Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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31 Days: Fear of the Future, Part 1

{art: Léon-Augustin L’hermitte}

During my scared-to-death days, one of my greatest fears was fear of the future.

In fact, I can safely say that I missed most of my teen years because my obsession was with what might happen later.  Yep, it was that bad.

This fear came from a combination of things.  I came from a religious, cultural, and even family background that emphasized “what’s coming,” predictions of political and social disaster, an emphasis on historical tragedies like the Holocaust, the Great Depression, past and current tales of Christian persecution, and apprehension about an uncertain future.  These emphases combined to create a perfect storm of terror in my heart.

It’s true, terrible things have happened historically, terrible things are happening now to people around the world, and my future is not guaranteed.  I don’t know what I’ll see in my lifetime.  It won’t all be good, I know that much.  9-11 stands out as one of the key tragedies of my generation, and I know there will be more.  I may find myself front and center in one of these tragedies.  So I’m not hiding my head in the sand and pretending that bad things won’t happen.

But I believe that there are two areas where I went wrong.

The first is that I did not trust God.

We don’t know the future. 

A popular, mainstream Christian author wrote a book years ago that predicted that the economy would collapse by 1996 at the latest.  Never happened.

Another Christian “prophet,” revered by many evangelical Christians, sent out a “word from God” that described how to prepare for Y2K.  Which, as we know, never happened.

The bottom line is that we just don’t know.  I believe it’s likely that the tragedies of our lifetimes will blindside us.  The ones we anticipate may not happen, and the ones we experience will probably be things we never expected.  Just my opinion.

In light of this, I have to trust God.  I get to trust God.  How foolish to sit around dwelling on what might happen when there is a beautiful life to be lived!

My life has challenges.  Pretty big ones that I don’t talk about on my blog.  But that doesn’t mean that God has not given me an amazing life to enjoy.  He’s given me a calling.  An obsession with the what-ifs of the future would paralyze me and prevent me from doing what he wants me to do right now.

I lost far too many years that way.  I won’t do it again.

We often see not trusting God as no big deal.

 It is a big deal. 

Fear kills our joy, our potential, and our faith.

It’s wrong.  And it’s huge.

How about you?  What is your greatest fear of the future?  How do you combat that fear?

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!

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Linking:

WIP Wednesday

Women Living Well Wednesday

Works for Me Wednesday

Encourage One Another


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31 Days: How Fear Can Make us Over-Shelter our Kids

{art: Léon-Augustin L’hermitte}

Years ago I attended a conference by a man who traveled all over the nation claiming to teach about fearless parenting.

He didn’t use the word fearless.  He used a synonym, one that means dauntless, valiant, audacious.

He proposed some radical means of parenting “fearlessly,” which mostly amounted to cloistering your children from any bad influences and hiding from the culture at large, setting lots of extreme rules and controlling your children’s every move.

Furthermore, he had an extensive list of plans and rules for his children’s future spouses, such as that they must live in close proximity to his family and have a habit of eating healthy foods.

The funny thing is that it’s hard to parent this way unless you are very scared.  Scared of society, scared of bad influences, scared of other Christians, scared of your kids and even yourself and your ability to disciple them in a hostile culture.

So this parenting method is not audacious at all. 

I believe that it’s a reactionary method rooted in fear and disbelief.

Dauntless, valiant, audacious parents trust God.  

They view their parenting through a greater framework of their total relationship with God and understanding of his Word.

They practice wisdom and protect their children from evil with the knowledge that our world is broken and bad things are going to happen—but God is able to either protect us from them or help us through them.

They let their children wrestle through questions and struggles to come out the other side stronger.

They disciple their children to live courageously in the culture,but not of it. 

They are OK with making mistakes as parents, because they understand that we are dust and that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness and he can fill the gaps we lack. 

They expect their children to fail, as fellow sinners, and they do not hold them to higher standards of perfect obedience than they hold themselves.

Parents should use wisdom.  A certain amount of sheltering is appropriate, I believe.  Each family and each child is different and we want to be wise about what we expose them to and when.  There are no rules for this.

But what a fallacy to believe that we can protect them from everything forever!

I’ve heard it said that if your children are never aware of sin and perversion, then when they’re confronted by it, they’ll recognize it immediately and be repulsed.  This isn’t true.

Even as we shield our children from the worst of the world when they are small, we also have to realize that in an increasingly decadent culture, the worst of the world will quickly find them.  We should act sooner rather than later.

It’s our job to proactively help them recognize evil, how to think wisely about it, and how to protect themselves from it.  If you’ve waited until your children are teens, I guarantee that the world has beaten you to it.  We worry that if our children know about darkness, that we are somehow throwing them to the wolves.  But I believe that by not walking and talking with them through it, we are leaving them open and vulnerable to a very loud, aggressive society.  That’s truly throwing your children to the wolves.

We don’t want to talk to our kids about the tough stuff in a way that dumps too much sordid detail on them.  Not in a way that tries to scare them silly.  Not in a superstitious way.  But with wisdom, grace, and common sense—all the while, trusting God through it.

This is fearless parenting.

A little disclaimer: I’ve lived most aspects of this post at one time or another, but I also haven’t finished raising my kids.  I’m finding my way too, and I’m sure I’ll make mistakes.  But these are my thoughts as they stand right now.

What about you?  Are you tempted to over-shelter or avoid talking to your children about sensitive, hard topics?  How to you talk to your children about these things?

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!

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Linking:

On Your Heart

Soli Deo Gloria

Heart +Home Gathering

Titus 2sday


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31 Days: Raise Brave Kids

“Scared moms raise scared kids.  Brave moms raise brave kids.” 

Jen Hatmaker, 2012 dotMom conference, Dallas 

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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In my upcoming ebook, Fearless Mothering, I tell about how God helped me to overcome a lifestyle of debilitating fear.  Look for it in November!


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31 Days: Do You Believe Christian Superstitions?

Scientifically we know that superstitions are silly.

That doesn’t stop a lot of us from believing them, though.

Does it make you twitch when a black cat crosses your path?

When you break a mirror?

Do you knock on wood?

A lot of people don’t believe in those kinds of superstitions.  But what about Christian superstitions?

You might believe that if we pray a certain prayer—the Prayer of Jabez or the Lord’s Prayer, or for some, the Hail Mary—it becomes some sort of protective mantra in and of itself.  You might think that the words have power.  Or perhaps you even trust in the “salvation prayer” mantra to get you into heaven.   You think that if we walk an aisle and pray with a preacher, that somehow automatically secures your eternal soul no matter what was going on in your heart.

You might wear a cross or a medal in hopes that it will protect you like a talisman.

Or maybe you are scared that God will be mad at you because you throw away a tattered Bible, as if somehow the leather and paper and ink hold magical powers.

You might believe that there is just one way to raise kids and struggle with fear because you are so afraid of failing at the formula, the magical method that will ensure that your kids turn out perfectly.

And if you have a child that rebels or makes poor choices or rejects God?  It must have been that you didn’t follow the formula quite right, like a chemist who mis-measured and caused an explosion.

Legalistic rules are really just superstitions.  At one point I thought going to a movie theater was sin in and of itself.  And the first time I went I waited for lightning to strike.  There was no rhyme or reason to why I feared this, other than that I’d believed a religious superstition I had been taught.

Under the guise of spiritual warfare, you may see demons around every corner.  Car won’t start?  Satan is attacking!  Drought?  The devil has it in for you personally.  Got the sniffles?  Must be a spiritual attack from the scary, scary pits of hell!  (And if you say the right mantra, it will go away.)

That’s not to say that there isn’t real spiritual warfare, because there certainly is—but I know many Christians who live in fear of Satan and turn everything into warfare, when sometimes it’s just that we live in a broken world.

What about naming and claiming God’s blessings or planting financial seeds in a ministry so God will return a huge harvest to you?  Or the belief that God will always heal you if you have enough faith? Here we go with the mantra theme again!  This can cause so much spiritual and emotional distress when what you claim doesn’t come to pass.  Guilt and fear take over as you might believe that the reason God is not granting you your request is because you don’t have enough faith.

Belief in superstitions—cultural or religious—are a way we try to make sense of the world.  But the way we should make sense of the world is through Jesus and his Gospel—the good news of grace.

There is nothing we can do to make God love us any more, and nothing we can do to make him love us less.  He leads each Christian by the Holy Spirit.  He is not waiting to drop a hammer on you because you got the mantra or the formula wrong.

Stop living in bondage to superstitions!  Find freedom in the only all-powerful person—God!

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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In my upcoming ebook, Fearless Mothering, I tell about how God helped me to overcome a lifestyle of debilitating fear.  Look for it in November!


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31 Days: Fearing the News

{art: Elizabeth Nourse}

We live in terrifying times.  What kind of world are we leaving to our children? 

It’s made even scarier because of the at-our-fingertips information we can get today.  When women kept their homes on the frontier, they might be frightened of the threat of Indian attacks or a wolf after their livestock, but news of that was sporadic.

Today, not only are we kept abreast of the scary things in our neighborhoods, but we hear of genocidal generals in Africa, mass murder in Norway, and brutality toward Christians in the Middle East.

We hear about our country’s enemies all around the world and what they might do tomorrow.  This news comes to us by way of sensationalist reporters.

If you’re the type to listen to conspiracy theorists, you may think that it looks pretty certain that we are doomed.

In addition, we are bombarded day and night with inflammatory, mean-spirited political news and commentary, with each side demonizing the other.  If we listen to either side, soon we are convinced that whoever doesn’t believe as we do are bloodthirsty goons who wish for our personal destruction and the destruction of our nation.

There is no end to the frightening news we can get if we want to.

It’s easy to adopt a bunker mentality and decide to hunker down and protect our families from all the scary stuff that’s out there or that might be coming. 

Some families do this by political and social action.  They believe that our hope lies in the change that comes with activism.

A few respond to this fear by going to radical extremes.  They stockpile food and weapons with the notion that they can somehow set themselves up to survive an apocalyptic eventuality.

Some just feel helpless but just worry all the time.

However you cut it, this kind of fear is a failure to trust God.

We must look to what he says.

He has determined the times and places we will live.  (Acts 17:26)

Like Queen Esther, we and our children were born for such a time as this.

The hearts of national leaders are in God’s hand.  He turns them whichever way he wants. (Prov. 21:1)

We aren’t to put our trust in political leaders.  (Psalm 146:3)

We are to pray for our leaders.  The way to live a quiet, dignified life is to pray for government authorities. (I Timothy 2:1-2)

Our hope is in Jesus and his Gospel, not in politics.  (Jesus had an interesting way of living in a scary culture.)

It’s my personal belief that the good we can do by activism is negligible in the grand scheme of things.  (The Right has been fighting the culture war for over 30 years now—and losing profoundly.)

hat’s not to say that God might not call us to political or social action.  However, we must realize that in the face of the monumental problems—real problems—what we can do humanly is very limited.  It’s easy to become discouraged and disillusioned by this.

 Unless we realize that our hope does not lie in our own efforts.

 When people change, nations change.

And in my belief, Jesus makes the best possible kind of changes.

How revolutionary is that?

If we call ourselves Christians, our kingdom is not of this world.  We’re citizens of a better, heavenly country.  Do we spend as much time and energy building that kingdom as we do promoting our earthly political agendas?  Do we look forward with hope to the day when all things will be set right?  Or are we obsessed with current events that simply reflect a sin-broken world?

So instead of frantic, fearful, negligible activism, yes–act as God leads–

but mostly pray and reach out with the love of Christ? 

Your politically opposite neighbor, your Muslim co-worker, the kid you fear may be the next theater murderer?

Show them Jesus.  Love them.  Befriend them.

Sometimes we say with resignation, “All we can do is pray.”  All we can do?  We have the ear of the all-powerful God of the universe and yet we see prayer as our last resort?

All the oppositional activism in the world will not change their hearts.  In fact, it might even alienate them.

But loving people unconditionally  and praying for them will reach hearts, and it may lead them to Christ.

And when Christ changes people, the world becomes better.

Don’t be pushy, just loving.

This is where real transformation happens—on your street and around the globe.

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!

Linking:

Thought Provoking Thursday
Thoughtful Thursday
Thankful Thursday
Life in Bloom
Thrive at Home Thursday


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31 Days: Fearing the Culture, Part 2

{art: Robert Gemmell Hutchison}

Jesus grew up in the Roman Empire. 

You don’t find a culture much more decadent and brutal than that one.

Yet during his time on earth, Jesus didn’t really address that.

He could have railed against the political and social ills of his day: authoritarian government, mass executions, public p*rnography, unwanted infants exposed to the elements to die.

He could have moved his followers to overthrow an unjust government.

He could have taught families how to bunker down and avoid Roman soldiers, sexual sinners, and all the forms of debauchery common in Roman culture.

He could have incited riots or staged peaceful protests if he wanted to.

But he didn’t. 

His focus was on people. 

The woman caught in adultery.  The five-times-married Samaritan woman at the well.  Zaccheus the unscrupulous tax collector.  The prostitute who washed his feet with her tears.  The sick.  The grieving.  The hungry.  The people whose lives were the fruit of a rotten culture, a culture disfigured by sin.  The people in our culture that most of us avoid.

Jesus lived in the world but was not of it.

Too often, I think, we don’t want to be of the world but we don’t want to be in it either. 

We withdraw to a sort of self-made, sanitized utopia under the guise of protecting our children or keeping ourselves pure, when really we just don’t want to soil our hands with people who disgust us.  We don’t want to face the work it would take to love without judgment and to extend mercy and assistance as the hands and feet of a providing, healing Christ.

Perhaps the greatest antidote to fearing our culture is to follow in the footsteps of Christ. 

Love God.  Love people.

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!

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Linking:

WIP Wednesday

Women Living Well Wednesday

Works for Me Wednesday

Encourage One Another


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31 Days: Fear of Culture

Culture can be a scary thing—especially when the common views of the culture push against your spiritual beliefs.  When we see evil being called good, and good being called evil, it’s easy to panic.  How are we supposed to raise children in this environment?

Often parents respond to this fear by withdrawing from and demonizing the culture.  It’s an easy out.

But we forget that the culture is made up of people, people God loves, people made in his image.

We forget that culture was his idea in the first place—it’s just been polluted by sin.

And we forget that there are many amazing and beautiful elements of culture—even modern culture—art, music, architecture, film.

So rather than pulling back, let’s engage.

We want to protect our children, of course.  We don’t want to throw them into the basest cultural environments.

But we must relinquish our fears and trust that God is greater than culture, and that he wants to redeem culture!  Our children will benefit from meeting many people from many walks of life, from learning to critically engage movies, books, and music, and from learning to live in the world without letting their hearts be taken by it.  This, I believe, best happens from the safety of parents’  love which wisely protects (because we don’t want to foolishly expose our children to too much, too soon) while gently guiding and instructing.

A bunker mentality is likely to backfire.

Faith-filled, guided discipleship that embraces the beautiful people God made and the good work they create will grow our children into compassionate world-changers.

I’m still a young mom.  I am not sure where the line is sometimes.  That is why I try to look to scripture, communicate with my husband, and listen to older women who have been there and done that, who stayed the course spiritually and who have raised great kids.

I am sure I’ll get it wrong at times.

But far better to move forward with our children, I believe, teaching them to think critically and with discernment, than to do nothing.

Because eventually, culture will find them. 

Have I helped them become ready?

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!

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Linking:

On Your Heart

Soli Deo Gloria

Heart +Home Gathering

Titus 2sday


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31 Days: Fear of What Others Think

{art: Elizabeth Nourse}

I used to be obsessed with what others thought. 

As I thought about this recently, I remembered an embarrassing story from my new-mom days.

Guests were on their way to our house.  My oldest was just a few months old and they hadn’t seen her since she was born.

I put her in her cutest pajamas, spread out her cutest quilt on the floor with a few toys, and placed her in the middle of the blanket as our guests pulled into the driveway.

Little Miss Busy would have none of it.  Unaware of my plan to have her looking perfectly cute when our friends walked in the door, she crawled off the blanket to explore more interesting things.

In frustration I put her back. And of course, she crawled off again.

By the third time I was getting really irritated.  And then, before the doorbell rang I found myself appalled by my ridiculous behavior.

I was absolutely bent on creating the perfect impression to control what others thought of me and my child.

And when I couldn’t achieve that, I became angry.

Although I had operated in that mindset for years (which is manipulative, really), this time I saw it for the pride that it was.

Although this is a silly, over-the-top (though sadly true) tale, don’t we often care a lot about what people think about us and our kids?

And don’t we fear their disapproval?

This fear of what others thought was partially what drove me to set a graceless standard for my children that was higher than I set for myself, to try to create robotically obedient clones who would make me look good.  It wasn’t the only reason, but it was part of it.  It didn’t work, and it created a lot of fear in me.

Pride is often (usually?) the root of fear. Christ-followers know that he is big enough to handle whatever we are afraid of, yet we cling to the idea that our worry can somehow make a difference.

In any case, for years and years I heard words in my head, words from my past like, “Can you believe she let her kids act that way?”  “What little monsters!”  and “They should keep their children under control.”  Growing up in a “first time obedience” culture, I heard comments like this all the time.

And I was just plain scared of what others thought.

But here’s the deal, moms.

You don’t answer to other people.

You just answer to God.

What other people think is not important.

Oh, it’s ingrained in us to think so.

We want to be the best moms we can be.  We want to raise our kids well.  But we want to raise them for God and according to his directive, not for our parents, our in-laws, our best friend, a conference speaker, or that perfectly together mom that we really want to be friends with.

People are going to judge.  As a former Olympic-level judger, I can attest to that.  They’ll judge you because you are too liberal, because you are too disorganized, because your family doesn’t hold to their standards of modesty or movies.  They’ll judge you if your lawn is shaggy or if you struggle with homemaking.  They’ll judge you if you’re overweight or not stylish enough.  And they’ll especially judge for the behavior of your children.  Not everyone will, but there will be some.

After years, I finally realized that I didn’t have to fear this.

I should only worry about what one person thinks—God.

My loving father who, Isaiah says, gently leads those who have young.  My good shepherd who makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters, the God who restores my soul.  God who extends grace and mercy, whose strength is made perfect in our weakness.

That God.

His opinion is the only one who matters.

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” Proverbs 29:25

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!

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Linking:

Better Mom Monday

Miscellany Monday

Hear it, Use It


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31 Days: When Your Children are Afraid

{art:Robert Gemmell Hutchison}

Kids get scared.

Often these fears are childish—fear of the dark or fear of being alone.

When I was little I was afraid the three bears lived in my mom’s shower.  Later, I was convinced that there was a skeleton in there.  And I thought there were scary angels in my brother’s walk-in closet.

Hardly rational.

But what do you do when the fears are real, when what they fear might really happen?

This is our opportunity to disciple our children to trust God.

First, we must model faith ourselves.  Our children will mimic what they see.

Second, we must continuously reassure them of God’s love, care, and faithfulness even when bad things happen.

Third, we should pray with them and for them and encourage them to pray themselves.

Fourth, we can provide scripture for them to meditate on when they are frightened.  For years my brother kept a tiny plaque in his room with 2 Timothy 1:7 engraved on it: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”  This reinforces truth to our children.

Finally, if possible, we should present them with a plan to use in case their fear comes to pass.  “If you forget your song during the recital, just smile and start over.  Remember, the audience is on your side!”  Sometimes having a plan in place makes all the difference.

A firm foundation of faith will help our children grow into fearless people who trust Jesus.  We have the precious opportunity to set them on that journey now—even when their fears are well-founded.

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!


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31 Days: Irrational Fears

{art: Guy Orlando Rose}

There are times when we know that our fears are just plain silly.  Completely irrational.  But it doesn’t stop us from being scared.

Some of us are still scared of the dark, even as adults.  Of being alone.  Of spiders or dogs or aliens.

How about apocalyptic conspiracy theories?

We know deep inside that those fears don’t make sense, but we are still scared!

When our children see us modeling irrational fears, they will follow in our footsteps.

It’s time to take those irrational fears in hand and tell them who’s boss!

Take a good hard look at what you’re afraid of.

Name it.  Tell yourself out loud that it’s silly.

Ask God to help you overcome your fear.

Trust that you can get past this!

Remember, you don’t want to influence your children to live in this bondage.

You can do it!

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

*********

Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

*********

Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!

*********

Linking:

WIP Wednesday

Women Living Well Wednesday

Works for Me Wednesday

Encourage One Another

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