Masthead header

 

shutterstock_192405881

“Mommy, I don’t think that I can go to horse camp.”

“What do you mean, sweet girl? You love horses, and I know you will have a blast,” I quickly assured her as we settled in for our bedtime routine of snuggling and reading together.

Her voice cracked and tears spilled out of her eyes as she choked out the words, “but if I go to horse camp every day that means we will only have six hours a day together!”

Those words. Those precious words.

In that moment, my heart melted as I thought about how much my eight-year old daughter was growing up so fast before my very eyes, yet even with how big she was getting- she still needed me. I held her close and assured her that she would be fine without me, but the tears continued…out of both of our eyes.

Ω

One thing that I am learning is that this whole letting-go thing is not easy. I’m quite certain that I have left pieces of my heart in the church nursery, at the preschool, in her kindergarten class, and now even at horse camp. And I find myself fighting through the mixed emotions of wishing that I could keep her little forever but yet wanting to help her to mature and grow.

As parents we have such an awesome responsibility. The Bible challenges us to train up our children in the way that they should go (Proverbs 22:6), and what I am learning is that part of training them is to help them transition from parent-reliance to God-reliance. As much as I want to be her everything, that is only a place that God can and should fill.

Suddenly, this became more than just about horse camp, but rather, an opportunity for both of us to grow.

Interestingly enough, the very next day after our emotional bedtime conversation, my daughter came to me and said, “Mommy, I’ve thought about it- horse camp is only a week long, and we have all summer to be together. Go ahead and sign me up.”

I watched her excitedly skip away, and I had to shake my head and laugh because I was still back at our emotional bedtime ordeal… while she had clearly moved on.

However, my heart was so happy and thankful that she didn’t get stuck in needing me to miss out on a week of having so much fun! I’m sure we will have many more of these crossroads to face together, but today I will hug her and tell her,

“Go ride that horse, my love! And have the time of your life at horse camp! And when you are done, I will be there to hear all about it and to savor our six hours together.”

 

photo-11

  • Nancy Rogers - Paula,

    What a touching warm story. Yup its hard letting go..of children, of grandchildren, of lifes problems and of life’s tragedies, hard to let go and let God take control, to watch over, to wait on Him for all of it. Even adults have to learn this, almost everyday I find myself having to give it to Him yet again.
    As for horses, your sweet Emma has my heart there. I road horses in shows, for pleasure all my teen/young adult life. I owned 3 horse. Then not quite all that long ago had two mini horses, that I let go of about 5 yrs. ago as I got older. Nothing like the love of horse and a girl. 🙂

    God Bless,
    Nancy Looking forward to seeing you again at Maine Coast Baptist.ReplyCancel

    • pauladunn - Nancy- you are exactly right: handing over everything to God is definitely not a one-time thing. It is a daily, hourly, and sometimes even a moment-by-moment realization that we need God. Letting God have control in all areas of our lives is an ongoing process for all of us. Glad to know I’m not the only one who keeps having to let go and let God… 🙂

      Emma definitely shares your love of animals! So sweet!

      Yes, I am so excited to come back to Maine in August! I look forward to seeing you then!
      Thanks for your constant support of my ministry!
      Blessings to you!ReplyCancel

  • Gail Smith - Beautiful,

    Jack and I have had to watch ourfour sons grow up over the years and let each one of them go at different times. It was hard all four times but I do remember giving them back to the Lord when each was an infant. That is a comforting feeling just knowing that He has them each in the palm of his almighty hand

    Love you Paula
    Gail SmithReplyCancel

    • pauladunn - You are so right, Gail! It is so comforting to know that God has our loved ones in His almighty hand- our children & our parents!!! 🙂 Love you, my friend!ReplyCancel

  • Denise Ames - Oh so precious. You’re both too sweet!ReplyCancel

    • pauladunn - Thanks, Denise! I so appreciate your sweet enouragement & support! Much love…ReplyCancel

shutterstock_138284549

It had been a beautiful day- perfect for a trip to the mountains with our friends. We had enjoyed touring a new youth camp that our church was building and had ridden 4-wheelers and gators on trails deep into the wilderness of this amazing property. The air was fresh and the views were absolutely breath-taking. All throughout the day, I couldn’t help but smile and reminisce of wonderful memories of going to camp when I was a child.

I was quickly pulled out of my reverie as our tour brought us to the brand new zipline that had just been installed. This was the moment the group had been anxiously waiting for. They could hardly wait to take the plunge off of the platform that loomed 40 ft. off the ground.

Everyone, that is, except for me. Being far from a thrill-seeker and one that struggles with motion-sickness, going on a zipline was definitely not in my plans for the day, but I was very happy to watch everyone else…happy until I heard these words:

“I will only go down the zipline if mommy goes with me.”

My heart sank and I immediately had a boulder in the pit of my stomach. I knew in that moment my fate was sealed as my 8 year-old daughter looked up at me with her big blue eyes earnestly imploring me to help her conquer her fear so that she could enjoy this phenomenal experience. She was so conflicted with wanting to go so badly but being completely scared to do so. I knew in my heart this was a defining moment in her life and even mine. Would we turn away in fear or step out into it?

After painstakingly thinking through the whole situation,  I very reluctantly agreed to do the zipline with her and began to put the harness on…all the while wondering what in the world was I thinking. These kinds of things truly terrify me, make me nauseous, and present a very real possibility of looking like a complete spectacle with arms and legs flailing wildly out of control the whole way down. I knew that despite all of the above, this was a life lesson that I had to help my daughter through. The thought of how could I encourage her to face her fear, but not be willing to do the same kept going through my mind.  So, I took a very deep breath and continued on.

Seconds before stepping off the wooden platform, I began to second guess the whole thing and even said, “I really don’t think I can do this!” But as I looked over at my daughter standing next to me on her platform and saw her beaming with excitement to do the zipline side-by-side with me, I knew there was no way out.

So, before I could change my mind, I closed my eyes, took another deep breath, and stepped off the platform into the air. My stomach and heart both felt like they had risen into my throat, I never moved a muscle throughout the whole ordeal, and to add to my terror I ended up going backwards the whole way down! Yes, backwards! Nothing like not knowing when or how you are going to land on your very first trip down!

My daughter, on the other hand, squealed with delight and LOVED every moment of it as she gracefully glided through the air with her arms outstretched like a princess. She went on to do it several more times and even got choked up when we had to leave.

Beyond just being happy that I survived the whole ordeal, I walked away from this experience with a renewed determination to face my fear and not let it dictate my circumstances- not just on a zipline but in all areas of life.

We all have moments when fear suffocates us with its unrelenting grip on our hearts. Perhaps it’s the fear of the unknown, the fear of failure, the fear of not having control in a situation, or the fear of pain and sorrow just to name a few. But in each of these situations, we have a choice to either run away from our fear or to plunge head-long into it and face its powerful control on our lives.

Our pastor and friend, the one who was probably the most responsible for pressuring (oops, I mean convincing) my daughter & I to do the zipline, used this story in his message Sunday to illustrate that just as Emma had courage to step out because she trusted me and knew that I would be by her side the whole way down, we can find strength in knowing that God is always by our side and will help us through our greatest fears and struggles. I love that! What a great picture of how we can place our childlike faith in God to find strength when we are consumed with fear.

“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”          ~John Wayne

What fear is holding you back?

We are all scared to death at times. The key is pushing through our fears and anxiety by recognizing that we aren’t in this alone. God is with us every step of the way and will give us exactly what we need to accomplish His purposes. He tells us in Philippians 4:13 that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. What would it look like if we really embraced and believed that verse? I believe we would let go of our fears and insecurities and we would saddle up for the exciting adventure God has waiting for us (Dare to Soar, pg 63).

So, whether we are teetering on a 40ft. zipline platform or facing a moment in life that paralyzes our hearts, let’s face our fear and bravely choose to step into whatever lies before us.

You will only conquer fear when you face it.  

So why not just close your eyes, take a deep breath, and take that step today?

shutterstock_236393908

  • Denys - I love this! You had me laughing like you always do with all your stories. Wish I could have seen you.ReplyCancel

    • pauladunn - Denys- glad you enjoyed the story. You know me so well, and I’m sure you could picture the whole thing :).ReplyCancel

shutterstock_243480067

When you see yourself, what do you see? A portrait of a classy woman always exuding grace and confidence? Hmm. While that might be an answer many of us strive towards, if you are anything like me, there are days when I can feel more like a haggard mess as I barrel through my day.

Let’s face it, in today’s society, there is a ton of pressure on women to look a certain way. We can’t even stand in a grocery line without being bombarded with pictures of models who have perfect figures, amazing hair, trendy clothes, and beautiful airbrushed makeup. And if we are not careful, we as women can walk away feeling very discontented and critical of ourselves. Can you relate?

I believe this is a struggle many of us women face throughout our lives, and if we are not careful we can so easily buy into our society’s obsession with not just beauty but all out perfection…which no amount of dieting, exercising, or shopping could ever attain. That is why it is SO important that we find our security in the Lord- not in how we look, not in what we have, but in who we are in Christ!

If only we could see ourselves as God sees us! He formed us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139), and we are created in His image (Genesis 1:27). Have you ever thought about the fact that every time we pick ourselves apart and put ourselves down we are insulting our Creator? (how convicting is that?) He made us just the way we are! And here’s my favorite part- because I have a personal relationship with God, I am His child which makes me a daughter of the King! Imagine if we truly embraced, believed, and lived that? How different we would view ourselves, our lives, and this short time that we have here on this earth if we truly saw ourselves through God’s eyes.

So as we wrestle through this whole self-image thing, my prayer for each of us women is that we will confidently know who we are in Christ and focus more on Him and less on ourselves…causing Jesus to absolutely radiate from each of our lives. What could be more beautiful than that?

  • Linda Blass - Love the verse regarding the meditations of our mind. Our self talk has power to strengthen us or rib us of our power. Keeping His word in our heart reminds us how prescious we are in His sight.ReplyCancel

    • pauladunn - Linda- you are so right! Keeping God’s Word in our heart and minds truly is the key to knowing who we are in Christ! Thanks for that reminder! Blessings to you! PaulaReplyCancel

shutterstock_186218630

It was just an ordinary afternoon of racing around and running errands before picking up my daughter from school, but in the midst of the mundane there was a powerful moment that profoundly spoke to my heart.

As I stood in the grocery store checkout line, I will be honest I was a little frustrated at how long it was taking. However, never wanting to waste a moment, I immediately busied myself with scanning my groceries to make sure nothing was missed and then I quickly began looking over my to-do list to see what else could be checked off in the next hour. I was completely engrossed in my own thoughts until a rather loud conversation erupted right behind me. An older gentlemen came up with two items in his hand, but stepped aside to let the older lady behind him take his spot. She quickly told him that since he only had two items he should go first, but he assured her that he didn’t need to go first. He went on to say that he had absolutely nothing to go home for and no one waiting for him. She then went on to tell him that she understood because she had lost her husband a year ago. They continued to talk as it became my turn to check-out. I found myself wanting to turn around and express my sympathy for both of them, but didn’t want to interrupt their moment. An honest moment. A real-life moment. A moment that I could not let go of.

I walked out of the grocery store pondering their lives and how lonely they must often feel. I couldn’t help but feel their sadness as they related to one another. I thought of my sweet family that is always there at home with me, and my heart overflowed with love and thankfulness for them. And I began to wonder if in all of the craziness of rushing around trying to get everything done each day, am I loving them well? Am I appreciating their sweet faces every day that we are blessed to be together? Do I savor the moments we have together?

Life is funny how it tricks us into thinking it is forever, but in reality it is fleeting. It feels like just yesterday I was a little girl riding my bike after school, and somehow I blinked and now I am in my 40s. And as life keeps marching on, I am even more determined to keep dreaming, keep living, and keep loving with everything inside of me.

It has been a few weeks since the grocery store encounter, but I have not forgotten the reminder that it impressed upon my heart. A reminder that I’ve only got one shot at this thing called life. I don’t want to be so busy rushing around or looking ahead that I miss the people and even the grocery store moments right in front of me. I want to choose to LIVE fully, to LOVE completely, and to EMBRACE every moment that I am given- the mundane moments, the grandiose moments and everything in between, for every moment matters and is an opportunity to cherish those around us and to make a difference with our lives!

 

 

  • Amy - Well said. Thank you…I needed that reminder.ReplyCancel

    • pauladunn - Thanks, Amy! So appreciate your support :). Blessings, PaulaReplyCancel

  • Gail Smith - BeautifulReplyCancel

 

shutterstock_182000096

     Last summer, my family and I had one last hurrah before school started by taking a short getaway to the beach. Our daughter, Emma, had informed us that in all of her seven years of living she had only been to the beach one time for a few hours. I know what you’re thinking–major parent fail!

Just between you and me, I must admit that I am not a die-hard beach girl. While I love the idea of the beach–the crashing waves, the breeze, the warm sun, the laid-back, fun atmosphere, etc.–the reality of the massive amounts of sand found for days to follow forces me to grin and bear it as the sand covers our bodies, our towels, our bags, and even our car. On the other hand, my husband, Robb, loves it all. Still, he can get his entire beach experience filled in just two short hours, and then he is ready to move on. However, as any dutiful parents would, we laid all of our reservations aside and embarked on this two-day beach adventure filled with big plans for all kinds of fun for our daughter.

As we drove through torrential rain to get there, I studied the impending forecast only to find two straight days of rain and thunderstorms ahead of us. My mind began to race with “plan B” options. But when the beach is what your seven-year-old has been dreaming of and thinking about for weeks, there is no plan B. Rain or shine, stormy or serene, there was no turning back. The beach would be our destiny for the next two days.

Since we we were practically driving through a monsoon to get there, we decided to take our time and grab some lunch and also stop for some beach essentials. You know, the boogie board, the token pail and shovel that you pay ten dollars for (all the while kicking yourself for not grabbing the stack of them at home), bottled waters, and all the infamous beach snacks that you can’t live without.

We finally arrived at the much-anticipated resort during the late afternoon, which gave us time to get settled in and scout out the beach that we would be calling home for the next two days. After dinner and ice cream, we nestled in our beds with visions of surfboards and sand castles all dancing in our heads.

Hours later, we awoke to an 80 percent chance of rain forecast and mostly cloudy skies at best. “That’s okay,” we cheered. We were at the beach, and we were going to make the most of it. We packed our beach bag, donned our bathing suits, slathered ourselves up with sunscreen, and we were on our way with an optimistic skip in our step.

Upon arrival, we happily set up camp, rented chairs and an umbrella, and officially made our beach debut. Robb and Emma jumped the waves as I cheered them on. We searched for crabs and starfish, made sand castles, and, in the midst of all of our beach fun, failed to notice the dark clouds rolling in until they were right upon us.

As the threatening clouds grew darker and the rain began to descend, I couldn’t help but notice three very distinct reactions from our fellow beachgoers. First, there were those who panicked and quickly scurried to gather all of their carefully laid out beach accessories and ran as fast as they could indoors, away from the storm–their high hopes and dreams of a perfect beach day shattered by the fierceness of the wind and rain.

Then, there were those like me who hunkered down under the umbrella all the while hoping and praying the storm would quickly pass by, yet disappointed by the interruption it caused to their plans.

Lastly, there was Robb and Emma. They chose not to let the storm affect their dreams for the day. They ran, chased the waves, and danced in the rain, making the most of every moment despite the less than ideal circumstances.

As I listened to my family’s laughter and watched them chase each other into the ocean, I couldn’t help but wonder if this whole beach experience was a picture of how it is in our lives when the unexpected storms come along. We all have such high hopes and dreams for how we want things to be. We make meticulous plans for our dreams, yet sometimes storms come along and threaten to hijack everything.

It is in those disappointing moments that we can choose how we will perceive and react to the storm. We can panic and immediately give up on our most cherished dreams–seeing the storm as a permanent and invincible foe in our lives. We can hunker down and wait for the storm to pass, fixating on the disruption to our plans. Or we can see the storm as a passing inconvenience but not a dream destroyer. We can choose to keep living, to keep dancing, and to make the most of every minute of this adventure called life.

The choice is really up to us. It’s all about perspective, and it’s all about trust. So, if you will excuse me while I leave my umbrella, I’ve got some dancing in the rain to catch up on.

~Taken from Dare to Soar, pages 99-102.

PD_bookcover

Available at Pauladunnministries.com