One Thing it Takes to Overcome Fear

I watched this video a week or so ago and thought, “What if…?”

What if Christopher Maloney didn’t have his mom cheering for him?

What if he hadn’t had one person who believed in him?

What if he had let the voices of his detractors drown out the one voice that said, “You are talented.  You’ve got this.”?

We all need a champion, a cheerleader, an encourager in our corner.  Not someone to give us false hope or shield us from the truth, but someone who sees the gifts we have to offer the world and wants the world to have the joy of receiving them.

Who believes in you?  Make sure to thank them.  Who are you championing?  Make sure they know it.

One Word and Clark Griswold

Back in January, (yep, it’s been a long time) we talked about choosing One Word for 2013 – a word that God might desire to expand in our life…grow us into.

 My word was Fearless, which gave birth to Fearless Fridays, because even if that wasn’t your word, we all deal with Fear in various forms.  

In January I also posted some thoughts from my brother, David, on this.  So the other day I asked him for an update.

I’d love to hear from you too!  What has your experience been with your One Word (if you identified one)?  If you didn’t, looking back now, what is one word that would summarize your 2013?  Post your thoughts in the comment section!

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Tucking in Courage

“She tucked belief right into me.”

A few years ago I read this lovely line written by Ann Voskamp who was talking about a grandmother who called out gifts in her that she was afraid to believe.

In my life, belief has been a synonym for courage.  Like a toddler at night, with Mama tucking covers tight, I’ve had many snug courage right into me and our family.

When our youngest daughter, Maggie, graduated from college she accepted an internship with the International Justice Mission.  She prepared to leave home and live in Guatemala City for a year.

The transition between college and “the real world” is a scary one.  Like jumping off a cliff and hoping you hit the water and remember how to swim.  A time of hard decisions and what-if-I-don’t-make-it fears.


To launch Maggie into this new season, we invited a group of women for brunch.  Women who had loved her, and prayed for her, and poured into her for many years.

I asked each of them to bring a word for Maggie, accompanied by a blessing, a prayer, encouragement, or advice. Continue reading

Nothing to Lose

This week I’m live blogging at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit for their partner, Engage.  I hope you’ll take a look!  Meanwhile, it’s Fearless Friday.  I’m reposting something from three years ago.  Hope it speaks to you!

The other day a friend shared something exciting with me.

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but instead of being able to rejoice in what was added to her life, I felt sad and small, focusing on what it felt like had been taken from mine.

It feels like the cup of life that is mine – that which is special to me alone, is so tiny. And it felt like for her to receive what she did, some of what was “mine” had to be poured out, leaving me with less. Kind of like spilled milk.

I didn’t like what this stirred up in me and I didn’t want to pay attention and look deeper because I was pretty sure it would reveal more insecurity and selfishness and ugliness about me.

But I gave in and grudgingly asked, “Lord, what do you have to show me about Yourself and myself in this?”

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When God Invites You to do a Big Thing and Fear says You Can’t

I had a lunch meeting a few weeks ago.  The purpose was for me to help a World Vision guy do some brainstorming and networking.  At least that’s what I thought.

I’m pretty creative.  I’m good at ideas.  I’m good at making work for other people.  It’s a gift.  My family likes to say “God loves you and Laura has a wonderful plan for your life.”  So I was feeling good about meeting with Bradley (the guy) and giving him some ideas.  That is until he finished telling his story, turned to me and said, “I want you to run a half-marathon with Team World Vision to raise money for clean water in Zambia.”

What the what?!  Not much surprises me.  Even less than that leaves me speechless. This did.

I don’t run.  Unless I’m running from a bear.

I’ve tried running.  I hate it.  Truly hate it.  Bike, walk, play tennis, golf?  Absolutely!  Run? Ugh, please no!

As I reflected on the possibility, Fear whispered in my ear:

  • What if you really can’t do it?  What if you don’t finish?
  • What if you let people down?
  • What if you don’t raise any money?
  • What if you don’t motivate others to run?
  • What if you hurt yourself and it compromises your ability to enjoy other things?

Honestly, one of the loudest whispers was:  This will be a painful, grueling boatload of work and you don’t want to do it.

But Bradley said three things in that meeting that made me think maybe his idea was so crazy that God might actually be in it and I needed to pay attention.

1. He said this run is for clean water, something I’m passionate about.  Dirty water is the leading killer of kids under 5 in the world.

IMG_1977In Zambia two years ago I danced with women as a well was dug and fresh water gushed out.  They sang “Come and see what God has done.”  The old woman next to me spoke in wonder “He saw us. He answered our prayers.”  Wouldn’t be incredible to part of an answer to someone’s prayers?


2.  80% of the people who run on Team World Vision are not runners (as in, never done it).  And that’s both scary and inspiring.  When Bradley speaks to churches his theme is fear not.  My one word for this year is Fearless, the word I’m trying to live into.  As he spoke I sensed a little nudge.  Perhaps this is a tailor made (albeit crazy) invitation to step into something scary that God desires to use.


3.  My first response was unequivocal.  There is no way I can do this.  (Did I mention I. Don’t. Run. Ever.?).  But maybe that’s an additional reason why this might be of God.  Perhaps, besides providing water, there is something He wants to show me of Himself in this hard thing.  His power perfected in my weakness.

There are many days of “small things”, but sometimes God invites us into something big and hard and seemingly impossible.

I think, in this case, God’s answer to Fear is “What if I run with you and do something bigger in and through you for others than you think is possible?”

So, although I have visions of my daughter (who may be running with me), dragging my lifeless body across the finish line, October 26th (Lord willing) I will be running (or shuffling) the Twin Cities Monster Dash half-marathon.  You can join me running here! They have a great training program – starting from zero.

You can donate here.

The Story God’s Given You on Fearless Friday

I had a great phone conversation recently with a high capacity leader on the other side of the country.  She is confident, bold, and faithful in using the gifts God has given her.  She inspired me, and challenged me. I walked away from our conversation encouraged…with renewed passion.

Usually I love to read how God is at work in the lives of others!  I love to ask people where they’re noticing the work of God.  Love to hear stories of big faith and audacious prayers.

Conversations like I had with my leader friend are an important part of living into community.  But if that’s all I’ve got, that’s not enough.  We can’t just live off of someone else’s story.  We each need a first-hand experience of God.  I love the way Mark Batterson says this.  “God’s dream for you is bigger than a second-hand faith.”

Sometimes, though, we’re tempted to settle for second-hand.  Easier to cheer from the sidelines than get in the race because…you know…

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Saving a Place on Fearless (Good) Friday

This morning I sat down at Starbucks at my table next to the fireplace with Phillip.  He’s like Norm of Cheers, friendly and fun.  Except that he’s tall and he’s from England.  He’s here every morning at 5:00.  He knows everyone and chats with all.

Today he wanted to talk about God and church and how he didn’t think God could love him.  And I wanted to listen.


Underneath the jovial facade, what I heard was fear.  A fear that all of us have if we’re honest.  Fear of not being good enough.  Fear of not having a place in community where he would be loved and accepted.

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What do you See on Fearless Friday?

I have a lot of favorite passages in the Bible, but some of the best I think are those that show God at work in unseen ways.  Kind of like pulling back the curtain on Oz, but this is the real deal.

One story I especially love is in 2 Kings 6 when the Arameans have surrounded Elisha and his servant.

The servant sees only the enemy, but Elisha sees more.  He sees God.

Elisha says “Don’t be afraid.  Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then he prays that his servant’s eyes might be opened. 

“The Lord opened his eyes and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

I love that!  Voila!  The servant was able to see the protecting power of a heavenly army who had been there, but hidden from his sight.

Sometimes we just need a little help to right-size our view of God.

What are you seeing most clearly today?  Your fears or who’s fighting for you?

I hope this video is a fun reminder things aren’t always what they seem.


When You’re Afraid God Won’t Show Up on Fearless Friday

It’s Fearless Friday which made me think of this post from last summer that I’ve edited for today…

What if God just doesn’t “show up”? Ever have that fear?

Me too.

I think our daughters Katy and Maggie may have felt that way last weekend also.

They are basically being evicted from their apartment.  No one understands exactly why (especially since they’re model tenants and the ONLY tenants in a 4-plex row house), but Maggie’s theory is that the owner wants to convert it to a meth lab.

There have been two “perfect” apartments that have come on the market this past week, but this is D.C. where there are approximately 4,569 type-A lawyers and lobbyists kicking, clawing and back-biting their way through the quaint 19th century row house front doors, and closing a deal is a long-shot for two “Minnesota-nice” girls

However, as consummate Crosby competitors, the girls have scoured Craigslist, ready to spring into action.  They’ve jumped through every hoop, filling out long applications, giving financial records and references, showing up early for the open houses, going through an interview in one case, and enlisting a lot of people to pray.

No go.  And no reason why.  And we were praying for Pete’s sake!

After their loss this weekend, the girls have visions of being modern day Israelites wandering in the wilderness, wondering if they’ll ever close in on the promised land.

Big deal you say?  The Jews and the Palestinians are still looking for a home while people pray.  Yeah.  I know.

No real comparison.  But as I’ve walked in the sadness and frustration with Katy and Maggie, praying from afar, my temptation has been to think, “What if God doesn’t DO something?  What if He doesn’t ‘show up’?”

In situations like this I tend to:

1.  FRANTICALLY DO SOMETHING MYSELF (desperate)!   Sign a petition.  Tell K&M to bake cookies in order to bribe a prospective landlord. Get a lawyer involved.  Write a letter to SOMEONE IMPORTANT (like President Obama) asking him to intervene.  Anything!

2.  Spiritualize.  This is not our “home”.  Our true home is in heaven and we’re just pilgrims passing through.  “In this world you’ll experience trouble…” Blah, blah, blah.  Maybe true, but not always helpful.

3. Let go (when I start settling down).  Again.  And pray “Abba Father, I’m doing what I can do, but I need You to do what only You can do.  I really don’t understand this, but I’m not You and I trust You have a better plan…a plan to form something in them, or in me, or in all of us through this experience, or provide something better, or draw us to Yourself.”

4.  And eventually, to hold on.  Hold on to the same God who took care of Hagar when Sarai kicked her out – “the God who sees me”.

The same God who took care of Elijah on the run.  The God who seems much like a gentle mother, giving his toddler a snack and a nap.  

The “but God” God.*

There was a flood, but God remembered Noah and sent a breeze.

There was injustice, but God used it for good in the life of Joseph and the Israelites.

Jesus was crucified for our sins, but God raised Him from the dead.

This may sound similar to spiritualizing, but it’s not.  Because when I hold on to the character of God I can’t clutch my what if’s.

The size of my God puts the size of my problem in perspective.

What helps you when you when you’re afraid God won’t “show up”?


*Thanks to Mark Batterson for this reminder!

Sprinkles and Naming Stuff

It’s Fearless Friday!  I hope you’ll join us on our One Word adventure this year.

Recently I was with two different friends, at different times, in different places who, with hesitation and eyes cast down, admitted their dreams to me.

You know,the big dreams of what they’d really like to do and be. They were afraid to say them out loud.  Afraid they’d seem too…big.  Too crazy.

But they were brave and told the truth.  And it made me think of this video I saw recently.

I watch this and I think, aren’t we all just like this little guy with evidence smeared all over, afraid of admitting to God what He already knows?

Afraid to name either the smelly garbage or the shiny brilliant hopes that seem crazy, but that are as clear to Him as the sprinkles on our face.

What is it that you’re afraid to name?

It’s not like God doesn’t know, but still He graciously asks us the same the questions He’s been asking for centuries.

“What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51)

“Why are you here?” (1 Kings 19:9)

And maybe most importantly, “Why are you so afraid?” (Mark 4:40)

You know what terrible thing happened when my friends shared what was in their hearts with me?

Absolutely nothing.  They didn’t implode and disintegrate.  Bob Costas didn’t come on T.V. and broadcast the ridiculous news that two idiots had said some wacko stuff.

When they told me I was delighted!  I was excited for them and I wanted to enter in and roll up my sleeves and help.  And with my response, there was, on their faces this look of relief…and almost wonder that they had named this big thing and were still there and it was ok and not so scary after all.

Could it be that even though God sees all of our sprinkles – the evidence of every hope and fear, every dream and sin and wound – He invites us with His questions to come to Him and name it all so that we see that it’s not so powerful or scary after all.

And then He brushes the sprinkles off our face and says, “Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to it!”

And so begins His work of refining and redeeming, equipping, and guiding.

What is something you’ve been afraid to talk to God about – a crazy dream, a deep wound, a secret sin, a profound desire – and what’s happened when you’ve named it with Him?