Sticks and Stones and Fearing People: 31 Days

Face the fear of confrontation.

Fear of man will prove to be a snare,

but whoever trust in the Lord will be kept safe.

Proverbs 29:25

We hurled angry words at one another across that small bedroom of a rented house in the mountains. Feelings we’d kept pushed down until we cast them at one another like sticks and stones.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. 

What a lie.

Sometimes we have to break; we have to bruise and bleed and burn before we heal.  Holding back resentment and jealousy and pride only keeps us trapped inside our fear.

I can’t tell my sister (or my friend or my spouse or my co-worker or my child) how I really feel because what if she gets mad at me? Fear of confrontation has locked me so deep inside myself I can’t see beyond my own hurt to the heart of the matter. Face the fear of confrontation.

Ensnared by my own fear.

Not her words, her actions, her fear–but mine. My own worry that peace is better than pain.

Maybe sometimes peace is worth the keeping quiet. But when peace comes at the cost of anxiety, depression, and retreat, when keeping peace means not keeping those you love and value and cherish–

the time has come to fight free from the trap. Say the words and release the snare. Face the fear of confrontation and maybe, just maybe, you’ll find yourself speaking truth for the very first time. 

And rekindling a relationship that had nearly been lost.

This post is part of my 31 Days series: When Fear is Crippling. You can read all the pieces here. And in the comments below, you can tell me I’m not the only one who gave herself a stomach ulcer when faced with confrontation.

When Fear Eats Holes in Your Soul: 31 Days

The day I quit my job, I sat in the parking lot and cried.

My letter of resignation was on the console, my mind was set, but my heart hurt. And I was so very scared of making the wrong decision.

Untitled design-4

But you know that gut feeling when you’re making the right decision and everyone keeps telling you how crazy you must be and you do it anyway? Yeah, I had that.

So I quit my job as a middle school teacher and I gave away parts of my classroom and little pieces of myself and I came home to be a full-time mom who writes a little bit.

Six weeks after I turned in that letter, the bank where my husband was fast-tracked though corporate management was closed by the FDIC.

That’s a whole sad story for another time, but suffice it to say, my principal tracked me down and offered to let me reconsider. I didn’t. We didn’t.

He interviewed with another bank and took a position that was a 45-minute commute away. We skated through summer on the surety of God’s timing and my idealism of staying home, and then wham!

I got hit by the mack truck of exhaustion that can only mean one things. An unexpected, unplanned, unlikely pregnancy.

My baby boy.


I didn’t handle the detour well. By fall, the honeymoon period was over, the job was costing more than we were making, and I was positive there was no way I could be a good mom to FOUR kids. Four. That’s twice their father and me.

Miserable and pathetic and terrified that I had made the biggest mistake of my life, we plodded ahead through forms for aid (our health insurance had been dropped with the job change and I was rationing milk for cereal, tough, tough times). Christmas loomed on the horizon.

One early December afternoon, when the kids were begging to decorate, I trudged  to the outdoor storage shed and wrenched open the door. As I shoved aside boxes and my belly in an attempt to pull out wreaths, the movement began.

Scurrying from under boxes and across the dusty floor came the mice.

Go ahead and retch. I did.

Our family cat had disappeared over the summer and the mice had moved in and set up residence among our boxes of old clothes, decorations, and general junk. They seemed to be everywhere, and when my husband took on the task of cleaning out the building, he found what could only be classified as an infestation.

I. Lost. It.

In my mind we had done everything right. We had prayed. We had saved. We had trusted.

In my mind, God owed us an easier time because we had placed our faith in Him. That’s not how life works, though. The easier time comes because of the trust through the hard times.

Mice had eaten holes through all our humdrum life stored in a shed.

Fear had eaten holes through all my gauzy fabric of faith.

And set up camp deep in my soul.

Somedays I think I’ve repaired that faith lining. Now it’s a patchwork quilt of protection, rather than a film of security.

But somedays I find a hole, and I poke myself through, and rage like I did that day in the backyard when we purified the tangible items of our little life.

On those days, I need to purify my soul–to cry out and weep and beg and listen to the still small voice that reminds me–

Do not fear.

And I repeat it like a refrain as I weave the fabric of faith across the holes in my soul.

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Because Failure Is What I Fear Most: 31 Days

Failing Other People

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was nine years old. That’s when my parents put a copy of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie in my hands, and I thought, I could do this too.

Tell stories. String words together to form images and persons and tears. Send someone into a world so different, yet so the same as their own that they long to step into pages and walk alongside those who exist only in imagination.

I wrote stories and poems and songs and terrific, terrible works of childhood. At twelve I was probably more of a writer than I am even today. In childhood, there was no fear of admitting this dream, because every child has an outlandish dream to become something truly great.

Then the fear set in, rooted itself deep and tight in my soul and heart and mind.

You’ll never be good enough. Failing Other People

You’ll try and you’ll fail and no one will ever respect you. 

They will judge you and tear you to pieces and you will be ashamed.

So I found my safety net. Teaching became a natural path for this creative type who wanted security and maybe just a touch of success. I knew I could be really good in a classroom. I knew I had compassion and idealism and knowledge. I knew that the best teachers evoke change in their students because of the passion brought into the room everyday. I knew I could do this, I could build up my confidence, and then, maybe someday, I’d stop scribbling in the dark and bring some of my own works into the light.

I floundered around in college. Theater welcomed me in and let me be part of telling stories that truly came alive. I learned to research and listen and delve deeper into words on a page. I thought this would be it–I’d be a high school drama teacher who maybe, one day would also write a book. That would become a play.

That would share a story.

Then I found no fear in love and settled down with a steady man who would give me the moon and the stars if he could. Then we had four beautiful, boisterous children.

Then I realized fear had taken over my life.

Mid-thirties approached with the knowledge that I had never been published, never been exposed, never been called a writer in the way I wanted to be. Blogging wasn’t satisfying this deep longing of my soul.

Blogging was teaching me to find the voice that would tell the stories buried in my heart–stories that weren’t always mine, but someone else’s. Stories that would keep putting light and hope and redemption into this dark world of fear.

And I found to my surprise that failing other people is nothing compared to the discovery that I had failed myself. 

So I wrapped my fear and my hope in a pretty shirt from StitchFix, packaged it into a neat one page and a 500 word excerpt, and I sat down at the table across from an editor and a real, published, well-known author.

And she told me I shouldn’t be afraid of my gift. That I was a talented writer. That my voice was strong.

And in that moment, the crippling weight of fear lifted, and anticipation, that blessed hope that someday this will happen, took its place.

You can read a sample of my fiction over here and here on the Lightning Blog with Splickety Publishing. And if you sign up for email posts, you’ll know when my award-winning short story comes out in Southern Writers Magazine later this month (because I might shout that from the rooftops).

Tell me–what’s holding you back from your dreams? Because kids and laundry and life will always tug at me, but I tell myself over and over, At least I’m trying. Can I help you try in some way?

No Fear in Love: 31 Days

There is no fear

Sometimes, like Scout and Jem at the beginning of To Kill A Mockingbird, I get in an argument with myself about where this story begins.

Everything started last October. When we came home from Denver and the little ones were sick. That’s when I became afraid (with the silly fear of mothers) that life would never be the same again. I’d spend the rest of my days cleaning up from the relentless stomach virus. After all, that lasted until Thanksgiving and the real nightmare began.

Then I think past that and I remember my husband’s heart scare. I remember the difficulties of the year before when our youngest and only son was born. The year I stepped out of my classroom role and into full-time mom and thought my world had ended.

Then, then, I think long past that. Back to earlier days when our most pressing concern was choosing between the cafeteria and the cafe before play rehearsal, when we could stay up way past midnight eating hash browns at Waffle House and studying for my Spanish exam, when my first inklings of fear were doused by the words I ran across one night after we’d been dating several months and people began asking just where this might be going.

We sat in my car outside his dorm. Dark night. Cloudy probably, because I don’t remember the stars and Berry College is known for beautiful skies. He’d told me he loved me months before. We didn’t talk about the future as senior year scuttled forward and Christmas loomed on the horizon. My plans to teach somewhere, maybe even as far off as New York where my friends told me I’d be eaten alive by the public school system, no longer seemed my own.

The terror of making a decision not knowing what he was thinking, not knowing if he wanted to be a part of that, twisted deep in my gut. And then–

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18

Love drives out fear. A verse I’d stumbled across during church that morning when I was listening for the Lord instead of the sermon.

We sat in my car and he held my hand and ran his thumb over mine in what would become so familiar and trademark gesture that later, I would use that move when writing a love story. Because I knew then, this man loved me with no fear for what may come.

The tighter he held my hand, the more I could trust this unknown future.

Love casts out fear.

A promise I have clung to through thirteen years of marriage, four boisterous kids, and more than one terrifying experience.

This is the beginning of my story.

This post is part of the 31 Days challenge. Read all my posts here or subscribe to this blog (there’s a button under my picture over there). I’m writing 31 days on one topic, but don’t expect 31 posts. Because did you see the line about four kids? And how I write over here too

When Fear Chokes: 31 Days

Untitled designLast night, my daughter choked on a lifesaver.

Clumped in a crowded school hallway in the midst of the annual fall festival, while I wrangled her and her brother and her daddy wrangled the fishing line at the kindergarten booth, she screamed and gasped and retched. And I had no idea what to do.

I had no idea what was happening. She could breathe–because lifesavers have holes, hence their name–but when she bent over and heaved and her face turned purple with the effort, my heart crippled with the fear.

Then up came that little red circle of obstruction (along with her dinner). She cried. I cried. We got her some water and a quiet place and within half an hour, she was running around the cake walk with her best friend and eating cotton candy.

I, on the other hand, sat watching her and shaking. The ripplings of fear still worked their way from my soul.


We sing the song in church,. “You are peace, you are peace, when my fear is crippling.”  And for a long time, I couldn’t work the words past the lump in my throat and the vice around my heart.

Fear has lodged itself deep, deep into my being and learning to trust, learning to believe, learning to loosen its grip is my everyday struggle.

There are times when I choke daily on my own fears.

Of failure. Inadequacy. Inauthenticity. Being unloved. Being unwanted. Being unequipped. Of the unexpected and of the unknown.

But when the Lord gives the promise–like he gave Moses as the Israelites wandered the desert–he tells us not to fear.

See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 1:21

He gave the Israelites a land flowing with milk and honey. But it was a a land full of giants and walled cities.

So they remained trapped by their fear for forty long years.

Maybe some fears are like that lifesaver with a hole for precious breath and a lesson of patience. Some fears do, indeed, keep us safe.

But, I’m thirty-five years old. I have a beautiful life full of promise. A life I no longer want to be crippled and trapped by the fear that if I trust, I might lose everything.

Because if I don’t live the life I’m given, I’ve already lost.

And fear wins.

What do you fear? What are you looking for in reading this 31 days series?

31 Days: When Fear is Crippling


Y’all. I did it.

Welcome to my new site. It’s not as pretty as the old one (yet!) but in the last twenty-four hours I faced one of my little fears–


if I move my blog myself, I’ll break it.

I didn’t. It didn’t. At least I don’t think so–everything working for you?

Sometimes we just have to take the plunge and draw the breath and trust our gut. Even when it’s something as small as taking a site from Blogger to WordPress.

Today is the first day of October. 2015. Life goes by in a crazy blur sometimes.  One year ago I had no idea how afraid I could really be.

Then my beautiful daughter developed an unexplainable neurological condition that may not have a recovery.

For the next 31 days, as I acclimate myself to this new site and new brand–I don’t just write the randomness of motherhood anymore–I’ll share our story.

Some of you know it. Some of you don’t. My prayer is that you’ll follow along, chime in on the conversation, and walk with me through the valley of shadow.

When Fear is Crippling: A 31 Days Series

When Fear Chokes (my daughter chokes on a lifesaver but I’m the ones strangled)

No Fear in Love (why I’m never afraid with him)

Because Failure is What I Fear Most (on writing and terror)

When Fear Eats Holes in Your Soul (we had mice and my faith fabric ripped)

Sticks and Stones and Fearing People (facing confrontation and speaking truth)

Why I’m Terrified of Viruses (and a $10 EPantry Credit!)

Amazing, isn’t it,  how something unseen can bring you to your knees?

One dreaded word gets thrown about like parade candy this time of year but with less enthusiasm.


Respiratory. Hand-foot-mouth. And every mother’s nightmare that often appears at 3 a.m. and never quite makes it to the toilet.

Stomach virus.

Our nightmare with the lingering effects of a virus began long before my five year old’s diagnosis of Clinically Isolated Syndrome. Our first brush with just how tricky viruses can be happened in May 2013, a month most folks in my circle are happy to forget existed.

That’s when my husband presented with heart attack symptoms and was eventually diagnosed as having perimyocarditis. Likely caused by a virus like Fifth’s Disease which the kids had a month earlier.

Then, last fall, the stomach virus descended upon us with a vengeance. We don’t know, doctors don’t know, there’s just no way to know if three subsequent rounds of this virus triggered Amelia’s autoimmune reaction. Maybe the virus and its dehydrating effects worsened an underlying condition. We don’t know. But I do know and believe this whole heartedly–

The last time I remember feeling like a normal family was September a year ago. The last month we experienced with no virus, no sickness, no doctors visits.

So when the school starts sending home the warnings, when my girls tell me who got sick in the hall (or on the lunch table!), when all I want to do is wrap a bubble around our life and get away from it all–I go to my knees.

And my kitchen sink. Because maybe I can’t prevent Amelia from being sick, maybe I can’t keep everything at bay, but I can make sure my kids have clean hands.

We started an ePantry trial over the summer because I jumped on an offer from Modern Mrs. Darcy. Pretty sweet. Free candle. $10 credit. I ordered all purpose cleaner, sponges, and hand soap. Going greener and cleaner has been heavy on mind as I research all I can to help keep my daughter well.

There’s no guarantees anything will work, but if reducing harsh chemicals and enjoying the scent of basil all year long can at least help prevent a relapse, I’m going to try.

ePantry has been awesome. The products are excellent quality, but better than that is the customer service. When I realized my VIP trial was about to run out and I hadn’t placed another order, they gave me an extension and a discount. They respond to email–as in real people with names and personalities respond to email. They want to make this experience easy and affordable, and this company is dedicated to reducing waste and improving our environment.

Really, it’s a win for everyone.

Here’s a little snapshot of what I’m getting next time:

For almost three years, I’ve been making my own all-purpose cleaner. That’s been great, but it’s never worked all that well on wood, and like I said, with virus season upon us, I’m all for anything “disinfecting”. So we’re going to try these products from Method and Seventh Generation for dusting and bathrooms. What I love about trying them from EPantry versus Wal-mart is this: if I hate it, EPantry will take care of me. I’m a person to them, a customer.

How ePantry works
  • Take advantage of this exclusive offer by clicking here or on one of those great pictures.
  • Answer a few simple questions about your home, cleaning schedule, and preferred products. ePantry will make suggestions based on your answers.
  • Customize your basket! Add, delete, tailor it to your family and your budget.
  • Including your FREE hand soap and $10 credit, your total must come to $20. Free shipping too! (This minimum is for first time only.)
  • When you’re done, click Finish and Pay. Easy peasy.

Here’s an example of what I’d recommend for a first-timer’s basket:

1. Your FREE soap (and get another while you’re at it).
2. All Better Balm because winter dry skin is coming. I’m always searching for great hand cream.
3. Those sponges that make my kids want to wash the dishes.
4. This organic hand sanitizer. Because that other kind is gross.
5. Everyone loves a good, natural body wash.
6. Dish soap that won’t harm your septic system or your hands.
7. Our favorite multi-surface cleaner. The girls spray this everywhere and on everything. It ruins nothing. And my house smells like Basil all the time. Perfect for when we stick the For Sale sign in the yard again.

A lot of you have asked how I get my kids to help with chores. I’ll post about that next week along with a free customizable chore chart, but in the meantime, place your order and get ready for fall housecleaning.

Just don’t welcome any viruses in with your pumpkin spice.