Fear as an Idol

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

Can fear be an idol? This is something I recently began pondering. If we are drowning in our fears, instead of hiding in God, I believe it absolutely can be. When we are in fear, we are not trusting our Creator. And mistrust, is the opposite of having faith. If we are so frightened and wrapped up in our fears, we are not walking in faith-not believing that our Father has everything under control. When our fears are elevated to the point of interfering with our relationship with God, fear has become an idol. We must instead, give these fears to God and choose trust. By handing each thing we are afraid of over to Him, we can rest in peace knowing that he has us. He has our lives and those around us in his palms. This doesn’t mean we won’t have hardships, of course. He, however, will give us the strength to endure those trials, blanketing us with His peace along the way.

So do not fear, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. -Isaiah 41:10

Misguided Hope and Healing

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” -Mark 5:34

Are there things in your life that are difficult for you to surrender and place into God’s hands? I realized recently that my health was one of those things I hadn’t yet fully surrendered into His care. A few weeks ago, my family and I made the two and a half hour trek to see an hematologist/oncologist that my doctor referred me to. After I checked in, I waited nervously in the room for an hour and a half for the physician to come in. During that time, I was skeptical of being helped, but prayed and put the situation in God’s hands. When the doctor finally came in, it was one of the most demoralizing and hope-crushing appointments that I had ever had. Within the first minute of my appointment, I knew this doctor had dismissed my case-and he had. He didn’t want to take the time to look into what other doctors had been unable to figure out, and he later admitted it.

What I’m beginning to understand is that I’ve been putting my hope in the wrong place, when it comes to my health. Instead of seeking God first, I’ve been putting my hope in a worldly medical system. It’s a system that has failed me and at least three other friends I know with chronic illnesses, time and time again.

As many of you are aware, I’ve struggled with chronic health issues for years. I’ve seen countless doctors ranging from regular MD’s to naturopaths. And while I have one doctor in particular, who has has really dug in the most, thus far, she still doesn’t have all the answers about what has caused such profound fatigue or the other mysterious symptoms.

More despair followed my appointment the following week, as I waited for an ultrasound result that I was told would be to me that evening, but still did not have in my hands. Again, the tears flowed. Over the years, there have been so many mountains I have had to scale to try to get proper medical care. At this last appointment with the hematologist/oncologist, I was in no way treated like a human being and it made me believe that I cannot be helped by our current medical methodology.

The afternoon of my appointment, with tears steaming down my face, my husband said this: “I think you going in there and saying you were putting it in God’s hands, He just closed the door and solidified what you’ve always known. And, you’ve been hurt way too many times to let people keep doing this. Western medicine is never going to be able to help you.” Shortly afterwards, I spoke to my good friend and told her what my husband said. She said that God had also told her in these exact words “they can’t help you”. So, a new journey for me has begun.

And while I’m in no way advocating not seeking medical care, what I am saying is our faith should be in God first and foremost. For myself, I had been leaning on doctors who couldn’t help me, rather than leaning on our Great Physician in this area. My faith was backwards. It needed to be in Him, above all, not in a worldly system. I cannot hand over my hope to these doctors, who are merely human.

Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. -Psalm 30:2

Vaccine Anxiety

Dear God,

Last Tuesday, was one of the scariest moments of my life. For a year now, I haven’t so much lived, as I have survived, in a little bubble, not really exposing myself to the outside world for fear of the dreaded Covid. Tuesday of last week though, took me for a spin. You told me to do something I wasn’t expecting and it turned my world upside down. I was to get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine-something I hadn’t even decided if I wanted. Not only was I afraid of what I would be injecting into my body, and the lack of long-term studies, I was very concerned with how my chronically ill body would react. And just when I said “yes”, I sure wasn’t prepared for the steps I would have to take to get the vaccine.

I would have to go get an Alaskan State ID at a hole-in-the wall establishment that had no regard for mask wearing. Not only that, but I would have to risk my life by taking off my mask with several non-mask wearing people in the room in order to get my photo taken. Sitting outside in the parking lot, watching person after person stroll into this tiny building with no masks, made me angry at them for their selfishness and lack of regard for those of us with underlying health conditions. I was fearful for my life-so fearful, in fact, that I was in tears. Doubting that this was what I was supposed to be doing, I heard “go in”. Was this me? Was this really You? I wrestled. Then, I felt it. I felt Your peace wash over me-the type of peace that settles like a blanket of freshly fallen snow-the type that only You can give. You told me to put my entire life in your hands and it was incredibly frightening. I was wrestling with anxiety and with You, yet, I did it, shaking in my boots.

When I walked out with temporary ID in hand, I broke down. A few minutes later, I got the gumption to continue on the path You were taking me down. There was no turning back now. It was off to get the vaccine. Anxiety still present, I kept telling You I was choosing to trust that this was what You wanted me to do, but deep down, I was still scared. Going through the motions, doing my best to be obedient, I filled out the required paperwork and then the vaccine was given.

It was done, or so I thought-done, until the symptoms hit-body aches, nausea, headache, chills. I felt like I had the flu. Anger welled up inside of me. I had been feeling so much better lately. The chronic fatigue had improved some and the Lyme disease had felt more under control and now, I felt awful again. I was mad-mad that I was sick and was losing yet another day of my life and who knew how many more to being unwell. It triggered the years I’ve spent in bed due to chronic illness and missing out on life and on my family. Again, I wrestled with the anger and the feeling of little control.

Putting my fears aside, what I realize now, is that You were blessing me with protection. Not only that, You were giving me an invitation to live-which I haven’t done in quite some time. You were asking me to trust You with everything in my being-which I again, wrestled with. You were teaching me that You are in control and You know what is best for me-far better than I do.

I’m sorry for doubting you, Lord, and for struggling to trust You. Please forgive me for fearing and wanting to have control, when You are the One who has the ultimate control. You know best, God, and so I put my life in your hands.

Waiting with Trust

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit. -Jeremiah 17:7-8

Although it was a fantasy of mine, I never imagined we would actually land in Alaska. My husband and I were the ones who watched all the Alaska shows on TV dreaming of the day. Then, this past September, it happened.

During July of last year, we were camp hosting in Central Washington. We had been in temporary living situations since 2018, ever since being forced to leave our home and nearly all of our belongings due to toxic mold causing us to become extremely ill. We had camp hosted the previous year at the same beautiful campground and were given the opportunity again to live in a cabin off-grid while caring for three campgrounds over the summer. Our end date for camp hosting was September 9th and we hadn’t yet found a more permanent place to call home. With the few belongings we had accumulated over the past couple of years in tow and no leads, my anxious self was beginning to mull over the unknown. It wasn’t that we couldn’t afford a place or that there weren’t homes available, it was that due to becoming hypersensitive to mold and environmental toxins because of our previous exposure, our heightened sensitivities have made it difficult to tolerate modern housing and drywall. We found that we do best in log cabins. And these are kind of far and few between-except in places like Alaska. Alaska felt out of reach though, because I still didn’t have my passport. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the issuance of passports had slowed down tremendously.

We began scouring Craigslist and Zillow for possible cabin rentals all over, but were coming up dry. Then, God spoke in the most unlikely place. One sweltering afternoon as I fought off the mosquitos while picking up litter in the campsites and making sure fires weren’t left smoldering, God left a message, on a fire pit of all places, telling me to trust Him. I knew in that moment that all was well and He had us, that there was nothing to worry about. I didn’t have to jump ahead into the unknown, with my searching mind going into overdrive trying to figure out what we would possibly do, like I had so many times before. With a smile on my face, I could just rest, knowing He had it all taken care of, and He did. He had a cozy log cabin picked out for us planted right along a plentiful river filled with fresh salmon, here in Alaska.

See, my husband had been inquiring about cabin rentals in several states: Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, South Dakota, North Dakota, New Mexico, Colorado, and Alaska. He wasn’t receiving any responses after reaching out. Since my husband works remote and I homeschool, we were free to go just about anywhere God opened a door. And so we prayed that God would open a door. But, we continued to wait. As the days inched closer to September, heading to our dream state was looking slim. Then, my birthday came in August and to my surprise, my new passport had shown up! It was quite the birthday gift! Shortly thereafter, my husband received a call with a rental offer. The one door that opened was this current cabin we are in, here in The Last Frontier. With a rental agreement in hand, we were allowed to cross the Canadian border into Alaska during a pandemic. It was a long trek, but we made it safe and sound, by trusting that this was where God wanted us. It was in this period of waiting, that we grew in our faith.

While it’s not always easy to have faith during seasons of waiting, we can be sure that choosing to trust Him is always the right decision. So, when we are unsure about what the future holds for us, let’s remember that even in these uncertain places, we can still trust our Heavenly Father. It’s in these times of waiting, that we hold fast to Him, not letting our faith waver. Instead we lean in closer, remembering to always be in His presence, aware and expectantly waiting for Him to speak because He might just surprise us in the most unexpected of ways!

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. -Psalm 143:

Fuel Your Walk Friday

Fuel your walk with some Jesus and Joe.

I love Jesus and I love me an iced cuppa fresh cold brew halved with vanilla almond milk. What better way to combine the two and perk up the beginning of your weekend, than to “Fuel Your Walk” with some Jesus and Joe. Once a week, I will be posting a little snippet, thought, or question to ponder in relation to your walk with Christ. So grab your favorite mug, pour yourself a delicious cuppa Joe and get comfy as you let this question percolate in your mind:

Oswald Chambers said “Beware of harking back to what you once were, when God wants you to become something you’ve never been.”

Are you still looking back or are your eyes on Him and what He wants you to become?

Fuel Your Walk Friday

Fuel your walk with some Jesus and Joe.

I love Jesus and I love me an iced cuppa fresh cold brew halved with vanilla almond milk. What better way to combine the two and perk up the beginning of your weekend, than to “Fuel Your Walk” with some Jesus and Joe. Once a week, I will be posting a little snippet, thought, or questions to ponder in relation to your walk with Christ. So grab your favorite mug, pour yourself a delicious cuppa Joe and get comfy as you let these questions percolate in your mind:

Are there areas of your life you are still holding tightly to? What do you need to let go of and trust God with? What can you put into His hands right now?

He is All that I Need

The Lord is my Shepherd. I will have everything I need. -Psalm 23:1

Last week, something odd happened. I awoke with this Bible verse turning over and over in my mind. This has never happened to me before, nor can I ever recall having God speak to me through my dreams. Maybe this is a first?

As I lay there dozing in and out, I remember rattling off these words again and again: The Lord is my shepherd. He is all that I need. For awhile now, I’ve felt like He has been telling me this and apparently, this particular morning, God was really trying to pound it into me.

What I find even more interesting is that I will often start drafts of posts, to later come back and write more. I had forgotten about this post until I came across it tonight trying to figure out what I wanted to blog about. In His most impeccable timing, I saw the title I had written and once again, knew it was His way of reminding me of this after a most trying weekend.

This past weekend was one of those-can-I-please-just-pull-the-covers-over-my-head-and-keep-dreaming-so-I-don’t-have-to-get-up kinda weekends. This, along with the last three years of our lives, made me question life itself. It can be difficult to not understand what God’s plans are and yet, keep running the race. Without going into every detail, we have had to move several times in the past three years due to toxic mold exposure and environmental sensitivities. We are in another temporary living situation and were supposed to move into a different cabin this weekend, however, after moving nearly all of our stuff, we were not able to stay there. The entire cabin had been freshly varnished recently and although it had been aired out, it smelled so strongly, our belongings even smelled like varnish. So, after moving everything, it all had to go back to the cabin we came from. It felt like such a waste of time, energy and hard work. I know that there are different seasons in each of our lives, and then the seasons change, but this season we have been in the past few years has been extremely challenging, to say the least. Yes, there have been many adventures that I am so very grateful for, but there has also been a lot of hard.

I can’t help but wonder, after losing nearly everything we owned to toxic mold almost three years ago, when we will have a more permanent home. It’s all just wordly “stuff”, I know, and we are not of this world. Maybe though, I’m still grieving our losses-our health, our home, our belongings, my social work career, and private school for our girls. That’s a lot to lose in one shot. And it doesn’t include the more recent loss of seeing family due to Covid and our big move to Alaska. It’s tough not to compare our life before toxic mold, to the hardships we have endured since, or to others lives, but I know He’s refining us. There are definitely lessons in all of this. We are learning to trust God more and choose faith over fear. And we are being taught to wait patiently.

Today, I’m weary, but I’m going to choose faith. I’m going to keep my eyes on Him and remind myself that my prize isn’t this side of heaven. He’s telling me that He’s all I need, and maybe until I really, truly comprehend that on a heart-level, He won’t give me any more.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. -2 Corinthians 4:18

Tightrope of Trust

I'm walking a tightrope
between the way things are
and the way they should be

Or maybe they shouldn't be that way at all
and they just are what they are
Maybe that's what they need to be
for the time being

Toe steppin' through life
afraid to cross that line
and accept what I don't want to

"Just for now," I tell myself
is what this has to be
"Just for now"
Where I am, is temporary

Like all of life
that fades into the wind,
this too, shall pass

More days will come
Then suddenly,
I will find myself in a new place
farther ahead than I thought possible

At a snail's pace, I creep forward
I land, but not for long
because change--that's what's constant

Into the unknown,
I glide again
while waiting for answers
and growing in my faith

Learning to trust
that where I am on this journey
is exactly where He wants me

© 2021 Aimee Phillippi

It was All an Illusion

The Lord protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and he saved me. -Psalm 116:6

The memories I have as a child feeling safe are a bit foggy, but they are definitely there. I can see them if I sift through the clouds. Those are the ones that shine bright in my mind, when I let them peek through the fog. I don’t allow myself to go there often though, because that time has long passed. Having blocked out a lot after the age of thirteen, part of me doesn’t like looking back-back before that time, when my life felt absolutely perfect. Yet, when I consciously dig, I can see that young, curly-haired, barefoot girl running wild and free in our neatly landscaped yard, without a care in the world. I miss those times. I sure do. Those were the times when I felt safe and secure. Life was easy back then-simple, or so I thought.

It was an illusion though, growing up living the American dream. I found out all too suddenly that safety didn’t lie in your mom, dad, brother, or dog living together in a beautiful house in the country with neighbor kids to play with nearby. Safety didn’t lie in family camping trips, going to Disneyland together, or a new 5-speed bike for my birthday. It didn’t lie in having best friend sleepovers all the time or my dad building us an amazing fort in our backyard. Safety didn’t lie in playing weekly soccer games or going water skiing together on the river. No, see, these are wordly things and those of us who believe in Jesus are not of this world. Those things and people aren’t our safety net.

When I lost my family, I lost my sense of safety and security. It all came tumbling down like a tower built on the sand. Baptized Catholic and forced to attend church service each Sunday when I was younger, the focus back then, was the religious rituals. Despite the religion, my life was still built on worldly things. I didn’t really understand having a relationship with God at that point in my life, and although my parents tried, I don’t think they really did either. So, these worldly things that my life was built on, came crashing down hard. Like everything on earth that perishes, that life was temporary.

The family I once knew and felt secure in, eventually died. My family unit was ripped apart in an instant like a vicious wolf tearing apart its prey. Each day suddenly became confusing and scary and painful-oh so painful-too painful, in fact, for my thirteen year-old self to take. I tried to carry it, but my body gave out. This was the beginning of what my life would eventually become. The start of something new-not easy, but new-a 180 degree turn in my life. Not only did I learn to walk in fear, it was the start of a life searching for answers in all the wrong places-addictions, people, answers to my illnesses, and answers about God.

After years of picking up the pieces, and trying to figure life out, brick by brick God began helping me build my life on Him. This life He is helping me build is one based on faith, not fear. He, I’m learning, is the only One I can put my entire trust in. And the only way to remain truly safe, is to remain a child of God, with childlike faith.

So let us reach for and trust our Heavenly Father with childlike faith, knowing that He will carry us, especially in our most trying times, because He sure will. He is love, and where there is love, there is no place for fear. The God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, is walking with us every step of every moment. And He is the only One we can truly count on in this life. Our Heavenly Father will never fail us.

and said, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless you repent [that is, change your inner self—your old way of thinking, live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. -Matthew 18:3-4 (AMP)

Quiet My Soul, Lord

Fear, Fear, it’s everywhere

Slips in without me aware

The cycle is endless

The constant fear, chronic stress

The rival won’t stand down

Fired shots in this battleground

A tight grip on my heart

I can’t pry the grasp apart

My stomach’s all a knot

Just too many anxious thoughts

Round and round in my mind

Until I cannot unwind

The fear it keeps me stuck

Continued struggles to trust

You say “Don’t be afraid”

Please Father, come to my aid.

Lord, take it all from me

So in your hands it will be

Help me to rest in you

I need to sleep before two

Give me your peace and calm

Speak your Words of soothing balm

Quiet my soul, Lord, please

I’m begging you on my knees

You say your yoke is light

Show me a little more bright

Why am I so afraid?

In Your image I was made

Please take this dark gray cloud

Hanging over me too loud

Why can’t I just let go?

Surrender, so I can glow

Shower me from up above

Then I can shine Your sweet love

© 2021 Aimee Phillippi

*This was a poem I wrote in the middle of the night in November of last year, when I was struggling with fear and anxiety. It often comes in waves, but is diminishing the more I learn to trust Him in all areas of my life.