Putting the brakes on fear.


Spring break went by in the blink of an eye. This year my family had a one week stay-cation. The days were jammed packed with a visit from Nana and Pap, DIY projects, baseball practices, jumping on the trampoline, bike rides and some brown cows (FYI – it’s ROOT beer and vanilla ice cream). “Yummy!”

Bike riding with my family is always a challenging task because my son is afraid to ride a bike. I remember the day I first decided to take off the training wheels for my twins. I gave my daughter a push and she just kept going. She is the ultimate daredevil. 

 My son, on the other hand, pedaled and screamed hysterically as I let him go the first time. Don’t worry…  I only let go for a second!
We have been practicing since he was four, although he still looks like a baby deer taking its first steps. I try to be patient with him, but there are times my frustration builds because he does not seem to try. Argh!!!  

“Seriously put your butt on the seat and pedal the bike. It shouldn’t be that hard, right?” 

Okay. I could feel it in the air. I knew this week was going to be the week. I could see it happening – he was going to hop on the bike and zoom off down the street. I just knew it.

 As I held the back of him so he would feel safe he was yelling “Please get me off, Just get me off, I am going to die.” “You are trying to kill me.” “Not!” I took Ben off the bike and we sat in the grass and I showed him how flat the road was and how far away the trees were. But to no avail.  

He tried once more but was done, my expectations were shattered.

As I worked with Ben this week I kept thinking about his FEAR. I realized how FEAR can either prevent us from doing things or can challenge us to do better.  

We all are afraid of something. Were my other kids FEARS holding them back from things as well?

On our morning drive to school, I decided to ask my kids what their fears were. Not surprised at all, Ben was afraid of bikes. Natalee was afraid of heights and Sophia had a fear of taking tests at school. (I hate timed tests too, YUCK!)  

But, what was my biggest FEAR? (Hairy Spiders, Heights, Being a Good Mom)

Even better… one of my biggest fears is rejection.  

As a little girl I loved to talk and speak in front of people. As I became as college student I grew to hate it. Each public engagement or job interview I attended felt like riding a bike for the first time. My palms would sweat, my words felt like they were jibberish. The moments blinked before my eyes and I felt like a Mac truck ran me over me by the end. I always assumed the worst.

If there was a show for worst first dates I would have been on it. I always spent time worrying about how I looked. I didn’t ever truly meet the person and take the time to find out about them. I was to busy wondering, “What were they thinking?” Most of the time I rejected them first because I knew the time would come… EVENTUALLY!

I just wanted to fit the mold. If I bought the newest trends then I would be like the girl next door. But, I really just wanted to be me. (College Course : Finding You 101- should be mandatory)  

I have already begun to tackle my fears as I have found some self-confidence. But there are still things I hold back from doing. So now I have to ask myself two questions,

“What do I really want?”

“What is the worst thing that can happen?”

I just took the chance of putting my life on paper for everyone to judge. As I have written personal stories and shared photos, some people have questioned why? Others have enjoyed the posts, even though I have had many flops. By completing this a huge weight was lifted. 

 Some of the rejections in my life have been disapointing.  Let’s face it God never gave me the body of an Olympic Gold medalist! 

With each rejection it has only made me try again. Every single time I was rejected from a job, a piece of writing, or a relationship, I believe it was God’s way of telling me that path was not the right path for me. It forced me to reevaluate myself and learn from the experience.

Nowadays, I am not as concerned with what other people think. I don’t worry about having my makeup on every time I step out the door or the cutest shirt from the local boutique.  

The fear of rejection shows itself today when I say YES to everything to try to make people happy even though it can be at times stressful. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to bring cookies to school. I just don’t bake them – I BUY THEM. And I still might buy those cute shoes someone else is wearing.  But it’s now because I like them.  

Ben and I are now in training together. We all have fears we have to face, it is how we react to a failure that determines whether we are a winner or a loser. If we listen to the FEAR it will completely control us, but if we choose to face the FEAR we keep going forward.  

 

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

 

A Letter From Heaven

The 45th presidential election is finally over. One side has claimed a long awaited victory. The other side has suffered the agony of defeat. This race was for many a long and hard battle fought with struggles along the way. In my eyes both candidates persevered by displaying their dignity and ability to try to unify our nation. During the next few months there will still be many challenges our country will face. There will be ongoing times of grief, anger, healing and joy as new challenges arise. We all face challenges throughout our everyday lives. For most of us, no matter what the challenges are, you will become a stronger person if you allow it.
One of the biggest challenges I faced occurred in college. College was a transitional time as I entered a new and uncertain world. It was a time to foster new friendships and learn to see the world through a different lense. It was a time of self- discovery and trying to find where I belonged in this world. God was not my top priority. My daily prayers consisted of:

“God, can you please get someone to quit taking my parking spot.”

“Lord, I know I did not study for this test, but if you let me pass, I promise I will study forever.”

“Jesus, can you please send me just one date? Maybe someone that has a job or doesn’t believe The Great Gatsby is in Arizona.”

As I headed into my senior year, I was eager to begin student teaching. My college professor observed as I taught daily lessons. Life was good! Three of my roommates were also teachers, so you could imagine an apartment filled with puppets, toilet paper animals, construction paper, tape, and lots of elmers glue. Each one of us secretly owned one of the horrible teacher sweaters with a giant moose plastered on the front that our parents gave us for Christmas. I was proud of the work I was doing and happy with my new title “Miss”.

With all of the hard word and late nights studying, cutting, correcting, and lesson planning came the excitement and anticipation of being in the classroom. With the first weeks of teaching first graders, I realized a few things key things…

1. A big part of your day is Getting Drinks and Going Potty!

2. First graders need Shoes Tied all the time!

3. They love to ask Why and Did You Know repeatedly throughout the day.

As we all know kids are very curious, and they wanted to know all about me as well. Most importantly, they wanted to know, “How did you get all of your scars?” It became the question of the day. I was thrown off guard so my first my response was I would tell them later. Maybe, I thought they would forget or maybe I didn’t know what to say. Now that I have kids of my own, I realize kids don’t forget, they need an answer. If they don’t get the answer they will keep asking. And that is exactly what kept happening.

I am not sure why I did not know how to answer the questions about why I looked different. I was teaching in someone else’s classroom and my mind was blank. Was I even allowed to tell the children personal things or would a parent be upset? These were questions for my advisor.

That afternoon I went into her office and posed this question to her. “The children are curious about my burns and I want to know what you think is the best way to handle it? Should I just sit them down and tell them what happened one time or am I allowed to answer questions only when they have them.”  

She responded, “If you don’t know the answer to this question you should not be in this field, you should QUIT!”

I was absolutely shocked. I was not going to quit. Although, she was powerful and intelligent. Maybe she was right. She was strong enough to plant the seeds of doubt in my heart. My insecurity was beginning to take over in my thoughts. I now had doubted everything I worked so hard for. I would quit – I did not want to do something I was not good at. I had one semester left and I told the division that I would not be finishing my degree. I was no longer on the right path but had taken a U-turn.

I did not want to pray about it. God had failed me before (or so I thought), why would I pray now?

I was perfectly content to be unhappy and sulk about it. I could get used the idea of just being in my room watching lifetime movies with my endless supply of Ramen noodles! But… The truth was I was miserable. I let someone choose my future for me.

I few days later, dressed in my best pajamas, I went to my mailbox and I found a handwritten letter. I did not recognize the name or address, but it was postmarked from a city I recognized about one hour away. I opened the four page letter from a women named Sara. She told me she had been praying for me in her church group. The letter stated that one of my professors goes to her church and mentioned my situation. At first, I was mortified. “I am such a loser”, with a capital L. People need to pray for me, I must be seriously screwed up. But, I read the letter again and again and again. Sarah was a mom, a teacher, and sent me a message I could actually relate to.

She told me never to give in to the pessimists in our lives. They see the difficulty in every opportunity in life. She told me to listen to the words of Langston Hughs.

Hold Fast to Dreams
For if Dreams Die
Life is a Broken- Winged Bird
That Cannot Fly.
Hold Fast to Dreams
For When Dreams Go
Life is a Barren Field Frozen With Snow. -Langston Hughs

Sarah told me that God has my back. She told me that God had a plan for me and it is not in my past it lies in the future.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your path. Proverbs 3: 5-6

 I cannot tell you that God saved me that day. I cannot even tell you that I prayed. But on that day, someone was praying for me. After break, I chose to go back into my classroom and I told the students my story. I believe Sara’s letter was the boost I needed to step out of my comfort zone and be confident in myself. The kids were excited to hear and learned a lesson at the same time. As for my professor, she had the opportunity to see awesome possibilities but became Dr. Glass Half Empty. She challenged me but I became stronger because of her. The greatest part was the smile I could give her at graduation.

Sara’s letter eventually became my saving grace. It took a long time but I eventually realized God works through each one of us. The letter is still next to my bed. Every time I face a new challenge in life I read the letter she wrote me on that day. Her one act of kindness and compassion gave me the strength I needed at a difficult juncture in my life.

Right now we are all facing a tough time in our country. These challenges can help us grow together in unity or fall apart. If we choose to spread God’s love by the things that we do for one another we will be stronger. We all need encouraging words from time to time and most of us need a prayer. So even if you are not ready to pray for yourself take the time out today to pray for someone else.

“For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13