The Fear Fight.

Tears quickly collected in the brim of my girl’s eyes as disappointment sunk into her heart. Whether eight or eighty-eight, the sting of discouragement stinks.

“If you feel you should be included, ask …” I encouraged, and handed her my phone.

It’s the tiny bits of fear that need to be squashed before they have a chance to take root and destroy a dream. We prayed over my tiny dancer before she got out of the car, and when she skipped back happily with a piece of her heart restored, I knew the work God was doing in me had more than one purpose.

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The agonous worries that shake us awake in the middle of the night are meek to those that snatch joy. Jesus grants peace. Fear hunts it down in attempt to convince us we were unworthy of it in the first place …in the hope that we’ll simply forget that we have nothing to worry about. Fear teases us with the solitude of control. It beckons us to keep up appearances and disassociations.

Fear will fill and hijack life, unless pulled up close enough to kick out. “Fear Fighting” is a powerful punch in fear’s face.

Search. Ask. Listen

“How do we renew in a way that we can really start to think differently?” Kelly Balarie, “Fear Fighting”

One year ago I picked the word “resolve” to bring my goals for the new year into fruition. I prayed into that word and it held on by the tiniest thread as fear tried to shut every opening door. The thread didn’t snap, but my grace cracked. The “Fear Fighting” journey has illuminated my dire need for it’s restoration.

Calm, stately, pulled together grace.

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” 1 Thes. 5:28

Jesus grace. Un-threatenable …humble grace.

Fear no longer has the power to unglue my wits end over end. Resolve capped that off by pushing me through this book.

F.I.G.H.T.

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“When I avoid my own conclusion, I often find God’s.” Kelly Balarie, “Fear Fighting”

Fear wants us to circle our dreams like a vulture waiting for it to get hit by a car and die, relieving us from chasing after it’s assured “road-kill” ending. The bigger the dream, the stronger fear grips. Satan doesn’t play fair, he injects fear …hoping we’ll become addicted to a pain numbing consolation prize.

Get armed.

The Bible warns us we’ll be harassed. “Fear Fighting” provides an applicable solution to flicking fear out of our daily lives.

Forgo.Ignite. Give. Help. Treasure.

Grow Prayers

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Insecurity …quitting …overcommitting …comparison. Issues make us plainly aware of our earthly deficiency. But fear drives them all.

“What you hand over will be handed back to you tenfold, greater than your wants and according to your heart’s desires.” Kelly Balarie, “Fear Fighting.”

Each everyday worry written out in prayer and tossed into a vase released the pressure point of a struggle …a less-than  …a not-good-enough. A simple activity from a heart full of fright-empathy ushered little pieces of freedom and simplistic joy back into my heart like a warm wave of salty sea air. Fourteen things I worry about everyday. The vase was filled. I was glad to be interrupted by my six-year old to paint her “other hand’s nails.” 

That’s the eye-opening power of derailing fear. It stops in it’s tracks …and leaves.

“God takes the weaklings, the ones who think they are bottom feeders, and nourishes His sheep.” Kelly Balarie, “Fear Fighting.”

This book is a #lifechanger, freeing kidnapped corners of fear-fighting souls in each pair of hands that hold it.

Father, Praise You for Kelly, and her Spirit inspired message. You are powerful to reach into hearts that need healing through the simple pages of a book. Thank You for knowing the spaces that need to be cleared of fear, and loving us regardless. We confess our worry and fear, and lift it up to Your capable hands. Bless our hearts with courage, and bless this book to  hearts that long to be freed. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Happy Fear-Fighting,

Megs

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kellypicI highly recommend “Fear Fighting,” to anyone who struggles with anxiety, insecurity, and control. It’s a #lifechanger. Stand up and fight back, with Kelly Balarie’s relatable struggle and Spirit filled conquering of her own battle with fear.

Kelly, a heartfelt thanks to you for your faithfulness to write this book. It set the small, everyday courses of my life, on His track. Praise for you. Catch Kelly on her blog, www.purposefulfaith.com, and be encouraged!

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Click here to buy the book.

(Just a friendly promo for a book I believe will change your life. No affiliate kickbacks, here.)

Friends! if you enjoyed this post, would you consider blessing me by  writing ‘3’ in the comments to vote for it? Many thanks, and remember …sharing is caring! I love you all! -Megs

 

If you’re a fellow writer, click the above images and join us in the Fear Fighting Writer’s Contest! Let’s fight fear together, and cheer each other on! Woot! Woot! 

This post may be linked up with the following amazing writer’s:

Mondays…Mommy Moments Modest MondayOpen Mic MondaySoul SurvivalHomemaking MondaysGood Morning MondaysMake Your Home SingInspire Me Monday Motivation Monday Motivational MondayOver the Moon, Thank Goodness it’s Monday Inspire Me Monday

Tuesdays…#RaRaLinkUpTestimony Tuesday , Tuesday Talk God Sized DreamsTell Me a True Story, Together on Tuesdays, Create Link Inspire Party, Let’s be Friends Blog Hop, Totally Terrific Tuesday,  Turn in Up Tuesday,   Twinkly Tuesday,

Wednesdays…#TellHisStory, OhMyHeartsieGirlsCoffee for Your HeartFrom Messes to MessagesWordless WednesdayAmanda’s Books and More LinkyCoffee and Conversation,Wow Me Wednesday,Wine’d Down Wednesday,

Thursdays…Thought Provoking ThursdayLive Free ThursdaySincerely, PaulaHeart Encouragement Think Tank Thursday, 

Fridays…Faith Filled FridayDance with Jesus, Friendship Friday, High Five for Friday, 

Saturdays… Saturday Sparks, Dare to Share, Our Mini Linky PartySaturday Sharefest

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The Smiley Faces

the-smiley-faces-pic-1“MOMMMMMM-A!!!”cried my wallowing six-year old, accompanied by her trademark stomp of dissatisfaction. “It’s doing MINUSES now …that’s too HARD….”

For days, exasperated sighs and incorrect buzzers had drifted from the kitchen counter at breakfast. But every once in a while, I would hear a jubilant yell:

“A smiley-face! I got a smiley face! I beat the teacher! Ha ha ha ha !”

It’s my hope that, somewhere in her small victory celebrations and the obsequious high-fives, the fact that she’s learning math trumps beating the “teacher” on the other side of our tablet.

The capricious people-pleaser innate to humanity seeks “the smiley-faces” from life’s the-smiey-faces-tweet-1audience. And when their approval alludes us, it can leave us feeling unworthy, unqualified, unloved, and all sorts of other “un” words. We can relieve our hearts of the burden to please others, when we start to see Him first.

1. Start

“I do not run like a man running aimlessly…”1 Cor 9:26

Paul is talking about the discipline he enforced upon his own life to serve Christ. (NIV Notes) When my life get’s hard, I tend to snap. When the side of my brain that signals I’ve earned the right to lose a little control trumps the logical side, I am libel to tell my kids to pick up there “s-word.” Or, ask them what in the “hocky-sticks” they are thinking. I might stomp up the stairs, roll my eyes at my husband, or cause my kids to flinch in fear. Anyone relate?

When the endurance of preparedness kicks in, the logical side of our brains replaces the-smiley-faces-pic-2lunacy with a pause. A moment, to just sit in the pocket of reaction and allow the memory to search out truth. If we read the truth of God’s Word day after day, it will remain alive and active to guide us on the fly.

Paul knew the cost and sacrifice of such discipline, but knew also it wasn’t aimless.

2. Stamina

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1 Cor. 9:24

“All the runners run” challenges me to lay down my efforts to succeed in exchange for consistency and discernment.

In a long-distance track event, I like to watch the runners who get boxed in after the lanes merge. Despite all of the preparation and experience the sport can offer, some of the best runners in the world still end up there. Against all odds, sometimes a runner jolts out of the pressure pocket like lightning …and sails back into the race. I love to root for those runners.

the-smiley-facesHave you found yourself boxed into places you’ve never wanted to be …places you prepared never to be? Let me encourage you from a place of commraderie. Human weakness will never go away, but neither will Jesus. Sometimes the only way to get the prize is to take a leap of faith. To reach out for His hand through the spikes clipping by, and let Him pull us back into the race when we’re ready to jolt.

3. Seek

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last forever.” 1 Cor. 9:25

Phil 3:14 explains that the winner of the race, in the time period Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians, won money and a wreath of leaves. (NIV notes on Phil 3:14) We train awfully hard to earn promotions, win medals, buy houses, and take vacations. The incomparably majestic crowns in Heaven are going to make a free trip to Disney World equatable to a free Oreo cookie. Just one cookie. Without the milk.

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When I get to heaven, I want God to be proud of me… like a whole reward chart overflowing with smiley-faced stickers. He’ll always love me, but I want to have endured obedience in the pursuit of holiness. I want to break free from the pack and run down that straightaway praising His name as the tape breaks across my chest. I want to win. For Him. God doesn’t paint a whole picture of what that looks like for everyone. It’s as individual as each one of us. And His is the only approval we’re intended to rely on.

Happy Seeking,

Megs

 

 

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The Push

The school year is over, and I’m predictably about to cry at any given moment. Guilty of over-celebrating every moment of my daughter’s lives, they wake up on the last day of school to ballooned rooms and streamers decking out the doorway.

The Push 1

The only way I’ve found get through the annual commencement on to the next grade level is by preparing to crumble under emotional pressure. As a mom, I want to know that I’ve given them all of the opportunities they need to accomplish the dreams they don’t even realize they have yet. Helping children find their niche is a hard part of life to put a pulse on. It’s not a lot of pressure, really, just a ton and a half … and that can induce a tad bit of parental competitiveness, to say the least. To stay on the encouraging side of the word push, I’m learning to let go … and pray …a lot. 

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Push- an act of exerting force on someone or something in order to move them away from oneself. -Google

I didn’t think being competitive was a bad thing, until I realized how often I fail to shut it off at the appropriate time. My little girl used to love playing her ukulele. #competitivefail. My littlest refuses to even line up and race anyone at anything for fear of losing …#uh-oh #competitive.

To encourage my kids without discouraging them seems impossible to me, because I’m not sure how to function on that level. The fact that I fall short in so many ways magnifies mid-mind, and reflects poorly on my parenting if I’m not privy to flip the switch.

I run the risk of seriously mismanaging my mothering by allowing the tornado of competitive thought to push on my parenting decisions.  I let it whir and woo me, suddenly convinced that I’m clueless and dysfunctional. The snap of the comparison trap yaps loudly in my ears, as I look at other people’s lives through an unfocused lens.

“I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me.” Psalm 118:13

When I’m being pushed away from who I am, the great “I Am”  braces me from complete crumbling.  The One qualified to guide lives with care is He who created each and every individual one with love and purpose. Jesus, who walked to the cross, waits to wipe the heavy and helpless tears.

Encouragement is found in the push to pray. 

The Push 2

2. Reach

Reach-stretch out an arm in a specified direction in order to touch or grasp something. -Google

“Mom,” my eight year old laughed from the backseat, “you’re always happy.”

The highway lines blurred with fresh tears.

“Mom,” she whispered in my ear as she gave me zero personal space during a meeting she tagged along to, “you’re good at being silly…”

Wow. I didn’t feel silly. I didn’t feel happy.  After the waterfall of emotions that had enveloped my week, I hardly felt like good company …let alone a good mom.

God reached out to me through the most important call He has put on my life to speak:

“You’re OK.”

“It’s OK.”

“I love you.”

“For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him.” Mark 3:10

I remember pushing and sneakily squeezing by people to get closer to the stage at a Kenny Chesney concert.  Did I think he would spot me in the crowd and we’d be best friends from that day on? It was a ridiculous case of “star struck.”

Those first believers in Christ pushed through that crowd. These people who pushed for Jesus knew EXACTLY what could happen if they touched him. Diseases were being healed, demons chased out of spirits. This wasn’t just some singer in a cowboy hat on stage, this was God walking among them!!!! If we push through this world’s agony with faith of that magnitude, we will heal.

As I imagine the crowd pushing towards Jesus, I remember what it felt like to be tossed around in a concert mosh pit in my twenties.   The force of a determined crowd can be fierce.

When my tiny distance-runner frame got knocked to the ground in that pit, I was scared to death of being trampled on. Instead, I looked up to a hand reaching out to pull me right back up again. There is peace in the push, but we have to reach for it. Keep pushing in prayer, reaching for His hand, and pressing through the crowd.

Over the panic that she can’t do a cart-wheel yet when everyone else can. When she looks back at me to see my reaction…

“You’re OK. It’s OK. I love you.”The Push 3

When she gets stuck on a word as she’s learning to read, and a wave of frustration takes over her beautiful face …the all too recognizable, “I’ll just never get this right,” tears…

“You’re OK. It’s OK. I love you.”

Encouragement is found in the push to pray. He is right there. Already knowing, and ready to embrace me in my frustration of simply being human. Jesus, in His perfect way …says,

“You’re OK. It’s OK. I love you. Reach…”

It’s easy to confuse the alienation of this world with feeling hopeless and alone. Jesus allows us the opposite privilege. Let go, and let Him. #neveralone

Happy Summer!

Megs

 

 

 

 

The Eagle and The Ice

“How do I help my kid do a cartwheel?” These are the things that I Google while my butt conforms to the stiff waiting room chair at the dance studio. “The hardest part is overcoming the fear of falling in order to take that first leap forward,” said a sweet personal trainer via YouTube.

“I almost got it, today, Mom!” Brianne exclaimed, floating out on a cloud of accomplishment. “I just have to land on my feet, now!”

Isn’t that what makes a cartwheel a cartwheel? The landing? Lacking the heart to dampen her demeanor, I harbored that thought between my own ears as I flipped through my old motivational “coach” file for some sage inspiration. Visualization made the most sense, so I sequestered that subject through a surge of giggles at bedtime.

“Before you go to bed every night, close your eyes and picture yourself doing cartwheels…” I launched, “…picture yourself landing on your feet, and then picture your teacher being so proud, and the other girls cheering you on.”

“I can’t make myself picture myself…I don’t know how to do that,” she stated, “I can only see myself falling.”

It takes effort to intentionally direct our thoughts, but in order to achieve any task, it has to exist accomplished in our minds. To let the distance coach out for a moment, “To achieve, ya gotta believe.”

Take the time to quiet your mind so that God’s message doesn’t get lost in the static.

The devil would love for the “I can’t” reel to keep playing in your mind, and it’s hard to shut him down when we “haven’t” yet. God gives us the ability to imagine the uncharted to lend us a vision of His goal.

Easier said than done. There’s a lot of static…mixed signals…off days…

“WWWWAAAAAAA….Good Morning!” I managed to giggle out as I recovered from being scared half to death. A runner strode off down the pier, gliding along the  edge next to the freshly frozen layer a-top the river, and I was extremely jealous. Hillsong praising God in my ears, I determined to look onward and upward and walk on instead of letting my thoughts drift to my injured Achilles, and perpetually onto wallowing over the ninth month sans running from there.

And as I looked up and off in the distance toward the edge of the pier, I saw something swoop up and over the lighthouse…cruise the surface of the ice, and then careen back up into the air with one flap of an enormous wingspan. That’s why the normal flock of birds had cut their cackling coffee hour short. The grand bald eagle was out to hunt. I’d never seen him out there before.

Jaw dropped and smiling at the sight of his enormity, I fumbled as my frozen joints failed me in unzipping my pocket for my phone. “Have a nice day!” I waved as the runner passed by me on his way back to shore, and I wondered if he’d taken the time to notice the white feathers against the dim winter horizon. I de-gloved my hands to swipe open my camera app …but when I looked up, he was gone.

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I knew God had meant to encourage me in response to my request for a light to pierce through the fog of this season of doubt and fear. But wondered over the significance of the eagle’s sudden absence. A Word from my thoughts popped in over my ear buds.

“The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God.” Romans 14:22a

Some things are just meant to be between me and God. Anyone else might think I’m batty for making such a big deal over a bird. But me and God know why.

I craned my neck at the lighthouse a few times on my way back to shore, but the eagle still wasn’t there. I predictably pondered the significance of it over my typical inspiration drawn from the picturesque, lake-life setting. Irritated not to snap a digital reminder, I tried to associate God’s message to a memory. I flipped through thoughts of the sparkly gold eagle Christmas ornament I’d gotten in honor of my alumni status as an Ashland University Eagle, and onto memories of Tuffy our Eagle mascot.

My mind whirred to a stop as I pictured a picture. My favorite picture. With some of my imagefavorite people. That’s my Kate, on the right, whom God granted an instrumental part in Jesus winning my heart. It was there, on that campus, during that workout, at that field, that my life changed forever. I stopped running as abruptly as Elsa hit’s the ice at the end of Frozen when her sister Ana freezes solid. On my knees in rocky seas, I rescinded the helm to Jesus, who trimmed out hull so that I could take the waves on at the right angle. I’ve believed in Christ everyday of my life, but I knew that something significant was lit in that moment.

God brings the memory of light to life in face of impending death.

Like an eagle amidst the ice, dousing the doubt that threatened to put a dream to death. Don’t doubt the moment Jesus took the helm. And if you do, ask God to confirm it. He is faithful, and He will. But don’t miss it.

The Message version of Roman’s 14:22-23 puts it this way:
“Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe-some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them- then you know your out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.”

It’s in the moments of doubt and anticipated failure that we need to look inward to God in prayer, and watch outward for Him to answer. God unveils His encouragement through His creation.

The next time your doubt tries to debilitate your ability to visualize God’s affirmation of His call on your life, try these methods to calm your madness:

1. When in doubt, stop and think. Look up and out for God. Step out of your situation and into His creation. Exodus 13:21-22 tells of a pillar of cloud send to guide the Israelites out of Egypt. That pillar of cloud never left them. Read Chapter 13 sometime for the whole story, but the part that fascinates me, is that in the famous scene where Moses parted the Red Sea, the angel of the Lord and the pillar of cloud moved behind the people.(v.19) God reveals Himself through His creation. I look for God in the sky, and He meets me there.

2. Pray out your confusion, hurt, and frustration in authenticity to God; He WILL swoop down. Stay in His Word so your mind doesn’t get stagnant. He will find you there often with a Word of encouragement. You might find direction from a friend…maybe you have a Kate, too. Above all, when you are unsure, be sure to remain in His love. John 15:9

3. Line up all you see with all He is. As you seek Him, His voice will become audible to your heart.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”            Isaiah 43:1b

We are His creation, and God uses the five senses that He instilled in us to allow us to experience the majesty He created for us.

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Winter is cold, but it sure is cool.

In the stark void of warmth, the light that permeates is brighter than the summer sun when reflected off the sparkle of snow. Don’t let a seven degree morning hold you back from witnessing the encouragement God has folded into the day for you. And don’t let doubt debilitate your ability to visualize the landing. It’s the difference between life and death.

Happy Living,

Megs

The Heart Cloud

The habit of holding on prevents our stumble down the stairs,  but falling is not failing.
“Mmmmmmmmoooooommmmmmmm,” Brianne wailed, through broken breaths of crying…”Oooooowwwwwwweeeeee.”

Happens at least once a week. One of them falls down the stairs, and I’m greeted by Brianne’s cry of shock, or Lo running to me out of breath and holding her butt. I’m used to the routine of hurried footsteps followed by awkward clunking…

Despite my best efforts to educate and warn, my little Lo will come flying around the corner high-kneed and stomach punched often enough to warrant her own hashtag. Her crash down the staircase is often prefaced by a symphony of Ty eye-ball plinks as they reach the first floor first.

I caught an interesting directive falling out of my mouth as I held a sobbing Brianne after her latest tumble down the stairs.

“Hold on to the railing,” I begged her, “You’re too precious to fall.”

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How many times do we want to bolt up a railing for kids to hold on to …thinking they’ll surely recognize, appreciate, and grip it tight, preventing a nasty fall. But they don’t. Three reasons why:

1. They don’t recognize it when they need it because they weren’t paying attention to something they didn’t need at the time.

2. They don’t appreciate the love and care bolted into the wall of protective measures we surround them with, because they don’t understand why it’s necessary.

3. They don’t grip it in swallowed pride when they are about to fall down the stairs, because they don’t think our protections are as necessary for them as they are for us.

Down the stairs they tumble …and we’re helpless as our precious babes fall.

“I told you so.”

“Why didn’t you hold onto the railing?”

“We talked about this.”

I used to frustrate my face into a fury over their lack of listening skills, until I tumbled down the stairs with the vacuum cleaner one day.

“Well, that was stupid,” I said to myself out loud in an empty house.

God revealed a few things through the railing:

1. Falling isn’t failing.

“Therefore, in order to keep me from being conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh…”    2Corinthians 12:7

The apostle Paul was clever to point out that our imperfections and insults to injury are what keep us in check with reality. And reality is, God knows we all need something to hold on to. Just because we let go doesn’t mean we give up.

2. The railing is Jesus.

“For through Him we now have access to the Father by one Spirit.”-Ephesians 2:18

God has bolted His Son to our hearts, that we may access Him through prayer, The Word, and the Holy Spirit. The access is there for the acceptance. I’m no better than my daughters at holding on to the railing, but

God doesn’t punish me every time I fall down the stairs. Don’t you punish yourself, either.

 He is not waiting at the bottom with an “I told you so,” or a “well, that was stupid.” No, He’s waiting at the bottom, already knowing how much it hurt. Because of Jesus, God says,

“It’s not too late, grab the railing and pull yourself up.”

3. Jesus knows that life is difficult…that’s why He put the railing there in the first place. He died for us… He’s not going to give up, even when we let go.

“For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses…” Hebrews 4:15

Jesus felt what we feel, “yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) He was tempted, but never failed. The railing is there, but He knows we’re not God. We’re to have faith, not be perfect.

4. He watches out for us.

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” -2Chronicles 16:9

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Often when I’m out walking in the morning, I can’t help but feel God’s warmth in the beginning of a new day. The sky is so much prettier in the morning, after it pierces through the darkness of night. I look for God in that sky, and He meets me there. Day after day, railing still securely bolted to the wall of the staircase.

“My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart.”   Psalm 108:1

Through Jesus we can come to the Father and receive grace.  A God who cares for us, watches out for us, and forgives us. “Hold on to the railing…you’re too precious to fall.”  But when you do, I hope you know, He’s with you.

Hold on tight, but don’t forget to look up.

Happy Stair-climbing…

Megs