Fabulous Footwear

Lately my middle son is going through a shoe phase. Or I should say, a shoe LESS phase. Twice now we’ve loaded into the car, driven to our destination, gotten out… only to discover that the kid has no shoes on (insert the mom-face-palm here). This last weekend was especially painful, we were out of state at a wedding that three of the kids were in. We stayed one night at a hotel and, I kid you not, every.single.time Jonah left the hotel room he forgot his shoes. E-ver-ry tiiiiiimmmme people! By the end of the weekend I was seriously considering having him tested for a stroke or brain injury of some kind…

But I digress- today I wanted to talk about the importance of footwear… namely WEARING it but also making sure you have the right kind for each occasion. What style we have is dictated by the situations we know we’re going to be in. Soldiers wear boots, runners wear sneakers, hikers wear hiking boots; you wouldn’t find me in high heels on the beach for instance (actually you’d be hard-pressed to find me in heels anywhere… #momlife) but you get my drift. Anyone who has worn the ‘wrong’ shoes in a situation I doubt makes the same mistake twice.

WEARING shoes matters. It helps us actually get out of the house (or out of the car and/or hotel room in Jonah’s case). It protects our feet from harm so we can go do what we need to do,

WHAT shoes we wear matters. In many situations what we wear matters a great deal… it helps us do our jobs better (soldiers, firemen, flight nurses!), perhaps it enables us to be more efficient (runners), it protects us from injury or wounds (hikers). Keeping our feet protected and appropriate is vital to many situations- rarely is there a situation where no footwear whatsoever is recommended.

In real life we need shoes and we need the right shoes. In the ‘realer’ life, our spiritual life, we need shoes as well. Not only the wearing of them but the right ones for the mission field you’re walking within.

Ephesians 6: 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand…. 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 

Dear ones we have to make sure we’re putting on our spiritual shoes, ones that will carry us on mission to wherever God has called us. The Gospel, this amazing good news of Christ’s forgiveness, is THE reason we’re leaving the house everyday. It is THE most important thing we carry with us minute by minute. We don’t leave our houses for work or school, the movies, the park, or running errands without shoes. Neither should we be leaving our houses without our feet fitted with the Gospel of Peace. Even moreso… the READINESS that comes from that Gospel.  A runner is ready with his sneakers, a paramedic is ready with her boots, a scuba diver is ready with his flippers, a ballerina is ready with her pointe shoes… at a moment’s notice, no matter what the situation calls for, they are ready to act because they have the proper footwear.

This amazing Gospel, knowing it, speaking of it, witnessing to it, proclaiming it, spreading it… fits us with spiritual shoes that are always appropriate for whatever situation we find ourselves in. 1 Timothy 3: 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 

Know the Gospel.

Be fitted with it’s readiness daily.

Proclaim it in your mission field.

Walk it out, bring it to the lost… and wear out the soles of those shoes winning souls for Christ!

Middle of the Mystery

For the last month my women’s Bible study group has been under significant spiritual attack. All but just a few of us have had major illness or injury occur to us or a direct family member since starting a study about ‘having the heart of God’. Tonight in the middle of the study we found out one of the lady’s mother tragically died. We were vaguely aware of the attacks but this sent the group into overdrive and grief has overwhelmed us.

The battle is so. very. real dear ones. The war for our souls, our hearts, our welfare and very health is ongoing. Scripture does not mince words with the cunning and pure evil of Satan. When it speaks of a roaring lion who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy... its being deadly serious- our Bible study group can personally attest to these very things just within the last 4 weeks.

In the middle of the onslaught tonight I cried out to God. How can we possibly stand against such an enemy? How, dear Lord can we hold up under overwhelming grief, pain, and confusion? The attacks have been pointed, cunning, personalized, and incessant. How do we bear up, how do we take up our swords when all we want to do is crawl in a hole? Where do we go, how do we escape the barrage of terror?

Lord be near to us!

In the middle of the mystery, in the middle of the darkness and the ache, in the very midst of the enemy’s attacks when all we can see is the blackness of the night that surrounds us, sometimes all we can do is lay still, squinching our eyes tightly closed perhaps, and listen for the Father’s words. If words scurry beyond our tongues and our thoughts turn blank, our situation is heavy with mystery; when we don’t know the beginning from the end and tangled mess laying around us is hopelessly unfixable, then dear ones it is time to praise Him in the midst of the turmoil. In the middle of the great mystery that encompasses us,

Praise Him.

Thank Him.

Beseech Him.

Fall into Him.

Call out to Him.

Yell at Him.

Beg Him.

And then seek Him again.

This walk we’ve been called to is not for the faint of heart. We are at war and there is very real injuries, illness, and casualties. There is surprise attack. There is utter destruction at times. Yet we are not without a General or King who is unsympathetic to our plight. Moreso He is most certainly not surprised by the enemy’s movements or strategy. He mourns with us. He hurts and cries alongside. Our King hates this fallen world as much as we do.

Yet the fighting rages on. Many battles will be lost, many scars and heartbreak inflicted- but we know better. Our eyes are fixed on the endgame, our faith and hope pinned on the eternal.

We know the end. We know Who wins.

So in the middle of the mystery we will put on our armor and keep fighting. We will take up our sword and fall to our knees in thanksgiving.

And we WILL win.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:10-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

5 Ways to Avoid Being a Helicopter Parent (part 5)- Takeaways from Helicopter Mom by Bethany L. Douglas

For those still with me, we have officially reached the finale of this series! Wahoo! I’m super excited to have taken this journey with you.

Okay, so there’s been (hopefully) some really good GodStuff for you to pray through and contemplate over this last month. If you haven’t read the first 4 blogs, I highly encourage you too check them out first. Here’s a link to the first one to get you going.

As this is only a 5 part series, I had a heckuva time whittling down the entire book. Not to brag, but there’s just so much good stuff in there- not because I’m a brilliant writer, but because God has tons of stuff to say about how to overcome fear and raise our children with Him at the helm. The Bible is just chalk-full of wisdom for this area! So as much as I’d love to write it all out (oh wait… I did… seriously check out the full book!) I’ll leave you with one more nugget of advice for helping to overcome this helicopter parenting thing.

Prayer!!!!

Prayer is a thing people… and not only a thing… but an extremely powerful thing- a thing that brings peace, calm, and comfort. It’s a thing that nurtures your relationship with Christ, will bring His supernatural aid, and produces results. Simply put, prayer is the lynch-pin to this fearless lifestyle we’re all trying to attain.

We should be circling anything and everything in our lives in prayer- not the least of which is our children!

The obsessive nature of our fearing needs to be turned to obsessive praying! The goal is to pray-walk

through every aspect of your life and the lives of your children.First thing in the morning, pray. Before

meals, pray, Walking to the park, pray. Have a fear pop up- pray. Worrying about your kids- pray. Sitting at

the computer at work- pray. Driving in the car- pray. Let it infuse the beginning of every single new moment

of your day. We do a walk- around every time those skids leave the ground, which for some calls, is

multiple times on one flight. Make it a habit. Make it a very necessary practice in your head.

We’ve learned about taking all your fears and thoughts captive, now let’s bind them up,

down, and around and around. Let’s start praying circle upon circle around those fears. Hedge

them in with prayer! Make so many prayer circles around them that they are literally strangled

out. Death by prayer-asphyxiation! Suck all the life out of them by enrcircling them with prayer.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you, I Peter 5:7.Those fears that paralyze you,

that freak you out, that make day to day normalcy impossible- pray around them, pray and pray

and pray about them, pray through them, underneath them and over them.

I am absolutely all about envisioning things. Putting a minds-eye visual assignment to

stuff. Use this tool if it helps you to ‘see’ what prayers can do. Personally I have all kinds of

prayer visuals- I imagine chains of bondage going around my fears when I pray against them. I

shoot ‘arrows’ up towards heaven with improper thoughts I find myself having. I imagine my

guardian angels flying through the air to assist me when I know I’m going in to a spiritual

warfare situation and I’m praying for strength. Much of this came from my counseling

experiences and I’ve found the imagination to be a very helpful place to put spiritual eyes on

soul-problems.

Conversely, I pray rings of protection around my children all the time. Whenever fears or

concerns of any kind rear up (whether logical or not) I pray circles around them. I think of them

as layers of spiritual bubble wrap followed by feather pillows surrounded by thick jello and all

suspended by angelic parachutes. Seriously, my kids are protected! They are earlobe deep in

prayer protection all the time. And I take that to the bank, I stand firm on that hill, and I rest

peacefully in their protection- because I’ve been intentional and proactive in my prayers for

them. I willfully and faithfully choose to believe that God’s got them because I’ve give them

back to Him, prayerfully, all the time. It takes some practice but, for me, it helps.

When it comes to fear, circle it, pray and pray and pray. Everytime you pray-walk around

that fear you strength the bonds that hold it, you create more safety from it, and you diminish it’s

ability to rear up and kick you in the shin. Instead of it chaining you to the ground, you are

imprisoning it. You are making it captive (very literally a prisoner) to Christ! Bind it spiritually with repetition

and persistence until it is strangled out by Christ bonds… and, poof! that fear is

no longer able to move, blink, paralyze, or handicap you anymore. (excerpt from Helicopter Mom ch. 13)

Prayer is such a powerful thing and yet we all too often use it as a last resort. Someone gets ill, we Google it, we ask friends, we try oils, etc etc and THEN when all else fails… we pray. Friends, this should literally be the FIRST thing we do. Our fears, our worries, our anxious thoughts… why are we not taking those early and often to the Throne? Why?? Doesn’t ‘work’ the first time, still battling those demons? Take them to the Father again… and again. And AGAIN. BE that needy widow beseeching the king. BE that irritating ask-er to the Lord. Spend so much time on your knees that you don’t have the time to actually worry. I promise you… THAT is very much a ‘thing’.

Do THAT kind of thing… you got this! Be that parent that kids grow up seeing on your knees. Let their memories of you be ones of prayer, thanksgiving, and supplication to a very big, very kind, very worthy God.

Whew! You made it! That’s the end of the this part of the trail. If you’re interested more about this prayer stuff, check out a few other blogs (The Power of Generic Prayer, and When All Else Fails Pray First among many others.) I also posted an entire series about praying through God’s names which is spectacular and written by the very talented Karen Guthrie. You can also check out the entire section within this blog that is just poetry and prayers or (again!) grab a copy of Helicopter Mom, chapter 13 not only goes into more depth regarding prayer but has several practical specifics that will give you a jump-start into a new prayer-life.

For those who’ve made it this far and have read the entire series- I’ve got a surprise for you! I’m giving away a FREE, autographed copy of Helicopter Mom to those who had traveled this far with me. I want to keep up your momentum by giving you the entire ‘fearless mom user-manual’!

So here’s the deal- Go back through the series and (if you haven’t already) comment on each blog post. What stuck you? What are you working with God through? How did that post affect your parenting or fear? Anything that’s on your heart will do! Next, be sure that you’ve signed up (if you haven’t already) for my email list. Next, wait with bated-breath to see if the computer chooses you! I’ll do the drawing on July 13th, 2019 so that should give you plenty of time to get the blogs read.

I also have some super-exciting new! A version of this series will also be available on YouVersion this summer. It’s in the works so stay tuned!

5 Ways to Avoid Being a Helicopter Parent (part 4)- Takeaways from Helicopter Mom by Bethany L. Douglas

Oh dear friends you’re almost there! I do hope that these little excerpts from Helicopter Mom have driven you to find out more about how <not> to be a helicopter mom! This series is by no means a complete synopsis of the book, rather meant to give you some go-to tools to start you on your journey towards a fear-free parenting lifestyle.

If you missed the first three blogs, check them out here:

Intro

Trauma Drama

Medical Mayhem

Now on to this week’s blog which will be a couple of chapters rolled into one. Another major issue, actually THE major issue that I’ve found helicopter parents deal with is the big C word.

CONTROL, CONTROL… WHO’S GOT CONTROL?

We like getting it, we like taking it, we like wielding it, we like having it.

Helicopter parents are total control freaks. #sorrynotsorry #truthbomb

We like to think that we can control the small universe of our children. We like to think we can alter their destiny. We like to think we have the ultimate say in their little lives.

We’re wrong.

So, let’s take a quick closer look at this control-thing… or as I like to call it what it is…. a complete facade of illusion (DElusion) of who’s in charge. We did some redecorating last week, now its time to step aside and let the actual pilot-in-command take the controls.

I tend to be a bit of a control freak &lt;though I’m much better than I used to be!&gt; but at the

same time, I know when to say when. I know that there are times and places and things that I

need to hand over control to someone else. Like actually flying a helicopter…

People who see me in my flight suit will almost always say, “Ah, so you fly the helicopter?”

No. Uh uh. Absolutely not. You wouldn’t want me trying to fly anything! Not my thing, not my

skill set. I like my life and would really like to stay alive for a while longer. Nope. The whole

piloting thing I tend to leave to the pilots.

Let me be frank- I’m smart, I’m talented, I’m educated, and people like me (Stewart

Smalley anyone?) I’m NOT a pilot and I cannot fly a helicopter. In one yes, actually controlling

one, no. And I have to be okay with that! In fact, I am VERY okay with that!

Not, however, a good friend of mine.

My person, who is an amazing lady (and shall remain nameless but you know who you are),

absolutely hates to fly. Any and all modes of aviation, she just cannot handle it. It gives her

anxiety attacks to even talk about flying. And if you were to ask her why, it’s all about control.

She will tell you that she doesn’t like not seeing the ground, not knowing what is happening in

the cockpit, not having control over the aircraft, not being able to be in a position to ‘handle’ any

emergencies that may arise. I really think she legitimately thinks she could help. Have I

mentioned that my friend is not actually a pilot? Yet, she feels the need to control the place, the

destination, the altitude, etc. Not. Even. Joking.

Anybody relate?

Perhaps in a different area of their lives?

Maybe with fearing loss of control over their children? Worst. Nightmare.

I’m hearing resounding amen’s…

I think it may be safe to say that every mother’s absolute worst nightmare is to lose

control of her kids. In whatever way that manifests itself- be it kidnapping, lost at the zoo, lost to

drugs, taken off to exile by terrorists, growing up and not needing us anymore. Really any

situation, big or small, that we can’t immediately and directly control makes us nervous… and

we fear those times greatly. We can’t handle the idea of letting go control, or worse, having it

taken from us. It’s terrifying!

But Bethany, it can’t be all bad right? We take control because we have to, right? No one

else will. No one else loves and cares about our children as much as we do right? No one

understands what they mean to us. No one will ever take as good of care and love them like it do.

I know best. I can. I will. Is it just me or is this starting to sound familiar? Control, control,

control. I, me, mommy- am the end all, be all, to my kid’s safety, security, health, protection, and

destiny. Anyone feel that way? Be honest.

So, what do we have here? What we have here is pride. We are the momma, we are the

caregiver, we are the protector, the preventor, and the provider. We have placed ourselves

squarely in the pilot’s seat of our helicopter- convincing ourselves that we know best how to fly

the aircraft. We fear losing control so what do we do? We take MORE control. Makes sense….

Or not at all.

I would be a fool and very dead to try to think I could really do much to help fly the

helicopter. (excerpt from Helicopter Mom, ch. 6)

I’m not a pilot. As the book discusses, just because I’ve flown thousands of hours IN a helo doesn’t mean I can FLY a helo. Big difference!

And, dear ones, just because you’re IN your kid’s lives, doesn’t mean you can CONTROL your kids lives. Only God can do that. Somewhere along the line, we’ve gone from being a caregiver for our children, while assisting God in His plan for their lives as best we can- to taking those reins from Him and leaving Him and His wishes in the dust.

We’ve taken God off the throne and put ourselves and our wills there instead.

Ouch.

This is the spiritual equivalent to me telling my pilot how to fly a helicopter. Me… who has zero training or experience in doing that. Me… who has no business dictating to a higher officer how things are going to go.

It just doesn’t happen.

So what to do now? It’s time to give controls back to the One who is actually IN control. Let us take ourselves out of the picture a good bit… exiting stage left to allow for more of Him and less of us. Dear ones, I know it is not an easy thing to ask; giving control of your children’s lives and well-being to another. But this is The Other… really the Only.

For this last bit, I need you with me. We have some more work to do- and this may be the

hardest part- not because we’re sacrificing ourselves to the cause, but we’re giving up control of

our kids. Our most precious children need to be given back to the One that really IS able to care

for them the best. It’s not us, ladies! It’s not their dad’s, their grandparent’s, pastors, teachers,

coaches, or family members. “Can a mother forget the infant at her breast, walk away from the

baby she bore? But even if mothers forget, I’d never forget you – never. Look, I’ve written your

names on the backs of my hands…. As sure as I am the living God,” God’s Decree.

Isaiah 49:15-18 MSG

God- the Pilot in Command. He is the One in control. He is the One to best take over the

controls out of our white-knuckled, cold, over-my-dead-body hands. Will you let Him?

Meditate on these questions this week. How much of a control freak are you? How much are your expectations (fears!) dictating to God how things are <supposed> to go? This is a faith-game friends. There is no faith-building without faith-testing, and I can think of literally no harder or better thing to trust God with than our own kids.

Give them to Him…

And I’ll meet you back here next week for a few more thoughts!

For more lots more reading and much greater insight into all this please don’t hesitate to grab a full-copy of Helicopter Mom, available in ebook and paperback from my website and Amazon.

5 Ways to Avoid Being a Helicopter Parent (part 3)- Takeaways from Helicopter Mom by Bethany L. Douglas

Okay, so here we are. Blog three is comin’ at ya in this series based on Helicopter Mom about fighting fear for our kids and being fearless in our lives and parenting. If you happen to miss the first two blogs, check the first out here and number 2 here.

Thus far we’ve acknowledged that there is, indeed, an actual problem of fear in our lives, and we’ve started dissecting out some of the reasons that this fear is so pervasive. Last week’s blog focused on what we focus on… the kinds of fear-mongering shows, books, movies, music, etc. that we put into our minds. These kinds of images and ideas take our focus off of the One who deserves it most. The fear drives us to worry instead of the cross, it focuses our attention and minds on things of this world, not on things of the Almighty.

So we have a renewed focus. Check.

Now it’s time for some redecorating. And I do mean we’re changing the very scenery of our souls…. we need to clean out the idols we’ve erected all around us.

Medical Mayhem

We live in a society that flourishes with knowledge and with intellect. We have at our

fingertips the vast data of all scientific studies and medical breakthroughs; article upon article

about history, religion, science, politics, and economics. We have access to more knowledge than

has ever been accessible in the history of man about subjects that are only still newly discovered.

There is so. much. knowledge.

As parents, we obsess about the best food, the smartest doctor, the safest car seats,

immunizations, the most eco-friendly wood to use on the playhouse, whether or not the udders of

the cow were shaved when they produced that organic, raw, partially soy almond milk you just bought

<actually I conversation overhead at a mom’s group the other day- I kid you not!>. We

read books, skim articles, become members of mom chat rooms, watch YouTube videos, pour

over parenting books, take out subscriptions to magazines, join Facebook pages, and attend

seminars. We get a special plaque from WebMD quarterly as a most-valued costumer.

<Kidding, those don’t exist! At least I don’t think they do>, All to attain more knowledge; to

gird ourselves with the safest, the healthiest, the best. And then we can back up our craziness

with 1400 articles from Google and our Mommy-and-Me blog that will all prove us right…

because we can! You get my drift? We are both blessed with such knowledge and absolutely

cursed by it. Because the cold, hard fact is we think we know best.

Knowledge is fine. In fact knowledge is great! Don’t get me wrong. I’m just putting forth

the idea that man’s wisdom will always be imperfect. Thus we need to look at it for what it is.

MAN’S WISDOM. I have no issue with researching stuff. I have no issue with making sure

we’re giving our children the most appropriate upbringing. But consider the source! Unless the

source of your decision making is Christ you are in dangerous territory my friend- and very

foolish territory to boot. If you spend more than 5 minutes researching “sore toe” in WebMD,

guaranteed you’ll eventually find out it’s probably Ebola. I promise it’s not!

We live constantly bombarded by tales of woe and tribulation because of this or that. Faulty

knowledge, man’s knowledge, knowledge we too often stake our claim on. Antibiotics or

probiotics, to vaccinate or not to vaccinate, dairy is good/dairy is bad,

paleo/vegan/Adkins/SouthBeach, to oil or not to oil, there’s glass in the juice boxes, there’s fecal

matter in the water, there’s a fly in the ointment, etc. etc. etc. The news no longer delivers news,

now we’re hard-pressed to hear any story about something happy. It’s all bad, all the time. Some

of it is real, some of it is faulty. How often do we take it all at face value though? Can I get an

amen? No wonder we lose sleep at night! The world around us is a scary place!

We have failed to protect our brains and now they are contaminated with filth from our

eyes (see blog 2 of this series) and false-gods from our knowledge. Again we’ve internalized an attack

from the Enemy that has been allowed grow and fester into unrealistic fear and at the same time

prideful knowledge. In most cases, as is cancer to the body, it has grown insidiously in our

minds. I would even argue it’s metastisized to our hearts. We too often place trust and faith in the

man’s knowledge. We’ve conditioned ourselves to run to that knowledge first- to take comfort in

that website first, to check our magazine articles first. It has a place of honor in our lives, and

thereby the lives of our children. And like the Israelites waiting on Moses in the desert, when

God tarried in showing up to them, they turned to something more “concrete”- man’s inventions,

man’s reasoning. My sisters… we are guilty of the very same thing. Hear me out, man’s

knowledge is fine but fallible. Our calling as Believers is to a higher knowledge- a more pure,

infallible way of thinking. (excerpt from Helicopter Mom ch. 5)

Dear friends- we have put idols on our thrones. Idols of knowledge, of learning, of (man’s) wisdom. We run too quickly too often to that which is not of God to fix our woes. And then wonder why the answers don’t stick…

So what to do? I would suggest a re-prioritizing of fear-mitigation. Instead of going to that webpage, that chat group, that book… seek FIRST God’s wisdom, pray FIRST about your worries, read FIRST about it in your Bible. This is not rocket-science people! Don’t oil first, pray first. Don’t google first, open your Word first.

I’m not saying that knowledge from the world isn’t helpful, I am saying let God bring it to you as you seek Him through your fears. Put Him in His proper place…. FIRST in our lives! Take the idols that we seek for and acknowledge too much… down. Don’t use God as a back-up in case everything and everyone else doesn’t work.

He’s not a “when all else fails” kinda guy. He’s a “I will never fail” kinda God.

Give man’s knowledge it’s due (which let’s be honest, is very little…) and start giving some real weight to what God would say, what He would instruct, how He would lead. Forget what the internet says, what your best friend says, what the family member says… find out FIRST what God would say.

Here are some questions to consider-

What or who reigns heavy in your decision-making?

When you worry about something for your children, what most effectively calms your fears- advice, books, WebMD, other moms, God?

What CAUSES you more anxiety?

We need another day of confession about this. Ask for forgiveness for placing idols ahead of God. Ask for help in keeping Him at the center of your life, asking Him for wisdom and guidance, looking to Him for calming of your fears. Look to nothing else sister!

You’ve stopped the distractions so you can look at the right area. Now put the right Person in the right place.

But regarding anything beyond this, dear friend, go easy. There’s no end to the publishing of books, and constant study wears you out so you’re no good for anything else. The last and final word is this:

Fear God. Do what He tells you. And that’s it. Eventually God will bring everything that we do out into the open and judge it according to its hidden intent, whether it’s good or bad.

Ecclesiastes 12:12-14 MSG

You’ve got this! See ya back here next week!

But regarding

anything beyond this, dear friend, go easy. There’s no end to the publishing of books, and

constant study wears you out so you’re no good for anything else. The last and final word is this:

Fear God. Do what He tells you. And that’s it. Eventually God will bring everything that we do

out into the open and judge it according to its hidden intent, whether it’s good or bad.

Ecclesiastes 12:12-14 MSG

5 Ways to Avoid Being a Helicopter Parent (part 2)- Takeaways from Helicopter Mom by Bethany L. Douglas

Wahoo! You came back for more! I’m super proud of you because this fear-stuff is no joke. I hope you’ve had a great week of hashing out with God the amount and kind of fear you have. If you missed the first blog in this series about overcoming helicopter parenting, please check it out here. For those caught up though, let’s get to it!

Last week we worked on simply acknowledging that there, in fact, IS a problem. That’s a huge step. Getting to say the words out-loud is no small thing. This week we’re going to take the next step and identify some of the reasons we fear. In my book, I go into great detail about many of these roots but for this blog we’ll just skirt them a bit. (For the complete read, please grab yourself a copy of Helicopter Mom <shameless plug>. I promise it will revolutionize how you deal with fear!)

These next 3 blogs will all address certain factors in overcoming fears- call them fear-mongers if you will. These are the WHYS of fear as well as the answers to fixing them. As you read, see which ones strike a cord with you…

Trauma Drama

Friends, our minds are simply filled with trash- with blood, guts, goo, rape, violence, abuse, profanity, nakedness. The list of what we intake daily (by choice!) is crippling our souls and infecting our hearts.

Our culture adores blood and guts for some

reason. They get a kick out of the horror of it or the heartbreak of it. Walking Dead anyone?

They love the freakish nature of terror and letting the worst parts of their imagination get the

better of their sanity. Americans go in droves to theatres to be entertained by the morbid.

Weird… and wrong.

So much of our battleground fighting fear is in our minds. In our imaginations. And I

believe women, the female gender, is especially prone to breaks in the protection for our minds.

We, more often than men, live in our imaginations. The fight is for control of our thoughts. And,

gals, our thoughts are too often out of control! These blood and guts visions are not unlike those

distracting injuries I spoke of earlier. They are gory and scary and often can distract us from

what we should be working on. We are losing the battle for our minds because we obsess over

the fear and lose sight of the faith.

Mom’s fear trauma. We fear blood, broken bones, broken backs, broken heads, broken

hearts <yes, it’s a thing> broken skin, broken fill-in-the-blank. Our blood turns cold to think of our children

laying in the middle of the street having been run over by a car. Our heart stops

when we see them fall down the stairs and we’re sure their neck is snapped in two. Our thoughts

explode and tears spring up in our eyes to imagine them drowning in the pool. We are terrified of

these things! They keep us up at night and haunt our dreams. They cripple our days. One stray,

random thought can hijack an entire afternoon. One ill-placed news article on Facebook can

overcome our sense of the realistic and plunge us into the fatalistic. One sad scene from a tv

show can alter how we approach a certain situation. And before we know it we are already in

deep mourning for our child that has died some horrific death- if only in our (overactive)

imaginations.

We are masters of destruction in our own minds! We’ve become distracted by the

injuries. We have become slaves to fear- slaves to the vibrancy of our imaginations.

It’s time sisters, to acknowledge our pitiful state. It’s time to acknowledge we have not

been diligent in protecting ourselves from fear and worldly thinking. We have blurred the lines

between real and make-believe: by not taking every thought captive to Christ, by allowing death

and dismemberment into our heads as a way of entertainment, by allowing the images of gore in

our culture to permeate our minds, by allowing the fear of fictional situations and stories to play

out in our daily, non-fictional lives. (excerpt from Helicopter Mom ch. 4).

Oh friends! How filthy our minds have become! We intake the most horrendous things and then wonder why we fear that which we regularly and intentionally watch. It’s confounding when you think about it. Satan is using these shows, books, movies, etc to distract us from reality. Better yet, he’s using the make-believe to keep us pondering ‘what-ifs’ not the ‘here-nows’.

Distraction is never a good thing when it takes our focus off of Christ. EVER. He is a

jealous God and demands 100% all the time, every time. This is hard enough to do in a perfect-

case scenario let alone when we’re battling demons from our imaginations. I would venture to

say it’s impossible! So let’s start clearing out the trash, the blood, and the guts from our homes,

our families, our lives, and our own imaginations. This is indeed, a bloody mess, but let’s hang

out here for a bit. Look at it for what it is. Identify what it is, what it causes. You have to know

what you’re stained with in order to know what cleaner to use right mom.

So today we’re going to work on cleaning up and cleaning out.

What needs to go?

What do you need to examine in your life/mind that is creating distraction between you and God?

What shows, movies, books, music are you intaking that needs to go?

Are you a glutton for sob-stories and fatalistic accounts?

Are you filling your mind with scary and frightening images?

God calls us to a much higher standard than the world. We simply cannot dwell within in like the rest of the world.

bibleversestogo.com

Philippians 4:8 - Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.

True

Noble

Right

Pure

Lovely

Admirable

These are high standards… are you meeting them?

Before we go to next week, we need confession and cleaning. Ask God to clean our your mind. Ask for help and accountability to avoid that which is contaminating your spirit. Fear needs no additional help from ourselves feeding it. Have our Father renew your mind and I promise all this distraction will not be for much longer.

Cant’s wait to see you back next week!

5 Ways to Avoid Being a Helicopter Parent (part 1)- Takeaways from Helicopter Mom by Bethany L. Douglas

Okay, so it occurred to me the other day that although I’ve published an entire book about helicopter parenting and how to avoid being one, I’ve never really written a blog about it. So, in order to wet your whistle I’ve decided to condense the book into a few super helpful (and more importantly, BIBLICAL) tips on how to ‘not be that parent.’ This will be an short blog series that I’m super excited to bring to you, hopefully you will gain insight into yourself as well as your fear behaviors. More importantly I pray that you will be inspired to LIFT instead of hover! .

We all know them, some of you ARE them… helicopter parents.

As some of you may know, I <sort of> know a thing or two about this particular phenomenon. Being a flight nurse for a number of years gave me an extremely unique perspective on the helicopter mom thing. And oh! dear ones… it is most definitely a thing… and a growing thing at that. Following the launch of Helicopter Mom I heard from all manner of helicopter grandparents, helicopter dads, helicopter wives, helicopters bosses, helicopter husbands… literally the list is almost endless. There are people hovering all over the place!

As it turns out, everyone on the planet has fears. Which is the crux of what Helicopter Mom is about- facing fears for your children (or fears of fill-in-the-blank…) and pushing past them so that we can LIFT! But for those who haven’t yet read the book, I’ve condensed it for you (I highly encourage you to get yourself an actual copy though, I’ll even autograph it for you!)

So, without any further ado, here’s 5 takeaways from the book that will help all you hoverers out there. (Stay tuned for all the follow-up sister-blogs to this one!)

Acknowledge the REASON for the hovering behavior.

Fear is a funny thing. It manifests as worry, anxiety, co-dependency, love at times, abuse at others. None of it’s manifestations is healthy or of God however.

I remember, before having my boys, my younger sister talking to me about the overwhelming

fear she had experienced as a new mom. I had not yet had my own children, so I had no personal

experience to base her reports, but I had been around enough new parents as a nurse that I could

at least empathize with her musings. Then I had my first son…. And suddenly a dark cloud of

fear came into my field of view almost immediately. Like storm clouds in the distance, the

horizon suddenly became dark… and as I held my newborn child, Jesse, I suddenly felt fear

unlike I’d known before. Fear for his life, for his health, for his walk with Jesus, his first scrape,

his first heartbreak; fear for potential car wrecks, drowning, kidnapping, tornadoes, dog bites,

tick bites, spider bites; fear of future addiction, future relationships, future grades in school,

future illness, future sports losses; fear for rug burns, wrestling bruises, choking on hot dogs,

falling out of trees, eating poisonous house plants… well, you get the idea. In one fell swoop, I

was terrified, stricken, paranoid, and basically rendered into a blob of new-mom goo. After all,

being an actual helicopter mom, I’ve seen the worst of the very worst happen to kids…. Believe

me, I guarantee you some of my peds calls can rival your worst nightmares! And now I had my

very own kid to raise, keep safe, keep fed, keep healthy… basically keep alive. All of a sudden, this mom

thing was looking a bit out of my league… actually I was thinking it was not even in

my universe.

Anybody relate?

As if these (technical) possibilities of maiming, dismemberment, horrific death, and slow

parasitic wasting away by some remote Pacific island virus carried by a previously unknown

species of albino snail was not enough- my mind was completely unprepared for the absolutely

sick and twisted visions I would have occasionally of me accidentally causing death to my son. It turned

my blood cold that such musings would pop into my head. I seriously though there was

something seriously, seriously wrong with me. Surely I was, in actuality, the worst mom/human

being/wife on the planet! Who thinks such things? It’s one thing to be paranoid, it’s quite another

to envision yourself causing the hurt. Lord Jesus, I thought! What is wrong with me??

Anybody relate?

And yet, even in the midst of these visions, feeling these feelings of inadequacy and

incompetence… I also, just as vehemently, decided that I, and I alone could protect my son from

all these things. I would protect him from the big, bad world out there. And, perhaps, in my

biggest shortcoming and display of pride, decided that I could protect him from the big, bad

world out there. He was mine, my very own, my son, my precious (cue Gollum voice...); and I

was going to ensure his forever safety- come hell or high water. Makes perfect sense right? I

should’ve won the award for most delusional and hypocritical mother for 2012.) <I’m pretty sure

I was at least nominated… I’ve yet to receive any official letters about it though.>

Reading about my mindset on paper clarifies the absolute absurdity of my feelings. Yet, in

the moment, at the time, and I suspect for many of you, these thoughts and attitudes, oxymoronic

as they are, seemed totally legit. And how much do those delusions still dictate and shape our

lives?

This is a scary book to write but I imagine for those of you who live in the fear of the Valley

of the Shadow of Death, this book is even more scary to read. Scary because, as I’ve already

said, it addresses our very deepest and darkest fears about those we love the very most.

But I do know a thing or two about fearing for our kids. Mine and yours. Too often their lives

are in my hands… and that, my sisters, is absolutely terrifying. I know you hear what I’m saying.

Kids are petrifying. Fear for their health, their well-being, their life, their bodies, their brains,

their emotional stability… every single, little, sticky, hair on those heads is precious to us. And

damn it! we’re going to keep them fed, healthy, alive, and unharmed in any possible way

including physically, mentally, emotionally, economically, spiritually, politically,

geographically, seasonally, religiously, homeopathically, etc. etc. etc. etc.

We all know that we fear for our kids. This chapter could be an entire book by itself, talking

about talking about writing about fearing for our kids. We talk at nauseum about it. We feel

guilty about feeling guilty about fearing for them. But enough of talking about it and I’m

certainly not writing about it anymore, let’s look at it. (excerpt Helicopter Mom ch.2,)

In order to truly fix any problem we must first acknowledge that it exists right? I had a crazy hard time with publishers getting Helicopter Mom published because editors had an issue with my demographic. In the wise words of one of them, “The women who need this book most likely fall into 2 categories- either they are totally unaware that they are a helicopter mom, or they are very aware of it and proud to have the badge. You’re going to have a hard time getting people to read it.” They were not wrong. This is a systemic, western parenting issue. And yet, whether is be oblivion or a medal of honor, living in fear and the attempts to mitigate it is no way to live.

Like in all successful recovery programs, we have to admit we have a problem.

“Hello, my name is Sally Sue and I am a helicopter mom.”

Cue, “Hello Sallys” from around the room.

So, today, right here right now… let’s take a look at your fear level. This is written specifically for moms out there… but the Biblical principles we’ll apply are good for any kind of fear, worry, and anxiety.

Prayerfully consider your fear levels. Here are some questions to ponder-

Where are you on the helicopter mom scale? Do you make decisions (both for or against) out of fear?

How much time do you spend just flat-out worrying about your kids?

How much energy do you expend hovering over them (physically, emotionally, academically, etc etc etc.)?

How much of your head is partitioned off and labeled “things to worry about”?

Pray it out. Admit the problem, whether huge or small, and let’s start rooting it out! See ya next week for the next step!

If you’re like, “Yaaasss, it’s about time. I NEED this book!” I’d love to get a copy into your hands! It can be purchased on Amazon or this website (if you buy it from my website, I’d love to autograph it for you!)

A Change of Scenery

I’ve been doing a lot of gardening lately and my poor front bed has been begging for attention. It’s got several bushes that, although beautiful, were just planted helter-skelter thoughout the location; neither blossoming well nor growing as abundantly as they should. Don’t get me wrong, none of them are dying, none are not NOT blooming, none are really doing poorly.

They’re just not thriving.

And they’re not in a place where they can truly showcase their blossoms for the world to see.

I mean, I want traffic from a block away to notice them. The potential is there, but their location is not ideal.

So the other day, I did what all gardeners just luuuurrvvve to do- actually more accurately, I had my dear husband do it- I transplanted three of them to three different spots.

And all of a sudden they were NOTICED. Their blooms seemed more vibrant. They complemented the beds we put them in like they’d been there all along. And I swear two of them have doubled in size. I even had a few neighbors comment on them- asking where we’d gotten the ‘new’ bushes.

Funny how that works. Plants we’ve had since we bought the house, that no one has ever noticed, are now thriving.

And all because of a location change.

It was a good call in the gardening department for sure. But it was not without some effort. I’m sure if those bushes had voices, none of them would have been too thrilled about the transplanting process. Getting dug up, uprooted, pruned back, transplanted to a whole new location I’m sure is not the plants idea of a good time.

I can certainly empathize. Changes in scenery aren't always fun.

Last year God took something very dear to me. Rather He forcibly moved me out of something dear to me. Cutting my roots, digging up my heartstrings, transplanting me to a new place. To put it bluntly, it sucked. It hurt. It was unexpected. And I’m still working on re-establishing my new root system.

My change of scenery was not welcome and I certainly didn't like the new view.

These last few days even as I was marveling at how much better my bushes were doing, God has been gently letting me see the parallels.

I wasn’t doing poorly at my other location. I was blooming and growing. But the Master Gardener saw a need to put me in a new spot. A BETTER spot. One where I would grow better, blossom more, and glorify Him from blocks away more brightly.

And just as my bushes didn’t get a ‘say’ in their move, neither did I. Furthermore, they didn’t complain or question me as their gardener, so neither should I question or complain about where my Gardener plants and prunes me.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:4-6 ESV

Today I encourage you to know that God’s got this. He’s got you, your circumstances, your soil, your sun, your rain, your flower bed, your pruning schedule- all of it- He’s got a master plan for. It may not make sense. It may hurt or feel super uncomfortable. It may involve new locations, new people, new ministries, or new calling. He may prune away even good growth in order for you to more fully thrive. But it’ll be more than worth it.

So please don’t be discouraged. Please don’t question. Please don’t complain. Don’t wriggle or argue. My bushes didn’t do that to me so we shouldn’t either. Rather simply enjoy your new view and the wonderful, God-given change of scenery.

In His Time

Lately I've had a string of days where nothing has come easily. Actually I think I'm going on more like a month. Having five kids, 3 of which are special needs, our calendar is literally jam packed with appointments, therapy, games, school functions, church stuff, with times in between to eat, sleep, and bathe if we're lucky. I would say 2-3 days of each week is literally back to back items that are all super time-dependent.

Soooo, what better time for God to teach me to slow down and smell the roses right?!

For those who may not know, I'm a RN by vocation, a flight nurse more specifically (or at least I was until this whole writing, speaking, momming thing started a couple years ago), so my life as a whole has been defined by high-speed, high-energy, high-adrenaline. Its not overstating the matter to say that much of my adult life was consumed by life or death split second decisions.

Time matters, seconds count, plans going smoothly is paramount- and my A-to-B personality thrives within that structure.

Yet God has been teaching me more. Not that any of those kinds of things are bad, that kind of mindset can be super helpful and effective in fact... but He's been dragging my feet, usurping my plans, and downright challenging my patience literally non-stop lately.

You know that t-shirt that says, "You're testing the Jesus in me!" ? What happens when it's God doing that testing?

These last thirty days have been exhausting and trying to say the least. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, has gone easily. Nothing's gone according to plan. Everything on my schedule has had to be moved, sometimes multiple times. Much of what we do is dependent on other stuff or people doing what they need to; so one thing fails or is delayed and before you know it, the whole house of dominoes has fallen and you find yourself vaguely looking around for the hidden cameras wondering which "Totally Hidden" reality show you've inadvertently found yourself in.

Welcome to my life. Anybody relate?

Any yet God has been good time me and given me so much inexplicable patience. I've taken more deep breaths, given more smiles, rearranged more appointments, given more grace and mercy to people (and myself!) than I ever have in my life. I've been forced to slow down and smell the proverbial roses. After all, unlike my previous jobs, <almost> none of this stuff is life and death.

I admit it's been a total mind-set change for me. And I'm loving the aroma of seeing Him work in me through those undeserved smiles. The scent of His grace and mercy working in and through and towards me. It's been astoundingly peaceful despite what on paper looks life a mess.

More times than I can tell I've found myself humming the words to an old Psalty the Psalmbook song (totally dating myself here!)

In His time, In HIs time,
He makes all things beautiful
In his time

Lord please show me everyday
As you're teaching me your way
That you do just what you say
In your time

In Your time, in Your time
You make all things beautiful
In Your time

Lord my life to You I bring
May each song I have to sing
Be to You a lovely thing

In Your time.

I've been keenly aware in the last few years of my life that I have this sub-conscious timeline in my head of what I should be doing, where I should be going, what goals I should be meeting, etc. etc. etc. Yet His time is so very different from mine! And more poignantly, He will take care of HIS goals for me in HIS time... not mine.

Not mine.

Whether it be a mundane doctor's appointment that's a no-go or getting my first multi-book publishing contact (insert wink wink and lots of prayers here!) I can rest in knowing He is in control and He does, indeed make all His plans, all His people, all His creation- beautiful in His time.

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD . “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." NLT

Overcoming Bible Study Obstacles- Guest Post

I had a fellow writer friend ask about posting her newest blog that helps with Bible study and I jumped at the opportunity. As much as I’d love to claim that I’m the kind of in-the-Word gal as much as I should be, I’d be downright lying. Being in legit quiet time with God comes HARD for me. Its not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I’m lazy, self-centered, and generally am great at finding just about anything else I can complete before spending true quiet time. Ugh. It’s a <thing> for me for sure. I was even more excited to see that this post is heavily based on a writing conference that I attended with her and was a part of. It’s like this crazy, convicting, refreshing, challenging blast from my past. So, again, I was more than happy to oblige Leah in posting her writing. Without further ado, please enjoy! ~Bethany

A few weeks ago, I asked my Facebook friends to tell me some obstacles they faced when it came to studying the Bible.  They echoed some of the same challenges: the Bible is difficult to understand, where do you begin, and an inability to stay focused.  I understood the struggle all to well, until a couple of years ago.

In 2017, I attended conference for writers and speakers in Christian ministry.  A well-known Bible teacher organized this event and took us step by step through her time in prayer, in the Word, and writing.  Two take-aways the main speaker shared were: we had to be in God's Word if we wanted to share God's Word in our world. Also, as believers, we had to know God's Word because the world is constantly going to come against His Truth. If we don't know His Truth we will be deceived.

The speaker continued to give us the tools to create an authentic time of studying the Bible. It isn't magic. It isn't something some believers have, and others don't. In the book of John, chapter 16, Jesus shares with the disciples in His final hours. He tells them He will be going away because if He leave, the Counselor (Holy Spirit, Spirit of Truth) cannot come to them. "When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you in to all the truth." (John 16:13) Jesus promises that when the Holy Spirit comes to them, they would finally understand. Their eyes would be opened to all Jesus had been teaching for the last three years.

God offers us the Holy Spirit too. When we become believers, the Holy Spirit becomes a part of us. When we open God's word, the Truth comes alive in ways we have never seen to the point that we cannot wait to discover all the Spirit has to show us. The Bible was written through the help of the Holy Spirit, so we need to pray and ask the Holy Spirit for help in understanding the scripture. "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you." (John 14:26)

Another speaker at the conference addressed which scripture to read.  She recommended reading the Bible in chunks. We tend to focus on a verse or two, which is fine, but to get a bigger picture and understanding of the passage, she said we should read the entire chapter or read through an entire book over the course of several days. To gain understanding, it helps to know who the author is, what perspective he has, as well as the time frame he is writing in. I had never read the Bible this way, but I was determined when I returned home from the conference.

I prayed next time I sat down to study, asking God (through the Holy Spirit) to reveal His truth to me. I asked for understanding.  God led me to study the life of Paul. I started in the book of Acts, reading about his life, his conversion, and ministry. By reading Paul's letters in the order he wrote them, I was able to compare them with details in Acts to see what he was experiencing when each letter was written. My eyes were opened to a greater understanding of Paul and the trials he experienced throughout his ministry. 

Two years later, on May 1st, I published a study on the book of John titled, “30 Days with John: A Journey with Jesus’ Most Beloved Disciple.”  Each day’s study begins with prayer, a full reading of the passage, and then questions to take you back through the scripture to aid in understanding.  The study is concise, yet in-depth, for those who get overwhelmed by longer studies and lack the available time to complete them.  I hope the study I have written will help facilitate going deeper into God's word. We don't have to be pastors or teachers, speakers or writers to love and understand the scripture. Its here for all of us. The more we know God’s Word, the closer we become in a relationship with Him.

There are always going to be obstacles when it comes to reading scripture because the enemy doesn't want you to do it! That is a topic for an entirely different blog post. Don't allow distractions and obstacles keep you from growing closer to God. If you need more focus, pray and ask God. The more He draws you into His Word, you will find those distractions and obstacles won't be a problem for you. I hope the suggestions I have given will encourage you and give you some confidence to reading and understanding God's word.

 

Leah Lively

“30 Days with John” is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble (online). 

 

Born and raised in Virginia, Leah’s faith journey began in a small church in a small town.  She is a wife to one and a mom to 4 along with a sweet female boxer.  Leah is motivated by 2 Corinthians 13:11 where Paul encourages the church in Corinth to “become mature and be encouraged, be of the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.”  She wants believers to grow in their faith and discover a hunger for God’s word.  Leah’s genuine and authentic style of presenting the gospel lays a foundation for readers to learn more of God’s Truths. 

 

www.leahlivelyblog.com

Instagram: @leahlivelyblog