What Fears Are Shaking You?

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This snake and I surprised each other on a West Virginia trail!

My husband and I were enjoying the day in West Virginia with a hike. There were many sunny spots on the trail, but this one in particular stopped me in my tracks. The snake directly in front of me was enjoying the same day by soaking up the summer sun.

Of course, the snake was bigger in my mind’s eye than in reality. I am not embarrassed to admit that I have a fear of snakes. I know this because of my reaction. I didn’t scream or run in the opposite direction as I was taken by surprise. I simply froze in place and began to shake uncontrollably.

Rational thinking does not change my response nor eliminate my fear of snakes. I know that snakes exist in the mountains of West Virginia. I understand that most likely I will not encounter a snake. In over 25 years of visits and hikes in West Virginia, we have seen only a handful of snakes in their natural habitat. Despite the statistics, stepping on a snake is my number one fear when we hike. Fear doesn’t have to make sense.

For many years, I was not interested in hiking the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area of West Virginia. I can trace my reluctance back to a casual comment from my husband’s grandmother. In her younger days, Grams picked blueberries (huckleberries) in Dolly Sods and occasionally would see a rattlesnake or two. Since 2015, my husband and I have explored Dolly Sods with day hikes. It is now my favorite place to hike when we are back for the yearly family reunion. Fear affects my choices.

Snakes are not my only fear. As an empty nester in a later season of life, the unknown future can instill fear. Will our money run out in retirement? Will our health hold up? Fears are a part of life. Yet, we don’t have to be afraid of fear. Fear doesn’t have to control us.

Fear is real, but God is even more real as we recognize His presence and lean into His reassurance. Fear doesn’t have to define us. Fear doesn’t have to steal our joy.

Scripture shows us how to handle fear in our lives.

Seek God.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4).

Trust God.

 When I am afraid, I will trust in you (Psalm 56:3).

 Live out your identity in God.

 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).

And a personal reminder for me: Stand and not be shaken.

I have set the LORD always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken (Psalm 16:8).

 

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Guest Blogger: Donna Cronk / When The Bucket Runs Dry, You Fill It Up Again

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Introduction: My good friend Donna Cronk has guest-blogged here before. In this post, she shares about bucket lists and hearing God for her life. Through Donna’s story, we are challenged to walk in faith and work out the good plans that God has for each one of us. Thank you Donna for the reminder that God’s blessings always abound!

When the Bucket Runs Dry, You Fill It Up Again

By Guest Blogger Donna Cronk

Fifty was a cliché for me. I felt old, dated, and wondered about my purpose. Besides that, my feet hurt due to a medical issue and some days, I could barely make it to the office copier.

My husband and I had spent years caring for elderly parents and raising two sons—all at the same time. When I was 50, all of our parents had passed on and the boys were itching to leave the nest and start their adult lives. Where did that leave me, I selfishly wondered. I mourned mightily for their childhoods and teen years.

Then it was an unexpected comment from my husband that inspired me to consider that my life was far from over, that there could be interesting things ahead, and that I might just survive the empty nest after all. He said this: “I can’t think of anyplace I’d rather live after we retire than your hometown of Liberty, Indiana.”

His comment led me to consider what my life might be like if we went home – someday. I thought it would be great to open a bed and breakfast. So I opened one – on paper – with a story that became a bucket-list dream to see it published. In 2014, I released “Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast” on Amazon, in print and for Kindle, and my bucket list started running over.

For the past 14 months, I’ve given programs to home extension and book clubs, social and service groups, at mother-daughter banquets and to anyone who asks if I would be her speaker. The Lord eased my transition into a new phase of life by giving me a new role and purpose: that of author, that of telling women that they can live their dreams, that they should fill their bucket lists.

And I tell them my new dream of publishing a second book in 2016. Well, that all sounds uplifting and hunky-dory, until I came to … this moment.

Today, I find myself at another transition point. I have nothing (nothing!) book-related on my calendar. Of the thousand business cards I have handed out, of the hundreds of Facebook posts and emails, no one at present has signed me up to speak of bucket lists and fulfilled dreams. So of course I wonder if “the book” is finally over.

And I am struck by the irony. Today, I’m left to step up to my own plate; to live out what I have told hundreds of women to do over the past year and nearly a half: To ask God to show me what’s next; to give me dreams, goals and passions. He may have some new territory for me ahead where I’m able to keep spreading this message. But it could be, this particular message is over.

The Lord may be giving me a time out to seek His next assignment. He may well be asking if I am living my own message of trusting Him in the midst of uncertainty. Do I really believe He has a purpose for me in every season of life?

So I’m listening, Lord. I want to do your will and fulfill your purposes for my life. I’m open to exploring whatever territory you place before me.

 

Psalm 96:1

Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!

Psalm  16:5-6

LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. 

Donna Cronk is a career Indiana newspaper journalist. She blogs about her book projects on a Facebook page called Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast by Donna Cronk. Her book is available on Amazon. She is married to Brian who is retiring from 40 years in education. That will be another transition for both of them.

 

 

 

The View Outside My Window

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As I spend time in the kitchen, I enjoy the view outside my window. The hummingbirds entertain me with their flying antics. I am constantly surprised by the menagerie of visitors along the treeline: goldfinches with their splash of sunshine, one very big hawk, the scurrying squirrels, the groundhog that stayed for a little while and then moved on, the stray cat and the family of ducks. The fountain across the street is a relaxing sight and a relaxing sound on cool days when I open the window. I witness the colors change with the seasons from blooming flowers to ripening tomatoes. I experience beauty, peace and occasional humor from a distance. I find that I am content to watch as life happens outside my window. Sometimes, I live out my faith in the same manner. I am content to simply view life from my window onto the world. I encourage others. I rejoice over others’ victories in Christ. I live vicariously through their adventures of faith. I am content. But God did not purpose us to be simply observers of faith. We were created to own our personal adventures of trust with God. I am called to exercise my faith. To step outside of my comfort zone. To push aside self-imposed limitations and to grasp God’s possibilities.  For the view that God has for my life is up close and in action.

 

Psalm 16:11

You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.