Fear Not

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“Don’t worry about it.”

If I had a nickel every time I have heard that phrase.

I have always worried.  I used to just assume it was part of my personality.  I was told that all the women in my family worried.  It was just the way the women in the Sennett family worked.

After my mother died, however, the worry took a complicated turn.  It turned into devastating anxiety and panic.  I have had moments of anxiety that have driven me to my knees in the carpet and it took prayer to stand me up.  I have prayed my way into work many days – not because I was worried about something that was supposed to happen that day – but because I was anxious about something that MIGHT happen.

I can come up with “What if…” questions better than most Olympic athletes can compete at their sport.  The answers I come up with are always worst case scenarios.  That causes more anxiety.  It is a vicious cycle that I have allowed to steal many days from my life.

Today I am worried.  I have to leave in about an hour to take my six year old daughter to our local children’s hospital for a test.  The doctor told me what the test will entail, but since it is not one I have endured before, I can’t prepare her.  I don’t know if she will be in pain.  I don’t know if it will cause her fear.  I don’t know if I will be able to be with her.  I don’t know if it will be a good thing for me to be with her.  Will she sense my fear?  Will that make everything worse?

So I have to make a conscious choice to trust.  I have to trust that this children’s hospital knows what they are doing and will be a calming effect.  Trust that they understand my fears and hers.

Most of all, I have to trust that God loves my daughter more than I could ever imagine.  Whatever happens today is in His will.  A quick Bible Gateway search of the phrase “fear not” brings up over 150 verses that teach us not to fear.  They stretch from Genesis to Revelation.  They are direct commands from Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah and other prophets speaking on God’s behalf.  They are commands from Jesus Christ Himself.  They are teachings from the epistles of Paul.  This might be an important topic, huh?

Trusting in God is easy when you have a back up plan.  Trusting in God is easy when it is a choice between good options.

When it is something completely out of your control……..not so easy.  When it is the well-being of your child that is out of your control…excruciating.

Today I am having to make a conscious effort to trust.   Today I am having to renew that effort every few minutes.

Today I am having to quote some of those 150+ verses over and over to myself.

Today I am choosing to learn from my daughter, who is contentedly reading a book – completely trusting.  She knows that Mommy and Daddy prayed over her last night and that we will be continuing to pray.  She is confident in that power.

Matthew 10:29-31   “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Ten Ways You Know…Vacuum edition

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10 ways you know it has been too long since you last vacuumed

 

10. You have more pet hair on the floor than carpet.

9. You have a strong suspicion you may have lost a pet under the pet hair.

8. Your toddler points to the floor and says “EW!”

7. Your toddlers don’t know what a vacuum is.

6. You’re not sure you know how to work your vacuum. You’ve owned it for over a year.

5. Your bagless vacuum has to be emptied twice. In one vacuum session.  In one room.

4. You find a toddler spoon you’ve been missing. It was in plain sight on the floor.  You couldn’t see it under the pet hair.

3. Your pets go into traumatic shock and might have to be treated for PTSD when you do vacuum.

2. Your toddlers scream like they are being hunted by the vacuum.

1. Your third grader comes into the room after you have vacuumed and says “What happened in here?!?!”

 

March 12, 2012

Aaron Burr, Sir

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Like much of the live theatre loving population of the country, I have become captivated with the Broadway phenomenon Hamilton.  I have not yet been blessed enough to get to see it.  I have, however, purchased – and memorized large parts of – the unbelievably amazing soundtrack and am currently reading Mr. Chernow’s book that Mr. Miranda based the musical on.

I have become increasingly intrigued by the character of Aaron Burr and his motivations.  Mr. Burr served eventually as a senator of New York and Vice President of the United States under President Thomas Jefferson.  However, deep inside, I believe he was an insecure and fearful little boy.

We know Aaron Burr was orphaned at a young age.  He was raised by an uncle.  In the soundtrack to Hamilton, Burr is described as completing his education at a record pace to fulfill the wish of his deceased parents.  He is very motivated by the desire to maintain the legacy his parents began.  I believe that Burr’s biggest flaw is being an extreme people pleaser.  In the soundtrack, he offers the advice to Hamilton on several occasions, “Talk less; smile more.  Don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.”  Deep inside he was missing the praise and encouragement most of us receive from a relationship with our parents.  Since he lost that opportunity, he looked for it from other people he saw as important.

We see him looking for the approval from George Washington both on the battlefield and in politics.   He seeks out a secretary position in Washington’s cabinet, which he does not receive.  He seeks out approval from the people of New York, by actively campaigning door to door for the senator position, which he earns.  He seeks out approval from the people of the United States by running for the position of President, which he did not receive.

As a people pleaser myself, I can understand a little of what Burr seemed to be enduring.  While I had a good relationship with my parents growing up, like Burr, I always felt I was second place to others around me.  I never had the opportunity to shine like friends did.  I remember a conversation with my mother about a part I was auditioning for in my high school drama department.  I was auditioning for a lead part.  My mother told me to pursue my dream, but to keep in mind that I was “not leading lady material.”  While I now understand her statement, at the time it crushed me.  I thought that even my own mother did not believe in me.  When I, in fact, did not receive the part I was auditioning for, but once again got the part of the comic relief, I decided I was always going to be second place, if I was lucky.

In my adulthood this has continued.  I still find myself longing to shine.  However, I have learned that instead of looking to be the best, I need to look to find God’s purpose for my life.  Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (ESV) While I may never shine by the world’s standards, I need to fulfill my purpose and shine in my own life and mind.

I can’t help but wonder what Aaron Burr could have accomplished if he had looked for his purpose rather than his next spotlight.  What was his true purpose?

We have to each make the decision if we will search out glory by the world’s standards or if we will look to God and allow Him to tell us what His purpose is for us.  Will we be like Burr and Hamilton and leave people wondering what we could have done if we had only been given more time, or will we use every day to the best of not our abilities, but His?

 

Dear Joey,

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The summer before I began the third grade, I attended my first camp with my church youth group.  I remember being terrified as we left the church.  I had never spent that many days away from home.

Little did I know, that camp visit would begin my deep history with Woodland Christian Camp.  I attended as a camper each summer until I was sixteen.  At sixteen I met a young man whose father volunteered as a camp dean each summer for the third and fourth graders – the same age I was when I first attended!  I volunteered.  For the next two years I would serve as a camper and a counselor, on different weeks!  Once I graduated from high school I would serve as a counselor for at least one week of camp each summer.

Once my mother passed away and I began teaching full time, I put what was intended to be a temporary pause on my camp counselor service.  However, summer jobs, marriage and children happened and before I knew it, it had been sixteen years since I was on the land I loved so much.

Last September, something woke me early on a Sunday morning.  A casual Facebook scroll ended with a cold grip on my heart.  The precious camp dean I served for so long and loved even longer, Joey, had passed away.  Suddenly it came crashing in on me just how I had neglected the land and people who had meant so much to me.  Joey had always seen the good in me.  He listened to me as I thought through some tough teenage decisions.  He had loved me as a kind uncle through times when I struggled to love even myself.  He had reached out to me when he heard my mother had passed away.  What had I done to thank him?  Nothing.

Over this past week, Joey and his family had been laid upon my heart repeatedly, even showing up in my dreams.  Once more, I was awakened early on a Sunday morning.  Once again a Facebook scroll gripped me.  This was the week of camp that Joey had always served as dean.  Two dear friends who had served with Joey and I were heading it up.  One was Joey’s son, Jason.  I finally knew how to thank Joey.

Yesterday my husband and I took our three children to Woodland.  I introduced them to old friends.  Watching my children talk with Jason, who looks just like his father, felt like the completion of a journey I had not realized was unfinished.  We walked through the buildings where I spent so many happy days.  I introduced them to Joey through a picture Jason had posted in the main mess hall.  We sat on the deck with a view of the lake where I had many a deep discussion with Joey.  We walked down to the lake and sat on the dock where I remember dreaming of my future.  Somehow my dreams did not include sitting there with my children.  It was surreal, but wonderful.

Joey taught me one more lesson yesterday.  I stood by the lake alone for a few minutes, saying my good-bye to Joey and remembering all the dreams I had during my teenage years.  I realized that I wasn’t living many of them at all.  My husband was only a friend during those years.  I never imagined being married to him and sharing children.  I am a teacher as planned, but teaching is not what I imagined.  Adulting is not what I imagined.  But what I have is …. perfect for me.  I couldn’t imagine a husband who understands me better.  He is patient when I need it and challenges my thinking to make me look at situations from various angles – much like Joey.  My career is my mission field and has taught me that with God I can go farther than I ever could alone – as Joey told me He would.

Joey taught me that while I may not be living exactly my teenage dreams, I am living God’s dreams for me, and He dreams so much bigger than we can.

Dear Joey,

Thank you for everything you gave to me growing up – most importantly, a listening ear when I needed it.  Thank you for modeling faith in God, even in the face of difficult circumstances.  I hope I have made you proud.  Enjoy your reward.  There aren’t many who deserve it more than you.

Love always,

Aletheia