Monday, March 27, 2017

Abundant Waiting

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

It can be incredibly scary to wait for the Lord, when I don't understand what's happening, or why.

When we aren't sure how things are going to turn out (especially in hard, frustrating, or hurtful situations). We want to do everything we can to fix and figure stuff out...come up with "Plan B." We don't want to wait, we want to DO something. Anything but waiting.
Waiting requires surrendering our self-reliance and attempts to control. It means letting go and resting in the face of an unknown future. How is that even possible?

Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD! Psalm 31:24

Because we serve a God who is able to do abundantly more than anything we could ask or even imagine. Did you get that? ABUNDANTLY MORE than anything we could ask or imagine. The best outcome you can possibly think of? He is willing and able to do abundantly better than that. God's glory is the priority and as His adopted children, His glory is our privilege to proclaim. Our purpose here and now is to proclaim it with all our might, in word and deed...and sometimes, by simply waiting.

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. Psalm 39:7
God's perfect timing is always worth it, even when the waiting is painful. Momentary afflictions are preparing us for an ETERNAL weight of GLORY, dear ones!
Therefore, we can be brave and courageous (even when it feels like we're at our weakest and most unsure) because HE is able and His loving faithfulness to us never ends.
We serve a God who is with us in the waiting, with glorious plans of "abundantly more" always in store.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

Thursday, March 23, 2017

I Kissed Dating Goodbye... and Succumbed to Setting Unrealistic Expectations That Were Impossibly High.

There was a book written in 1997, by then 21 year old Joshua Harris, called "I Kissed Dating Goodbye." The book attempted to address the major flaws in our culture's flippant, aimless, sexually degrading dating scene, and succeeded in making some very good points and astute observations concerning the needless havoc wreaked on hearts within a casual, nonchalant dating culture.

However, the overwhelming sense of "Thou shalt be 100% ready for marriage before you should even dream of pursuing a purposeful relationship with anyone" threw a lot of us into a mindset of continually questioning the "readiness" of ourselves and others.

Speaking from my own personal experience and the experiences I've watched others around me walk through, it's safe to say that within many "we kissed dating goodbye" relationships there's often a lot of pressure (primarily self-imposed), along with an expectation that we need to figure out whether or not we're marriage material right from the get-go. Then, once that decision has been established in our minds, there's a sense of permanence that can be hard to grapple with, if later on we start to think that just maybe...we were wrong.

It's only in the past couple of years that I've started to recognize the pressures and expectations I'd built up in my head and heart, due to how hard a swing in the opposite direction from casual dating we took from that well-meaning book and the overall movement to reform romantic relationships that it sparked (mostly amongst our excited and well-meaning parents who wanted a better model for their children than the one they grew up with).

I wholeheartedly believe that being intentional (in dating and anything else we do) is good, helpful, and altogether advisable...but taking things *too* seriously can (and has) lead to a host of undue pressure and urgency that's not necessary and is actually downright harmful to relationships in many cases.

An article from the "Desiring God" website makes some much-needed observations concerning this current Christian trend of "over-intentionality" in dating, and sheds light on the need for a more balanced approach to an undeniably tricky topic.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Failing Fearlessly

Hi folks. My name is Lyn Fitzwilliam, and I am a perfectionist.

Chronic perfectionism contributes greatly to my struggles with procrastination, and especially fear of failure. Why do I put things off? Because I'm afraid I won't do them well, so I'd rather push them to the side and pretend I'll get to them later. Why am I sometimes so fear-filled at the thought of learning something new (specifically in front of others)? Because I'm afraid I'll try my hardest...and fail. I won't be good enough...and people will see that.

I know this about myself, and don't like it one bit. I feel trapped sometimes, inside a cage of my own meticulous construction.

Why do I have to be good enough? Why am I not allowed to fail? What's wrong with failure? I've been asking myself these questions. Failure is scary for anyone, but especially someone who has self-imposed expectations of perfection.

Failure leaves me feeling weak and inadequate. It makes me feel...less-than.

Why would I want to knowingly put myself in the position of potentially experiencing even more failure, when I already know how much I fail all the time as it is? Why would I risk putting myself out there when the potential for further failure looms so large? That's just unnecessary. Who wants that? Not I.

I hide prideful pining behind a carefully constructed fa├žade of apathy, constantly laboring to build up and maintain personal walls of perfectionism protection.

I say I don't want to fail because it doesn't feel good, but what I really mean is that I don't want to fail because I don't want to look as though I am lacking. I don't want to appear as though I am unable. I don't want to be seen as less valuable than anyone else. I want everyone to always be impressed with me.

To do something I'm not sure I can handle is just too risky, too full of uncertainty. If I've never done it before, how do I know I'll do it well? Anxiety creeps in and shuts down the mere thought of trying something that could expose me in such a way; it would leave me too vulnerable.

"Do you realize how utterly ridiculous you are?" I often ask myself.

Well, yes... I do know that.

So if I know that, why do I choose to continue in this enslavement? A bond-servant to perfectionism, fearfully hiding in the shadow of things I'm not quite sure I can do...that's no way to live. That's not freedom. That's slavery.

Slavery is not what God has called me to. This behavior, these feelings that I'm letting rule my heart? They're sin. This is enslavement to sin, and this is what Jesus Christ has freed me from. He has broken the chains that bound me and invited me to live fearlessly in his grace and love! Why am I sitting here still clinging to these awful chains, trying to lock myself back up in them?

Jesus has shown me the immensity of my imperfection...but has also made me perfect in Himself. Perfect to God. There is no greater perfection than that which has already been imparted to me; why do I strive for measly, fleeting earthly perfection when such precious, eternal perfection is already mine!?

What a mess I am.

But oh, how He loves me. How great is His faithfulness. How often He has tugged me out of my shell and shown me His glory...and how often have I admired it for a moment, before going right back to being distracted by vain striving for something that is far less than the best. "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love."

God has not only called me to freedom from enslavement to sin, but He has called me to a realization of my inadequacy. And not just a realizing, but an embracing. A full acknowledgment and acceptance of just how very lacking I am. How incredibly weak and susceptible to failure. He wants me to accept this and know it so much, that He sometimes just lets me fall flat on my face. It hurts. But I need that hurt, to be reminded of how insufficient I am apart from Him.

"I am weak, but He is strong"...I've been singing those familiar words since I was small, but how much time have I truly spent relying on His strength alone?

Most of the time I find myself performing as though my own strength is entirely sufficient. Or at least close to entirely...God can't be expected to do ALL of it? Actually He can, and prefers to (something about being omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent gives Him an advantage that I can't match).

When I take a moment to try and visualize what it looks like for ME to try and "help" HIM...I simply have to chuckle. It's like a gnat coming along and offering to help Superman hoist a house into the air.

Like that, times infinity.

Pathetic, laughable "help," and totally unnecessary. Yet here I am, all too often a pathetic, perfectionist gnat of a girl barging in to try and prove my helpful "muscle" to an Almighty God, when all He really wants me to do is realize that I can't do ANYTHING worthwhile in my own strength.

I've got to stop striving so hard to be strong and perfect, and instead rest in and rely on His perfect strength. I must let go of these continual attempts to seem perfect to people.

I've got to stop being so terrified of experiencing my own inadequacy, and start allowing others to see my failures and know my that I may with greater confidence point to the perfect, unfailing strength of a loving Father, and the perfect righteousness and atoning work of a merciful Savior.

The point of my fleeting life on this earth is not to create some false sense of my own perfection in people's minds, but to reflect the truth and beauty of His perfection. He has already provided the perfect Light of the world, and my job is to be a mirror. Not to try to compete with some unsteady, flickering flame of my own conjuring.

I'm not called to live in fear, but in freedom. Freedom which enables me to live fearlessly, free to fail fearlessly... knowing that all of my failures here on earth can never alter the ultimate victory I have through Jesus Christ.

As such, my failures here on earth do not have the power to determine my worth. My worth has been determined by Christ's sacrifice, and His record of perfect righteousness before God the Father has been eternally imputed to me. When I compare myself to others on a scale of earthly success and failure, I will never be good enough. But praise be, He is and always will be more than good enough.

Living in fear and perfectionism is living in chains.

Living in chains inhibits my ability to proclaim Christ as Chain-Breaker.

How can I willingly sit here in my chains and expect others to hear my voice telling them that they need to be free like me? Rubbish. Real freedom is lived in, not just talked about. I have been given the gift of real freedom, and by God's grace I'm going to live in it.

I'm going to start by doing something new. Trying things I don't know if I'll be able to do very well, that push me out of my comfort zone. I want to start failing fearlessly, and praising Him for the freedom to do so. Praising Him for the innate weaknesses that allow me to know the blessing of His strength, more and more every day.

“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” Psalm 18:32

"For you, brothers, were called to freedom; but do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh. Rather, serve one another in love." Galatians 5:13

Was Jesus "cute"?

Trying to get work done at Starbucks sometimes backfires on me, but I must say...I've never seen a man make such a speedy exit after hitting on me/trying to ask me out. The Lord knew I needed a good laugh this morning.

After sitting down and introducing himself, Mr. Military Dude wasted no time in asking plenty of questions that I attempted to answer with minimal detail and maximum politeness. Upon finding out how old I am (and that I wasn't looking for a date), he assured that I'm a "baby" and have plenty of time before I need to worry about getting serious with anyone (oh, phew..haha). He said, and I quote: "All you need to focus on right now is going to a bar, getting drunk and meeting lots of people."

At this point I couldn't help but break down and laugh out loud; honestly folks, how could I not? The only thing I found remotely relatable in that sentence was the "meeting lots of people" part; I do love meeting people.

When faced with my unabashed amusement at this piece of advice, this gent quickly followed up with "I know, I know, you're not a party girl...but really. All you need to do right now is focus on cute guys."

To which I very seriously responded, "Actually I'm just focusing on one guy right now. Jesus.

He's the only man that never has, and never will, let me down."

*cue dude mentally fumbling for a way to exit this convo ASAP*

Him: "Ha, that's a good idea too! I mean, he was cute, right?"

Me: "Uhm, well I don't know, I never actually saw him in person...he was Jewish so I imagine he was a swarthy fellow..."

Him: "Well I'm not Jewish but I look Jewish, ya know I have the big nose, and I think I'm kinda cute-looking...."

Me: "Haha.................yeah...haha...."

He jumped up, shook my hand again and told me it was nice meeting me. His parting advice to me was to "stay out of trouble" before he turned and high-tailed it out of there.

Jesus: 1
Mr. Military Dude: 0

Guys, I couldn't help it. As the door closed behind him I buried my face in my hands and dissolved into laughter all over again, while simultaneously praying that the Lord please go after that man; he needs Jesus too!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Army Strong

I will never forget one of the most life-changing days in my Army Brat experience. Every now and then something will remind me, and I re-live it as though it just happened yesterday...
I was 10 years old, and we were stationed in Vilseck, Germany. My Papa had just deployed to Iraq (at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom) and my Mama, siblings and I were trudging out of the post gym after giving lots of long "see ya later" hugs and kisses and watching him hoist up his rucksack and leave to board the bus. I remember desperately trying to wrap my mind around the fact that it would be months and months before we would see him again, as I became caught up in a strange stupor of feeling momentarily detached from reality.

We were in our van, pulling away from the gym, when we saw a young woman walking alone along the side of the road. She had been in the gym too, sitting behind us on the bleachers and holding on to her soldier until the very last second, then a goodbye kiss and he was gone with the rest of them, off to deploy across the globe to a war zone for the next year.

My mom suddenly pulled the van over to the side of the road and asked if the young woman needed a ride somewhere; she said yes, expressed her gratitude, and got in.
The image of what happened next will forever be imprinted on my mind: my mother leaned over, wrapped her arms around this young woman and they held each other and sobbed.

It was heartbreaking, and yet at the same time it was one of the most wonderful moments I've ever witnessed. Watching this unexpected scene unfold before my young eyes, the tears began to stream down my own face as I saw the instantaneous bond of love and camaraderie that was formed between these two amazing Army wives who were feeling the fresh pain of enormous sacrifice....sending their husbands, their United States Soldiers, off to war.
I was only 10 years old, but I learned so much that day, from that one simple but impactful scene.
That day I learned that Army wives aren't strong because they're invincible, but because they know how to share the burdens of military life and encourage one another.

I also learned the profound lesson that words are not always a necessary component to bringing comfort to someone. Sometimes you just need to put your arms out and hold them, and share tears with them, because you understand their hurt and feel their pain, and that simple gesture brings more comfort to a soul than any pep talk ever could.
That day, I got to see my mother put Romans 12:15b ("weep with those who weep") into action, and it taught me life lessons I'll never forget.
I fell even more in love with my Army heritage that day, and am increasingly blessed to say that I have seen, felt, and lived the definition of what it is to be truly, "Army Strong."
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I am so very proud to be called "Army Brat," the product of such a rich and lasting legacy.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sad Blog, Cute Dog

I am a terrible blogger. A blogger hypocrite. A wannabe.
I thoroughly enjoy reading regular updates on other folks' blogs, but mine...alas, it lies dormant for months at a time. Nary a post. Not a picture or quote. Such a sad blog.
In order to counteract my lame blogging, here is a picture of Bella Blair Fitzwilliam. By far the smallest and most ridiculous member of our family. She is an Okie of German descent, so her personality is understandable. Here she is in her classic, "Dumbo" pose. Enjoy.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Vaccination Explanation

Let me start out by saying this, lest you stop reading halfway though and decide to post some debate-inducing comment on this post: THIS IS NOT MEANT TO FUEL A DEBATE, SO PLEASE DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT.
If you feel the need to say something controversial about this….restrain yourself. Thanks! Other types of comments are completely fine. Alright….now that we’ve covered the disclaimer…

I have been thinking lately. A lot. Like, more than normal (Yeah yeah, maybe that's not saying much). ;)
Anyway, I've been thinking about one topic specifically, brought on by a recent situation...this topic? Vaccinations. *cue heightened blood pressures and urges to comment*
SO MANY OPINIONS. SO MANY ARTICLES. AAAAGGHH. SO MANY INTELLIGENT PEOPLE I KNOW WHO COMPLETELY DISAGREE WITH ONE ANOTHER. My head hurts just thinking about the myriad of ranting, “research” filled articles on these opinions. It’s one of those things where, if you’re looking at it objectively, it can be easy to understand (to a point) the strong emotions and feelings of the people on both sides of this debate.
Now, a little background on me and my personal experience with this topic: My mother went to school to become a nurse. After having kids, my parents thoroughly researched vaccines as they have come out and been "strongly recommended" for their children. Upon their OWN research of these vaccines, they've personally decided that some (but not ALL) are good inventions founded on solid scientific facts, and thus, my siblings and I have been fairly well vaccinated in our lifetimes. We learned very early on that sharp needles are not nearly as fearsome as some people think. I've lead (along with all 3 of my siblings) an extremely happy, healthy, disease-free life. I did have chicken pox (wasn't vaccinated against it); but other than that I've been a "picture of health" (according to doctors).
I also know equally healthy people who were never vaccinated at all. Hmm.
Still confused, I started off defensively investigating this topic. My parents know almost everything; of course they’re right about this. And I’m going to PROVE it. I found some pretty smart sounding stuff that backed up this firm belief in my parents’ wisdom. HA.
A dear friend of mine countered with some articles from the “other” side. One of them was pretty unconvincing, but another started to sound somewhat rational…maybe some of what they said was right? Still sounded like mostly personal preference and not much scientific evidence though. I was still confused (sensing a theme yet?).
Slowly it began to occur to me, I shouldn’t be going about this as if I already had the answer. I respect my parents and I know they love me and have done what they believe is absolutely the best thing for me, but they are by no means infallible beings. If I was going to investigate this topic for myself, in order to be prepared for the day whenever God entrusts ME with my OWN children, I needed to go about this as if I have no opinion at all. Because truly, my opinion wasn’t really mine, yet. Up until that point, I was really only regurgitating what my parents believe and have told me. Which is fine; my parents are supposed to pass on their advice and wisdom to me. It’s their job to do that. But now, as an adult, it’s MY job to take that advice and wisdom they have given to me, and use my God-given brain to decipher my own thoughts and opinions.
If they end up lining up with what my parents believe, wonderful. If not, my parents aren’t going to stop loving me if I don’t agree with them on every single aspect of life (examples: my mom likes 80's music and I think she’s bonkers; my dad loves squid and I think it should be a sin to eat things with tentacles). Vaccinations are not going to affect my eternal salvation. :)
With this new perspective on things, I delved into the issue again. Objective, and open-minded. Read many things. Considered many things. Questioned many things. Wondered if I’d ever find a good answer. Thought I might give up and try to forget about it. Decided that wasn’t a very good option. Thought about it some more. Wished the Bible could have included some sort of futuristic verses concerning how Christians should deal with vaccines.
I found out I still was somewhat wary of the anti-vaccination articles, because even coming from a less-biased mindset they seemed to contain a lot of misinformation/contradictions and weren’t well backed up by scientific evidence (because who can trust real doctors and scientists when they’re all in cahoots with pharmaceutical companies) ….but reading the horrific ingredient lists in those articles is enough to make anyone question vaccines, at least to an extent. POISONS. That can’t be good. But, in my head I couldn't help but wonder why , if I’ve been injected with all these poisons have I never felt…poisoned? STILL CONFUSED.
I needed a trustworthy source to provide me with something real. Someone who was attempting to come from as unbiased a background as I was attempting to come from. I truly didn’t care which side they ended up landing on (I have personal reasons for wanting to agree with both sides), as long as I could feel completely assured of my convictions in the end.
Real research. Real facts. Real statistics. Not from irate liberal doctors or irate homeschooling moms. Not from someone trying to prove their point in an angry, “you’re stupid for even considering that option” sort of way. Just someone who wants to find the TRUTH, and then share that TRUTH with others. In a calm, loving way that displays genuine interest in humankind.
I was entirely fed up with all of the opinions and preferences. I know there IS absolute truth in this world, and I’m absolutely sure there is some truth to be found in all of this mess. BUT WHERE?!!

Now. To finally get the the crowning glory of this seemingly never-ending post about my journey to officially find my own opinion on vaccines…..well, it was an accident. I accidentally found an article written by a man who also happened to write the science book that I rather despised sometimes in my younger school years. Dr. Jay L. Wile. He also taught at a homeschool convention we attended once, but I didn’t take his class because I hadn’t actually enjoyed having to take the tests that came along with his science book that I’d had to work through in school, and therefore I had some bad memories associated with his name. Hahaha. Really. I admired his ability to write a book that could be both interesting and yet at times awfully boring (to me, a literature/history lover) and lengthy in content.
But back to vaccines. I prayed and struggled for a few days, before deciding to give it a rest and come back to the topic a little bit later, to reassess. I was determined to come to some sort of conclusion, eventually….but not now. I would remain neutral for the time being and refuse to engage in the silly squabbles I had witnessed over and over on the internet. That wasn’t helpful to anyone.
Then I found Dr. Wile’s blog post. I was instantly intrigued. In all my researching, I had noticed a distinct trend in the anti-vaccination movement. A lot of the folks I know who believe in not vaccinating, are homeschooling families. And Dr. Wile writes his extremely popular curriculum for…HOMESCHOOLERS.
If you don’t know who he is, go here:

This should be good…I really wanted to see what this man’s stance on vaccines was. He didn’t seem like the type to beat around the bush. I also knew that he, like myself, is a big seeker and supporter of truth. Coming from a worldview like my own, with God’s Word being the ultimate Truth. And a scientist to boot. I couldn’t help myself….I read it. All of it. And clicked on the links. And read some more. I was amazed, and so grateful. Finally. Things that made sense. Facts that fit together coherently, backed up by overwhelming evidence. Something that gave me the assurance I have been seeking. Turns out, there are even some Bible verses that can be accurately applied to the topic of vaccination. If anyone is curious, here’s that article:

If you read the article, you MUST also look at the links. All of them. It’s a package deal. I think if I ever attend another homeschool conference that includes teaching by Dr. Wile, I will not only attend his class, but I’ll probably also give him a hug and beg his forgiveness for thinking such rude things about his science textbooks….

P.S. Remember: if you have the urge to comment, please re-read the first part of this post before proceeding. :D