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When Fear Surrounds Us

It’s almost a new year!  Many of us are excited to start a fresh new year.  Whatever the expectation the new year brings for you, it may bring many fears that can be overwhelming.

I recently had the opportunity to embark on a cruise with 29 of my family members and 5,000 other people cruising around the Caribbean sea.  This was my first Caribbean cruise.  I don’t know if cruising is your thing, but it made me uncomfortable knowing I was in the middle of the ocean with that many people. When I did the calculations, there are not enough boats for everyone if for some reason the ship sank.  Let’s just say it was unsettling for me.

Don’t know if you are one of those ‘What if’ people, I am typically not, however, I am married to one.  I usually don’t think about all the scenarios of ‘what if,’ but when you are surrounded by lots of people and water it makes your mind start going in that direction especially when you watch those movies where the ship sinks or people get eaten by sharks.

Ok, I promise I’ll stop.

But seriously have you ever been in that kind of life or death situation?  Like the scene in the Poseidon movie when Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfus, and the young gal are debating whether they should stay in the room with the flooding water or go towards the vents which they didn’t know where they led fearing they might get stuck?  Everywhere they looked their options went from bad to worse.  If they stayed they would have drowned if they went forward they still may die, but it was their only option for a possible way out.

Maybe we haven’t been in a scenario as drastic as the Poseidon movie where our lives depended on it.  But we all have been in situations when we open our eyes and all we see is the fear that surrounds us.  It doesn’t matter which way we look it’s there and we can’t escape it.  I don’t know about you, but when I live in the ‘what if’ and look for the ‘bad’ things to happen, fear gets the best of me.  When my focus is on the fear, fear is all I see.

We may not like our situations. We may not choose them. But know it could always be worse. Click To Tweet

Maybe you are in a situation like the scene on the ship, if you stay you’ll drown but if you go forward, there is fear of the unknown of not knowing how it will all turn out.

When we let go of our fears and release them to God, we allow Him to take care of them instead of trying to control the situation ourselves.  He is our way out.  Our fears will always squash our hopes, our joy, and growth because we are trusting in what we see and not in what God is able to do.

The verse in Isaiah, I’m reminded of what God was able to accomplish through the Israelites when they trusted in Him.  They saw the enemy armies attacking, coming at them full force and God said, “The Lord will fight for you, you only need to be still” (Exodus 14:14).  He then provided a way out for them when he parted The Red Sea when they trusted in Him.

I’m reminded what God did for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace when they stood up against Nebuchadnezzar.  They refused to take orders from the king and only would obey their one true king–God.  When they stood their ground, God protected them when they were thrown into the blazing furnace.  Not a hair on their body was singed nor did they smell like smoke.  God protected them in their obedience.

When we put our trust in God in what He is able to do and keep our eyes on Him we’ll be protected even when our fear surrounds us.

'I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken (Psalm 16:8).Click To Tweet

When Jesus lives in our hearts, we are not exempt from having fear or bad things from happening to us.  We are able to be protected from our troubling circumstances when we stand in His presence, focus on God’s power, trust in Him and obey.

Are you surrounded by fear?

Do you trust God with your fears?

Are you hoping to get rid of fear in the New Year?

This New Year, take a deep breath, close your eyes and focus on the One who is able to do the impossible.  Trust in Him.  Allow Him to lead you, He knows the way out.  You are loved, my friend!

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The Secret to Being Perfect

Summer is here. The sun is shining, kids are out of school, days are filled with relaxing, activities and hopefully vacations.  I love the things we learn from our seasons and vacations we go on.  There’s indigenous wildlife and landscapes we discover in the places we go.  One bird indigenous to Alaska I will never forget is the raven.

These birds live in parking lots and attack trash cans, devouring any food left on the ground. They live up to their name because they are ravenous scavengers that will eat anything. I’ve always wondered why these birds choose to stay during Alaskan winters. If I were a bird I would definitely use the wings God had gave me to fly to warmer temperatures. Even though ravens don’t migrate when the weather gets cold, I don’t think these Alaskan ravens could fly very far even if they had to. They are self-indulgent glutinous birds way too fat to fly anywhere. I have never seen ravens this big ever in my life. These birds may be sleek and shiny on the outside, but their selfish desires hold them captive in the tundra weather as a result.

These Ravens remind me of the Pharisees in the Bible.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:25-26

The Pharisees had a tradition to engage in ceremonial washing of their body before eating, so nothing dirty would enter their bodies. However Jesus was pointing out, the Pharisees were missing the point. What was the point of physically cleaning the outside of their bodies if their hearts were filled with greed and self-indulgence? The Pharisees thought they were perfect because they followed the traditions of men. They were more concerned with keeping the tradition of ceremonial washings then keeping their hearts clean with the righteousness of God.

How true is this for our lives?

Am I like the Pharisee trying to maintain perfection on the outside but really full of un-righteousness on the inside?

I have been guilty of trying to maintain the facade that everything is perfect in my life on the outside by keeping a clean house, car, a perfectly manicured yard, obedient kids, a successful husband the list goes on. Maybe you can relate?

Have you tried to find value and worth through your circumstances like me? Have you tried to seek righteousness in your own works? Truth is I can have everything perfect and neatly organized on the outside but really am falling apart on the inside.

Where is the hope or freedom in my failures?

Is success in life really measured by my performance and how perfect I look from the outside?

There will be times my achievements fail. Times I don’t always get it right.  There will always be another room to clean in my house. There will always be a child’s behavior to correct. There may be times my husband and I don’t get along. There will always be that certain something that doesn’t go as planned.  Does that mean I only receive hope if my circumstances are going well in my life?

Perfectionism and keeping a bunch of rules will never make me righteous or bring me peace or freedomClick To Tweet

I am not perfect.  But I am made perfect in God. Through God’s eyes even when I fall short, He sees me as his perfect workmanship and makes up for my shortcomings (Romans 3:23).

He created and designed all of us with a purpose that is greater than our next performance.

The secret to being perfect isn’t in what we do ourselves with our own strength but in what God can do in us with His strength.Click To Tweet

God cares more about the condition of our hearts than how clean our houses are. His desire is for us to love him with all of our heart, all of our soul and all of our minds” (Matthew 22:37).

Jesus tells the Pharisees, “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” Matthew 23:26. He was trying to teach them you will always be held captive by selfish desires and trying to maintain perfectionism. We will always be set free in God’s truth and love for us.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

When I seek God for my righteousness and desires of my heart he shows me “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; our souls knows it very well (Psalm 139:14). Righteousness does not come from ourselves or in anything we do, but from God himself.

“…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—“ (Philippians 3:9).

Our hearts will always find peace in His presence and freedom in His truth.

The next time there are a pile of dishes in your sink, say to yourself, “Bless this mess, because I am made perfect in God!” Thankfully God cares more of how clean my heart is than my sink!

Have you ever met someone and thought wow they have it all together, to only find out they are shattered and broken on the inside?

You never know what someone is going through. Just because their life seems perfect on the inside doesn’t mean it’s true.  Thankfully we have all been saved by his grace.  His grace and purpose are always greater.

“He has saved us and called us to holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.”  2 Timothy 1:9

Can you relate to the Pharisees?

Do you allow circumstances to enslave you and determine your happiness?

Have you been victim to performance and perfectionism?

How has God’s truth set you free?

Our circumstances will always change.  God’s truth is eternal and everlasting!  There is hope when we seek our truth and identity in God. You are perfectly perfect in who God says you are. He created you and never makes mistakes. You are perfect!

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The Power of An Invitation

I will never forget the first time I attended my first Bible study in 2012.  I had been a Christian my whole life, went to church, read the Bible, but never attended a formal Bible study.  I could name a million reasons why I didn’t attend before then;  busy with motherhood, I worked during the week, I had to take care of the house, etc.  It’s funny how God has a way to always point you in the right direction.

I was at a point in my relationship with God where I knew He wanted me to take the next step towards a deeper relationship with him;  but I didn’t know how.  One day I was standing in the preschool parking lot talking with a friend, pouring out my heart to her.  I had just started to attend the same church as her.  As she was listening to me, she had opened the door to something bigger than I could have ever imagined.  She invited me to a Women’s Bible Study at the new  church I was attending.  I immediately accepted the invitation.  I was excited, because I knew God had used her that day not only to invite me, but to point me in the right direction towards what He had desired for me.

The day I stepped foot into my first Bible Study, I was hooked and I never looked back.  Once I started, I couldn’t get enough.  I wanted more.  Her  invitation to Bible study changed my life.  I never knew how much I was missing until I entered into God’s presence, opened up the Scriptures and allowed God’s truth into my heart.  My friend was faithful in listening to God, to invite me that day.  I only had to enter through the open door, God did the rest.

 

God used my friend in a big way that day.  I am so glad she listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to invite me that day.  Her invitation changed my life.  God’s words are what transforms our hearts, nourishes our souls, and gives life to our spirits.  God’s love is not meant to be hidden, but shared with everyone.

Just imagine if the three wise men never accepted God’s invitation to see the birth of baby Jesus.  They would have missed out on seeing the birth of their king.

Just imagine if Paul didn’t accept God’s invitation that day on the road to Damascus when he was blinded by the light.  We would have never seen God’s ability to  transform Paul’s heart, from someone who persecuted Christians to someone who risked His life to save them.

Imagine if the Disciples and the Apostles never accepted God’s invitation to become followers of Christ.  We would have missed out on the greatest message ever told. We would have never seen God’s ability through the Holy Spirit to grow the church.

We are merely vessels God uses to carry out His greater plan.  We are all apart of God’s great amazing story of the gospel.  If we never shared it with anyone, imagine how many  people miss out on the beautiful message of the gospel.

The worse thing a person can say is ‘No.’  God will continue to pursue their hearts.  You only need to be faithful in prayer of how God can use you.  

There will always be 101 things keeping us away from studying the Bible.  Not one of those reasons are ever good enough to keep us away from spending time with God.  When we give God the time He has given us, He will provide all the time we need to get everything else accomplished that He desires for us.

Have you been prompted to invite someone to church or Bible study?  You never know how God will use you to impact the life of someone else.  Your invitation might be the very thing a person needs to take their next step.

Have you ever accepted an invitation that changed your life?

How has Bible Study impacted your life?  

To learn more about why studying the Bible is so important Click Here.

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This post was first published on www.akchristianwomensministry.com.


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Chicken Soup for the Soul: Military Edition {Giveaway}

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him” quote Abraham Lincoln.

I am so excited to announce the story I submitted last year to Chicken Soup for the Soul has been accepted and published in the Military Edition!  I am humbled and honored to have our story alongside other men and women who have served and been the force behind the forces.  And I’m thankful to have another opportunity to be published in the Chicken Soup Series!

I can’t believe how completely different our lives look now.

Never in my life did I think I’d be in this place I am today.  Never in a million years did I think I would be living in Alaska, living on a military base with my husband serving in the United States Air Force.  Never did I imagine all that we would see and learn just by taking a step of faith out of our comfort zone.  Only God.

You just never know what God has planned.

Even though we left everything we knew–family, friends, kid’s school, our home, jobs, etc.  We wouldn’t trade the military or Alaska for anything.  Coming up here we have become a closer knit family.  Moving to a place where you know no one, makes a family depend on each other in ways you never had before.  We also get to meet amazing military families who sacrifice their lives and serve just so we can be safe.

There is so much more to our story than what is published.  God has been writing our story for quite some time and is always full of surprises!

Life wouldn’t be life if there weren’t curve balls, sharp turns or detours would it?

As I am writing these words, we are getting ready to embark on our new journey to Colorado!  In fact we could really use your prayers.  There are a lot of unknowns of where we will live and what school our kids will attend.   We are trusting in God’s provision and leaving it in His hands.  Even though we don’t know how all the details are going to work, we know God has it already worked out for us.

There is something powerful in doing something bigger than yourself.

Alaska has taught us many things especially the art of camping and how to be prepared in all kinds of situations (wild life, negative degree weather).  We will be driving with our two kids and dog in our RV through Canada this summer, stopping by national parks along the way.  It is bittersweet for us to leave all the wonderful friends who have been our new military family to embark on our new adventure.  But we are excited for our new adventure that awaits.

Sometimes I question if we have to move every 3 to 4 years how are we able to grow roots?  I believe God uses us wherever we are.  He allows us to bloom wherever we are planted growing our roots deeper in every step of faith and act of obedience.  I will cherish the relationships and friendships we have made along the way and carry them in my heart wherever I go.  Each journey we go on grows us and prepares us for what God has in store (hence why we named our dog Journey ; ).

Our Journey Girl

Want a chance to win a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul:  Military Edition for your self?  Before it is available in stores?

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Chicken Soup for the Soul:  Military Edition is available for pre-order purchase on www.amazon.com for only $10.37!  It’s a perfect gift to give to that special someone who serves for Memorial Day!

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7 Miracles I Have Witnessed as a Nurse

Have you ever witnessed a miracle, something so amazing, you knew it could only be God’s handiwork?  Being a nurse I can say I have been a first hand witness to some of life’s most amazing miracles.  I’ve witnessed countless births—babies taking their first breath of life as they enter into this world.  I’ve seen patients on their death bed who had no chance of survival, walk out of the hospital on their own two feet.  I’ve seen a father donate his own kidney to his son to give him a chance of life. It is an honor to be a nurse and a witness to some of life’s most precious moments that can only be explained as a miracle.  A miracle is something that cannot be explained by laws of nature but only by the divine work of God.

Here are 7 of the Most Precious Miracles I have witnessed (as a Nurse and Mother)-

1.  A Mother’s selfless act of giving her baby up for adoption–    I have worked in the operating room as a nurse anesthetist for over 13 years now and in that time, have witnessed hundreds of babies born.  I will never forget the love of the mother who gave her baby up for adoption.  I couldn’t imagine what that mother felt at that moment knowing she was giving her motherly rights away to another mother.  How selfless of the birth mother, putting her own child’s needs first before her own.  By giving up her rights she was giving another mother a chance to be a mother and a chance for a better life for the baby.  This selfless act of love reminded me of the selfless love Jesus gives us everyday.

2.  The Blind Couple-  One of the other births that I will never forget is a baby being born to a blind couple.  Both the mother and father were physically blind.  When their baby was born, they handed me their camera and asked me to take a picture of their new born child.  I literally had tears in my eyes taking the picture of their new baby, knowing they would never physically see their child with their own eyes.  What impressed upon me so much about their baby’s birth, was no amount of blindness can ever change the amount of love they had for their child.  Just because they couldn’t see their baby with their own eyes didn’t mean their love for their child was any less.  This picture of blindness showed me we may go through periods of darkness or spiritual blindness in our lives, but that doesn’t mean God ever leaves us or doesn’t love just as much.  

3.  #1 Nurse Necklace-  I will never forget the family who gave me a #1 nurse necklace.  I was a nurse on a medical floor and took care of an older gentlemen for many weeks.  This man had a very loving family. He became very ill and passed away a few weeks after being ill in the hospital.  I was so touched when the family invited another nurse and I to their father’s funeral.  I have had patients pass away before but have never been invited to their funeral.  Afterwards the family gave the other nurse and I a #1 Nurse necklace to thank us for taking care of their father.  It stirred my heart the way the family showed gratitude by giving us the necklace after their father passed away.  I never before had a family respond in that way and it moved me.  It showed the power in giving gratitude and kindness out of our grief and sorrow.  

4.  The Russian man-  I will never forget when a Russian man, whom I never met before, reached out his hand and said, “Do you believe Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior?” I said, “yes.  Then he says, “You are my sister” (while still holding my hand).  We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, adopted into God’s one big family.  It doesn’t matter if we are Catholic, Greek or Jew when we accept Jesus as our Savior, what unites us as family is the blood of Christ.  

5.  The Roll Over Accident-  Have you ever witnessed something and you know what you saw, but couldn’t believe it?  My children and I were driving down the highway one day when it was raining.  A pick-up truck about 3 car lengths in front of us lost control and flipped horizontally (3 times) on it’s side with a flat bed trailer attached to it.  When the truck and trailer stopped rolling, it laid horizontally on it’s side laying across all 3 lanes of the highway.   Not one car hit the rolled over pick-up truck.  What was so amazing, all 3 passengers inside the truck boosted themselves out of the window and walked away unharmed.  It was a bone-chilling moment, knowing the accident could have been much worse, but God protected us.  This moment showed me not only do physical seat belts keep us safe but so does God’s belt of truth when it’s worn.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.”  (Ephesians 6:14).  

6.  Brooklyn-  Our daughter Brooklyn who is almost 10 years old now, was born 8 weeks premature.  When she was born she only weighed 3 pounds 8 ounces.  She was too tiny to bring home and needed to stay in the hospital to learn how to feed and grow.  Her birth and life have nothing been short of a miracle.  Since she was born, she has alway defied the odds.  She came home after only 3 weeks (usually babies have to stay until they reach gestation).  She never needed oxygen when she was born, in fact she came out screaming!  One thing she has taught us is to trust in God’s plans.  Life may not turn out the way we planned but God’s plans are always greater and better.

7.  Bowen-  Out of all the miracles I have witnessed, there has been none greater than our son Bowen.  He is our third child born six years ago.  Even though he lived a short life of only two weeks on earth, his life impacted us greatly.  God used Bowen in a big way in our lives to show us how life’s most devastating moments can be turned into life’s greatest blessings.  How God takes our tragedy, our hardship and heartaches uses it, molds it and turns it into something more beautiful than it was before.  He showed us the meaning of living a life of love is a life worth living, when we are loving we are living.  There is no gift greater than that.  

Our son’s life taught us that God does answer prayer, maybe not in the way we want. Our son is no longer suffering, he is living a life free from pain, disease and sorrow.  God went ahead of us and made the greatest plan ever.  He is taking care of him until the day we will see him again. 

Have you ever witnessed a miracle from heaven?  Something that could have only been God’s handiwork?  Please Share!

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Join me next week for the 4 part series of meeting Jesus in the scriptures, our struggles and our everyday lives.  I would love to hear from you!    Please Leave Your Comments Below.  Have a Blessed Week!