On Friday of last week, I took my two youngest kids and my writer-friend Becca to the Rattlesnake Derby in Mangum, OK. Let me say clearly, I don't like snakes. I don't really like New Year's Resolutions either because, well, I suck at keeping them. Some folks I know forgo resolutions and instead choose a scripture verse for the year. Other folks ask God to give them a word. Since my success rate with resolutions was so low, why not go with a Word for the Year.
So I prayed. And waited for God to give me one. Adventuresome wasn't exactly the one I expected. Me? Be adventuresome? I rarely talk to strangers. I am happy with my fears. But since that was my Word for the Year, after I heard the radio ad for the Rattlesnake Derby, I thought, "I'm soooo there."
In lieu of showing pictures of snakes (you're welcome), I thought I'd share this blog post I write a few years ago. I pray it's a timely reminder for you as it is me to "Fear not!"
by Gina Welborn
In the last eight years, since moving to Virginia, we've taken family vacations each summer. Virginia Beach. Kill Devil Hills, NC. Myrtle Beach, SC. Pigeon Forge, TN. DisneyWorld, FL. This past year's vacation was to Souix Falls, SD by way of LeRoy, Illinois, where we visited hubby's cousin and family. For the sake of brevity, I'll sum of the trip by describing the states: Virginia--beautiful, West Virginia--mountainy with practically no bathroom rest stops, Ohio--corn fields, Indiana--corn fields, Illinois--corn fields with an occastional windmill farm, Iowa--corn fields, Minnesota--corn fields, and South Dakota--corn fields, pig farms, and one wheat field that we might have imagined because we were sick of corn fields.
Cousin Mike's house was the halfway point between home and my grandma's house in South Dokata. While I do enjoy staying in hotels, staying with family makes for a fun time. (A loud time, too!)
Three summers ago, a family from church loaned us the use of their beach house located where the Rappahannock River dumps into the Chesapeake Bay. I was three/four months pregnant with chiltlin #5 at the time. Let's see. Four bathrooms, six bedrooms, and thirteen people related by marriage or blood. Sounds like a fun time.
One afternoon hubby, me, our two boys, and hubby's dad (FIL) decided to go riding explore the river on our Sea Doos (personal watercraft). Oldest son (12) rode with me. Younger son (6) rode with my FIL. Hubby knew I don't like riding in rough water so we took a tributary of the Rappahannock. After a bit, hubby told me to take the lead because the Sea Doo I was riding had a depth sensor.
I freely admit I'm fine with not having depth sensor reading skills.
Anyhoo, the sensor showed three/four feet so I knew I was okay, but the water around me looked like an oil spill, I slowed a bit and looked around. Something wasn't right. Since hubby was waving frantically like he wanted me to stop, I did. Apparently his "get out of there" sign is the same as my "stop" sign. Whoops!
Oil sludge? Nope.
Ever heard a pastor quote a scriptures about the mirey pit? Well, I have, although I never really understood what a mirey pit was/is. What we were in was...well imagine a bucket of water with the bottom half mud sludge, the top half muddy water.
Needless to say, once I retarted the engine, I couldn't go anywhere. We were stuck. So was my father-in-law. Hubby who wasn't stuck tried throwing us a rope. Sadly, not long enough. Ended up hubby said we were gonna have to walk the Sea Doos out. Uggh.
I tried sticking my feet in the mire. Totally freaked out. If anywhere is the best place to have a panic attack, this was it. No matter how many times I said to myself, "you can do this, Gina," I couldn't do it. Prayer did not help. At least I didn't feel it helping, but pain medication doesn't always feel like it's working until we no longer feel the pain.
Oldest son Matt told me to stay put. He'd gone with his sixth-grade class that past spring to a marsh land south-east of Richmond near the James River, which made him an "expert" on mire. He walked about 20-30 feet through the sludge to my FIL, who was unable to walk in the icky stuff. Then Matt and his younger brother, Jadan, pushed my FIL and his Sea Doo far enough for them to reach the rope so hubby could pull them out. Then Matt walked back to me. He insisted I could stay on the Sea Doo and he'd push me out.
Well, despite my utter fear and my understanding the my little boy wanted to be my rescuer, I knew I had to get off the boat. Only not one itty bitty part of me wanted to get off.
I was fear's willing captive.
Still, I backed of the back of the Sea Doo and slid down. My feet sank until I had sludge up to my thighs and muddy water up to my chest. While tears poured down my face, while I repeatedly prayed "Oh, God, help me," and while Matt kept telling me how proud he was of me for getting off the Sea Doo, I trudged through the mire until we reached (mostly) clear waters. Matt told me to climb back on (and I did) while he pushed/swam me and the boat out to deeper water. My hands shook. My heart raced. My eyes woundn't quit watering, although I'm sure that was because it was so sunny.
Once we reached hubby in the mire-free zone, Matt told me snakes live in murky depths. I laughed hysterically...and then threw up. I could have been eaten by a snake. Uggh. Certainly not one of my top ten ways to die.
Looking back, I see that day as the moment in life where I started my journey of learning to stop letting fears rule me.
So why did I choose to slide off the boat into the mire when I didn't have to I need to. For me. For my boys because I know I set the example for what they're gonna look for in a wife. I want to be a godly woman of character, of courage, of convictions. I want to be strong enough to go on an adventure with my boys yet honest enough to cry in front of them and tell them I'm scared. And I most certainly was scared.
Yes, I still feel rather stupid for leading us into the mire, for not recognizing what mire was, and even for stopping. (Although I did later recommend to hubby that he work on his hand signals.)
As we approach the beginning of a new year, let's all take inventory of our lives. What fears hold you back? What fear holds you in bondage? More so, why do you choose to stay in bondage to your fears, worries, "what ifs" when you know what a lack of peace you have?
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. ~2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
In scripture when an angel of the Lord appears, he tells the person(s) he's visiting to "Fear not." Sure that's probably because angels are pretty visually intimidating. No cherubs are they. I like how D'ann so excellently introduced this theme by mentioning the rest of the story, rest of the angel's message beyond the "Fear Not," but I can't help but focus on the middle of the message.
Fear not FOR BEHOLD I bring you good tidings of great joy.
Why "for behold"? My translation of the middle part of the angel's message is "Hey, stop focusing on what it is that you fear because when you do, you're too busy to hear what I have to say next. God is at work, in you, in the world around, in your circumstances. He has a purpose and a plan to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future. How can you have any hope when you're focusing on what you don't know, don't see, don't know how to solve? Listen. Yes, listen to the message God sent me to tell you, but listen also for God's voice."
QUESTIONS OF THE DAY::
If an angel were standing before you and said, "Fear not for behold ____________," what would he finish the sentence with? Or answer it this way:
*I can only fear not and behold what God has for me IF I __________.
*I will only be able to fear not and behold who I can become WHEN I __________.
*I need to fear not and behold how much BIGGER GOD IS THAN __________.
*I must fear not and behold that I CAN TRUST GOD TO ____________.
RWA-Faith Hope & Love chapter president Gina Welborn worked in news radio writing copy until she had a stunning epiphany—the news of the day is rather depressing! Thus, she took up writing romances because she loves happily ever after. She is an active member of ACFW and RWA and the author of three inspirational romance novellas. A moderately obsessive fan of Battlestar Galactica, Community, and Once Upon a Time, Gina resides in a wee little town outside a larger (but not large) town in SW Oklahoma. Thanks to her pastor-husband's ability to spray a fabulous chemical called Demon, her children don't get to enjoy raising hunter spiders, grasshoppers, and crickets. While they are (mostly) saddened, Gina is delighted.
I'm fearing not and remembering that God is bigger than my finances and that He has never failed to provide for me...and He has unlimited mercy and grace for me when I mess up.ReplyDelete
After the snake in swarmy mud thoughts...I am doubly proud of you for the adventure of the Rattlesnake festival. I would not have gone.
I identify with this adventursome theme. I used to be very bold and brave, but life had worn me down over the years. Last year when I read The Hunger Games series, I felt very convicted. I needed to find my courage again and be willing to risk everything for what is right and what God is calling me to do. Last week I announced the sale of my book coming out this fall with a Muslim character who turns to Christ. Today, I blogged on my personal website about the CD of songs and prayers I wrote about the Muslim people. I am not letting fear hold me back in these big things.ReplyDelete
And I'm also working on some of my smaller anxieties, like throwing parties and talking to strangers.
Snakes, I'm fine with. Mingling at a party, I'm terrified of. Go figure! Although I'm not sure I'd want to get up close and personal with a rattler.
I'm very much a creature of habit and I love my comfort zone. I probably need to do some stretching and try some new things. :)ReplyDelete
Deb, my younger sister called about a situation in her life that was causing her to worry and stress. I shared with her something that God showed me recently that I needed to know. Really need to print it out and keep on my nightstand.ReplyDelete
It's from Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Typos mine.
when i am consumed by my problems--stressed out about my life, my family, and my job--i actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God's command to always rejjoice. In other words, that i have a "right" to disobey God because of hte magnitude of my responsibilities.
worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enouhg, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives.
Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or out tight grip of control.
basically, these two behaviors communicate that it's okay to sin and not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional. both worry and stress reek of arrogance.
Dina, I'm with you there about not talking to strangers.ReplyDelete
I also think we are more fearful about things than other people think we are. You're pretty brave to me.
DeAnna, we're in the same boat. Try something little. Then share with us how it went.
Well, I was planning on coloring my own hair. O.oReplyDelete
Let me add my voice to those who are afraid to talk to strangers.ReplyDelete
Gina, I have a very adventurous spirit but a very timid heart. When I let the adventurous spirit win out over the timid heart, I'm always happy. Well, almost always - I'm not particularly happy when my body doesn't follow suit and I end up with broken bones.
There are adventurous spirits, and then there are airplanes. I'm not sure there us enough adventure to overcome that illogical fear.
Coloring your hair?! DeAnna, you are a crazy woman. Love it!!!!ReplyDelete
Adventursome spirit but timid heart. I like how you phrase that, Suzie. Have you ever had a broken bone? I haven't. Would be fun sometime. Not that I'm going to try to break a bone.
Gina, yes, five broken bones in three years. The leg was the absolute worst because I had to have surgery.ReplyDelete
I've never had a broken bone. Not looking to try it. I am not as adventurous as I'd like to be. Not as trusting that my Abba will be there to catch me after the leap of the cliffside as I'd like either.ReplyDelete
I'm working on it!
I'm working on it, too, Lisa. But I don't know that I'll ever be comfortable on a plane, and I'm positive I won't be jumping off a cliff anytime soon. Although, I still want to try parasailing someday.ReplyDelete
I love this post, Gina. I loved it the first time and I love the rattlesnake derby addition!ReplyDelete
I dislocated my collar bone in Grade 7 while playing football. We didn't call it 'touch' football back then, but when my male classmate whacked my back and I went down one yard from the Touch Down line, I figured I'd been touched for sure.ReplyDelete
But the fear came when I lived with my arm dangling by my side for a week before the school nurse told my parents they had to take me to a chiropractor. I thought I'd lost the use of my arm forever - all because of a PT class. :(
And Gina, I don't blame you for hesitating one bit. I used to swim in the natural lakes of Northern Ontario and the worst part was when the muck oozed up between my toes. I did not like that at all. Not the feel of it, nor the knowledge that the lake had leeches. Blech.