Today, I started reading Max Lucado’s book, Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear.  My goal is to blog about my thoughts (based on the discussion guide in the back of the book) so I can keep track of what I’m learning and hopefully see some tangible improvements in this area of my life.  Since so many of our insecurities are based on fear, I thought this was an appropriate book for me.  A good friend of mine recently shared an acronym for FEAR she had heard: F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real.  I thought that was so poignant and true and it encouraged me to begin viewing the things in my life that are rightfully “lies” as lies and “truth” as truth.  Easy, right?

Well, this is my pilgrimage to begin the journey of more rightly seeing myself as God sees me and not letting the lies of fear blind me anymore.  You’re welcome to come along for the ride!

Examining Fear

1. “Imagine your life wholly untouched by angst. What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats? If you could hover a fear magnet over your heart and extract every last shaving of dread, insecurity, and doubt, what would remain? Envision a day, just one day, absent the dread of failure, rejection and calamity. Can you image a life with no fear?”

  • Try to answer the question above. How would your life be different today if all fear were erased from your heart?
  • This is a hard one to answer.  I see fear intertwined into so much of my life.  I base my opinion of myself a lot upon what I believe others think of me.  I base my ability to succeed much upon my comparison of myself to others success or failure.  So to imagine that scale being taken away and those comparisons not being needed is a very freeing thought.  My image of myself needs to be based on Christ in me and His character being built in me and His beauty being birthed in me.  If I weren’t afraid of what others thought of me or if I’d succeed or if I’d be good enough, I probably would actually get out there and start doing some of the things I love to do, and would spend less time moping around feeling less than or not well-enough equipped.  It’s by actually doing that often times we realize our full potential, as well as what we really are good at and passionate about.
  • Which are you more prone to- dread of failure, rejection or calamity? What does that indicate about you?
  • I’m definitely most prone to dread of rejection. I’m too concerned with what others think of me and that is honestly been holding me back from doing some of the things I’m really good at for fear that someone else won’t take me seriously or that I won’t succeed b/c someone else is better at it that I am.

2. “Getting on board with Christ can mean getting soaked with Christ. Disciples can expect rough seas and stout winds.”

  • Why does getting on board with Christ mean getting soaked with Christ? Why doesn’t it mean blue skies and clear sailing?
  • On page 8 of this book, Lucado says, “Christ-followers contract malaria, bury children, and battle addictions, and, as a result, face fears. It’s not the absence of storms that sets us apart. It’s whom we discover in the storm: an unstirred Christ.”  Just because we put our trust in Christ does not mean our lives will be free of suffering.  In fact, it sometimes seems to be the opposite.  If Christ suffered, why would we be excused from that same fate? I often cling to the fact that Jesus never promised us an easy road, but he did promise that he would be with us every step of the way. Because of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we have access to the same strength and character Jesus did as he walked the earth and faced lives wearying challenges. 
  • Why do so many believers not expect rough seas and stout winds? What often happens to them when they have to weather such conditions? How would you counsel them?
  • Because an easy life is not promised to us, but the promise of God’s presence with us is- that’s what we need to cling to. When we cling to Jesus and try to model trials in the way he did, I think we’ll find a more peaceful, joy-filled life because we’re not depending on ourselves to get through. We have Jesus.

3. “Fear corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness. We begin to wonder if love lives in heaven.”

  • How does fear corrode our confidence in God’s goodness? How had it done so in  your own life?
  • When did you last wonder if love lives in heaven? Describe the circumstances.
  • The reference to this quote is that instead of the Disciples questioning Jesus’ strength, knowledge, or know-how as he sleeps through the storm on the boat- they question his character, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Because the disciples were afraid for their own lives, they went straight to letting fear unleash “a swarm…of anger-stirring doubts” (pg 9).  I think we can all relate to the disciples.  I know for me, when I don’t feel cared for, I get angry.  I do that with my husband all the time.  Because deep down it’s an issue of security- do you really love me and are you really going to be there when things get really bad?  To the disciples, Jesus was sleeping, so he didn’t appear to be there for them. 

4. “The fear-filled cannot love deeply. Love is risky. They cannot give to the poor. Benevolence has no guarantee of return. The fear-filled cannot dream wildly. What if their dreams sputter and fall from the sky? The worship of safety emasculates greatness.”

  • Why does fear make it harder to love? Why does fear make it hard to give generously? How does fear stifle our dreams?
  • For me, fear makes it harder to love “selflessly” because deep down I’m afraid of rejection or being left. I guess part of it is the result of coming from a broken home, and therefore pouring myself into relationships with guys and putting too much of my self-worth into having that relationship. So when one by one, those relationships ended I became jaded that no one could truly love me for who I really was because who I really am is too hard to deal with. Fear, in my case of rejection, has stifled many dreams, but one I’m glad it didn’t get was meeting my wonderful husband and entering into beautiful (however challenging) covenant. While I still struggle with the fear of rejection from him, leading to unneccessary arguments and such, I’m glad that fear didnt’ keep me jaded to miss out on this wonderful life with Eric.
  • Have you ever found yourself worshipping safely? If so, what prompted you to do so? How does fear emasculate greatness? How has fear stopped you from attempting something great?
  • Fear is also the cause of great things not coming to fruition. I’ve had a keyboard and a guitar sitting in my room for over a year now, each one barley touched and gathering a nice layer of dust. Why? Not sure, but maybe fear has something to do with it. Or maybe I’m just lazy! Fear emasculates greatness, in my opinion, my letting a beautiful, creature of God believe it’s not capable of his or her full potential. Because we are each created in the image of God, we are all deemed for great things.  Whether that’s landing your dream job or being a stay-at-home parent. Our dreams are beautiful and worthy to God and we need to put our trust in Him and believe in ourselves to use the strength, intelligence and bodies He’s given us to do the great things we are intended to do.

5. “The one statement Jesus made more than any other was this: dont’ be afraid.”

  • Why would Jesus make this statement more than any other? What does this tell you about human nature?
  • Sometimes, I think it’s because the way Jesus did things was so unconventional the way everyone expected or from what they were used to, that he wanted to give them a warning or a heads up: this is going to be different and a little scary, so hang on and don’t be afraid!  Something else in me clings to the comforter in Jesus, that even though he was always stirring the pot and shaking things up, he really wanted people to know they could trust him.  What he asks us to do and what he was asking the disciples to do takes us, often times, completely out of our comfort zone and right into the center of his will for us (which we know is not always the safest place in the world).  Jesus wanted to always test the boundaries, stir the waters, but at the same time he says “don’t be afraid” b/c he knows our human nature is to doubt and be afraid of what’s unfamiliar.
  • How can you stop feeling afraid? What takes away the emotion of fear?
  • Well, I guess if I had the answer to this question already I wouldn’t be reading this book 😉  One way I’m trying to combat fear in my life is seeing myself more clearly based on God’s Word and what He says about me, not what others say about me. I need to stop basing my opinion of myself on what other people think and start living in the truth of who I really am.

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to let you know my new job is going very well. I’ve just completed my first two weeks and have enjoyed every minute! It’s a lot of work and it requires a considerable amount of time and dedication, but I can tell already that it was worth the wait. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by people who love me, encourage me, support me and are passionate about ministering to and serving the people of WestGate Church and our local community. My days are filled with emails, phone calls, event planning, and getting to know my new co-workers. Ann (the girl whose place I’m taking) is training me for another two weeks or so and she is FABULOUS! We’re the same age and have a lot in common, so it will be hard to say goodbye to her (as a co-worker) as she transitions out of her staff role (which she’s had part-time for over two years) and I take it on completely (full time). This is a healthy transition and she and her husband will still attend WestGate, but it will be hard for her to leave this job which she’s dedicated so much time to and loves deeply. It’s a good thing for her as she’ll be able to pursue a career in the field for which she’s receiving her education (Marriage and Family Counseling), but I would like to ask you to keep her in your prayers as she continues to seek God’s will for the next stage of her life. She and I are becoming good friends and I hope our friendship continues to grow even stronger in the coming months.

Another exciting piece of news is Eric and I are beginning the hunt for our first home 🙂 It’s such a good time to consider buying right now and we began our search this past week! Eric’s parent’s have a dear family friend of over 30 years who is a realtor and she is giving us the tour around town. We saw 8 homes this past Wednesday and are scheduled to see another 7 tomorrow afternoon. As first time home buyers, there is so much to learn so please keep us in your prayers as we look at several houses in search of the right one for us. We want our home to be a place where we can minister to our family, friends and local community and also where we can start our family (in a couple of years :)). We are feeling very blessed right now and have really seen God’s provision in our lives, specifically in the last several weeks. Life requires a lot of patience some times, but it really pays off to wait on God’s perfect timing!

Please keep us updated on how you’re doing also! We love getting your emails of encouragement, but we also look forward to being able to offer you the same love you’ve shown this year as you’ve walked on this journey with us.

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing!
Andrea and Eric

Hello friends and family!

I have some very exciting news to share with you. Debbie from WestGate called on Friday morning to extend a job offer to me. After a prayerful weekend of consideration about whether this was right fit for me (not just relying on the excitement of being offered a job), I have accepted the position 🙂 I am so thrilled and honored that they felt I was the best candidate (since I know there were so many qualified and wonderful candidates), and I feel very blessed that even though this road has been long- I am exactly where I am supposed to be. All the other opportunities and interviews that did not lead to job offers helped tremendously in preparing me to take this job at WestGate. I feel more confident in who I am and what I can bring to the table since I’ve had these past seven months to consider a variety of options. My understanding of my passions and skills sets have become more clear, and I really feel this position will help deepen and expand these even further. As the Ministry Assistant to the Pastors of Community Life and Men’s/Women’s Ministry, I will be supporting ministries for which I’m passionate and eager to grow in and learn more about (specifically the behind-the-scenes work that goes into making these ministries thrive).

Thank you SO much for all of your prayers and emails of encouragement!! You have comforted, enlightened, and uplifted me during this journey and I’m forever grateful for your friendship and love. Please continue praying for me as I begin this new journey- specifically for: confidence while entering into a new arena; good communication with staff members and with the church community; energy and good health. Also, this is going to be a big adjustment for Eric and me with both of us working full time. Pray that we: manage our time well and take time to plan ahead for meals, etc.; for us to have good communication when we face new challenges with our schedules, etc.; that our tiredness would not lead to complaining or unkind attitudes (mostly me!); and lastly that we’ll be able to consider every day an opportunity to grow, learn and be a blessing to those around us.

Love to you all,
Andrea

Hi Everyone,

Thanks again for your prayers for my lunch meeting on Wednesday. This was definitely the most challenging interview for me of the three, as I was presented with some tougher questions and some communication styles that are very different than mine. There were a few misunderstandings that had to be cleared up, but overall the team seems to be impressed with me. I hope to hear from Debbie soon with their decision.

Blessings,
Andrea

Hi Everyone,

Debbie from WestGate called and asked me to meet with her, Dana (Connections Pastor) and Joel (Six40 “small group discipleship” Pastor) for a casual lunch on Wednesday. Since Grace and Owen (Women’s Pastor and Men’s Pastor- whom I would be assisting) will be out of the country adopting a baby girl from China, Dana and Joel will be filling in for them during this meeting. I’m thrilled that I’m still in the running…not sure if they’re still looking at other candidates, but definitely know they’re still considering me for the Community Life Ministry Assistant position. Please be in prayer for Debbie, Dana, Joel and myself to be in tune with God’s leading, to have good conversation, for me to feel comfortable and just be able to be myself, and for the three of them to have clear direction on whether or not I’m the best fit for this position. Thanks again for journeying with me, and I hope to have good news soon!

Blessed to be a Blessing,
Andrea 🙂

Hi everyone,

Thanks for your prayers and encouragement. My second interview today with Debbie, Grace and Owen went very well. I felt I was able to express my heart and passion for community life ministry at WestGate as well as learn more about the these three pastors whom I would be supporting. I’m priviledged to be a highly considered candidate and just pray now for peace while waiting to hear back from Debbie, which she said should be by next Tuesday. Please continue to pray for God’s will to be clear to the three of them as they consider their top three candidates. I’ll be in touch when I get the news.

Blessed to be a Blessing,
Andrea 🙂

Hey everyone,

My second interview at WestGate is tomorrow (Wednesday) at 12:30pm. Please be in prayer for Debbie, Grace, Owen and myself to truly seek God’s will in this decision. Thank you for your support and know that however things turn out I know ‘every little thing is gonna be alright!’ 😉

Love to you all,
Andrea

Greetings my wonderful circle of encouragement 🙂

I just wanted to share with you that I got a call from Ann at WestGate this afternoon inviting me to a second interview! Next week, either Wednesday or Thursday, I’ll be meeting with Debbie (Community Groups Pastor), Grace (Women’s Community Life Pastor) and Owen (Men’s Community Life Pastor). I am SO honored and thrilled to have been chosen as one of the top three candidates and trust that the Lord will have His way in this decision. Please keep myself and these three pastors in your prayers throughout this coming week as we prepare to meet with each other. Pray we’ll think of good questions to ask each other and for there to be clear communication during the actual interview.

Once again, I thank you so much for journeying with me and keeping me encouraged and lifted up in prayer!!

Feeling blessed,
Andrea 🙂

Hi Everyone,

My interview went very well today 🙂 Thanks so much for your thoughts, prayers and messages of encouragement!! I was asked some very good questions which I hoped gave a clear picture of who I am and what I can bring to the table, and I was also given the chance to ask some questions to help me better understand this position and if it’s a good fit for me. I felt very good walking out of the interview and was again just encouraged by meeting more of the leadership at our church. Please pray for Ann, Darlene Joanne (the three ladies I interviewed with today) as they prayerfully consider me as a candidate for this position. They said they have a few more interviews and that during this coming week they’ll be narrowing their search down to their top three candidates. At that point, they’ll contact me to let me know if I’ve made it to the next round. I’m excited and hopeful but definitely want to keep a good head on my shoulders 🙂 I’ll be in touch next week!!

Now we’re off to go celebrate my birthday with family 🙂 I hope you all have a fun-filled and joy-FULL weekend!

Love,
Andrea

Hello my wonderful friends and family,

I hope you’re all doing well. And hey, it’s already Wednesday, so we’re only a few more days away from the weekend 🙂 I wanted to let you know I have an interview this Friday at 2:00pm, so please be in prayer for me! I’m interviewing for a full time position at our church as the Ministry Assistant to the Pastor of Community Life. This ministrty deals with small groups and helping people get plugged into community at WestGate. This is the position I mentioned in my previous email in which the Children’s Ministry passed my information over to the Pastor of Community Life, Debbie McDonald. It’s been so exciting to see how God has put each of these steps on my path during my job search, and it seems that each step brings me closer to getting a job I’ll love and enjoy 🙂 I’ll be interviewing with Ann and two other ministry assistants on Friday, so please pray for us all to have ease of communication, wisdom and discernment. Pray for me to just be myself and hopefully I’ll have to skill sets and personality they’re looking for to fill this position. I appreciate each of you so much and thank God for you as you’ve walked alongside me during this new journey of faith!

With hope and joy,
Andrea 🙂