Tag Archive: fear


In 2009, I took part in an Origin of Species outreach. This outreach handed out over 170,000 copies of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species to students at universities around the nation. Each book includes an introduction written by Ray Comfort of Living Waters Ministries that contains information about Intelligent Design and the gospel.

When I first found out about this Origin into schools project, I was so excited I could hardly stand it. I immediately contacted Living Waters to find out if there was a group heading up to the UW. Due to the incredible response to the project, the original plan of 100 campuses quickly grew to 1,000’s of campuses, including Madison!! So I was off and running.

As the weeks went by, I prayed diligently for this outreach. I couldn’t wait to see God work! I told many people about what was being planned…I asked for prayers over the outreach week…I posted links on Facebook sparring heated debates…it was so darn exciting!!

Just as quickly as the fire was lit and spread inside me for the cause of Christ, it began to fade. I began to doubt my courage, I feared what might happen, I didn’t trust what God could do through me, and I started to worry!

I became certain that God didn’t want me out there, because I would just mess it up, so I was convinced that God would provide my way out. He knew I couldn’t do this, so I figured I wouldn’t be able to find a sitter, or Jax would end up scheduled to work that day, maybe one of the kids would be sick. I KNEW something would come up.

It didn’t. God clearly had His own plans…

Much to my surprise, one of my best friends jumped at the chance to watch the boys so I could head down to be part of this.

Jax lost his job about a week before, so there were absolutely no scheduling conflicts with him.

The kids had been ill several weeks prior, but this week?? Fit as fiddles.

NOT ONE THING came up. In fact God provided, even through my children, encouragement for me:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;”   Philippians 4:6

“The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”   Psalm 118:6

“…do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour… for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”   Matthew 10:19-20

Yet, I continued to doubt.

The night before the outreach, I put off GOING to bed, because…well, the morning would come far too quickly. Then that morning, I delayed getting OUT of bed, because I knew people would be arriving at our house in no time. I seriously tried to figure out a way that the group could go without me, but God was NOT about to let me out of this. Everything was falling into place beautifully. No conflicts, no problems, no excuse.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”   1 Peter 5:6-7

Ok fine, I’ll go.

All of the brothers and sisters in Christ serving with us gathered at our house at 9:30am. We divvied up the boxes of books between three cars and headed downtown Madison.

Deep breath Nicole, take a deep breath…

The more I thought about it, I realized this wasn’t going to be so bad. I figured I would be right alongside Jax anyway, so if I had any problems he could take care of it. That essentially, he would be my “Aaron.” I was being sent…but Jax would do the talking.

Sounds like a plan to me!! Yup, that would work.

We decided to head toward State Street to cover the length of it and then would see where to go from there. Jax and I didn’t make it much past the first corner with our books, when we were instantly separated by the swarm of students coming to and from classes. Ok, he’s not too far away… I still felt fairly comfortable, so I began to hand out books. The students snatched them up. They couldn’t get enough!

“Darwin? Oh, I love him!”

“It’s free? Are you kidding me? Awesome!”

“Man, I thought you were giving out Bibles! This is great!!”

They were amazed and THRILLED that we were handing out Darwin’s book as opposed to Bibles or religious literature.

This was going to be easier than I thought!!

One professor, an “Evolutionary Scientist,” was so thrilled that we were handing out the book, that he said he was eager to share it with his students and even invited us to sit in on his class!!

The books were flying out of my arms. Only a few left… Yay, almost done!! Oooooh yes, my last book! Then, a lady asked me a question:

“Why are you handing these out?”

That’s easy enough I thought… “It’s the 150th anniversary of the publication of this book.”

“Who’s providing these books?”

Well…ok, “Living Waters.”

“Who is that?”

I froze.

What do I say now? Oh my word. They’re not going to understand! They’re going to get mad! Oh gosh…

“I don’t know.” I said hoping it was good enough.

“Well, who are you working for?”

Silence. I shook my head playing dumb. The lady looked at me inquisitively.

“Who hired you?”

Sheer terror filled me, and I blurted out: “I don’t know, I answered an ad in the paper.”

I stared back at her, holding my breath. She finally walked away probably thinking that I was an idiot.

“When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.”   Ezekiel 3:18

I walked back to the car to get more books, my heart very heavy. I was so ashamed. Oh my word, what have I done? I just missed an opportunity to share my faith. I played dumb to avoid what God was setting up! It hit me like a ton of bricks. I AM an idiot!!

Oh God, I am so sorry. YOU put me here. YOU orchestrated all of this. Each person that passes by me YOU led here at this exact moment. You are trying to use me, and I am stopping you!! Oh God, please forgive me, I am STILL doubting!

At that moment, I was done. I was done pretending. I was done doubting. I remembered Psalm 118:6 – the verse my daughter gave me the week before. What CAN man do to me? Absolutely NOTHING with God on my side!

From this moment on, if I was questioned I would answer. No holds barred. God knows I can do this, and I know I can trust Him. I grabbed more books and headed back to State Street. Now I was on a mission.

I hadn’t taken time to set all the books down when an elderly gentleman approached me. He had some questions. It was CLEARLY God saying, “Ok, prove it.” This man literally asked the exact same questions the lady before him asked and as I was talking to him, he finally got around to the poignant question:

“Living Waters? Who are they?”

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, and as I was about to speak when a young lady interrupted us:

“Is that Darwin’s original work, Origin of Species?”

“Yes,” I answered.

She screamed, grabbed a book and exclaimed, “Oh, thank you so much!! That’s fantastic! Thank you, thank you!” She walked away practically hugging the book.

The man looked at her, then at me, and awaited my response.

“Actually,” I said, “Living Waters is a Christian organization who wrote the introduction to the book. It explains Intelligent Design, and how Darwin’s theories are incorrect.”

The man paused, looked back at the gal who was now showing people this precious treasure she had just received, and said:

“Well, she’s going to be surprised now, isn’t she?!”

A huge smile engulfed my face. “Yes sir, she is.”

He thanked me, took the book, and walked away.

It was then that I knew God was with me. He was NOT going to allow anything to happen. HE was in control.

“Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.”   Psalm 125:1

We were on State Street for about three hours. We handed out a little over 1500 books. We were given the immense honor of speaking with a handful of people in whom the Holy Spirit was obviously working. Who really wanted to know why we were out there, and who still accepted the book after hearing that Intelligent Design prefaced it.

Now that it’s over, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Great joy that I was able to witness to people — great joy that over 1500 students/professors were given a book which also contained the gospel message — but also great sadness.

It was astonishing how many people practically jumped up and down that we were handing out Darwin’s book. In fact, the amount of people who came back to THANK US!! One gal even bought me a pumpkin spice latte because she was so appreciative of what we were doing…and, because I looked cold!! Another guy said to Jax: “Thanks for not telling me about Jesus.”

Oh it broke my heart. Just how lost those people really are! That their view of street preachers is so negative, they view it as “refreshing” to be handed something other than a Bible!

Oh Lord, I can only pray that you touched one life that day. That one person read the introduction and made a choice to follow you. I leave it in your hands and thank you for what you have done and will continue to do because of that outreach. Thank you for including me, for NOT giving me an Aaron, and for teaching me amazing truths.

Oh, and by the way…thanks for the pumpkin spice latte!!

“I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.”   Jeremiah 17:10

 

I traveled along the Blue Ridge Parkway this past week.  It was the most beautiful and calming stretch of road I have ever traveled.

The expanse of highway travels along the Appalachian Mountain range, through Virginia and North Carolina, at a comfortable leisurely 45 mph pace and offers no distraction of cellular service making it impossible to ignore its splendor.

It is filled with amazing peaks, stunning vistas and gorgeous views.

It entices us to jump; to soar in God’s promises and His word is heard in its echo:

“they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”   Isaiah 40:31

And while we stand upon the mountain, our adversary uses those close-up magnificent views to turn our focus upon the rugged, daunting mountain set before us. He reminds us we are incapable and unable to walk the path that lies ahead:

“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment…”   Isaiah 64:6

One minute we are on an incredibly spiritual high; we know what God has planned for us, our steps are sure and strong, the path ahead is exhilarating and clear enabling us to sit a while in His presence.

“but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”   Proverbs 1:33

Then at the next turn the shadows appear; our footing is slow and apprehensive, the darkness drifts in and the path ahead is questionable.

 

Each corner appears sharp, unsure and cold and we begin to doubt.  We question if we are on the right road after all; incapable of seeing through the forest, unable to decipher the way.

But we can trust in God’s promises.  Light will appear once more and the shadows will run.

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”   2 Timothy 1:7

“He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.”   Psalm 40:2

Are you in the midst of a shadow?

Are you unable to see the way out?

God promises to guide and to lead.  Trust in His timing, take rest in His plan and you will again feel sure-footed and secure.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”   Jeremiah 29:11

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion…”   Philippians 1:6

 

I have registered for the She Speaks Conference through Proverbs 31 Ministries.  At the time of doing so, I actually believed God wanted me to write.  He made a way for me to reduce my hours at work, validating He was giving back the time to write that was lost two years ago when I began working full-time.  So, I knew there would be no problem raising support.

This P31 conference is terribly expensive.  So expensive, that signing up for a conference I can’t possibly afford coupled with the reduction of hours and pay at work, flies in the face of all logical reasoning.  It is so costly in fact, that for the same amount of money I could practically self-publish my own book!!

For several years I have longed to combine the stories God has given me into a book.  Backed with gentle nudging and encouragement from friends and family who offered to actually consider reading it, I looked into it.  After weighing my options; literal book in one hand, conference and chance to propose book to publisher with no guarantees in the other, (although on paper weren’t really options because I couldn’t afford either one) I noticed God providing an open door; the option to “raise my own scholarship funds” on the conference website.

DING!  DING!  DING!

There was my answer!  I could raise the money I needed to pay for the conference!!  Granted, chances were slim that I would get a publishing contract out of it, but I was sure I would receive valuable tools to help me be a better writer and give me answers on how to begin this whole process.

Plus… it would be another great story to write; how God would provide for this conference!  So I registered, prepared my financial support letters, sent them out, and sat back to watch God work.

{Cue: crickets}

Nothing happened.

God stopped.

A week went by…

Although I hardly noticed.  I worked on past stories that hadn’t been completed since I began working two years ago.  Working to get these stories finished up continued to fuel my passion and I was still feeling quite confident and excited about my decision.

Another week went by…

With hardly a blink, I was busy starting a blog, made connections with other She Speaks Conference attendees and P31 workers, and had been encouraged and even more excited about my decision to register.

Another week went by…

I began to notice I had heard nothing regarding financial support and began to deal with a bit of doubt, but had felt reassured and confident that God would provide.

Another week went by…

Now I encountered doubt and fear so strong that I started to question my decision.  Why am I doing this?  Have I made a mistake?  Perhaps this isn’t God’s plan for me…  Is this God closing the door?  He’s right!  Who would want to read my stories; I don’t have anything to say after all…

I prayed fervently for God to provide…

“For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.”   Psalm 50:10

“Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.”   Jeremiah 32:17

This amount of money is nothing to an Almighty God, the Artist of infinite design, Orchestrator of all things, the One who upon exhaling, breathed things into existence…

God responded with:

“Nicole, the doctors at Dental Health Associates have decided that you are no longer able to work part-time in your position.  Sorry, but we have hired your replacement.”

I got punched in the gut.

I’m not sleeping well, my stomach is in knots.  I pray for something, anything, to assure me I’ve made the right choice.  I pray literally for God to send me a sign…TODAY.  I check and re-check email.  I run out to the mailbox in hopes of a letter.  I go on the conference website, I read articles looking…no, begging… for God to affirm this choice and reveal His plan for me.  I try to write…

Nothing.

“But he answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it…’”   Matthew 12:39

This morning I couldn’t sleep and decided to get up, defeated and not sure even what to say anymore in prayer.  I asked God to take this desire for writing away from me.  This clearly is not His will, or He would have made it clear.

I decided to open the book “for the Write Reason” and wonder why I do.  Each time I read it I get more discouraged.  These are stories about SUCCESSFUL writers.  How God allowed THEIR dreams to come true.  How He gave THEM something important to say.  How everything just worked out and fell right into THEIR laps.

Then I read these words:

“…a book contract was all I could think about.  And I didn’t just think about it, I meditated on it, focused on it.  In truth, I couldn’t think of much else.  Every day when I walked out to the mailbox I would wonder if this might be the day.  And day after day I was disappointed.  My deep disappointment surprised me and served as a wake-up call…  I realized that my getting published was not up to the editors, it was up to God… if He wanted me published, He would get me published.  …in the end it was still His message, not mine.  

“… apart from me you can do nothing.”   John 15:5b

Do your circumstances seem impossible?  Does what He has called you to do seem overwhelming?  Do you think that He has forgotten you?”    ~ Rachel Carman

I had my focus wrong.  God had been giving me a sign; I was just too focused on myself to notice!!  God reminded me of what He told me when I first felt His call to do more with my writing…

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise from another place… And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”   Esther 4:14

He has given me words to say, and has even given me time to write!  And He gently reminds me…

“that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”   1 Corinthians 2:5

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”   2 Corinthians 12:9

Apart from Him I can do nothing!!  It’s not about me…it’s about Him and where He has placed me right now.  He is in control and will fulfill my desires as long as I seek HIM first… NOT the other way around.

As I finish my time with Him, my phone beeps indicating I have a message.  I finish up (gosh…look at how calm I am.  I didn’t even rush to the phone!  Ok, so I waited to finish my sentence…)  and see that God in His wonderful sovereignty and loving way, sent a devotion from P31 ministries entitled:

“When Waiting is Hard”  by Wendy Pope

“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”   Psalm 27:14

Praise you Lord for understanding my doubt.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.   Proverbs 3:5-8

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