My Fab Fam

My Fab Fam
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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Breathing Through the Fear & Ephesians 1

This post is long, but I want to remember as much as possible about everything God has been teaching me these last few days.  It starts off rocky, but it has a glorious ending.  Isn't that the way of life?

I will spare you the terrifying details, but let it suffice to say I had the worst dream I've truly ever had in my life Saturday night.  I woke myself up screaming, sat up to reassure myself of the calm reality around me, then became paralyzed with fear of the possibilities.  I immediately wanted to pull the girls into the bedroom with us, but hesitated, partially because I didn't want to let fear drive my actions but also because fear was keeping me glued to the bed.  I woke up my man for a reassuring hug, and eventually did drag two sleepy girls out of their warm bed and deposited them on pallets beside our bed, after I regained the capacity to move.  However, moving didn't shake the fear.  I lay in bed for probably two hours vacillating between horrible thoughts that fed my fears and prayers and Scripture recitation to calm them.

The dream played in the back of my mind several times throughout Sunday morning and afternoon.  When I admitted to my man that afternoon that the dream still had a hold on me, he asked me what it was.  I didn't even want to tell him about it, but when I did it brought me to tears.  It obviously unnerved him as well.  He wondered what made me dream such a thing.  I didn't know exactly, but I knew one thing:  I needed to ask God to be the Lord of my subconscious, to be in charge of my thoughts at night and guard my dreams.  And I had already started praying for that!

That night we had different activities at church; the girls had AWANA from 5-6:30 and my man was leading a youth boys' small group from 6-7:30.  He dropped the girls off, and came home until it was time for him to leave.  When he walked out the door a little before 6, leaving me alone, fear walked in.  I immediately started trying to remember Psalm 27, "The Lord is the stronghold of my life, who should I fear?  The Lord is my salvation, of whom should I be afraid?  When evil men plot against me..."  I realized I didn't have this quite right and pulled out the Bible.  I wept as I read aloud...

Psalm 27

Of David.

The Lord is my light and my salvation
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked advance against me
    to devour[a] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
    who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
    my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident.
One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted
    above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
    I will sing and make music to the Lord.
Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!
    Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
    do not turn your servant away in anger;
    you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
    God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
    lead me in a straight path
    because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
    for false witnesses rise up against me,
    spouting malicious accusations.
13 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

I continued reading the Psalms and found this:  "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it" (Psalm 24:1).  And, strangely this brought the most comfort because I realized that my girls were His first before they were mine, and that they are still His even while they are mine.  He will care for them when I can not.  This gave me enough peace to stop the watershed so I could drive to church to pick up the girls.

As I was driving I was wondering why this dream had such a hold on me.  I came to a sober realization--that I am holding too tightly to my girls; my role as their protector has become an obsession.  My fear of them getting hurt had become bigger than my trust in God.  I knew God was telling me I needed to lay this down.  I had to remember, as Psalm 24 said, that all who live are His, and "all" included my two girls.  That everything is from Him, by Him, and for Him.  That we are here to bring Him glory in life, and death, and everything in between.  I realized that I needed to be less concerned about their physical well-being and more concerned about their spiritual health.

But, by the time I got to church, I was a mess again.  I pulled myself together in the car, again, before going in, determined to ask the first friend I saw to pray with me.  God chose my dear friend Jaime.  I briefly explained my fear and she prayed, sympathized, and comforted.  She recommended Max Lucado's book, Fearless, which I immediately set off to look for in our church library, but couldn't find.  After getting the girls from their classes,chatting with our Children's Minister for a few minutes, and asking her to pray (without sharing details), we three girls set off for the house.

Walking in the house alone was what I dreaded most, but at Jaime's suggestion, we sang praises all the way home, and amazingly walked in singing and smiling.  As I marveled at my lack of fear, this thought came to me:  we are more than overcomers through Jesus Christ!

I fixed a quick supper and we three girls sat down to eat.  (My man was eating with the youth.)  Baby girl wanted to pray, and without knowing a thing about my dream or my fear, she prayed this:  "Thank you, God, for all the fun times we have at home.  And keep Daddy safe until he gets home.  And...You just need to keep us safe when we are home without Daddy."  The tears started flowing again!  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I did both as I marveled at and immediately wrote down her prayer which was perfectly suited to my fears and surprisingly bold:  "You just need to..."

And I think God smiled at her faith.

Yesterday, my sweet friend, Jaime, brought me Fearless.  I loved the quote on the back:  "Each sunrise seems to bring fresh reasons for fear."  Isn't that true!  She had marked two specific chapters for me, "Fear of Not Protecting My Kids, " and "Fear of Violence."  I had already read some of this book, including the chapter about protecting our kids.  But I had not read, or did not remember, the one on the fear of violence. If I had read it, perhaps it just didn't seem pertinent at the time.  The verse Max chose for that particular chapter has been resonating with me for twenty-four hours:  "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul" (Matthew 10:28).

God's been peeling back the layers of this verse since I read it just about this time yesterday.  The surface meaning is obvious, but He's been showing me that there are so very many things that can kill the soul.  Some of you may recall from last summer my fear of the black widow spiders we find all around our yard.  I'm also terrified of wasps.  (I think it's because I've never been stung and the fear of the unknown is usually worse for me than the fear of something I've already encountered.)  Even the fear of all the poison ivy we have growing along our tree line has kept me from playing in the creek with my girls.  These fears have kept me and the girls from enjoying a lot of things.  Fears that kept us from really living.

I believe the verse refers to other intangible things as well that can "kill the soul."  Insecurity, jealousy, anger, resentment.  These do not give us the abundant life God intends for us to have.  These are the things I need to be guarding against.  These are the real concerns in life.  People may harm us, insects may sting, poison ivy may cause an allergic reaction, illness may eat at our bodies, but those aren't the real dangers.  The real dangers are the ones that inflict pain on our souls.

The good news?  Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world.  And He gives us "incomparably great power" to overcome, as I am reminded in Ephesians 1.  Even as soon as His Words come to us, they empower us.  The truths He's given me these last couple of days have set me free.  The girls and I played outside for five hours yesterday.  They tipped over their bikes and hit the concrete; they played in dirty water and sand riddled with cat poo and spiders; they picked up trash and lay down in the grass; I dug in the black-widow territory and transplanted flowers into poison ivy land (and, yes, I have poison ivy today) but we had fun!  And we worked hard.  We came in hungry, and dirty, and exhausted.  And with some wounds.  But we came in full and happy and our souls were satisfied.

As the girls played with and around some potential dangers, I recalled, "The earth is the Lord's and everything in it; the world and all who live in it...Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul."

We enjoyed His earth, abandoning fear, and trusting Him to protect our souls, because joy comes in the living!

When fear threatens, His Word beckons.  As Ann Voskamp says, storing His Word in our hearts is like carrying around our own oxygen tanks.  When fear presses down, making it hard to live, hard to breath, we recall His Words, breath easy, and keep moving forward.

He is the air we breathe.  YHWH...YHWH...YHWH...


“The letters of the name of God in Hebrew… are infrequently pronounced Yahweh. But in truth they are inutterable….

This word {YHWH} is the sound of breathing.

The holiest name in the world, the Name of Creator, is the sound of your own breathing. That these letters are unpronounceable is no accident. Just as it is no accident that they are also the root letters of the Hebrew verb ‘to be’… God’s name is name of Being itself.”

~Rabbi Lawrence Kushner


I read something recently that I put into practice this morning, another way to wield the "sword of the Spirit, the Word of God" (Ephesians 6).  I blessed my big girl as she headed off to pre-K.  We all probably recall the blessings of the Old Testament fathers on their children.  I have even written out blessings for my girls.  But it never occurred to me to speak blessings over them when we parted ways, even for a few hours, until I read about a Father doing so.  And, not long after reading that account, I stumbled upon the blessing that we sing as a benediction at our church nearly every Sunday.

“‘“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”’
Numbers 6:24-26

I'm pretty sure I didn't say it just right this morning, but I remembered the gist.  And, as I was saying it, I realized how perfect it is for a send-off.

The Lord bless you - may He give you joy and happiness and every good thing today
and keep you - may He protect you
the Lord make His face shine on you - may He enlighten you and comfort as the sun gives us warmth
and be gracious to you - may He give you everything you need
the Lord turn his face toward you - as Matthew Henry says, "This is to the same purport with the former, and it seems to allude to the smiles of a father upon his child, or of a man upon his friend whom he takes pleasure in. If God give us the assurances of his special favour and his acceptance of us, this will put gladness into the heart."
and give you peace - may He give you courage for the challenges of today and rid you of all fear as He shows Himself mighty.


Here I am, stumbling my way through chapter 1--in its entirety. I had to have one help (you'll see me look down). Still, this is confirmation to me that we CAN do all things through Christ's "incomparably great power for us who believe." I teared up watching it because I really can not believe I have one chapter of Holy Script under my "belt of Truth." I am in awe of Him today. If I can do this, surely anyone can!

(hmmm...i wrote this post around lunch time and it still hasn't downloaded the video.  beginning to think i'm not going to get the video up.  will keep trying.  but for now, i'm going ahead and posting.  will continue trying with the video...)

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