How blessed we are to have friends who lift us up, who speak truth to us, who listen, give advice, encouragement and their constant prayers. This is richness; this is true treasure to have such wonderful women in your life.




Saturday, August 27, 2016

Appointed

By Guest Author, Jackie Hempel

All I was trying to do was make memories. Instead I watched the sweat drip down the sides of his little angel face while he held out that tattered sunflower. He was hot. I was too but not to the extent he was. His legs are little ovens in the slippery New England summer. I saw that bead of sweat drop and my breath caught. In an instant the heart raged forth, even if for a second, I recognized it. Ive known it before, worn it like a garment in certain seasons of life. What were you thinking God? 


A mom friend on Facebook posted some beautiful pictures of a sunflower field at a nearby farm and I thought, I could pull that off too. And I did. Except it was hard and broke my heart a bit and most of the sunflowers were dead. Which had me reflecting on the story God has called me into and had me questioning Him all over again. Like an ebb and flow of the tide. We are fine, and then sometimes we arent. Why my sweet boy? Did I do something wrong? Did you see this happen God?

In those moments when I see the beads of sweat dripping down his face, falling to the earth, creating mud not flowers, theres nothing beautiful in that moment. And I struggle with understanding how He is bringing good out of a little boy who needs clunky, hot prosthetic legs to run like the wind.



In our text this week, author Angie Smith discusses Fear of Gods Plan for My Life and I have to wonder how many of us feel this way, afraid of His purposes for us, feel like weve gotten the short end of the stick. Blind to the blessings, overly aware of the hurts, griefs and valleys? You see, dear friend, I want to believe that the God I serve is good. That although his ways are not our ways they are still better than my ways will every be, but in those moments, those tiny seemingly insignificant moments, when sweat gets swallowed up by the parched ground, I think to myself, Lord! Feet. You make them every day. How hard is it? And then the evil sneaks in, slyly at first and then with triumphal roar screams, I could have done this better myself. Like I have the power to form the precious life in the womb. And His question to Jonah, do you have good reason to be angry calms the storm. 


 
We all get to a place where we realize our ways truly arent His ways. We question Him. We begrudge Him. We wonder. We wonder about the holes in our lives, the hurts, emptiness where there should be fullness, abnormal where normal reigns. The relentless sun shines light in the crevices we have in our own lives, and on the abundance that everyone else seems to have (pg 137) and we think, even if momentarily, that we could do it better ourselves. And we do well to remember the question and relinquish our hold on our lives to Him, recognizing humbly that this is His story.
Theyre bent and broken and bruised. Theyre missing petals lost to missteps and tumbles. He still has trouble walking on bumpy ground. Theyre worn but still trying to be lovely. And they sit in my living room reminding me that life is bent and broken and bruised and were all still trying to be lovely. To believe that Gods plan for our lives is better than our ways could ever bethat is a place where I want to stay.


Friends, do not this day, fall into the temptation to believe that you can do it better, that you would be the better God. Choose to be reminded of your place. With lowly humbleness remember what Angie Smith reminds us so gracefully of, a constant dying to self which leads us into trusting the Father. Commit your life to walking beside your Lord, remember the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for all the brokenness around us. For the pain we have known, the questions that we have and the hurts in our hearts. Choose a place of worship where you hear His love falling around you like a summer storm, beating away the questions and the pursuit of control. Hand Him the reigns and fear not Gods plan for your life.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Boys Were Here!!!

Haven't heard from me in awhile???  Well, I have a good excuse.  My grandsons came for a visit:).  Nate (5) and Evan (3) came to "Nana and Papa's house" while their parents went on a well deserved vacation up the coast of California.  All I can say is "No wonder they looked so relaxed and refreshed on those Facetime calls this week!!"

Phew!  Those boys are B U S Y!  There isn't a mud puddle that isn't bathed in, a bug that isn't captured, an obstacle that isn't scaled. 
My two Australian Shepherds, Livvie and Luna, were in heaven!  Two little boys who were equal to their level of energy!!! 
And let me just say, when little boys are visiting, you hear yourself saying the weirdest things like:  "Don't use that saw on the entertainment center!"  "Yes, I did see the bubbles you made in the toilet."  "No, you can't climb to the top of the windmill."  I had forgotten that you are constantly in a state of "high alert"! 

I honestly had good intentions of sitting down at night and writing this past week's blog post, but that did not happen.  These boys got up at 5 am!!!! 
By the time everyone was bathed, snacks eaten, snuggled up,  books read, prayers said, and one last drink of water given...I was D O N E.  I couldn't even think a word let alone write one!!

Yesterday we dropped the sweet grandboys off with their other grandparents, and I drove away with a lump in my throat.  As crazy as those days were, I loved every minute and look forward to the next time.


So this is my LOOONG excuse for not getting the blog post done and my encouragement to you young moms:  YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!!!  That you can do ANYTHING other than mother your little ones is superhuman, and I salute you!!!  

Tomorrow I have a treat for you...my sweet, dear friend Jackie Hempel has written the blog post for this week.  Believe me!  You will not want to miss this post!!  Check out her blog Many Lovely Things here.  You will love it and her guaranteed!

Blessings to you!!!

Cherri

 



Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Casting Stones-The Fear of Our Past


I had taken this heartbreaking call a hundred times before from this sweet, beautiful sister in Christ.  She was sobbing on the phone; inconsolable and grief-stricken over a baby she had aborted nearly forty years ago.   

As in many of these stories, the man who was pressuring her into abortion left her a short time later.  All was not lost though.  She met a wonderful man and had two handsome boys; and, in the midst of this life as a young wife and mom, found the Savior of her soul.  All should be well, shouldn’t it?

A black cloud settled over this woman’s life, and the voices whispered:  “That little one you threw away…that was your daughter…your only daughter.”  “She would be ten now…sixteen…eighteen…twenty-one.”  She would be graduating high school…going to college…getting married…raising a family.”   Then would come the moments the loss, grief  and guilt were overwhelming, and I would get a call.

Each time I would listen as she would talk of the latest counseling, the new anti-depressant medications, the frequent dreams she had that tormented her of a beautiful little girl running in the yard playing, smiling up at her with pure love and adoration.  She tried everything.  She named her little girl and even had a memorial service for her through a group trying to help women overcome this kind of loss in their lives. She had her daughter’s name tattooed on her ankle, went to work at a Right to Life clinic in her town.

Why did this deep sorrow and regret keep welling up within her? 

  https://thisfragiletent.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/woman-caught-in-adultery.jpg

This week we are talking about the “Fear of My Past Catching Up to Me.”  Our author Angie Smith entitled this chapter:  “The First Stone” and retold the story of the woman caught in adultery from the Gospel of John.   I wonder…did this woman think she deserved to be stoned?  You see, I think many of us believe we deserve to be “stoned’ and if someone else doesn’t stone us, we will stone ourselves.

This is what was going on with my lovely friend.  She had accepted God’s forgiveness for all of her sins…except this one.  She deserved punishment…She deserved a “stoning,” so she spent years not only tormenting herself, but trying to pay the price.  “If I do this one next thing, that will be enough.”  Except it was never enough. 

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-e5XIBCGi6LE/T3jZ7WMl5RI/AAAAAAAABCI/D5DJY6kAax4/s1600/stones.jpg 
It can NEVER be enough…no matter what we do.  We can never do enough or punish ourselves enough to make up for what we have done.  We hear this truth sung in songs, preached in sermons, written in Christian books over and over:  “Christ is enough.”  But even as Christ followers we have to face an ugly truth:  We do not believe Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was enough for this one special sin of ours. This is the ONE that cannot be redeemed by His love and power.   So we add our works to His Great Work to try to find our own peace and when that doesn’t work, we begin the “stoning” of ourselves with regret, “if only,” guilt and even self-hatred. 

It is when we finally see Christ for Who He Is and what He has truly done, that the weight of our “special sins” fall off, and we can finally feel completely forgiven and redeemed.  I love this line in the Mercy Me song “Dear Younger Me”:  “…you were never meant to carry this beyond the cross.”  We were never meant to carry our sins..any of them…beyond the cross.  The song goes on to say these beautiful words:

Dear younger me
It’s not your fault
You were never meant carry this beyond the cross

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed

A brand new heart
You are free indeed



My friend?  I praise God that she finally came to see that her Lord, He had covered her sin once and for all.  SHE DID NOT HAVE TO DO ONE MORE THING!  She was holy!  She was righteous!  Her entire life redeemed!  She was finally free from the hold this sin had on her heart and mind.

He…our Jesus…IS truly enough!!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Hannah's Story


by guest writer Susi Rowley

Seventeen years ago this month my life was changed forever.  My brilliant, nearly four year old daughter, Hannah, was diagnosed with leukemia. The fact that statistics said she had an 80% chance of survival up to five years wasn't comforting to read, even when told by the staff at CHLA (Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles) or to hear repeatedly from our friends and family. Yet I heard it often. A 20% chance my amazing Hannah would die was no comfort at all.  At that time, I had been a Christ follower for eighteen years and little Hannah had given her heart to Jesus just three months earlier.

 

Over the next four years and nine months, the fear and reality of death was all around us. The Lord brought so many families into our lives, most of whom had children given about the same odds for survival as Hannah; however, many of these precious babes died.

 

How do I keep going with death and sadness all around? First, I wholeheartedly believe that our family, including Hannah, was put in that hospital "for such a time as this.” It wasn't fun or easy, but minute-by-minute we as a family chose to let the Lord be glorified in each situation.

 

That being said, seeing the Lord seemingly ignore our plea for help and call our amazing gift home to be with Him, while she suffered the unimaginable pain of an intestinal infection and leukemia ravaging her little body, broke my heart. It hurt to breathe. It hurt to think that the Lord was going to be more glorified in Hannah's death than He was in her life.

She was so very loved in her short eight and a half years. Once she got sick, God's people loved our family incredibly well. People all around the world were praying for Hannah, which meant they were drawing closer to the Lord through her journey. She once told me she would live a life of sickness if it brought glory to her Lord. She also used to encourage me to remember that if the Lord chose to take her home with Him, she would be in the presence of the Most High God, and I should rejoice and not be sad. (She also prayed fervently for several moms she knew who had lost their children to cancer and weren't able to minister to their other children due to the grief they were experiencing, and she certainly didn't want that to be me.)


The truth is God can't be glorified in the "why.” Picture your own child begging to go play at the park, "daddy is on his way home and mommy has to make dinner, maybe tomorrow" you say. However, no answer you provide is sufficient for your little one who only wants to hear you say, “YES.”  If I repeatedly ask God why, even if He gave me a legitimate answer, my response would still be "but why"? I would be responding just like my child's response to me. No answer God gives me will make sense.



We simply need to cast our fear on the Lord and trust Him for the strength to go through whatever valley may come our way. You WILL NOT have the strength ahead of time. Stop worrying about the "what ifs.” Only if a tragedy hits your family, will God flood you with the strength to go on. Fretting over all that "might happen" or "could happen" won't bring glory to God and will hinder your ability to serve and minister to your most precious gift…your family.



Hannah has a beautiful younger sister who is currently in Guatemala on a mission’s trip; she is also praying about serving on a ten-month mission trip in early 2017. It would be so easy to quench her desire to serve the Lord because of fear of losing our Abigail. My husband and I have purposed in our hearts to trust the Lord on her behalf and not let the death of our first child cause us to hold Abigail back from God's calling in her life. We also have seen first hand that we can't choose to live or die. We can however wholeheartedly trust in the One who holds the keys to life and death.



The Lord was with us in that hospital room in the final day of precious Hannah's life. He hadn't abandoned our amazing little girl in her greatest hour of need. She was awake and alert and in unimaginable pain yet she suffered holding onto her faith until the very moment she reached over my direction looking far above and beyond my eyes, smiled the most beautiful smile I had ever seen and said "I'm in, I'm in.”



 I believe that death isn't in our DNA. Because God created us as eternal beings and death only came after the fall, dying never sits well on our hearts. Even if a loved one lives a long life, we don't want them to go and miss them terribly after they are gone.  I always told my girls that death is the devil's last-ditch effort to get us to denounce our Savior. Many times and certainly in Hannah's case, the horrible suffering is just the devil working overtime. We give glory to God in and through our suffering. Oh, the crowns my little girl must have received when she entered into the presence of her God! We made a pact that day that we would meet her at the Tree Of Life... We truly have a little treasure in Heaven, and Heaven is a very sweet place for our family.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Different Way to Consider Death

If you have ever been to a baby shower or sat in a obstetrician's office, you've heard them...labor and delivery stories.  Oh, my goodness!  How we love to tell our stories of those life-changing moments.  Having six of those experiences myself, I have heard my fair share of "birth stories."  Like the roommate I had in the hospital after my very first 36 hour labor with son #1 (It is a miracle of God I ever had another!).  As I lay in my hospital bed the color of the sheets, she calmly looked over at me with a smile on her perky face and told me:  "Oh, my gosh!  I barely made it to the hospital!  I had a little backache a couple of hours ago and had NO IDEA I was in labor until I felt a little cramping and the need to push."  Say what???  A little cramping?????
   
I had changed my mind half-way through the birth process with my son and told the nurses:  "I am going home.  I've changed my mindI don't want to have a baby anymore."  See ya later!  NOTHING could be worth what I was going through.

But I was wrong.  The minute they put that darling, beautiful boy in my arms, I would have done it again...right then.  That is exactly why I had five more after Peter...I knew the joy.

Death is much like birth.  In fact, sometimes I think it is exactly like birth.  Just as with births, there are all kinds of "death stories."  Some are easy and peaceful...some painful and long, but in all there is a "birth" from one world to another.  For those who have loved the Lord Jesus and accepted His sacrifice in place of their sins, there is a "birth" from this dark world into the Light of His glorious presence where there is no more pain, no more fear or anxiety...a new life of pure peace and joy.  Those of us who know Him, no matter how difficult our death,  we will exclaim with joy, "Oh, this is worth it!!!"

BUT...it is as difficult to wrap our minds around this as it is for an infant in the womb to yearn for a world that he has never seen or experienced. 

The reality is for those of us who know the grace of Jesus in our lives, to God, our good Father, death is a welcoming home.  It is our birth into His loving presence and arms. 

Come to think of it, it makes complete sense that Jesus called this new life in Him being "born again!"

If you don't know this Jesus who has made a way for you to perfect joy, peace, and love in the presence of the Father, it is NEVER too late, nor are you ever too far gone.  How He loves you and waits for you to accept this free gift of new birth into TRUE life. If you cannot find someone to talk with about Jesus, you can message me here.  Or click on the link to  join the DV Women's Ministry Facebook Page where you can find a group of loving and compassionate women who would love to answer your questions and give support for your walk with Christ.

If we could grasp the truth of death and what it means to to those who follow Jesus as Lord, we would not fear death.  C. S. Lewis puts it this way:  

“Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.” 

Well, my sisters, (and occasional brothers:) this is a tough subject to tackle for all of us.  My hope is that as we think of Truth...His Truth..that our fear of death will fall away, so we might live this life with JOY!

Speaking of "joy,"  I have asked one of the most joyful people I know, my dear friend, Susi, to write a post for this week on "The Fear of Death."  I have watched Susi and her family live out a life of hope and joy AFTER losing their daughter,Hannah, to cancer.  You won't want to miss "Hannah's Story" tomorrow on the blog!!!!

Blessings, sweet ones!!!

Cherri


 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Fear of Failure


Fear of Failure

Well, if we have hit upon a universal fear, this has got to be it.  There are not many of us who say, “I just can’t wait to fail.”  The truth is, for most, success is how we measure ourselves.  Angie Smith in her chapter, “Midian’s Hand,” sure turns that widely held value on its head!!! 




After telling us about her father who is reading all kinds of books on painting and has all the supplies but won’t paint a stroke, because he is afraid it won’t be what he envisions it to be, Angie makes this highlighter worthy statement:

“To me, failure means it doesn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.  To God, it means I didn’t pick up the brush.”

 

Whoa!  Then she goes on to say this REALLY crazy thought…many times God uses our failures for a “greater cause.”  Our failures???

Years ago when my son Peter was a young, he decided he wanted to play basketball in the city leagues.  My husband and I, neither of us had ever played much basketball, and Peter was not the tallest kid out there, but we decided that it would be a good idea for Peter to play an organized sport. 

Let’s just say the season was less than stellar for Peter.  He didn’t make a basket until the very last game and that one was for the opposing team.  To tell you the truth, I wanted to pull him out half way through the season.  Not only was it difficult to watch your child fail, the parents were pretty insensitive and down right cruel at times.  I had really had enough.  My husband, however, would not allow Peter to quit. 

When the season FINALLY ended, I 
was relieved and never wanted to darken the doorstep of a basketball court again. I truly thought Peter would feel the same, but he had other ideas.  He actually wanted us to buy him a basketball.  So we did and a friend gave him a Larry Bird videotape (some of you youngsters are asking yourselves right now WHO is Larry Bird and WHAT is a video tape…but you will Google it and find out:).   

https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3546/3332208813_7c1578df79_z.jpgPeter spent a year wearing the tread off of numerous basketballs practicing the drills on that video. He bounced that basketball all over the mobile home and jumped EVERYWHERE until my nerves were on edge! By the time city leagues came around, a basketball was just another body part to Peter.  He could spin it not only on his finger for infinity, he could spin it, bounce it off his knee, his head or YOUR head and back to his finger not wavering once. 

Time for city league basketball came once again, but this time by the end of the season, Peter was the highest scoring player.  He went on to be the point guard for his high school team, winning awards and in his adult years, coached a high school team to a league championship and to the quarterfinals in California’s Southern Section play-offs. 

I wanted Peter to quit.  I had not a clue that in that season of failure, was a life lesson that would teach far more than had he been successful right off the bat.  My fear of failure could have cost Peter all the good in store for him.

 
-->Failure is not the opposite of success it is PART of success! 

It is a “win-win” for us because we serve THE Redeemer!  The Lord has good works for us to accomplish…kingdom work to be done!  We can’t allow our fear of failure to rob us of great things He has in store for our future!  Even if we hear Him wrong, or we try the first time and our best effort crumbles to dust in our hands, the Lord redeems even this! 

 
  
I went to a You Lead Conference recently and listened as one of our speakers encouraged us to NOT allow failure to make us give up.  She gave us story after story of how her own first attempts had mediocre and sometimes even disastrous results, but she learned and tried again.  Eventually, it led to a thriving and ever growing women’s ministry that reaches thousands!


 

How does the fear of failure impact your life?  What are you afraid to try because you think you are not “good enough” or that old two word “what if” enemy keeps putting an end to some good thing in your life you haven’t even begun?? 

My friend Melinda Byers is an extremely talented artists.  She kindly sent me pictures for this blog:  the empty canvas at the beginning...everything ready, but not a stroke taken.  And these that show the progression of what can happen when you DO pick up the brush!!! 


Pick up the brush, girls!!!!  And see what the Lord would paint on the canvas of your life!   

You are dearly loved and prayed for, girls!!

Cherri

Check out my sweet friend, Melinda Byers website.  You will LOVE her artwork!  Thank you, Melinda!!  You are the best!!! Click here:  Melinda Byers Artwork

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Fear of Being Found Out

 
The Fear of Being Found Out

What keeps us in hiding?  What keeps us from showing we really don’t have it together… life isn’t that “rosy” at the moment…we aren’t “fine” or “okay” at all?  


One of the reasons can be the fear of judgment and being “hammered” with Bible verses that apply to our particular brokenness. 
 
Angie mentions this in the chapter “Chasing His Hem:”   “I can think of several times that I really opened up about something I was struggling with and it was met by a posture and spirit of judgment coupled with Bible verses.  I wanted the Bible verses, but in the spirit of love and grace.”

Proverbs agrees…wisdom absolutely should be given, but tempered with kindness:   


I have been guilty of “holy spiriting” people, especially my family members and MOST especially, my husband:/.  It took a dear friend to speak some honest truth to me:  I make a “lousy” Holy Spirit.  I have found throughout the years the ones who have had the biggest impact on my life are those who have spoken to me honestly, with Godly wisdom, humility, kindness and my best interest at heart. 

Another reason we want to hide…or at least I want to hide as Angie writes is the fear “… we will let people down and not meet their expectations.  I think many of us feel the real ‘us’ will be exposed when we don’t rise up to what someone else thinks we should be.  So many of us feel burdened by our perceptions of the expectations of others.  We often live our lives trying to avoid letting people down.”  I know this one well…I lived it. 

I love that Angie entitled this chapter “Chasing His Hem” after the woman who reached out to touch his hem with a mustard seed faith and found herself healed of an embarrassing, ostracizing; and, I am sure, debilitating bleeding problem she had suffered with for years.


I reached for His hem one Sunday morning in church after listening to my pastor, David Parker, give a message the Holy Spirit spoke straight into my broken heart.  I was desperate for the Lord’s touch.  I knew nothing else would do.  Only Jesus could heal the deep wounds that I had covered for years.  

Reaching for Him, I began to cry, first silent, streaming tears, but then a deep grief welled up in my heart.  The “old” Cherri had just died a very ugly death…and I knew it.  There was no going back now…It was blatantly obvious I was NOT “okay.”  EVERYBODY knew that I was not the strong, resilient, always joyful, completely together “woman of God” that had been on display for all.  What they saw now, was the “real” me…a puddle on the sanctuary floor as they filed out quietly around me, and Peter, always Peter, my earthly rock, by my side rubbing my back and letting me know that all will be well.

Here is what I learned from that very vulnerable and humbling experience:

I survived!  It did not KILL me to let others know that I am broken too. 

I found compassion, understanding and unconditional love from the people around me!  The fear I had of judgment was a false perception that kept me in my own private prison.

I found freedom!  This is the MOST glorious part of the whole thing…that very painful moment freed me from caring about putting up fronts anymore. 

He truly can redeem anything!  I can see that the Lord had plans for all my “ugly” brokenness.  He knew taking me through that time of anxiety, depression and breaking, would lead me to, not only freedom, but the ability to empathize and point other sweet, suffering women toward His beautiful healing as well.
And sometimes, being “found out” can be one of the best things that ever happens to you!!!  I am so grateful that the Lord led me through a valley I never thought I would survive, to the place where I realize the truth:  Angie’s beautiful words say it like this:

You are the one I stop for.
You are the one I long to heal.
I know your name.  I know your heart.
I know everything about you, including that we would meet here today.
You are the one who sought me and
I delighted in knowing your hand would reach for My hem in faith. 
What you saw an act of desperation,
I saw as an act of love. 
How many never reach out to Me at all because they don’t think it would make a difference? 
Now go in peace and newness of life.

Dear sisters, have no fear!  Peace and newness of life are within your grasp…just reach for His hem!

Love you dearly!

Cherri

  Do you struggle with this "fear of being found out"?  Why do your think you hide the "real" you?  You can answer here on the blog, but you can also answer on the DV Women's Ministry Facebook page.  Many have found that easier.  Just ask to join!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Breaking The Social Anxiety Chains That Bind!

 
“Come join! Come join!”  they call to me.
I stretch my hand, but I can’t break free.
A thought inside my head revolving,
It’s not to you they’re calling.
Pull back your hand, buffoon,
Before they see You
And wryly sing a different tune.


Travel back with me to my awkward junior high years, where everyone has braces, pimples flourish, notes are passed, and there’s an overwhelming aroma of Bath and Body lotion, cologne and BO. I walked into this foreign world and saw a sea of faces I didn’t know, but I was fortunate to find two kindred spirits. We were inseparable, we played sports together, shared happy and sad days, vented to each other, and had ridiculous inside jokes.
Fast forward four years…  

We were now upperclassmen. The teachers liked us. We were pretty good at sports and were elected class officials. As the year progressed, I was given special attention and recognition in front of my friends, by teaches, coaches and some peers in our school. My successes were noticed, even my mediocrity was praised. For some inexplicable reason, this strange halo of favor hung over me throughout the year. Initially, I enjoyed the attention, but my friends became increasingly hurt and offended, and shared their feelings openly with me.  As the year progressed, this cycle continued and recognition in front of my friends stung them deeper and made me want to shrink ever smaller.

The night of the school awards show came, a friend spoke of an award she hoped to receive. But when the winner was announced, they called MY name. My face burned. My muscles tightened. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest and I wanted to disappear. I walked on stage to accept the award in front of the entire school. The teacher asked me to say something. I went blank. What do I say? I anxiously blurted out an ill-conceived, but quick reply. “I just want to thank all the little people who helped me get here,” and quickly exited stage left. Let me invite you into my mind immediately after, “Ugh!  Little people? Why did I say that? What do I do with this plaque? I can’t bring it back to my seat.” I found a dark place under the bleachers to hide it before walking back to my friends. Once I got to my seat, my friends were missing. 

From that point on, I became the “inside joke." They whispered and laughed as they peered at me and hurriedly walked several steps ahead. We were no longer, “kindred spirits;" our friendship was undone.  By the end of the school year I felt despised by the people who knew me best, and I just wanted to disappear. I transferred schools my senior year and sunk deeper into the fog of social anxiety.  Now, I was the new girl, but at least if people didn’t like me, I could say it’s because they didn’t really know me.


I understood where my friends were coming from. We saw ourselves as equals. How could anyone elevate one of us over the others and do it so publicly? My friends certainly had reason to feel frustrated.  Haven’t we all experienced some degree of that? You want a promotion, someone else gets it, then you think of a million reasons why it should have been you. 

Social anxiety is an unreasonable fear of social situations, based on the belief that people will judge you. The physical feelings and reactions I had the night I received the award are duplicated whenever I feel I’m at the center of attention. Sometimes just speaking to someone I view as important or intelligent will illicit this reaction.  

Here are four ways that social anxiety plays out in my life:

Lethargic Living. I recently attended a conference and the speaker was Lisa Bevere. She spoke about “living fully awake.” I love this! We cannot live fully awake if we let our anxiety suffocate us. I am guilty of giving in to that struggle at times. I have lethargically moved my children through their days and stealthily avoided peer conversation. Adding children to our family multiplied my anxiety. I felt the magnifying glass grow larger as my adorable goobers got older and started acting like children.




I notice when people give disapproving glances, my body reacts.  As a result, when an opportunity arises to be a part of social events my choice is often to stay home. Then, what do I do at home with my kids? The same “stuff” we did the last couple of weeks. If your days gray together and you can’t remember what you did on Monday, because it was so similar to Tuesday, Wednesday, etc… then you are living a life of lethargy.

A motivating factor to change lately; however, has in fact, been my kids. I don’t want to perpetuate anxiety in their lives and I want them to have friends. I’ve come to realize it’s hard for them to have friends if I choose not to interact and build relationship with their friend’s Moms.

A False Sense of Control. One day, at work, I was asked to speak to a teenager, we’ll call her Eve, who had been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when she was nine. She started hiding her medications instead of taking them and as a result landed back in the hospital. Initially, Eve denied knowing why she was hospitalized, denied having symptoms of Crohn’s, and even denied being diagnosed with Crohn’s. Eve’s illness was taking over her body, because she made a choice to ignore her illness, and in doing so she gave her illness control. 

It’s easy to look at Eve and think, “What in the world, kid! This is your body! Take care of it.” The truth is that anyone who feels like they are incomplete or broken will try to pretend like they’re not. I try my hardest to avoid anxiety-inducing situations, so I can feel like nothing’s wrong with me. 














 















By doing so I continually make my world smaller. My anxiety is running the show. Let’s stop pretending. We are all broken, but that’s why there’s Jesus.

Self-fulfilling Prophecy. When we allow our anxiety to permeate our relationships, we will lose friendships and/or potential friendships. There have been times when I or my family have been asked to be a part of something. Simultaneously, I’m thinking, “Yes! … But No.”
  
 I truly want to, but I can feel the anxiety dancing in my chest. Even if I say yes, I’m soon looking or hoping for a reason not to go. Not because I don’t love the people who invited us, but because I have let my anxiety cripple my movements. A lot of times I talk myself out of going and eventually those friends stop inviting me. I have rejected them one too many times.

Inactive Players in God’s Plan. 

 


















My anxiety can bind me. 
I see my weakness and I decide I’m not as capable or as needed as others. We are gifted opportunities to be a part of God’s plan. God is saying, “Come join, come join!” If we pull our hand back his plan will happen without us. What do I mean by inactive players? We have chosen God’s team, but we choose only to watch, not even from the bench because then we could be called up. No, we are nursing an old injury, watching the team play and thinking about how good it would be to be out there.

So, how do we fight? We go! We serve! We bravely allow ourselves to be awkward sometimes. I love that Angie Smith spoke of Leah. I had never noticed the part about her having “weak eyes” before. Not long ago I read through the book of Judges and what struck me was how imperfect the Judges were. The majority had something that could be perceived as a weakness or undesirable. God elevated prostitutes, foreigners, women, tax collectors, poor speakers, the list goes on. Here’s what I believe God is saying through these stories. Be willing and I will use you! Don’t let your brokenness stop you from being a part of something great. 


This post was written by guest author, Kirstin Fowler.