4 Steps for Fighting Fear: The Journey

Often when I hear testimonies of overcoming I hear the “everything changed” and miss the journey. Then too often in my own life all I see is the journey and nothing seems to change.

It’s like saying “I went to Germany”. That sounds easy. Short. Simple. However there was a journey required. There was the packing. Before that working to pay for the trip. The hour drive to the airport. The flight to Boston, which from Alaska means two other flights first. There was the 14 hours in the air before landing in Germany.

After reading 4 Steps for Fighting Fear a friend asked me what my process was. My first thought was “You read the post, right? Four steps, that’s the process.” But I asked more questions, she asked more questions, and I pondered my process.
In case you read the 4 Steps for Fighting Fear as a quick and easy route like, “I went to Germany.”, I wanted to flesh it out a bit.

1. Call on Jesus

When fear attacked the first time I had to rely on scriptures I already knew. I wasn’t looking up verses in the dark holding my breathless daughter. I had to pull on what was already inside, what I already believed about the goodness of God. Memorizing and meditating on scripture is SO important.

2. Find God’s promises

Knowing I couldn’t live in fear I spent time praying and remembering verses. In the situation with my daughter I had verses from months before that I returned to.

3. Personalize the verses into declarations

I wrote “She will live and not die. She will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” and hung it where I see it as I nurse her. A friend had Esther 4:14 painted as a gift for us and it hangs as a reminder of God’s purpose and promise for my daughter.

4. Declare the promises of God out loud

As well as saying the verses I often sing No Longer Slaves by Jonathan David & Melissa Helser. Sometimes as a lullaby, sometimes as a roaring declaration “He rescued me so I could stand and sing ‘I am a child of God’.” The first verse for me. The second for her.

When fear attacked I had to choose (still do) if I was going to believe the sensations in my body and the crazy thoughts in my mind or if I was going to believe in God’s love for me. I could choose fear or peace. The choosing is in my mind. I chose peace. This put me in the paradox of peace in my spirit and fear and stress in my mind and body – for a time.

Each time I choose to believe God’s love for me, His faithfulness to keep His promises the sensations fear creates in my mind and body leave faster. Now it is very brief and not very often. Attacks have gone from multiple times a day to every couple weeks or less. (I’m also realizing I have other fears I still am living as a slave to so it’s time to apply the four steps to them as well. They are scary in another way. That just means they are debilitating in another way, too. I’ll share the process soon.)

I would love to hear from you if this helps or raises questions.

Do you hear people’s victories and discount the journey like I often do?

4 Steps for Fighting Fear

Seeing the Goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living.

You fell asleep while nursing. I nudged you to encourage you to finish. You didn’t respond. A strange heat flooded me in a panic. I couldn’t get out words to pray. Confusion, doubt, and fear were front and center.

  Last night you had stopped breathing. I think it was by God’s grace I couldn’t see your coloring. I had turned off the main lights and turned on the lamp before getting you from your cradle. You were very limp when I picked you up but I didn’t sense anything was wrong until I sat down on the couch to feed you. You were too still – completely unresponsive. Your brother was just heading to bed. Your dad was beside me. I told them to pray. We declared healing in Jesus name and asked for restoration of your breath.

I don’t know if you really stopped breathing this morning or if you were just extra sleepy like you’ve been before. I’m having a hard time not being scared today – a harder time than last night.

 As I walked this out – being attacked by panic and fear – feeling paralyzed and unable to breathe myself – I was reminded (strange that I would need to be) this wasn’t the first time I had feared my baby dying, feared losing her.

See, I have three beautiful, amazing children who had easy uneventful pregnancies. I have a fourth child I will never get to hold alive. I heard his heartbeat twice. Then around 17 weeks there was no more heartbeat.

After coming to terms with being pregnant at 42 when my youngest was 14 (another story for another time) I began the battle to not live in fear of another miscarriage.

1. Call on Jesus

When fear attacks I say the name of Jesus. Sometimes I had more words I could pray, more faith to speak out. Often I just said “Jesus.”

2. Find God’s promises that address the area of fear. 

For me the words of Jesus to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” (Luke 8:50) were the first to come to mind. Then Psalm 27:13, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (NIV) and Esther 4:14 “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (KJV).

3. Personalize the verses into declarations of what you are believing God is promising you.

My versions:
Luke 8:50 “This child will live and not die.”
Psalm 27:13 “They shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
Esther 4:14 “They are conceived/born for such a time as this.”

4. Declare God’s promises out loud when fear attacks.

So when I was calm enough I would say the declarations (my versions of the verses) or sing “I’m no longer a slave to fear” and believe it. I sing “Thy Will” by Hillary Scott – which was hard knowing that she wrote this song after losing a child through miscarriage. Believing for life knowing I may have to accept death though I couldn’t see any possible good reason why.

It’s a few months down the road and fear rarely attacks so brazenly. I am seeing the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. So is she.

When have you been attacked by fear?

 How do you fight back?

Love and Trust are Not the Same

No email again today.
I guess it’s a blessing – a confirmation that I correctly assessed the situation.
We speak the same words with such different meanings.
It hurts too. Not to be important enough for the hard work of change. That they don’t value themselves enough to pursue healing. It grieves me. It makes sense. If they don’t value themselves how can they value me?
So what do I do now? Jesus has bore my sorrows so I give it to him.
Jesus this hurts. It feels like rejection and manipulation. I think it even feels like betrayal. I’ve trusted someone willing to break my trust for their comfort and say it’s my fault. I don’t want to be foolish enough to set myself up for that again. I also want my heart open to love everyone as You do. Guard my heart without hardening it.”

He responds:

Love and trust are not the same.
Love is unconditional and unearned – a completely free gift.
Trust is earned and must be rebuilt when it’s broken.

I wonder:

Is love holding the tools to rebuild? Keeping the door open to trust again when effort is made?
Trust has boundaries. The tools must be used properly. The effort has to be made.
I can love if the tools are never touched or even thrown away – if an effort is never made.
The relationship could look very different if there were trust.

What about you?

What do you believe about love and trust?
How do you go on loving someone it’s not wise to trust

Culture of Empowerment

Create a culture of empowerment
Create a Culture of Empowerment
A culture of excellence sounds like a great thing.
At least it used to.
While striving for excellence sounds noble it can actually be very paralyzing.  A dear friend shared with me that a culture of excellence leads to a focus on performance for love and value.
For me the culture of excellence was about appearances and impressions. Recognition for things done well. Doing things well is not the problem. Having our worth tied to how well we do something is. In a culture of excellence your worth is measured by how excellent you are. There is always someone more excellent and there is always a way you could have done better. Your worth is always in jeopardy.
A Culture of Excellence (Performance) meant:
  • Trying to gain approval and recognition by being excellent
  • Comparison and judgement
  • Life was unsteady – how excellent is excellent enough?
  • Messing up = failure
  • Accomplishments = identity
  • Perfection
  • Hide your flaws
  • Identity was fragile
  • Life and relationships were scary
  • No room for growth {post coming soon}
  • People pleasing
  • Never enough
  • Learned to live anticipating people’s expectations {post coming soon}
  • Trying to earn love instead of live from love.
  • No matter how well I did there was always something to improve. Even performance was failure.
  • People weren’t interested in me as a person, only my performance.
Thankfully this wise friend also shared a better way.
A culture of empowerment.

A culture of empowerment tells people how God sees them and treats them accordingly.

Empowerment is about growth and improvement. Empowerment not only allows mistakes but actually looks forward to them as an opportunity to grow and learn. Leading in an empowerment culture can be a bit scary if you are used to the excellence model. In the excellence model you seek to control because your followers reflect on you excellence as a leader – this applies in parenting, too, not just organizations. In a culture of empowerment I am offering opportunities for growth and learning and most importantly the freedom to fail even if there are people who will think I failed if you fail.
Living in a Culture of Empowerment means:
  • Living from love
  • Identity from love
  • Environment for growth
  • Relationships are places to be known, nurtured
  • I am enough without doing anything
  • Learning is a joy
  • Life is secure, stable, peaceful
  • Mistakes = learning opportunity
  • Be vulnerable
  • Be authentic
  • Living for God’s glory not man’s approval
  • Offering opportunities to do it wrong and the grace to try again

What kind of culture were you raised in?

Are there things you would add to either list?

What culture are you creating?

Comment below or join the conversation on Facebook {community coming soon}

Countdown to Christmas: Focus on Jesus

As Christmas approaches it can be a challenge to focus on Jesus, the real reason for celebrating. God showed His love in such an amazing way. He became a human, lived, suffered and died in our place. Miraculously He rose again and wants to live in relationship with us!

I wrote Christmas is About Jesus: An Advent Devotional to help my family focus on Jesus in a busy season, a busy culture, that is often sending conflicting messages about what we are doing, or should be doing, and why. The links below are to posts I have done in the past that can enhance use of the devotions in the book or help you focus on Jesus even if you don’t have the book.

Blessings to you and your family this Christmas season!

 

Living Each Day With My Father: Thanksgiving

Blog-2015-004-FATHER-ThanksWhile I know having a thankful heart is key to living with the Father I had a very hard time with this chapter. I often look for a warm fuzzy feeling to go with being thankful. I expect to “feel” thankful. I rarely do. I am thankful. I appreciate many things but I rarely “feel” thankful. Something I am still sorting out.

Being thankful is a choice. I choose to be thankful regardless of feelings or circumstances, or even natural disposition. I have often tended to be the Eeyore.

  • I see what’s wrong instead of right.
  • I see how far there is to go instead of how far I’ve come.
  • I see the work and get tired.

I also can see the good in people in hard things and I choose to give thanks.

I thank Him in faith for the things He has promised.

A roadblock to my thankfulness was “but”. There were challenging people and situations where I would thank God for some aspect then follow with a “but”.

I imagine that is much like the apology “I’m sorry, but…”

Even as I am writing this I see more areas where I have kept the “but”. I first realized it in a hard relationship. I repented and let go of that “but”. Now I see I still have “buts” to clear out of other areas.

I’m thankful for my husband’s job but I wish he didn’t have to work away.

I’m thankful we are building our dream shop but I wish it would go faster.

If I really believe God is good and working ALL things for my good I have no reason for anything but thanksgiving.

Practical ideas

Choose to be thankful

If I forget about trying, hoping to “feel” thankful then I can see some practical ways I am working to cultivate a grateful heart.

When I or someone around me complains I find something about that same thing to be thankful for.

“It looks like rain.”

“I’m thankful, we need the rain.”

I choose to start my time with God thanking Him for something. Even on days that don’t seem too good He is always good and I can always start there. Some days I just stay there. He is good – always. I’m thankful!

Obsess

Something that helps me be truly thankful and overflow in praise is to meditate on God’s word. Meditating is like marinating your mind, soul, and spirit in something. It’s constantly thinking about something.

Do you obsess? I often do, about what someone said, what I said, what I wish I had said. God made us to obsess about Him. Find a scripture and obsess about it. Allow it to become more and more true to you.

How about Romans 8:28?

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose. – Rom 8:28 KJV

Like I said if I really believe and focus on the fact that ALL things – delays, frustrating behavior, difficult people – are working for my good I can be really thankful. Don’t take me wrong. I am not saying bad things happening are sent by God and we are to do nothing about them. We have authority, remember? God is always speaking and can show us if there is something we can do about a bad or hard situation. While we wait and listen we can always give thanks and rejoice. (Philippians 4:4-8)

Get rid of the “buts”

Listen to your thoughts this week as you give thanks. Is there are but tagging along? Repent, confess, ask forgiveness if need be. Ask God for His perspective.

Express thanks to people, too

Developing thankfulness and the habit of expressing it in one area will increase it in all areas. God can bless us through people. We can and should thank them for blessing us.

Record and take time to remember

What has God already done for you? This can start with things that are true for every believer. Salvation. Forgiving you. Restoring you to relationship with Himself. Eternal life. Grace.

Add things specific to your story. Has He healed you? Provided special blessings? Children? Spouse? Direction? God constantly told Israel to remember. They built altars and had feasts to remember the salvation of the LORD. Jesus told us to take communion to remember.

Be thankful His faithfulness in the past reassures us of His faithfulness in the future.

I have a very simple printable you can use to frame your day if it’s helpful. As I did mine I could feel stress leaving and peace growing. I often reread it during hard times of the day.

Blue printable

Download printable in orange

Download printable in blue

Download printable in green

Living Each Day with My Father: Authority

To live each day with our Father takes recognizing we have authority and learning how to use it.

I have by no means arrived here, or on any of these topics. I am learning and sharing along the way. I feel I need to do a little “teaching” on authority, maybe because I am still figuring it out for myself. Care to join me?

Brief history of authority

Power and authority are closely connected and often used interchangeably. The definitions in the original languages include the meanings of both.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Matthew 28:18 KJV

The word power in this verse includes the meaning “the power of authority” and “one who possesses authority” (Strong’s)

  • God gave it to Adam – Genesis 1:26-31
  • Adam forfeited it by partnering with Satan and disobeying God – Genesis 3:6, 1 Timothy 2:14
  • Satan had authority – Luke 4:6, 2 Corinthians 4:4
  • Jesus restored authority to Heaven when He was raised from the dead – Ephesians 1:20-22,
  • God gave us authority – Ephesians 1:22-23, 2:6; Matthew 28:18-20

What are we are supposed to do with this authority? What do we have authority over?

  • All things – Ephesians 1:22
  • The world – 1 John 4:4
  • Thoughts – 2 Corinthians 10:5
  • Speech – Colossians 4:6, Ephesians 4:29
  • Emotions – Colossians 3:8-14
  • Mountains – Matthew 17:20
  • Satan and his realm – James 4:7, Matthew 10:1, 12:28

I have much to learn in all these areas. I want you to be aware of them and begin to use your authority. I want to focus on our authority over ourselves, our thoughts, and our choices.

Ways of exercising authority

Blessing my day

Something I started doing recently is blessing my day. I was listening to a message by Joyce Meyer. She said something to the effect of taking authority over your day by blessing it and everything in it. Blessing is more than a saying, more than “I wish you the best.” Our words of blessing carry power and the authority for God to move in the situation we have blessed.

Pleading the blood of Jesus

Pleading the blood may sound strange. Think of a court of law. A defendant is brought before the judge and asked how they plead. They can say guilty or not guilty. Because of Jesus we can say “I plead the blood of Jesus.” Jesus sacrifice makes us righteous fully adopted children of the Most High God! That carries some major authority. Everything God made available to Jesus is available to us. We are co-heirs with Jesus.

Declare my authority

I state my authority, reminding myself and Satan daily that he has no right to me or anything concerning me. I am under the blood of Jesus. My property, finances, family, everything concerning me is under the blood. Jesus provided for it to be safe from the thief.

Over my emotions

I frequently have to take authority over my emotions. Emotions are real. They are not always true and they are even less often a good basis for decisions. I am learning to feel and understand my emotions and what caused them without letting them run my life. Notice I said learning. I still struggle and fail in moments and situations. I will keep learning. I will keep asking.

Application

Is there an area you need to exercise the authority Jesus has given you?

How will using your authority change your perspective?

What scriptures are you standing on for assurance of your authority?

How will you practically take authority over this area?

Blue printable

Write out your day with your Father.

Download printable in orange

Download printable in blue

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I encourage you to keep it where you can read it during your day. Some days I take a picture with my phone so I can take it with me.

Living Each Day With My Father Posts:

Introduction

Focus

Authority (You’re here)

Thanksgiving

Hope

Encouragement

Rest

Living Each Day with My Father: Focus

Where is my heart set?

What gets my attention?

I can, and do, focus on so many things. I home school my three children. Two of them will be in high school this year. I can certainly focus on the fact that I better make sure I am doing it right. We are building a building that is WAY beyond my ability. We need more of everything than we have on our own, more money, more time, more skill, more labor.

I can focus on my home that isn’t finished and is never clean enough. Really I could just leave that at never clean. It does get cleaned on occasion and it is not overall disgusting to me anyway. I’m a firm believer in dirt never hurting anyone. Anyway, I could focus on that.

I could focus on my clothes that don’t fit quite right, my body that lumps in the wrong places, my blog that too often get neglected, and my platform “they” say I have to build. Then there’s ministry and politics and relationships…The list is endless.

What you have been focused on? Include the good and the bad. What has been occupying most of your thoughts and emotional energy?

What do I want my focus to be? The short answer: God. I think of verses that say things like:

Set your hearts on things above, seek first the kingdom, Bless the Lord, rejoice, and give thanks.

So how do I change my focus?

Short answer?

Focus on something else.

I know very obvious and not very helpful. It’s true though. Right now you are focused on the words in this post. Look up at the ceiling and you are no longer focused on the words on your screen.

Changing life long thought patterns is not that easy. However it really is that simple. Each and every time you think about or focus on something you don’t want to focus on refocus on something else. Eventually you will have created the new habit of focusing on the right thing.

Some practical ideas for refocusing

  • I find scripture and what God has to say about what to focus on.
  • I refocus by reading encouraging words, quotes, scriptures.
  • I have pictures around my home that God has used to speak to me, pictures that speak to my destiny and His promises.
  • I sing. Knowing hymns and solid scriptural songs is an easy way for me to refocus.
  • Sometimes I refocus by going in a room by myself and telling Satan to leave me alone. I take authority over anything that is not of God in my home or my environment and release the opposite. If there is tension I tell it to go and release peace.
  • I like to write. It is a great way for me to process what I am experiencing. I can identify lies, patterns, and connections I miss if I don’t write. I can also record the truth God reveals so I can go back to it when I need to refocus.
  • An accountability partner can be a great help to. This doesn’t have to be intense or time-consuming. It can be as simple as letting your friends know you have a new focus and you want them to ask you how you are doing. Give them permission to respectfully point out when you miss your new focus.

My day with my Father

Since God gave me this idea I try to write out my day with Father in the morning. That sounds strange. Here’s what I mean. I want to live each day with my Father to do that I need Focus, Authority, Thanksgiving, Hope, Encouragement, and Rest. So I write a sentence, word or phrase for each word.

Some days He speaks to me:

Focus: I love you. I am working. You are enough.

Authority: Bless the day. Walk in authority.

Thanksgiving: Praise me all day.

Hope: in, Me. I am faithful & true – Always.

Encouragement: I am pleased.

Rest: I am here. Ask. Listen. Obey.

Some days it is my thoughts to Him:

Focus: You are good and bigger than any hurt.

Authority: I control my thoughts and choose prayer praise.

Thanksgiving: I thank you for Brian and my kids, for hard relationships.

Hope: God you alone are my hope.

Encouragement: With you all things are possible.

Rest: I rest in Your goodness and love!

Some days it is a declaration:

Focus: I am loved and accepted.

Authority: I have authority in Jesus name.

Thanksgiving:  I am blessed beyond measure.

Hope: God is working in and through me.

Encouragement: It will be worth it.

Rest: God is for me. Who can be against me?

Write out your day with your Father.

Blue printable

Download printable in orange

Download printable in blue

Download printable in green

I encourage you to keep it where you can read it during your day. Some days I take a picture with my phone so I can take it with me.

Living Each Day With My Father Posts:

Introduction

Focus (You’re here)

Authority

Thanksgiving

Hope

Encouragement

Rest

Living Each Day with My Father

I’ve had a lot of hard days lately. Many more than I care to admit.  Keeping my thinking in line with truth has been a major challenge.

First I feel or think something ugly.
Then I beat myself up because-
  • I know better.
  • I’ve dealt with this.
  • I didn’t think I was like that.

Then it gets really good because I can beat myself up for beating myself up.

Sound familiar?

I hope not, but I suspect for some it does. Not you? Great! Maybe reading will help you understand a friend who falls into this dreadful, downward spiraling trap.

Reaching out for help wasn’t helping. Looking through too many dirty lenses to see help or truth perhaps?

There’s confusion.
 Why am I feeling this way? Why do I keep thinking that? Why am I here again? I thought I dealt with this. I had a strategy, what was it? Why can’t I change? What am I missing?
There’s condemnation. 
You’ve been teaching people, challenging people to walk victorious and look at you! You should know better. You DO know better. Look at what a mess you are.
There’s hopelessness.
This will never change. I will never change.
Through that stack of dirty lenses and massive cloud of lies I came upon an idea I want to hang onto. Maybe you can hang on to it too.

I live each day with my Father.

I live each day with focus, authority, thanksgiving, hope, encouragement, and rest.

Identity in the Father
Focus, Authority, Thanksgiving, Hope, Encouragement, Rest
Focus:
 Where have I set my attention? my affections?
Authority:
Remember Jesus has given me all authority in His name
Thanksgiving:
Reflect and acknowledge the goodness of God, the greatness of His character
Hope:
Where is my hope? People? Things? Desired outcomes? God alone.
Encouragement:
Asking Father to speak. He is always encouraging.
Rest:
In His presence is joy, peace and rest.

No matter the circumstance remembering, choosing, to abide with the Father makes it better.

Nothing changes when I remember I am seated with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Yet everything changes when I remember.

Nothing changes in my circumstances because I draw close to Him. It doesn’t have to.

I change when I draw close to Him. I find peace. I find rest. I remember He is bigger than it all. I remember He is good, beyond my understanding, beyond my seeing. He is working, always for my good. He has called me to rest. (Matthew 11:28)

I’ll explain each of these keys and how I am learning to use them to frame my day in future posts.

I have a very simple printable you can use to frame your day if it’s helpful. As I did mine I could feel stress leaving and peace growing. I often reread it during hard times of the day.

Blue printable

Download printable in orange

Download printable in blue

Download printable in green

How do you spend the day with your Heavenly Father?