Thursday, July 5, 2018

Throwback Thursday - When Fear Cripples

Oh look.....it's time for another b+ TBT! Be encouraged!

Monday, October 10, 2005

When Fear Cripples



You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, " I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along ." . . . You must do the thing you think you cannot do.- Eleanor Roosevelt

About eight years ago I had a particularly bad series of events involving car accidents. Within a year and a half I was in three accidents...all of them almost 6 months to the day of each other. One accident is bad enough....but three.......it was bad.
The first was during a snow storm. My brother's birthday was the next day so I rushed out to the store to pick up the item I had been waiting till th last minute to get. While I was in the store it began to snow. Normally that wouldn't be a problem, living in New England you learn quickly how to drive in bad weather. The store I was at however as at the top of a very steep hill and surrounded by busy streets. I had an old Volvo with semi-bad tires and the snow was still fresh....so sand on the road, no plow had been by yet.
As I crept over the top of the hill on the long four lane driveway and edged my way down the slippery pavement I suddenly saw my worst fear. A car had spun out and sat sideways completely blocking my lane. The driver had shut off his car, gotten out and was looking at his front tires. In the lane to my direct left was another car and in each of the two lanes coming up the hill was a car. I couldn't possibly swerve into another lane without causing another accident. My only out was to turn hard to the right and try to jump the curb and go down another steep hill into a parking lot about 30 feet below. So as I picked up speed sliding faster and faster towards the other car I did just that. To my surprise though the curb was too high and instead of removing myself from the potential accident I in fact spun out sideways and slid down even faster to hit the stopped car lengthwise.
**SIGH**
Six months later I was on my way to work one morning. I had a cold and was continually having to blow my nose so I kept a tiny box of kleenex within easy reach. I was an assistant manager of a pet store at that time so I was in a hurry to get to work and open up for the day. In front of me for almost the entire drive was a particularly elderly gentleman in a mini van who was very careful to remain within the exact speed limit. Every block or so he would brake to slow back down to 35mph. I kept a good two car distance between us just because he made me nervous and the last thing I wanted was another accident. As we kept our slow and steady pace I cranked up my radio in an attempt to destress myself. Suddenly I needed a kleenex. I reached down to where I kept them but couldn't find the box. I felt around some more...still nothing. Finally in desparation I looked down and grabbed one. In that instant the man in front braked yet again and in the micro seconds that I started to look back up, I hit him full force. Totalling my car, sending me to the hospital and putting me out of work for a couple of weeks.
Double **SIGH**
Fast forward yet another six months. My then boyfriend and I were taking some people home after church. A young teenager from the church youth group and my friend. I had organized us by who would be getting out first. So the teenager was in the front seat and my friend and I were in the backseat of his tiny hatchback. As we all laughed and talked we came to the street of the first drop off. Suddenly from behind a car full of teenagers careened into us at full speed miraculously stopping just short of encasing my friend and I into the back seat.
Triple **SIGH**
After those accidents I didn't drive for two years. I was too afraid to. I didn't even like getting into a car with others. When I did get in a car it was with much apprehension and constant fear of every little thing. I changed jobs to a store that was on a direct bus route and avoided going out with people other than my boyfriend as much as possible, and walked as many places as I could. I was living in a prison of fear. It was understandable of course....those things were traumatic experiences for me so when I told people I didn't drive and explained why they understood and sympathized. One woman I worked with was even in the same place and stopped driving years earlier because her sister had been killed tragically in a car.
Over time however I began to miss the degree of freedom I had once had. I missed being able to just pick up and go for a drive in the country or not having to wait in two feet of snow for an extra 45 minutes because the bus was running behind. I saw the woman I worked with through new eyes. She was about 30 years older than me and she had become completely dependent on others because of her fear and I didn't want to end up like that. I had come to the point that I realized....it was time. I had to face my fear head on with no looking back.
It was terrifying at first....and I drove like a 95 year old for a while....but each time I got behind that wheel it got easier. Eventually I reached the point that the fear was totally gone.

Fear comes in many shapes and sizes.....but whatever it is that you fear, I pray you get to the point that you can face it head on and say, "I have lived through this terror, I can take the next thing that comes along."

Peace,
FG

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Throwback Thursday - Unexpected Sparks

It's that time again, another throwback to my old entries at the b+ blog. Hope you enjoy.



Sunday, September 18, 2005

Unexpected Sparks


"Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks."
~Samuel Johnson

Have you ever had something fly out at you from left field and completely take you off guard? Of course you have....we ALL have....it's part of life. Some of those things that surprise us are good.........others aren't. The water main that broke in my house this week and ruined all of my furniture and donations for the homeless, wasn't a good thing. It was totally unexpected, unprepared for, and most definitely, unwanted.

SSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhh.........POW!!! Curveball...left field.

Some of the things that hit us unexpectedly are FAR more tragic though......far more deep and earth shattering for us. Things that scar us and drag us to the depths of grief and agony. Hurricane Katrina is a good example. It wasn't a good thing, it was somewhat expected...but not to the cataclysmic level of devastation that it caused...and it is VERY safe to say that it was unwanted by ALL.

PPPFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffttttttttttt..........**BOOM**!!!!! Cannon hit.........from behind.

What happens when we get hit out of the blue like that? Well....there are a few emotional and understandable possibilities.
Panic.......when everything goes into a slow motion dream state and you feel like you're watching a movie, because this couldn't possibly be happening. 
Shock........when you step back for a moment, survey your surroundings or what's left of them, you realize it is happening and you're helpless to do anything to stop it.
Devestation.......when your mind and heart begin to tally the depth of the loss that sends you into a tailspin.
Hopelessness.......the process of being in that tailspin, as you see the ground rapidly approaching your face.
Anger.......the justifiable rage at HOW could this have happened, WHO is to blame, and WHO will make it right.
Peace...........what?!?! PEACE?!?!?!? That doesn't fit in here.....WHAT peace?? We're talking tragedy and loss here.....they don't go hand in hand in this discussion......................................or do they? Foreign concept, ISN'T it?
However, somewhere.....buried within each unexpected hit....no matter how tragic..how devastating...how much it brings you to the depths of agony that you never even knew could be felt by a human......SOMEWHERE....there is a scarlet chord of hope and purpose that will, IN TIME......give birth to peace.

For me, the peace this week was in knowing that despite all the loss in my home our insurance will help us rebuild and replace the material things that were destroyed.
For others it goes deeper. I'm sure you're thinking to yourself...how selfish of her...how callous and unfeeling to use Katrina as a comparison because, there is no good that's come out of it...NO peace. I beg to differ though.
Just this week I saw a story about a family who went through Katrina and have reached and anchored into their peace.
They are a loving, poor African American family who were already experiencing the pangs of desperation before they lost everything...well.....not everything. You see...for them, they will never mourn the losses of their home, their car, their jobs, their possessions, their pets or whatever else they lost.....in fact....they will look back at Katrina as a miraculous answer to prayer. How on earth could that be possible....we've all seen and heard the stories of tragedy on TV. Well........it's very simple.
Their son who was lying in the hospital dying, because he was in desparate need of a heart transplant, is now alive even though they were told there was no hope for him. How? Well....they were poor and had no money to pay for all the special things he needed to sustain him until a donor could be found. So they sat at his bedside on a death watch......waiting for the moment he would take his last breath.
Suddenly however, a miracle came their way in the form of hurricane Katrina. The hospital was evacuated and they along with their son were transported to a children's hospital in Texas, a hospital that specializes in heart transplants for children. Suddenly....in realizing that this family had lost everything, the government paid for a special flight to Germany, for the hospital staff to pick up and PAY for the very expensive device that was needed to save his life, and flew it back to Texas and inserted it into his body so he could live. Now, this family, who would have not only lost their beloved son, but all they had worked for in their lives...has been handed a scarlet chord of hope and PEACE. They will never regret the loss of their home....or their possessions....and they will never curse hurricane Katrina....hard as that is to believe....because out of the ash heap, they have been handed something beautiful....the life of their dear son.

We are all victims of unexpected circumstances at some point in our lives....some worse than others....but somewhere....buried deep within....there can be found peace.
What do I wish for you? What do I pray for you? I pray that whatever hits you....no matter how devastating....you find and grasp onto your scarlet chord of peace and let it lead you to the brightest blazes of gladness that lie somewhere beyond the tragedy of the moment.

Peace,
~FG (I went by the pseudonym of FrannieGirl at the time, hence the FG)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Throw Back Thursday - The Impact of Silence

Welcome to this month's TBT from my old b+ blogging days !  Hope it encourages you.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Impact of Silence


"It's good to shut up sometimes."
-Marcel Marceau

A rather interesting quote from a man who was made famous because of his silence, don't you think? Makes me wonder about the lessons he must have learned from being so silent and just watching and listening. As I read it I was reminded of an experience we had at our street ministry a little over a year ago. Two of our regular volunteers are a sweet, newly married couple who have great hearts of service and desparately want to serve their God with all that they have. However, at times I have seen pride cause them to struggle with an intense aversion towards a lot of the very people we minister to. I am always asking God to break through that pride and other mental or emotional garbage with them and show them how He sees these poor and homeless people. After all, these people that are so different than what we're used to, are in fact, the entire reason we are out there. They need someone, anyone, to show them love and acceptance in a wounded lonely life where they have had none.

I always love the fact that God is so gentle with us and even has a sense of humor. We tend to lash out and correct or judge harshly making a scene and leaving wounds in the hearts of others all in the name of justice. God is so opposite though. Like any loving father, He tends to discipline in creative ways that He knows will get our attention, and make the lesson stick. This was definitely one of those lessons.

On this particular Saturday, I was behind the table serving soup and the husband of this couple was standing next to me serving the drinks which consist of water and in warm weather iced tea. This was a beautiful warm day so the water was especially in demand. As I waited for the next person in line to reach me, I glanced over to see one of our regular ladies approaching the drinks. She is only about 35, about the same age as this newly married couple, and has a very sweet and childlike spirit due to severe mental illness.

Additionally, heavy medication tends to make her talk to herself a lot....and loudly. Usually though, the things she says keep us all laughing because they are the things a 5 year old would say, blunt and yet, innocent.

She has very curly hair, which she usually lets go fuzzy. She wears every piece of jewelry she has ever owned and odd clothing combinations as well as about five layers of nail polish, all of which are chipped and peeling. She's always so bubbly though that you can't help but smile at her when she comes by. I watched as she approached the table quietly muttering to herself, and then I suddenly felt a twinge in my stomach because I knew who would be handing her the water. I quickly looked at him just in time to see him scanning her up and down and curling his lip at her current state. I was so hurt inside I wanted to lash out at him and tell him to get off the serving line if he couldn't treat her with respect. However, inside my heart I heard God tell me to keep quiet and watch what would happen next.

Just then as I saw her reach for a cup and he pulled his hand away, her muttering became audible for all of us to hear. I watched in amazement as she looked him square in the eye and quoted him the Bible verse, "..And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." Just then she took a sip and walked away and was gone for the day.

I wanted to start crying as I watched his eyes get big and follow her as she disappeared into the crowd. God is sooooooooo GOOD, and He always gets His point across far better than we ever could. Had I lashed out at him, I would have set a bad example for all the people around me, both behind and in front of the table. I wouldn't have gained anything, but instead, would have lost the trust and respect of so many who need us to be gentle with them, and learn from our example. I also wouldn't have made the point to this young man as well as God was able to, through the gentle ramblings of the very one who should have been offended by his actions the most.

Sometimes it truly is good to shut up and wait and to let God fight our battles for us. A misplaced word can illicit the effect of a bowling ball on a glass top table…sending shards of glass everywhere that can never be fixed or replaced…and some never even to be found. I'm glad I kept my mouth shut that day, and avoided those shards. I'm not always so successful however, but at least now I know if I can learn the art of well placed silence, I can avoid many regrets for years to come. Besides, God really does handle those situations so much better than we would.

Peace,
FG