Today’s guest mom blogger is Brynn Schmidt. I got to know Brynn, appropriately enough, on a recent flight coming home from The Justice Conference. Read her compelling story:
Seven months ago, my husband and I took our two boys (ages 11 and 9) to Africa. We spent a week in Gabon working with the National Church on medical/social outreach programs. Then, we flew across the continent to Kenya and spent two days with a ministry in the slums of Nairobi, met our Compassion International sponsored child and spent 4 days on safari. It was an unbelievable experience and God clearly went before us and protected us throughout our entire journey. All in all, it was 8 flights and 17 take-offs and landings.
Why did I count each flight segment? I have spent the last 12 years absolutely terrified of flying, with weeks of anxiety before each trip. I have still flown – most of the time. I have canceled two trips when I was supposed to fly alone, and also turned my entire family around at the airport when I could not get on a plane. My anxiety issues are not related to just flying, I also struggle with unfamiliar situations and have had a need to try and control everything around me and protect everyone in my family, especially my boys. You can see how plans for this trip were a little hard for me to process. Yet, I made it on all the flights with more peace and less anxiety than I have ever had in the past – an example of what God can and will do when you give your life over to Him completely. That is why I counted each take-off and landing.
It has been an amazing journey for me the last few years as I have studied God’s word and read about the poverty and injustice around our world. My heart breaks for all the hurting people in our world. I know that God has positioned me to be an advocate among my spheres of influence for the issues of chronic poverty and injustice, and I knew this would eventually lead to world travel. What I could not figure out was how this was ever going to happen. This trip was the first step in the process for me, and it came with months of heart preparation as I toiled with God over my struggles. Slowly, I let go – giving it all over to God and realizing that He is in control of my life – not me – no matter how hard I try.
I read the Scriptures and many books related to the topics of fear and trust in God. I kept a notebook of all the verses and quotes that I cling too; and then really, truly, gave my life over to Christ in a way that I never had before. As I did this, I started to feel God’s peace and presence daily, and my anxiety decreased significantly. I tried (and continue) to focus on each day as it comes, and not get ahead of myself and let my fears take over. Every morning I have to turn it all over to God and let go. It is a daily process.
A quote that really stuck with me is from the book, In A Pit With A Lion On a Snowy Day, by Mark Batterson. The author states, “What will you miss out on if you let your fear dictate your choices?” Is being ‘safe’ really worth it? Maybe God wants to show you something about yourself or Himself, but you’ll never know what is unless you go after it”. This quote rocked my world as I realized what my choices based on fear were doing to my family and me, and what I was missing out on. I don’t want my boys to grow up remembering that their mom was afraid of everything. I want them to see me as an example of faith, courage and adventure. I definitely made a huge step towards this in their minds with our adventures in Africa.
The journey is far from over, but I made it through one of the biggest obstacles and it has helped me ever since in my daily walk with God. I know that I will return to Africa, as we have started a non-profit to continue our medical/social outreach work in Gabon and Kenya. I believe God has opened the door to an amazing new life for my family, and I cannot wait to pursue it with Him as I cling His word. “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deut. 31:8) This is the verse that helped me through this past summer and continues to be with me every day as I move forward. The fears and anxiety are not gone, I take daily meds to help with those, but my life has turned around as I grow in relationship and trust with God. I have courage to push into life now, instead of running away from it.