Friday, July 30, 2010

Rooted in Fear

Yesterday during a conversation a friend told me he is afraid to fly in an airplane, and he will never fly. He recalled a story from his only experience when the flight got off to a delayed and then bumpy start. His utter fear of flying began at that moment...and he was four.

He's now a 28-year-old man who has never stepped foot back onto an airplane. Now, I know a lot of people have a very real fear of flying. I confess that each time I fly I feel a surge of adrenaline as the engines prepare for take-off. And I feel a sense of panic if I sit too far back in the cabin or we idle on the runway too long (especially after landing).

What struck me, though, is how this young man is letting his fear deprive him of some really wonderful things in life. He has a job that would allow him to travel fairly extensively and visit many amazing places, but he won't go. He has started dating a lovely woman, but he admits the relationship probably won't last because of his determination not to travel.

It's not that he doesn't want to go to these places and experience these things. He wants to go; he is just gripped by fear.

As I have journeyed into my own story these past few years, I have realized how deep and far our fears can reach. How the crippling began sometimes when were too small or young to even remember when it took root. And how difficult it is for us to remove it from the soil of our life.

In my own weeding, I've realized that when I'm living in fear I'm missing out: on joy, on experiences, on relationship. Scripture tells me that it is a God-less place: "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18). The enemy of my heart would have me live ensnared in fear the rest of my days. Jesus warns, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10).

Where fear is ruling, God is not allow to rule. When fear is ruling, life is not abundant. Thus, my journey began and so it continues... because I want God and this life He offers. Abundant life, not gripped by fear but graced by love.

I write all of this as prologue. To lead you here, to this beautiful post written by singer/writer Andrew Peterson. Please click here and continue reading: The Rabbit Room#more-5656 Peterson titles his post "Fearless Faith"...Yes, please.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Tanking: to purposely lose a match, because of poor mental game or other reason...

Delete the word "purposely" and there you have it: my last tennis clinic. I tanked.

I didn't just play poorly during the 1-1/2 hour lesson; I collapsed. I couldn't move my feet, couldn't make contact with most balls, and couldn't look my instructor in the eye. I had one goal and one goal only: to make it through the clinic and to my car before I started crying.

It started so normally. This was my third clinic (meaning I was playing with several other ladies and my coach), so I didn't feel particularly nervous. It had been a good morning. And I was actually looking forward to playing after a couple of weeks off.

However, within the first few volleys I realized that things were not going well. The lobs my coach hit my way seemed to be in fast forward, and my feet were moving in slow-mo. My timing was off. And it spiraled down from there.

Now, every time I go to my tennis lesson or a clinic Tim encourages me, "Just have fun." Sounds simple enough, but for me...ugh. Not so simple. As my thoughts descended from frustration to failure, I watched the other ladies laughing at their gaffes and heaped more contempt upon my already slumping shoulders.

I wish I could just have fun with it. I wish I could silence the criticism. I wish I could see it for the tiny thing it is...but the fact is it doesn't feel so tiny. It feels huge and hard and true.

When I decided to take tennis lessons, I honestly knew this would be a part of the process. I was stepping into a fearful place and knew the journey wouldn't be one only of sunshine and success. However, the first few months have been utterly encouraging and hugely redemptive. So, when I found myself standing on the courts in the middle of this thunderstorm, I felt ambushed.

I dreaded my next lesson, facing my coach, and talking about the clinic. However, I scheduled it right away (gotta get back on the bicycle, and all of that...). When I arrived at the courts, I discovered that God had already arrived before me. The outdoor courts were full, so my coach and I found a quiet sanctuary in the empty indoor courts where we could enter into a spacious time of talking and teaching.

My coach is a young man who doesn't understand the weightiness of what's happening with me on the courts. And that is okay. It's surprising to me how God can use even those who are unaware of His purposes to accomplish them. But He can, and He is.

In The Healing Path, Dan Allender writes:

Disruption of shalom (peace) is the soil God uses to grow us to become the people we are meant to be...We will not move to become like him and know the sweet joy he desires for us if we are comfortable where we are. When our peace is shattered, the resulting doubt and confusion send us on a deeply personal search that can transform us and lead us to abundant joy...When the disruption compels us to search, we eventually find ourselves in a corner where are forced to turn and stand face to face with God. When will we encounter God? We can't predict. How will it change us when we do? We can't explain. But we remember moments when the search led us not to find, but to be found. We all know odd moments of epiphany that shake us to our bones with his presence and his words for us. And those moments lead us not only to trust him (a little bit more), but they serve as the foundation for our growing sense of who we are and who we are meant to become.
Allender's words resonate with me, and though I think of my next clinic with apprehension, I also feel expectant. I began tennis with the knowledge that I was entering into something much larger in my story. I was inviting this disruption for the sake of transformation. So I must choose, whether my next lesson ends in triumph or tears, to stay on the courts and keep swinging.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Big Four Oh

Apparently turning 40 is no big deal to a man, or at least my man, because there's been no mention of it by him in the days leading up to it. Me? I think I began pondering this milestone the day I turned 39.

It's true. Tim lives very much in the present and enjoys each day as it comes. I appreciate that about him and know it is just one way we compliment each other.

Blessings to you on this day, YOUR day, and thank you for each of the 14,600 days that you've brought your own unique goodness, kindness, and joy to this world. Happy birthday Tim!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Six Months Later

It's amazing that six months have passed since a devasting earthquake struck Haiti, destroying so much, killing so many, and leaving so many injured, homeless, and in despair. You'll remember that the children in the care of One Vision were unharmed; however, the quake left them homeless yet again.

Since the earthquake the children have been living in a temporary location closer to the property where the orphanage will eventually be built. And they are doing well. They are still receiving clean water to drink and food to eat from One Vision, thanks to the money their monthly sponsors faithfully give.

The children wearing their new One Vision t-shirts, with a Knoxville team who travelled to Haiti in June 2010.

The challenges One Vision face are plentiful: a great number of children were orphaned because of the quake. This means many more children are now in One Vision's care. The cost of providing water, food, and medicine for the children tripled as a result of the quake. And the children have been split into two groups [the older ones (teens and young adults) and the younger ones (elementary age)] and now live in two different locations.

At the end of this year, the older group will be released from One Vision's care. As someone who visited the entire group twice in 2009 and specifically worked with this older group in November, it's hard to think about this; however, I understand that this was a difficult decision that One Vision had to make. So, how can we help this group? Pray for them. Pray for their protection, their provision, and for opportunities for their future.

The younger group, which continues to grow, will eventually move onto the One Vision Hub, which will include the orphanage, a church, and a school. Construction is to begin later this year. Groups continue to travel to Haiti with One Vision, and these five-day trips are amazing opportunities to see the great need of this land, the inspiring smiles of these children, and the tremendous hope of the One Vision project firsthand.

To know more about One Vision, to learn how you can sponsor a child, and to inquire about upcoming trips, please visit

Monday, July 12, 2010


Imagine a gauky teenage girl sitting on the floor in front of a dual-cassette player. She's tediously transcribing the words of Lionel Richie's "Truly." (Play, rewind, play, rewind...)

In a time when one can find the words to nearly any song online, it's been a long time since a song has moved me to sit down with a notebook and pen to write down the lyrics. However, that's exactly what Andrew Peterson's new song makes me want to do.

"Dancing in the Minefields" is a beautiful ballad about marriage...sharing life with another, committing to the journey, and perserving. The lyrics are so rich and true that I want to pause with every line to echo an affirmation, "Yes, yes."

Listen to this amazing song, and watch the beautiful video. And Tim, if Casey Kasem was still around, I would dedicate this one to you.

Click here, and give it time to "buffer" before you play it. That way it won't stop and start and you can enjoy it without disruption: Andrew Peterson's "Dancing in the Mine Fields"

While you are waiting for it to buffer, read the article about Andrew Peterson on the left-hand side of the page. It's an excellent portrait of this man and his rich insights about life, art, community, and faith.

Hello Tonight

When I was a teenager, my mother was extremely cool to take my sister and me to concerts. From Loretta Lynn, Kool and the Gang, and Chicago (our first three) to Amy Grant, the Jackson's Victory tour, and Sting, she was a good sport to sit through performances that didn't really appeal to her musical taste.

Well, I am learning that life comes full circle and often surprises us when it makes a complete loop. Last Thursday night was one of those moments. Tim and I went to see Chris Tomlin in concert for the third time with our friends Jennifer and Andre. This time we decided to include our middle school-age sons, Seth and Eric.

The billing on the Hello Tonight! tour is Chris Tomin and TobyMac. I have to confess that: #1. I assumed Chris Tomlin would be the main act, and #2. I was not too familiar with TobyMac's music. Instead, Chris Tomlin came onstage first. His performance was, as usual, amazing, and it was a joy to watch Seth and Eric engage in the worship along with the thousands of others in attendance.

Next, TobyMac took the stage. I knew immediately that I was outside of my comfort zone. After awkwardly moving/dancing/clapping to the first song, I sat down. I reluctantly 40-year-old body didn't know how to respond to the hip-hop/rock/funk/soul! Unfortunately, however, the boys took my lead and sat down too. I was a party pooper...who couldn't remember how to dance!

So, when the next song began I stood back up. (They stood up too.)

As TobyMac's performance continued I noticed that I loosened up and forgot to worry about my awkward moving/dancing/clapping (okay, nearly forgot). He was a great performer...passionate, energetic, and engaged. And I was reminded that worship can happen, regardless of whether the music happens to be familiar tunes or "Funky Jesus Music."

The finale was my favorite part of the evening, as Chris Tomlin joined TobyMac on stage for "City on our Knees," "God of this City," and the final song of the evening "Jesus Freak." It was incredible! And I found myself moving/dancing/clapping AND smiling along with the rest of the freaks (Jesus freaks, that is) in the crowd.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Festive Fourth

Our Fourth of July was a blast as we started what will hopefully become a new tradition: a camping trip with our friends, the Alves family. We spent three nights at the Elkmont campground in the Smoky Mountains. The first night got off to an exciting start, as coyotes skirmished near our tents. We were all jolted awake by their yelps and howls. (Thankfully the next two nights were free of any four-legged visitors.)

Here are some pictures from our holiday weekend:

A highlight of the Smokies is creek hopping, but this year it took on new meaning after a few days with no shower. Ahhh, that cold creek water felt refreshing. (If only I could have brought some shampoo with me...)

Reed and Maya had a great time playing together, whether riding their bicycles through the woods surrounding our campsite, exploring the creek, or playing WebKinz in their private tent.

Here the four friends take a break from exploring the creek: Maya, Reed, Seth, and Eric.

Jennifer and I watch the kiddos having fun in the creek. Within minutes, they were all soaking wet!

The kids found this rock, which made a great little water slide. That first slide into the creek was shockingly cold.

Sunday morning at our campsite, and only Reed seems to have energy left for our one remaining night at camp. The Alves had to leave on Sunday, so we toughed out one last day and night at camp without them. We enjoyed a quiet day with naps, ice cream, creek hopping, and Yahtzee.

Here are the guys with the kids on Sunday morning. Everyone is all smiles...I guess that means the first annual Tucker/Alves camping trip is a success! Looking forward to next year...minus the coyotes!