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Encouragement, Inspiration

Remaining Faithful While You Wait on God

Have you ever been in a season of waiting in your life?  You know the place.  Like, that awkward in-between of not knowing what is coming next but knowing things will change.  That place of “limbo” where you are waiting on something great, but maybe going through something bad.  Maybe you’re waiting for something you love to become successful (a business venture, a blog, a passion). . . Maybe you’re waiting on a career move or a job promotion.  Maybe you’re waiting on love and your future spouse.  Maybe you’re waiting on a baby.  Maybe you’re waiting on a prayer to be answered, a friend to come your way, or a relationship to be restored. . .

Maybe you are waiting on God and it is a struggle to remain faithful.  Maybe you are having a hard time trusting that He sees the bigger picture, that He holds the future, and that He has good plans for you.

Friends, I’ve been in that place.  I’m there right now, actually.  My family will be moving in 6 months or less and we currently have no idea where we are going.  The unknown is looming so close ahead of us.  It would be so very easy for me to succumb to anxiety and frustration, but I know that won’t help.  Because the truth is, God knows what is going to happen.  He knows where we are moving and where we will live; because, His plans for me are good.  What I want is to learn to be faithful in this time of waiting-faithful to God and His timing and control over my life.  I want to trust Him more.  I want to experience peace, even though there should be a bit of panic; and assurance, even though there should be a bit of doubt.

Many times when we find ourselves waiting, we feel like God abandoned us, forgot about us, or left us on our own.  Because we don’t see the end in sight, or because we haven’t received immediate gratification, or because the unknown is confusing us, we think God must have overlooked our needs and prayers.  God is slowly teaching me, though, that there is so much beauty in the waiting!

It is in the waiting that we gain courage.  It is in the waiting that we become brave.  It is in the waiting that we grow and learn and change and develop.  Maybe it is in the waiting that God is preparing us for our moment in the sun. . . Maybe what we are going through now is preparing us for what we will deal with later.  I love Psalm 37:34 when it says wait passionately!  Wow!  God wants us to find passion in the NOW, and He urges us not to leave the path.  It might be tempting to try to find our own way when God has us waiting, but friends, that path is leading you right where you need to be-into the light, into the sun, and into goodness.

So as I wait to find out where my family will be moving, while I wait for my little blog to do big things, while I wait for my husband’s career to advance, while I wait for things my heart desires to become a reality, I am choosing to find passion right here, right now.  I am going to passionately wait and diligently seek the face of God.  The closer I get to Him, the more my desires will become aligned with His.

Are you in a season of waiting?  Has God just saw you through to the other side and into the light?  Feel free to leave your story in the comments!  Let’s encourage each other through the waiting!

Encouragement, Goals, Inspiration, New Year

Living New: Embracing 2017

There is just something about the start of a new year. . .  Maybe it is the feeling of positivity that is swirling around or the idea of getting a “do-over.”  Whatever it is, it is nice and fresh and new and exciting.  I am not one to make resolutions.  I just don’t feel the need to.  I guess because resolutions seem to be so temporary.  But I love setting goals and having aspirations for the new year.

Before moving forward, I think it is important to take a look back and reflect on the year past.  2016.  2016 will be a year that I never forget.  It saw the birth of our baby girl-the greatest blessing of my life so far.  There were so many incredible highs, and there were also quite a few lows.  2016 was a year of change and discovery and newness and amazing-ness and struggles and weakness. . .  There was so much bottled up in those 12 months.  Giving birth to my sweet baby, dealing with postpartum hormones, battling postpartum anxiety, struggling in my personal relationship with God, accepting that our family and closest friends were a thousand miles away from our new little family, adjusting to motherhood, becoming a SAHM, learning SO MUCH about my marriage, starting this blog. . . 2016 was a whirlwind!  I’m looking back at 2016 thankful for what I learned; I learned so much about myself.  And now, I’m going to carry those lessons learned with me into this new year.

When I sat down to think about what my goals were going to be for this year, I wanted to choose a word for the year.  A word I could carry with me throughout the year to motivate me and inspire me, and to remind me of my goals.  I thought this would be really hard to come up with, but the first word that stuck out to me and kept coming up was EMBRACE.

EMBRACE (verb):  To take or receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly;  To avail oneself of, to adopt, to welcome, to seize.

I think this word held special meaning for me; because, in 2016, I did a lot of running and a lot of ‘backing down’. . . I got comfortable living timidly and running from and fighting the hard stuff.  This year I want to embrace all that gets placed in front of me.  I want to embrace the journey.  Embrace the struggle.  Embrace the change.  Embrace the surprises.  Embrace the beauty.  Embrace the love.  Embrace THE NOW.

On January 1st, I opened my Bible app praying that God would lead me to a passage of hope and promise, and this was the verse of the day:

I felt God speaking to me so clearly, that what happened in 2016 is nothing compared to what He will do in 2017.  He is working on something new in me right now!  Friend, if you think you are waiting on God, think again.  He is waiting on YOU!  He has already begun a work in you.  Maybe 2016 just didn’t feel like “your year.”  Maybe it was full of heartache and struggles and trials.  Or maybe it was the best year of your life, and you don’t know how any other could top it.  Let me tell you, God loves making things new.  He creates beauty out of ashes.  He makes paths in the wilderness.  He makes rivers in dry wastelands.  He is waiting for you to live new!  Whatever goals and dreams you have for 2017, He wants to lead you to them.  He wants to give you the desires of your heart.  And friends, the path to our goals is not going to be easy.  That path through the wilderness. . .well, it might be dry and bumpy sometimes but its leading you to where you want to go.  So embrace the journey, not just the destination.  Embrace the struggle.  Embrace what you will learn along the way.

This year, I am committed to LIVING NEW and loving well and embracing ‘the now.’  I am holding onto the promises of God’s goodness in my life, I am praying over my goals and dreams, I am living in the freedom that God gives me to live and love, and I am trying to bless others along the way.

I’d love to hear from you!  How are you living new in 2017?  What are your goals and resolutions?  Do you have an inspiring word to live by this year?  Let us know in the comments!

 

Encouragement, Motherhood

Struggling With Anxiety as a Mom

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I remember the first time I had an anxiety attack.  I was around 35 weeks pregnant and working as a teacher at a child development center.  I was in the infant room that day.  As the day was winding down and there were only 2 babies left, I sat on the floor with another teacher.  I remember becoming hotter and hotter, like a wave of heat hit me.  I was burning up and it was making me feel nauseous.  I asked the other teacher if I could go to the restroom.  I walked down the hall, into the restroom and locked the door.  I looked down at myself and my skin was bright pink, my stomach was in a knot.  I went to the sink and splashed some water on my face and looked up at my reflection in the mirror.  Right at the base of my neck, I could physically see my pulse pounding.  I put my fingers there and felt my heartbeat racing.  As I did so, I began feeling my heart beating violently.  I tried to breathe deeply to help it slow down.  As I tried to form purposeful breaths, I felt like my chest was being crushed and my airways closing in.  I couldn’t take a deep breath.  I was beginning to panic.  What is wrong with me?  Am I going to pass out?  Am I having a heart attack?  Am I about to die?  My mind was racing and my body was in overdrive.  I knew something wasn’t right and I was scared.  I left the bathroom and started down the hallway when my director saw me.  She had one look at me and yelled for me to come sit down.  She asked me what was going on and I started bawling.  Tears streaming down my face, I told her it was hard to breathe, that my heart was racing and wouldn’t slow down, and that I didn’t know what was wrong with me.  She got me water and sat in front of me talking to me and getting me to calm down.  I slowly started feeling a little better.  She wanted me to go to the doctor, but I just wanted to go home.  When I got home (earlier than I should have been), Matt was confused because it wasn’t my normal time.  I walk in the door with tears still pouring down my face.  In a worried voice he ran up to me and asked what was wrong.  I couldn’t talk and so he just hugged me.  I’m pretty sure he was about to go grab the hospital bags and put me in the car because he assumed the baby was coming!  After the incident was over and upon doing some research, I realized that I had experienced an anxiety attack.  I don’t know if it was the stress of working, being in college full-time, and being largely pregnant, but apparently I just couldn’t deal.  I went on maternity leave 2 weeks after that.  It was my first and only anxiety attack while I was pregnant.

JD Middleton Photography

JD Middleton Photography

After Avary was born, I was blissfully happy.  I was on cloud-9.  I felt like life couldn’t get any sweeter.  Even though I had to have an induction and her birth didn’t go as I had “planned”-you can read my birth story, here-every moment of labor, delivery, and taking our baby home felt like perfection.  I was on a high!  I had just had a vaginal birth, pushed my 1st baby out in 15 minutes, and those endorphins had me feeling like a super hero!  You mamas know what I mean!

The days and weeks following Avary’s birth were nothing short of incredible.  So when I went in for my 6 weeks postpartum appointment, and they had me fill out that questionnaire about how I was feeling-if I had any negative thoughts about myself or my baby, if I was feeling hopeless/anxious/depressed, etc.-I found it so odd!  Of course I didn’t feel any of those things, I thought.  Everything is perfect!  I handed in my questionnaire, and they didn’t ask me a single question about it.  Looking back, they didn’t even discuss postpartum depression/anxiety (PPD/PPA) with me at all.  And so I thought everything would be fine, and I no longer had to think about PPD again.  Fast forward several months and things began to change. . .

For me, around the time Avary was 5-6 months old, things began changing.  It felt like my hormones were on a rollercoaster ride.  My body was still trying to adjust to no longer housing a human being, my baby was well out of the “newborn phase” and changing dramatically, my family was 1,000 miles away, my husband had a job that took him from home on a regular basis. . .I began experiencing anxiety.  I’ve talked about in a previous post how I have always been and a somewhat anxious/fearful person, but this was on a level I had never known.  The anxiety made me feel like bad things were imminent. Like, what if we get in a car accident on the way to the grocery store, what if Avary’s cough is really some deadly disease, maybe my breastmilk is terrible and not good enough, maybe I am a terrible mom, what if someone breaks into the house and tries to steal Avary. . .  I was experiencing irrational fears and anxiety and it was affecting my mood.

The truth is, more women than you might think struggle with postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression.  Postpartumprogress.org estimates that close to 20% of mothers experience mood or anxiety disorders-that is nearly 1.3 million women annually.  When I was having my anxious thoughts, I didn’t understand what was wrong with me.  I kept trying to just “snap out of it” and stop worrying. . . Until I did research into PPA did I realize that this wasn’t a problem I just developed on my own, but one that was affected by pregnancy and postpartum.  PPA and PPD can occur up to a year after birth, not just a few days or weeks.  I’m not an expert on this topic, just sharing my personal experience, but if you need help, seek help!  I wish there was more follow-up care for mothers after birth so that so many women wouldn’t suffer in silence and confusion.

My anxiety was mild compared to what so many face and has begun correcting itself, but every woman is different and every experience with postpartum anxiety or depression is different.  Do not be afraid to talk to your doctor and get help!  It is nothing to be ashamed of.  And do your research!  While most all new mamas experience some degree of “baby blues,” anxiety and depression should be taken seriously.  Reach out to your spouse, your friends, your family, anyone you need to so you can get the support you need.  For me personally, it did wonders for me to talk through what I was feeling.

I write this post to tell you that you are not alone in your feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression.  It happens.  But you don’t have to be alone in your struggle and their IS help and support.

Also, I hope you never forget that in the midst of your most anxious days, when you in are in the thick of your fears, when stress seems like it will crush your spirit, you have a God to turn to.  You have a Father that wants to give you freedom over fear and power over anxiety.  Never underestimate how much He cares for you.

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Let’s break the “taboo” that postpartum depression and anxiety has surrounding it, and share our stories.  Let’s encourage fellow mamas to get help.  And let’s support one another on this crazy, rewarding venture called motherhood.

sean-1

 

 

Encouragement, Monthly Goals

November Goals

Ahhhh, November is here, friends!!  There is just something so special about starting a new month, don’t you think?  It is like a fresh start, a do-over, a new beginning, a clean slate.  Whether you need to say goodbye to the troubles of October and leave them in the past or October was so wonderful that you feel November can’t possibly top it, I want to assure you that God made us for seasons.  I am so thankful for the start of a new month to remind me of God’s sovereignty and understanding of what I need.

For me, the start of November was much needed.  October was full of so much good, but also full of many hard days.  It was full of #momfail moments, too much anxiety, stress, and worry, and not enough time spent purposefully pursuing peace.

 

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This month is going to be so full.  This month we get to travel home to see our family whom we only see once or twice a year.  My husband hasn’t been home in over a year and I haven’t been home since Avary was 8 weeks old.  I’m so excited to share our baby girl with the family and let them see how much she’s grown.  I am so grateful that we get to spend the Thanksgiving holiday surrounded by family and friends.  We haven’t been home for Thanksgiving in 3 years!  So, November not only promises a trip home and Thanksgiving festivities, but Matthew’s birthday is also this month!  This will be the 8th birthday we have celebrated together.  Wow, time flies.  Also, November marks Growing the Nest’s 6 month anniversary!  I started my little blog 6 months ago, and I am so thankful to have made it to this point.  I love this space of the internet I have here, the outlet my blog is for myself, and the people I have met along the way.  So November, I have high hopes for you!

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In all seriousness, though, I think one of the keys to living a peaceful life is taking time for reflection and planning/living life with purpose.  I love how writing in this blog is making me more intentional with my thoughts; because, I have honestly never written down a list of goals for a month.  But in the midst of trying to organize my life and live with intention, I decided to write out my goals for the month of November.  I was inspired by a fellow blogger, Rachel over at This Beautiful Season-where she encourages women to savor each season of life they find themselves in.  She has written posts about her vision and goals for each month, and how she will achieve them.  I love reading her thoughts, as they are so encouraging.  Definitely go check her out!  I think writing out my goals for the month will help me be more intentional in meeting them.

November Goals:

  • Make my quiet time with God a priority.  Spend more time reading and studying the Word, and praying with purpose.
  • Give my anxiety, stress, and worry up to God!  Whenever I feel myself becoming anxious or having stressful thoughts, I want to quote Bible verses that assure me of God’s peace, my victory over fear, and His protection and care for me.
  • Instead of turning the TV on when I have a spare moment, I want to open up a book and get inspired!  Finish the 3 books on my November reading list!
  • To look at those around me through God’s eyes.  To bless someone around me just because I can.  To reach out to someone so they know I care.  To be the hands and feet of Jesus, showing love and compassion.
  • To find creative ways and little moments to show Matthew how much I love him.
  • To soak up every moment with our family when we are home with them. <3
  • Stay consistent with my exercising!
  • To produce great content for my blog, especially coming into this holiday season.
  • Drink a #saltedcarmelmocha from Starbucks with my mama! (Man, I miss her!)
  • Learn how to coupon so I can save my family some money.
  • Be the very best mama to Avary that I can be by being present and in the moment.

Those are my goals for this month of November.  I am sure I could have thought of one hundred more, but you know!  My thought for this month is: PURPOSELY PURSUING PEACE.  I am praying over this month and asking God to show me how I can achieve these goals.  I am asking him to help me relinquish “my control” and live this month purposefully.  Pursuing peace.  Seeking grace.  Letting go of anxiety.  Living free and full.

I would love to know what your goals are for this month!  Let us know in the comments section!  Also, can I help you in any way?  If there is anything you’d like me to pray about or you need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to hit that Contact button at the top of my blog or message me on Instagram or Facebook.  Let’s build each other up and support one another this month!

sean (1)

Fall, Reading Lists

November Reading List

*This post contains affiliate links.  This means that if you choose to use these links, I may get a small commission for connecting you to the source.  I only share links to products I love and use, and that I believe will benefit you.*

Happy November, friends!! I can’t believe we are already here.  Time flies!  For the month of November, as well as the months ahead, one of my goals is to make it a priority to read good books.  Somewhere in the midst of motherhood, I have forgotten to pick up a book and read.  In the moments I find myself with down-time, instead of clicking on Netflix and spending mindless time watching a show, I want to spend meaningful time reading a book that will inspire me.  I don’t know about you, but inspiration is what drives me and encourages me and motivates me to take action.  And in this season of life, I need a little motivation and inspiration!

I put 3 books on my list to read this November, and they will all be linked below.  I know that may not be a lot to some, but-baby steps!  (I have a little one I’m chasing around!)

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Loving My Actual Life.

One thing I have been struggling with lately in my personal life is contentment.  I often find myself feeling dissatisfied with where I am at and what I am doing.  I get caught up in comparing myself to everyone else-even though I know this steals the joy from my own life.  Alexandra Kuykendall addresses these very topics in her book, and I can’t wait to find some inspiration and truth in it.

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Present Over Perfect.

If you are a perfectionist-like I sometimes am-I am sure you understand the struggle of pressuring yourself to ‘do do do’ or ‘be be be,’ and perform this all perfectly.  Sometimes in our struggle to be perfect, we end up just failing to be present-missing out on precious moments and the ordinary.  Present Over Perfect seemed like a great book to pick up as I learn how to refocus this mindset in my life.

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The Magnolia Story.

I love Chip and Joanna Gaines.  I mean, doesn’t everybody?!  The countdown is on for the season 4 premiere on November 29th.!  I just enjoy watching these two on the show and also hearing their testimony, and seeing them live out their faith for the world to see.  It is absolutely inspiring.  I am excited to read their book and learn more about their life and their story!

If you know someone who could be encouraged by these books, they make great, inexpensive birthday or Christmas gifts!  They are already on my list for some friends of mine.

That is my reading list for the month of November!  What are you currently reading?  Have you read any of these books?  Did you like them?  I cannot wait to dive in and get inspired.

Happy Reading, friends!

sean (1)

Family

Seasons of Change

You know what I realized lately?  I have never written a blog post where I am just talking to you guys!  I have never written a post where I just rambled on letting you know what is going on in my life.  I’m not sure why I haven’t.  Maybe I thought no one would be interested in hearing any of that, and if that’s the case, that is totally okay!  But, I feel like if I want you all to get to know me as a person, just talking is one of the best ways. Anyways. . .

I have found myself in this season lately. . . a season of change.  You know that place in your life where you have come to a crossroads and you are about to head down a brand new path.  That place of exhilaration, yet complete panic.  Excitement, yet hesitation.  Happiness, but the bittersweet kind.  That kind of change.  The change that upsets your “normal” and refocuses your whole life.  Change that turns your routine, schedule, plans and comfort zone-upside down.

In the last couple of weeks, Matthew and I have had to start discussing moving.  As some of you might know, Matt is in the Coast Guard and 2017 is our year to PCS (permanent change of station).  Honestly, not long after we moved here, I began saying “I can’t wait to move!”  I struggled with all the change at first.  Matt and I were newlyweds, I had never lived away from home (and then I moved 1,000 miles from home), I had never been away from my family, I left friends, I left college, I left everything about my “old life” behind and started a new one with Matt and the military.  It was strange and new and I thought I didn’t like it.  I eventually got used to life, and moving taught me so much about myself, and it grew Matt and I as a couple.  I wouldn’t change anything about moving here and the life we have.  And it feels like I have just recently gotten comfortable.  Like I just came to terms with the fact that this is my home, and I love it; and now we are coming up on our next move. . .

 

Doesn’t it seem like just when you get comfortable, when you find your “normal,” when you accept that ‘this is where you’re at,’ things change?  Instead of feeling like I can’t wait to move, I have realized that I’m going to miss it here.  I’m going to miss this life we built.  I’m going to miss this house that was the first place we lived as a married couple.  I’m going to miss this place where I brought our baby girl into the world.  I’m going to miss these memories we have made.  And as I sit here and type (while crying like a baby), I wish I would have held onto more moments.  I wish I would have lived more, and loved more.  I wish I would have lived in the now and not worried about the future so much.

Change has a way of making you recognize everything you would have done differently.  I could look back and wish and wish and wish, but that serves no purpose.  Instead, I have found myself stepping out. . .  I’m trying to do things I have never done before.  I’m trying to soak in every trip to the beach.  Every sunrise.  Every drive.  All the ordinary things, too.  Because I know I’m going to miss it.  And even though when I think about moving I feel scared and unsure and sometimes terrified, I’m also so excited!  It is so cool that we get a fresh start!  A do-over.  A new beginning.  A new path.  A new life.  We get to write a brand new story!

When I was thinking about this, I thought about some verses that I loved in high school. . .

“This is what God says, the God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves, The God who summons horses and chariots and armies– they lie down and then can’t get up; they’re snuffed out like so many candles: Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history.  Be alert, be present.  I’m about to do something brand new.  It’s bursting out!  Don’t you see it? There it is!”  Isaiah 43:16-19

My goal is to live in the now, to be present.  Even though I am going to be stretched wayyy outside my comfort zone and everything about our future is unclear, I am going to embrace the brand new that God has up ahead for me and my little family.  In this season of change, I’m choosing to be content where I am at and where I am headed.

Change.  Is anything in your life changing?  If so, let me know.  I’d love to pray for you.  I think we all know how scary change can feel sometimes.  Also, is there anything that makes change easier for you to handle?  What do you do?

Thanks for listening, friends.  I hope you have a beautiful Friday and a wonderful weekend.

sean (1)

Fall, Food

Trader Joe’s: Fall Favorites

Trader Joe’s is one of my absolute favorite grocery stores to shop at for my family.  I don’t know if it is just something about the “neighborhood-feel” of the store, since it is much smaller than the traditional grocery store, or the yummy specialty items they carry, or the fact that there prices are SO affordable-I just love everything about it!  Well, and Trader Joe’s + Fall = Awesomeness!

Let’s be honest, putting pumpkin in everything come fall time makes any product more marketable, am I right?  Just the other day, I saw a “fall harvest” spaghetti sauce. . .  Doesn’t sound very appealing to me, but it is on the shelf because someone is buying it! (Ha!)  Anyways, I love love many of Trader Joe’s special fall items so I thought I’d share with you 4 of my current faves.

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Spiced Cider.  If you find yourself unable to get to a local orchard, or you just don’t feel like spicing cider yourself, you need to try this cider!!  It is so yummy and basically tastes like fall in a cup.  It’s refreshing cold or delicious warmed up.

Pecan Pumpkin Oatmeal.  I am a big oatmeal fan.  Ever since breastfeeding, I eat it all the time.  I’m always looking for ways to spice my oatmeal up so I was excited to try this, and mmm it is tasty!  Add a few fresh pecans to the top, some dried cranberries, and chia seeds and you have a hearty, healthy, delicious breakfast!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread.  Guys, my food weakness is bread, bagels, croissants, baguettes, biscuits, rolls. . . basically anything that is a carb. . . (ha!) So when I saw this cream cheese, I knew I had to try it on a bagel or some cinnamon toast.  Oh my goodness, this stuff is delicious!  Definitely dangerous but so very worth it.

Pumpkin O’s.  If I eat cereal, I am a basic cereal person.  I think Cheerios are great even though they are super plain.  So why not add a little variety to your Cheerios?  These are fun and yummy for fall and great with some fresh fruit on top and Trader Joe’s vanilla almond milk!

So there you have it!  Some of my favorite fall finds at Trader Joe’s!  Do you shop at Trader Joe’s?  What’s your favorite fall specialty item they sell?  If you would like a part 2 of this, comment down below!

Happy Fall, friends!!

sean (1)

 

Encouragement

Freedom Over Fear

FEAR (n): an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

FREEDOM (n): the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.

Fear.  It is something we all have experienced at one time or another; but some of us, on a different level than others.  For me, fear has been a personal struggle of mine for as long as I can remember.  When I was around 8 years old, my family moved into an old, Victorian style house.  It was one of the ones with tall doors and lots of rooms.  I remember that my bedroom was connected to the attic.  And it wasn’t just a drop door or a crawl space to the attic, it was a regular door to a full-size, unfinished, creepy-looking attic.  I was the youngest in the family, with 3 older brothers, so I got this room all to myself.  Every single night, I would be so scared that something was going to come out of that attic!  Of course nothing did, but the fear I felt as a small child was real-even though there was no real danger.  Ever since then, I can pinpoint a pattern of fear in my life.  It is my greatest spiritual struggle, and I constantly am being reminded of God’s faithfulness through this struggle.

In the world we live in, filled with so much  uncertainty, violence and heartbreak, sometimes it is hard to feel safe.  Sometimes it is hard to feel free.  Sometimes it is hard to live life without a sense of fear; because, it seems our safety has been compromised.  Because it feels like no matter how hard we try to block out the fact that there is a big, creepy door to a dark attic looming in the corner of our bedroom, it is still there and we cannot change that fact.  And the truth is, we can’t change all the factors in our world, in our environment, in our jobs, in our families, in our relationships that scare us, but we can; however, change how we respond to these fearful encounters.

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The truth, my friends, is that God offers us a way out of a fear.  He offers us freedom!  You see, fear can be crippling, debilitating. . . Fear can cause you to live a timid life-unwilling to take risks, missing out on opportunities, living half-heartedly for fear of what living fully might bring.  God did not create us to live in fear, nor did He desire for us to ‘live safely.’  He designed us to live freely and fully-embracing all the goodness life has to offer.  He welcomes us to live in the overflow of His spirit and His unchanging nature.

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When I feel afraid or when my thoughts are overtaking my actions, I remind myself that fear is not of God.  God supplies me with power and love and a sound mind.  You know, when I was 8 years old and scared of that attic door, I never opened it.  My mind created all these images of what might be behind the door, but I didn’t want to open it and find out what was really there.  But one day, one of my older brothers held my hand and pushed the door open and made me look.  (I don’t think he was trying to be ‘nice,’ per se, but it actually helped me!)  You see, he made me confront my fears and what I found was an old attic with dusty wooden rafters and no monsters. . .

I think God is a lot like this.  Maybe He holds your hand and draws you closer to your fears and helps you overcome them.  Maybe He is holding your hand and drawing you into the middle of stormy waters. . . But friend, He is not trying to drown you.  He is encouraging you to conquer your fears, to hold tight to Him, to walk in freedom, to become brave.  Bethel Music has a worship song that I just love that says:

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I am so thankful that God’s love and promises to me has made a way for me to overcome my fear.  My battle with fear is a daily one.  It is constantly reminding myself that God is in control, that my life is in His hands, that He only wants good for me, and that He has not created fear but freedom.  When I live in these truths, my life is so much more full.  So friend, if you’re anxious about an upcoming move, if you’re nervous about whether to accept that “crazy” different job offer, if you’re unsure whether you are parenting “the right way,” if you’re worried about standing out among your friends and coworkers, if you’re scared of failing at whatever it may be-give it to God!  Give your fears and concerns over to Him and live in the freedom of God’s grace!

“They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.  They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.” Psalms 112:7-8

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