Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Overcoming Fear

“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” 1 John 4:18 (NLT)

My flight was in the boarding process as I settled into my aisle seat, 7-B, and began to pray for whomever might sit in 7-A.

Sadly, I wasn’t praying for that person’s soul — I was praying for his or her size. I dearly hoped the stranger would be petite, someone who wouldn’t feel miserable squished next to an abundantly blessed woman on a tiny commuter plane.

Please, Lord?

I watched the passengers file past, apprehension mounting. My opening patter was well rehearsed: “They keep making these planes smaller, don’t they?” or “Sure wish my hips could fit in the overhead compartment.” Anything to put him or her at ease.

Moments later a slender, smiling boy appeared beside me. “I’m 7-A.”

I beamed at him. “Wonderful!” He had blond hair, perfectly round glasses and the pink cheeks of late childhood. I pegged him at 9 or 10, maybe even a mature age 8.

He climbed into his seat, barely taking up half of it, and announced, “I like this plane. It’s my size.” He leaned toward me and added in a stage whisper, “It makes me feel bigger.”

Bless his heart.

I asked his name, wondering what it must be like to travel alone at such a young age, then gently patted his arm. “I’m here if you need anything.”

The child talked non-stop for the first 30 minutes before folding over and drifting off to sleep. Watching him, I resisted the maternal urge to smooth back his hair. So young.

When the engines grew louder, signaling our descent, my neighbor woke up with a yawn, glanced at his watch and grinned. “Whaddaya know? My birthday is next week.”

Picturing a big party in the works, I asked, “Which one will this be?”


My smile froze in place. It couldn’t be. Not this small boy, no taller than a third-grader.

I could only imagine the snide comments his peers threw at him. Or the many clueless strangers like me, who treated him as if he were a half-grown child instead of a full-fledged teenager.

“Happy birthday,” I murmured, my heart breaking for him. What must it be like to be smaller than people expect?

It’s like being larger than people expect.

I looked down and fumbled with my seat belt, suddenly feeling exposed. Just like this self-conscious teen who kept his defense tactics at the ready — “It’s my size” — I had my verbal arsenal loaded as well, deflecting imagined criticism by beating people to the punch — “They keep making these planes smaller, don’t they?”

No, Liz. They don’t.

The time had come to see my self-effacing banter for what it was: fear of embarrassment, fear of rejection.

What if you don’t like me? What if you say something unkind?

Today’s key verse, 1 John 4:18, helped change my thinking. God promises that His “perfect love expels all fear.” The truth is: People may not love us. But God does. If we embrace His love, we won’t fear the approval of people and can instead focus on loving them.


“If we are afraid,” 1 John 4:18 continues, “it is for fear of punishment.” Rude stares, rolled eyes, hurtful comments. Such things might come from people, but never from the Lord. As our verse concludes, such fear “shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”

I not only want to experience God’s perfect love; I also want to give it away. Now whenever I fly alone, I offer a different prayer. To be more other-conscious and less self-conscious. And to seek God’s approval alone.

Thank you Liz Curtis Higgs for today’s devotion.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

deepest fear - taco


Hope Wissel, Relax, Reflect, Recharge

The Facts of Life

What a week!  I feel like I should be singing the song from “The Facts of Life” – okay so I am showing my age!  You know the one –  “you take the good, you take the bad and there you have the facts of life”.  Now, that you have that song stuck in your head, it has been that kind of week for me.

I read a post on Crosswalk by Liz Curtis Higgs that made me really reflect on life lately and my marriage.  Don’t panic, all is well. As Rob would say, the girl he fell in love with returned this week.  I thought it was odd but then I realized over the last few months, Independent Irene had crept back into our lives.    As a single woman/ mom, I’d grown accustomed to doing things on my own, on my schedule, buying whatever I wanted, even if that meant pulling out my credit card.  I thought I had banished Irene from our lives awhile ago but according to hubby, she made an appearance and decided to stay.

By letting go of WaWa, I felt relief.  I loved the people connection but the toll that it took on my body affected ALL aspects of my life.  As the pain got worse, I slipped into the survival mode that I had used some many times as a single mom.  Not a very good mix for a marriage that is a partnership.  Over the last week, Rob and I actually talked about it without me getting an attitude or defensive or letting guilt take over.

As I began planning out my business strategy and a schedule to move my business forward, I found myself consulting Rob on things.  Independent Irene wanted to take charge, doing things on her own BUT I realized that this was a partnership.  Okay, so I can be a little slow on the uptake but it was a total change in my thinking about things.  When I started to loose patience because he wanted more information or couldn’t follow my every changing thoughts – I STOPPED, took a breath BEFORE I spoke and then responded as I would to a business partner at work.  WOW!  That was huge and as a result, not only did he offer to take the day off and help me with my next Celebrate and Connect but he also had some good ideas for moving my business forward.  I was shocked!  I wasn’t shocked he has ideas, I was more surprised that I was willing to listen and when I did, he saws AMAZINGLY supportive.  He even spotted a Thirty One bag when we were out to lunch one day this week.

“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.” Proverbs 31:11 (NIV)

I have flaws and sometimes I don’t notice them. Rob has them too.  We all do but I find when I focus on the blessings God has given me, life is so much better.  I’m too busy offering a prayer of thanks for a grace-giving God who overlooks my flaws and polishes me clean every morning.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!