Phobophobia

Everyone has they’re own inner battles. Some are more obvious than others, but when it gets down to it, everyone has something they really struggle with. One of my personal struggles is fear. Fear seems to have more power over us than just about any other emotion. When we’re afraid of something can’t think rationally and behave in ways we wouldn’t normally. Like insisting on sleeping with the light on or checking under our beds for monsters. Or almost ripping our shirt off in the middle of the living room, because we think there may be a tiny spider on it. (I did not do that!) Or running away from your Dad, screaming, because he told you he felt like he was going to vomit. (I have done that.)

That brings me to my fear. THE STOMACH FLU. Notice how that is in all caps, that’s kind of how I imagine those three words together, mixed with a high pitched squeak. Now, when I say I am afraid of the stomach flu, I mean I am really, really terrified. Or at least I used to be. Now I am very scared of the stomach flu, but not like I was. I used to be soooooooo frightened of the stomach flu that it was a physical reaction. My body would tremble, I would feel weak, and my heart would race. At times it was so bad, I could barely function. And this wasn’t just my reaction when my family started vomiting, this was my reaction when anyone I knew got sick with the awful virus.

Then one night, several years ago, my entire family got the stomach flu. Every single one, but me.

It was at that point, as I lay in bed crying, my heart pounding, that I realized I feared the fear as much as I feared the stomach flu. I also knew that I couldn’t live with this fear for the rest of my life. It was too controlling, it stopped me from doing things that I would normally have done, simply because I was afraid I might get the dreaded illness. That night I begged God to help me overcome my debilitating phobia. That night I opened my Bible and found Psalm 91. I know it’s a common passage, but I want to share it with you anyway.

 

Psalm 91

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say[a] to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge[b]
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

I know what you’re thinking, this is going to be one of those incredible stories, where my fear completely disappeared in one night. But it’s not. I still fight with my anxiety. Each time my fear sneaks back in, I have to choose to trust God. In fact, it wasn’t until recently that I notice the wording in verses 9-10.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge[b]
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

At the beginning of these two verses it says the word because. Because you have trusted God to protect you, because you have chosen him as your refuge he will be your shield. Wait a second. That means I have to be willing to give my dread to God? That’s really hard. Why? Because I want to feel like I am in control. But reality is, I’m not. And I never will be. It doesn’t matter how much hand sanitizer I put on, it’s up to God whether or not I get sick. Besides, the Good Lord made the germs for a reason, and he’s more capable than I am of getting rid of them. I might always be somewhat scared of the stomach flu, but God has given me wonderful resources to help my win my war with worry. There are four things that have really helped me.

1. God’s word

Every time I’m afraid, God gives me new verse to focus on. One of my favorites is Isaiah 41:13:

For I, the Lord your God,
    hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
    I am the one who helps you.”

I love that verse! Who doesn’t want God to hold their hand? You’ve got to admit that’s pretty cool and comforting!

2. Prayer (You would probably laugh if you could hear some of the imploring I’ve done with God over the years. Sometimes it sounds kind of like this: “Please, please, pleeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaase don’t let us catch the flu!!!!!!”)

As for prayer, I’m not generally feeling very creative when I’m scared, so it kind of comes out something like this: “Help!” or “Dear God, Please don’t let me get the stomach flu!” That’s generally the gist of my prayers. But you know what? They work! I have only had the stomach flu a couple of times ever! I can’t actually remember what it feels like to throw up. (Perhaps that’s part of the problem.) God really does hear our prayers when we ask him for something, even when his answer is NO.

3. Lavender Oil (I know you were expecting something profound, but lavender oil is especially helpful for anxiety.)

Now, let’s touch on the lavender oil thing for a minute. I don’t want to sound like I’m selling something, because I’m not, but this stuff truly is wonderful! The DoTerra brand smells heavenly and is great for anxiety. It helps relax your body and makes you a little bit tired. Plus, it’s completely natural! (I’m homeschooled, so obviously that is very important.) All you have to do is put a little bit under your nose and inhale.

4. Music

Alright, on to the music. One day, my Dad felt like he might be getting sick with the you-know-what. My parents had just had it not three weeks earlier, and I was thinking, No, no, no!!! Not again! I just did this, God! Is this some kind of cruel game? I turned on the CD I had in my CD player, and a song came on (imagine that.), it was “Hold Me Jesus”  by Rich Mullins.

Hold Me Jesus

Well, sometimes my life
Just don’t make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small

CHORUS:
So hold me Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It’s so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

CHORUS

Surrender don’t come natural to me
I’d rather fight You for something
I don’t really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls
Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band
Is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

CHORUS

You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace?

It occurred to me in that moment, that I needed to stop fighting God, and let him be my Prince of Peace. I needed to let him take control of my life, and stop worrying about the future.

Honestly, I hate writing these sort of blog post. In some ways they seem too personal and open. I’m sharing a bit of myself with you, and am making my self somewhat vulnerable. That’s not easy. I guess it’s probably a pride thing. But either way I decided to share this with you today. I hope it didn’t make you feel like I was just sharing my problems with the world. I wanted to write this, because I wanted to make the point that in our many fears, we should trust God, but not to be discouraged when our problems don’t immediately disappear. Even if you’re like me and you have a bit of phobophobia (fear of fear), he’ll help you overcome that fear as well. You can’t let your fears control and keep you from doing all the amazing things God has for your life. In the words of John Wayne: “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”

~Ally

Just to Say, “I Love You”

Hello everyone! Today I would like to share the song “My Tree” by Chris Rice with you in celebration of Good Friday. The song is  about Jesus’s love for us and how he should us that love when he died for our sins. It compares his dying on a cross to a little boy carving a heart on a tree to sh0w how much he loves a little girl. The little boy’s heart was a public declaration of his love for the girl, just like Jesus’s death was a public declaration of his love for us. He suffered through being brutally whipped and tortured, simply to say, “I love you.”

 

My Tree by Chris Rice

On a hill far away stands a tall, mighty tree
Where a boy and girl used to take turns pushing the tire swing
I remember the pocketknife in hand
And her name in my heart
And thinkin’ there ain’t no way for a boy to contain
The love that he feels inside
So I carved her name into my tree
Then I carved a heart around her name
Then I carved an arrow through the heart
Just to say “I love you”

Now on a hill far away stood an old rugged cross
The emblem of suffering and shame
I remember the nails through my hands
And your name in my heart
And how in their wordless way the nails explain
The love that I feel inside
As they carved your name into my tree
Where I wrapped my heart around your name
Then I took your arrow through my heart
Just to say “I love you”
Just to say “I love you”

Now I can never forget how much you mean to me
‘Cause I will always remember whenever I see

Where I carved your name into my tree
Where I wrapped my heart around your name
Then I took your arrow through my heart
Just to say “I love you”
Just to say “I love you”

 

For those of you who are viewing this on the blog, and not your email, I have also included the YouTube video.

 

~Ally

 

Jesus Ate a Sandwich

Hello everyone! Today’s post is on seasons in a persons life, and how each moment has a purpose. I’ll be honest with you and tell you that I feel my life is very boring right now.  But it was either write this post or have a pity party. I decided to write this post. The scripture verse I would like to share with you is Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

“There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
      a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.”

In case you haven’t caught it, there is a time for everything in life. Even a time to be bored. I know there are far worst things in the world than having nothing to do, and I’m trying to keep that in mind, but that is not what this post is about. This post is about keeping a positive attitude and remembering to do everything as if you were serving God, even when you’re discouraged, worn out, and lonely. Because as much as I hate to admit it, there is even a stage for cabin fever.  Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 says,

“What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.

Even in the monotonousness of everyday life God has purpose for it, and he plans to make your life beautiful in his time. I don’t know why we go through times when we feel glum and dispirited, but I do know that there is a reason. Perhaps it is the calm before the storm, and six months from now I’ll look back and think of this period in my life as the good ol’ days. Maybe it is simply to teach me to work hard without complaining.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” ~Romans 8:28.

If you think about it, a lot of biblical characters went through times in their life that would be considered uninteresting. David was a shepherd for years. I’m sure that was a really exciting job! He was alone most of the time, and even though he occasionally had to deal with a wild animal, I’m sure on the whole it was extremely dull. But God used that time in his life to prepare him for later, when he would flee from Saul and when he would become king.

Then their was Esther, who was an just a normal girl. She probably lived an ordinary life, and had chores she needed to do before she became queen. Yet no one can say that her life was boring.

Finally, there’s Jesus. Have you ever thought about the fact that not a single one of the gospels mentions Jesus’s life between the ages of twelve and thirty? Perhaps it was because nothing extraordinary happened during those years. I can just imagine what an interesting chapter of the Bible those “lost years” of Jesus would make. “Then Jesus took a break from wood carving and ate a sandwich. It was peanut butter and grape jelly. Yep.” We’re not told about the years in between Jesus’s childhood and ministry because he lived an ordinary life. He spent most of that time as a carpenter.

Does that mean those years were wasted? Of course not! Those years had a purpose, just like every other season of life.  Am I saying that God uses boring times in our lives to prepare us to become royalty? No, although all of my examples either were or became royalty. My point is this: even though you may feel as though your life is purposeless and depressing, God has a plan and a purpose for it. It may not feel like it, and you probably don’t understand it, but it’s true. Whether you have nothing to do or you feel like your life is spinning out of control, always remember to live each day as if you are serving the King.

~Ally

P.S.

I will try to post the next part in the Meek Person’s Guide to World Domination soon.

 

 

 

Meek Persons Guide to World Domination: Courage

When you think of courage you probably think of someone like this little mouse, who despite their fear, is willing to act as if they were fearless. Sometimes that is a correct definition of courage, but other times courage is the ability not to act, even if it could cost you everything. Sometimes turning the other cheek takes more bravery than fighting back. Romans 12:14 says, “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.” That alone takes a lot of strength. Let’s face it: we may think of meekness as weakness, but could it be we’re really just afraid to risk our reputation and pride? It can be humiliating to not defend yourself when you are being made fun of or teased. It takes a lot of courage to bless your enemies, rather than cursing them.

However, turning the other cheek does not mean backing down or giving in to other people. We should always stand up for what we know is right, no matter the cost to ourselves. That’s why we must turn the other cheek, because when we are unwilling to back down, we are often mistreated. It is also why we must be brave to be a meek person, if we do not have courage we will be tempted to fight back, rather than standing up for what we believe peacefully. 1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”

~Ally

The Meek Persons Guide to World Domination

Hi everyone! I will admit right now that the title of this post is somewhat misleading and I was not originally the one who came up with it. (Our pastor’s wife was joking about it once during youth group.) This is not really a post on how to dominate the world. I’m sorry to disappoint you. The title is based off Matthew 5:5 which says, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Over the next month or two I will be doing a series of post on meekness.

What does it mean to be a meek person? What does it mean to inherit the earth? Often times when people think of meekness they think of weakness. It is a common misconception that meek people are really people who are too cowardly to stick up for themselves. I have often heard meekness described this way:

(I’m not quite sure who said this, as many sites listed Rick Warren as the author, while others listed Joyce Meyer or other authors.) I think this is the perfect description of meekness. Meekness is not being too pathetic to defend yourself, but rather having the courage to turn the other cheek. So what makes a person meek? I believe there are several traits of a meek person, and will studying each of them more thoroughly in the next few weeks, but for now here is an overview:

  • Courage
  • Humility
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Wisdom

I will be exploring each of these attributes, and hope to share my findings with you. Then we can dominate the world in our meekness! Just kidding. Psalm 149:4, “For the Lord taketh pleasure in His people; He will beautify the meek with salvation.”

 

~Ally

 

The Nativity: Jesus

Day 25: Christmas Day!

I hope you all have had a delightful Christmas day! Today we celebrate the birth of the Messiah. This past month we have shared a new post with you almost every day, from crafts to devotionals from recipes to poems, we have posted a lot recently. But since today is Christ’s birthday I would like to spend this post focusing completely on Jesus. His birth, his life, his death, and his purpose. Isaiah 4:9 says,

“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

This verse tells us of Jesus’s birth and about the man he will become hundreds of years before he was even born. It says that he was going to come to earth as a baby. God gave of us the greatest gift of all time in the form of a vulnerable infant. The world was waiting for a powerful savior and rescuer, but God sent an inconspicuous little baby. While the entire world was caught up in business of everyday life, they missed the birth of their Deliverer. Why? Because his birth was so indistinct that the world needed to watch and wait even to be aware of his arrival. For thirty years Jesus lived a modest, low-profile life as a carpenter’s son. He faced the problems every human has, such as illness, pain, and temptation.

Then when he had grown into a young man, he devoted his life to serving others. He gave of himself for the human race continually, until finally he made the ultimate sacrifice. He died a horrible, violent death on a cross. Simply because he loved you and me, and wanted us to live with him in Heaven. He died the death we deserved, when he took our sins upon himself. Three days after his death he rose from the grave, and came back down to earth to spend time with his followers. Even before and after his death on the cross his entire life was about giving to other people, because he was the perfect gift.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~Romans 6:23.

Merry Christmas! ~Ally

 

 

A Child’s Hope

Day 24:

Merry Almost-Christmas one and all!

At the annual Christmas tea held at our church, a lady we know shared her heartwarming story about the Christmas when she was seven years old. With her permission we have written a short story based on her tale. We hope you will enjoy it and be as inspired as we were by this touching tale!

 

A Child’s Hope

 

Sarah Newton sat in a chair in the living room of their trailer, looking at an old picture book about a little bear and the little girl who he belonged to. It was her favorite book and had been read so much that the cover had come off, but her mother had taped it back on with care. Sarah had asked Santa for a teddy bear like the one in the book, and with each day her anticipation grew for Christmas Day when she would surely find it under the tree, because Santa never let people down.

This was a hard year for the Newtons. Mrs. Newton had just divorced her husband, and she was in deep financial trouble. It was difficult enough paying the bills without Christmas to worry about. She was filled with a deep ache every time she thought about Sarah and the look she would have on her face when she peeked under the tree and found no presents. That was until she received a call from her friend Alice Delancey, saying that she and her husband Mark had decided to come for Christmas and would bring gifts and dinner. They were to arrive at the airport at 7:27 pm on the 23rd.

Weeks had passed and the 23rd finally arrived. Mrs. Newton had found herself humming carols to herself while she swept the floor and straightened the pictures. For the first time in months she felt at peace and could take a deep breath. Everything was going to be okay. The phone began to ring.

“Hello?”

“Mrs. Newton, this is Grace.” Grace was the Delancey’s 23-year-old daughter.

“Hello, Grace. Is everything alright?” Mrs. Newton could hear the distress in Graces voice.

“My parents plane was caught in a storm about an hour ago and the plane crashed. My mom is in a coma.” She heard the young woman’s voice crack on the other end.

Mrs. Newton was speechless. She was very sad that her friends had been hurt, but right now she needed to worry about Sarah. That aching feeling came back, only ten times worse. She shuddered, trying to shake the feeling away. Then she looked over at Sarah, who was sitting in the living room quietly looking at a book. Her eyes filled with tears and she had to look away.

“I…I’m so sorry. Is there anything I can do?” she finally muttered.

“She is stable and we are with her. My dad is going through an x-ray to see if anything is seriously broken. Things don’t look fatal.”

“I hope they get well quickly, and my thoughts are with them. Take care. Goodbye.”

What am I going to do? She thought to herself. Sarah will be so disappointed. Sometimes the best way is just to tell everything straight the way it is. She finally decided. Sarah is a big girl. She will understand.

“Sarah, I need to tell you something.” She began, trying not to cry.

Sarah looked up at her with big, innocent eyes. “Yeah, mom?”

“Sarah, do you remember when I told you Santa Claus was real and he always brings presents?”

“Of course, Mommy.” Sarah answered with childlike trust.

“I was wrong. Santa does not exist, and you need to know that. You’re seven years old, it’s time you grew up. There will be no presents under that tree tomorrow morning.”

“But Mom, you said Santa would come! You said he always comes!”

“Honey, I-”

“I don’t believe you! You are lying!” Sarah’s eyes filled with tears. She threw down the book and ran to her room.

Mrs. Newton slowly walked to the kitchen. She went through the cupboards and the refrigerator. She found a box of instant mashed potatoes and a few meatballs in a bag at the back of the freezer. Those would have to be enough for Christmas dinner. What was she going to do? She imagined Sarah’s shock the next morning when she awoke to find not a single gift under the tree. Mrs. Newton thought about Sarah’s denial and the hurt look in her eyes when she told her there would be no gifts. She collapsed into a chair and sobbed.

The next morning, Mrs. Newton awoke to Sarah jumping on her bed.

“Mom, wake up! Wake up! It’s Christmas morning, I wanna go see if Santa brought me anything!”

Mrs. Newton could hardly stand to watch the look of hope and excitement in Sarah’s eyes. In just a few minutes that little girl’s hopes would all be crushed, perhaps permanently.

“Sweetheart, I told you, Santa is not coming. There is no Santa.”

“There has to be a Santa, Mom! Who else would leave gifts for me every Christmas?”

With that, Sarah bounded off the bed and into the living room. There under the tree that her grandparents had brought over for them, was a small baby doll, with pink pajamas and eyes that blinked, and a teddy bear just like the one she had wanted. In the stocking that Sarah had insisted they put up, despite Mrs. Newton’s explanation that there would be no presents, was candy, an orange, and a note. The note said, To Sarah with love, Santa. Sarah ran to her mother, and handed her the note.

“See!” She declared, “I told you there was a Santa Claus, and he always comes!”

Mrs. Newton read the note and began to weep. Where had these blessings come from?

“I don’t know who did this for us, honey. But I’m so thankful you got your toys.”

“Merry Christmas, Mommy. I love you.” Sarah said, as she wrapped her arm around her mother’s neck.

They never discovered who left those presents that Christmas morning. Was it a jolly old man in a red suit? Probably not, but someone did. Someone very special. Through the years Sarah looked back on that Christmas and was filled with hope. Eventually that hope led her to open her heart to the promise of everlasting life that trusting in Jesus as your savior provides. When Sarah was growing up she didn’t know about the true meaning of Christmas. To her, Christmas was about Santa Claus and presents, but God used her belief in Santa to lead her to His Son!

 

Merry Christmas! ~Savy and Ally