No More Running From Fear

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message.

Proverbs 1:7 tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to be afraid.

Case in point. I was a tween with pimples; long, lanky limbs; and an attitude the summer our family went to Ohio to visit friends of my parents who lived on a farm. I didn’t much care if these people were nice. I didn’t much care what we would eat for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. It wasn’t the beach, and I wasn’t overly thrilled to be in Ohio for a vacation. (No offense, Ohio people.) But I had heard they had horses, and that calmed my grump a good bit because, truth be told, I was giddy to ride one.

I just knew I was born to ride! My cousin Beth had horses, but up to that point, she hadn’t had the chance to teach me the ropes. Finally I would have my chance.

The sun danced with a summer breeze the morning we journeyed past the barn out into the pasture for our horse adventure. It was beautiful. A perfect day for an eager girl to do something new and exciting.

I got a quick bit of instructions, and then I mounted the saddled creature, grabbed the reins, and ventured out into the grassy fields. All by my big-tween-girl self.

Freedom met me in the tall grass as Butterscotch and I became fast friends.

We walked. We cantered. We even galloped! I was so good at this!

And then I turned him around, back toward his owner and the barn, and Butterscotch got his run on in a fierce way.

Scared. Me. To. Death.

I didn’t know what to do. I screamed, dropped the reins, and held on to the horn of the saddle for dear life. The owner was waving her hands trying to tell me what to do, but she sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher, and the moment was blurry mayhem.

Then when I was sure we would crash into the barn, causing me to meet Jesus way too young, Butterscotch came to a halt.

And I went inside to change my pants. (Joking.)

I was so scared that I collapsed into an ugly cry. Couldn’t even control my emotions. And on that day, one thing became crystal clear to me: I do not like to be afraid.

Seriously.

If I see a snake, a mouse, or a spider (generally anything with more or fewer legs than I have), chances are I’m going to run the other way screaming louder than a middle-school girl at a Taylor Swift concert. Why? Because those creatures freak me out. It’s an unsettling kind of fear. And remember? I don’t like to be afraid.

Yet the Bible says we are to fear the Lord. Come again? How does this make sense?

I’ve come to understand that the fear of the Lord is a good kind of fear; it’s a righteous fear. The best kind. When God says we are to fear Him, He’s saying we are to be in awe of Him, to revere Him as the One who dwells in unapproachable light. To recognize Him as the eternal eminence who sits on the throne of grace and lovingly welcomes us to encounter Him intimately as we worship.

I fear God when I reflect on His greatness, when I whisper, “Good job on that flower, God!” when I trace the jawline of my sleeping, whiskered man-child and give thanks to the loving Creator who created him.

I fear God by giving Him the honor, esteem, and adoration due Him. In good times and bad.

I fear God by recognizing that He is God and I am not.

I fear God by understanding that all of the power in heaven and on earth is His. And in doing so, I’m ushered into a fresh beginning. To the greatest resource of power. To a starting gate that opens wide to knowledge, wisdom, and instruction—all of which are worth far more than any understanding this world offers.

Straight up: The world is a faction of fools who laugh at godly wisdom. It whispers venom to our souls …

“You don’t have to pay attention to God.”

“Do things your way.”

“More! You need more!”

“It’s okay to watch that raunchy movie or read that trashy novel.”

Blah. Blah. Blah…

No thank you, world. I’ve got a mad crush on my God, and I don’t need your misguided direction. The fear of the Lord leads me to wisdom in a beautifully sacred way. And that’s a fear worth running toward full force.

Have a blessed day!

Operation Zipper Pouch

USA Hero

May is Military Appreciate Month.  I want to THANK our Vets for all that they have done and do for us every day. I want to show those who have come home after serving our country and have been forgotten that we appreciate their sacrifices for us.

When was the last time that you thanked a service man or woman?  Bought them a cup of coffee for no reason.  For me despite the fact that I “heard” the stories from my dad and step-dad about their time serving our country, it never really clicked.  I never really thought about how it directly affected me.

LUT camo

Then came “Operation Freedom” some 15 years ago.  This is when the commitment of our military men and women and their families HIT HOME! My best friend’s husband, Bill, was deployed for what they said would be 30 days. There were the 3 boys – Sean, Ryan and Shane as well as Jen who were all in school, active in various activities and not really understanding what would be dad’s first deployment. The days leading up to Bill’s deployment were filled with lots of paperwork – wills, living wills, etc. The weeks after Bill left were full of emotions – tears, anger, frustration – it was just too hard for the kids to understand that dad wouldn’t be home for awhile. A 30 day deployment turned into 6 months. Tough times for everyone – financially and emotionally.

When Bill returned home, there were struggles.  Not just financially but emotionally for everyone.  There would develop a new sense of normal in the house.  It was then that I realized what the battle scars of war were all about –   the toughest was the emotional toll which leaves a permanent mark.  On the outside, all may be well but on the inside they carry memories that will haunt them forever.

a million thanks

Over the last five years, with the help of my family, friends, customers and hostesses, I have been blessed to make donations to various causes near and dear to my heart.  So, I am again asking for your help to make a difference in the lives of the men and women who have protected our freedoms.

For just $25 you can sponsor a personalized Zipper Pouch. I will use 100% of my commission to fill them with candy, trail mix, gum, crossword puzzle book, a thank you card and a small American flag. My goal is 31 zipper pouches sponsored by April 28th.  The bags will be stuffed and delivered to a local program that works with Veterans and their family.   Payments can be sent via Paypal to hopesgiftcloset@comcast.net – you don’t need to have a Paypal account to do this.  If you want, I can invoice you, it that is easier.

So, who is with me? For $25 you can bring a smile to the face of one of our honored Veterans.

If you see someone in the military – stop and thank them, let them know that you appreciate what they are doing for this country.  Remember to STOP and say a prayer asking for the safety of our men and women near and far who serve this country.  Won’t you help to make a difference today?

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Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

To My Love

What does Valentine’s Day mean to you? Flowers? Chocolate? A special dinner out?

UR Loved card

For me, it is a day to celebrate the gift of love in my life that I have sometimes taken for granted.

Parents – I know you are thinking of course, they love us they are our parents, right?  Many are not blessed with this gift of unconditional love. My parents have stood by and supported me even through the roughest of times.

My Daughter – Belinda.  The day she was born, I finally GOT it!  The 6 months of bed rest, the struggles with her biological dad, the days of being a struggling single mom – I got it!  I understood about the sacrifices that a parent makes for their child no matter how it hurts.  I understood that you would do anything to take care of and protect that little person. I LOVE the woman that she has grown up to be who wants to make the world a better place.

love of my life

My hubby – a love story for the ages.  When we met back in high school, he was this blond haired, guitar playing, quiet with a smile that gave me chills kind of guy. He was from Neptune and I was Ocean Township. Our schools were rivals and it didn’t take long for me to succumb to peer pressure. See, I was a people pleaser way back then too! We went our separate ways. We never talked again…

Fast forward 30 years, to the summer of 2002, a roadside memorial with the name “HOPE” on it sent this amazing man on a hunt to make sure it wasn’t me. Emailing led to dinner led to days off together and shall we say that the rest is history.

Life has tossed us some curve balls over the last 3 years.  The health struggles that we thought we wouldn’t have until we were OLD-er.  This overly independent woman is learning what the true meaning of “unconditional love” is all about from this amazing man.  I know there are times that he believes that I don’t need him, that he is “a pain in my butt” but the truth is, I can’t imagine my life without him. He is my Ying to my Yang. He keeps me grounded when I am ready to fly in the wind.  He is there to keep me optimistic when all I want to do is runaway and hide.

To day is the day that I honor LOVE. Remember that LOVE is an intense feeling with deep affection and we are meant to share it with others – family, friends or just a random act of kindness to a stranger.  I challenge you to put a smile on someone’s face to day.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

A Memorial Day Tribute

Happy Memorial Day! For some today is an extra day off. For others it is spending time with family and friends kicking off the summer season…Today is really about remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Those who gave their lives so that we might live in freedom. It is about celebrating the lives of those who dedicated themselves to serving our country and who returned home to their families.

USA Hero

Growing up Memorial Day was just another day off from school. As a Girl Scout, we marched in the parades but the true significance of the day was beyond my understanding. The Vietnam War (okay so I am showing my age),  still it didn’t touch my heart. My dad and step-dad both served in the military – I have listed to their tales but yet it never really sunk in.

LUT camo

Operation Freedom” some 10 plus years ago, the commitment of the military men and women and their families HIT HOME!  My best friend’s husband, Bill, was deployed for what they said would be 30 days. There were the 3 boys – Sean, Ryan and Shane as well as Jen who were all in school, active in various activities and not really understanding what would be dad’s first deployment. The days leading up to Bill’s leaving were filled with lots of paperwork – wills, living wills, etc. The weeks after Bill left were full of emotions – tears, anger, frustration – it was just too hard for the kids to understand that dad wouldn’t be home for awhile. A 30 day deployment turned into 6 months. Tough times for everyone – financially and emotionally.

When Bill returned home, we all attended the Memorial Day parade together. It took on a whole new meaning for me. It wasn’t just about a day off from work or school, it was a day to honor those who sacrifice their lives daily for us whether here or abroad. I am grateful for the men and women in the military, past, present and future who give their all so that we can live in freedom. The battle scars of war worn by these men and women are not always seen for the emotional toll that it takes on them and their families leaves a permanent mark. On the outside, all may be well but on the inside they carry the memories that will haunt them forever.

If you see someone in the military – stop and thank them, let them know that you appreciate what they are doing for this country. Check out my blog “Coupons for Our Troops” on a way that you can help our military families by simply cutting coupons. As the sun rises on Memorial Day, STOP and say a prayer asking for the safety of our men and women near and far who serve this country. Yes, you may have the day off from work or school and you may be able to enjoy barbecues with friends and family – but there are those in the military who don’t get a day off.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!