by Terri Owens Blanchard

Fear

I was absolutely certain that given the slightest opportunity, the boogey man would grab my leg from under the bed and drag me into the deep dark abyss where I would never see my parents again. After turning off the light at bedtime, I’d quickly run and jump into bed and hide under the covers scared to death. Instead of sleeping peacefully, I allowed my fear to torment me. As a child, I was so overwhelmed by my irrational fear of the boogey man that I had lost sight of the reality that the boogey man was only a figment of my imagination!

Fear vs. Faith

Sometimes, our perceived fears can cause us to think and behave illogically. Consequently, this can prevent us from experiencing a fulfilling reality. For instance, a fear of heights could cause me to avoid a high-rise building. But it is only by going to the top of the building that would allow me to catch the glimpse of the sunrise over the city that could take my breath away. If I allow my fear to control my behavior then I could miss out on something spectacular.  

In the same way, we often allow our fears to keep us from God’s best for us. Had shepherd boy David succumb to a fear of giants, he never would have defeated Goliath and later become a king. David replaced a fear of giants with faith — he knew that the battle belonged to the Lord. Likewise, our fear must be replaced by faith.

Faith

God does not want us to live in fear. In fact, the Bible tells us 365 times not to fear! Every single day we are to have faith not fear. We can override our fear with faith. One way to do that is to find a scripture verse that speaks to our fear. For example:

  •  The scripture I memorized, spoke repeatedly, and wrote all over my house when my husband was deployed to Iraq was Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
  • When I have to do something that I am afraid to do (like public speaking, ugh!) I rehearse Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  • These days when I have a hard time sleeping, I read Psalm 4:8, “In peace, I will both lie down and sleep, for you O Lord will keep me safe.”

I encourage you to identify your fear and find a scripture verse for it. Decide to walk in faith and not fear. Realize how God can work in your life when you don’t let fear stand in the way. Determine to enjoy all that God has for you! 

Feel free to share what fear you have and what verse helps you. That verse may help someone else also.

Terri Owens Blanchard is very happily married to John Blanchard. She is also a mother, a Mimi to her granddaughter, a Mary Kay Consultant, a small group leader to the Military Wives group, and an assistant small group coach. She loves to shop, travel, and shop as she travels! She also enjoys spending time with family, friends and her crazy pets. She can be reached at t.blanchard1@yahoo.com. 

by Julie Jaunese

Anxiety – anx-i-e-ty [ang-zahy-i-tee], noun, meaning distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune.  This is such a small word.  Most people reading this are no longer children but are now adults.  Can the experiences in our life as children cause us anxiety as adults?  Absolutely.

When I was 11, my mother and I came home from a morning of shopping with one of my sisters.  When we drove in the driveway my 9-year-old sister came running out of the house and said daddy was rolling on the bed and holding his chest.  My mom had me stay on the phone with the police, (no 911 at that time), and direct the ambulance to our house.  My dad left in the ambulance; my mother followed in the car.  I truly do not remember where my 1-year-old sister or my 19-year old sister went that day, but my 9-year-old sister and I were sent a block away to my grandparents.  We stayed with my grandmother until my uncle came to tell us our father was no longer in pain and to take us home to my Julie, as a child, with her Dadmother.  I remember seeing our pastor, who arrived with my uncle, as he had his arm around my grandma and was leading her to the living room.  I remember seeing an ambulance in the driveway as a precaution as my grandma was told about my dad.  She was hospitalized that night.  Actually my father never felt any more pain – ever.  He died.

For all the years we lived in that house I hated being sent to the basement. I always thought my dad was in the furnace room hiding from me.   It has been 51 years since this happened in my life and it doesn’t hurt any less.  That was the worst night of my life. I was the only one of the girls who stayed with my mom that night; relatives took everyone else away with them. I felt rejected.  I heard my mother’s cries and sobs.  Days later we would be told my mother was 2 months pregnant with my youngest sister.  Even as I write this, it brings me to tears as I recall the memories.

Now I have two grown daughters of my own.  The year each of them turned 11 I worried that I would not be around to see them turn 12. I also worried that my husband would be gone and I would be raising children by myself as a widow since my Mom was left alone to raise five girls on her own. There were things I did in hope that my girls would remember me when I was gone.  I wrote letters telling them how much I loved them and how much they meant to me.  I told them how much I loved their Dad.  I cross stitched pillows for each of them and signed them MOM.  The letters were never given to my girls because I am still here. Today I’m not just a mother, but a grandmother of three. 

The anxiety of this memory caused me to dwell on things that were not what I needed to think about at that time. Stitching their pillows took a lot of time.  It also took time and thought to write letters.  Both things caused my thoughts to go back to leaving my children without a mother or being left without a husband. My thoughts were consumed with anxiety.  Totally consumed.

Now that I am older and I can reflect on the past.  I know that telling someone would have helped but as we usually do with anxiety, I kept it to myself and agonized.  What other things could I have done to help myself out of this feeling of anxiety?  If you answered dwell on God’s word, you are right.  Three scriptures really stick out – Luke 12:25 says, “And which of you by being anxious can add a cubit to the measure of his life?”  How about Philippians 4:6, “In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”  I have saved the best verse for the last verse — I Peter 5:7 says, “Casting all of your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you!”

To sum up, give God your anxiety because He loves us enough to carry the anxiety so you won’t need to!  Take your anxiety, place it God’s feet and walk away.

 

Julie Jaunese has been married to her husband Michael for 41 years. She has two daughters and three grandchildren. She works at Moffitt Cancer Center and hosts two women’s small groups, the Yada Book Club and the Fabulous Fems. Mike and Julie have been part of Grace Family Church since it began with 40 people in a house.

by Kristin Bonham

This month on the Beautiful Blog, we are talking about Mind Games.  In other words, thoughts and emotions and how we as women deal with stress, fear, grief, depression, etc.  You will be reading authentic stories of hope and renewal that also include those details we don’t really like to admit to or talk about. 

There is a language that you learn to speak and recognize in others when you have gone through any of these things.   From your experiences, you can identify the signs and when a woman uses certain words, they can trigger an understanding and compassion toward what she may be going through.  More and more women are struggling silently and our desire is to start the conversation in order to hear each other, understand each other, and help each other. 

I remember talking to a lady in front of the church about 10 years ago and she said something that caused me to ask if she was depressed.  Surprised by my question she asked me how I knew.  I knew because I had been there. 

17 years ago, Chris and I packed up our family and moved from Orlando to Tampa.  I thought that it wouldn’t really be that hard!  I thought, “I will just find friends who fit into my life like the friends I am leaving behind.”  Well… basically, I was unprepared for the grief that comes with letting go and experiencing a major change.  I kept trying to push through and suck it up and act like I was fine.  I was in denial. 

I went through a time of deep depression.  I struggled getting out of bed.  My 3 year old would beg me to play with him and I just couldn’t do it.  I kept the depth of my struggle to myself because I thought I should be able to get out of the emotional pit I was in.  I was embarrassed.  I felt weak and not at all the person everyone thought I was.  I felt I was disappointing God because Chris and I knew that the move to Tampa was His plan for our lives and I should just be happy.

After months of this, I finally got real.  I talked to someone who could help me and I started being honest about what I was going through.  I talked to my doctor and found out that this was not unusual and I was not crazy.   Slowly, I felt the heaviness lift and with the help of resources and people in my life, I came out of it. 

While I have many regrets when I look back on that time in my life, I can see how God has used it in many ways.  One of the most important things is that I realize that God knows all about my emotions because He created me.  Emotions are not bad; they can be the very things that cause me to figure out what’s going on.  When I finally reached out, I was able to talk about why I was so sorrowful, why I was depressed, and why I was keeping quiet about it.

I learned that the worst thing a person who is depressed can hear is, “just read your bible…, just think about all the good in your life…, just get over it!”  Many different things can trigger depression and there is not a simple solution.  It’s a journey that God is willing to lead us in.  We are mind, body and spirit and to think that we can separate one from the others is not realistic.  When our emotions are in turmoil, it affects our physical being and our spiritual walk.  The false perception is that if we just deal with one aspect, we will get better.  The truth is that God is our answer for it all and he gives us resources that can include doctors and medicines and if we lean into Him, He will show us how to walk out of this and into the freedom He has for us.   

Kristin Bonham is a pastor’s wife and the Women’s Ministry Director at Grace Family Church. She’s been married to Chris for 24 years and is mom to Taylor, Abby and Casey. She loves the beach, New York City and traveling with Pastor Chris to anywhere tropical. She collects books and reads some of them. Her favorite part of the week is Sunday lunch with family and friends around the table.