3 Things You Can Do Today to Fight Fear

Today, I’m giving you 3 strategies you can use immediately to fight fear in all areas of your life.

I’m a practical girl.

I can philosophize and get all prosy, but at the end of the day, give me practical anytime.

I believe that fear is at the root of nearly every battle we fight, if not every single one.  I battled fear all my life until I realized what I was up against.  I was trying to deal with secondary emotions, not always realizing that fear masquerades as other feelings.  And that disguise makes it harder for us to get at the source.

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For example, rejection could have a root fear of being left out, or not being good enough, not lovable.  Insecurity could have a  root fear of not measuring up, or fear of being worthless.  Rage could have a root fear of being weak or of losing position or control.

When it hit me that fear is at the root of so many struggles, I started to pay attention to the people around me and what they did to fight fear and stay in peace and joy.

I watched myself go through things and change, and I paid attention to what I did that worked and what didn’t.  Three of my favorite strategies are in the list below.

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3 Things You Can Do Today to Fight Fear

  1. Start pumping in the positive messages.  Right now.  Whatever works.  Whoever.  And keep ’em coming.  Move against the fear, not with it.  A comedian you love, songs, speakers, scripture, TED talks, podcasts, redemptive movies and television shows, etcetc.    This is a good time to keep the material at a PG-13 or less.  Lots of drama yields stress, which is just an everyday word for fear. Try different things until you feel encouraged. If you are aware of any level of fear in your life, begin to saturate your mind with positive messages.
  1. Repeat the positive messages you hear out loud.  The words we speak and focus on affect our brain development and our response to stress.  A current theory in the field of neuroscience holds that our brain function, and even DNA, can be changed by focusing on one simple positive word like “peace” or “love.”  Of course, the more positive words you hold on to for longer periods of time, the greater the positive effect on your brain, and therefore, your response to stress.  Just pick a quote from one of your positive messages above, or even a single word right now, like “peace.”  And start saying it over and over.  It does take time for a significant long-term change to occur in terms of neuroplasticity (the changeability of the brain), but most people I talk to feel relief almost immediately as they focus on positive messages with their speech. 
  1. Take 3 Deep Breaths.  & add some lavender.    Many people are familiar with the idea of deep breathing, but how often do you actually do it?  Right now, close your eyes, take a deep “belly breath” on a count of eight.  Hold it for a count of eight, and exhale, a controlled, slow breath for a count of eight.  Can’t do eight counts?  Start with a count of four and work up.  You can do this anywhere, anytime.  And your lungs will thank you!  Also, stop by the health food store or call your friends who know about oils.  Get some lavender sachets, lavender tea, lavender oil, whatever, and start enjoying the fragrance.  Research at the University of Maryland, among others, has confirmed that lavender has soothing effects.  (If you use essential oils, research safe practices and always dilute.)

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More lists to come, things that are more lifestyle changes or might require you to order a book or watch a video or develop habits.  But I wanted to start with things that you can do right now.  I still do all of these things if I find myself in a struggle.  I diffused lavender oil in my room the other night.  Best night’s sleep I’ve had in a while.

What practical things do you do to fight fear?

***

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut31:6

Prayer for those fighting fear:

Father, thank you that You never leave us.  Thank you for Your hand on us.  Today, I’m binding fear and praying that my friends will feel Love, stronger than any other thing.  Jesus, be more real than any circumstance, any anxiety or stress or insecurity or pride.  Or any other type of fear that comes to distract.  Fear cannot have our peace.  I pray for supernatural strength.  For encouragement.  For joy and laughter in the face of circumstances.  For ministering spirits to go out and bring comfort and reignite the feelings of passion and purpose that cause us to fight fear like we mean it, to rise up and move against the lies instead of letting them steamroll us and steal our destinies.  I pray for victory and breakthrough in every way today, in Jesus’ name.

Shoplifting, Lego Robots, and the Brené Brown TED Talk on Courage and Vulnerability. {WATCH}

One time, I shoplifted.

Actually twice.

Once, when I was twelve, I took a lollipop from the candy store.

I ate it, but it tasted like death.

The second time, I was 18.

I know.  My character should have been more developed by then.  It was not a proud moment.

I was with a friend when I saw a package of six tiny Christmas bows.  They were the size of a penny.  So shiny and cute.

Tons of kids shoplifted in high school, but I never went along with the crowd, until that day.

I don’t know why those little bows stole my heart.  When my friend saw how much I wanted them, she said, “just take them.  They will fit right up your sleeve.”

So I did.

I stole.  Christmas bows.  At Christmas.  To put on Christmas presents.  To celebrate Jesus’ birthday.

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I could never open them.  I did not know what to do with them.  I never knowingly took anything again that wasn’t mine.

I was reformed.

That package of Christmas bows sat in my Christmas box until after I had kids.  I finally gave them to Goodwill.

Confession is good for the soul.

And not just the person confessing.  Allowing each other the freedom to fail is a gift.  And accepting each other, failure and all.  And loving, in spite of it.

Fears of failure and of rejection break relationship.  Fear of being left out or misunderstood because of imperfections we can’t control, our body shape, our age, our family tree.  Fear of being unlovable because of screw ups and missed opportunities and bad decisions.

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These fears cause us to try to cover up and act like something we’re not.

And healthy relationships can’t be built on lies.

I don’t know why humanity still struggles with this.

Like we think anyone is perfect.  Like it’s a surprise that people make mistakes and don’t know everything.

It shocks me when my kids cry over something new they learned at school, and they can’t do it perfectly the first time.  Like, kids, seriously, it’s school.  The whole point is finding out how much you don’t know and learning how to do some of it, right?

But when their little egos confront their own ignorance, that bubble of thinking, “I’m the best Lego builder in the world!” gets busted. They discover that, not only can you build awesome Lego structures, but you can also mechanize them.

Lego robots.  A whole new level.  Dang.

And they have to do the hard work of focus and self discipline until they achieve some level of mastery.

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And then, when they conquer that thing, they are elated.

It’s a cycle.  That is repeated often.  And it makes me look at myself.

How often do I encounter my own weakness and suddenly hate my life?

Like it’s a surprise.  Like it’s never happened before.

Right.

There is a thing that well meaning people do sometimes when you confess a failure.  They will say, “Oh, you didn’t really steal.  Or, let’s reframe that.  You didn’t really fail/sin/screw up.  You are a great person.  Don’t beat yourself up about it.  God loves you just the way you are.”

I love the heart of encouragement, but it seems to me that there is a hidden fear of failure in that kind of response.  Pushing back the idea of failure with both hands so that no one has to be embarrassed, or not know what to say, or see each other with eyes wide open.  Like when you walk in on someone in the toilet.  That one awful moment of being frozen with the door open and seeing that thing you can’t unsee.

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But, um, you know, people go to the bathroom.  Is it really that shocking?  And people screw up.  All the time.  Really good people.  Pretending we don’t and being afraid of admitting it makes for some seriously pointless conversation.

I love when I say, “Wow.  I did this thing.”

And the person next to me says, “Amen.  Thank You, Jesus.”  Or, “Oh.  Yeah.  Me too.”

Like they are happy for me when I see something I need to see.  Like they aren’t afraid of it.  Like they might even like me more, because I was willing to go there.

I appreciate that level of real.

It’s why I love Brené Brown.

I’m a huge fan.

Her viral TED Talk on “The Power of Vulnerability” was one catalyst in my walk away from fear and shame.

It’s my favorite ever TED Talk.  The guy who plays eleventy million  pop songs on the ukulele is a close second.  And the lady who power poses like Wonder Woman in the bathroom.  If you don’t know yet, I love when people maximize time in the bathroom.  It’s just so efficient.  People go there.  Might as well admit it and use the time wisely.

This talk is funny, deep, honest, and life changing.  Seriously.  If you only ever watch one TED Talk, this is the one.  Click here for link.  Over 26 million views and counting today, for a reason.

Courage, shame, and vulnerability.  I’m praying for all of us to get that breakthrough.   

Courage, the original definition of courage..it’s from the Latin word “cor,” meaning “heart.”   And the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. . . the courage to be imperfect.   

–Brené Brown

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If you find yourself wanting more of Brene’s insight, her follow up talk, “Listening to Shame,” where she discusses dorm room break-ins, vulnerability hangovers, and the fear of shame, can be found by clicking here.  

Empathy is the antidote to shame. . .The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me, too.  

Brené Brown

Confess your faults to each other, and pray for each other, that you might be healed.  Jas5:16.

For Lupé, the Beautiful Dancer.

Last week I locked my keys in my car in Echo Park.

Echo Park is lovely now, but it was known for gang activity in the not too distant past.

Rush hour was easing, and the sun was setting.

My friend, Gloria, and I stood on the sidewalk and waited on the locksmith.

Gloria is a great person to be locked out of a car with in the middle of a city.  She just stood there laughing.

No stress.  No anxiety.  No worry.  No fear.

We were trying to visit the Aimee Semple McPherson Parsonage and Angelus Temple.  Everything was closed, so we couldn’t go in.  But we walked around and took a few pictures.  Fifteen minutes passed.  Then thirty.  Then an hour.

I looked at Gloria standing by my mini van in high heels on dirty concrete.  It was hot.  We were thirsty and tired.  And the crowd around us was changing as the sun went down.

I started singing.  “I have decided to follow Jesus.”  It seemed appropriate standing outside that temple.  It seemed a declaration of a choice.  Also.  I once saw Jen Hatmaker sing it in a moment of exasperation, and it really made me laugh.

Gloria started singing with me, and we stood there on the sidewalk with people walking by all around, just singing.

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We made it through a couple of verses and then couldn’t remember the third.  Gloria said, “Oh, I’m so thirsty.  I wish we had some water.”

As she said it, a woman in a pink sports bra walked right up to us and said, “Do you work here?  I really need some water.”

It was so odd, like she almost repeated what Gloria had said.  And she came out of nowhere.

She appeared.

Her arms and chest were covered in scars and faded tattoos.  She was a beautiful woman, but older than she seemed at first.  The short top was a few sizes too small.  She was bursting out of it on every side.

“I tried to get a drink of water at the pharmacy.  They said they don’t serve hookers in there.”  She was indignant.  “I’m not a hooker.  I’m a dancer.”

We asked her name.  “Lupe,” she said.  We told her ours.

She talked on in frustration of how she had been treated all day.  As she walked through town because her car broke down.  She was going to sleep in it that night.  She had been to the temple before, and the people were nice, she said.  She thought they might give her water.  She was visiting from Vegas, looking for a better job.

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Gloria asked Lupe if she felt safe in her line of work.

“Oh.  Well.  No one’s ever tried to kill me, but they try to rape me in the parking lot when I leave.  I learned to change clothes before I go.  Now I just wear an old sweat suit, and it’s fine.”

“Wow,” we said.  And we just kept chatting.  Kids.  Shoes.  Lupe liked Gloria’s dress.

We were just three women talking.  She said she was thirsty and hot.  We were, too.  She said her feet hurt.  Ours did, too.

As we stood near the church, two other women and their children walked up and tried the door, and found it locked, like we had.

They had tourist maps in their hands.  The gold crosses around their necks shone nearly white.  They walked by us.

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Gloria and I are always friendly, we can’t even help it.  We spoke to the women.

They sped up walking.  They would hardly look at us.  I saw them staring hard at Lupe, and they almost covered their faces with their maps.  They mumbled something in reply to our greeting and walked quickly away.

Lupe just glanced at them and then back at us.  She seemed unfazed, but their behavior was so unnecessary.  It was weird.

We talked a little more with Lupe, but she wanted to walk in a public bathroom outside the temple.  We felt like we needed to wait with the car.  We told her we would give her money.  We wanted to pray with her.  She said she could use prayer.  We said to just meet us at the car when she came out.

She walked in the bathroom, and  we walked back to the car.  A few minutes passed, and we wondered if we should check on her.  We walked back to where we could see the bathroom door, and we saw two men walk in.

Gloria and I always find pennies.  They remind me of something Heidi Baker always says, “Stop for the one.”

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As we left Echo Park, Gloria bent down and picked up the filthiest penny I have ever seen from under a bus bench.  It looked like it had been wrapped in bubble gum and rolled in dog hair and dirt.  But, under it all was glowing copper, no doubt.  Still a penny.  Still forged with a purpose.  Still valuable.

I don’t know if Lupe had planned a meeting with those men or not, but she never came back to us.  We met some policemen later, near the time we finally got the car unlocked, but they didn’t seem worried about her.

I pray she is safe.  I pray she knows she is loved.  I pray she sometimes thinks of two women who enjoyed spending time with her outside of a church.  I pray she goes back there and tries again.  And the doors are open.  And she finds what she’s looking for.

What she’s really looking for.

I pray I get another chance.  To love well, to reach out, to go one step further in serving and in boldness.

And I pray for the women who passed us by.  As lovely and clean as those women were, they were the opposite of pretty, dressed in judgement.  Walking in fear.

We can always do better.  I pray they can try again, too.  That they get another chance to minister to a stranger.  That they find what they are looking for.

Really looking for.

***

God is love.

What Will You Do With Your One, Wild Life? {LISTEN}

In the last two years,

I moved from the midwest to Los Angeles County.

I put two children in the L.A. County Public School system.

I rode the Superman ride at Six Flags

and the Tower of Terror at Disneyland.

I defied gravity.

I cut my hair.

I watched my son suffer and beat death

while I prayed for miracles over his grey skin.

I have met celebrities and homeless men.

I have seen demons.

And I have heard them, too.

I fought disease in myself,

and the mind games that come with pain:

depression

desperation

defeat.

I have auditioned,

been in a commercial,

and sung on stage in front of hundreds of people.

I have driven to LAX

on the 405 in rush hour traffic,

and that, my friend, is no joke.

I jumped off the high jump at the local trampoline extravaganza.

It was only one story, but it was a lot for me.

I have done a thousand new things

and met a thousand new people.

I have worn my heart on my sleeve.

I have been passed over

and celebrated,

and both can be hard to handle.

I started a novel.

I turned 40.

I turned a corner.

I turned away from fear

and into myself.

And I wonder

what else is out there for me

for us

when we turn away from fear.

What can you do

to turn more and more

into

yourself?

For me,

I’m going to

see what else

I can cram in

to this

one

wild

life.

Inspiration song from Gungor.  What will you do with your one wild life?!?  

The Necklace.

I fail a little bit every day.  Sometimes a lot.  Sometimes in front of the most important people.

A couple of summers ago, my kids wanted to try archery.  Our gym offered it, but it was a low priority.  So low, that no one there knew how to take money for the class.

A girl named Angel worked the front desk.  She couldn’t sign us up, but she helped.  She searched the computer. She looked up phone numbers.  She smiled.

Every time I called the manager, Deb, she would tell me to come on a certain night, and she would help me herself.  So I would go in.  But no Deb.

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This happened three or four times.  I started to think that my kids weren’t going to be able to take that class.  It stirred my inner Mama Bear.

Not good.

The next time I talked to Deb, she said she would leave instructions at the desk.  Now anyone could sign the kids up for archery.

Ok.  Great.  Good solution.

I used to wear a certain necklace all the time.  A supercool, relevant, Christian necklace,  It was stamped metal.  It said “Pray.”  It had an image of two folded hands.

Artsy.

I had it on that night, which was, by then, the fifth or sixth time I had taken my kids into the gym to sign up for archery.

Angel stood behind the counter. “Hi, Angel.  Your manager said we could sign up for archery tonight?!”

One problem.

Angel looked confused.  She shook her head.  There were no instructions, and still, no one there knew how to take money for archery.

After weeks of going back and forth and coming to the office with this same old thing, I hit that ugly limit.  Yes, I did.

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Oh, Mama Bear.

I said plenty.  How unprofessional they were.  How I would never use that gym for anything again.  How I could not believe such and such and blah blah blah.  I will say, I was not actually yelling, but I was angry.  I was harsh.

I was loud.

I stomped out to the van, kids trailing behind me like ducks.  We all got in and buckled our seat belts.  And in my mind, I saw Angel’s face.

Dangit.

I turned off the van.  “Everybody, out.”

I failed in front of them.

I had to apologize in front of them.

And to them.  “I’m so sorry, guys.  I just acted so bad.  I know it stressed you out.  And that lady is the only nice person in there.  I have to go tell her I’m sorry.”

Those fails come with the worst feelings.  Sadness.  Embarrassment.  Shame.

I walked back to Angel and said, “Um, excuse me.  I’m so sorry.  I am out of patience with this thing, but it’s really not your fault.  I shouldn’t have taken it out on you.  Thanks for being so great every time I come in.”

She smiled.  Like always.  And she said, “Oh, I understand!  It’s ok.  I would feel the same way.”

I left, and my kids said, “It’s ok, Mom!  You said you were sorry. Everyone gets mad sometimes!”

Dear God.  I love kids.

A few months later, I got online to research local ministries.   I saw a  group home for teens aging out of the foster care system.

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I clicked on the link, and on the first page, was a picture of Angel.

Her story was under the picture.  She had grown up in bad places.  She had never known a loving family.  But she said her life changed at that home.  She loved Jesus.  She was thankful for the women there.   They had become like a family to her.

I cried.

The archery thing eventually got resolved, and the kids loved taking the class.

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But, I took that artsy “pray” necklace, and I hid it from myself.  I may have even given it away.  I still don’t know where it is.  I said, “Lord, You know I can’t wear this and run around acting like a jerk.”

A few people have given me Christian jewelry since then, and I wear it sometimes.  But I take it more seriously now.

And, I’m not religious about it anymore, like it’s my duty to wear a cross.

I don’t know what people are dealing with when I meet them.

I do know that I love this saying.  “Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”

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Dear God.  Help us to be kind.  Kinder than necessary.  

And when we fail.  Help us say we’re sorry.  

No fear of missing out.  No fear of being wrong.

Just love.  And kindness.  Even more than is necessary.

For the Underdog: Interview with Chikk. {FREE DOWNLOAD}

A life well lived is encouragement and example to the rest of us.  A vision at Lady the Fearless is the feature of different courageous women and true brothers from time to time.  In that vein, I’m happy to give you the FIRST of many interviews and biographies today, with the incredible singer/songwriter, Chikk.
Already a K-Pop songwriting star in South Korea,  Chikk is rising in the LA music scene.  She is a passionate professional.  And a lover of God.  And my dear friend.
I interviewed her with five short questions this week, and I think you’ll relate to her story and be inspired.  She is a powerhouse of energy, and is vulnerable and honest about the challenges of creativity, emotion, work, life, and faith.

And follow this link for a free download of the song as a gift from Chikk.
Be energized, encouraged, and enjoy!!!
***

LADY:  Chikk!  I love this EP! So amazing. Thanks so much for being here today!  Can you start by sharing the inspiration for  the song, War, and the rest of the album?

CHIKK:  There were so many inspirations behind War.  One huge inspiration was actually Rick Joyner’s book, The Final Quest.  It changed my perspective on what type of War we were, and still are, really fighting.  My song, War, is about the fight against darkness, the fight for Truth, and the fight within self.

LADY:  Of course, there is no way you could have known in advance what would happen in Dallas and around the country in terms of shootings and racially charged protests immediately before the scheduled release of War. How do you feel about the song War being born into the current atmosphere?

CHIKK:  That’s a great question!  I could have never predicted that within 3 days of each other, our country would go into such mayhem & the release of War would fall within that same week!  I believe Dallas was only a reaction to other actions.  Baton Rouge’s Alton Sterling and Minnesota’s Philando Castile were the immediate actions that led to the Dallas reaction.  At first I was scared out of my mind! I didn’t know if I should even put it out anymore… But after doing research on the events and the history that preceded these events, I knew it was God.  And I also knew it was bigger than me.

LADY:  What is your prayer or hope for anyone who listens to this album?

CHIKK:  I hope and pray that whoever listens to this song, and the EP when it comes out, hears VICTORY! That they hear a voice that has overcome the darkest of moments, a voice that now stands in the redeeming Light.  I want anyone who hears this to KNOW that they are worth it!  That they are good enough, and if anyone ever tries to tell them different, instead of backing down or giving up, they will rise! They will start a War unlike anyone has ever seen before. That they will fight with their knowledge, with their pain, with their rejection, and with one of the most precious weapons we could ever use, forgiveness. This project, this song, it is “For the Underdog,” which is the title of the EP, set to release this fall.

Can you share a few of your favorite lyrics and where you were when you wrote them, or any other outstanding memories of songwriting for this album?

Some of my favorite lyrics! I love this question.

And all the talk about you’re not good enough. Forget about all of your broken hearts, because I bet…It was good for the both of us

It’s a lyric that reminds me that none of the hurt was in vain. It was all working in my favor, even when I couldn’t see it.

I wrote these songs in my car actually.  I either started them or finished them in the car while working a job to make money & live. During that process, I was ready to give up on my dreams altogether. It just seemed too hard to keep going, but I did. And I’m so glad that I did! This project was birthed from a place of pure confusion, shame, doubt and low self esteem. So I would have to say my favorite moment, was when I no longer felt ashamed. Doubt had left and I loved every single part of myself. I wondered what had happened, to change all of this.  And it was because I had told a part of my story.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I was healing while I was writing.  And now I look back in amazement at it all!

LADY:  What does fearlessness look like for you?  And what do you do to grow in courage and to fight fear in your career, life, and faith?

CHIKK:  Fearlessness for me, is accepting that you will have fears. Strange right? I find that I am more courageous when I have made peace with my fears. Anytime I deny myself of the reality of being human & having real fears, I shut down. Or I run. Looking whatever it is I am afraid of, in the face, is the first step to me being fearless. It takes the fear from my mind, body and soul, and puts it in front of me. Now I have no attachment to it. Now I can strategize how to overcome it. I can not overcome fear, until I let go of it. I can not let go of it, until I admit I am actually holding it.

S’mores, Road Rage, and 911. Summertime Fun with Lady the Fearless.

One night a couple of summers ago, my family decided to make a late night S’mores run to the grocery store.  My husband made a fire pit out of some kind of giant can, and the kids wanted to roast marshmallows.  We do exotic S’mores at our house.  My personal favorite involves a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, recipe here.

But I digress.

The point is, we needed supplies.

Our neighborhood is quaint and quiet, but to get to the store, we have to pull out on a busy highway with a 50 mile an hour speed limit.  It is kind of out in the country, and people seem to think that the speed limit on that road is more of a suggestion.

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When my husband pulled the car out onto the highway,  we could see a car coming, the headlights far in the distance.  Plenty of time.

But when he pulled out, he instantly sped up.   “Aw, he had to come up so fast!  I wish he would just pass!”

I looked back and saw headlights really close in the back window.  “Oh, well,” I thought.  It happens a lot on that highway.

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We drove the few blocks down to the grocery store and pulled into the parking lot.  I heard my husband say, “Oh, great. here he comes. This’ll be fun.”  We parked, and a man in a dark red SUV slammed into the parking space next to us, on my side.  He motioned for my husband to roll down the window.

My husband, a logical and peaceful fellow, obliged.

The man was shaved bald.  Mean bald.  He was also brawny and belligerent and very angry with my husband.

He pointed at my husband and shouted over me, “HEY man, YOU CUT ME OFF!!!”

Ben said, calmly and logically, across me in the passenger seat, “Oh.  Well.  I didn’t realize how fast you were going.”

Mad Bald Man did not appreciate the accountability my husband offered.  He raised his eyebrows and  shouted again, “Well, you CUT ME OFF back there!!”

And I sat between these two, with Ben in the driver’s seat to my left and this man in the parking space to my right.

Ben kept repeating that he had not intended to cut the man off, but he did not know how fast he was going.  Mad Bald Man kept yelling and shaking his finger at Ben for cutting him off.  At one point he mentioned the two of them getting out of their cars to discuss it.

I looked back and forth at them as Ben talked and the other guy shouted, like watching a very dark and mildly violent parking lot tennis match.

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Finally, Mad Bald Man pointed at me and said, “and you know what YOU need to do–you need to tell your husband he needs to learn how to drive!”

I had been praying the whole time, “oh no, God, what do we do?”  Just a quick prayer, an S.O.S.

At one time in my life, I would have been freaking out over this.  I might have gotten angry or silent, but deep down I would have been very afraid.

But that night, I looked at the mad bald man, face red, veins bulging, fist shaking.  I looked at my husband, earnestly telling the whole truth.  And I wanted to laugh.

I did know that it was possibly dangerous, but I have just become bored with bullies.

He shook his finger at me and told me what I needed to do.

I looked at him and cocked my head to one side.  I said, “Actually, I  know what I need to do.  I’m calling the police.”

“What for???  For your husband cutting me off?!?”

“No,” I said.  “For harassment.  From you.”

And I picked up my phone and dialed 911.

My husband said, “Oh no.  Don’t call them.  Too much paperwork.”

Paperwork.

He is always so calm.

At that point, I had already called.  But for some reason, it didn’t go through.

I looked at it again.  I dialed it again.  I held it to my ear.

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Nothing.

I looked at it, holding the screen where the guy couldn’t see it.

For some reason, my phone wasn’t dialing.  And everyone was looking at me.  My husband said, “Please don’t call them, we’ll be here all night.”.

And Mad Bald Man shouted, “oh yeah, call ’em!!  CALL THEM!! and I will stay right here, and I will tell them how YOUR husband cut me off!”

And I looked at him and said, “Ok.  I called them.  Just so you know.”

And then proceeded to talk into my phone.  To an imaginary 911 operator.

“Yes, Operator,” I said, into the silence.  “We are being harassed by a white male in his mid-30s.  Bald.”  I gave the location of the store.

And I kept talking.

To the home screen.

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The guy sat there really mad for a minute, and then he totally deflated.  He slumped over his steering wheel like a broken man and stared out the windshield for a second.  Then he got out and slammed his door and walked into the store.

I got out too, so he could hear me, and I said, “Yes ma’am, he’s still here, I can see him, he’s now entering the building.”

After he was gone I walked back to my family in the car.  I was so into it I still had the phone on my ear and was still talking, even though the guy was gone.  My husband said, “Please tell them not to come.  It’s fine.  Tell them he’s gone.  No biggie.”

I forgot that they weren’t really in on the whole imaginary-operator-pretend-conversation thing.  I put down the phone and looked at my kids, all round eyed in the back seat.

I looked back at my husband and said, “It’s not them.  I never called.  I’m just talking to myself.”

And I fell over laughing.

My kids’ faces.  Priceless.  Little scared expressions went from disbelief to relieved laughter.

Ben shook his head.  It’s not the only time in our seventeen years of marriage that he’s looked at me like that.

We waited a minute.  We moved the car, and then we went in the store and got our S’mores ingredients.  When we came out, the red SUV was gone.

By the way.  I do not recommend fake calling 911 as a course of action if you are harassed.  And for the record, technically, I didn’t lie.  I did call 911.  Twice.  It just didn’t go through.  But it worked.  And the guy got mercy.  And we laughed.  And we went home.  And we had S’mores.

And my kids still tell tales of this night.

It will go down in history.

***

I’m asking for new ways to deal with old stuff.  For all of us.  Ways that make us laugh.  And bring breakthrough.  And go down in history.

Our mouths were filled with laughter,
    our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
    “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
    and we are filled with joy.  Ps 126:2-3

Oh, and P.S.  Happy anniversary, Honey.  We make a great team.

Never Shaken: Thoughts on The Media and the Dallas Shooting Tragedy.

For one second last night,  I was afraid to walk through my neighborhood.

My husband wanted to take me to dinner.  There are several restaurants close by, so when we go, we usually walk.

But for one second, I felt glowing white.

Like a ring on a bullseye.  Shoot here.

When I recognized the way my mind was wandering, I was so mad.  Mad at the situation.  Mad at myself.

Bullies make me mad.

There are many bullies in this world, but, today, I think the biggest bully is the media.

I’m not even convinced the young man in Dallas shot those officers.  “I want to kill white people?”  It just seems too convenient.

Whether he did or didn’t, I guess the point is that I don’t believe even half the news I hear.  I don’t know anyone who does.

And yet, it just rolls on and on.   And we keep watching.

And we know we are being manipulated.  And we keep watching.

We absolutely need to deal with issues at the roots.  Especially as the church.  Every voice needs to be heard, and there is no doubt that there is work to be done.

But the endless irresponsible newsreels are not helping.  They are bullying us into a corner.

I was encouraged to hear of a report on NPR that most people interviewed are sick of the sensationalism and ready to turn it off.  They just haven’t turned it off, not quite yet.

The headlines always seem to disintegrate.  From simple facts to screaming emotion.  Anything for ratings.  Anything to keep the audience reaching for one more view.

In the Dallas headlines, today, I see words like “division, fear, and terror.”

It is a tragic thing.  The victims deserve our honor and our grief.

But division?  Fear?  Terror?

That’s not news.  That’s bad prophecy.

Honor and grief and even outrage are part of this process.  But, division, fear, and terror–these are my choice.

Not to diminish the pain in Dallas in any way, but tragedy happens every day all over the world.  Why should the media dictate to me what my emotion is supposed to be today?

I will not let the media tell me that I should be anxious and worried today.  I will not let the media tell me that my world view should be different today, and then change again tomorrow, based on the ever-shifting sand of ratings.

I don’t allow anything to tell me that I should be anxious and worried on any day.  Why give the media special power or authority over my emotion and my state of mind?

Unity and love.  Deep solutions.  Conversations.  Voices heard.  Changes made.  These will not happen in the climate that the unchecked media will create.

I did walk to dinner with my husband last night.  “If  I die, I die,” I thought and put on my lipstick and marched out the door.

And strolled through crowds of beautiful people.  Every possible expression of Divine Creativity.  Every imaginable shade of skin, every impossible color of hair.  And we smiled at each other and said hello.  And we ate together.  We broke bread together.

I could have stayed home.  I could have changed my plans.  I could have missed a great night enjoying the people around me.

As a friend of mine says, there really is only one race.  The Human Race.  Breaking bread together.

***

I pray we can get the facts we need and filter them through the eyes of love.  I pray we know when to turn off the news and ask The One Who Made Us what He has to say about it all.

I pray we do not let ourselves be bullied, by media or any other thing.

I pray we are filled with the courage that passion can bring, passion for something bigger than our own personal safety or desires.  And do what it takes to see real change.  I pray for miracles.  We are catalysts for miracles.  I pray we focus on love and are willing to look inside ourselves and do the hard work that has to be done. 

Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
    they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.  Psalm 112:6-7

Calling Forth Pancakes

“I want  pancakes like my mom makes, please.”

I looked down and into my five-year-old nephew’s huge brown eyes.  Those long eyelashes.  Be still my heart.

Blink.  Blink.

He had stayed the night, and I was trying to get in some mega cool auntie points.  I told him I would make anything he wanted for breakfast.

So.  Ok, then.  “How does your mom make pancakes?”  I asked him. 

He said, “a whole bunch, stacked up, with real maple syrup, and whipped cream, and a strawberry on top.”

My sister does everything to perfection.  I was not surprised.  I put on my apron and got to work.  

I made stacks and stacks of buttery, photogenic, cream-covered, strawberry-topped pancakes, and he was so happy.  All smiles.  

My sister called to see how everything was going. I said, “It’s going great!  I made your special pancakes, and he is so happy!”

She said, “My special pancakes? What’s that?”

“Oh, he told me all about it!  You know how you stack them up with real maple syrup and whipped cream and a strawberry on top?”

She said, “Umm, is that what he told you?  I have never made pancakes like that in my life!”

I looked over at my nephew eating a giant stack of pancakes, whipped cream on his nose.  Smiling at his strawberry.  I had cut it to look like a heart.  Pancakes say “love” at our house.

He looked at me.  “Want some more?”  I asked him.  He gave me an emhatic “yes!”

These pancakes are now known as “Henry’s Special Pancakes.”  He has forgotten the story, but my sister and I most certainly have not.  We still laugh at his boldness, and he still loves these pancakes.  And I still make them for him, years later.  I made them today, and he ate two giant stacks.  Nine pancakes.  No kidding.

He was really little when he first asked me for them.  Big enough to know what a lie is, but  young enough that a fantasy seemed real.    Or at least like it could be.

I write a lot about kids because I see so much of what we were created to be, still so fresh in them.

I love that my nephew called those pancakes forth as though they were a real thing in his life.

 My sister and I assumed he had seen them on a pancake house sign or a commercial and dreamed that he had a mom who made them like that every day.

I should call them something else, like “Deep Thought Pancakes,”  or “Amy’s Devo Pancakes,” because every time I make them now, they make me all introspective.

How many times do I sigh and complain and wish and feel sorry for myself because no one ever makes me special pancakes.  Or whatever.

How often am I afraid to ask or want or wish for something because I am afraid it will be denied, that a person I love will say “no” to the desires of my heart?

Why don’t I remember more often to got to the One Who Made Me, and just ask?  Why don’t I call things forth, as though they are?

I learn so much from the children in my life.

Today, I’m calling forth pancakes.  I’m calling forth so many things.

With whipped cream.

And a strawberry on top.

What have you been longing to see in your life so much, that you were afraid to ask for it?

Where could you be more like a child who expects love and is not limited by “facts,” and just call a thing forth???

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Ps 37:4

Jedi Training Academy

Oh, Disneyland.

I know.  An overpriced tourist trap with two hour lines and twelve dollar soft drinks.

And I love it.  No apologies.

The rides, the lights at night, the beauty and the attention to detail absolutely everywhere.  The deliriously happy kids, and adults laughing like they haven’t laughed in years.

One of my favorite Disney attractions is the Jedi Training Academy.

I adore this show.

The set up is this:  a great number of powerful padawans are identified and brought to the Jedi Training Academy.  These padawans range in age from 3 years to 12 years old.  They are dressed in the brown robes of the Jedi, with sparkling princess costumes and Spiderman tennis shoes peeking out from underneath.  They are issued light sabers and given lessons on how to battle their enemies.

Not the least of which is the importance of fighting fear.

The teachers prepare the children with different light saber maneuvers.  They show them how to swing, duck, and attack.

And they remind them of the importance of believing that they can win.  Of knowing that they have the advantage over the dark side simply because they are on the side of light.

Have faith, young padawan.

After walking the kids through a few training routines for the crowd, the students are arranged in front of the stage in two lines.

In a cloud of smoke and a flash of light, the stage transforms into a spaceship.  And two villains from the dark side emerge, sometimes the Seventh Sister, sometimes Darth Maul, and always, Darth Vader.

The kids snap to attention when the villains appear.

They are Disneyfied villains–down to the last gleaming button–in black fabric, swirling capes, and tall wicked boots.  And they are miked to a sound system, and they are scary.  That Darth Vader breathing machine, that nebulizer of death, wheezes over the loudspeakers with a sharp and evil intent.  The Seventh Sister moves over the children like a panther.  They threaten and posture, and the kids back up a little, their dragging and playful light sabers held suddenly at attention.

But the Jedi instructors are still there, shouting direction and courage.  The kids glance at them and nod and look back at their opponents.  There is the occasional smile or older boy who has played this game before, but to most, it is serious business.  This battle is real to them.

And one by one, these toddlers and youngsters line up to give this fight their best shot.  Darth Vader towers over them.  The Seventh Sister is light on her feet and hard to catch.  Some of the smaller children stagger back at first, eyes big and round.

But what amazes me is that, of the one hundred children I have seen go through this process, I have never seen one cry or even look out into the crowd  for a friendly face.

They may hesitate, and their fear is real, but these little guys dig deep.

And they stumble forward, they swing tentatively, and then harder, and then harder, and they duck and they jump as the Master calls out direction and help.  “You can do it!  Fear not!  Swing to the left!  Cut to the right!  Cut to the head!”

And, miraculously, the kids win every time.

Darth Vader, Darth Maul, the Seventh Sister, they all stomp away, furious and defeated.

Then, the Jedi Master teaches the children one more thing.

“For your last lesson, know that even if you win the fight, you have not fully beaten your enemy if you fear him.  It is actually fear that you must defeat, not another living being.  When you beat fear, there is no opponent that has power over you.”

When you beat fear, there is no opponent that has power over you.

You’ve got this, young padawan.

Your Master will never leave you.  You will never face an opponent alone.  You are guaranteed every victory when you fight for light.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you.  Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.  Is 41:10

Goodbye, Fear. Hello, Love.