To Worry Or Not To Worry

Philippians 4:6: “Do not worry about anything.  But pray and ask God for everything you need.  And when you pray, always give thanks.”  (ICB)

It is very easy to be swept up with worry in our world today.  There are many issues that we can focus our attention on in this area including the state of our economy, upcoming elections, decisions being made in Washington, stability of jobs, and how technology impacts our world to name but a few.

I tend to be a worrier.  I am slowly seeing my life change positively in this area as I apply the above verse to my situations and concerns.  It is very easy to focus on the negative things in life, the areas where doom and gloom prevail, but I am learning to give God the big stuff, willing to sit back and watch how He is going to work.

However, I am realizing that God wants so much more for us.  He wants us to give Him not just the big worries mentioned above, but also the little ones.  I am learning through giving Him my big concerns that it is just as important to go to Him with the little things.  If it is important enough for God to mention in the Bible approximately 172 times, in one form or another, not to worry but to trust Him, then I need to listen.  In addition, nowhere have I found in the Bible that God differentiates between big fears and small worries.

It is easy to pray and ask God to help our government, but what about the rift in the relationship between friends?  Asking God to keep my family safe during the day is something I pray daily, but what about asking Him to show me which exercise program or diet will best fit my lifestyle and fitness level?

Before I started practicing this, I realized that even though I was giving God the “hurricane type problems” in my life, I was spending just as much time and energy worrying about the “thunderstorms” that seem to come up daily, if not hourly.

In order to fully rest in God’s safety net, I need to learn how to give Him both the big and small issues in my life.  It is only then that I can truly be relaxed, praising God ahead of time or in the midst of issues, and then trusting Him for the answers to everything in my life.

As I learn how to do that, then I am free to look around and see how I in turn can help others because my focus is not on myself.  Instead, I can be on the lookout of how I can bless others around me – with a smile, a kind word, or a helping hand.  Lastly, I am being a much better example for my children and a better spouse, friend, or coworker when I spend less time worrying and more time being a positive example to those around me.

Do You Have What It Takes?

Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (NIV).

Authenticity is not for cowards.  According to the Webster’s New World Dictionary, to be authentic is to be reliable, credible; genuine, real.  Those are some powerful words.  The question is whether or not we want to step up and accept the challenge of living an authentic life or ignore the word and continue our relationships as they are.

What exactly would an authentic life look like?  It would be free of manipulation, but full of in-depth, sometimes painful conversations.  It does not mean always expressing every single emotion you are feeling all the time, but it does make sure that ignoring the truth is not an option due to the risk of causing hurt feelings.  Authenticity is kind but honest, exposes layers slowly, but gently, and always has the other person’s best interest in mind.  It is unselfish, unconditional, and loving, but always maintaining honesty.

It can take on various forms in different situations.  At times, it would mean not settling for a pat answer from a spouse or friend when you know he or she is not being completely truthful.  It could be putting down the remote or walking away from Facebook and engaging your children in a real dialogue about their day, their friends, and their interests instead of dismissing their sighs and complaints for the hundredth time.  It could also resemble making the conscious choice to complete the one chore that both you and your spouse hate, just because you want to put a smile on his or her face, expecting nothing else in return.

When chosen, authenticity can reap great rewards.  This is best accomplished when both people fully embrace being authentic with each other.  However, even if one person actively engages in this characteristic and the other does not, positive changes can still occur.  Whatever the relationship, when put into practice, it creates possibilities to take risks and let your guard down.  This, in turn, can transform mediocre relationships into ones where real depth can occur, creating an environment for each person to discover a little more about the true heart of their spouse, child, or friend and possibly even more about him or herself.

When looked at that way, I would rather take the extra time needed to dig deeper into the heart of someone I care about then drift through life casually.  Authenticity is not for every situation all the time, but I challenge you to look for opportunities where you can start reaching for some level of authenticity in the most important relationships in your life.  I am sure that you and your loved one will be
happy you did just that.

It Takes A Village

“‘Omwana ni wa bhone,’ meaning regardless of a child’s biological parent(s), (his) upbringing belongs to the community.” Kijita (Wajita) Proverb.

The saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” (unknown source) is a commonly tossed around phrase.  There have been numerous books written about this important topic as well.  I feel that I was granted the privilege of being raised in this type of atmosphere and feel blessed that my children also get to experience it to some degree.  My family moved around a lot when I was younger, but from my earliest memories until age ten, we lived in Pennsylvania.  My dad was the pastor of a small community church that consisted of probably around 35 to 40 families’ total.  However, we were all transplanted so none of us really had extended family around – grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.  We became our own extended family.  We shared all major holidays together, had Super Bowl parties (we lived there during the time the Steelers won four Super Bowls), New Year’s Eve was always a whole church affair, and Easter started with a sunrise service following which the men would cook an all-church pancake breakfast for the women and children before we would have the traditional service that followed.

Spending all that time together, it was a great experience to learn about different parenting styles, kids creating bonds with each other with the older ones looking out for the younger ones, and different parents stepping up and helping whichever child had a need, regardless to whom that child belonged.  Families would babysit for each other without expecting monetary compensation, meals were shared with families that were in need, and it was just a time of real community.

Now, fast forward thirty years.  A lot has changed in our world from the 70s and 80s to now.  Technology has advanced at lightning speed, the way the economy is now does not give job security like it did so there is more migrating to where the jobs are, and family life is just busier than it seemed to be with more things vying for our attention.

However, the sense of community can still prevail.  Friends can still make time to get together to share their struggles, joys, and just offer a different perspective on a problem that you may be experiencing with your child.  Grandparents are great resources in that they offer a completely different glimpse at life.  They can share about their own childhood and how they were raised in addition to how they raised you (yes, usually embarrassing stories to come), showing your children what life was like before all this technology was around.  Also, even though your parenting style will probably look different than your parents or your in-laws since you are blending both your husband and your preferences together, as parents we can gain wisdom by listening to advice from our parents or other older women in the church and community since they have already traveled the road we are on.

It seems to be a touchy subject now days if a parent other than the child’s biological one tries to correct behavior of a youth in public, but really, if done without ridicule or embarrassment; isn’t that best for everyone?  If we would just step up and help each other, offering assistance when it is needed and giving each other that extra hand that we all need from time to time, maybe we could regain some of that sense of community that seems to be losing its grip.  I, for one, enjoy the Biblical family values of my past, and am working at keeping them alive for my children to pass onto their children.  Who wants to join me?

Mom Guilt

Proverbs 14:1   The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. (NIV)

I am a work-from-home mom.  I have resisted that title for years but finally am ready to admit it.  I always thought of myself as a stay-at-home mom (which is a full time job itself) who worked two part-time jobs from home on the side.  I am realizing that no, I’m a work-from-home mom which means I have two part-time jobs with all the responsibilities that come with that, and have the privilege of completing that work in my home so that I am able to raise my children, for the majority of time, by myself.  (Thank you to my mom who comes in and helps me for a few hours two days a week and my mother-in-law who steps in when I ask for help at other times as well.  It definitely takes a community to raise a child and we will talk about the importance of that in the next blog.)

Having said that, I am finally admitting that I am a mother with a job who is privileged to work from home so that I can raise our children.  However, with this title, there is a whole new set of guilt that sets in with this type of situation.  My job requires me to sit at a computer for long periods.  Therefore, I always felt guilty if my children were left to play on their own, entertain themselves, or (gasp), have to do things for themselves that are age appropriate things to do like fix their own lunch, clean up after themselves, or help out with chores around the house like fold and put away laundry, vacuum, or dust.

Growing up, I always envisioned that I would be the type of stay-at-home mom who waited for the school bus with her kids, sending them off with a hug and kiss every morning, before tackling all the chores while the kids were at school.  There would always be fresh fruit on the counter ready to grab when someone wanted a healthy snack.  When they returned, I would have fresh, hot chocolate chip cookies and milk waiting so we could sit at the kitchen table and talk about their day before they went away (willingly) to do their homework and I started supper.  I am not sure why I envisioned that scenario, as my own mother was not a stay-at-home mom.  She was a teacher.  My dad is the one who put me on the school bus every morning and waited for me when I got home every afternoon.  It was expected that our entire family would pitch in with the chores during the weeknights so that we would have free weekends to play as a family.

I grew up learning responsibility, how to find ways to entertain myself, and receiving the satisfaction of a job well done when I finished what I started, even if it was hard.  I did not have videogames, Facebook, the internet, or cable TV to entertain me either.  In addition, I did not always have the luxury of having friends close by to come hang out each and every day.

I wondered why having had the childhood experience that I did, and it was a great childhood, I felt so guilty as a mom for not being able to live up to the standard I had envisioned for myself as a stay-at-home mom?  I realized that it was not so much that I wanted to give my children that scenario everyday as it was that I did not want to miss out on any part of their growing up by sitting at a computer instead of sitting with them.

I have since realized that God definitely knows what He is doing.  Some women are truly gifted to be stay-at-home moms, others are happier working full- or part-time outside of the home, and others still are gifted at working full- or part-time from the home.  I have the type of personality that I think would smother my children if I did not have something else to occupy my time.  I would raise incredibly selfish, self-centered children if I had the opportunity to focus completely on them.  Instead of creating opportunities to teach my children new domestic skills or working on chores together, I would reenact the above scenario and have everything done, making my children believe that they are the center of the universe and they do not have to contribute to our family to help keep it running.

By being a contributor to our household finances, God has blessed me by providing a wonderful opportunity to teach my children the lessons that I was taught growing up.  They are able to get satisfaction out of starting and then completing a difficult project, they learn responsibility by helping out with chores that keep our family life running smoothly, and are navigating how to occupy themselves alone or master the important skills of getting along with others, even those that irritate you sometimes as siblings tend to do.

And, I still have plenty of time every morning to wait outside with them for the bus as well as take a break from work long enough for them to tell me about their day when they get home before they go find themselves a snack, sometimes frozen chocolate chip cookies that were baked on the weekends, sometimes fruit from the bowl on the counter.  Weekends and weeknights are spent working on chores together, running last-minute errands, or finding some fun activity that we can do together as a family.

As I sit here writing this, I am overhearing my middle child assist the two-year-old in finding a healthy snack.  She is teaching him words like broccoli and apple and I am feeling really good that not only is she able to meet her own age-appropriate needs, but she is helping him to learn how to satisfy his in a healthy way as well.

There are still days that I feel overwhelmed with balancing my paying job and raising our children, but overall, I feel very blessed with how my life is structured.  As a great friend of mine, Melissa, reminds herself and me regularly, this is only one season in our children’s lives.  We may be busier or less busy in each season, but each is only a season.  We must remember to be kind to ourselves as well.  One season may have more time for holding and cuddling, another season has more time for teaching, and yet another season may be just for enjoying, but each season should be treasured for the season that it is.

Yes, God definitely knows all the time what He is doing, and for me to work part-time from home is better for my children, and myself, than my misguided image of what a stay-at-home mom would have looked like.  The added bonus:  The mom guilt is slowly fading, being replaced with pride in the lessons my children are learning to help them achieve the independence they will need as they grow into adults and possibly become parents themselves someday.


Better Today Than Yesterday

I Corinthians 6:19-20: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your bodies” (NIV).

Last year I blogged about a great saying that was given to me by a friend, talking about taking it to the NEXT level.  That idea really helped me realize that I do not have to attain perfection; I just have to bring it up one notch.  That motivated me to work at being my best, not someone else’s, but only comparing me to myself.

Adding to that concept, I want to introduce the next step of the “Take it to the NEXT level” philosophy.  This idea is that God deserves my best, which should be better today than it was yesterday.  When you break it down, that truth can be applied very easily to all areas of our lives.

I will be a better wife to my husband today than yesterday because one more layer of our relationship will have been exposed, thereby having the chance to make his life easier instead of harder, more pleasant instead of more difficult.  I will be a better mother because I will have connected one more time with my kids today than I did yesterday, learning something else that is unique to each of them.  I will be better to myself because I will have unlocked another key toward my personal goal of healthy living or time management or boundaries with others.  I will be a better friend today than I was yesterday because I will have learned something new either about our friendship or my friend herself, implementing those changes to show that I care.  I will be a better customer, coworker, client, acquaintance, and person overall.

It does not have to take a lot of time or energy to discover one new thing about yourself or about family, friends, coworkers, or acquaintances.  It does, however, take purposeful commitment to strive to be your best, which will make you better today than you were yesterday.

So my challenge to you is this:  How many opportunities can you find throughout your day to discover something new about yourself or those around you, taking it not only to the NEXT level, but improving your personal best a little at a time, each and every day?  Hopefully, by doing so, the journey ahead can be one that is filled with love, laughter, and a lot of fun.

It’s Your Choice

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing:  the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”  Viktor Frankl

Do you ever notice that some people have a perpetual smile on their face while others are described more easily as miserable most of the time?  Part of it could be that some people are more naturally optimistic and others more pessimistic, but I think there is more to it than that.

I think that people have a choice to determine how they are going to look at circumstances.  I am not suggesting that people pretend life is wonderful when they are facing home foreclosure, unemployment, serious illness, or death of a loved one.  I am saying that despite worldly circumstances, sometimes incredibly serious ones, every individual still has power over one important aspect of his life.

Choice:  We all have it.  We can choose to worry or we can choose to trust.  We can choose to dwell on the negative aspect of a situation or we can choose to find the positive, even if it is very small.  We can choose to praise God in the midst of our “life lesson,” or we can choose to have a negative attitude that affects not only our life but those around us too – spouse, children, family, friends, and coworkers.

I know, even though it is a choice, it is hard at times to focus on trusting God instead of focusing on the circumstance.  It is hard to focus on the few positives that are occurring instead of the huge looming negatives staring in our face.

But, ultimately, it is a choice.  What legacy do we want to leave to those around us – whether they are our children or our friends?  Do we want to be known as people who trusted God when the circumstances were bleak and seemed impossible, knowing that He would come through for us, usually in ways that we could never imagine?  Or do we want to be remembered as people who put our trust in ourselves, situations, or other people and the outcomes did not turn out as favorably?

I personally am working toward being the type of person known for trusting God, asking Him to show off in my life for His glory, not mine, so that I can then in turn introduce more people to the goodness and grace that He offers to them as well.  And lastly, probably most importantly, I have found that the more I stretch my choosing trust muscle, the more miracles I see performed in my life and the better witness to God’s goodness I can be to those around me.  When I focus on trusting God instead of focusing on my problems, then I am more open to looking around and seeing how I can bless others instead of thinking only about me.  While I am choosing to trust, it is important to thank God ahead of time for what answer He is going to provide.  That is the example I want to be to others around me.

Don’t Forget To Laugh

Proverbs 17:22: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Dishes piled in the sink, bills three feet high, potty training gone wrong, car repairs desperately needed, clothes spilling out of the baskets into the room…can anyone relate?

In this crazy world called life, I have a tendency to have tunnel vision.  My schedule on a typical week looks something like this:  Mondays and Thursdays are wash days along with any other day that the clothes are overflowing.  Fridays are reserved for grocery shopping and running errands in addition to work that is left over from the Tuesday through Thursday high volume ‘work from home’ days, which leaves the weekends for playing catch up with cleaning the house, organizing the clutter, yard work, more errands, more laundry, and the list goes on.  Oh, and I almost forgot all the extracurricular school activities that are crammed in at night several days out of the week, spilling over into the weekends as well.  Where is there room for fun…Or is this the fun that I am supposed to be having?

I am learning that if I do not purposefully create fun memories and encourage lots of laughter, then life will get really boring really quickly.  My mom taught me from a young age that a mother is the heart of her home.  If a mother has an attitude of fun, then the whole household tends to be calmer and more relaxed.  Forgiveness comes quicker, feelings are hurt less often, and mistakes are quickly forgotten.

That is why I am trying to remember not just on special occasions, but as part of our regular routine, to keep that fun alive.  Baking cookies can turn into a “sweet shoppe,” complete with cash register, customers, and gratuity (if the service is good enough).  Cleaning the house can be an opportunity to practice your vocal skills by turning up the radio, wearing earplugs if necessary.  Yard work goes much faster while playing the craziest mind games you can imagine.  One of our favorites is the alphabet game using candy, DVDs, TV shows, or exotic animals as the categories.  Even driving back and forth in the car on various errands is much more fun when everyone talks in a different accent for the day, looking for different state license plates, or guessing closest to the time we will finish in a particular store and are back in the car.

What are some ways that your family takes life from ordinary to extraordinary, turning mundane tasks into opportunities for laughter, fun memories, and a more loving atmosphere?  Not only are you passing on a great trait to your kids, but they say, “laughter is the best medicine,” so you are improving your health at the same time.  I will choose that over a run around the block any day.

Family Spirit Week

Our children’s elementary school celebrates reading month in March, complete with fun activities every Friday.  Spring Break rides the coattails of that fun experience, giving the kids a week-long break from school to regroup, coming back refreshed and ready to finish the school year strong.

That got me thinking – This year, instead of making Spring Break mundane and ordinary, with hours of watching TV, lots of “I’m bored,” and arguments over getting chores done, I am going to host our first ever “Family Spirit Week.”  Even though I will still be working while my children are home from school, I think I can make the time more interesting and less boring by interspersing some creative and fun activities throughout the day that they can do on their own, together as siblings, or with me participating when available.  This should be a nice change from our normal routine.

Every day will be a different activity for the kids to participate in, maybe even a different theme.  It will give us all a chance to use our imagination and get creative.  In addition to outfits they get to create, we will have time for various fun activities.  Who doesn’t like the chance to be silly (trust me, there is nothing sillier than watching a Just Dance competition that I am in), work on family values in a fun way (any type of competitive activity is a great lesson in sharing, turn taking, and being a gracious winner and/or loser), and participate in things that normally would be off limits.  I will be pulling out past favorites that are saved for special occasions like: Dessert for dinner, Skipping your least favorite chore, and our kids’ all-time favorite, Chore Free day.  In addition, we might add new things to try such as Backwards day or Opposite day being possibilities.  If I ask, I am sure my kids will come up with some even better themes.  This year, I think I might turn it up a notch.  One day might be “Volunteer day.”  That day will focus on doing something for others expecting nothing in return.

All of us, whether stay at home moms or moms that work from the home or outside the home, we are all busy, so Family Spirit Week does not have to be some huge, detailed, “every minute scheduled” project.  I am envisioning a week where every day there are a few fun things to look forward to.  What I am thinking about involves dressing in a different themed outfit each day, one fun activity (either for the children to participate in by themselves or with the addition of mom), one chore to be completed, and one family value that is talked about.  There will still be plenty of downtime for the kids and time to get our work done as moms.

I do not know exactly how the final product is going to look yet, but I am
excited about this opportunity to reinforce in a fun way some of the values that we have been working on for years.  I am sure there will be some kinks to work out, but if it goes really well, Family Spirit Week might become a yearly tradition to look forward to.  Of course, we will have to finish the week with a huge celebration of sorts – maybe a family movie night or a family-friendly competition either outside or with board games.  We could always do our new favorite pastime which is taking a bike ride together.  Whatever it ends up looking like, if we are together, it will be fun.

What about you?  Is there one thing that you can do purposefully this Spring Break with your kids to help create lasting memories while enforcing some family values in a fun way?  If everyone gave one comment about what your particular family enjoys, then we all could add to our resources and create different, fun family memories than we have in the past.

Personalize It!

“Draw close to God and he will draw close to you…”  James 4:8.

I have talked often about how personal the God is that I serve.  God likes to answer our prayers in very individual ways and He does not show favoritism.  God loves to personalize each situation for each individual, knowing better than anyone does the best solution to fit each person’s needs, experiences, and desires.  One thing that is important to remember is that God is not going to go against His own beliefs or teachings for anyone’s blessings.  That, too, is reassuring, because confidence is found when the answer received is perfect in all ways just for you and your situation.

I received a particular blessing recently that began back in May 2011.  I had been working for two separate companies as an independent contractor in medical transcribing in order to have the privilege of working from home while raising our family.  I received a phone call in May stating that I was being let go; not because of my job performance, but the lines I was typing were needed for a full-time employee.  Getting off the phone, my first response was to panic.  After a few minutes, I deliberately chose a different response.  While scared about the prospect of losing one-quarter to one-third of my paycheck, effective immediately, I decided that I was going to trust God to provide for our family.  He prompted me to email a friend that I had formerly worked for and ask if her company was hiring.  They were, she was interested, and I was hired after only eight hours of being unemployed.  The only downside to this employment was it could possibly be temporary.  The company’s account was renewed every three months and if not renewed, then I would be without work again.  I had a peace that this was the job I was supposed to take and therefore, I continued to trust God for my paycheck every week, thanking Him for this opportunity to work again with a valued friend.

Fast forward to October 2011:  I had just returned from attending a Write It To The Bank seminar hosted by Dan Miller and his family.  I came back home to a job that I enjoyed, feeling that God was beginning to help me forge a different career path.  While on the trip, during the conference, I asked God to please, if it was His will, to make it possible for me to make enough money to pay the bills while working only for the main company I typed for, freeing up some time for me to pursue the journey He was leading me down.  I asked God for the timeframe of being finished with the smaller company in December or maybe January at the very latest.

December and January came and went.  My workload had doubled since returning home in October and I was feeling a little frustrated:  I needed more balance in my life, I needed more time to get things accomplished, and I wanted to see some results.  I realized my attitude was not helping anyone, especially myself.  So, I chose, once again, to give God my frustrations, ask Him to help me find balance, and be thankful for the two companies that were allowing me to work for them.  By changing my attitude, I again felt peace that I was where I was supposed to be at this particular time in my life.  I gave up my time tables and just waited for God to show me what He wanted to happen in my life, grateful that I had work and a plan.

February 2012:  I received a call from the smaller company wondering if I could work more, not less.  I was flattered and willing to help out, but explained to her how much work I was currently doing.  She asked if I would rather quit than continue with their company because of the current workload I was already experiencing.  After explaining how I had been praying about the situation and not really feeling like God was calling me to quit, I agreed to hang on until the end of February when more information would be available regarding the account.  Again, I chose to trust and felt a real peace that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.  Almost exactly one week later, the decision had been made for me.  The company did not receive the renewal for the contract, and by the end of March, I would be done with this particular company.  I am incredibly thankful to be able to work at a job I thoroughly enjoy, for a wonderful boss, while walking in God’s timetable the next step of the journey that He has planned for my life.  I will miss the other company and the experiences that they gave me, but I am so thankful that they were willing to hire me back in May of 2011.

This experience showed me many different lessons:  When I actively choose to have faith in God instead of giving in to fear during situations that are incredibly stressful and seem quite hopeless from a human perspective, He always comes through in an incredibly personal way.  When I actively choose to trust God for wisdom in situations, He again always gives the right answer at the right time, His time.  I find that sometimes the answer is not just to bless me, but also to bless others.  When I give up my agenda, choosing to praise Him and trust that His will is best, even if the answer is “no or not yet,” that is usually when God shows off with his answer the most.

God never disappoints.  In my experience, He has never given me an answer that has been detrimental or negative for me or my household.  He will, however, allow less-than-ideal circumstances in my life to teach lessons or help me grow in faith or show me something I would not otherwise have learned, but He, Himself, has always been dependable, personal, and individual in answering my prayers to supply our needs, and sometimes, more often than not, allowing us to enjoy some “wants” too.

My prayer in telling this story is that you will desire to want to experience God personally in your life too.  The great news is that you can – but it is up to you to choose!

Fear or Faith

“Courage is just fear that has said its prayers,” (Dorothy Bernard).

We are all afraid of something.  What we are afraid of may look different, but the feelings experienced when fear sets in are very similar.  It is the rapid heartbeat, the lump in the throat, shaking all over, or the feeling of wanting to run, scream, or hide.

Fear has many different forms, each form causing a different reaction.  While the fear of failure may paralyze some people and keep them from pursuing their dream, the fear of dying young or having an early heart attack may spur others on to healthier eating and regular exercise.  We have a saying in our house:  Courage is not about never being scared, it is about not quitting even while still afraid.

In my opinion, you cannot talk about courage in the midst of fear without including the element of faith.  Faith in something that motivates people even more than fear does.

While fear can motivate some people to achieve great things, it causes paralysis in others that keep them from pursuing their destiny.  Faith is much more powerful than fear, without the negative consequences.  Faith is courage with wings.  Faith essentially says that you are relying on Someone who is bigger, stronger, and much more competent than yourself to help you figure out what decision to make, direction to go, or even how to begin to conquer that ever-consuming paralyzing fear that you have struggled with for too long.  Faith, like everything else in our lives, is very personal.  Therefore, when making the decision to hand your fears over to the One who can handle them by choosing faith, it is amazing to see just how personal the answer is that you will receive.

While both fear and faith can be motivators in our lives, when given the choice, I am going to choose faith.  Faith that my God is personal and knows what is best for my life and faith that when I follow His plan instead of mine, it will be better than anything I could have chosen for myself.

Where does someone start who wants that kind of faith?  It is really quite simple.  God talks about how much easier it is for a child to have faith than adults.  This is not because children are dumb; instead, it is because they are more trusting and do not try to handle their problems themselves.  God wants us to trust Him and hand our problems over to Him, without taking them back.  When I do that, I am always humbled to see just how personally God answers.  I know that He is willing to do that for me, and that makes me excited to think about the amazing things He is waiting to do for you!