysterically (probably wishing she had caught all of my antics on video so she could broadcast them on YouTube, or enter the video into an Americas Best Video Contest. She laughed even longer than my psychosis lasted!)

Finally she pointed out the snake, and it was … dead! (I was hearing the Hallelujah chorus all through my being). The snake was headless! … now, it didn’t have to be headless to be dead, but, in my psychotic episode, God knew I need undeniable proof that the snake was really dead, otherwise, I might still be up on that mountain!

So, back to the hike …

Once our four fellow hikers arrived, and ‘admired’ the dead snake (I am confident the only snake to be admired is a dead one), we continued on. Our leader said, ‘now the path gets steep’.

Well I thought my head would spin like in the Poltergeist movie. Because I was pretty confident that I had already done the ‘steep’ part of the trail! My heart rate actually had no where to increase when I experienced the fear of the snake!

So, off we trod … after all I had faced the fear of the snake, whats a steep hill?

Well this hill needed a bungy cord! It was a path that has trees along it … so that you can grab them and pull yourself up. Man, was I missing my ‘eager beaver beast’ who would have hauled my sorry butt up that hill!

But, we made it, and it was spectacular! There was an, enormous hawk glide by … but I was thinking eagle (I have a rather vivid imagination 😉 … like you didn’t know that already) …

“those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:31

and that, is what retreat is all about.

P.S.: For those who understand what a fear of snakes is like, would you believe that, even though it was headless, and must have been dead for awhile, it was still moving a bit when we came down the mountain … now that is the stuff that nightmares are made of!

 

 

 

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