Tuesday, July 22

What Would You Do If You Weren't AFRAID?

Several years ago, I was sitting in a Bible study. We'd been walking through Galatians. Each week, we'd look at a few verses and then participate in discussion. The theme of Galatians is FREEDOM. This particular night, we were discussing how often FEAR hinders our FREEDOM.

So, my friend and our leader asked this question, "What would you do if you weren't afraid?"

What a question! As adults, we don't usually think about fear like this. Fear is something children deal with a bedtime, or maybe with a bully at school.... But, we grow out of fear KEEPING us from DOING! Right?

That particular night, I thought only for a minute. Then, I answered that question for me.... "I would get certified to teach aerobics."

I know you're laughing! I know that's crazy. Of all the important things going on in the world, I was pondering my desire to teach aerobics. Even crazier, I was afraid to do it. It was an eye opening experience. Clearly, fear played a big part in my living. If fear was keeping me from doing something as simple as becoming certified to teach at a gym, surely fear was keeping me from bigger things as well.

Last week, I felt led to share that story with my Bible study group. It was relevant to our lesson, so I asked them the same question. I pray that it opened their hearts and minds to look for the evidence of fear in their lives. My own heart and mind have been opened to revisit this question and my answer. I answered that question 7 years ago. A little over 6 years ago I DID get certified to teach aerobics. So, this week, I've been able to look back at what God's done through this ONE area in my life.

Because of my certification, I was given the opportunity to work for Mississippi College. I taught 3 fitness classes to their students. These classes were just like my normal, gym class. But, my students were college students, and they were receiving college credit for attending. I LOVED that job. I LOVED being able to invest in the lives of college students at MC. Through teaching aerobics, I was given the opportunity to invest in lives at a key time in their lives. Fighting fear and becoming certified opened a door to ministry! 

You know my story, and I've mentioned the date August 26th a lot. But, that's the start of a weekend that completely changed my life. Our news hit on a Friday morning. Scotty resigned from ministry that Sunday morning. Needless to say, I was pretty lifeless by the end of that weekend. However, MC began their first full week of classes that very next day, and I taught on Mondays. So, I woke up that morning, put on my gym clothes, and went to work. I hadn't eaten and hadn't really slept. But, I was going to teach 3 straight hours of classes... spinning, pilates, and a cardio class. You sort of NEED fuel and sleep to teach that many classes. For an entire semester, I would go to the gym on Monday and Wednesday and have NO idea how I could make it through those classes. But, every Monday and Wednesday, I experienced peace and calm during those hours. I felt energized and ready to attack each new class. Most days, I'd walk out of my last class either crying or wiped out. It was extremely clear to me that God literally held me up, gave me energy, provided JUST the amount of grace needed to do my job well.... with JOY! Fighting fear and becoming certified gave the Lord the opportunity to demonstrate HIS strength and power IN and THROUGH me. 

Today, I'm getting ready to head to the gym and lead spinning. Teaching classes at the gym is a HUGE part of my life now. When we moved to New Albany, I'd decided that I was done with this kind of teaching. I felt like it was a season, and that season was over. God's plans were different than my plans. A position opened soon after I arrived, and I teach most mornings at 8:00. I can't even describe how much of a blessing these classes are to me. I've met people through these classes that have encouraged me, they've introduced me to people and helped me get TOT going, and they've simply encouraged my soul on a daily basis. Still, almost three years after our crisis, I still wake up some mornings and feel like there's NO way I can go and do an hour of HIGH energy activity. Yet, God strengthens and sustains! And, I always walk out of class with a better sense of God's presence in and through my life. I NEVER thought I'd ever teach at a gym in New Albany, MS. But, God did. Fighting fear and becoming certified prepared me for a life I didn't even know was coming.

So, what would YOU do if you weren't afraid? That's a great question. If I hadn't been asked, and I hadn't decided I was more afraid of missing out on God's leading than my own fear of failure, a huge part of my life now would be different. Reflecting on this question for our class this week has led me to believe that I need to ask myself THIS particular question on a daily basis. Fear hinders Freedom ALWAYS! And, I want to be free! 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. So, choosing to let fear dictate what I choose to do and not do is making the choice to lived OUTSIDE of the knowledge of all that Christ has done for me. Remember, living in freedom won't necessarily be easy (attacking our fears never is), but I can promise it will be worth it!

Friday, July 18

Freedom is NEVER Free & Redemption is NEVER Easy

This summer is flying by! I know it always does. But, every year, it seems to move a little faster. Am I ready to hit the books again, get back into a full routine, and force myself back into making a plan for all of the chaos? Not! At! All! But, that's for another day and another post.

Today, I have something else on my brain, and it's this.... Life is just hard!

Can I get an "AMEN"?

Most days, I'm ok with that fact. I understand it. I can take it. And, I know that it's these very difficulties that are keeping me focused on The Lord and on the eternal life I won't get to fully experience until Heaven. But, some days (today is one of those days), I take offense to the fact the life is just hard. I take offense to the fact that it must continue to be hard. And, I REALLY take offense to the fact that sometimes difficult circumstances seemingly get resolved ONLY to pop up again days, weeks, months, and years later. Can't we sometimes just fix it and forget it?

So many wonderful things have happened for us this summer. We've had some really great experiences. And, there is so much about our life at home that has become comfortable and easy again. I'm grateful for that. However, there hasn't been much time to enjoy that comfort, because God's decided it's time to work on other areas with me.

I'm leading Bible study again. We are studying The Patriarchs by Beth Moore. As we've moved through Genesis and studied the dysfunction of this first family, all sorts of YUCK has come up from my childhood/teenage years. I guess these would be things I've never dealt with. And, here's the thing.... I've discovered that IF I'd dealt with them as they were happening, it really would have been easier. At almost 40, it's not fun AT ALL. After all we've been through, though, I KNOW dealing with the pain and ugly is worth it! I believe there's FREEDOM on the other side, but I must go to war to reach it. See.... Freedom is never actually free! Someone always pays for it.

Secondly, God has decided that it's time for me to deal with this whole friend thing. If you know me at all, you know that I've had friends, cherished friends, and needed friends all of my adult life. I just enjoy sharing life through friendships. I won't say that I haven't had friends over the past 2 years. Truly, I have some friends that had been "on the fringe" for years that stepped in when I needed them and became ROCKS to me. These are friendships that I still treasure today and am so grateful for them.

But, God and I decided that it is time for me to start seeking new friendships HERE in my new home. I was very excited about this journey! Very! And, then, we began, and I realized that ALL SORTS OF EMOTION was going to come from this venture. You see, (and I'll be vague on purpose) two and a half years ago, God took me from hurt to forgiveness quickly! I skipped ANGER! That was a good thing THEN, because I didn't need to focus on anyone other than my husband and my children at that time. And, anger keeps you focused on the person you're angry with. But, I've found out that you CAN skip anger, BUT only for a time. It will still arrive, and arrive it did!!!! It was short, granted, but hurt and confusion still came after. Again! Even though we'd already done that step. However, I KNOW that dealing with the PAIN and dealing with the UGLY is worth it! Always!! So, God and I went to work AGAIN! Fighting for FREEDOM.

Why can't any of it be easy? Why? I know the answer. But, I still want to ask "why" just one more time. Why?

Right now, for me, everything is hard emotionally. If you'd like, you can pray for that. On any given day, I'm just right on the brink of tears. I'm not talking eyes watering, maybe even dripping a little... I'm talking on the verge of buckets of tears to the point that all witnesses will wish they'd never even begun a conversation with me.

But, even in the difficulty, here's my encouragement.... It's all worth it! I COULD brush it all under the rug again. We could put on a happy face and move along. But, then.... there's no FREEDOM. It will show up again. Whatever "it" is, it doesn't just go away. Like a 2 liter, carbonated drink, it's emptied only 2 ways. It can be shaken and shaken and shaken until it explodes all over the kitchen. Or, it can be poured and swallowed a little at a time over a period of time. That's us! Our "junk" needs to come out. It's healthy. And, a little at a time is so much better than an explosion. I know! Then, when we've done the HARD WORK, we experience the fruit of that labor..... JOY & FREEDOM.


This morning, in week 7 of my Genesis study, Beth Moore spoke to this very thing much more beautifully than I can (imagine that)..... :)

"Redemption is when the pain is treated and turned around so thoroughly that it not only loses its power to do you harm but also gains the power to do some good..... I have known suffering, and it gives me a depth of compassion and understanding that I would never have otherwise possessed. When all was said and done, Satan got caught in the very snare he set for me. Don't stop working with God until Satan's evil plan for your life or your family backfires in his ugly face."

God redeems, but we have to cooperate. Our call is to work WITH Him, and it's rarely easy. But, it's ALWAYS worth it. Hang in there and see it ALL the way through. And, pray that I will too.