Do not be afraid[1]

“Mom, I think you have Arachnophobia.” Cole said from across the living room.

“Probably. Although I don’t mind little spiders, just the big ones that can run faster than me.”

I glanced at our older son to see his reaction, but his ten-year old mind was focused back on the large library book spread over his lap. National Geographic’s Awesome Facts about Everything was opened to a page dedicated to a variety of human fears.

Cole rattled off a long list of phobias, fumbling over some of the strange words, many of which were new to me as well.

“Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number thirteen. Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns. Acrophobia is a fear of heights. Claustrophobia is the fear of tight spaces and no escape. Phobophobia is a fear of fear. Myrmechophobia is a fear of ants. Zoophobia is a fear of animals. Globophobia is a fear of balloons or balloons popping. Astraphobia is a fear of thunder or lightning. Chromophobia is a fear of bright colors. Agoraphobia is a fear of leaving safe places. Anthophobia is a fear of flowers.”

He stopped reading, looked up. “How can anyone be scared of flowers?”

“I don’t know, but some people have spiders for pets and other people climb up to high places on purpose, so there you go. We all have certain things that get to us.”

Later I thought about the long list of fears Cole read off. How some of the fears seemed logical, but others seemed completely illogical. I don’t mind a balloon popping nearby or bright colors or leaving my house to go shopping, but then again I don’t like high places and I cannot handle being in a small space with no way out.

Sharp flashes of my New England childhood came back, memories of being buried under carved-out snow banks with neighbors as we waged snowball wars against each other. I would have taken ten snowball smacks to the cheek rather than stay inside a dug-out snow cave with only one tiny entrance, which was often blocked by someone else coming in or out and topped by a few feet of heavy snow above.

My breath catches just thinking of it.

Cole and I talked about phobias being the result of the Fall. Logical or illogical fears are also a reminder that we’re all uniquely created and respond differently to different stimuli in our environment. Phobias can freeze our lives like ice blocks, keeping us frozen in place with worry about what might happen.

But Jesus didn’t die so we could live frozen.

God’s Word reminds us dozens of times – through command and through the personal experiences of Saints who have come before us – that we don’t need to be afraid. Living in fear of this or that possibly happening is living opposite to the freedom we’ve been given in Christ.

When I’m living fearfully I negate what Jesus did on the Cross.


How I don’t want to do that. How I need His help to fight those phobias that can anchor us to things on the earth, instead of keeping us reaching for things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

Jesus gave us the Helper – the Holy Spirit – and His word to cling to. So many times, Scripture has kept me afloat during fearful seasons and tight spaces when fear gripped me like a pair of wet gloves. Because “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

I pray God’s word and His Holy Spirit will give you peace in your fearful storm. His peace surpasses all understanding and will guard your heart and mind through Jesus.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27, NKJV)

Bullet Holes and Flying Horses



“Um. Is that a bullet hole?”

Leslie and I stared at the egg-shaped hole in the first floor window of the white-paneled rental house we were staying in for the next two nights. We were stuck on the front porch, trying to get inside, torn between moaning and laughing.

I think we did both.

Around us, evening pressed away the day’s sunshine in quiet, quaint Millersburg, Kentucky. So far it had been a fun, whirlwind afternoon. After a short deplaning on my early morning flight from Tampa, my sweet Ohio friend picked me up in Dayton and drove us to Kentucky’s Creation Museum. We spent a couple of hours perusing the museum and the pretty gardens outside, enjoying the face-to-face time, already wishing for more.

From the Creation Museum we headed on another word-full, wonderful drive through gorgeous horse country to a little town outside Lexington where we’d stay for our weekend visit.


We planned to spend Saturday at The Rolex, a three-day equestrian event held at the Kentucky Horse Park each April. Leslie had attended with her daughter a few years back, and the fact that we both loved horses and walking was reason enough to plan our only full day together around Saturday’s cross-country jumping event. We couldn’t wait to walk and talk and watch the magnificent horses run the course.

We arrived Friday night at the cute two-bedroom, one bath renovated home complete with kitchen, washer and dryer, and VRBO-approved “super comfy” couch (and it was, though I think even the lumpiest furniture is comfy when you’re around dear friends you can laugh with).


From the small front porch that evening, Leslie and I eyed the unexpected bonus memento to our weekend home-away-from-home. A bullet hole in the front window.


“I’m not sleeping in a room with a bullet hole in the window,” one of us mumbled. (Probably me. Leslie’s more daring than I am.)

From there, the problems piled on like fire ants on flip flops.

First we had trouble getting in touch with the owner of the house; there was a code to get inside and we still needed to make sure this was the correct house. Adding spice to our stuck-outside-rental-home-helplessness were the random men walking up and down Millersburg’s main street, obviously curious about our confused goings-on.

Friendly neighbors? We hoped so.

Then came an alarming comment from a local gas station clerk that “she’d gotten a call about that house, I think,” referring to the home we were to stay in. Finally, the number-out-of-service-message when we dialed up the Millersburg police station to inquire about the owner and the house was a bright red maraschino cherry-on-top of our evening.

The police station was out of service?

So, we giggled. We shook our heads, discussed sleeping in the car (many hotels in the area were booked because of the Rolex Event), and giggled some more.

Leslie reminded us to pray, and sure enough, the owner finally returned our calls with the code and an apology because the next-door-neighbor, who was supposed to give us the house code, wasn’t home that evening.

We finally settled into the cozy home, ate dinner and enjoyed a movie, a bag of Cadbury eggs, and much more chatting. Thankfully we could both sleep on the second (bullet-hole free) floor, so the questionable window decoration wasn’t a problem.

The next day was absolutely breathtaking – serene Kentucky horse-country surrounding us, spring blooming on the tree tops, and horses galloping toward jumps I could barely climb over with a ladder. The cross-country event was an amazing show of equine and human athleticism, with flying horses and pounding hooves.


Leslie and I walked, talked, she laughed at me while I gawked at the multitude of horses and dogs (there were dogs everywhere!), and tried to take selfies during the beautiful day (which will never see the light of day). She gained a copy of my – gulp – (finally printed out, rewritten) fiction book and I gained a renewed love of flying (in an airplane, not on a horse).

And we both gained warm memories of bullet holes and flying horses.

What a gift God has given us in the laughter, care, and concern of the friends of our heart.

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…” Philippians 1:6