Fear Won’t Stop You {And Gratitude}

I set out, screen door shutting behind, and hear the crunch-crunch-crunch of wet gravel underneath my running shoes and I can barely get a good breath in.

As I pound along the road, tightened ribs begin to separate and lungs expand and I suck in the oxygen deep like a milk-starved baby.

I throw my head back and look to the pink and purple sunset sky above and just run like that wild like a child.

And it’s like in this inhaling, I’m breathing in God and the quietness settles heavy on me and a chorus rises, a symphony swells. And I can hear it all–the frogs in the marsh, birds call off to the east and the west, all around and crickets chirp in the grass my feet breeze past below. And it swells and rises up to meet me, lifts me up in it’s crescendoing.

I run past a white-tail deer, leaping and bounding away from me and then the rushing water of the river underneath the bridge. I turn and go back, climb up on the rail, all childish giddiness, peering down into the water, listening to her quiet rhythm, and the flood waters rising, they touch me with their hush.

I run past fields turned marsh with standing flood waters where cows once grazed.

And God said to me, “All these flood waters? They are neck-high because you are drowning in my grace. And that weight that makes you feel you can’t breathe? That’s my glory. Daughter, your drowning is not without purpose–you’re sinking in me.”

I let out a cry and it comes out hard in pants as I run.

And God said, “Daughter, do you see the burning bush? And do you see the thundering mountain? I look up and see two dark clouds in the sky, one like a burning bush and one like a mountain.

“Sometimes, child, life’s flames have felt too hot, the fire has seemed unquenchable and raging, but what you couldn’t see in the consuming fire, was that it was me burning into you. And the mountain has thundered and shaken you. There has been a quaking and everything has toppled down, nothing has felt stable and now life is turned upside down, but sometimes that is the way I move, thundering and shaking. And it’s been me all along. Though you searched hard, I’ve been right with you the whole time.

And God said, “Those trees you see that look as if they are about to slide under the sucking current–what you can’t see is that underneath the water, the roots go deep and strong because they’ve been hit over and over and over by the storm and they know how to hold on.”

Then God shows me a giant black hand in the sky and it’s pointing to a huge black cloud that resembles a storm and covers a vast area of land. “This is how you’ve been guided all along,” He whispers.

And God says, “Daughter, the whole time you felt I was nowhere to be found, even that I had forsaken you and you thought you were sinking, child–I was holding you up. And you see that joy on your face, do you feel that fierce love you have that covers over an offense? Do you sense new level of grace, that new-found freedom that makes you strong of heart, being firm in who you are in me, yet you are able to be Christ’s scarred hands and feet to those who drive the nails in your own hands and feet?–That’s my mark on you, daughter, because in the midst of the strorm, when I passed by as a cloud so intimately near, I left my imprint on you. Do you know you have my imprint? You bear my image, my name, my glory, my power, my resurrection life and there is no end to what you can do, child? Did you know?”

“Yes, I’ve left my imprint on you.

You. look. like. me.”

The bats, they swoop low overhead, and look for prey in the night. The night-song rises and speaks to me. I hear God say, “Daughter, it’s here in this night, in this groping-along darkness that you’ll find your courage, your strength.

And fear won’t stop you.”

Faith swells and I’m swollen pregnant with this promise here in the dark.

Gratitude: #884-901

A gift hanging down…
#884 basket of flowers springing back to life with water and sun

#885 having the grace and courage to travel to the seminar alone with all four children…

3 gifts learned…
#885 learning about classical education and how to be a tutor–how the mission and methods resonate with me
#886 the mission–to know God and to make Him known
#887 God revealing to me that the love and training I give as a mother is not soley based upon a list if should nots and ways to keep myself and home under control everyday–this is an inferior idea–the law–but rather, that the love, the good words, the uplifting tones and encouraging expressions, the leading into godly truths and beauty should pour out of my love for God and my desire to bring Him glory–this is a superior idea…this is grace…

#888 sitting on porch with Husband in early Sunday morning cloudy skies, drinking coffee, us talking excitedly about all the things I’ve learned over the past few days…

3 gifts musical…
#889 hearing “I Can Only Imagine” being played so beautifully, looking around to see where it’s coming from, expecting a CD player, and seeing a young boy–a Classical Conversations student–at the piano
#890 fresh inspiration to pick back up piano lessons with the girls myself after our summer break
#891 the Orchestra Song…my trainer divided us into groups and had us to sing the parts, overlapping one another–beautiful.

3 gifts baked…
#892 whole wheat oatmeal-raisin dark cacao chip my girls whipped up
#893 the whole wheat vegan crackers and salt and vinegar roasted chickpeas the girls and I made together for traveling snacks

A gift in light, in dark, in shadow…
#894 Lilly coming out of the room where the toddlers take naps, corn silk hair all askew in afternoon light, sleepy look on her face, raising arms up to Mama
#895 God speaking to me in the dark night as I run
#896 bats flapping and swooping, and I’m not afraid because God has told me that I’m strong in His power, His spirit within

#897 Lilly wearing her puppy blanket on her head–with puppy face and ears on top– into the church for seminar, following me, her blanket dragging the floor behind her, and all the ladies looking on lovingly

#898 being around some of the most joyous women and well-behaved children with pleasant countenances that I’ve ever been with

3 gifts in story…
#899 Trinita, our speaker for the parent practicum and her telling of her husband’s street ministry, how she almost filed for divorce because he was acting like someone else, and how he began to be ill with seizures, which explained the changes in him, and homeschooling saved their life because her kids were seeing first-hand the gospel of grace and how God works in the lives of those he loves….
#900 learning through Trinita’s story that if she can homeschool 4 children, be the caretaker of her husband, help with his ministry, and direct and speak for Classical Conversations–if God has given her the strength for all this–then He can do the same for me–and it’s not hopeless
#901 this story… and Amber’s blog blesses me…

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What Are You Running From? {And Gratitude Journal}

I soar down the wooded trail, sand, wet dirt and gravel beneath rubber-shod feet, leaves barely canopying green above me and I wipe skin-itching rain from my cheek, and see water gun-slinging outward from arms in motion at my side and I’m amazed that this is me beating the dirt and gravel in the ground and this is my sweat, rain, hard-won tears and blood running together, being flung off. I smell her–earth, all fresh and alive, just the way she was made to be.

She had asked it, my friend who knows me better than she should, “What are you running FROM, Nacole?”

Why do I run along the trails and the hills, struggling for air? To. just. breathe?

I throw myself against the elements–run the entire four and a half miles in the pouring rain, leap over protruding roots that stand in my way, daring me to try them, and when I sail past, my heart swells and I smile on the inside–what is that all about? Why does this adrenaline surge beckon to me?

What am I running from?

Fear.

Fear of  not being good enough, not measuring up, fear of sinking back into that dark black hole of depression, the depths from which I’m afraid no one will be able to pull me.

Fear of being fat because old habits die hard, and yes, I’m running from the fear self-loathing brings, from the fear of feeling like a failure and from defeat, from just barely being able to make it through the dailies, from not being able to hold onto relationships dear to me and seeing them slip through my fingertips like all this sand.

I’m running from the fear that I’m different, that I’m the only me, and there is no manual–no one left instructions on how to be me–and I wonder if I’ll do it all wrong, that I’ll lie on my deathbed wishing it’d all been different and I could go back. And what I know now is that then I won’t be able to and I only get one chance to not screw it up.

Yes, running from the fear of my genes, what’s in the DNA that I can’t control–this fragile, passionate nature easily provoked, this timid yet fiercely loving heart, this hippy free spirit with the inability to follow a clock, this illness that has gripped–my father said my grandmother had all that too.

And I run from the fear of the religious types who try to wrestle me into a box. Just like they tried to wrestle Jesus into a box, but he wasn’t having it. He knew His purpose. I think I’m finally finding mine.

I pant harder and my quads kick into high gear as I run-climb the monstrous grainy hill on my toes. The rain pounds my face, and I lean into it, thrust myself forward, grimace and climb and work through the pain. Quads pulling, exerting, muscles flexing, toe, toe, toe, on my toes as earth and gravel rolls and groans underneath.

This is me saying to the pelting rain, you’ll not bend and break my bow today–I’ll fight with my last breath and I rather enjoy the feel of you on my face, because God has ushered you forth and destined you to take your best shot. So take it. Because in the midst of the relentless, beating storm when I’m weakest, He will cause His spirit in me to rise up strong and conquer you.

Fear.

And I figured out that, yes, I may be running from something, but more than that–I’m running toward something. Maybe He knew it would be that way all along.

What am I running toward? Not the Jesus inside the box, the one they fancy dress all up.

No, I’m running toward the real one, the Jesus outside the box.

…singing this over and over…Come away with Him, worship with me and let your spirit be refreshed… this is the whole album live…listen to the first song or just leave
it on play while you write or clean house… ~smile~

Do you struggle with fear? Have things you run from? How does God heal you, console you, shephard you? I’d love for you to share your answers and thoughts on the story below, friends…

Some of my gratitude gifts from the past few weeks from my journal and through my lens….#844-883…


3 gifts found around a table…
#844 garden-fresh organic squash and corn brought by a kind neighbor
#845 fresh vegetable garden casserole with olive oil and parmesan
#846 my sweet children telling stories

a gift in water, in words, in white…

#847 me surprising the girls by throwing clothes off and running and sliding down the slide into their little cool pool with them and their giggles of delight
#848 when he bent over my bedside in still-dark morning and sighed, his cologne and sweet breath filling my senses, whispered sweet words in my ear
#849 kitty’s white underbelly and paws as the girls hold her and little one carries her around the house, dainty hind legs dangling close to the ground…

gifts in someone older than you…
#850 my Granny keeping my babies so I can run…
#851 still thinking of the words of a sweet 87 year old man

3 gifts in fabric…
#853 an old blanket spread under shade tree, a hallowed place the kids and I make joy together…
#854 fresh sheets on beds
#855 the fabric of our lives, how God weaves sorrow to know joy, doubt to know faith, sin to know grace, lonliness to know friendship, darkness and depression to know and appreciate this moment of beauty and God-breathed life with those I love…

#856 Ivy smiling at me so sweet from the water when she sees me walk in, runs to me–Mama!

3 gifts framed by a frame…
#858 my Lilly, her small frame filling the four corners of my lens, baby innocence on her face outshining the waves and sun…
#859 my man looking good in the surf, throwing football with Kurt
#860 pictures Husband takes of me lying on the beach in the waves washing ashore, playing with my babies, pictures of me and a dear friend


gifts eaten…
#862 bread and juice–communion taken with friends in their home, swallowing down the word, my children learning this rich salvation

#863 Veggie-tofu pizza at Mellow Mushroom–our first visit, and organic chocolate almonds offered to me…

3 gifts loved…
#864 time spent with good friends, like family to us, our spirits being awakened and renewed by being with them…

#865 the medicine of laughter…

#866 watching my children play in the sand and waves, drinking it all in…these moments given

 3 gifts read…
#867 Spirit Wars by Kris Vallotton…completely set me free…
#868 Educating the Whole-Hearted Child by Sally Clarkson
#869 a sweet picture made for me by Ivy, and the words that made my heart warm “Mama, you are a queen”

At the Museum of Naval Aviation
    A gift in faith, family, freedom… 
#870 friends praying for my healing–their practical care for my spiritual well-being
#871 my parents meeting us in Destin
#872 new freedom to walk in joy and approval from God–not worrying about approval from man!
A gift in red, white, blue…
#873 red, white and blue stripes the girls painted on cans, candles twinkling inside
#874 4th of July rockets the girls and I made together
#875 American flag–still love it and am so grateful for all the men and women who have given their lives

A gift of persistence…

#876 A friend staying up with me until 2 am, me pouring out, us praying…going to bed physically tired but spiritually refreshed…

A gift of challenge, conflict, change…
#877 the whole family learning to eat vegan and loving it–the energy, sleep, and vitality of mind it has given me!

#878 relationships and unresolved hurt–only God knows the purpose…hard eucharisteo…

#879 a new path for us seeming to carve its way out before us…who knows what He has in store…only God…

A gift of rhythm, rhyme, reason…
#880 learning to have a better bed-time routine, warm bath, lavendar, getting in bed earlier…learning safe rhythms for us all…

#881 my daughters’ gift for writing poems and plays and their stellar performances in their bedroom…a family thoroughly enjoying one another in simple ways…

#882 not knowing the reasons means that He is God because He does, and I have to trust Him. finding the rest my soul longs for when I lean into Him heavy like a child….

 A gift of Life…
#883 finally. having. my. healing….how to thank Him rightly for this…oh, a thousand praises!!!…I will never stop worshiping…

**Friends, your comments mean so much to me–they soul-drench me in grace and minister to me. And your prayers mean even more. I am not able to answer each comment–I am probably making a berry shake or whole-wheat cookies with my girls, cleaning up potty-training baby girl’s messes, reading a good book with my kids in the hammock, playing tag, out running, having a glass of wine with Husband, or lying in a warm bath just trying to breathe, friend! I hope you understand? Thank you in advance for grace. I love this community of grace-filled people! Head here to get to know me better and to read why during this season of life, I am just quietly writing, and not visiting via social media as much….

** Thank you for so, so much grace, friends. My heart cannot express in mere words, my thankfulness. I love all of you.
Still counting and joining in community with sweet Ann and others… and linking with L.L…and others below…click on links to read these amazing sites!



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