Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New No Fear New Year

thoughts from Debra E. Marvin

No Fear? You can't be serious!

Do you ever wonder what it is about humans that God finds most frustrating? I’m not doubting His love and pleasure in us. I do think, however, that fear is our most limiting factor. I can encourage someone else through a tough time with every confidence but do I win my own battles with fears and worries as well? No.

This week the Inkies have been talking about Fear. I don’t know what I can add to it and I wish I had the magic answer. I thought of sharing my deepest fear--but I was afraid. Duh.

I’ll list some general ones:
Fear of debilitating illness or disease in ourselves or our loved ones, or their deaths.
Fear of financial failure and loss of comforts
Fear of embarrassment, ridicule, loss of control
Fear of doing something that is unpleasant and takes us out of her comfort zone
Fear of man – concern more for what others think of us than for telling them the truth of Christ’s redemptive love.

Fear of losing unsaved loved ones and knowing we failed them by our inactivity.

Mine are in there. Are yours?

Today is my mother’s birthday. Yes, she's the New Year's Baby. But she won't remember.

She is 82 today and for the first time in her life she is living apart from her family. She lived with her parents till she was married and at the time of my father’s death they were living with me. But my mother has Alzheimer’s and now lives in a special care unit in a nursing home. Her mother had the same exact history. I’ve broken the tradition because I . . . now live alone. Will that break the pattern? Of course not.
I have no fear of living alone, but I used to fear this debilitating disease.
I don’t anymore. I can’t.
I prepare myself and my children and hope that I take after my dad’s side of the family or that the Lord comes before I turn 80 or that something else takes me there sooner.
If I lived in fear of it, I’d lose all ability to enjoy what I have now and I know that God is in control.

By the way, getting my mother into a place where she is happy and safe was a miracle.

Why can’t I put all my other fears aside as easily?
My fears are never from lack of trust in God, but come from my own inadequacies. Ways I failed my family and friends. Fears that I did a disservice to them. So I have to put all my trust in a God who can work around me, in spite of me and that maybe I can still be of use to Him.

Oh. Forgot one. Snakes. Garden snakes don’t frighten me but I have a knees-turn-to-jelly fear of big snakes. I used to have recurring nightmares about anacondas.

Fear Not but Behold, I bring you tidings of great Joy. A savior born that is Christ the Lord.
Behold, as in LOOK AT THIS Savior, NOT THAT. Not that snake, or that disease or that insecurity.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

One of our Seekerville Friends, Glynna Kaye, offered this and I'm borrowing it: FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. Don't waste your time fearing the unknown or worrying over what may never happen. Cling to the truth.

Happy New Year from Inktropolis. We've been blessed getting to know each other better and getting to know our online friends and followers. We look forward to an amazing 2010!


  1. I have a radical comment to make about fear and worry before the week is over.

    Fear is a sin.

    Worry is a sin.

    If these posts haven't convinced you to strive to knock them out of your life, maybe that comment will.

    I've done some Bible study lessons on this topic lately. Would be happy to debate the issue ;)

  2. You're right, Dina. Fear and Worry are a slap in the face to our Lord who told us to not do it. I really improved on this over the past year. I started to take every day one at a time. It helped and as always God delivered more than I could imagine.

    Thanks for the new look, Lisa! Oh groovy graphics guru!

  3. Amen, Dina!

    Great post, Deb. If you lived in fear of the disease it would steal your life away. You've already defeated it by living fully each day the Lord gives. My prayer is that we all learn to do that!

  4. Deb, your comment about the anacondas reminded me of something. I used to be so terrified of bears that if I saw a picture of one it would trigger a nightmare. I thought that was the strangest thing to be afraid of. It was so illogical. I'm not even sure where it came from. But it got to the point that I dreamed about them in living color. And I mean...blood and all. They were not pretty dreams.

    And then one day something happened. I faced my fear...literally. No, I didn't see a bear in the mountains while we were camping. (But I used to fear I would) They redid the habitats at the Woodland Park zoo in Seattle and put the animals into their natural habitats. It's a beautiful zoo. Unexpectedly we came face to face with two Grizzlies. I didn't realize they were there, or I would have gone the other way. They were across a moat from us, but they were there. And they were huge. And they stood up like they do in the movies before they attack. And I was awestruck. Then they started playing with each other like giant puppies. And I fell in love. It was amazing. I praised God for making such beautiful creatures. I've never had a nightmare about bears since then. It's been about fifteen years, I think.

    Now I look forward to going to the zoo to see them. I do think sometimes it's very good to face down your fears, although, Deb, I don't think I'd want to face down an anaconda. But if I did, Max Lucado once told a great story about what to do if you come face-to-face with one. It takes a healthy dose of prayer, being perfectly still, and knife tucked into your boot.

    Happy New Year everyone, and like Deb, I'm looking forward to getting to know each other better.

  5. Suzie, at the Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson, AZ, there is a reptile house. You can walk through it, and on each side are enclosures of different sizes filled with reptiles. Of course.
    Okay, I can handle toads, lizards, etc. But they also had huge snakes. I couldn't put my back to either side. If I was supposed to get over my fear in there, It didn't work!
    I still remember the way I felt.

  6. Great post, Deb! I remember walking home from school one day when we were living on the family farm in Pa. Believe it or not I walked an old dirt road for a mile to get home. Just as I was coming to the curve right before the house I big black snake lay across the road. I went through the field.:)

    I know you're right, but here's where I have the most trouble with that. Mental illness creates unreasonable fears. Anxiety, OCD, any kind of brain glitch can do this. I think it's a life long battle for those who deal with these illnesses.

    I think it's a life long battle for those of us who don't deal with these illnesses. Probably one of the best resources I've read is Joyce Myers, Battlefield of the Mind.

    Anyone got any other resources outside this and the Bible that may help?

    I also think many of us need a break from the news. That's one of the things I'm going to try and not watch as much of this new year.

    I loved your stories about the bears.:)

  7. Thanks for sharing this post, Debra. I appreciate your opening up to us. I am trying to work through some of my fears this year, fear of publication???

    Carla (ACFW NE)

  8. Carla--
    it's a funny thing to say isn't it? We want to be published but it brings other concerns.

    Let's take it one day at a time! We'll get our contract and then we'll work on the 'next' set of fears together!
    thanks for stopping in on a holiday. (of course unless you're into college football, there's not much to do but write or eat, or go online!)

  9. Another great post on this most challenging of topics. Not that it is hard to talk about, but it is difficult to challenge our own fears.

    I like that you point out that God works not becuase of us, but sometimes in spite of us. That is the most freeing statement.

    I think the root of fear is often our own sense of inadequacy. Or as Dr. Henry Cloud might say, our lack of maturity - emotionally and spiritually. That is why (mature-ing) faith is such a great antidote to fear, because we relinquish our own need to perform or be better than we are. Faith in a loving, redeeming God allows us to accept our own failings in light of God's incredible love and grace.

    And Jill, I heartily endorse Joyce Meyer's devotional Battlefield of the Mind. I've used it twice during incredibly fear-filled, stressful times in my life and came away with a changed perspective.

  10. Hi, Debra! Happy New Year! I am thinking of you and your mother (and me and my late mom). I have had to face many things that have been my greatest fears because I had no choice. They came at me in a fast and furious manner. I tried to dodge 'em and duck 'em, but inevitably I had to face them. Not that I handled them all well!

    Here is a silly fear which recently came back to haunt me: I have always been afraid of swooping, fluttering BIRDS! This goes way, way back to my childhood. A few weeks ago, I was once again outside in the darkness of early morn looking for my newspaper. My little postage stamp-sized front yard is surrounded by a high hedge. Out of frustration, I was digging through the hedge in the dark to find the paper. What I found was a bird which swooped up out of the dark and barely missed my face. I screamed. Loudly. It was shortly before 6AM. No one came to check on me, but at least they didn't call the police (how embarrassing that would have been).

    Earlier today, I read the following three tips on how to be happy:

    Three simple actions can boost your happiness factor:

    1. Smile

    2. Express Gratitude

    3. Perform Acts of Kindness

    I added a fourth tip:

    Set realistic goals for what you can do and what you can't do. Don't be overwhelmed by all the big stuff you can't resolve in one day. Chip away at the little stuff, and give yourself recognition for what you have accomplished. That way, when you do tackle the larger issues, you won't have so many small matters crowding your path.

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  11. Oh Virginia, great story. I was right there with you on the SCREAM!

    Watching my mother for years and fearing the day when I might see it happen, was worse than when I finally accepted it and faced the fact that she had Alzheimers.

    As Wenda said, it's freeing to know we can mess up. Fear is the pits. But we can't beat ourselves up over it. God is gracious.

    Definitely for me it's a case of letting inadequacy get a foot in the door.
    Jill's point earlier is well taken. All the best intent to live without fear can be trumped by mental illness. Again, God is gracious.

    Anyway, I'm so happy to see you here, Virginia! (You have a special place in Inktropolis, you know!)

    Thanks for your happiness list, my friend.

  12. Jill, I agree with you about mental illness. Of course, mental illness can lead to a number of problems the Bible calls "sin." It's not an excuse, but I'm sure God has the utmost mercy and understanding and love for these situations.

    I would never judge others about their fears. But sometimes I think we're too easy on ourselves when it comes to this issue.

    My ladies Bible study has been doing a book called Counseled by God by Mark Virkler. It has been very good. It's about letting God into the deep places of your heart and old wounds and allowing him to speak and minister healing to those areas. It especially deals with fear, low self-esteem, guilt, and unforgiveness.

  13. Happy New Year! God bless you all on this first day of 2010!

    Deb, what a powerful post. Thank you for being so honest. I feel so blessed to have read this today!

    I appreciate everyone's insights, acronyms, and the devotional / book recommendations. More for my To Be Ordered list!

    I am always afraid of something happening to my family. Worrying about failure in my writing and in my life. Stewing about my parents' health issues. Giving these fears up to the Lord, repeatedly. Some of our fears are more rational than others, but all of mine are things that keep me from fully surrendering to God. I know it's a bigger issue with me than with some people, but we all struggle to various extents.

    Speaking of irrational fears...About 15 years ago I suddenly became afraid of lions! It was ridiculous! Maybe it's because I saw that movie, "The Ghost and the Darkness" with those creepy lions. I don't know. I never had a problem with them before. I started having nightmares about them where I'd have to hide in cupboards or something. And I do not live in Africa. Talk about irrational. Anacondas and lions and bears, oh my!

    Deb, on a totally unrelated note, I saw a GWTW calendar and thought of you...I hope you got one!

  14. Thanks for being so open with us, Deb. I agree that we're not to live in fear, but I also think that rational fear is a God-given gift. Rational fear keeps us from pulling stupid stunts like playing with Anacondas. It's a natural instinct.

    The Bible encourages the Fear of the Lord. That is, the healthy respect for God and His Word. In this age of Grace sometimes we forget that He will also judge our lives. That touch of awe can keep us from straying.

    Not that we live in fear of Him, but like a father there are times when a child should have a healthy dread of the punishment that they are about to receive. The punishment is designed to teach them and keep them safe in the future. So I'm rambling, but in short, I don't think all fear is sin. If you allow your fear to keep you from God's will, or if your fear outweighs your trust in the Lord then you may be veering toward sin. Either way, God can help us to live above the sort of fear that constricts our lives and limits our possibilities.

  15. Hi again,
    Well, I've cleaned the house! Meghan is having a party for the Sugar Bowl. I've escaped into my office for a break. :) Whew!

    I love what you all are saying. Deb, it's really important for me to do the one day at a time thing. It's really easy for me to jump ahead and that's when worry sets in.
    Love the happiness tips, Virginia.

    Dina, that book, Counseled by God sounds great. I may have to check that out although my daughter Meg says if I bring one more book in this house she's sending into therapy.:)
    I just remembered a book I have called, "In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day." How to survive and thrive when opportunity roars.

    Susie, you made me think of this book when you mentioned the Ghost and the Darkness, which I couldn't make myself watch. I don't like the hunting thing and it looked to scary. But the book I mentioned talks about chasing your lions. It's really good, by Mark Batterson.

  16. That's true Lisa. There are different definitions of fear. I just thought I'd stir up the pot today and see what happens. For example, there is a natural physical fear respose in certain situations.

    I do think though that it would be hard to defend worry. Worry is choosing to dwell on possible negative outcomes. It is the opposite of faith. That which is not of faith is sin. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Add to that the many imperative statements in the Bible not to worry.

    So worry is definitely a sin, and I do think much that we define as fear could fall in that category also.

  17. Hmmm. here we've been talking about fear and forgetting the 'good' part of it. Nice way to round out the week.

    When I was young, I thought Fear of the Lord was the strangest idea.

    And healthy fear - of course. Don't play with lions, bears, anacondas, etc. Unless you want some reality show on Animal Planet and you have a death wish.

    more on fear: I did learn to never watch CSI and then take your trash out at 10pm.

    Hey, isn't it great that today was a holiday and we still have a weekend left?

  18. Hi Deb--
    It's well after midnight, so I want to get some sleep...just had to say my mother was a worrier, and I never was, until I've gotten older and feeling more vulnerable.
    So this is something I'm struggling with; and I figure if its a struggle, it's gotta be a sin. But this post of yours is a keeper, Deb, so thank you. Talk to you soon. Pat I.

  19. HI Pat,
    thanks for stopping in. Sometimes we pick up those 'worrying' traits from our parents. Along with a few other things...

    Hope to see you soon!

  20. Alright. Fear. What a great topic to tackle at the start of a new year. I like the comments on healthy fear, the kind we can trust, our instincts that let us know when we're not with safe people, or animals, or environments. But, not to dwell on fear and let it paralyze you.

    Debra, I discovered a picture book at a children's writer's conference this fall on a boy trying to reconnect with his grandma who has alzheimer's. It's called, A Young Man's Dance, by Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton. She read it out loud to our group of children's writers and illustrators - nary a dry eye - such a beautiful book. Maybe you'll find it in your neck of the woods.

    Thanks for the comfort of your words.

  21. Jill and others, if anyone is serious about looking into the "Counseled by God," Mark Virkler has a number of resources on the topic, but I prefer the study guide. It allows you to get into the scriptures and search out the subjects for yourself.

    Here is a quote about fear:
    "Fear is not neutral. It is powefully negative. It is the incubation of satan rather than the incubation of Christ. It brings forth works of satan rather than the works of Christ. Fear-producing situations are to be handled by inviting Christ into them and allowing Him to show us how He wants them resolved."

    "We can never overcome fear by attacking it...Fear is overcome as we encounter Jesus and receive His wisdom, perspective, and power concerning the situation. As a result, we find our fear being replaced with His faith, a faith born in the movement of the Holy Spirit."

  22. Great attitude, Deb. I believe a positive attitude helps in the healing process. I'm not sure if it can belay certain diseases but negativity has an adverse effect on your health so you're on the right track.

    I also believe that fear and worry are not 'of God' and should be avoided. (Way to go, Dina. Love the way you charged in their first.)

    Thank you for your post. I liked reading about your background, my Inky sister. Hugs.


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