Despairing of Hope? Let the Lord Fight for You!

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This past week marked the second anniversary of Making It Real Ministries. My team and I reviewed our past, assessed our present, and looked ahead to 2016. I must confess for much of the past two years I’ve identified with those who followed Moses into the Wilderness not knowing where they were going, how they would get there, or how they would survive the journey. They had to learn to trust God and move forward in obedience in the face of seemingly overwhelming obstacles. And you and I must do the same as we follow God’s calling in our lives. Have you ever faced a seemingly insurmountable obstacle or apparently hopeless situation? Are you in one of those predicaments now? Then read on friend and be encouraged!

The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent. Ex 14:14 NASB

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As part of our reviewing the past couple of years, my husband (and CPA), Matt, did the books and showed me the financial situation of the ministry. And let’s just say I felt like I was staring into the wide Red Sea with the clamor of Pharaoh’s chariots growing louder and louder.

At about the same time, a dream-come-true speaking opportunity was offered. Yet…

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Maybe You Need a Bigger BUT

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We can choose to focus on God or we can focus on our circumstances. Whatever we focus on appears bigger. If we continue to fixate on something, we give it more and more power to impact our lives. And while it is true that in this world we will have trouble, God gives us a BUT big enough to shift our focus from the circumstances to him.

John 16:33, NIV

My recent struggle with anxiety started as a fear of flying for three trips earlier this year. The first vacation took place in February, but I started focusing on it and imagining every possible worst-case scenario back in October.

Instead of dreaming of the magical memories I’d be creating with my family, I was seeing bombs detonating, bolts coming loose, and big pieces of the fuselage plummeting to earth from 30,000 feet in the sky.

Friends would share statistics about how safe flying is compared to driving. But all the rational rhetoric fell on deaf ears. It isn’t death I’m afraid of; it’s falling! If something goes wrong on I-35, my minivan isn’t going nose down and falling for endless terrifying minutes.

The more I dwelled on the what-ifs, the more anxious and miserable I became.

After about eight months of this myopic focus, my brain and body became convinced we were constantly in a state of danger. The imaginary thoughts created real physiological results in my brain. I actually trained my brain to stay in a state of fear. So even when we returned from our trips, I was stuck with irrational anxiety attacks.

It took months to train my brain to remain fearful. So, re-training it doesn’t happen overnight. But it is happening.

Before we left for our last trip, I shifted my focus onto God instead of the fear. I chose memory verses that filled my thoughts with God’s truth instead of my fear-filled fantasies.

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Find PEACE and Win Your War on Worry

You've got 24 hours to watch the broadcast on Periscope!

I’m doing a little series over on Periscope to help you find PEACE in your War on Worry. I did my very first broadcast with this topic in mid-August. That broadcast was an overview (and a bit of a chaotic hot mess with it being my very first broadcast and not knowing what I was doing). But this topic really resonates with the Making It Real Ministries community, so I’m going to do some short scopes (that’s what we call periscope broadcasts) that dig in a bit deeper to the various concepts.

I’m working on a way to archive these so you can watch them later, here on my blog. But for now, you’ll need to join me on Periscope. My Periscope handle is @LauraNaiser. Not sure how to use Periscope, read this. You’ll have 24 hours to watch the broadcast, but jump on live if you can. It is so much fun to interact with you live!

My plan is to broadcast on Fridays around 11:45 am CDT but that may vary a bit depending on my family’s schedule.  Be sure to turn on notifications when you follow me on Periscope and you’ll get notified when I go live so you won’t miss it. I will also post reminders on Facebook and Twitter so if you follow me on either or both of those, you’ll get those, too. If you’re on the Periscope broadcast live, you can interact with me via the chat box and ask me questions.

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I’ve made you a step-by-step guide to find PEACE in the war on worry. And on the second page, I’ve listed the armor of God and some thoughts about each piece and how it helps us in our fight against fear. Download the cheat sheet anytime. Just click on the image or button below and I’ll instantly email it to you.

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Get your Step-By-Step Guide

 And if you want to make a spiral of memory verses like I use, you can download my printables to get you started.

Get Your Memory Verses

Thanks for joining me today and I hope you’ll email me or leave a comment on my blog, Making It Real Ministries Facebook page, or send me a Tweet and let me know how you’re doing in achieving PEACE!

 

Did I Fear of Fear Not? Let’s see…

2015 Scripture Memory Verse 13

We all have things that scare us to death or challenge the daylights out of us. I shared in my previous post, Fear or Fear Not? What Will It Be?, how our upcoming vacation would push me WAY beyond my ability to cope with my fear of heights and falling. In that post, I promised you a part two in which I would share the good, bad, and the ugly of how it went. Today is the day I pay up on that promise. I hope this little video gives you a few good laughs as well as inspires you to let God strengthen and help you so you can courageously face whatever scares or challenges you, just like he helped me.

Scripture Memory Verse 13

At the end of the video I explain why I chose Philippians 4:13 as my thirteenth memory verse.

Philippians 4:13, NCV

(If you’re joining me on this journey of memorizing two verses a month, we are over half way there now! I would love to hear how your efforts are coming along and which verses you’ve chosen.

This process has been a huge help to me this year. I wish I had started being intentional about my memory work a long time ago.

FREEBIE: Printable 3 x 5 Scripture cards

It’s not to late to join me! Jump in today and leave a comment with what verse you are working on this next two weeks. I’ve made you a PDF that includes all thirteen of the verses I’ve featured so far. It even includes a cover and instructions for how to make your own Scripture Memory Spiral notebook.

Click to Get Your Printable Scripture Verses

 Fear-Fighting/Challenge-Conquering Checklist

Just in case you’d like some help facing down a fear or conquering a challenge, I’ve made you a checklist of the five things that helped me fight my fears and conquer my challenges in God’s strength during my vacation. It even includes a sheet of verses specifically chosen to help fight fear, overcome obstacles, and remember who and whose you are!

Click Here to Get Your FREE Checklist

Know Anyone With Fears or Challenges?

I bet they would love it if you shared this post and these resources with them. And I’d love to be able to minister to them, too!

And why not share it on your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or other social media pages, too! Who knows how many people you could help today!

And if you’d like some more inspiration I’m excited to be linked up with Proverbs 31’s Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday and Susan Mead’s #DanceWithJesus blog linkups. Our topic this week is “Nothing Holding Me Back.” Click the links to read Suzie’s post and Susan’s post and below each one you’ll find links to many more inspiring articles.

How about you? What helps you face your biggest fears and conquer your challenges? I’d love to hear your thoughts! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Why Facing Fear is Better than Living With Regret

I’ve experienced the regret of giving into my fear and letting it sideline me. And I’ve experienced the exhilaration and joy of being terrified but doing something anyway. I much preferred the latter.

"Courage is being scared to death...and saddling up anyway.--John Wayne

Photo by Elizabeth Haslam (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Thrill of Victory

A few years ago, I took my youngest son, Justin, to the local air show. His recent project on Pearl Harbor led to a fascination with all things World War II. So he was excited to examine the B-25 bomber featured at the show. As we walked around the plane and marveled at its features, the roar of the Vietnam era Huey helicopter overhead repeatedly drowned out our conversation.

When Justin realized they were offering rides on the helicopter, he asked if we could go. When he saw how scared I was, he said, “That’s okay, Mom. I know you are scared. We don’t have to do it.”

What’s a terrified mom to do? Looking into his adorable, disappointed face, I resolved that my fear wasn’t going to make him miss out on this opportunity.

Huey_2So trembling in terror, I climbed aboard the doorless beast, sat on what looked like a cot bolted to the floor, cinched the canvas seat belt that had seen better days, and PRAYED.

As we lifted into the air and my stomach dropped, I recited every scrap of Scripture I knew, sang hymns, and prayed like crazy. Then finally, as the craft turned sharply on its side and the ground zoomed by in a blur out the gaping hole where the door should be, I just had to let the Spirit himself intercede for me with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26).

But I’m so glad I did it. Just look at Justin’s face as we prepared for the ride. Huey_1Shadow2

The Agony of Regret

A couple months ago, I experienced a very different feeling because I gave in to my fear. I opted not to parasail with Matt and the boys and instead just ride in the boat. As my husband went up alone, I immediately felt the regret of letting the fear win.

So in our upcoming vacation, I am determined to obey God’s call to fear not and focus on him. I will grab hold of the blessings and help he lavishes on me and not look anxiously about letting my imagination run wild with what could happen. I’m scared to death, but I will saddle up anyway.

My Many Opportunities to Saddle Up

With an upcoming trip quickly approaching, I have several opportunities to face one of my biggest fears: falling/heights. If you’ve been reading my blog for very long you have probably seen me mention this phobia in a prior post.

On the horizon are multiple terrifying opportunities to saddle up anyway. These include:

  • six airplane flights,
  • one helicopter flight,
  • and a zip line adventure.

Matt asked me, “If you’re so terrified of these things, why did you agree to do them?” My answer: Because I don’t want to miss out on experiencing these adventures with my boys. God has given me the opportunity to create special and fun memories with them and I don’t want to waste those opportunities.

I’ll report back and let you know how I did. (A little accountability to fellow believers never hurts either!) In the meantime, I’m committing Isaiah 41:10 to memory so God can help me overcome the fear by focusing on his Word.

And I’ve got a little gift for you. I made a Fear-Fighting/Challenge-Conquering Checklist and Scripture Sheet for you. These are things that helped me in my battle against one of my greatest fears and I hope they help you in yours.

Click Here to Get Your FREE Checklist

How about you? How do you handle your fears? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

How I Made Peace with the Mystery of Suffering

Free download of 10 Scriptures to help you stay afloat in hard times!

Back around Palm Sunday, I sent my subscribers a link to a Holy Week post I wrote in 2014. That post caught a friend off guard because it revealed a shift in my thinking since she and I had been in Bible study together a decade ago. So, she called me up to discuss how I had arrived at this new  perspective. We talked with great affection and respect for probably more than an hour. It was a highlight of my week. Why? Because we were mutually wrestling with a profound mystery and pressing one another to think deeply on the matter. This post is a brief summary of what I shared with her about how I’ve made peace with the mystery of suffering.

Isaiah 43:2, NIV

Based on a photo by Glen Orchy via CC 2.0

When my friend and I were in Bible study together, I was comfortably entrenched on the “free will” side of the debate of why bad things happen. Back then, I couldn’t imagine a scenario in which God would want me or anyone else to suffer. So, if something painful or unjust happened, I was willing to tread dangerously close to denying God’s sovereignty to avoid accepting that God could allow, or heaven forbid, cause the pain.

In that Palm Sunday post, I explained how I had moved to a more middle ground with regard to the extremes of either “God causes everything” or “everything is the natural consequence of sin.” Over the years, both my study of Scripture and my life experiences taught me that just because I can’t see a good reason for God to allow or cause something to happen, doesn’t mean he couldn’t have one. And as my knowledge of and trust in God has grown, so too has my willingness to accept and make peace with the mystery of suffering.

Focus on What You Can Know

I’ve heard that when law enforcement officers train to spot counterfeit bills, they spend most of their time studying the real ones. They do look at some examples of fakes, but the majority of their effort is spent getting to know the characteristics of the genuine bills. It would be impossible to learn all of the traits of the endless varieties of counterfeits. There will always be another imaginative criminal who develops some new method. However, the authentic currency has a clearly revealed makeup. Once they are certain of the characteristics of the true bills, it becomes easy to spot an impostor.

The same goes for my approach to this conundrum of what is the source of the painful, unjust experiences in life. The more I know about God’s character, the less I need worry about the various possible causes of suffering. I focus on what I can know rather than what I can’t.

What I Don’t Know and Will Never Know

Did God cause a particular situation?  I don’t know. I will never know for sure.

I can spend a whole lot of emotional, spiritual, and physical energy debating and wrestling with something about which I’m never going to reach a certain conclusion. Or, I can devote that energy toward getting to know the revealed truth of God.

The more I grow in my understanding of God, the less I need to answer those unanswerable questions. God has not revealed why specific things happen in my life. However, God has revealed much about who he is and how he relates with his creation.

What I Do Know

What he has revealed doesn’t solve the mystery of why specific things happen and what or who causes them to happen in our lives. But what he has revealed through Jesus Christ and the Scriptures gives me something far more steadying to grip when the rug gets pulled out from under me.

Here are few of the things I know for sure:

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Getting the Upper Hand Over Anxiety

For several months I’ve wrestled with anxiety. Other than flying twice in the past two months, there was nothing specific I consciously worried about. But the restless sense of needing to fight or flee enveloped me anyway. I prayed and read the Scriptures, but the anxiety made it increasingly difficult to keep my thoughts from tangling into an incoherent mess. Sleep was illusive and fatigue a constant companion. When my blood pressure became consistently high, I cried “Uncle” and called my doctor. How can someone who trusts God the way I do still succumb to this kind of debilitating anxiety?

Proverbs 12:25, NIV

I don’t know the answer to that. But as I have begun to come out of the nosedive I’ve realized some things that I think will help me pin this anxiety monster to the mat. I thought I’d share these today, in the hope that it might help someone else. Also, if you have been in the ring with Mr. Anxiety and know of some things to assist in the battle, I welcome your suggestions in the comments section.

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Take Heart! Trouble is Inevitable but in Christ so is Peace

2015 Scripture Memory Team Verse 6

It is inevitable that we will have struggles and difficulty in this world. It is a fallen world. But God does not leave us to flounder and fail. He has stepped in and made a way for us to overcome the impact and influence of the world around us and the sinful nature within us. When we accept his way, he gives us a new heart. The words Jesus spoke to his disciples on the night before his crucifixion convey this hope. We just need to take hold of it. That is why I’ve chosen John 16:33 as my next memory verse.

John 16:33, NIV

I want to experience God’s peace in the midst of pain, his calm in the midst of crisis, and his love in the midst of loneliness.

Unfortunately, my natural reaction when the waves of this world crash upon my shores, is to try to withstand the onslaught in my own strength. I won’t overcome the world in my strength, and God doesn’t ask me to. Etching these words into my brain will help me remember that.

I will experience peace when I am in him. When I walk in relationship with him and let him into my life, peace is the natural outcome.

This seems foolish to those who haven’t experienced it. But I’ve experienced it and know it is true. Jesus offers us a new heart. One able to bear up under whatever this world throws at us. Take heart! Take the new heart he offers.

We overcome because he has overcome on our behalf and we are in him. And in him, we have a peace the world can never provide.

Want to join me in committing two verses a month to memory? Join the Scripture Memory Team! You can jump in at anytime and do as much or as little as you like. I’d just love to have you accompany me on the journey.

 

Click Here to Get Your Printable Verses

How about you? How is your Scripture memory work coming along? What verse are you working on this week? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Flying Above the Fear on a Wing and a Prayer

FREE Fear Fighting Checklist and Scripture Verses

I have a debilitating fear of flying. I’ve never liked air travel, but after 9/11 (Matt and I were supposed to fly home from Lake Tahoe that day), the fear is overwhelming. The terror is so bad that I can’t even pray my way out of it unless I fly with my “Vitamin V” (Valium). While you’d think such a strong drug would knock me out, it doesn’t. I have so much adrenaline rushing through my veins that I don’t even get drowsy. It just takes the terror down a notch so I can pray and utilize my other coping mechanisms to get me through the flight. Because of this intense fear, any flight is a time I draw especially close to God. When we flew home from Disney World a couple weeks ago, my experience was particularly profound.

Optimized_Flying Above the Fear

Photo courtesy of freeimages.com © Jelle Boontje. Quote is from Mark Schultz’s song, He Is, from album ‘Come Alive’

Now that the FAA allows travelers to keep small devices and headphones on for the whole flight, my worship music and noise cancelling headphones blocked out the sounds of the engines. Once in the air, as long as I kept my eyes shut, I could pretend to be somewhere else. But when the plane started bumping around as we hit turbulence, the Vitamin V seemed to evaporate entirely. As I felt the panic rising, Mark Schultz‘s song “He Is” began to play.

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9 Things You Can Do to Defeat Depression

My heart broke when I heard the news that Robin Williams had taken his own life. This gifted artist was an absolute genius at making others laugh. Yet, he suffered from severe depression. As someone who has battled depression off and on for most of my life, I felt intense empathy.

0ptimized2014_08_17_Depression

If you or someone you know battles depression, please know there is help available to equip you to defeat depression.

I’m not a professional counselor. Just someone who has walked through several bouts with anxiety and depression. In the spirit of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, I offer you encouragement from my experience.

In today’s post I address several aspects of this debilitating condition and give you nine things you can do to overcome it.

Depression…

Is not “one size fits all.” I had one experience in my twenties and a very different experience in my forties. And my experiences were unlike that of my friends who have battled depression. Depression manifests itself differently, not only in various people, but at particular times for the same person. Thus, there is no one treatment strategy that will work every time for everyone. Be open to trying solutions until you find the one that works for you.

Doesn’t just go away. It requires active intervention. If you are depressed, it is vital to enlist help from your support system and come up with a plan for addressing your condition. Don’t ignore it!

Has various causes. It is important to determine the underlying cause(s) so you can develop the best possible strategy for overcoming the root problem.

Afflicts devout Christians. Suffering from depression does not mean you lack of faith! The Bible is full of accounts of faithful people who experienced despair. Don’t let anyone tell you being depressed means you lack faith. Instead, remember that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

Takes both time and action to overcome. You don’t just “buck up” and get over it. Effectively dealing with depression takes time and a concerted effort. You’ll likely need to change not only some thinking patterns but also some relational patterns as well. And if your condition has a physical cause, it will take time for your medication to take effect.

9 Strategies to Overcome Depression

I found the following nine things  helpful in my battle with depression and anxiety. If your situation calls for it, please get the professional help you need.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or otherwise in intense crisis, call 911, go to the nearest emergency room, or call the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Otherwise, I hope these nine suggestions prove helpful. If you have others to add, please share what has worked for you in the comments. I’ve even made you a free guide summarizing these nine steps I discuss below. To get the guide, just click on the image or button below and I’ll email it to you right away!

Send Me the FREE GUIDE!

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