Concerned But Not Consumed

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I started posting the following thoughts last Sunday afternoon on Facebook, but it turned into a dissertation. Then I remembered something…I have a blog! **{Pastors beware, your congreation really does listen in church on Sunday mornings!}**

Our pastor at Discovery Church in Clayton, NC, shared this little tidbit last Sunday and it was a “big aha” for me:

“Concerned and cautious, but not fearful.”

Pastor Monte was discussing an acronym that we can use to help us avoid temptations. I think he was reading a quote when he said we should be “concerned and cautious, but not fearful”. Sorry, I don’t remember who he was quoting. But, I will never forget what he said.

“Concerned and cautious, but not fearful.”

As a life coach, I coach clients through fear all the time. I have a front row seat in women’s lives when they conquer fear and slay their personal dragona. In my own personal life, fear is a hurdle I have to manage every day of my life. Some days are better than others.

I have been pondering since Pastor Monte shared from from his heart last Sunday morning. Here is what God has showed me so far:

When I am afraid, I react.

When I trust, I am cautious and wait.

When I am afraid, I create the absolute worst outcome in my head.

When I trust, I am concerned but not consumed.

That’s it friends! When I trust, I am concerned, but not consumed! Have you ever been consumed by something?

  • The insect bite that you know with certainty will leave you crippled by evening.
  • The move to another city that will leave you with zero friends and alone for the rest of your life.
  • The looming decision that feels like an emotional and mental leach that may very well suck the life right out of you.
  • The relationship you can’t fix and it feels like your heart may burst and you will never be loved again.

Do you see a pattern of fear that leads to the worst possible scenario? Can you imagine how Daniel felt in the lion’s den? I am sure he was afraid, but he was not consumed. He was concerned and he trusted his God who delivered him from sure death.

Fear is just fear. It is powerless without us. Our imaginations provide fuel for the flame that is fear. We are the ones who give fear power. The emotions we attach to it turn it into a monster. It consumes us. Just like a raging forest fire.

My favorite reminder when I am facing fear is this:

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4

I say this verse over and over again. I meditate on it. I let it consume me instead of fear. I can remain concerned without being consumed, but only if I choose to let my imagination rest and my trust roam.

What or who do you cling to when fear tries to consume you? I would love to hear from you!

 

Is This Really Happening??

“Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.” Brené Brown 

 

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Friends,

It is a really really big week. I have keys to my studio and I can start moving in and decorating on Tuesday, October 1st. I am thrilled and nervous. I know with my heart this is right. The right time. The right space. The right person. The right calling.

But my head tries to mess it all up and tell me all the many reasons why I’m crazy. I like to know outcomes before they happen. You know, I like to know that everything is going to be okay. I am a peacemaker at heart. But, I have no idea what the next year will hold.

Don’t get me wrong. I have big dreams. Dreams that scare the poop out of me. But, these dreams need to fly and I can’t hold onto them anymore. It is time. Pray with me, please? I will post a schedule of events for the studio for October and November by the end of the week. And someone pinch me? Is this really happening? I think so.

 

“One Heart at a Time”

There’s so much static.

It tries to drown out the whispers:

“Build a platform.”
“Increase your numbers.”
“Make sure you follow all the right people.”
“You have to sell yourself.”

But it all feels so foreign, empty, and exhausting.

I get up early. Sit on the porch.

And realign my heart with His:

“Listen to Me.”
“I have called you.”
“You have a message to share.”
“Go boldly and with confidence.”
“Build connection and community.”
“One heart at a time.”

And it feels right.

Deep down. Soulfully sweet.

The whispers become my mantra.

My main focus.

Rest comes as my body releases.

This is it.

The beginning of something way bigger than any dream I’ve ever had.

May God bless it and grow it.

May His light shine on Main Street.

But, may it start in my heart.

Seeking His Face

It started as a normal day. Friends, fun, the park, adventure, giggles, and monkey bars. Then it became the day that couldn’t end soon enough. Broken trust, pain, panic, fear, tears, and the ER.

My sweet son lying on a gurney in the ER at Wake Med Pediatric ER. His usually tan face pasty white with fear. The initial assessment before x-rays was best case out of joint and worst case broken requiring surgical placement of pens and possibly screws. Enough to make this mama weak in her knees and her baby boy cry rivers of tears.  

Sean hospital

I’ve never felt more helpless and guilty in all of my life. The worst possible emotions ever. I couldn’t fix anything and it was all my fault.

Just before Sean fell, he asked for help. Told me he couldn’t do it. Being the super protective hovering mom, I am trying to let go a little bit this summer. And with that in mind I said, “Sean, you are okay. You are not that high up. If you fall, you will land on your feet.”

Or elbow…

Through his initial screams he said to me in tears, “Mama, I asked you for help and you didn’t help me. I told you I couldn’t do it. Why didn’t you help me? I didn’t want to fall and break my arm like Callie did.”

One look at his elbow and I almost threw up. The guilt and fear and panic consumed me. I swept him up and drove a little more than the speed limit to Raleigh. I prayed and cried and begged God to help my son. To take away his pain…my pain.

I have processed a lot of what happened over the past 10 days. I am constantly brought back to this: I can only imagine what my Father felt like when His son and my Savior hung on a cross 2,000 years ago. He could have yanked His son off that wooden cross and healed all His wounds immediately. But He didn’t. He let His only Son suffer a cruel and painful death.

I have never experienced anything as heart wrenching as seeing my son who shares my facial features, blue eyes, and blonde hair lying in the ER in excruciating pain, tormented by fear of possible surgery and pins in his left arm. I felt my heart breaking in a million tiny little jagged pieces.

Sean smiling

If I could go back, I would wrap my arms around his tiny little waist and help him down from those monkey bars. I would have prevented our life from grinding to a halt. Sean would have been fine and life would have gone on as normal for another day. But, I can’t go back. I can only accept what happened with each day that passes.

Everyone who has heard this chapter in our lives read aloud always says, “But Lizzie, it wasn’t your fault. Accidents happen.”

I know accidents happen. I get that. I know my kids are going to get hurt whether I’m there or not. And I know God is their Protector, not me.

But, there is nothing worse than seeing your child in pain that you could have prevented.

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If nothing else, this most recent chapter in our lives has helped me understand the love of God even more. Deeper. More tangible. He watched His Son suffer a wretched death.

And maybe that’s the lesson in this for me. I am so eager to ask for things from His hand. But how often do I seek His face? To gaze upon Him and not covet what He gave me or ask for more when my life is full.

He is healing more than an elbow. He is mending my heart as I am seeking His face. Redeeming what was lost and healing what was broken. Oh how beautiful He is!

 

“Oh, I want to see Him, look upon His face,
There to sing forever of His saving grace.”

RH Cornelius

 

Actually, I’m Frightened…

We were riding through downtown Clayton. Clouds were ominously heavy with water. My sweet girl seemed a little weighed down, too. She is never without words, and she had spoken a grand total of 4 words from our home to downtown, about a 10 minute drive.

“How many more minutes?”

“Just a couple more,” I replied

Then silence. No response from my sweet girl dressed for a grand occasion.

Her lack of response prompted me to remember what I felt like when I was preparing for my first recital.

“Callie, baby, are you excited?” I asked.

“FRIGHTENED is MORE like it!” she exclaimed.

And she was serious. Her already wan face was void of color other than her sprinkling of freckles that she likes to call her “God-given sparkles”.

“What are you afraid of, baby?” I questioned.

“What if I mess up? What if I trip? What if I forget my notes?” she pondered as she shared her anxiety with me, dad, and Sean.

I noticed Sean reach over the center console in the backseat and place his hand on her leg. I almost lost it. Sometimes words are a poor substitute for human touch.

“And if you do all of those things, we will still be so very proud of you. We will love you regardless of what happens today. Just don’t stop playing. Keep going if you make a mistake. Most people in the audience will never know.” I shared through glassy eyes.

My super confident oldest child was more than scared. She was frightened of messing up. Messing up would mean that she was a failure, not good, not worthy.

As I pondered this conversation days after the recital, God shared with me that Callie’s fear on that cloudy Sunday afternoon is my fear and your fear.

What if I screw up? What if no one likes me? What if they laugh at me?

Fear is a thief that steals our joy. It was causing Callie’s excitement over her first recital to diminish in the face of messing up big time.

Fear causes us to doubt and doubt convinces us that we’re not good enough or we won’t be loved or accepted if we make a mistake. 

Wow…how many times have I allowed fear to affect my decisions. To delay me or to change my direction in life. The fear was too overwhelming to conquer so I chose something easier or different. I can think of several major times in my life. I regret them immensely.

However, I now know that whatever happens on the other side of a decision has nothing to do with my worth. In the past, I connected success with being worthy or good enough. I pray I can help my children learn from my mistakes.

I pray they know their worth and value is not connected to success or failure. You have value because you are you. Simple to say, hard to live. The key is to keep playing, writing, singing, drawing, cooking, loving, praying, giving, and trying. Don’t let fear paralyze you and prevent you from moving forward.

Callie pushed through her fear and played her piece oh so well last Sunday. I was more nervous than her when she walked up to the piano and sat down. I was nervous for her because I wanted her to succeed. I wanted all of her hard work to pay off.

I know she will not always be successful. Neither will I, but I do know we are loved and worthy regardless.

 

 

When you Feel Like Dancing in the Rain

It trickles down my cheek and lands on my shoulder. Finding its way down as I lift my hands high.

The heavens open up and it continues to fall down like rain, gentle, yet refreshing. I stand still. Soaking it all in. I look down and it is puddling at my feet. It found its way down my back between my shoulder blades. Tickling me even though I was fully aware I was being swept away by grace.

 

It’s different this time.

Palpable.

Maybe it’s because I am different this time.

The tempest washed away the chaff, the excess. Through it all, He remained. Steady. Present. Patient.

His faithfulness wooed me. Astonished me. Captivated me.

Even in all my questioning, I was not running away. Just the opposite. I was clinging to bare threads. Clinging to the simple Truth I did know but didn’t believe. He loves me. He really, really loves me. And even when I chose to abandon Him, He remained.

This one simple truth sustained me. Like manna, it nourished me.

And today, I am dancing. Praising. Singing in the rain. His mercy rains down. It cleanses me. Invigorates me. Renews me.

He never abandoned me in my misery. He was by my side the entire time even when I refused to look at Him. His grace beckoned to me every single time.

He remained good when life was bad. He wept with me.

He chose me. He pursued me. I alternated between anger and apathy as I held him at a distance. He never stopped loving me. I said yes after many, many rejections. It was not instantaneous. It was a slow and painful process. I would say yes and then slam the door in His face. Broken and frustrated, I lifted my hands in anger towards Him, not praise. I wanted to know why, when, how, who. He whispered to me “be patient, be still, you will know what you need to know when you need to know it”. This angered me at first, but in time I pondered, talked to Him, journaled a lot, and just sat still.

Slowly, the ice around my heart began to melt. He never forced me, never threatened me, and never left me. Ever. Not even on my darkest nights when I wanted nothing to do with Him. As I sat with Him, I got to know Him. The more I got to know Him, the more I could see His hand at work in my life. God is for me. He wants the absolute best for me. And you. I don’t know where you are on your journey, but I do know that He loves you right where you are.

I know there will be more storms, but I also know that He will never stop loving me. People used to tell me that He loved me, just like I am telling you right now. But I didn’t believe them.

I challenge you to sit with Him. Rest in His presence. Ask Him questions, listen to Him. Don’t listen to me. Listen to God.

I am praying for you, even now as I am dancing in the rain, with hands lifted high in praise. He is my dance partner and I am enjoying the dance…because of the rain.

Hide-and-Go-Seek

He ran on ahead of us and I called after him. But the crowd of people between us grew larger and I lost sight of his blonde head bobbing and weaving through the people 2 and 3 feet taller than him.

My heart started pounding. He couldn’t be more than 20 feet in front of us, but Whole Foods on a Friday feels like Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

He had to use the bathroom and told me that he couldn’t wait anymore. As we made our way to the bathroom, he became comfortable because he was very familiar with his surroundings. Remember, my children can look at a cup of water and have to pee. We have visited the Whole Foods bathroom many times before.

He knew where he was going, but I couldn’t see him any longer. And I panicked.

I yelled his name and he was nowhere to be seen. I went into the women’s bathroom because he is too young to go by himself in the men’s bathroom and looked in all the stalls. No little boy to be found.

I yelled his name again. This time it was that mama panicked yell that made other people look. Not my son, but every other person within 50 feet of us turned to see what sort of crazy woman would be making such a panicked and loud plea.

I didn’t have time to feel embarrassed, I was wrought with fear.

Where was he?

And just as I started to scream again, I saw him. Hiding. Behind a long row of toothpaste, Burt’s Bees, and other toiletries.

I raced over to him, fell on my trembling knees beside him and said, “Sean, why are you hiding from me?”

“Because I heard you yell and I knew you would be mad at me.”

“But what made you hide in the first place? Why didn’t you go on to the bathroom?” I questioned.

I knew you would find me. You wouldn’t stop looking until you found me,” he reasoned.

He was right. I would never stop looking for him, but that didn’t make me any less afraid or angry in the moment.

I was furiously afraid and about to boil over. Sean has a habit of walking on ahead of the rest of us. He has gotten into trouble several times prior to the Whole Foods incident.

Sean apologized when he saw how upset and afraid I was. I knew that he finally realized how serious the situation could have been. He then tried to make me feel better by telling me that he loved me and that he wasn’t afraid until he heard me yell. “I thought I was in trouble so I didn’t come out when I saw you walk by.”

I pulled him close to me, peered into his crystal blue eyes and said, “I love you very much. Please don’t ever, ever run away from me like that again. I was scared. I didn’t know where you were.” I hugged him and tears rolled down my cheeks and landed softly on his t-shirt.

In an instant, our lives could have changed forever. The feeling that comes over you as a parent when you can’t find one of your children is one of the most agonizing things I have every felt.

But Sean, in his 4-year-old wisdom, changed the course of my life that day. I learned what being lost and found means.

You only truly lose something when you stop looking for it. Lost means that you are not looking for it. Found means that you kept looking until you discovered it.

Just like in Matthew 18 verse 12:

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?”

The shepherd left the flock to find the 1 that was lost. Yes, 1.

God used my 4-year-old to show me that I am never lost because my Shepherd is always looking for me. He is my Father and I am His beloved. He will never stop looking for me when I wander or hide or fret or question or deny.

I can’t hide good enough or run fast enough or question too much. 

He knows His children. And I am confident that I will never win at hide and go seek with Him.

He will find me every time.