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I’ve Moved!

Hello all!

I’m pretty sure most of you thought I was dead at this point and never expected to find a new post from me again! But, I assure you, it’s true! I am living and back to blogging again! I’ve missed you, and cannot wait to get back in touch!

However, I will no longer be blogging here at The Fear List. I don’t want to miss interacting with a single one of you, so please come on over and subscribe by e-mail to my new blog at http://www.mercycrown.wordpress.com.

If you don’t want to miss any new posts from me in the future, you can switch over your subscription with a few easy steps:

1) Click the link above or type http://www.mercycrown.wordpress.com into your browser window.

2) On the right hand side underneath the teal “search” bar, you’ll find something that says “Follow Blog Via E-mail.” Click “Follow” and then enter your e-mail.

3) You will then be sent a confirmation e-mail. Once you’ve clicked the link in that e-mail confirming, you’re done! :) You are officially subscribed and will receive an e-mail every time I have a new post.

Thank you so much for your continued support, and cannot wait to see you over at “The Mercy Crown”!

Sweet Freedom (Give God Glory)Hello all! I’m really excited (and belated) to announce my story “Freedom to Forgive” has been included in the 4th of July compilation “Sweet Freedom,” and it’s available on Kindle now! Inside the pages of “Sweet Freedom” you’ll find short stories, poems, articles, and devotions of real people being set free by a real Savior. My sweet friend Jennifer Slattery (www.jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com) has worked hard the last few months to put this compilation together, and I’m blessed to have my story alongside such ladies as Gail Palotta, Jodie Bailey, Beth Farley, Melissa Finnegan, Kelly Liberto, Joanne Underwood, and Tanya Eavenson.

Here’s a sneak peek of my story, “Freedom to Forgive”:

“Ugh, I’m so sick of you!” I said, gritting my teeth and shooting to my feet.

My sister Tori* stared at me in shock, while everyone else at the MaryKay party shifted uncomfortably in their chairs and avoided looking at me.

Too angry to care, I stomped to the front door and slammed it behind me. Hot, fury-filled tears slid down my face as I leaned against the car outside, waiting for my mom to come with the keys so we could leave.

I looked at my feet as the reality of what I’d just done hit me full force. Had I really just lost my temper at a MaryKay party? Embarrassed myself in front of all those people? Worse, I’d embarrassed my sister, too. This was her party. Her house. Her friends. And I’d just yelled at her in front of all of them.”

To continue reading this story and to read others like it, for today and today only you can download “Sweet Freedom” for free on Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Freedom-Give-Glory-ebook/dp/B00DPN8WAY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1373238132&sr=1-1&keywords=Sweet+Freedom+%28Give+God+Glory%29.

In the months leading up to this release, the different authors and I have had the chance to talk about what we wanted to see happen with this book. And what kept coming up was not how much money we’d make on it or how or if it would advance our writing careers, but simply this: that others would experience the same freedom we have. That maybe, through sharing our stories, someone else could be freed from the chains that once held us.

That’s my hope for you today. That you would know the Savior’s love. That you would experience His freedom, which is a kind of freedom that can never be revoked. Whether you read the book or not. In fact, that’s the only reason I do what I do. The only reason I live at all.

So whether it’s a story, an article, or a blog post, I hope when you come to The Fear List you don’t see me at all. Instead, I hope you go away feeling encouraged, uplifted, and inspired. I hope you know how much He loves you and how able He is to forgive us our sins and give us life to the full. That’s why I feel so blessed to be a part of this project-so I can share what He’s done in my life, and be around so you can tell me what He’s done in yours!

This July, I hope you experience the kind of freedom only He can give.

P.S. If you don’t have a Kindle and would still like to receive a copy, no worries! We also have it available in a PDF format. Stay tuned for more details!

*Some names have been changed to protect privacy.

You Are Loved

“You are loved” says my title. Do you believe that? Do you know that?

I do, and here’s how I know: http://devotional.upperroom.org/devotionals/2013-07-06. <– Read this first and then find my corresponding blog post by clicking on “Devotional Home” up at the top, and then look for “You Are Loved” underneath “Daily Devotional Blog.”

Whoever and wherever you are today, no matter what you’ve done or who you’ve been, you are loved more than you could ever possibly imagine.

Hi everyone!

I’m so sorry its been forever again! I wanted to let you all know though that I just recently started a new blog called “All Things Novel.” I’ve needed a place for a while now to use strictly for book reviews, so I finally created one! It’s a blog for book lovers of all kinds to hang out and “talk book”!

My first post on a novel about Queen Elizabeth I is already up, so I’d love to see you over at this new blog as well! No worries though-I have some fun plans in mind for The Fear List, and will be back here blogging again soon!

If you’re interested in subscribing to “All Things Novel” check it out at www.allthingsnovel.wordpress.com.

Thank you so much, and I’ll talk to you soon!

You Homeschooling Types

Top of the morning, everyone! :)

This is just a short call-out for those of you who are of the homeschooling/alternative schooling type! I recently launched a blog with eight other writers to encourage and equip homeschooling parents. If that sounds like you, we’d love to have you! You can visit us at www.gardenschooljournal.wordpress.com.

You can also read my very first post here: http://wp.me/p2UgVn-2B.

Here’s a little bit more about us:

It’s hard being a parent. Harder still to be both parent and teacher. But hardest of all is feeling like you’re alone.

That’s why this blog exists. We believe in you and your right to teach your child in the way you choose-whether that means through homeschooling, private school, or otherwise. But we also know it can be a lonely calling. We know, because we’ve been there.

We wanted to create a place where you as a parent could be equipped, encouraged, and empowered. But we also wanted to create a community of parents who came alongside each other, regardless of age or experience.

We envisioned a place where older moms gave advice to new moms just starting out-a place where triumphs were celebrated, teachers refreshed, and ideas exchanged.

That’s why we’re here. To help support you. To share with you. But most of all, we’re here because we believe in you.

Join us every Friday for practical tips and encouragement from parents just like you.

 

Thank you, and we’ll look forward to seeing you there!

As I mentioned in my last post, 2012 was a rough year for my family and I. From hospital visits, to relationship heartaches, to financial struggles, last year felt like one slug after another. So when 2013 came around, we were quick to pack our bags and shout “Adios!” to the year before. The promise of a new year has never meant more to me.

But now that I’ve had time to look back, I can honestly say I’ve seen God’s hand in every situation we faced. Most of all, I’ve seen His redeeming power at work. And it is so beautiful to behold! But the revelation didn’t come without a fight. And it certainly didn’t come without a few wounds.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe 2012 felt more like one long disappointment than anything else. Maybe it only seemed to take you further away from dreams than toward them. It might have felt like a constant struggle, or a year of great loss.

Or maybe it was a year of great blessing for you! A time of rejoicing. Of seeing dreams come true, and impossibles made possibles! If that’s the case, I am so happy to hear that.

No matter what kind of year you had, there’s some things you’ll want to take with you into the New Year, and some things that are better left behind.

Let me show you what I mean by that.

When 2013 hit, I was focused only on the things I wanted to leave behind-hospitals, bills, and torn relationships, to name a few. But I’d forgotten about some of the many blessings God had given in 2012 that I did want to take with me.

Baggage[1]With every new year, we have a choice: we can pack our bags with lessons taught by the ultimate Teacher, or we can carry the same old baggage we carried the year before.

Once I realized that I had a choice about what I carried, I decided to forgo New Year’s Resolutions and instead make a list of what I would and would not be taking with me into the New Year. I cannot tell you all of the many lessons God taught me in 2012, but I can tell you I was carrying a lot of baggage. And my list of what I would not take with me was much longer than what I would. But I’m so thankful for the opening of my eyes to see the difference!

Here’s some of what my lists ended up looking like:

What I will not be taking with me into the New Year (Baggage):

  • An ungrateful, complaining heart
  • Covetousness/envy  
  • Materialism  
  • Unforgiveness
  • A low self-esteem
  • Worry/fear

What I will be taking with me into the New Year (What I’m Packing):

  • A set aside time in the morning for just God and I, where I read His Word, pray, and listen to Him in return
  • Self-compassion
  • The remembrance of all that our Heavenly Father brought my family through last year
  • Trying not to take anyone in my life for granted, but letting them know how much I appreciate them and treasuring my time with them

We always have the choice of what we carry. Sins like unforgiveness and envy are nothing more than unnecessary baggage and burdens. But we make excuses like, “Well, I’m nice enough to them, after all they’ve done to me. They don’t even know I haven’t forgiven them.” Or “What’s wrong with wanting what they have? This is America-land of dreams, right? It doesn’t hurt anyone.”

But something I learned last year is that God never forbids something in His Word that doesn’t hurt us in the long run. I’ve heard verses about envy all my life, and I know the Commandment that says, “Do not covet.” But I didn’t apply them.

I made excuses like, “I don’t covet. I’m not out there bowing down to my car or some kind of idol like they did in the old days.” Or “I know I shouldn’t envy the way she looks, but c’mon-she’s gorgeous! Who wouldn’t? It doesn’t hurt anyone.”

Let me tell you, I felt all the weight of that baggage last year. And it had grown to be a heavy burden.

But with God’s help, I’m learning how to shuck off those things that had weighed me down. If the sin in our lives isn’t hurting someone around us, then you can be certain it’s hurting us. For years I’ve been killing myself with envy and never knew it-even after I’d memorized the very verse that had warned me about it!

Through God’s grace, there were also many gifts I was able to pack and take with me into the new year. For everything I lost-ingratitude, unforgiveness, materialism-there was something even better to replace it with: gratitude, forgiveness, the treasures of heaven.

When my dad came home from the hospital after being unable to speak or stay awake, I told my mom, “I never want to forget this. What God brought us through.”

What I meant by that was that I never wanted to take the Healer’s gifts for granted again. To forget about the way He showed up in one of my darkest moments, or forget how scared I was at the possibility of never hearing my dad say my name again. The heart forgets quickly, and in the deepest part of my soul, I knew it was something I had to take with me-no matter what. Something I had to make room for and remember to pack.

God’s Word does that. It becomes like bread to a starving man, and if we don’t take it-if we don’t find some way to make room for it, we’ll die. But it usually takes losing some things before we realize just how empty we truly are.

Sins give us the illusion that we’re full, because we are. Full of things that make us full in the moment. But when trials of fire come and reveal our innermost being for what it is-everything burned away-we realize what we really are: emaciated forms shoveling sand down our throats to stop the thirst. And all along a stream lies right in front of us, tucked inside the nightstand and gathering dust.

Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30.) I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have the light burden! And how do we do that? By lifting off the yokes we’ve placed on ourselves through sin. God always wants the best for us, but sometimes He can’t give us His best when we’re loaded down with sins we can’t see.

One of the keys to a good trip is being careful and selective about what you pack. So as you journey into this new year, give yourself a greater chance of success by getting rid of some of the things that have been weighing you down like resentment, unforgiveness, or a low self-esteem.

It will only make room for something greater.

What will you and won’t you be taking with you into the new year?

The I AM is Here

2012 was an entire year of trial for me. It was probably one of the toughest years of my life I have ever had to face.

But it was also one of the most beautiful.

It was one of the most beautiful because the I AM was with me-in the very middle of my suffering, sin, and fear.

IV%20BAG%20wgif[1]He was there with me in a dark hospital room when I longed for a daddy’s eyes to acknowledge his daughter again. When the doctors were shaking their heads saying, “I don’t know.” When the nurses were whispering, “His fever’s back up.”

He was awake and He was there when everyone else around me was sleeping. When a father was literally unable to keep his eyes open, when a mother was sleeping from the stress, when a city lay warm and cozy beneath their beds, and when a desperate daughter cried, “God, please. I just want to hear his voice again.”

He was there squeezing my shoulder, smiling, looking me in the eye and saying, “You will.”

He was there giving her a vision of the future-peaceful dreams as nurses went in and out, drawing blood and asking questions. In the dream, her dad was fine and he was packing a suitcase and getting ready to go home. And a week later, it came to pass.

He was there when the girl took her book project to a place called Manitou Springs for the eyes of authors to scrutinize, criticize, and refine. He was there when the girl couldn’t find the words to say, and she felt as though her dreams were slipping and scattering away from her like pearls on a string. He was there when her heart felt torn and tormented, wondering whether she should stay with a family who needed her or give up on her own dream.

He was there on the car ride over when her heart felt sick and her stomach queasy as she thought about giving a speech that night in front of twelve expectant faces. In front of bestselling authors and fabulous speakers and writers who knew what they were doing. What did she have to offer when her chapter had been written in the very middle of hospital visits, beeping machines, IVs, and phone calls at 3:00 in the morning that said, “Dad has the chills and is blacking out”?

She was so unprepared.

He was there and He told her, “Just think of me standing right beside you before you have to speak.”

He was there as her knees knocked together, her heart beat faster, her stomach revolted, and she waited for her turn. He was there as she swallowed, as the eyes turned her way, and the panic set in. But then, the peace. He’s right beside me. He is with me. He will not leave me.

He was there as the girl stood, confidently making eye contact with everyone in the room and holding her head high. He was there as she remembered every word, enunciated each one clearly, and felt no fear or worry. He was there as she said “Thank you,” resumed her place, and everyone in the room clapped. He was there when one of those authors leaned over and said, “Well done!” And the girl just shook her head, trying to understand how she went from almost losing her supper to standing poised and confident, a speaker all her life. It was because He stood beside me.

He was there on a night in December when a girl who longed to remember a time when things went right cried out to God with tears streaming down her face, “I’m done, God. For the first time in my life, I just want to give up. And what if I did? What if I gave up my dream of being an author and stopped trying so hard? What if I walked away right now? It would be a lot easier. What if I stopped trying to meet everyone’s expectations? I don’t want to feel this way, God, but I’m done with prayers for right now. Nothing happens when I do. I’m done with saying, ‘thank you,’ for circumstances I don’t like. I just don’t know, God. I really don’t know anymore. Do dreams come true? Was I just a silly, naive girl to ever think that? Am I to be poor, broken, penniless in pocket and spirit for the rest of my life? I don’t have hope or faith anymore, God, and that’s the honest truth.”

He was there when the girl walked into church that last Sunday of December with arms crossed over her chest, trying to keep the world from seeing her bitter, angry, and hurting heart. What was 2012 but a year of failure and lost dreams? It was one thing after another. Family members who chose to hang out with the wrong crowd of people and go down a path that would ultimately lead to their own destruction. A godly man who spent his entire life doing nothing but be a good man, and here he was, a hard worker struggling to find work and spending half a year in the hospital? First for critically low sodium, then for a gall bladder attack, then for an infection from having his gall bladder removed, then to have brain surgery to remove a pituitary tumor, then this, then that.

Writer’s block. Not a single thing written for six months-my blog languishing, my schoolwork suffering, my book nonexistent. This was not how it was supposed to be.

My sister breaks off the side mirror of my car after her brush with a semi, and the night before Thanksgiving my niece ends up in the hospital with pneumonia.

Hospitals. Bills. Tears. Will it ever end?

Despite my prayers, despite my belief in miracles, despite my dreams-one thing after another is taken away. Money, health, peace.

Is this all there is to life, then? Constant struggle? Do you even see us anymore, God?

Does anyone? Does anyone see me? Who in the six months this has been going on has called me? Who has asked me how I’m doing and really meant it? Who would listen or care if I told them? And what right do I have to expect that of them? Who sees my pain? Who cares?

In the middle of the girl’s listing of grievances, in the very middle of her complaining, ranting, and railing, the presence of God stops all words.

(C) Arnold Friberg.

(C) Arnold Friberg.

Her breath is stolen from her, tongue turned stone, thoughts evaporated, and she is Moses, staring at the holy, fiery presence of God as the preacher’s words finally filter through as he reads God’s words,

“Then the LORD told him, ‘I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them…” (Ex. 3:7-8.)

I have seen you. I see your pain. I have seen your suffering, and I will deliver you.

You ask, is this all there is to life? No. No, for I have many plans for you. No-because I AM the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6.) There is plenty more to life, because there is plenty more of me. An eternal, endless kind of more. I AM and will always be. Unchanging. As I delivered then, I deliver now. As I was always more than enough then, I AM always more than enough now.

Peace, I AM.

Joy, I AM.

Love, I AM.

Your answer, I AM.

Your provider, I AM.

Your salvation, I AM.

Your healer, I AM.

Your deliverer, I AM.

All objections are blown away from my lips. All doubts and fears and anger gone.

I can do nothing but bow my head, the tears streaming down my face. We are in the second row and the pastor startles and looks at me, as if asking, “What did I do?”

I’m embarrassed and wish I could hide, but I can’t help it. What else am I to do?

The taking down of the strong “I’m fine,” mask is like the taking off of Moses’s sandles. It is vulnerable and exposing and uncomfortable, but what else to do in the presence of holy? In the presence of truth? I am in awe.

Because the I AM- Moses’s I AM-is here. And He says He’s seen me and is aware of my suffering.

The only emotion I can name or a put a finger to is that I feel seen. And it is such a wonderful feeling.

Like Moses, the presence of God came so unexpectedly. I was doing everything I could to push God away for the moment. I was done praying and asking for help. I wasn’t seeking Him or His presence. I was too busy blocking Him from my heart and saying I didn’t care about the pain there. I was angry and bitter and ungrateful.

It was into the middle of that that God came. In the very middle of my angry diatribe. In the very middle of my pointing the accusing finger of Martha asking, “Why didn’t you show up? If you had only been here…” (Paraphrased, John 11:21.)

And God replied, “I AM here.” (Paraphrased, John 11:25.)

The presence of God so strong and so sweet, my breath is stolen away, my head drops in bowed reverence, and the tears sting my eyes and run down my chin until I’m a slobbery mess.

I feel His love. His love.

Why would He give me love when all I’ve given Him are accusations?

He should be the one accusing me. “Why have you been so ungrateful? Why have you not had faith? Why do you think so little of me? Why do you daily insult my character by calling me uncaring, incapable? How can you think I’ve not seen you? You’re my child. Do you think so little of your Father as that?”

There’s a twinge of shame-but for right now, in this moment with his arms wrapping ’round me, telling of forgiveness and mercy-I feel only gratitude.

“Thank you,” I whisper, “Oh, God-thank you. Thank you for coming into my mess, time and time again. Thank you for meeting me here. For blessing me with your presence when all I was trying to do was run away from it. For seeing me in a world that does not see. Not like you do. For holding me, for healing me, for being here. For loving me-me, the one who bit into the apple of envy, of selfishness, of anger, of ingratitude, all the while hearing your voice in the back of my head warning me not to. For loving the me who pounds those nails into your hands, crying, ‘I don’t need your saving grace! I don’t believe you love like you say you do! I don’t believe you give like they say you do! Your love is not the kind of love I want. The kind that lets fathers struggle and dreams die and joy get stolen. I don’t need the kind of love that doesn’t see me! And you always, forever replying, ‘Father, forgive her, for she knows not what she does.’” (Paraphrased, Luke 23:34.)

But it’s here, now-in the presence of I AM, and in the presence of the truth-where I do see truth.

His love is the kind of love that looks over to thief hanging on cross beside-in torment Himself-and says, “I see you. Today you will be with me in paradise.”

His love is the kind of love that turns to look in a crowd full of people singing His praises, clamoring for His attention, asking for help, and asks, “Who touched me?”

His is the kind of love whose gentle glance takes in the woman all bent in shame and fear and sin and asks, “Who will cast the first stone?”

His is the kind of love that detours to meet a Samaritan woman at the well.

The kind of love that says, “Let the children come to me.”

The kind that meets a murderer on the road and says, “Why do you persecute me? Instead, come and follow me.”

Time and again. Over and over, and now I see: I was never unseen. I was never alone. He has always loved me. He does not come to lie, and cheat, and steal from me. Where in His word does it say that? When has He ever shown that, in Scripture or in my own personal life?

In fact, who was it the Scriptures said did come to do that? “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10: 10, emphasis added.)

I am a fool to have listened to that wily serpent for so long.

And I bow the head again. “Thank you.”

Was it not just last night I said I was done saying, “Thank you”? And yet, here I am today.

I also told God I was done dreaming. Done trying. Done hoping and having faith. Done praying.

But if I was wrong about saying thank you, maybe I was wrong about some other things, too. Okay, I was. Really wrong. Shamefully wrong.

Father, forgive me.

And His love whispers, I see you. Your sins have been forgiven you.

And it’s here in the presence of the I AM that a new whisper settles into the wind, “Your faith has healed you.”

I am healed, restored, loved, peace-filled. Forgiven.

Was it more I was asking for? A miracle?

I think I might just have been given one.

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