Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Fear is Real!

October scares the be jeepers out of me!  Like an army of zombies in search of a brain this month marches on assailing us with constant reminders of all things scary.

 Huge, unstoppable NFL players wearing pink armbands to highlight the terror of breast cancer, front yards adorned with all sorts of fright inducing lawn ornaments from bleach white skeletons to blood stained machetes attacking our senses as we drive down the street, temperatures that steadily decrease, occasionally teasing us with warm days, then plummeting to death cold nights never letting us forget that a long, cold winter is blowing our way (at least if you live in New England). 
 For me October is a reminder that life is short and death is near.    My favorite day of the year is November 1, the day when we can begin celebrating the “good” fall holidays.

                It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I was one of THOSE Parents, the ones in the 90’s who forbade their children from trick or treating, refusing to acknowledge Halloween as a legitimate fall holiday.  To be fair we improvised with some fun substitutions: Chuck E. Cheese, going to the movies, bowling and my personal favorite, a portrait session at Sears for our family Christmas photo! 

 What I have come to admit, now that my children are grown,  is that I boycotted Halloween not only because of my religious convictions but also because I just don’t like to be scared!
                Why do people like to be scared?!   What thrill comes from monsters and ghouls jumping at you leaving you quaking in your boots?     Why do people pay money to scream in fright?
Entrepreneur Jacob Eugster, the creator of  Screamin’ Acres in Wisconsin, gleefully pays off his college education from the profits of folks’ fascination with fear.   I just didn’t get it so I went searching for answers.  It seems that Dr. Margee Kerr, an expert in the science of fear, in her article  A Fondness for fear offers a  convincing explanation.    
“To really enjoy a scary situation, we have to know we're in a safe environment.”

“As soon as we realize that we’re not in fact going to die we can enjoy the arousal response — that's when fear can be fun. You’re in the moment, and afterwards you feel like you overcame a challenge, so you feel more confident about the real, not ‘scary fun’ threats that await you in the future. It feels like a sense of accomplishment, like running a marathon or rock climbing.”

Children fearlessly stride up a walkway lined with skeletons and bloody corpses safely escorted by parents they fully believe will protect them.

Teenagers enter a dark, cavernous unknown house of horrors guarded by stitch faced monsters and wicked witches because their brains assure them “it isn’t real”!  The scare is real but the consequences are harmless.

But what about every day fear?  The kind we can't control.

The apostle John tells us in I John 4: 18  that “perfect love casts out fear”.   Perfect Love is the kind that knows it’s safe, a love that doesn’t fear punishment, a love that is sure, the kind of love God offers His children.  John was a man who knew firsthand the fears associated with following Jesus.  

 Have you ever wondered how the disciples’ courage multiplied like the emboldened Wizard of Oz scarecrow AFTER they saw their leader tortured and killed?  I don’t know about you but that would have sent me running in the other direction.  
Maybe it’s because the perfect love of Christ overshadowed the fear of man. 

 I love this quote from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when Lucy asks Mr. Beaver about Aslan,
Is he-quite safe?”

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver, …. course he isn’t safe.  But he’s good.”

Some days, following Jesus may feel like entering a haunted house, dark, unknown and terrifying but like the child who knows he is protected or the teenager who knows the situation is controlled we can enjoy the scare (or at least trust in the outcome) knowing God, our Father, the creator of the World is our protector.

How would your life be different if you embraced the scare by  resting in the protector? 
 If you entered the dark with anticipation of seeing God’s power overcome the danger?

The scare is real but the consequences are safe. 

That walkway you are entering might look like a murder crime scene but walk on fearlessly knowing the Father walking beside you protects you from harm.

For me the fearless path looks like opening my front door in the dark and handing out candy to all the ghosts and goblins of my neighborhood then in the light of coming days inviting their families in to hear their story over dessert and coffee.  It means embracing the  uncertain winds of a cold, dark winter grasping the warmth of my Father's protective hand tightly closed on mine.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The LifeGiving Home Give-away


       I have spent a week trying to wax poetic, to compose passionate words compelling you to purchase Sally Clarkson's newest book, The LifeGiving Home, a book I believe in with all of my heart.    Poetic verse has yet to occur but memories have flooded my mind in some strongly emotional ways as I have pondered what a LifeGiving home is and how I  have experienced one.  Sally's children share wonderful memories of  Sunday afternoon Tea Time.  As I heard these stories at MomHeart conferences then read them in this book visions of Downton Abby flooded my mind.  It all seemed so perfect, so beautiful ~ fancy china and petite fours.    On rare occasions I have experienced an event such as this but it certainly has not been a regular occurrence in my life. 
 TEA TIME in my life looked a bit different but left an indelible mark of love on my heart.
     I grew up in northern Maine, about a mile from the Canadian border.  This resulted in a strong English influence on my life.    My Grandmother, a hard-working, faithful, gentle potato farmer's wife, interrupted the labors of each afternoon with a pot of brewed tea and a sweet treat.  My brother and I  share a common bond of drinking strong tea diluted with canned evaporated milk just the way Grammie used to make it for us.  We are both serious sugar addicts as well since each Tea Time included some form of home-baked goodie, brownies, cookies, date squares or the ever present donuts, freshly made donuts, often still warm from the fryer.   Uncle and Grampie would come in from the fields, cracking a joke (or muttering a curse, depending on the cooperation of the farm machinery) knowing there would be delicious treats to energize them for the remaining day's labors. 
     In The LifeGiving Home, Sarah Clarkson answers the question of what her parents did to make her believe in God,
     " 'I think it was French toast on Saturday mornings and coffee and Celtic music and discussions and candlelight in the evenings...'   Because in those moments I tasted and saw the goodness of God in a way I couldn't ignore."
      I, too, saw God's goodness in a way I couldn't ignore when I drank tea and ate yummy donuts with my Grammie, when she donned her white sun hat while we  picked berries  for delicious pies, or when I observed her reading her Bible and finishing  her Sunday School lesson on Saturday night for our time together in church on Sunday morning.  God's love shone through her love and it was GOOD!
       Each time I brew a pot of tea this memory wraps around me like a child's tattered, cherished blanket warming me with the assurance that I was and am loved.  Though Grammie is gone, her love remains true in the memories.  As a child I had no idea of the sacrifice required for her to fry donuts every week, to furnish a well-stocked pantry of brownies and cookies, or to cook each meal from scratch, often after working all day in the potato house or standing for hours in the cold, fall air on a potato harvester.   All  I knew was that the goodness of the food I tasted echoed the goodness of my grandmother's love.

      The feasts I created for my children were a bit different.  Warm chocolate chip cookies on a snowy day, "McMom's" ~ chicken nuggets and french fries served in a recycled McDonald's Happy Meal box, and birthday dinners of made from scratch  chicken pot pie all conveyed the same message, You Are Loved.

    In The LifeGiving Home Sally and Sarah Clarkson share a Mother-Daughter perspective on the safety and refuge of HOME, the place to belong and to become all that God created you to become.   Home will look different for each one of us, whether it be a tiny house or a grand mansion,  but the practical ideas of building faith, family and friendship cross all boundaries. 

       I believe so heartily in the truth of The LifeGiving Home I will be giving away one book set, The LifeGiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming with The LifeGiving Home Experience: a 12-month Guided Journey.  I will also be giving away a CD of Joel Clarkson's original compositions, Music for the LifeGiving Home. 

 Simply share a comment, a memory of home or a family story below to be entered in this drawing.  Winners will be chosen Wednesday, February 10.