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How to live fearless in a terrifying world

For an audio recording of today’s post, click here.

It’s been almost a year since our family moved across the country from North Carolina to Nebraska. I’m amazed how fast a year can move.

This very weekend a year ago I was preparing to speak at a women’s retreat. This very weekend a year ago we had just returned from a whirlwind trip to find a house in Nebraska, our house received multiple offers within 48 hours of listing. Much of looking back over the span of those days seems like a blur.

The stress of preparing to move, preparing to speak, homeschooling my kids, leading women’s ministry. But mostly, in the midst of all of that, we wanted to leave well.

We wanted to leave as well as we’d lived in North Carolina. You can read about that here. I tear up as I read the words I wrote last year. I still deeply miss what we left in North Carolina.

We’ve adjusted in Nebraska. It feels like home. We have friends, church, school community, etc.

We know God brought us to Omaha for a reason. He made that very clear to us when the move began.

Friends encouraged me to write down everything God was doing during those weeks we prepared to leave. He was doing so many enormous things at once that the miracles felt impossible to believe. Except for the fact we were living them and watching God move us with supernatural speed and watching Him intertwine our lives with people for divine purposes.

During that season I lived on a spiritual high. I journaled all the Lord was doing because I knew I never wanted to forget. I needed to remember what God was doing.

What God does flows out of who God is.

I wanted to celebrate God for who He is, not only for what He did. I wanted our kids to see we serve a God we can’t begin to fathom.

My facebook timehop reminds me everyday to remember. I see the pictures of a year ago and it triggers an emotion in my soul.

Sometimes these memories bring sadness as I remember, but mostly they bring to recollection a God who has faithfully walked our family through every season of life and who will never change.

Remember is the word the Lord has kept at the front of my mind since Christmas. Life is too volatile and unpredictable to navigate it without remembering the One who holds us steady. He has shown me how quickly I’m tossed about when I forget to remember.

I hear His whispers reminding me not to forget to look back as I look forward. He has always been behind me, and He will always be before me. When I stop for even a brief moment and remember the truth of who He is as revealed in His Word, I can face forward with no fear.

God’s Word urges us to ‘fear not’, yet fear comes so naturally. When I look back at who God has always been, I’m reminded exactly why fear must get off my path. I have a great big God leading my way, and nothing can stop Him. If I follow Him step by step, I truly have nothing to fear.

If I’m being honest with you, it’s easy to talk about being fearless when we are simply talking about facing a change of location or season of life. But what about when we find ourselves in a living nightmare? What about when our worst fears take shape?

Even in the most gut-wrenching moments of this life, God is still good. He is still here. When evil seems to win, we must remember. We must remember the One who has won and will win. We must remember the cross defeated death. We must remember that He promised us there will come a day when we will see Him in His glory and will live in a world where sadness and death don’t exist.

For this time, evil is present. While evil prowls around our world, it is ever more critical we battle-ready ourselves by one simple shift. Remembering.

Remembering who God is, His character and nature. Remembering what God has promised. Remembering what He has done in the past and what He promises for today and the future.

To live fearless in a terrifying world starts with practicing the art of remembrance.

If you’ve been following along here online, you know I’ve been working on an audio devotional series titled illuminate – Seeing God by the Light of His Word. I’ve promised you I’d share more details as I have them available.

You can find out more about illuminate by clicking here.

And here’s a video too.

Lord, open our eyes to the truth of Your Word. Help us remember who You really are. The world tries to scare us with terrifying news report. And honestly, it is terrifying. We grieve with the families who grieve today, facing nightmares most of us can’t begin to imagine.

For those today facing such sadness and terror, we pray for comfort and peace. We pray for divine appointments. We pray for miracles. We pray for those who don’t know You to receive Your Son. We pray for healing.

We long for the day when You will wipe away every tear. Our hope does not rest in this earthly world. Today, may we choose to remember who You are and what You’ve promised. May we keep our eyes fixed on You so that we can walk fearless in a scary world.

As we walk about our world today, may we have eyes to see the ones who live hopeless and scared. May we boldly share the hope we have everywhere we go.

Amen.

How To Live Fearless In A Scary World

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For the audio recording of this post click here to listen.

I sat straight up in my bed, my heart racing as my eyes desperately tried to focus. Light filtered in through the blinds as I reached for my watch and tried to understand why I felt terrified. My immediate thought went to Andrew. Did he sleepwalk out of the beach house we are renting? The pond steps from our place has several alligators cruising its waters. Did Andrew wander into the waters? What if he’s gone?

Initially, I tried to talk myself calm. I tried to prove to God I trusted in Him by praying and laying still in my bed. But I couldn’t. I bolted out of the bed and ran to the front door. I checked the deadbolt. Twice. I went to Andrew’s bed. Everyone was safely sleeping.

I returned to my bed and prayed myself back to sleep. I wish I could say this is the first time that has happened. It’s not and it seems to be happening more frequently.

Our first day at the beach the wind was fierce, so loud you had to yell to hear each other. The sand blew so hard it pelted our skin with little stings. The boys and I used different words to describe the waves. To me they were violent. To the boys they were adventure.

Steve and I watched the boys jumping in the waves while the sand stung our skin and all we could hear were shouts of kids carried intermittently by the wind.

“Steve, it’s too dangerous for them to be out there. Those waves are rough.” I immediately thought back to a conversation we had on the way to the beach. One I initiated about fear and how I refused to become a person directed by fear. While I wouldn’t jump from a plane, I wouldn’t stop living life because of the what if’s of freak accidents either. That would simply be life not lived, rather life controlled by fear.

But in that moment fear held me by the neck against a wall.

“Steve, I feel terrified right now.”

“Renee, you need to send that fear away.”

I began talking to God with my eyes lasered at my kids. In that moment it hit me. He commands those waves and winds. He quieted the waves and winds with two words. Be still.

Be still.

I’ve written talks around this. I’ve spoken on this topic multiple times. And here I am again. Reminding myself that the One Who holds the world, is the One who commands the waves, is the One Who has numbered my days. So why do we fear?

We are a scared bunch of people. Anxiety plagues our world. The world is scary.

We are surrounded by terrifying reports. Within days we read about the Orlando massacre, the tragic death of a 2-year-old in Disney, a missing 14-year-old who was swimming in the ocean, a 13-year-old almost kidnapped right from her mother’s side. I am debating getting off of Facebook for good because I walk away scared, or mad, or nervous, or something that is not good for me.

Here’s the deal. I hate when satan attacks us and we let him. There is something so deep inside me that begins to boil over when I see his schemes. I’m dropping the gloves with him. I’m tired of watching him seek to destroy us through fear tactics. It’s his age old trick. He’s not very creative. We are simply not seeing what he is doing. And we aren’t putting on our armor.

I will not live scared in this world.

How often does God instruct us not to fear? Throughout the Bible God tells His people not to fear. Trust Him.

But we read these words then we turn to the news and immediately forget God’s instruction to us.

The weeks before Steve and I left for Haiti, I battled fear in a big way. This is nothing new for me. Fear I battle regularly. Last fall I had an intense fear war going on as God revealed many things to me. His intent was not for me to fear, yet I went first to fear.

Prior to our Haiti trip, Jacob expressed his own fear about our trip. What if we died while there and he was left with no parents? It’s a valid fear. It was my biggest fear as a child. I shared his fear with a friend who instantly reminded me of the truth.

Job 14:15 You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer.

Jacob and I read this verse together. I said, “Jacob, God has appointed a time for me to die. He knows the exact hour. Whether my plane crashes over the ocean or I’m sitting in my house and my heart simply stops beating, God knows the day I will go home to Him.”

I watched as the moment of understanding transformed his face. That’s why we can’t let the what if’s of life plague us.

Psalm 56:3 “When I’m afraid I will trust in you.”

Psalm 139:16 “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

The day we depart this earth is no surprise to God. He has numbered our days. He knows the very moment we will enter into eternity. So why should I waste one second on fear? Why should I allow satan to steal my joy and my moments because I’m pondering the what-if’s?

We have two choices in where we allow our mind to go. On Him or on the fears of this world.

Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

To live fearless in a scary world takes us making the choice to live fearless. The choice is ours. The moment fear creeps in, we take charge by breaking down the stronghold.

2 Cor 10:4-5 “since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly,[a] but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.”

Either we take fear captive….or it takes us hostage. All we have to do is take those fear thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. God is not the author of fear. Fear is from satan. Because we are under the lordship of Christ, we have the power of the Holy Spirit to take every thought captive and make it obey Him.

Our fear thoughts only torment us if we allow them to. Battle with His Word.

 

When Fear Makes Us Miss What’s Best

MK

Two weeks ago our family took a trip to Orlando to see the Atlanta Braves Spring Training. We surprised the boys with an unexpected day at Disney on one of the off game days.

We arrived at the front gate before the sun had fully risen, one of the first to enter the opening gates. About 3 minutes into walking down Main Street at Magic Kingdom, Andrew moaned, “When can we finally go home?!”

My head whipped around as I looked at him astonished. “We JUST got here. This is Disney. It’s SO MUCH FUN!”

Here we go again, I thought to myself. This is not at all how this is supposed to happen. What kid isn’t thrilled at walking the streets of Disney? Look at all these other kids – smiling, happy, jumping with delight. And look at my child – sulking, pouting, clearly unhappy to be in this place where dreams come true.

As we made our way to Tomorrowland, we each took a turn selling Andrew on our day ahead. Arms crossed, arguing with everything, refusing to ride or even enjoy himself was his response to us.

Our saving grace was grandma, who sat with him while we rode rides. Once we promised him we would call grandpa to come pick him up, he was fine. He wanted out of magic land fast.

Apparently, Magic Kingdom isn’t magical for everyone.

Once his mood began to offer a glimmer of hope at lifting, my anxiety began to wane a bit. I tried desperately to squash the reminders in my head about how much money we wasted on his ticket. I tried to look for anything that would help me from speaking to him with such a frustrated tone of voice.

It wasn’t simply that Andrew wanted to be difficult. It wasn’t as if his 6 year old brain determined to ruin our day. It was fear. Simply fear.

Andrew fears rides. He can’t handle the thought of being strapped into a ride and losing all sense of control. Locking himself into a situation where he relinquishes every ounce of control and placing himself at the mercy of mechanics is not his idea of adventure.

As we walked along, Jacob said, “Mom, I’m so just sad for Andrew. I’m sad because he has no idea what he is missing. We know what he is missing. He will go home and never know how much fun he could’ve had today.”

“That is what fear does to us. It causes us to miss out on surprises God has for us, and we never know what could’ve been.”

The fact is fear wins in my life everyday. In little ways, ways I fail to see most days. I wonder what I miss out on each day because I’ve allowed fear to persuade me to stay in the shadows of what I think I know to be best for me.

We grabbed a couple of those Mickey Mouse ice creams and headed to the Jungle Cruise, but we were careful to eliminate the word “ride” from our vocabulary. “Come on, Andrew, let’s go hop on this boat after we eat our ice cream.”

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Andrew loves boats. Andrew fears rides. We took a boat ‘ride’, and he loved every second of it because he thought it wasn’t a ride.

Isaiah 41:13 For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, “Fear not, I will help you.

God doesn’t need to trick us. We just need to trust Him. Trust that He knows what is best. Trust that He wants the best for us.

He holds us by the hand. He tells us not to fear. Today, may we stop holding hands with fear, and hold His hand. Fear is our enemy, and fear persuades us to cling close by. God tells us to let go of fear, for He holds our right hand. He will help us.

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Please join me in a day of praise

jandz
Friends,
I posted this on Facebook today. Normally, I wouldn’t blog a status update, but I would love you to join me today in a day of praise.
You can see the Facebook post here Post by Renee Robinson.
My 9-year-old son Zachary is struggling with fear. Many of you know he was diagnosed with late stage Lyme disease, which for him manifests through knee swelling. Very painful and very scary for a child. We are through antibiotics for now and are doing lots of detoxing his system.
Yesterday we noticed his knee gathering fluid again. Funny how fear works. It takes a mere thought, a memory, to trigger a flood of fears.
Fear is no joke. It’s what the enemy thrives on because it keeps our focus on our circumstances rather than our God.
I’m crying out to you today, to pour out your hearts in praise to our Father in Heaven. Zachary and I will be committing to a day of praise today. It’s the best way to remember Who God is. To remember who God is begins to shatter the hold fear tries to take.
My prayer for my child is that praise become as natural as breathing. The best way to teach our kids is to model. Today we will praise Him all day long. Right in the midst of the fears we are facing.
What are you facing today? What afflictions plague you? What fears taunt you? Will you join me and Zachary today in pouring out praise to our Father? All day long. Don’t cease.
Psalm 34:1-4
“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”
God is worthy of all our praise. Even more when we find ourselves in seasons of pain, fear, struggle, and uncertainty. He is unchangeable. He is a shelter. He is our Rock and our Redeemer. He is worthy of all our praise.
As we approach the day of Christ’s birth, let’s lift our voices high proclaiming His name in praise. Ask others to join you. Let’s see how many people we can gather to spend today dedicated to praising Him.
Much love to you all!

Answered Prayers, Unexpected Gifts, and Lyme Disease

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If you have been reading along our health journey with my 9-year-old, you know that we have had 3 instances of unexplained knee swelling over the course of 2 1/2 years. Each swelling worse than the one before. He showed no other symptoms. He is a healthy boy, very active and bright. The most recent knee swelling proved to be the toughest we’ve faced. At the worst point, he was unable to walk.

Each trip to the doctor left us still searching for answers. What was causing this knee swelling? The doctors were genuinely puzzled. So we prayed. And we enlisted an army of believers to lift Zachary up to our Heavenly Father. Our prayers have been answered.

12 days ago Zachary and I spent all day at the Rheumatologist and the Orthopedic. Ten vials of blood and 2 bags of knee fluid later, we left with more questions. MRI, X-Ray, blood work, labs on fluids. Everything continued to show a healthy child.

But we were praying. And we had an army of believers placing requests on Zachary’s behalf at the Father’s feet. Specifically, we were praying God would grant wisdom to the doctors treating Zachary, that God would grant healing, that God would bring us the answer to the root cause of the swelling.

Four days after blood was drawn by the Rheumatologist, she called and asked if Zachary had been exposed to a tick bite. It was possible. I mean he is a boy, he lives outside, he loves the woods. I’ve never seen a tick on him, but anything is possible. Answered prayer #1- wisdom to the doctor. She had no good reason to test for Lyme because he showed no symptoms and we live in North Carolina. She didn’t know we lived in Virginia for 2.5 years. She could have fit him into a type of arthritis and treated him. But God heard our prayers, and He granted wisdom to that doctor.

Sometimes God is answering our prayers in stages, yet we move about life unaware of Him.

Lord, let me never become unaware of your constant provision.

Yesterday afternoon the rheumatologist’s nurse called. “Great news! Zachary’s blood work looks beautiful. He is one healthy boy.” I hung up with feelings of relief mixed with more questions. Thirty minutes later the doctor herself called to let me know Zachary tested positive for Lyme Disease. “I’m shocked,” she told me.

Answered prayer #2 – Answers. We can move forward with treatment.

Answered prayers #3 – God has been protecting Zachary’s body from some of the more severe symptoms of Lyme for the 3 years he has had this disease unknown to us. Praise God!

We are thankful for the multitude of people who have been praying for us, and we continue to ask for your prayers. Lyme can be a long road.

People continue to ask me how Zachary is handling this. On the drive to school, he said, “Mom, I think God allowed me to have Lyme so I can help the world.” Amen, sweet boy, amen. This child is tender to the Holy Spirit. He has a heart for Jesus like I aspire to have. He sees the hand of God at every turn along his journey of life. I’m confident that God will use Zachary to bring comfort or encouragement to someone else with Lyme. Or he may just use Zachary to shine a light for Christ to someone who needs to see beyond the illness and pain that plagues our world.

In the midst of all this, a friend contacted me Sunday and offered to volunteer several hours a week for the next 4 weeks to help me with my ministry. Friends! God provided for me before He brought me this news of Lyme. He is always taking care of us. He is always at work in our lives. When she contacted me, I sat at my kitchen table with no words. Why would she offer to help me during the busiest time of the year? She doesn’t even really know me. Why? Because we serve a compassionate God who loves us more than we can fathom. He placed on her heart to help me, and she followed the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Last night I researched online about Lyme. The more I read, the more fear began to speak into my heart. Fear is not welcome here. Fear and faith are at odds with each other. The best way to fight fear is with the Word of God.

 

2 Timothy 1:7 

For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

We head into Thanksgiving, and our hearts of full. Thursday we celebrate our youngest turning 6. Not possible!  We have much to give thanks for.

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When you feel like a kid going to camp

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I stood in the registration line surrounded by people who all seemed to know someone. The chatter was a constant reminder that I knew no one yet.  My clammy hands continued to readjust my bags and check my schedule printout.  A few deep breaths would have helped, but I kept forgetting.  The line opened up to my turn, and I stepped forward.

As I approached the kind eyes behind the counter, a group of old friends reunited in the line next to me with hugs and squeals. The kind eyes met mine, “First time here?”  Maybe my shaky hands gave me away.  “Well, hey, maybe next year when you come back to the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, that’ll be you.” I appreciated his effort, so I smiled an offering of thanks.

Do you ever find yourself in situations you feel completely out of place?  As if you don’t belong at all?

The voice of fear loves when we are in these places because we are usually more inclined to listen to its voice.  The anxiety I experienced in the weeks leading up to the conference reached new heights as I arrived that day. I didn’t know a soul there and could list 10 reasons why I didn’t belong.

For months I worked on writing a manuscript and proposal to pitch to agents and editors at this conference.  Brand new territory for me, and a recording played in my mind why the time was not now.  I had a group of friends praying for me, and I felt it all week long.

Each time I sat in the seat facing an agent or editor, I felt the presence of Jesus.  Each time I carried my cafeteria tray into the dining hall, I felt the presence of Jesus.  Each conversation I had with a new friend, I saw Jesus.  He met me each step of the way.

The moments of life are rarely about what we think.  I went to that conference to pitch a book.  It’s not about the book.

Life is about knowing Jesus more, trusting in Him, and realizing apart from Him, I have nothing to offer.

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In this life comfort and peace are felt through fingers that cling to Him.

Life is about knowing Jesus and making Him known.

Departure morning I awoke early, packed my car, and headed to the dining hall for my last cafeteria breakfast.  The nervous jitters were back, but they were different this time.  I was no longer nervous about the unknown – the messing up my pitch, or who I would sit with and talk to, or if I would get lost.

My last class ended, and I headed to the conference center book store.  As hard as arriving had been, leaving proved to be equally hard.  So I shopped for reminders to bring home.  I felt like a kid leaving camp, loading up her pockets with trinkets that would find a home in the crevice of the couch.  Lost and rediscovered years later to remind of new friends, new memories, and heartwarming moments.  I felt like that 14 year-old leaving summer camp with a pocket full of memories.

Hot tears welled up in my eyes as I drove down the mountain.  My heart ached for home and my heart  was filled by Jesus through new friends and new experiences.  I left that mountain knowing I had experienced Jesus again.  Moment by moment, He met me.  Through kind eyes at registration.  Through arms that pulled out a chair at lunch.  To the words that encouraged me to keep writing that book.  To the WWJD bracelets in my pocket for my boys. The little reminders.  The not-so-little reminders.  Manifestations of the living God.

What are some times you’ve experienced God recently?  What are some ways you realized God was meeting your needs or simply meeting with you?

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