Dreaming Fear – Taylor Palmer

Fear not

Fear not

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10 (KJV)

Every inch of my body was afraid. I struggled to lift my legs after every solid jolt to the ground, but I kept running. My cry, silent. I’d lost too much air along the way to waste even on a small sigh. Every little breath I had left was needed. Fallen branches and sticks snagged the skin of my legs, but I kept moving. My heart pushed through my chest; at least I was still alive. I had already lost too much of me. I was cold and my strength yielding.

I felt him catching up; with every step I took, he leaped closer. As he reached for me, I woke up. Every night the same nightmare, and every night I seemed a little closer to dying in my own sleep. The nightmares seemed real. Even in my sleep, I knew I was asleep but couldn’t wake up. I was always restless, and would wake up with nose bleeds and migraines. Doctors told me to be mindful of what I ate or watched on television before bed. I took careful note but the evil still came at night.

I fell upon a scripture: Fear thou not for I am with thee. Be not dismayed; for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee … Could these words of promise be the answer? That same night the dreams returned but this time I remembered the scripture. It came to me as clear as when I was awake. I fought to call His name until it spewed from me. “Jesus!”

It’s hard to find strength in a God we cannot physically touch or see. It’s harder yet, to release fear into the hands of this invisible being. But God is not invisible. He is not intangible. He is in everything we see, in every breath we take. The power to overcome fear lies in the simplicity of letting go and trusting. This God who breathed life into us, will strengthen us. He promised and God is a God of His word.

The nightmares have since stopped and that promise is glued to my heart. Remember, Jesus is in every situation that haunts us. He waits for us to call on His name with everything we have left inside of us.

Call on Him.

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Taylor Palmer photoTaylor Palmer is a student of Oral Roberts University. In her senior year, she is studying Convergence Journalism to become a news caster and future author. Eventually, she plans to travel back to her hometown in Temple Hills, Maryland to give back to her own community church and school by starting a journalism program to prepare their young future writers for this particular field of study. As Taylor always says, “Writing is a passion, not a job.” She knows that writing is a gift from God, and Taylor cherishes every word He gives.

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Peaceful Slumber – Toni Campbell

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Oh my achin' back.

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, oh Lord make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8 NIV

Fear. I was gripped with it each evening as I tried to fall asleep.

For the first eighteen years of my life I lived under my father’s roof. Then I got married and lived with my husband for the next twenty-seven. Until I was separated, I had never been alone and “unprotected.”

That’s when the fear hit.

For six months, I slept on the couch. It was silly, but I felt if I was in my bedroom, I might not hear an intruder. Not that it would give me any real advantage to be roused from my sleep as someone tried to break in the front door just a few feet away.

My back ached, I was exhausted from tossing and turning on a piece of furniture never meant for providing a good night’s sleep. Then one evening as I read my Bible, I discovered Psalm 4:8.

I prayed for peace and safety, and saw in my mind’s eye, a picture of huge, bright, ten-feet-tall angels, dressed in brilliant white and brandishing swords. Sent by God, they stood around the perimeter of my home, guarding against evil.

David was often pursued by enemies. Many of the Psalms are cries to God for deliverance from those who sought his life. He was king, and yet the position and power that came with the title were not enough to protect him. He knew real safety was found only in the Living God.

Today, we install locks and alarm systems, buy a dog, or have emergency numbers on speed dial. But none of these precautions give us true peace and safety. Only God can provide that. The Psalm says, You hem me in behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. You can’t get any more watched over than that.

Does fear and worry keep you from a good night’s sleep? Trust in the only one who can make you dwell in safety. Only then can you sleep in the confidence of His peace.

Toni Campbell is a copywriter and voiceover talent whose true passion is writing and blogging about community outreach and lessons learned through God’s creation at her favorite lake. She is grateful for a God who restores broken lives and supplies beauty for ashes. In her church, she heads up the community outreach ministry, sings on the praise team, and leads a monthly women’s prayer group. Toni has two grown children, a son-in-law on the way, and resides in New Jersey. You can read her blog at www.lakesidelessons.blogspot.com.

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Want vs Need – Cheri Swalwell

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They grow so fast

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19 NIV

We have recently moved our youngest out of his crib and into his big boy bed. I forgot how much I hated starting over in the sleep department, but who am I kidding? He never has slept as well as his siblings, so even though we’re starting over in one sense, he has always been a work in progress. As we started the new fight of keeping him in his bed, I found myself saying, “It’s not about what you want, it’s about what you need,” This was in response to his wanting to get up for the fortieth time.

When I look at Philippians, it reminds me of the difference between wants and needs. That got me thinking. How many of us live our lives striving for what we want instead of what we need?

I know I’m just as guilty of that as our son. I think it’s a natural instinct. I may want to update my wardrobe, but I need to pay the electric bill. This couldn’t be truer than in today’s economy when people are having a hard time just putting food on the table, without even considering affording any kind of luxury.

God calls us to use the money He has blessed us with wisely, and if we do that, He just may supply a few of those wants on our wish list. Or, better yet, if you are one of the few who has been blessed with more than average, I challenge you: What is one small way you can supply either a want or need of someone that God has laid on your heart?

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Cheri Swalwell describes herself as a Christ follower first and foremost, wife, mother, and avid reader. If you want to hear more about the heart she has for marriage, parenting, and relationships from a Christian perspective, feel free to visit her blog: http://journeysfromtheheartofawifeandmother.wordpress.com or like her at Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell/220762911373306.

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A Closer Walk with God – Laura Hodges Poole

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Aches and Pains

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:8-9a

I couldn’t get comfortable, no matter what position I chose. Exhausted and in pain, my body finally relented and fell asleep. An hour later, I awoke with pain shooting from my hip down my leg.

For years I’ve dealt with sciatic nerve problems. Exercise helps, though finding the right balance can be a challenge, especially as I grow older. Sitting at a computer for long stretches doesn’t help and contributes to back and hip pain.

Within the last six months, the pain has started to disrupt my sleep, which in turn increases problems during the day. Frustration set in as I tried to find a solution. I made adjustments in my daily routine and switched from exercising at the gym to walking in the mornings to see if it would help.

After adjusting to the outdoor summer climate of South Carolina, I discovered something really neat. While the gym is bustling and noisy—outdoors it’s just God and me dwelling in nature! Genesis describes God walking in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day. I find it remarkable that Eve chose to jeopardize this relationship.

I return from my walk hot and sweaty but also refreshed physically and spiritually. My morning walk with the Lord clears my mind and soul of unnecessary distractions. Dealing with discomfort is still a challenge, but my sleep has improved, and I don’t wake up as hobbled in the mornings.

Through this and other trials, I’ve learned to appreciate Paul’s testimony of his “thorn.” God has shown me many things during our walks. I praise God for the pain that drove me into the comfort of His solitude each morning. I know He will sustain me through anything.

Place weaknesses in the hands of the one whose grace is sufficient.

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Laura Hodges Poole is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in media such as Reach Out Columbia, P31 Woman, WOW–Writing on the Word, Evangel, Christian Home and School, Our Town, and the Independent Mail. She currently writes Christian romance novels and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). She is a 2012 RWA Emily finalist, with her fiction manuscript placing second amongst a nationwide field of Christian and secular entries. Her most recent non-fiction work includes a book she co-wrote, Laurie’s Story: Discovering Joy in Adversity. Laura lives in South Carolina with her husband and they have two children. Her passion is encouraging others in their Christian walk. Visit her blog, “A Word of Encouragement,” at laurahodgespoole.blogspot.com.

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No Sleeping Allowed – Wendy Dunham

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Sleep, Sleep, Sleep

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

I can fall asleep at the most inconvenient times – when I’m behind a steering wheel waiting at a stop light, on my lunch break, when working with my students, and even during a powerful church service. Thankfully I have an excuse – I have narcolepsy. Since I was diagnosed, I no longer struggle as much with an insatiable desire to sleep. I now take medication to keep alert. I’m no longer in such danger, and life is incredibly better.

Peter warns us that all of us are in danger of sleeping. He tells us to keep alert. We need to be prepared for our enemy, the Devil, whose main goal is to seek, devour, and destroy. He especially seeks those who are doing something great for the kingdom of God. We are the ones who threaten him.

As a writer, my desire is to bring glory to God through words on a page. The Devil hates that. He seeks to destroy me. He whispers in my ear: “Your writing is awful. Actually, it stinks. No one will read your work anyway, so why bother?”

But with the power of God, I can resist his threats. I am alert and wide awake. I know the enemy’s plan. Knowing this, I make a choice not to let the devil silence my words. I have made a vow that I will write for God for the rest of my days.

Does the devil whisper lies or threats in your ear? He’ll try to prevent and discourage you from using your gift or calling. When he does, remember you are alert and wide awake. You know the devil’s plan ahead of time. You are prepared. Now you must make a choice…listen to the lies of the enemy or rely on God’s power and continue forward with His call on your life.

What’s your choice?

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Wendy Dunham works full-time as a registered therapist for children and part-time with the elderly. She enjoys writing for both children and adults. She has written for Focus on the Family Club House Jr. Magazine and their website, Guideposts periodicals such as Shine Brightly, Touch, DevoZine, and books such as God Allows U-Turns, The Choices Teens Make, Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul 2, Stories for a Teen’s Heart, Book 3, as well as others. These books feature her short stories, devotionals, poetry, and interactive games. Wendy has two children and four goofy cats. She enjoys kayaking and biking with friends. Please visit her website at littlepiecesofhope.com.
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