Driving Teens to the Glory of God

As I get to the end of days like today, days where I drive John to work, Lydia to violin, then to her orthodontist, then pick up John and stop on the way home to get the grocery pickup, I walk in the door and wonder, “What have I actually accomplished today?”

It’s been quite a while since I’ve had those thoughts. Those thoughts mostly belong to the days where I was up to my elbows with diapers and felt like all I had to show for a job well done, was a bag of dirty diapers.

As my kids got older, I got better at keeping the house clean, doing the laundry, running errands, and getting a yummy dinner on the table. I also spent my time volunteering for the church and the kids’ school, helped with homework, served my friends in different ways, and even explored old hobbies again. My days felt full and productive, at least as a whole.

But here I am again, it’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon, my house is a mess, my laundry is in the dryer, I have to put groceries away before I start dinner, and while Hannah and I finished school, this is the second day in a row I haven’t checked in on John and Lydia’s schoolwork. Hence the thought, “What have I actually accomplished today?”

But here’s the thing. The answer that can be found for those myriad of young moms with lots of littles struggling with what their purpose is in the midst of diapers, is the same answer to my question today. What I accomplished was glorifying God by laying down my life for my children, by serving them.

It used to look like changing their diapers. Now it looks like driving them all over the Kansas City area. So, at the end of the day, I don’t have a bag of dirty diapers to show for my service, instead I have an empty gas tank and 100 miles added to my car’s odometer. Back then sweet smiles and belly laughs were my reward for faithfulness. Now, it’s conversations about understanding the world around us through a Biblical worldview.

And next year, when my son starts driving, Lord willing, my schedule may be more open, but I will miss all those miles that we put on the car together.

Age Group Ministries

Below is a paper that I wrote for my age-group ministries class.

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Regardless of where one lives, a sign of a healthy church is having people of all age groups. Every body of believers is hopefully celebrating new life with each birth, alongside, the life well lived with each funeral. But having an age-diverse church means considering the social and academic development of each age group. The Bible should always be the central text for educational ministries regardless of age. The difference is in how each age group interacts with and applies Biblical principles. 

For young children in the nursery, this looks like reading boardbooks, praying at snack time, and either singing to the children or having songs like Jesus Loves Me playing in the background. As children grow older and begin to develop language skills they can understand and remember more of what the Bible says. From pre-k through 5th grade, lessons should center on ‘what’ the Bible teaches: Bible stories, both minor and major, as well as simple theology, like who God is. It is appropriate to continue to sing fun Bible songs in younger grades and to start incorporating more robust songs as they grow older. Prayer at the beginning and/or end of the class gives the teacher an opportunity to model prayer for the kids. At this age, modeling excitement over God’s Word is important. We should never teach our children that God is boring through a less than enthusiastic Bible lesson. 

As young children continue to grow and develop into pre-teens and teens so should the way we teach them. Even as youth are trying to become their own, independent selves, our curriculum should stay centered on the Bible. At this stage, students begin separating from parents and start to ask ‘why’ questions. In response, we continue to teach what the Bible says, as well as deepening their theology, but it is also wise to begin teaching apologetics. We start to answer questions such as, “Why should I trust the Bible?” These students are likely to have a lot of questions and will challenge the faith they were taught in younger grades. It is important that parents and other Christian educators show that our faith can withstand those questions and that we are eager and willing to answer them. 

Parents, as well as youth leaders, should be good role models. Students in this age bracket, if not younger, should be worshiping alongside their parents; seeing their parents sing, take communion, listen attentively to the pastor, etc. Parents should be modeling repentance and forgiveness both with each other and with their children. Watching parents and other adults actively live out their Christian faith is extremely important for this age group. 

We hope, as parents and Christian educators, that as children launch into adulthood we have laid a thick, sturdy foundation for their faith. Young adults are in a stage where a lot is changing quickly and they are making decisions that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Decisions such as career paths, spouses, where to live and where to worship. At this stage, many begin to seriously ask ‘who’ as in, “Who am I?” As we help young adults answer major life questions, we need to continue to reinforce the importance of who they are in Christ and the role of God’s Word in their lives. Their theology gets deeper and richer as meat gets added to their theological bones. They put to use what they have learned so far, as they stand firm against worldly peers. 

At this stage, modeling the Christian life continues to play an important role. Older Christians model a sense of identity that is rooted in Christ. They should see older believers studying God’s word and praying confidently and trusting God with their future. While young adults have participated in the life of the church before, now they are doing so because it is their choice. It is important to help them find their place and to connect them to other believers so they can watch them live a life of faith. 

Those in their late 20s to early 60s make up the backbone of the church. They are mostly stable in life and career. They have a lot of knowledge and energy to offer other generations and are the primary teachers and leaders throughout the church. They are still filling out theology and their love for the Lord, applying what they have learned to their lives and ever growing in sanctification. They are answering the ‘how’ question. How can I live a life that honors God? The church needs to continue to teach this age group the important truths of the Bible, apologetics, and theology. At this age, many also need to learn how to engage specific topics within culture and how to think about the nightly news in a Biblical way. 

This age group is actively modeling the Christian life to those who are younger, as well as their peers. By living life together, they are both learning from and training others in parenting, marriage, work, etc. They are also continuing to model how to study and interpret the Bible and pray. For all their knowledge, they are still looking to peers and those with more wisdom for mentorship and discipleship. 

As these faithful workers begin to slow down in their 70s, 80s, and 90s we need to remember and honor them. They have so much wisdom to offer younger generations, but are all too often ignored and side-lined. At this age, habits and dispositions are less likely to be formed and are more likely solidified. They should continue to model the Christian life to those in younger generations. If they have lived a life of joy and trust in God, they have learned to be settled in their faith and are a rock to others. Ever learning, this age group will be focused on what comes next. Their questions turn to “when.” When will it be my time? Many will focus more on what the Bible says about the afterlife than they have in the past. They continue to hold onto the promises of Scripture that have defined their lives. And when their time comes, it is with great joy that those still living, celebrate their well-lived life. 

Each age group is a learning group. While the questions of what, why, who, how and when overlap, each age group has a question that is more defining for that life stage. Each age group should be looking to models of the faith and actively learning from them, as well as modeling the faith to others. God has given us a rich legacy in His Word. It is a joy and a pleasure to pick flowers from its fields and to mine its depths for diamonds, and a church’s educational ministry should help each age group appropriately do just that. 

Remembering God’s Mysterious Ways

We found out recently that there has been a hitch in our Utah house rental situation. It came as a blow on top of other stressful life events. It doesn’t just affect us, but also people we dearly love. As we asked for prayer for the situation, women in my small group lovingly reminded me that God is good. That he has a reason for this. That even though we can’t understand His ways now, it is for our good.Their sweet encouragement reminded me…

It reminded me of another time when a stressful house event revealed God’s goodness!

In 2004 my parents helped us purchase a nice house in Ohio. An investment as well as a place to settle down and begin to raise a family, before our eventual move to Utah. In 2005 Aaron lost his job. With our first baby on the way, we felt like it would be easier to move to Utah then, rather than getting more established in Ohio with kids, and moving later.

Miamisburg, OH

So, he found a job in Provo, we put our house on the market and moved… into a bedroom in a basement… in Utah… in December.

We had expected our house to sell pretty quickly. But it didn’t. Four months later, in April, our house still hadn’t sold and our landlady’s situation had changed. We needed to find a place to live. God provided a great 3-bedroom apartment to rent for a great deal. Aaron wasn’t getting paid much and we were having to make a mortgage and a rent payment. Money was tight. He also wasn’t receiving health benefits and our baby’s due date grew nearer.

In May he was offered another job that did give health benefits, but for them to cover the birth in July, he would have had to forgo the “two-weeks notice” period at his current job. However, they did not let him leave early. Since we had already pre-paid the birthing center Aaron wanted to quit with integrity and stayed for those two weeks.

I prayed so much for God to sell our house – that he would sell it by July 1st. But God did not sell our house.

John Caleb

So, July 12, 2006 rolled around and we still had no insurance. Our son was born and I had major complications. Complications that made it necessary for an ambulance ride to the hospital, emergency surgery, etc. We were still paying both rent and mortgage and now had over $30,000 in medical bills as well. It seemed hopeless and overwhelming.

But God…

Because Aaron’s previous job didn’t pay well (or consistently) we qualified for Medicaid. Medicaid covered all but $2000 of our medical bills! Incidentally, the birth center reimbursed us the $2000 we had prepaid for the birth. Even though they had fulfilled their service to us. Wow!

If we had sold the house in May or June, like I had prayed for, the equity would have been in a bank account and we would have had to pay the bills in full. Wow!

But my heart was so hard at the time, I still didn’t see the blessing. See, we only had a $2000 copay because we had an “investment” property in Ohio. If God had sold our house before April, we would have bought a house in Utah county, instead of renting an apartment. And because that house would have been our primary residence we wouldn’t have had any copay.

But God…

God wasn’t done with this whole house-stress turned blessing.Our house sold in August 2006. Less than a month after John’s birth.Some time that following year, Aaron decided he could be of better use to the Kingdom in the Salt Lake area instead of the Provo area. So we bought a house in the Salt Lake Valley. And July 2007, when our lease was up, we moved north.

If we would have bought a house the year before — which I thought would have been ideal because of that pesky copay situation — moving north wouldn’t have been an option. We may have eventually moved to SLC, but not in July 2007. But why is that a big deal?

John welcoming his new sister, Lydia, to the family.

Because in January 2008 the pastor at our new church introduced us to our daughter, Lydia’s, birthmother. God knew the best time for our Ohio house to sell. If it sold before April, we wouldn’t have adopted Lydia. If it had sold after April and before July, it would have devastated us financially.I couldn’t see it at the time. In fact it took me a couple years to put all the pieces together.

But I can see it so clearly now. God is good. So, with this new house drama unfolding. Something that isn’t ideal. Something we didn’t plan for. I can look back. I can *remember* God’s goodness to our family. I can pray. And I can trust that God is moving and working. Maybe it’s not even for our benefit. Maybe it’s for our renter’s benefit. But I hope, one day, it provides another cool story about God’s sovereign goodness.

In light of this, let me charge you to hold fast to moments where you clearly see God’s sovereign goodness abound. Just as the Israelites were to remember what God had done in the Exodus, make sure to remember what God has done for you.

*Between the time of this writing and posting, we were able make some headway with the housing issue. It is not as bad as we had feared, but we may need to change plans in the future. God is good.*

Thoughts on Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shrier

Abigail Shrier’s book, Irreversible Damage, is a far cry from the “transphobic” book that some claim it to be. Target pulled it from their shelves and Amazon refused to run a sponsored ad for it. Transgenderism has become the newest fad in the liberal progressive worldview, celebrated at every chance. It is also destroying young teens across Western culture. 

Shrier pulls back the curtain on this new social contagion. We’ve seen it in the past. A news story about a suicide makes the suicide rate spike. A school assembly on the dangers of anorexia and bulimia and all of a sudden there’s a group of girls who become anorexic or bulimic. Self-harm (cutting) and even school shootings are types of social contagion as well. The difference is that all these other social contagions are opposed by society at large while transgenderism is praised. 

Shrier mentions time after time how the trans activists seek to undermine parents. From YouTube influencers, teachers and the NEA to companies that sell (breast) binders they all try to hide trans behavior from parents. 

Parents. The very people that love these teen girls the most, are turned into the enemy. 

Doctors manipulate parents, “If you don’t support her, she could commit suicide. An alive son is better than a dead daughter.” Then doctors proceed to put teen girls on puberty blockers, which inevitably leads to cross gender hormones. This combination of medication can lead to uterine atrophy. 

Put another way, these doctors are putting young girls on a path that could lead them to being sterile. Some will never be able to get pregnant or bear children. 

This is evil. 

All in the name of progressivism. 

There is a little-g god in this world that hates humans – God’s image bearers. And the world is bending their knee to this god. This god has convinced the world to kill their children before they’re born. To leave their children as quickly as possible to pursue their career. And now it has convinced the world that female and male are silly, trivial, divisions that have no distinct purpose. 

There is so much I could say about this book. It is well-researched and well-written. It has a good balance of facts/data and stories. She is respectful of the trans community. It is also a sad, heart-breaking commentary on our society and needs to be read.

Young teens, your parents love you. I know you think they’re stupid and don’t know anything, but the fact is, they love you and want you to see you flourish!

Parents, you need to be the parent. Your teens need (and want) boundaries. It’s good to say, “no.” Be different, be radical. Do what you know is best for your child even when it’s hard, even if everyone around you is slinging insults. 

Trans activist, repent. There is a God of the universe who will forgive you and love you. Find a small church that teaches the Bible and you will find people who will truly love you – not for what you think you should be, but for what you are: a sinner in need of God’s grace.

2020 Challies Reading Challenge

This year I’ve finished up my 3rd Challies Reading Challenge. If you’re unfamiliar with it, read my explanation from last year or check out his 2021 Reading Challenge.

This year I set my goal to 26 books. A little more than half of what I finished last year, but I knew 2020 might bring some family changes: homeschooling, possible adoption, possible online seminary. What I wasn’t counting on: pandemic, shut downs, virtual schooling, moving across the country, in-person seminary, etc. However, I ended up exceeding my goal and finished 32 books.

I still kept my categories of kindle books, audible books, and paper books. Homeschooling Lydia in the spring actually helped me add a forth category as we would do read aloud books together. I really enjoyed those with her!

After starting seminary I realized that if I were going to get to certain books, I’d have to suck it up and listen to them instead of read their paper versions. While it wasn’t ideal, it was better than nothing. My paper books have basically become only my text books, which I’ll finish in the spring.

My favorite fiction books this year:

*This Tender Land

*The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell

The most intriguing read aloud book:

*In the Reign of Terror: A Story of the French Revolution — It’s historical fiction. I read it aloud with Lydia to go along with her history unit. But I kept thinking about this book throughout the year because of all the political upheaval.

These audible books gave me a lot to think about – I wish I had had time to actually read them:

*Envy of Eve

*Bloodlines

*Competing Spectacles

*Future Men

The most helpful physical books:

*The Well-Trained Mind — Yes, I read all 800+ pages. I have a kid in each stage of the trivium. Such a great resource and reference!

*Twelve Ways Your Phone is Changing You — This should be required reading and rereading!

If you’re interested, you can see my full list of books below. 

I hope you’ll join me in the 2021 challenge!

FULL LIST OF BOOKS

Unity in the Church

A few weeks ago I sat in awe as my seminary professor deftly walked through John 17, Jesus’s high priestly prayer, with us. He made it so rich and beautiful, yet simple. What he emphasized most was that if this is what Jesus prays for, then shouldn’t these be the things we pray for? The things we model our life and ministry after?

I was struck that evening and again Monday night as I read through the passage again, just how much of an emphasis Jesus places on unity among the elect. He says, “that they may be one, even as we are one.” in verse 11. And again in verses 21-23, “that they may all be one… that they may be one, even as we are one… that they may become perfectly one…”

The passage also teaches that the world will hate the elect. (v. 14) The “world” is set in juxtaposition to “them” – the ones the Father gave to Jesus. So we know that our unity is to be between believers. Believers are not to be one with the world, which is clearly presented as evil.

Yet, our unity is for the sake of the world! We are to be one so that the world will know that the Father sent the Son and that the Father loves his people. (v. 24)

So, I grieve as I read through this passage because I see so much divisiveness within the broader American church. Yes, I know there are chaff among the wheat. And I know that there are wolves in sheep’s clothing teaching false doctrine. But I also see seemingly genuine believers publicly mock, belittle, or be passive aggressive with other believers. I see tertiary issues cause disunity in local congregations.

What is the answer? In verse 17, Jesus asks the Father to sanctify the elect in the truth and explains that God’s word is truth. Our unity must come from God’s word, the Bible alone. The only way that the elect can be one, is if we humble ourselves and submit to the authority of God’s word. We need to trust that his ways are right and good and true.

Dear Christian, if your worldview lines up too closely with what the world teaches, repent and go back to the Word. Stop following the philosophies of the world. Ask God to open your eyes to his truth. Start reading, studying, and delighting in God’s word. Humble yourself and submit to the authority scripture, even if you don’t like what it says. Then learn to love what it says.

Barrenness and Trust

As someone who cannot conceive, I have often wondered why God has chosen to close the womb of so many godly women who are married and desire to raise godly children, yet opens the womb of those who, in the end, choose to kill their unborn children.

I was struck today that Abraham’s son Ishmael went on to have 12 sons, while Isaac’s (the son of the promise) wife, who was barren, eventually only had two sons. Fruitfulness is God’s blessing. But sometimes the righteous are barren and the unrighteous are fruitful. This is an ancient thread in Scripture. We see moms of key men who were barren: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth.

Two more thoughts:

1. Isaac “prayed to the Lord for his wife…” and she conceived. And Jesus says in John, “Whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” We read of Hannah praying at the temple, so emotional over her barrenness that Eli thought she was drunk, but she was pleading with God for a child. Jesus tells us about the persistent widow, she keeps bugging the judge, so he finally gives her what she wants.

My point: Keep asking. Keep praying. Wanting a child is a *good* thing. Don’t give up hope. Husbands, pray that God would open your wife’s womb. Pursue adoption, but don’t stop asking for a pregnancy!

2. Barrenness can lead to sanctification or bitterness. Hannah is a prime example of trust and prayer in her barrenness. Sarah, on the other hand, seemed to have given up hope and laughed when she was told she would conceive. Don’t allow your empty womb to cause you to turn cold, distant, or angry toward God. Put your foot down against Satan’s voice and lies. Dig into the truths and promises of scripture. God is good. He has chosen to use this trial to sanctify you. Ask him to teach you what he would have you learn during this time. Allow this struggle to be a “fire” that refines you instead destroys you.

We may never understand God’s ways or reasonings. He sometimes uses a lack of pregnancy to sanctify. Other times he uses an unplanned pregnancy to highlight our true capacity for sin and evil. But ultimately we are called to trust Him. He has given us a thousand reasons why he is trustworthy. Don’t lose hope.

2019 Challies Reading Challenge

Every year Tim Challies puts out a reading challenge. He lists 104 categories of books for people to work their way through. The categories include:

*a book about Christian living

*a book about theology

*a book recommended by a family member

*a book longer than 400 pages, etc. 

This was my second year participating and it has expanded my reading in so many ways. In 2018 my goal was 26 books and I barely met it; finishing up two books on December 27th. This year, I stretched my goal to 30 books and I blew it out of the water as I just finished my 49th book! (Am I OCD if it bugs me that it’s not an even 50? One of the categories is a Photo Essay Book, I could read that in two days time, right?!?) I am pretty proud of myself and have loved *most* of the books I’ve read this year!

How did I do it? First let me say, I do not have an infant, toddler, or both! There is no way this could have happened 10 years ago! Second, I learned what works for me and usually have three books going at once. 

Kindle: I use my kindle for fiction books only and unless the story completely captures me, I only read it as I’m falling asleep at night. This means my fiction needs to be pretty easy to follow, as some nights I’ll only read a page or two! 

Physical copies: These books consist of Christian living, theology, commentaries, etc. Books that I want to learn from, that I will highlight, write in, and refer back to. These take me the longest to get through. I try to read 20-30 minutes a day in these books, but usually that only happens two or three days a week and sometimes not at all. But even with that limited amount of time, I still finished twelve books in this category!

Audible: This is where I have grown the most this year. I have discovered that Audible is amazing for categories like current events, biographies, history, or a category I wouldn’t really be interested in like, “a book about sports or an athlete.” I also bought wireless earphones this summer and they were a game changer! I listen mostly while drying my hair and folding laundry. Sometimes I get so caught up in the book that I look for other things to clean so I can keep listening! (And this says a lot about the book!) 

When I chose my goal of thirty books, I decided that I wanted to go through the first thirty categories in the Challies challenge, that this would best stretch me in my reading. Once I hit my goal of thirty, I chose categories randomly throughout the list, usually based on what type of book I needed to read next (kindle, paper, or Audible). 

My favorite kindle/fiction books this year were:

*Firefly Lane

*Where the Crawdads Sing

*The Invention of Wings

The nonfiction/physical books that I would most recommend: 

*The Gospel Comes with a House Key

*The Ten Commandments

* Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave

Finally, the audible books I most enjoyed:

*The Boys in the Boat 

*Educated

*At Home

If you’re interested, you can see my full list of books below. 

I don’t know how many books I’ll be able to read in 2020 or what the year holds, but I’m excited to get started on the new challenge! Maybe you’d like to join me in the new year!

FULL LIST OF BOOKS

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Hospitality and The Gospel Comes with a House Key

Recently I read The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield. Below you can find a link to some of my favorite quotes and questions I developed for a women’s Book Chat at my church.

In light of reading the book, hospitality has been on my mind a lot lately. How do I live it out with use of my house, but also in life in general. Butterfield defines radical ordinary hospitality as seeing strangers become neighbors and neighbors becoming a part of the family of God. I really loved this simple idea.

And then, as I was coming up with the questions, it hit me. While she was definitely advocating for household hospitality, she was also giving a treatise on relational evangelism. Sometimes stranger evangelism and relational evangelism are pitted against each other. But in reality we need to see and understand there is a place for both. My husband is a street evangelist. Three seasons a year (he sits out winter) he goes downtown, hands out tracts, preaches the gospel, and gets into deep gospel conversations. He is also a husband, father, software engineer, an elder, and a neighbor. He forms relationships with those in his family, church, work, and neighborhood and has gospel conversations with those people when possible. Both forms of evangelism are good and right.

But getting back to the book…. I really enjoyed her writing. She is a beautiful writer! I loved hearing her stories and being encouraged by them and their ministry. And hearing about how open-door hospitality and being included in singing and devotions lead to her own conversion. It gave me a heart and a desire to open my life up more to the people around me. It made me think about hospitality in two ways: my home and my relationships.

Before this book, and even after reading it, I do consider our family fairly hospitable. We in no way, shape, or form practice nightly table fellowship, but I don’t think that has be the goal, for a family to be considered hospitable. Nightly table fellowship is what works for the Butterfield family – for their jobs, lifestyle, and personalities. I think Kent being a pastor helps them to accomplish this, so does homeschooling, and the kids being involved with swimming (usually a morning activity). In contrast, my husband has to commute in rush hour. He usually is home by 6pm, but occasionally it’s helpful for him to stay late at the office. My daughters love taking ballet. This will take up more and more evenings as they grow. We have one of our church’s small groups meet at our house on Mondays and our oldest is off to youth group on Wednesdays, and Thursdays have been set aside as Aaron’s street evangelism time. Nightly table fellowship, just isn’t going to work for our family, and that’s ok.

It’s important to not walk away from the book feeling defeated, having set the standard so high that you fail to take any of her wisdom to heart. Instead, ask “What can I do? Where can I start?” I, personally, can continue to be willing to allow friends to crash on my couch on short notice because it works better logistically than for him to drive the almost 2 hours home. I can have a handful of items on hand so that last minute, after church, lunch invites are easier to  offer. (And be ok with picking up rotisserie chickens on the way home if I don’t have anything on hand.) Ultimately, I had an idea about turning our Friday pizza and movie nights into an open invite pizza and game night for all. My husband, the wise man that he is, suggested we start doing that monthly (instead of weekly) — he knows I can burn out easily.

The second aspect of the book that made be think was terms of personal relationships. It convicted me to make those phone call/text messages reaching out to people that I’ve been meaning to reach out to. To continue building friendships with people God has placed in my life. And, it has also made me realize that I am not superwoman. I do have a limited capacity. I am an introvert but God has not seen fit to make me a morning person, so 4 or 5 am mornings of quiet before the day gets started, just isn’t going to happen. And that’s ok. Recognizing that I need a day or two during the week to be at home, to get things done, to think, to just not talk, is ok. I realized after scheduling out a busy week and weekend that I was falling into bed at night with nothing left to offer my kids and husband. I needed to save part of me to be hospitable to them. This means we can’t have something going on every night of the week. We need time together just as a family to bake cookies and talk about the day. The point is, to not make my naturally shy, introverted personality an excuse for not being hospitable. But to also not feel guilty about saying “Is it ok if we plan that for next week or the week after?”

I highly encourage people to read the book, humbly taking in the wisdom they can and asking what is a small step I can take to be more hospitable? Don’t be overwhelmed or compare your family to hers. Do what you can in your life, in your community, within your relationships!

Click on the link below for the questions I wrote up for our book chat. Feel free to use them, edit them, and print as many as needed. It also includes quotes that I thought would be helpful for those at our book chat that weren’t able to read the book. (Hopefully to wet their appetite!)

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1elpXSPW7nBy80rEXj8-ZQGkE_e7Cl56caATN0Ky0txE/edit?usp=sharing

Fear

I grew up in Southwest Florida. I remember hurricane season with fondness. I remember being “trapped” in my dad’s office building during Hurricane Andrew, which did minimal damage in our area. I remember having “hurricane days” in high school. Our school building was a shelter and so they’d cancel school, but both times this happened the hurricane changed course. So, you could find all the high school students on the beach enjoying the most beautiful of days. Some fear hurricanes, but not me. Although, to be fair, I was grateful to hear that my family evacuated for Hurricane Irma in 2017!

A natural disaster that I have always feared is earthquakes. That was never a possibility in Florida. And when we decided to move to Utah for ministry purposes, I’m pretty sure I’d never considered Utah earthquake territory. But there is a big doozy of a fault line right at the bottom of the Wasatch Front. And the state has been warned that “the big one” will come within the next 50 years. However, given that we’ve lived here for 13 years without the slightest tremor, the fear of that looming big earthquake is easily pushed aside.

That is, until a couple of weeks ago. You see, I woke up at 5:03am with a gasp, to my bed shaking like crazy! I thought, “What is Aaron doing?!?” And… proceeded to fall back asleep. I then woke up at 5:10 to more shaking and thought, “That feels like an earthquake. Man, that wind is crazy!” And fell back asleep. (Obviously I have my smartest thoughts while sleeping.) Aaron, who slept through both, told me the following morning that they had been, in fact, earthquakes. The first was a magnitude of 3.1 and the second 3.7. The talk of earthquakes and “the big one” has since been at the tip of everyone’s tongue.

Eight days later, after spending my kids’ mid-winter break safely in Florida, I woke up at 2:31am to more shaking, but this time I knew what it was. I lay there feeling the ground shake and hearing my husband snore and could feel the anxieties creep in.

What if the big earthquake hits while Aaron’s at work, the kids are at school, and Hannah’s at preschool? Would I be able to get to them? Could we survive? Would our house still stand? Would we have water to drink and food to eat?

I think the older I get the more anxieties that I have. Upon flying home from said trip to visit family, the flight had quite a big of turbulence. It never used to bother me. Now, it makes me scared that the plane is simply going to drop from the sky. Even more than that I worry about my kids. What if they grow up and reject Jesus? What if, when they leave, they reject me and never want to come home or have a relationship?

Almost two years ago a friend lost her husband suddenly. And more recently a college friend’s mother died, also suddenly. Those are also things I fear. What if Aaron died tomorrow, how would I take care of my family? How would I survive without him? What if one of our parents died? It would bring such heartache that I’m not ready for.

In the end, however, I have to remind myself that in life there is so very much to fear. And I can become consumed by fear and anxiety or I can trust God. Prepare for things, yes, but ultimately, I need to rest in God. If the worst happens, God will see me through, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. For Jeremiah 17:7-8 says:

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,

   whose trust is the Lord.

He is like a tree planted by water,

   that sends out its roots by the stream,

and does not fear when heat comes,

   for its leaves remain green,

and is not anxious in the year of drought,

   for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

So as the numerous anxieties of life begin to creep in I need to put my trust in Him and turn, always turn, to the word of God and to prayer. He is the giver and sustainer of life. After all, the only reason any of us are here today is because he is sustaining us and giving us breath in our lungs. And if one of my fears becomes a reality tomorrow, I will need to turn to him and rest in him and trust that he will see me through. And if that’s the case, than why should I subject myself to a life of fear before a tragedy happens? Instead, I need to be practicing that rest and that trust in my God, who loves me, perfectly.

So, if you need me, I’ll be over here avoiding thoughts of earthquakes and impending doom and actively placing my thoughts and trust in the Sustainer of Life.