How do you overcome fear?

“I think the pastor should speak about how to overcome fear.  Like if there’s a fire or something…right at that moment, how do you overcome fear?” Mowgli asked tonight before he went to bed.

My heart broke a little as he spoke.  I hate that he struggles with the same issues that I do.  I gently took the Bible from his hand, and flipped through it carefully.  “Sweetheart, do you know that your mom has a hard time with this, too?”  He shook his head no.  “Well, I do.”  I wrapped my arms around him, wondering how much longer I will be able to do so.  “Mom, what makes you afraid?”  I snuggled closer, breathing in the smell of his hair, “The possibility of losing you or your dad.”

I showed Mowgli the verses that mean so very much to me, verses that I cling to like a life preserver.  Really, for me, that is exactly what they are.  “See, God tells us what to do,” I reminded him before reading from Philippians.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  -Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

We talked it over:  In the middle of scary circumstances we are to pray and ask God to help us and then trust Him to do it.  “That reminds me of some verses in Romans.  They say that God will never leave us,” Mowgli said, turning pages briskly.  After he searched a bit he said, disappointed, “I can’t find them.”  I turned to Romans 8 and asked, “Are these the ones?”  His eyes lit up, “Yes!”

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  -Romans 8:35, 37-39 (NIV)

As I read the verses aloud, I could feel Mowgli relax next to me.  “Can I write these verses on an index card?” he asked.  “Sure.  First thing tomorrow morning.  But now it’s time to finish getting ready for bed.”  I tousled his hair, gave him one last hug, and sent him off to brush his teeth.

We always pray together as a family before Mowgli goes to sleep.  Tonight all three of us snuggled in Mowgli’s bed.  There were lots of giggles.  Our list of things to thank God for was even longer than usual.  Mowgli wrapped one arm around me and one arm around Hubs as we prayed.  How I wish I could bottle the closeness and sweetness and peace of that moment!  Once we’d finished I asked, “Do you mind if I take a quick picture?  I just want some way to remember this.”  I was off to get the camera before they could answer.  They didn’t seem to mind.  Guess they are used to my whims.

Praying hands

A quick click of the shutter caught the three of our hands intertwined–Mowgli’s hand encircled by mine and his dad’s.  There was more laughter, more hugging, more memory-making.  Eventually we said a final “Good Night”.


Now I sit here alone in the stillness with my jumbled thoughts, my two loves sleeping soundly in rooms nearby, and I ponder Mowgli’s question.  How do you overcome fear?

See, tonight, I am afraid.  Tomorrow I am taking our boy for his very first allergy shot.  The allergist will stick a needle into Mowgli’s arm and inject a mixture that they’ve concocted just for him, a special blend of all of the things in the environment that he’s allergic to.  And while I understand the concept behind it, it still frightens me to no end.  That’s because our kid is a special kind of allergic.  During his most recent round of testing, they evaluated his reaction to 61 different environmental allergens.  They found that he is significantly allergic to 50 of them.  He reacted so strongly to the skin prick and intradermal tests that the doctor gave him a dose of steroids there in the office, kept him for observation 45 minutes longer than their usual protocol, and sent us home with a second dose of steroids for me to give him later in the day.  Tomorrow after they administer the shot, they will keep him in the office for awhile for observation, since most reactions occur within an hour.  But the information they’ve provided us about the shot says that reactions (including anaphylaxis) “can occur up to 24 hours later”.  Y’all, I have seen my son’s lips swollen to several times their normal size.  I’ve heard him clear his throat repeatedly because it was starting to swell.  I’ve looked into his eyes and found them listless and dull.  I know what it is to almost lose my child to anaphylaxis.  It is horrific and traumatic and terrifying.  Granted, the one time he experienced anaphylaxis it was a reaction to a food he had eaten, not a reaction to an environmental allergen.  But tomorrow we are going to have Mowgli injected, on purpose, with a mixture of stuff we know he’s allergic to.  Are we crazy?!  What if we’ve made the wrong choice?  The weight of it all threatens to overwhelm me.  I need to be strong, or else Mowgli will be frightened, too.  Right now, I am anything but strong.

How do you overcome fear?

I know the answer by heart.  I whisper over and over to myself the same words I read to Mowgli only a few short hours ago.  Then I pray, pray, pray.  And the weight lifts.


 

Update:

Mowgli did GREAT; no adverse reaction of any kind to the shots (there were three).  Praise God!

We go back next week, and every week after that, for him to receive more shots.  So this is likely to be an ongoing struggle for me.  Still, I am so very glad to have this first week behind us.

New York Peace Memorial at Point Park

I’ve neglected the blog over the past few weeks.

By way of explanation:  We took a 9-day vacation to Chattanooga, Tennessee, at Christmas.

I’d intended to write at least a couple of posts for the weekly photo challenges.  After all, as I was packing, the week’s theme was “Gathering”.  In theory, it would have been easy to take a quick pic of all of our stuff heaped in piles on the living room floor and upload it.  In reality, I was just too exhausted from all of the trip prep to do so.

Once we arrived home, I did snap a quick picture of the mountains of laundry waiting for my attention as I unpacked.  I’d planned to post it for that week’s challenge (“Now”).  But I got busy actually doing the laundry.  A day later my brother- and sister-in-law arrived from halfway around the world, family time took precedence, and the pic I’d taken was no longer a true representation of my present.

We’ve been back for more than a week.  I had really hoped to write about our vacation before now.  But Mowgli got a cold on Christmas Eve and shared it with me and Hubs, and we’ve all been a bit under the weather.  Hubs had to go back to work this week, and Mowgli and I have been struggling to get back into a good homeschool routine.  I’ve thought a lot about what I’d like to write, I just haven’t taken the time to do it.

I have finally looked through all of the photos I took on our trip–I guess it’s a small step in the right direction.  And in looking through them, I found a couple that I think fit this week’s challenge, Circle.

So, while it isn’t the post I’d intended/planned/hoped to write, this is the best I can do for this week’s challenge.  At least, if I want to get it in before the next one is announced.

I hope you enjoy these pictures of the New York Peace Memorial at Point Park on Lookout Mountain in Tennessee.

 

New York Peace Memorial (1)New York Peace Memorial (2)

 

All photos are my own.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission of this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.  Excerpts and links may be used, with permission, provided that full and clear credit is given to HeFeedsTheBirds.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Water + Sunlight =

God’s promise.  The rainbow.

These were taken back in August from our moving car with Hubs’ phone.  Having only used his phone to take pictures once before, I (obviously) had no clue how to focus.  To get a better view of the magnificent double rainbow, I rolled down the car window; and I’m ashamed to say that I held the phone precariously out of it, snapping happily away.  Had we met a pothole at that moment…well…THAT would definitely have been an OOPS.

 

All photos are my own.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission of this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.  Excerpts and links may be used, with permission, provided that full and clear credit is given to HeFeedsTheBirds.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I Spied an Eye

It was a gray day in February.  I think it was a Sunday afternoon.  Hubs, Mowgli, and I had decided it would be fun to get some fresh air out on one of the local trails.  I hadn’t rollerbladed in awhile, but it didn’t take me long to get into a good rhythm.

I was gliding along completely lost in my own thoughts, when suddenly I was jerked out of my inner world by the realization that I had just gone over something spray-painted on the asphalt.  Because of my direction of travel it had been upside down when I’d rolled over it; and by now I’d gone several yards past it.  Curious, I looped back for a better look.

Open Your Eyes

“OPEN YOUR EYES”.

Not the best artistry, but good advice, I thought.  The sky was gray, but the weather was pleasant.  Cool, not really cold, with a refreshing breeze.  The trail was one of our favorites.  Not too far from our home, well-traveled (read: safe), but somewhat scenic with wooded areas on both sides, friendly wildlife (song birds, squirrels, and rabbits), and even a bridge crossing a creek.  I remembered the yoga classes I’d taken.  The instructors always encouraged us to “be mindful” and “present”.  To pay attention to what we were experiencing during that exact moment in class.  That’s what I need to be doing now, I thought.  I need to really notice what’s around me and enjoy the here and now rather than get caught up in my own head.  So I took a quick pic (of course!) and then set off again, thankful for the chance to spend this time outdoors as a family and determined to take it all in.

Sometimes wisdom comes from unexpected places, I pondered.

After fifty, maybe a hundred yards, I went over this.

Eye

AN EYE.

Not just any eye, but a creepy, almost sinister-looking eye.  It began to dawn on me that maybe the graffiti artist hadn’t intended the meaning that I’d attributed to his words.  A second pic and I got back to rollerblading.

Another couple hundred yards down the trail I found this.

Big Brother

“BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING”.

The larger picture had finally become clear.  The graffiti had most likely been made by some bored kid.  (I mean, conspiracy theorists don’t really go around spray-painting bike trails, do they?)  Had I been traveling in the opposite direction on the trail, I would have understood the artist’s message right away.  Instead, God used it to get my attention, draw me out of myself, and refocus my thoughts on Him and the beauty of His creation.

Posted in response to The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Eye Spy.

All photos are my own.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission of this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.  Excerpts and links may be used, with permission, provided that full and clear credit is given to HeFeedsTheBirds.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My First Weekly Photo Challenge Post (and I didn’t even take the photo)

 

As someone who LOVES to take pictures, I have been dying to try my hand at the The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge.  Each week I check out the challenge page and then look for appropriate photo ops as I go about my daily activities.  But nothing seemed to click (pun intended), until this week.  Then it happened.  This picture right here.

Penguin

It was taken at Sea World Orlando.  And for me, it is the embodiment of this week’s theme, Transition.  Here’s why:

  1. We went from a comfortable 65+ degree environment outdoors to a cold 32 degree environment indoors with the penguins.  Though I should have realized it was coming, I found it a surprising transition.
  2. The penguins were so much fun to watch as they zipped in and out of the water!  One little guy climbed to the top of a ledge and dipped his head down in preparation to dive in.  At the last possible moment he seemed to change his mind, and waddled backwards.  It looked for a second as if he might slip in anyway.  And I wondered, was he afraid of the transition?
  3. Our Mowgli took this picture with our old point-and-shoot camera that’s older than he is.  Lately he’s been exercising more independence, which is as it should be as he grows and matures.  As his mom, I feel a tension.  Sometimes I long for the boy he was, but I’m so proud of the boy he is now, and I’m excited for the boy (and man) he’ll become.  I think it will always be a difficult transition for me.

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission of this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.  Excerpts and links may be used, with permission, provided that full and clear credit is given to HeFeedsTheBirds.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Solid Rock

The news from Paris hit like a ton of bricks. A painful reminder of the evil that exists and the fact that this world is not our home. In the days since, my Facebook newsfeed has been flooded with posts that argue for or against gun control, for or against allowing Syrian refugees into our country, for or against various military strategies and foreign policies. These are important issues. We need to discuss them. I don’t deny that. But (and please hear the gentleness with which I ask this of myself as well as you), where is our trust?

May we be able to say whole-heartedly with the Psalmist, King David, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7, NIV).


 

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

~ “The Solid Rock”, Edward Mote

 

The Teal Pumpkin Project

I am not artsy.  Or crafty.  But when I came across information about FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project, I knew it was something I had to do.

We’ll be handing out glow bracelets and stickers.  And some little Scripture cards I made.  Because we’re all about spreading the Light.

Want to know more?  Please visit FARE’s website, which includes a list of ideas for non-food treats (see the menu bar to the left).

Please note:  The TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT and the Teal Pumpkin Image are trademarks of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).

Postscript

So, something’s been bothering me about my original post.

In it, I said that Martha missed the point when she was with Jesus. And I stand by it. According to Luke’s account in chapter 10, she focused on her worries rather than on Jesus. But…

That was not the end of her story!

John 11 gives us a glimpse into Martha’s life a little further down the road. Her brother Lazarus had died. Though she had asked Jesus to come while Lazarus was sick, Jesus had delayed. But what did she do once He came? She went to meet Him, boldly declaring, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give You whatever You ask.” (John 11:21-22, NIV) And in the conversation that followed, she went on to confess her belief that He was “the Christ, the Son of God”. Martha might have missed who Jesus was once, but God gave her another chance, and she didn’t miss Him then!

Martha’s story gives me hope on the days I fail and get caught up in the cares of this world rather than my Savior. Praise God! He understands my weaknesses and gives me mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:14-16). And another chance.

He Still Feeds the Birds

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  ~Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)

Much of my time, energy, and thoughts are dedicated to our meals. Meal planning, couponing, grocery shopping, meal prep, cooking, dishes; it’s a never-ending cycle. One that revolves around our son’s severe food allergies and my responsibility to keep him safe and healthy. In my mind there is a soundtrack of questions that is on repeat:

  • What are we going to eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner today?
  • Have we been having enough variety?
  • Is Mowgli getting the protein/fat/carbohydrates/vitamins/minerals he needs?
  • Have we been meeting our recommended daily intake of fruit and veggies?
  • Will I have enough time today to make that dish I had planned?
  • If not, do I have enough leftovers for all of us?
  • Is this new food I plan to serve something that may cause Mowgli a cross-reaction with one of his known allergies?

And on, and on, and on. Then through these questions comes a still, small voice gently admonishing me and asking it’s own question. “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’…Is not life more important than food?”

Oh, how my flesh wants to argue back! “Yes, Lord, of course it is. But I have to feed this kid something! If I don’t think about what we will eat, we won’t have anything to eat!” Boom! There are the lies. First off, God never said not to think about our meals. He said not to worry about them, not to obsess over them. That soundtrack in my head? It shouldn’t constantly be on repeat. Second, I am not the one ultimately responsible for providing our meals.

My struggle in this area reminds me of the story of Martha in Luke 10:38-42. For a long time I didn’t understand it. To be frank, I have always sympathized with Martha. I mean, there she was with all of those guests in her home. It was her responsibility to make them feel welcome and comfortable. I imagine she would have loved to sit and listen at Jesus’ feet like Mary. But if she did, there wouldn’t be anything for them all to eat! Aaannnddd…there’s the lie again.

Martha was not the one ultimately responsible for the well-being of her guests. JESUS was there. JESUS! The One who fed a group of five thousand people with one boy’s lunch of five loaves of bread and two fish (and had twelve baskets full of leftovers). HE was there in her home. And when she complained to Him about having to serve the guests by herself, He quickly got to the heart of the matter. He gently pointed out that she was worrying about all of the preparations even though she had Him there. Do you see it? She didn’t just miss an opportunity to spend time with Jesus and learn about Him. (Though that was significant in and of itself.) She missed Him! She didn’t recognize who He was. There was no need for her to worry because He, the Son of God, could easily have provided her guests’ physical needs.

Martha’s story teaches me that I have a choice. When the responsibilities that God has given me threaten to overwhelm me, I can choose to worry. I can attempt to do it all on my own. I can forget about His provision and listen to the lies. OR… I can choose to obey Jesus’ command in Mathew 6. I can listen to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. I can choose to take my responsibilities to the One who is really in control, the One who provides my every need. After all, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is the same God who fed the multitudes. And He still feeds the birds!