Sunday, May 01, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Tea

"There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], 
but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors 
and expels every trace of terror!" 
I John 4:18a (Amplified Version)

There have been many opportunities for fear recently.  I have been experiencing brutal weather conditions, cranky people, automobile troubles, family members who arrived home far later than expected, not enough and too much, and generally that which comes with living in a fallen world.

One evening I lay in bed reminding myself to breath in and breath out... for I have this rather strange reaction to stress... I forget to breath... or at least breath becomes shallow and I start getting light headed.  While eleven became twelve and twelve became one and I was upset at myself for letting fear take hold, I forced my thoughts toward the One Who Made Me. 

I made a decision long ago not to let fear control my life.  I had watched what it did to my mother, bringing much distress and unhappiness to both our lives with far reaching consequences.  The constant worry clouded her better judgment in decisions big and small.  While God redeemed the broken places and made them whole in my life... my mother never really found true peace this side of Eternity.

We now find ourselves living in a world of fear.  Uncertainty is on the lips of well known newscasters, heads of state, small business owners, as well as the guy next door.  Middle Eastern countries are imploding and gas prices are exploding, the earth is shaking and the winds are blowing and the rivers are flooding and our dollar is shrinking.

Christopher told me last night that he talked to the owner of a popular Mexican restaurant on campus who said his food prices have doubled in recent months, causing him to have to stop the discount offers which brought students to his place.  He wasn't sure if his business will survive. 

My son's favorite healthy lunch was at one of the Mediterranean restaurants who have now stopped serving their Jerusalem salad and all others made with tomatoes and cucumbers as their prices have also doubled.  I must admit, I no longer even look at produce except for onions and garlic but I hadn't thought what it meant to those who depend on food for their livelihood.

How do we stand firm when the world is shaking?  How do we turn the pit in our stomach to peace in our heart?  We run to the Rock of our Salvation for He never changes and He is in control.  Yes, it looks like the world is falling apart but there is One Who knows what today and tomorrow holds... and He holds YOU in the palm of His hand.

I love the above verse, it is one I have thought of so often through the years when I felt the tension in my neck and shoulders and that sense of panic at the thought of tomorrow.  Perfect love does cast out fear... fear is not the opposite of faith but the absence of faith.  Not our perfect but His perfect love.

I have learned to take one day at a time and not project my fears into the future.  It is so easy when one is deciding between gas in the car and bread on the table to let their thoughts drift to losing the house and standing in soup lines (at least my mind can go down that road!).  Instead I have learned to look only at today and this twenty-four hour period... for that is the grace and the faith given... like manna in the wilderness, grace lasts one day at a time.

I have written so much about having a place of sanctuary, whether a corner of a room or the entire house or the garden or sitting in front of a sewing machine or stirring the stew in a pot on the stove or the kitchen counter where the bread dough is kneaded into loaves. 

I have learned good music soothes the nerves and calms the soul.  I have learned if I'm too stressed for a Bible study, I can live in the Psalms and survive.  I have learned excellent literature and some fun light novels and books written by excellent Bible teachers and those written for the ten year old but read at fifty... all take me away from stress.

I have learned just because there are 24 hour news channels, I need to stay away except for small news updates at a time.  I have learned I do not need to watch someone else analyze the latest news over and over.  I have learned not to keep ice cream in the freezer when I'm feeling stressed.  I have learned coffee first thing in the morning and a tea break in the afternoon goes a long way to making me feel happy.

I have learned that people I live with will continue to get into bad moods off and on so never expect perfection.  I have learned money spent on the garden or a much beloved old book or a beautiful magazine or a cookbook with pictures and prose returns investment in priceless moments of sheer bliss.  I have learned time spent on a creative project results in contentment as well as beauty.

Most of all, I have learned to take every thing in my life that brings about the stress and lay it at the feet of Jesus and to tell Him... "Here, it is Yours... my shoulders are not strong enough to carry this burden".  I remind myself over and over that to Trust Him is to Please Him.  I tell Him that my family is His, my finances are His, my tomorrow is all His.  His love toward me and mine is Perfect even if we are not...

Whatever is going on in our lives and in the world, He really is in control.  All we can control is our thinking and that is where the battle persists... do we let our imagination take us to a dark unknown or do we let our mind think on that which builds faith... and do we remind ourselves to breath in the middle of the night?


matty said...


Sending your special young man prayers that he will know the answer on each exam and he will have safe travels!

Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life said...

Beautifully said..........

Enjoyed your posting very much -- we share many of the same lessons learned over our lifetimes.

Thank you for putting them into words where they speak life and strength to me -- and many others -- that today his mercies are new, today is the day of our salvation, today his grace is enough!

It is good! He is good!

Anonymous said...

You are so right! We need to keep our eyes {and ears} on God and not on man. We all know the gist of how the world is going now, We can learn more by going to the grocery store etc. The news doe not have any answers...they just report. Before even radio people still lived and went on with their business. Our homes need to be a sanctuary of peace in a world that has never completely known peace. Home is that oasis. Our hearts and minds need that calmness. That is what I forgot to add yesterday. Yes you are so right Brenda, God Is In Control Now as He Always Was. That never changes. Thank you for saying it all so beautifully today. Sarah

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this. I battle fear & worry more than I would like to admit. You are so right that we need to turn out thoughts to the Greater One.

I appreciate the timely reminder.


Jan said...

"Amen," says it all for me.

Leaking Moonlight said...

Thank you for the cyberspace hug today. (It felt much better than the stiff lecture I really needed.) God bless.

Annie Joy said...

A very inspiring post, Brenda! Those whispered prayers helped get me through the tornadoes that were bearing down on my loved ones in Alabama on Wednesday, and prayers of thanksgiving will help me remember what is truly important in our world. Thank you!

Vee said...

Wonderful, uplifting, edifying words for today. (I so appreciate the gentle humor mixed in.)

Lisa said...

My heart and soul desperately needed these words today. Thank you.

Anonymous said...


This is a wonderfully uplifting post and I thank you for taking the time to write it for it blessed my heart immensely.

Oh--And I do the same thing with breathing when stressed...Very shallow and too quickly.


Anonymous said...

Helpful ideas in dealing with stress, Brenda...thank you. And I also love the Psalms, plus knowing that the FATHER understands when we cannot even put words to how we feel. We know that as we edge ever closer to the end of all things, times are going to make men's hearts fail for fear...but those of us who belong to HIM can know that SOMEHOW HE will get us to our destination!!

Blessings, Elizabeth in NC

Anonymous said...

Great posting. I always liked Matthew 6:34. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow..."

Mrs.Rabe said...

Thank you!

Your beautifully written words speak right to my heart. Great encouragement, very needful in these times.


Linda said...

You are such an encouragement. Thank you for speaking from your heart

Ann said...

You are so right ... these are troubling times to say the least. I, too, am learning that I cannot handle all this by myself but my Lord has big shoulders and strong arms and He is more than willing to lift my burdens and carry them for me. Humanly I still regress to doing too much thinking sometimes but I am getting better at letting go. It's a life-long process I think.

LisaZ said...

Thank you so much for that!

Vicki in UT said...

What a good reminder. I would like to add one thing, we need to trust in the Lord, and then work as much as we are able. I find that most of the Lord's blessings to me require work of some kind on my part, even though the work I do is only a fraction of the blessing I receive. Thank you for your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

If you just had an inkling of how precious this post is to me -- how timely. Heartfelt thanks.

freetobeme - Anita said...

Life lessons it takes most of a life time to learn... Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this reminder! I read once that in the Bible the words, "Fear not," are written 365 times - that's one for every day of the year! Such great comfort...


Anonymous said...

Dear Brenda,
I just recently found your blog. I've enjoyed reading yours posts and very much appreciate your writing style.
You are so right that "He" is in control.

Anonymous said...

Great post Brenda...a good reminder of so many things for all of us.


Maggie said...

Just a quick note to say that I really appreciate the wisdom of your blog :)
A good blend of practical with God's wisdom.