Fear is a Liar

I love the water.  I love to look at it.  I love to sit on the shore and feel the breeze as it comes across Lake Michigan.  I love to walk along the beach, next to the ocean, and feel the warm, gorgeous blue hit my toes.  I love to take pictures of it.  I am captivated by the way the water is constantly moving and changing.  It’s beautiful.

Looking over the ocean, or even the greatness of Lake Michigan captures God’s glory in such a unique, and wonderful way.

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But, you know what?  Water is also kinda scary.

Think about standing on the shore of an ocean, and looking out over such a great body of water.  The unknowns.  The vastness.  The deep, blue with no bottom in sight.  And of course, the sharks!  

Seriously, who is NOT afraid of sharks!  I have sister (who will remain nameless) that was terrified to take a shower at one point in her life because…sharks.  I was afraid of Lake Michigan for awhile (it was a long time ago, okay) because…sharks.  I have a sweet, and sometimes naughty (that’s why I love him) little boy in my life that was truly terrified he was turning into a shark after he lost a tooth because…well, sharks!  Maybe we should all just stop watching things about sharks…who I am I kidding; we all love Shark Week!

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On a more serious note, water is quite scary.

Some of the worst dreams I have involve water.  To be more specific, they involve water and drowning.  It doesn’t matter who it is, me, my kids, a family member, friends; it’s a horrible nightmare!  One that recurs, and I’m just standing there on the shore watching.  Feeling helpless and afraid.  There is nothing I can do to help, and I know it.  Hopeless.  That’s how I feel when I wake up.

Hopeless and afraid.

So, I have been thinking about water.  Silly things like sharks, and more serious things like waves and storms.  And drowning.  And fear.  And you know what, I discovered?

Fear lies!  All the time!

Fear tells you there is no hope.  That hoping will lead to hurt.

Fear tells you that you will lose control if you have hope.  Fear says that hoping for what’s ahead is as scary as floating in the ocean and not being able to see the bottom.  You know it’s there but you can’t feel it; and you should fear anything you can’t see or touch.

Fear lies about what hope is.

Fear lies about who God is.

Do you think, Mary wasn’t terrified when the angel came to her?  Instead of letting her fear stop her, she used hope to grow into the woman who God had seen all along.  She took the hand of God as He called her into the unknown.  Hope made Mary brave.

Do you think Daniel was without fear when he was led into the lion’s den?  That Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego weren’t a little concerned when they felt the heat of that fire?  Instead of cowering, they held on to the One who had kept them safe and sound all those years in captivity.  They used hope to look into the eyes of their captors and declare the goodness of their God; even if He didn’t save them.  Hope made them brave.

He made them brave.

Hope doesn’t mean you have no fear, it means you don’t let fear keep you from moving forward.  But fear wants us to forget that.  It wants us to forget about hope.

Fear lies and says you can’t go on.  Fear says you must stay where you are until the storm passes.  Don’t move until the waves calm and you see the horizon again.  Fear longs for us to forget.  But hope looks fear in eyes and says one word: Jesus.

He takes our hand and we move forward together.  Into the unknown.  Through the storm.  Facing crashing waves, He makes us brave.

Not helpless and afraid.

Brave.

I will choose happy this week because I am not alone.  I may have fear, but I also have hope.  And hope sees me standing on the shore feeling helpless and walks with me into the water; sharks and all!

He makes ME brave.

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P. S.

Take a listen to this song; it’s so completely worth your time.  Trust me!

 

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Just Keep Hiking, Just Keep Hiking, Just Keep Hiking

IMG_0754.JPGHave any of you ever been hiking?  There is something beautiful about being in the woods, on a mountain, or even in the middle of a sand dune with no distractions.  It’s quiet.  It puts God’s creation on display.  It lets you focus on the world around you in the most simple and breathtaking way.  If you’ve never tried it, do it!  Seriously, just go to your closest state park, find a trail, and go; you won’t regret it!

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We stumbled upon this new hobby by accident!  One day, we all decided to tag along with Clint when he went up to Ludington for work.  Northern Michigan is beautiful any time of year.  And, in the summer it’s a little cooler and the lakeshore is just perfect for a day trip.  So the plan was to let him get his work done and then head up to Glen Arbor and Sleeping Bear Dunes.  We were going to climb the big dune with the kids and take in the pretty view.  Simple enough, right?!

We drove around town and then headed for the first big dune we laid our eyes on!  It was huge! But, when we got to the top…the view was just another sand dune.  And when you got to the top of the next one there still was no lake at the bottom of it.  And when you got to the top of that one, you only saw another, and another, and another…IMG_0054

Being the committed family that we are (more like I was too stubborn to turn around), we continued on.  We kept climbing.  We kept running down the side of one sand mountain only to crawl up another.  Each time hoping to see Lake Michigan as we reached the top.  However, we were only seeing more sand.

It was becoming quite obvious that we had chosen the wrong dune.  People were turning around and telling us that there were more obstacles ahead; that they were turning back.  There was another family, just like us, who told us just to give up as they headed back for the car disappointed and tired.  We considered it.  But, there was something about that feeling we got every time we reached the top.  The feeling that this was going to be it!  That this was the last one!  IMG_0052

Finally, after what seemed like forever we saw the end!  Not in the form of water, endless blue skies, or forever reaching lakeshore.  It was in the form of a sign that said that Lake Michigan was still 1/2mi in front of us.  That we had a 1/2mi more of sand, more sun, and more climbing.  What?!!!

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This is actually from a hike in Ludington State Park, but it gives you a good idea of how we felt.

Hope is a tricky thing.  It can spur us on to accomplish great things.  It can keep us going when we just want to give up.  The feeling that what lies ahead is greater than what lies behind defines hope.  But, what happens when what your hoping for seems constantly out of reach?  When hope is deferred, and every time you get to the top of a mountain you only see another one?

I wish I had the perfect response to lift the discouragement that seems to fall every time life happens.  When we fail to get the job promotion; again. When we fight with our spouse or kids,over the same thing; again.  When it feels like our dreams are just too far to grasp; again…

I do know that we have a choice.  That just like love, hope is a choice.  The choice that pushes us forward.  I am talking about the cling-to-hope-even-when-all-is-lost choice.  I am talking about the decision to get-up-and-face-another-day-and-climb-the-next-mountain. The choice we make to decide that what lies over the top of the next sand dune has to be better than the sand dune we just climbed if only because it’s not the same sand dune we just climbed!

That every step forward takes you further from what is behind you.

This is hope.

Well, we did it!  We continued for another 1/2 mi and were rewarded with one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen.  Pictures don’t do it justice.  We were hooked; hiking has become something we love.  Even Livi (who is opposed to most physical activity), can occasionally be convinced to join.

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I am going to choose happy this week because HOPE.  Because we would have missed that gorgeous view if we had just focused on what was right in front of us.  We would be missing out on a ton of other great views too if we hadn’t seen it through to the end.

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P.S.  

That hike in the dunes ended up being 7mi total!  How we missed the other signs, I am not sure.

 Oh, and don’t ask my kids if they have the same great memories I do…you won’t get the same response!

 

 

Hope

Faith. HOPE. Love.

Hope.  Why is hope always such a challenge for me?

Love, I can do (at least I try).  Whenever I struggle, I do my best to remember the love that was given to me on the cross.  It leaves me speechless.  Suddenly, accepting someone where they are and offering a hand of help seems like a small effort compared to His offering of love for me.

Faith.  I can do faith, because there is something that just won’t allow me to let go of my faith.  I can’t help but see him in everything, even when I am determined NOT to see Him!  My heart won’t let me live without faith.  I have tried.  That small, quiet voice always gets too loud for me to ignore.

Faith brought Gabriel to the virgin Mary.

Love kept Jesus on the cross.

But hope…

It was hope that brought Him out of the grave.  Hope that those near and those far off would fully know Him, so that we could be reunited.  Hope led the children of Israel out of Egypt.  Hope sent Ruth to Bethlehem with Naomi.  Hope held Mary while she held baby Jesus, and again when she looked up at her dying son.

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When I was struggling to get pregnant (I should say; struggling to STAY pregnant), hope seemed far away.  Waiting for good news, not having any control, only getting bad news, and still trying to be hopeful was hard.  Anyone who has struggled with miscarriage or infertility understands how difficult it is when someone minimizes what you are going through and how chaotic your life feels in the waiting.  The little hope you have managed to scrounge together can be squashed so very easily.  For what seemed like forever, this was the story of my life.  But hope…..

One very difficult day, Hebrews 10:23 lept from the page;

So, let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word.

How could I ignore this?  How could I not have hope after reading these words?  This God, My Savior, saw ME.  He heard me, and these words written so long ago were FOR me.  Hope changes everything!

At times, hope still gets away from me.  I don’t know why.  I am pretty sure I will never know why this trips me up.  But I have faith in those words.  Love wrote those words.  Those words are forever.  They bring hope no matter how far I wander from it.  No matter the struggles.

I don’t know if your struggle is with a relationship and the hope for restoration is getting farther and farther away.  It may be that you feel lost and the world seems dark no matter how hard you try to see the light.  Maybe it seems like you have been praying about the same thing for years and years with no answer.  But hope….
He is faithful.  You are enough.  He sees YOU.  Grab the hope that seems fleeting and hold on to it, don’t let go.  Seize it.  He who promised is faithful.  He sees your faith, and your love and wants you to have hope too.

Hope will darken the chaos and light the road before you.

I am going to choose happy this week by CHOOSING HOPE.  Will you join me?