A Bike With Fat Tires

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Something happens to me when I hop on my bike and head out for a ride; in my mind, I become a 10 year old. It’s as if I have no fear, and I’m transformed into that dirty, stringy, tow-headed girl who wanted desperately to keep up with the country boys. I probably smell like her too. This morning, I flew through our neighborhood gate right before it closed, jumped a few curbs, and twisted through traffic. Afterwards, as I’m parking my bike I have a conversation in my brain that goes something like this… “that was really stupid, you could’ve hit the gate. Praise God, that driver saw you! Tammy, if you wipe out jumping that curb you’re not going to jump up and yell, “That was radical!” You’re going to lie there crying, “Dial 911!” 

But, then… it’ll happen all over again tomorrow.

I have a hybrid. I love my bike. It has the wider wheels that can get me through packed sand, turf, or city traffic. Last weekend at the farm, I was eyeing my friend Ed Kobel’s bike in his garage. It had extremely wide wheels. I’d never seen a bike like it. 

“That’s the wheels it takes to get down these sandy roads?” I said nodding at the bike. “I’ve been wondering if my bike could handle it.”

“Oh yeah,” Becky, his wife said. “A normal tire can’t make it here. You have to have thick wheels to get through thick sand.” 

Thick wheels to get through thick sand… 

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Appian Way, outside Rome: That cat has no fear.

This morning on my ride I was thinking about fear versus faith. How Satan loves to throw the stick of fear into our spokes knocking us off the course God’s cleared for us. God never leads us to a place of fear. He may ask us to do something that gives us fear, but the feeling of fear and trepidation is never manifested by God. It is propagated by the enemy.  It is the enemy’s way of getting you to doubt the Father. So, if you are feeling fear about something God is leading you to do, don’t let the enemy win. 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 English Standard Version.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.” How is it God tells us in His Word be anxious for nothing, yet anxiety is now the most common mental illness in the US?

As Christians we are equipped to deal with anxiety and fear. The anxiety or fear I’m referring to is not birthed biologically or traumatically, it is the fear produced by insecurity in who God is, and who you were created to be. If you truly believe God and His word, you won’t let fear rule your life. 

Thick wheels can cut through thick sand. The most important tools we have to combat fear is God’s word and the Holy Spirit. If the word of God is your foundation throughout your life, you will have the ability to glide through whatever season or calling your are in. When the sands of life get thick and you feel fearful of the trail ahead, you have God’s power inside of you to break that debilitating stronghold and pedal forward.

Remember, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 ESV.

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I was a witness to the enemy’s fear tactics when my sister, Tricia was dying of breast cancer. It was around two months before she passed, and I found her sitting up in bed one morning. 

“I know you’re not going to believe me,” she said, “but Satan was whispering to me all night.”

“What were you hearing?” I said, a bit skeptical.

“Sinister laughing. Then he told me that God could’ve healed me, but He didn’t love me enough. He told me the work I did for God won’t matter once I’m gone. He told me my life with cancer was a waste, and never made a difference like I wanted it to. He was constantly repeating, you’re going to die and laughing.” 

She grabbed my hand, her palm was clammy.

“Tammy, I know where I am going. I don’t fear dying because I know I’m going to heaven, but do I have to be terrified in the process? It was so real, I looked over at Thomas to see if he was hearing it too, but he was asleep.” 

The passage in Psalms popped in my head, so I recited it to her. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, as You are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me. ” (Psalms 23:4 ESV) For the first time in my life, that passage came alive between us. I fully understood God was warning us that Satan was not done with her. It wasn’t enough her body was riddled with pain. He wanted to discourage Tricia even on her death bed. We prayed that God would intercede on her behalf and He would give her peace. The Bible reminded Tricia that God is there with her in that valley, she just needed to grab on to Him. 

Tricia destroyed the bondage of fear with her faith. The next night, Tricia slept with no problem. 

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” (II Corinthians 10:4 ESV)

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Jay giving me his evil expression. That would be my purse he was holding. (felt I needed to clarify)

 

Looking back now, I think about what the enemy was telling my sister. Her cancer didn’t matter… Her life didn’t make a difference to anyone. If you’ve been following this blog, you know her cancer made a difference in the life of my friend Vanessa who died one month ago from brain cancer. Vanessa Raghubir’s decision to follow Christ started by reading Tricia Baines’s story, yet Tricia died not knowing the impact her life and death had on others.

We, as Christians are God’s army. We are all a threat to the enemy. He would love to keep our journey’s stagnant our lives meaningless because we are ill- equipped with skinny tires in thick sand or paralyzed in fear of what’s ahead. Are you going to let him derail you from God’s plan for you? Or are you going to place the thick Word of Truth as your foundation and utilize the Holy Spirit’s power in the pedals?

Is God calling you to speak? Just do it.

Is God calling you to write that book or article? Do it.

Is God calling you to forgive someone? Do it.

Is God calling you to try out that Bible study? Do it.

Whatever God is calling you to do, don’t let fear win. And believe this, whatever God is calling you to do, it will be a success if you get on that bike and pedal. Ride your faith like you’re 10 years old. You’re life will be powerful!

See you on the trails! Until next week…

When Fear Wipes You Out.

 

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Gearing up!

 

On top of the Montana mountain attired in a heavy BMX helmet and pads, I found clarity on why the rental bike clerk responded with an “Ohhh…” When I told him we didn’t have any mountain biking experience. An awkward silence ensued, so I felt the need to elaborate, “We’re from Orlando Florida. The land’s flat there.”

            “Well, in that case I think I should warn you we don’t have any beginner trails. At the top of the mountain there’s only intermediate and expert trails, I’d recommend starting with the intermediate. There’s a good chance you’ll wipe out at least once… probably more. The trails only a foot wide and you’ll feel pretty vulnerable biking on a cliff. The rocks will wiggle your tires a bit. You have to trust your bike to follow through, don’t fight it. But if you don’t like the first mile, bike back up because it’ll be that way for over seven more.”

            At the peak, my boys took off without looking back (it’s a male pride thing) and Peyton rode off after them, but I’m at an age where I no longer think of myself as invisible like I did throughout my twenties. I took a steadying breath and prayed God would not let us fall off the edge before pushing off. Right away there was a ramp and a curve on a cliff that made my stomach flip-flop.  “Are they crazy? This can’t be the intermediate trail!” I screamed. Once the trail leveled a bit, I saw the kids ahead waiting for me.

            Peyton, my niece glanced back. “I already fell!” She said. She seemed a bit shaken.

            We all rode together, at the next curb Peyton wiped out again and rolled a bit off the edge. I jumped off my bike. “Peyton!” I screamed. “That’s it, we are going back. It’s not worth it.”

            “I can’t do it!” she said, rubbing her scraped up arm. I recognized the look of exasperation that crossed her face. It was the look of hopeless defeat. I remembered her Momma giving me that look when she was scared to climb the tree I’d been climbing for a while. Being only seventeen months younger, she was no longer content to stand at the bottom and watch. Tricia wanted to know what it felt like to wrap her arms and legs around the pinnacle and ride in the wind.

            “One limb at a time Tricia, I’ll go with you.” Limb by limb we climbed together until we reached the weakest branches at the top and held on tight. Tricia smiled until she looked down.  “Don’t look down,” I said. “Always, keep your eyes straight out.”

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            Peyton is so much like her Momma and I. We’re all rooted in the southern soil of determination.

            “Boys, go. Leave us.”

            “Are you sure Mom?” Nick said. What if you get hurt?”

            “She’s going to get hurt if you stay. Ride ahead, we’ll be fine.”

            They got on their bikes and rode off.

            I turned to Peyton, “Do you want to do this?”
“Yes, but I can’t.” Her arms shook.

            “Look, the way I see it, is this, you were trying to keep up and that’s why you are falling on the curbs. Walk the curbs until you get used to them. And we’re not competing here. Take it slow and steady and enjoy the ride. This is not a race. We are challenging ourselves to finish something that is ridiculously scary, so we can say we did. Okay? We got this!”

 

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Peyton rooted in Southern determination.

 

            She nodded, climbed on her bike and rode. At the next curb, she climbed off her bike as did I, and we walked our bikes around the edge of the cliff. A few miles down, she gained the courage to bike the remaining curbs, and I biked them too. One curb at a time.

            We completed the eight plus miles downhill, and met the boys at the bottom, standing with my daughter Bella and my husband, Jay. Over lunch, my son Christian bragged about how fast he was going and how he had to wait thirty minutes for Mom to arrive.

            I leaned across the table, snatching one of his fries. “Pretty sad you need to compete with a mother of four who’s nearing 50. Just saying.” I popped the fry in my mouth, shutting his up.

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After the ride, Christian already giving Momma a hard time.

 

            The times I’ve compared myself to others or tried to keep up, I’ve always wiped out defeated. I’ve always lost hope. After Jay and I married, one of our close friends had the perfect home. She enjoyed cleaning and she was a great cook too. Her home was spotless every day, I tried to keep up and soon found I did nothing but keep a clean house. I didn’t play with my children, I didn’t see girlfriends, I didn’t write, I didn’t paint. I neglected to use the talents God gave me that bring me joy and Him glory. My life felt flat all because I thought that was what a stay-at- home Mom was supposed to be. It didn’t take long to realize Jay preferred a happy, well-rounded wife to a housekeeper.

             Recently, I’ve seen friends become published authors, I’m thrilled for them, but cannot help but fill that angst that I’ll never finish my book. Just like Peyton trying to keep up with her cousins, my book will wipe out if I write slop in haste.

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Easier part of the trail.

 

            I admit I’m pretty proud of myself for conquering that Rocky mountain, I know Jay’s tired of hearing about it, but that mountain taught me a valuable lesson. We all have our own trail our own race to complete in this life. A narrow trail God’s already cleared for us alone. It will be filled with hills, cliffs, curbs, and rocks that shake you to the core. I can guarantee you will have the occasional falls and  it will seem to fly by; but if our focus is on  the ones we perceive are doing it better, we will fall off our own trail and miss the blessings and opportunities surrounding us. Think about that the next time you compare yourself to someone else. Til next time take it slow and steady and above all enjoy the ride!