Breaking Fear: Part 8, When The Hard Hits

I’m sorry, but we don’t believe you will be able to have children.
We are going to have to let you go, please collect your things. 
It’s malignant. 
We couldn’t resuscitate him. 
Your only choice is bankruptcy at this point. 
I don’t love you anymore. 

This is not an easy post to write.

There are no easy answers when the hard comes.

I have faced some of these “hards” up close.  Some, thankfully, I’ve not.

But I have been left, fired, unable to walk, and told I couldn’t get pregnant.

It. Is. Terrifying.

We’ve talked about fear of the unknown, but what happens when the worst actually happens?  When the fear comes creeping into every corner of your conscious thinking and unconscious dreams.  When tears creep out while sitting at your desk or laying in your bed.  When your heart races and your breath shortens until you’re dizzy.

Fear wants to lay claim to your hard season.

Fear wants to make this temporary season your permanent storyline.  Fear wants this hard to define you.  To roadblock you.  To paralyze you.

It’s when the hard comes we most need to Break Fear.

I have no good words so, once again, I turn to the guidance from the scripture.

1.       Do not fear.  This sounds completely ridiculous, but I think it is important to say.  The Bible commands us, over and over again, not to fear.  Not to stop fearing in our own human power, but in His power.  He is right here.  In the middle of the hard.  He knows what comes next.  He knows how He is going to use this for good.  He will hold you up when your knees buckle.  He will whisper words of peace and comfort over you when your heart races and fists clench.

Isaiah 41So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand…
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

2.      Pray.  Sometimes, it is literally the only thing we can do about it.  He tells us that when we pray, His peace will guard our minds.  I have this concrete image of His angels of peace and courage coming to stand guard around my head as I pray.  Whether it is crying out “WHY?????” or just crying, He wants us to come talk to Him.  This is hard.  It’s fine to acknowledge that, including when you’re talking to God.  You can be angry or sad or hurt or confused.  Pour it out.

Philippians 4 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus….
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength…
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

3.       Trust Him.  I do not know why you are in a hard season.  I do not know why I am in a hard season.  But He knows.  And the hard circumstances I have faced in my life in the past, I can only see now, were used by God for His glory or His kingdom or to move me from a place of even greater danger.

Proverbs 3 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Hebrews 11Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Psalm 62Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people; for God is our refuge.

4.       He has this.  He owns everything.  He will act.  He is going to act on your behalf in the middle of this hard.

Psalm 50 – I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.

Hebrews 10 – Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering.  Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution….  You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.”

Daniel 9 – Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary.  Give ear, our God, and hear… Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name!


All I have this week is to mediate on His word – I’ve included these passages which encourage me as I struggle in the hard (there were too many to include them all above, but I think it’s important to have them all handy as you grieve):

Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 27:

The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?…
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock…
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Psalm 18:
I love you, Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears…
He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Isaiah 61:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted… to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Ephesians 3:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!

It Didn’t Matter That He Was Slow

My eldest is a doll.  He’s a hugger and cuddler and he focuses on things of interest to him intensely.

I love him so much.

He is also slow paced.  Very. Slow. Paced. 

He’s regularly the last one to finish eating, get up, get dressed, load up in the car, obey instructions, get to bed, etc.

I’m fast paced.  My other two children are fast paced.  It must be hard being a slow paced kid in a fast paced family in a fast paced generation in a fast paced city.  There are days he must feel as though he’s swimming upstream.

For their sixth birthday, Mimi bought each child their own Bible.  The wonderful Adventure Bible written for kids but which has every word of scripture in it instead of only bible stories like many children’s Bibles.

The eldest was delighted.  On Monday night, he remarked how excited he was about his new Bible, and we took it to his bedroom to read a bedtime story.  He spent time thumbing through all the pages trying to figure out what we would read.  Back and forth, forth and back, my deliberate slow paced child.

Finally, for reasons I will never know except that God led him there, he settled on reading a portion of Mark 5.  The story of Jairus.

Jairus finds Jesus in a crowd and begs him to come see his daughter who is dying, “Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and lived.”  Jesus agrees to go but, because the crowd following him is large, it takes a while for them to get to Jairus’ home.  While they were en route, Jairus’ family brings him the news his daughter died and urges Jairus not to bother Jesus anymore.  Jesus overhears them and tells Jairus, “Don’t’ be afraid; just believe.”   When Jesus arrives at the house, he walks into the girl’s room, tells her to get up, and “immediately the girl stood and began to walk around.”  (Mark 5:21-43)

The eldest sat rapt the entire story.

At the conclusion, he looked up and said, “It didn’t matter that He was slow.” 

Let that settle in.

My son saw something in the miracle I had never seen before.  It did not matter that Jesus took His time getting to the girl.  It did not matter she died before Jesus arrived.  Jesus can do anything.  But He does it in His time.  And a lot of times, His time feels slow.

I began to well up over what this story had taught my sweet boy, and I responded, “That’s right.  Jairus may have been sad or frustrated Jesus took so long getting to his daughter, but Jesus told him to just believe.  And Jesus brought his girl back.  It didn’t matter that Jesus was slow.  Jesus still did it.”

The eldest smiled and nodded.  We went on to discuss Jesus’ timing and read the story of Lazarus (John 11) when it took Jesus FOUR whole days to get to Jerusalem where Lazarus had died.

It dawned on me like it dawned on my sweet boy:  Jesus moves slowly. 

You see no instance in scripture where Jesus hurries past someone in need.  Where He announces, hurry up, we’re late.  In fact, it’s normally His people who are trying to hurry Jesus while Jesus responds, slow down, let me be with these people.

In this life where I’m trying to teach my children how to be more like Jesus, I could learn a thing or two from my six year old.  Jesus moved through the world slowly.  Touching individual lives and stories did not prevent Him from accomplishing His purpose here on Earth.

I pray I can encourage my slower paced child to appreciate his internal clock.  It may make him more like Jesus.  It may give him the ability to touch individual lives more purposefully.  It may give him the wiser perspective.

As a parent, I must not try to change him or speed him up.  In fact, I could learn a thing or two about repacing my hurried life.

A slower pace will always be the harder course, more now than ever, but I pray my insightful son retains his personal pace in a world filled with people urging us to hurry up.

A Homecoming 20 Years Overdue

obu4It felt familiar as we drove into town.  The Taco Bell and Waffle House where we spent many 2 am mornings during finals still stood just off the Interstate.  The open fields where the boys wanted to go cow tippin’ hosted fresh bales of hay.  The stadium before turning into the main campus was filled with football fans.

I lived for four years in Arkadelphia, Arkansas while I attended college at Ouachita Baptist University.


I’ve never typed that sentence before.

In large part, I’ve spent the past 20 years hiding from that fact.

There’s a bunch of muddled reasons why.  Partly because I have some personal issues with the denomination and partly because it didn’t feel prestigious once I’d gone to Vanderbilt Law School with folks carrying fancy pedigrees and partly because of a radical shift I underwent while at OBU on issues as wide ranging as drinking, politics, and judgment-based Christianity.

So I shut those four years up in a closet and almost never revisited them.  When asked where I went to school I said Vanderbilt or, if pressed on my undergraduate, I said in Arkansas.

I was wrong.

Really wrong.

The only thing that shocks me more than how wrong I was is how long it took me to recognize it as wrong.

I spoke knowingly about authenticity serving as a critical foundation in leadership all while having a hole in my own credibility.

Every life period, at least mine, come with good and bad.  There is no perfect season.  We’re human.

I left home for Ouachita sheltered, shy, fearful, and idealistic.

I changed my major from Pre-Med after failing to meet my unrealistic straight A standards and was unsure where I would land.  Because of smart, caring professors, I ended up with a new life course and a major in History and Political Science.  Professor Cole, my amazing history prof who has passed away now, told me I would make a great lawyer so I went to law school.  When I walked by the study lab in his honor, I was able to show my children a photograph of the man who pointed me into the profession of law.

I was terrified of speaking in public, so Dr. Buckelew encouraged me to do something I was comfortable at for Intro to Speech (a required course).  I told him I was only comfortable in front of children, so my first speech was reading The Giving Tree to the class like they were preschoolers.  I made a 100 and went on to minor in Speech because of him.  I threw up before every speech I gave but pressed on because of his encouragement.  I’ve spoken to thousands of people because of Dr. Buckelew seeing something I couldn’t.

I continued working for Dr. Everett as head of the Chemistry Department even after I changed my major because we just liked working together.  I worked for him for three years as an assistant.  I studied at Moscow State University because Dr. Bass and Dr. Reid encouraged me to go on this brave trip after my junior year and helped me raise funds to be able to go.

Even more significant than the life path Ouachita set me on are the relationships I formed there.  I met a beautiful bubbly girl named Alicia at the freshman mixer before college started who had been assigned randomly as my roommate.  She was from Dallas, so we planned our peach and mint green matching bedspreads and room accessories over the phone after reviewing the selections at Wal-Mart.  We lived together freshman year and half of sophomore year, and she is still one of the most important girlfriends I have ever had in my life.  She and I are also still friends with wonderful other freshman from Perrin West hall – girls who bonded over a shared hallway bathroom and $5 Sunday pizzas.  My junior and senior year, I roomed with my dear high school friend Valeree.  We lived in our first ever apartment our senior year – a rundown mess of a place we loved in the campus owned (now demolished) Starlight Apartments.



I pledged a local sorority on campus, Tri Chi, and those girls and I have hysterical memories.  I have photographs of pledge week when we were upperclassmen that still crack me up.  I saw several of those sweet friends at Tiger Tunes this Homecoming weekend.




I walked all over the campus with my husband and children and remembered all the good.  The wedding I was in at Berry Chapel.  The Tiger Tunes performances we suited up for in the speech building next to Jones Hall.  The Saturday morning prep sessions for the LSAT in the poli sci building.  The walks underground to the mailboxes in hopes an envelope might await me.

Those four years were beautiful.  There was heartbreak mixed in with the hilarity and problems mixed in with the progress, but how foolish to let all the good get tucked away.

This weekend ended up being such a surprise to me.  I am tremendously grateful for how those four years formed who I have become, more transformatively than any other period I can identify.

Maybe my story can encourage you.  If there’s a piece of your history you have tucked away because it doesn’t fit into some imaginary storyline or it wasn’t perfect and untainted, then let me encourage you to dust it off.  There is good there, and there is you there, and we shouldn’t bury part of who we are or the process of becoming.

On Your Sixth Birthday

kinderToday, you turn six.

It’s been a good year beloved ones.

We’ve had change and adventure and yet a stable foundation to keep you grounded – God, church, mommy and daddy, your grandparents, and the same home we brought you into from the hospital.

You each got trips with daddy to the farm or the ranch. PLUS, you each stayed all by yourself at the farm with grandma and grandpa. We got to visit Gaby and Papa in Oklahoma, and Mimi taught you how to play dominos and Sorry.

We went on our first family vacation in over two years: an adventure out West to Yosemite National Park and then Lake Tahoe. You fell in love with the house cat and stormed up mountain bases and begged to play in the streams.

You tried out all sorts of new activities over this year – from gymnastics to ballet and tee-ball to soccer, you’re running faster and learning to be good sports (which is more important than winning).

You seamlessly moved to a new school and started kindergarten, and you are already reading and writing and adding and subtracting.

But more than these joint efforts and activities, you are EACH your own individual.


Sweet S,

You’ve always been so curious about the Bible and God. In Pre-K3, they called you the preacher, and your Kindergarten teacher already has you pegged for the seminary. In June you asked Jesus to come into your heart and we danced with the angels.

You have grown so fast and so strong in sports this year. I’m proud of how you’re learning how to balance competition with good sportsmanship.

You love your grandfather and are heartbroken there’s no more square baling to do this fall as it’s your favorite. You still struggle with wanting to cry over all the things, but I know God is going to use that sensitivity for His good purpose. I can’t wait to see what this next year holds dear one.

Love you all the way to the moon and back, Mommy


Darling L,

I watched this week as you painstakingly made your bed and arranged all your stuffed animals in particular order, and then you promptly went to sleep in the floor because you didn’t want to mess it up. You remind me so much of myself – but better!

You are fierce and talented and brave and strong. After three years of ballet, you decided to try gymnastics and are working your heart out to rock that too. You struggled the first week of swim team, but went on to be the only five year old in the finals!

You’ve developed some sass this year, so I’m praying we foster your independence and intellect while ensuring you exhibit respect and gratitude. I’m so thankful God sent me a girl; you teach me so much.

I love you oodles and oodles and bunches and bunches, Mommy


Dear W,

You see and hear everything my curious little sponge. You always have. Not only do you absorb all of the knowledge and information around you, but you also absorb others emotions. You have great discernment and compassion, but with all of that ability to feel comes your struggles with sadness and anger. You are learning to, and we are working toward, improving together.

You are already reading so quickly and you have a deep understanding of the things you absorb. You adore your daddy and would follow him to the ends of the earth, or to the best fishing hole or deer stand.

You asked Jesus to come into your heart RIGHT before our adventure in Alabama together.  We had time to explore and laugh (with fierce games of pool ball!) and play and understand each other better – we’re both just working to “calm down!”

I love you with all of my heart, Mommy


Breaking Fear: Part 7, Fear of What Others Say/Think


“She’s ineffective,” she whispered in ears.

“You shouldn’t be involved, she’s going to run that place into the ground,” her voice warned willing listeners.

“She’s a fraud. A phony. It’s all smoke and mirrors,” she repeated over the phone.

This isn’t a short story.

This actually happened to me last year. A professional adversary. And for three months, the attacks nearly crippled me.

The third-hand accounts of the accusations led to constant self-doubt. Panic. Insecurity. But more than anything: FEAR.

Fear about what others would think. Would they believe her words?

Fear about how to respond (or whether to respond). Do I try to fight back? Defend myself or attack in return?

Fear about whether any of the accusations might be true. Was she on to something?

Then a circle of dear friends called my attention to this truth: Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:14) {===> Click to Tweet}

I still cling to these words on the days I feel like it’s up to me to win the battle I’m facing. When the fear wells up in my throat and threatens my air supply.

Listen dear friend: God. Holds. Your. Reputation. He has you in His hands. {===> Click to Tweet} Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, So a curse without cause shall not alight. (Proverbs 26:2)

You do not need to respond. Counter attacks only serve to give credibility to the original attacker and taint your reputation. This is so hard. Instinct is fight or flight. Fight or flight comes from FEAR. Once we trust, way deep down, He will guard our reputation, then the fear dissipates and is replaced with confidence to move forward.

It will always hurt. No one is immune. We can feel sad or frustrated or confused but we shouldn’t live in a state of fear.

Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong;
or like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
Psalm 37

When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God will be with you… Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory. Deut 20

This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s… You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you. II Chron. 20:15-17

I wonder if the scripture is SO FULL of promises of protection, defense, and freedom from fear because God knew how hard this would be on us. How our instinct would run contrary to His promises. He understood and so He promised over and over that He has this: See, I will defend your cause and avenge you (Jeremiah 51:36); When they cry out to the Lord because of their oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them (Isaiah 19:20); Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you (Deut. 1:29).

Hang in there. This will pass. He will fight for you. Be still.


  1. Read Psalm 109 – David gets this. Years after the Exodus, you hear David’s cries from his accusers, but he recognizes God has it and he will praise Him even in the middle of the attacks. Follow up by reading Psalm 37. There is such freedom in his songs.
  2. Release whatever fear you have been holding over what people think about you. Forgive those who have gossiped or attacked or spread a negative storyline against you. Write out a prayer using any of the dozens of scriptures where God promises to protect you, fight for you, defend you, and hold your reputation.
  3. Share what you’re learning in the comments or on Facebook. Thanks for journeying through Breaking Fear with us this fall.