Sunday, October 10, 2010

Facing Fear

I faced fear this weekend. I went flying.
Yes, I'm 35 years old and never set foot on an airplane until this past weekend.
The idea was first discussed last Christmas. Pam and her husband sat with Jerry and me ... and another couple we are good friends with... all of us sitting at our annual Christmas party in 2009. We all talked about our lives and family ... that was the first time I discovered Pam and Don owned an airplane. They made a small comment of ... "you guys should join us" ... and I believe I said ... "I don't fly." Up to this weekend, I've found legitimate excuses as to why we couldn't go on the flight. We were working on our house, taking the boys to a movie, sporting events, family get togethers ... I was scared. I am deathly afraid of heights. Thus, any ol' reason for not accepting their invitation would do. I guess I thought if I kept saying "no, sorry we're busy" ... she might get tired of asking and stop. That way, I could continue on my present course of NEVER riding in an airplane. I could let my fear win.

On Saturday morning, Pam asked me ... "Are you guys busy this evening, we're flying to dinner? Can you come?"

I quickly went over every possible reason I could decline ... nothing. Football practice was the night before, no family dinners scheduled, no movies to take the boys to ... Nothing.

I called Jerry and he agreed. He had been looking forward to this for a year. Each time I declined their invitation, he would ask why ... seriously ... he knows why. I'm a big chicken.
At 5:30 p.m., I faced my fear. I sat behind Don as he piloted the plane. Jerry sat beside him and Pam beside me. I was great. We made the round and I was surprised at how calm I was ... then ... the plane left the ground. I grabbed Pam's left hand and squeezed. My stomach lurched, my eyes closed, the air left my lungs and I couldn't find blessed breath no matter how hard I gulped. An odd tingling sensation burned my chest ... it felt as if a caged bird resided beneath my ribs rather than a human heart.

Then, I heard Pam's quiet voice ... "It's ok, you're doin' great." She rubbed my hand in hers and talked about the scenery. She told me all the things I missed with my eyes tightly shut. I sat fixed in that position for the first 25 minutes of our 30 minute flight. I think I may have even asked Don to turn the plane around at some point ... said, I can't do this please go back. I might have given a couple of tears life 2000 feet above earth. Still, Pam held my hand and talked me through ... each aspect of God's creation expanding beneath the plane. Finally, I opened my eyes and watched as a hot air balloon bobbled to the left of our view.
Pam's fingers probably went numb somewhere between our little farm town and the middle of Indy. But, she never complained. Never said anything beyond soothing words of encouragement.

Rick's Boatyard was an amazing destination for dinner. I ate Maryland Crab Cakes on frenchbread with a healthy supply of Joe's mustard. I even faced my fear of mushrooms and found they really aren't too bad when stuffed with crabmeat and smothered in cheese. Actually ... They Rock!
I surprised myself by keeping my eyes open longer on the ride home. The lights were amazing from the lofty view above earth. Our little town is not as small when looking at it from an airplane ... it actually looks like a well thought out map of fields, woods, houses and rivers.
I'm glad I faced my fear. While floating ... I thought of the sensation I had felt on our departure ... of Pam's reassuring words and patience. How this adventure could relate to all fears. Any fears. There are all kinds of fear. We each have our "comfort zone." An area we feel absolutely safe and free of discomfort. I've heard it said more than once ... "step out of your comfort zone" ... "live outside the box." We all know ... fear waits outside that comfort zone ... outside that box. If you're at all like me ... you're ok with the comfort zone, ok with the inside of that familiar box.
But ... what happens if God is calling from outside the comfort zone ... from outside that nice box you've grown to love and accept? Then what? What makes you leave the comfort? What makes you open the box and find out what's waiting beyond the familiar space? Maybe your a teenager living in a small town and wondering if you have the courage to leave and try something new beyond graduation. Maybe your struggling to face that person who wronged you ... you're not good at confrontation and the thought of talking to that person is frightening. It could be that you're afraid of starting a new job or a new marriage ... new baby, new school ... old friends, old school ...

What made me leave the comfort zone of "two feet on the ground"? Pam ... Pam and my patient husband. Pam and her pilot.
She could've given up on me. She could have asked someone else to take that flight on Saturday evening. Let me remain captive to the fear of flying. But, she didn't ... she gently reminded me of God's control and of God's beauty. I liked it best when she said ... "isn't it amazing how God gave man the intelligence to build a plane ... to let us see His creation from this height?"
What words of comfort are you speaking to a brother or sister in Christ? Are you giving them strength to face fears and to take steps toward God's will in their lives?

Thank you Pam and Don ... for being patient and willing. Thank you for the amazing experience of flight. For sharing your plane and Saturday evening. You are a blessing to me and Jerry.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


My husband is a competitive person. Jerry is crazy about sports .... always has been probably always will be. When I first met him (20 years ago), he played basketball and softball. I loved watching him play and I loved watching him win. That's what sports are all about, right? Winning?

This summer, my husband received an email from our community football league administrator. He asked Jerry to coach a team of 1st through 3rd graders. Knowing the league from our middle boy's sport involvement, my husband was very much aware the league was not about winning. Our community league puts the focus on every child playing every position. There is no score board ... only the scoreboard in the minds of parents and players. That was going to be tough, especially for a guy with a normal focus on winning.

At the first practice, Jerry saw the talent in some kids and the weakness of others. He knew right away the position placement that would win each and every game. That's how Jerry is, that's his strength. He thinks things through from every angle and then knows the best way to achieve the desired outcome. He saw the talent ... and, he made the choice he was called to make. He worked with the kids to be sure everybody was playing in all positions, rotating in and out. Jerry took on this challenge because he realized there was an opportunity to give each child a chance to enjoy sports. After all, they're young. Those with oodles of talent will have multiple opportunities to play lead positions as they get older. We've played several games now and each one has been tough. But ... rewarding. Jerry has said the kids smiles are the best ... he loves knowing some of those kids have been given an opportunity they've never had before ... might never have again.

And ... no one has made this easy for him. I've sat on the sidelines and listened as parents complain that the team isn't winning and that their children aren't getting to play the lead positions. I'm not "downing" those parents. I know where they're coming from ... I've been a parent on the bleachers watching in frustration at other sporting events. So, I understand. It's hard and it's not always fun. But, imagine what it would be like if each parent pulled the plug on the scoreboard in their mind. If their child playing the "choice" position wasn't the most important aspect of the game ...

As Christians, I think we make this same mistake in our everyday life. We don't always make it easy for our brothers and sisters in Christ to make the right decision, the tough decision. I'm guilty of this ... when I overhear a piece of "gossip", a co-worker complaining ... someone talking about the failures and flaws of another person ... sometimes, I take part in those conversations.

If I've learned anything from Jerry's coaching experience this season, it's to encourage not discourage. To make right choices easier not harder.

Ephesians 4:25 "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body."

Sunday, October 3, 2010


"What's your favorite color?"

It's one of those questions we ask our kids. Maybe even an "ice breaker question" you ask a child you're babysitting for the first time or the quiet one you have in your kindergarten class on the first day of school.

Their answers vary. It depends on their "eye". The color that appeals especially to them. It doesn't mean the other colors are ugly ... just different. Put a Crayola 46 pack in front of the child and they gravitate to their favorite.

I'm an artist. I love drawing faces and adding colored pencils to bring those portraits to life. If someone asked me my favorite color, well that wouldn't be an easy question to answer. You see, I can't get the exact creamy complexion on a face without mixing colors. The brown hue in a child's hair, that takes lots of time and color blending. And the eyes ... well, even if they are blue or green ... you can never match the exact shade with just one color ... it's all in the blending. I know from years of blending colors, the exact measure of each individual color will achieve the perfect completion. Something pleasing to the eye and spirit. So, I don't really have a favorite. I need them all to get the end product I desire.

Think of all the colors mixed together in an ocean sunset. Or, everything it takes to put the flush in a child's face. There is no one color capable of portraying those things.

Blue, Red, Yellow ... Primary colors.

Green, Orange, Purple ... Secondary colors. You can't get these colors without the primary colors.

Tomorrow, our local elementary school will go through a "first". Consolidation. Our sixth grade class will welcome another elementary school's 6th grade students and ... they'll blend. Both schools are small and the "ties that bind" run deep on both sides. It'll be hard to find the right mixture ... the right blend.

This news was made public just last week and you can imagine ... there were lines drawn and sides taken from both schools. Some parents and kids were excited. The school coming in brought good friends. Others didn't want this change ... especially those students making the big move to a new school. They're afraid, nervous ... apprehensive ...

What if no one likes them? What if there isn't any room at the lunch table (anybody seen Diary of a Wimpy Kid? this is a valid concern). What if I get lost or the teacher doesn't like me or I don't understand the assignments ... the list is long .... And, understandable.

A child I love will be affected by this consolidation. And, her mother has done everything possible to ease the worry, fears and misgivings. From where I sit, this mother is sending her beautiful blue into a sea of red ... it's kind of scary. But, I think they'll both find out the end result is something good ... purple ...

That's just my feeling. My way of looking at the situation. I see it asAdd Video an opportunity ... a chance to try something new. Sure, it's scary ... new things are always at least a little scary.

Tomorrow morning, I'll be praying for all those 6th graders, the teachers and parents. And, someday ... I think we'll all look back on this day and know that good things came from this blending.

Genesis 1:31 "And God saw all that He had made and it was very good."