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September 22, 2015

From Tight Fisted Faith to Open Hands: Lessons learned during this season of weakness

      Eleven months ago, I found myself in the ER getting a blood transfusion. My blood count was less than half of what my body needed to function and I was at serious risk of a stroke or heart attack. I’ve always been a healthy person, so this was a very surprising thing to occur in my life. I had become very sick and the cause was not clear. I spent the next 3 months being screened for different forms of cancer, autoimmune diseases, heart irregularities and the like. I was at the doctor for testing every week. I had two surgeries this year that were thought to be the solution; neither were. While they did alleviate a few symptoms, I am still not well and testing continues.

"HOLD YOUR BREATH, MAMA!!"
Even though I tried to hide many of my symptoms,
 this little guy had a keen sense and was always
trying to help me get better.
How I got here......
Over the past few years, I have felt a deep heaviness that will just wash over me at the worst times. It is an undeniable, deep rooted fear of failure. It takes different forms and hits me in different ways, but the source of it is always fear. Fear is this monster that makes us question everything we are doing and distracts us from the path we are on. I would start to feel like it’s all up to me….everything…. and without realizing it, little by little I had stopped relying on God and started relying on myself.

Then I got sick, and everything changed. I spent almost every single day of last school year running a fever, chilling, having body aches, weakness throughout my body and just general pain from head to toe. Most nights the discomfort kept me from sleeping through the night and I never once felt rested. Emotionally, I was falling apart, and fighting back tears on a daily basis. Mentally, I was a fuzzy mess!



       In my state of health, I felt desperate and had to turn my days over to the Lord each and every morning. I had to realize that the only way school was going to happen that day was if God gave me strength to push through the sickness I felt, overcome my clouded head, and settle my emotions. And every single day, without fail, He did just that! I planned field trips, not knowing how I would even drive there. I would wake up that morning and God would give me just enough relief to do what needed to be done. When school was over each day, I melted into the couch or into bed and barely moved. My poor husband, carrying the weight of everything else I would normally do on his shoulders.

       God has stripped me down over these last 11 months. Stripped me of everything about myself that I thought I had to have to do His will. He has shown me that it isn’t by my strength, but by His alone that I complete His work. When God burdened my heart with taking my kids out of public school, I knew then that I didn’t have the talent or patients to teach them. I knew that God would have to direct my path. However, at some point, I let fear take over and I didn’t realize that I was soon operating in survival mode to provide their education. I stayed up long nights, pouring over curriculum for hours, desperate to teach them perfectly. I spent way too much time searching for ideas to inspire them and make their education stick. I even obsessed over how I would get God’s Word to resonate and permeate their hearts with a lifelong impact. Seriously….I had taken God’s will and made it my own. I had turned my open handed faith into a clinched fist.
      Then something amazing happened. Without my own strength to rely on this year, I saw God work in our homeschool, my children’s lives and my marriage in a way that He hadn’t been able to in a very long time.  

It took losing my ability to push through the tough days to open my eyes. It was when I was finally void of my emotional steadiness, my mental strength and physical strength that I found my true strength; God’s unending love. I’ve realized that I am nothing apart from Him and that the richness in my life comes from fully sacrificing my own will to His. To die to self and live in His grace is the only way to walk in His glory.
"We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us." Colossians 1:11-12

      Today as I begin another day of school planning for this school year, I have a peace that was far from me at this point 11 months ago. I’m only able to do a few hours of work a day before my strength is gone, the fevers return and I have to rest.  But this time, I’m not letting that become a source of fear. I know that Jesus is the carpenter in my kids’ lives and that His will is for my kids to have this education and home life.  I also know that I am merely a tool in His bigger plan and if I fail, He has more tools at the ready.

      My health will one day be restored! In the meantime, I'm learning just how wonderfully strong I am, when I am at my weakest, and God is at His fullest. I am so happy to report that last school year was our most successful one ever. Although that shouldn't have surprised me, it still did. Looking back at the massive mountain we had to climb, I see just how impossible it would have been on my own. Letting go and letting God, isn't just a cliché; It's the truth in evidence of serving a living God.

 Apart from God we are nothing,
but with God we are unstoppable!
      My hope is that by sharing my story, (which isn't easy for this private girl)  I will be able to encourage a mom who is struggling with fear. I would love to think that it will save someone else from having to learn the hard way like I have. No matter what your fear is about;  your family, your career, your children’s salvation, their education, your marriage, or your future, fear is fear, and fear will ultimately cause the thing you fear the most... failure.  You may think you are winning the battle, just like I did, but after every battle there is another and another and another. The list of things we can worry about and be afraid of is endless. Fear can grip you and find something out of nothing to consume you with. The only way to ultimately win the war against this monster, is to let God fight for you. I know that sounds easier said than done, and it is. But, we have to decide to make a conscious choice everyday to give God our best, by giving Him charge over our emotions, insecurities, fears, and abilities. Every day....sometimes 10x a day!

      I was haunted daily with this idea that my kids’ salvation and success in life depended on me and my abilities to lead them. God has shown me, in complete and painful clarity, that His love runs deeper and His love never fails. The grace that He has afforded to each of us moms is because we are fallen creations. It is through God and God alone that His will in our lives is perfected. Apart from God we are nothing, but with God we are unstoppable!

If this has encouraged you, please share it with others and let God make a difference in someone else's life too.

Traci



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