Fear Factor

“I give you peace, the kind of peace only I can give.” John 14:27

There are days, I can feel the anxiety in the air. If you watch or read news stories, one cannot help but be fearful. There are tragedies of shootings, natural disasters and uncertainties in government.

I admit, there were days where the anxiety was too much for me and I would have a panic attack. It was draining. So, I made a decision to wholeheartedly go to God first with prayer, then to have my mind go into a downward spiral.

Three years ago, we made the decision to remodel our kitchen. We saved for many years to pay for it all up front. I was so excited to get new cabinets and countertops because our kitchen was about 38 years old.

In this process of renovation, I was collecting quotes from different contractors. This man, named *Mike came over who was highly recommended by a few people. He was going through the kitchen taking measurements and noticed I had a water filter on my counter.

*Mike asked me questions about the filter and if it filtered out fluoride. I said I had a separate filter for that attached. Then he asked if I had heard of a certain info website that was famous for being an alt-right wing conspiracy site.  When I heard the name (which I will refrain from mentioning), I thought, “oh no, where is this going?”

I was truthful and said that I had heard of that website. Mike seemed so excited to learn I knew what he was talking about.  He proceeded to give a lengthy monologue about how the end of the world was coming due to the government and that he has a stockpile of food, water and ammunition when all hits the fan. He talked about having pills to take in case there was a radiation fall out. You name it he was prepared for it.

I live in California, where a huge earthquake could happen at anytime. We are prepared. I do believe in having an emergency plan for events and knowing what to do. But at some point, you can’t have it rule over your daily life.

The fear and anxiety this man had, was making me anxious. Then I heard the Lord say, “he doesn’t know my peace.” So, when he finally stopped talking, I said, “it seems like you worry a lot. While I do believe in preparing and having a plan, I trust in God so I can have peace.”   He just stared at me, then he laughed. He said, “well how are you going to defend yourself when society can’t take care of you?” I told him, “I have never depended on society to take care of me but instead I dwell on the fact that I am a child of God and if I die, I will be in heaven not suffering.”

Again, he stared at me like I had four heads and didn’t say anything until he finished with the estimate. He said he would email me with the estimate and left.

I wish I could say, he accepted the Lord after our conversation, but he did not. I do hope though, something made him see an alternative way to live.

Life will be troublesome and scary. There will be times, where we just won’t know what to do. But God is faithful to His people and will carry them through those difficult times. Jesus overcame the world, NOT so we could live in fear and anxiety but to be over comers too.

Lesson Learned: I am an over comer.  I do not need to live in fear because the world does.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, I trust in you. Even though I don’t always understand your way, I believe you have my best interest at hand. Help me in those times of trouble. Give me wisdom to prepare the best I can, but to trust that we are in your hands. I am so thankful that I know you and can rest in your love. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Against the Flow

“For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything else we see and a pride in our achievements and possessions.  These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” 1 John 2:16


My cravings lately haven’t been for more, it has been for less.  The world is going a little too fast for me and I want it to slow down.  It seems that many are feeling the same way. It is becoming a trend that I hope it catches on.


My church had a Spiritual Life Retreat on a Saturday morning.  I was pleasantly surprised and interested in going. For the last 5 years, I have begun a journey into Minimalism.  A friend posted an article on Facebook by a Minimalist writer, Joshua Becker in 2013 and I was hooked. I began to get rid of many possessions, scheduling less on my calendar and taking time to rest.  It has helped lessen the anxiety.


The church I attend is in Southern California, in a city located within Orange County.  This area loves busyness, materialism and success. Most people’s schedules are packed with long work hours and lots of activities, their homes are large with more items than necessary and they are glued to their smartphones so they don’t miss out.   Yet people are so disconnected and tired.


The retreat was led by a pastor named, Chuck Shumate.  He began the conversation that he wasn’t always like this.  But he knew God was calling him to slow down.  He said many valuable things, but one of them was, “out of our rest, comes strength and wisdom. Say no to that guilt of resting.”


His assistant, his adult daughter, mentioned a conversation she had with her nieces.  Her sister and family recently moved from Irvine to Fresno, California. She said her nieces, ages 10 and 12, told her how much they love living where there is no drama and how it is less stressful.  One of the nieces said something that broke my heart. She said, “in living here, I can be myself.” She understood that down here in South Orange County, you can’t be yourself, that you have to fit in or you are considered weird for just being you.


I already was on a path to slow down.  But now, I realize just because I live here, doesn’t mean I have to live and function according to the culture.  I am not looking to stand out and bring attention to myself. My goal is to not be in a hurry and appreciate all who and what God is in my life.  


In that retreat, Pastor Chuck mentioned having margins in our lives.  Margins of space. When he travels out-of-state, he gets to a speaking conference the night before, so he can rest.  If he is traveling locally, he allows a good cushion of time, so he isn’t in a hurry. One may think, but I don’t have time to have more time.  So, if you don’t get to everything in your day, will the world end? Guess what, unless you are performing life saving surgeries, it won’t end.


At one point in the retreat, he had all of the participants do nothing for 30 minutes.  Not to think or pray…nothing. After the exercise was over he asked for people to describe the exercise in one word.  You would have thought by people’s reactions that they endured torture. Some said, “Boring!”, “Painful!” and “Miserable!”  I said, “Refreshing!” I got some weird looks.


This culture promotes unnecessary competition.  It is a “dog-eat-dog-world” out there and people are suffering.  Suicides are many in this fast, competitive culture. Some of the recent teen suicides in the area, where the teens left suicide notes, mentioned they couldn’t handle the pace and competition.  We must do better for our children and ourselves.


Lesson Learned: I will allow margins and rest, so I can draw strength and learn wisdom.


Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, create in me a new heart.  May I honor the Sabbath. Show me areas that I need to change, so I can be less anxious.  Create a culture shift in this world to slow down and honor you, Father God. Forgive me for following the ways of the world.  Let me be content in what you provide. Thank you for supplying my needs. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

 

 

Patience is not for the Faint at Heart

“But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”  Romans 8:25

 

One of the most difficult virtues to obtain is patience.  This world thrives on speed. We try to rush through tasks and work, just to get to the next thing on our to-do list.  It is difficult to sit and wait on things. But God doesn’t operate that way.

 

Many years ago, our family was fortunate enough to have Disneyland Season Passes.  Our daughter was about four years old. In a four year old’s mind, things need to be done right away or tears begin to happen.  Disneyland truly was ground zero for impatience. Long lines for rides and food, waiting to meet Disney characters and even to park my car became teachable moments for both my daughter and I.

 

My daughter and I were in line to meet the Disney Princesses.  This particular line usually was 2 hours long wait and for a four year old (and 35 year old) that was a bit too much.  But this day, it was “only” 30 minutes. We were standing in line and my daughter was very excited. She pointed at the little girl in front of me.  This little girl was glued to her mother’s smartphone.  I told my daughter, “I don’t have games on this phone, so we need to wait patiently and we will see the princesses very soon.”  

 

I specifically made a conscious choice to not have games or play videos/movies on my phone.  My reasons were I wanted my daughter to learn to be bored once in awhile, plus the screen was not good to look at for long periods of time.  It seemed like a smartphone was becoming another pacifier for toddlers, children and even many adults.

 

The mom noticed my daughter looking at her daughter.  She smiled and said, “I don’t know what I would do without my phone.  It keeps my daughter occupied, so she isn’t out of control.” (**) I smiled and said, “I want my child to learn to have patience while standing in line, so I’m that mean mommy that doesn’t let her look at my phone.”  Her smile quickly faded and she turned herself back around.

 

I wasn’t trying to sound more righteous than her.  But I realized, there are times we must learn to wait for things that we can have no control over.  This ranges from such things as waiting for a ride at Disneyland to waiting for the right spouse or job to come along and  going to school for a degree. I want my daughter to understand, not everything can be done quickly and good things do come to those who wait.  We survived that line (without the phone) and she met Princesses Ariel, Belle and Tiana. Ariel told her she had pretty mermaid hair. My daughter seemed so happy.

 

God knows that we hate to wait.  God makes us learn patience. In my opinion, patience is the most quickly answered of prayers.  We all need patience and we pray for it. Then we go about our day and seem to be behind the slowest driver or we are behind that person in the line at the grocery store that pulls out a checkbook.  The Israelites lacked patience when Moses them led them out of the Egypt. 40 years? Oye Vey… God forced them to deal with their impatience but their promise was fulfilled. Let God do that work in us.

 

Lesson Learned: May we remember to allow God to do His work and remain patient with hope.  And we don’t need YouTube videos or Instagram to make the waiting go by any faster.

 

(**I completely understand that some special needs children may need these devices to help them, but that child in line with us was not in anyway a special needs child.)

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us for being impatient and blaming you Father for not answering us right away.  Sustain us during those times of waiting. Have us be calm and relax. Thank you that you are doing a mighty work in us when we are learning to be still.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”