Tag Archives: fear

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If at first you don’t succeed…

As we start the New Year, I reflect back on where I was a year ago.

Worried.

Confused.

Scared.

Exhausted.

We had just finished our fourth hosting through P143 (Project 143 Orphan Hosting Program) and this hosting period was the first time we met our two little girls.  It was also the first time they were reunited with their three, big, biological brothers. The boys remained in the orphanage when a foster family was finally found for the girls, and they hadn’t seen each other in years. Needless to say, tensions ran high and expectations ran even higher.

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This picture about sums up how I felt. I was trying desperately to hang on, to be happy and to find the joy and blessings. However, in reality I felt pushed to the ground. Overwhelmed by children. Overwhelmed from the newness of having little girls in the house, after having only little boys for so long. Those high-pitched screams and the WHINING! Ohhh I was NOT prepared for the onslaught of whining that commenced with their arrival. And those were just the surface things. Then there was the overwhelming fact that they knew zero English and were accustomed to fighting it out with their foster siblings. We had a lot of hitting and scratching and temper tantrums.

But the hardest part, and this is difficult for me to admit because I feel so much guilt over it, was their desperate desire to be loved by me. To be cuddled by me. To be held by me. To be adored by me. For me to give them my undivided attention. It was quickly overwhelming to be giving that much attention and physical contact to two children while maintaining a household and tending to six other children. And I wasn’t expecting that. I wasn’t expecting to feel “over loved”– is there such a word? I felt over touched. I felt over talked to. I felt over climbed on. My senses were on overload. Everything was louder, took longer, required more effort and organization than previously, and I was just downright EXHAUSTED.

It was hard.

I felt like a failure.

I felt guilty that I was struggling with these things.

Was I a terrible mom because I saw that same child coming for the 100th hug in the last hour, despite the fact that I am arm deep in toilet bowl cleaner. He doesn’t care in the least, but I am deeply annoyed.

As we began to draw near to their departure date I began to look forward to it a little bit. Bedtime would be so much easier. No more high-pitched whines. No more fighting. My husband and I were leaning towards believing that this was not going to work for our family.

We felt defeated.

We were ready to give up.

It is SO much easier to give up then to persevere. It is SO much easier to give up then to endure. It is SO much easier to give up then to bear another’s burdens.

But we aren’t called to live an easy life. We were warned there would be trials. We were asked to pick up our cross and follow Him. We were told that we would only make it by abiding in Him. Apart from Him we can do nothing. With Him, nothing is impossible.

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And what does “perseverance” mean? Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines perseverance as “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition”.

Did you catch that?

DESPITE difficulties, failure or opposition. As in to persevere you must first be faced with difficulties, failure or opposition.

So if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Don’t give up.

Abide in Him.

Run the race.

Persevere.

Because you know what? It DOES get easier. He does help me when I turn to Him. He does strengthen me when I pray to Him. Time allows for so many things to work themselves out. The girls are absolutely fluent in English. It took them less than five months time to go from zero English to fluent. Amazing! And those tantrums? Yes, we still have some every now and then, but they are radically different from what they were a year ago. They are now identifiable. They are understandable. They are manageable. They are almost gone completely. Amazing!

And I sit here typing this embarrassed at myself that we almost did give up. That’s the truth right there. We almost let all the fears and worries of the world get the better of us, then trusting what God was telling us all along.

Trust me.

Obey me.

Abide in me.

I will provide all you need.

I don’t know what your mountain is today, my friend. I don’t know what you are staring down this year and wondering how you will ever make it to the next. But know that I understand that feeling. I felt hopeless this time last year, and I really couldn’t see past it without a huge amount of God’s help. So I am here to encourage you to reach out to Him. Stay close to Him. Abide in Him. And He will take you through this year to the next. I am living proof of it.

 

 

 

 

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Whatever you do, just don’t lose heart!

“One million reasons why, you shouldn’t even try.
After all you’re just one heart, a single candle in the dark.
And there are shadows here, feeding on your fears,
That you don’t have what it takes – who are you to make a change?”

“Whatever you do, just don’t look back.
Oh somebody needs the light you have.
Whatever you do, just don’t lose heart.
Keep on pushing back the dark,
Keep on pushing back the dark.”

Our adoption journey began June 2014 with our first hosting trip.  Two years, four hosting trips to the US, and two international trips to Eastern Europe later, and we can FINALLY say THEY HAVE A FOREVER FAMILY! None of it was easy, none of it came without heart wrenching decisions and tears, but every single second was WORTH IT! I can’t imagine life without these kiddos in it.

I have said that I came into this adoption journey with the mindset that I was saving them. The truth is though, that they have saved ME. They have saved me from my selfishness.  They have saved me from my greed.  They have saved me from myself.  They have turned my heart outwards instead of inwards.  They have focused my heart on those things that are eternal, instead of the things of this world that will pass away.  THANK YOU GOD!

I want to encourage you to pursue your dreams.  Live without regrets!  Take that leap of faith!  JUST DO IT!  Whatever you have been given, use it.  Whatever your talents are, employ them.  Whatever you are dreaming about, GO FOR IT!  It is never too late.  Never give up.  Have no regrets! Don’t let fear stop you, fear is a liar!

BE BOLD!

And just when you are ready to give up the battle, just when you feel you are at your breaking point and you can’t do it anymore, just keep on keeping on, my friend! Remember these four points I learned from a sermon about where faith takes us…

—to the point where we need to make decisions that involve BIG RISK
—to the starting point of long journeys
— to the point of waiting for the impossible
— to the point of giving everything you have

Never give up.  Have no regrets.

(song and lyrics are from “Pushing Back the Dark” by Josh Wilson)

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fear is a liar

Life is too short to give way to fear. Fear will always be there, lurking around in the dark, trying to convince us that all the worse-case-scenarios we are playing out in our head are real. But here’s the thing…FEAR IS A LIAR!

Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t dangers out there in the world, or that we shouldn’t take heed in certain situations. Of course we should!  What I AM saying is that fear is our response. It is something we can control. Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 6.13.21 PMI remember almost twenty years ago when I first came upon the readings of a Greek Stoic philosopher, Epictetus. I WAS BLOWN AWAY!  It had a HUGE impact on me and began to change my way of looking at and thinking about things.

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Wow!  I had never really thought about it that way.  Epictetus went so far as to say that even the death of a loved one is not really what causes us pain, but it is our interpretation of the death of our loved one that causes grief. I had to wrestle with that one for awhile, but I found that there is some truth in it. We don’t always control the events in our lives, but we DO have control over how we respond to those events.

So, back to fear. Fear is an emotion. It is something that we feel based on something that has happened to us or that we worry about happening to us. Therefore, as Epictetus would explain, it is something that we can control. Fear often leads to the fight, flight, or freeze phenomenon.  These are the three most common responses, but it doesn’t mean they have to be the only response. It doesn’t mean that we can’t change our perception of our fears. It doesn’t mean that our fears are beyond our control!

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We have something greater than fear. We have FAITH!  We have a mighty God who cares about us, who loves us, who promises us that He works all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).  God does not want us to fear.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.            —Isaiah 41:10

HUNDREDS of times throughout the Bible, God commands us not to fear!  He assures us that when we are struck with fear, that He is our God, He is with us always,  He will strengthen us, He will help us, and He will support us.

Fear sucks up love. It contracts. It makes us anxious. It makes us defensive and want to fight. It makes us want to run and hide. But God is LOVE, perfect love, and perfect love casts out fear.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.      —1 John 4:18

I think about Jesus talking to His disciples at the Last Supper and the fear of the unknown that they must have felt at that time.  Jesus is explaining to them that He is leaving, but that He will prepare a place for them and He will come back and take them with Him. He says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me.” (John 14:1)  From reading the gospel accounts, I can feel the confusion and fear they had.

Simon Peter pleads with Jesus, asking why he can’t go with Him (Luke 22:33). Thomas wonders out loud, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5) The disciples are having a hard time understanding. They are afraid.  They are unsure about what is going to happen. But Jesus knows. He explains to them that when He leaves the Holy Spirit will come to them, and be with them forever, and teach them everything they need to know. And then he says this:

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

Jesus is reminding the disciples, and us today, that we do not have to fear. We do not have to be anxious. Because we have the power of Christ alive in us. Always. Forever. If we are in Christ, then we have nothing to fear.

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? —Psalm 118:6

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 6.20.09 PMFaith in God is a choice. It is not forced on us. We do not have to believe. God gives us free will to respond to his Truth as we choose. However, once we truly believe, once we have the power of Christ at work in us, then something glorious occurs.  We don’t have to fear anything anymore. We can respond to our fears with faith.  Faith will always be bigger than our fears. Does this mean that we will never be shaken?  No.  Does this mean that fear will never raise its ugly head in our lives? No. But it does mean, as Epictetus explained, that we have a choice in how we respond to that feeling of fear.  We can let it consume us, or we can turn it over to God and accept His free gift of peace.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.           —Philippians 4:6-7

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