Tuesday, August 23, 2011



It's what I heard my eldest daughter, Grace, yelling at the top of her lungs as she took off down the road all by herself. 

For the first time.  On her bike.  With no training wheels.

She screamed it with such relief, such exhilaration and such joy.  With every ounce of my mothering heart, I felt how much she truly meant it.  I couldn't help but jump up and down, rejoicing with her.

You see, it has taken much coaxing over the years for her to be willing to sit on her wobbly, unstable bike, let alone ride it.  She just wasn't interested.  She had other things she preferred.  But most of all, she was downright scared.  Scared to death she'd fall down, get hurt, and experience pain. 
algophobia--the fear of pain and discomfort
According to what I've read, an algophobic is someone who tends to overestimate how bad pain could be and/or the danger of any given situation.  In most cases, he or she gets very upset and loses control when the threat of pain is present.  The individual often starts to cry and usually expresses symptoms of anger, panic, terror, dread and extreme fear.  Ultimately the algophobic's number one concern in life is to protect himself/herself from unwarranted pain and discomfort.  When he/she feels safe and protected, all is right in the world.

Now I fully realize I am in no position to diagnose my daughter with a phobia, nor do I desire to have her labeled with one. 

I am not a physician, but I am a mom who has lived with my precious daughter for nearly eight years.  

I've witnessed a doctor's office visit in which it took three nurses to hold her down just to give her a shot.  I've seen the dread and panic she experienced this summer during swimming lessons and the death grip she had on the lifeguard when she was forced to go out where she couldn't touch.  
Hunched over, I have run alongside her, holding onto the bicycle seat because she pleaded with me not to let go.  
And I have held her hand multiple times when she desperately wanted to get her ears pierced, but in the end, didn't feel she had enough strength to go through with it.

Through it all, I have prayed for her and have tried to help her battle her fears.

I have reminded her that Jesus promised us that in this world we would have trouble (pain), but we can take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). 
I have spoken the comforting truth that God is with us always (Matthew 28:20b). 
I have reassured her that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). 

But to someone who feels trapped, even enslaved, by their fears, it's a struggle. 
To believe.  To rest.  To relinquish control.  To trust.  To take a leap of faith.

So we continue to petition the Father on our daughter's behalf.  We consistently renounce fear in her life.  As we do, we step back and have the privilege of watching God unlock the shackles one by one around her heart and mind.  Every time He does, we witness a miracle. 

As difficult as the battles have been, the victories have been a hundred times sweeter.  And, in the past nine months, there have been many sweet victories.

We have seen Grace face her fears head on and with God's help, overcome them. 

Last fall, we were there when she pushed through her intense fear of pain and mustered up the courage to get both ears pierced.  We were also there when she didn't need to be wrestled down just to get a flu shot, but endured it with bravery instead.  And most recently this summer, we were privileged to witness our little warrior princess pedaling away freely on her bicycle, unencumbered by training wheels or fear. 

After all, it's for freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1). 

"F-R-E-E-D-O-M!"  May it be a rally cry for us all.
"I prayed to the Lord and He answered me.  He freed me from all my fears."  Psalm 34:4 (NLT)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Do What You Can Do

I looked down at my right index finger all bandaged up and began to worry.  

Just three days prior, I had sliced it with a freshly sharpened kitchen knife. Even though the doctor said I didn't need stitches, the wound was still fresh and my finger was still tender and sore.  Now I was on my way to play in a softball game and was expected to pitch, nonetheless.  

As we drove along, I voiced my concerns to my husband--concerns that the ball wouldn't flow smoothly out of my hand, or that I might walk more players than I intended, or that I might accidentally hit my finger while trying to field a ball. 

Little did I know my daughters were soaking in every word as I shared my thoughts aloud in the car.  

My youngest interrupted my rambling by making a very serious declaration, "Mama.  Just do what you can do.  That's all."  

"Do what I can do?"  

"Yes, do what you can do."  

Pretty profound words from a four year old, if I must say so myself.  

Selfishly, I'd like to take credit for her words of wisdom, believing that somewhere along the line, she's heard me encourage her with the very same advice.  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.

It seems my little girl offered me the appropriate word at the appropriate time.  It was just what I needed to hear---when I needed to hear it.  

A combination of both encouragement and freedom.  
A push to do my best and forget the rest. 
A suggestion of faith plus action.  

Aptly spoken.  Graciously received.

How many times have I done the same thing?  

Spoken confidence to a hesitant heart?  
Whispered words of mercy versus condemnation? 
Voiced encouragement in place of criticism?

"The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry..." 
Proverbs 25:11 (The Message) 

In others words, the right word will be a perfect fit, made explicitly for the individual and displayed at just the right time.
"Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit—you choose.
Proverbs 18:21 (The Message)

"Do what you can do" has become a mantra in my head this past week.  I have recited it whenever I've felt anxious or worried about pending circumstances.  My daughter's wise words have helped me put things in perspective when I've felt myself slipping into perfectionistic thoughts or feeling overwhelmed with future responsibilities.  How amazing to learn something so profound from one so young!  So here's my prayer:

Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You.  I desire to bless instead of curse.  May my tongue express gratitude more than it expresses discontent. I pray my words will be bursting forth with life and honor You.  Thank you for giving my daughter the right words at the right time.  May I learn to do the same.

By the way, despite a shaky first inning, I wound up pitching a good game.  Surprisingly, I even struck out four batters.  All thanks to my little girl who reminded me to, "Do what you can do."  And I did.

Monday, August 8, 2011


You know the fairy tale. 

Little girl with golden curls. 
Family of three bears. 
House in the woods.  
Three bowls of porridge.  
Three different chairs.  
Three dissimilar beds. 
Little girl on a quest for "just right."

I confess I've been feeling a little like Miss Goldilocks lately.  Searching to find "just right". 

It seems I've been swinging on the pendulum of discontent between "too much" and "not enough".  My perspective, my opinions and my outlook seem to shift between the two varying extremes on a frequent basis lately.  In some circumstances, I feel I am "too much".  In others, "not enough". 
Can you possibly relate?

I talk too much.  I don't share what I'm thinking and feeling enough.
I plan too much.  I haven't planned enough.
I'm thinking too much.  I haven't put enough thought into it.
I'm giving my girls too much freedom.  I haven't given them enough freedom.
We have too much stuff.  We don't have enough stuff.
I have too much to do.  I haven't done enough.
I spend too much time networking socially.  I don't spend enough time connecting with friends and family.
I think about what I want too much.  I don't think enough about what I need.
My body is too __________.  My body is not __________ enough. (you fill in the blanks)
Maybe I show my love too much.  Maybe I don't show my love nearly enough.

And the list goes on and on and on.

When I find myself in the midst of this heated mental battle of tug-of-war, I am reassured by these ancient words...
"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 saints, 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 with the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:16-19
I am reminded that I have been filled to the brim with the fullness of God.  I am complete in Christ. 
Lingering long in limbo between "too much" and "not enough" is no longer acceptable.
Instead, grasping the deep, wide, fulfilling love of Jesus, the search party is called off.
I have found my rest.  I have found my "just right."
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