Monday, September 18, 2023

Get a Grip on Fear

How can fear have such a grip on our lives? How do the “what ifs?” and “what about?” take precedence in our minds? Fear of not being enough. Fear of losing face. Fear of losing control. Fear of not being enough. Fear of rejection. Fear of what may happen. Fear of not getting married. Fear of not having enough. Fear of adult children's choices. Fear of failure.

How much of your day is spent in your mind fearing something? When we’re afraid of what might happen tomorrow, or even in a few hours, we miss having joy in the moment. Can God be in those moments of future fears? God is here with us here and right now. He’s a very personal God and we’re called to take refuge in God when the future comes, but also right this very moment when the fear looms in our minds. Fear disconnects me from God. I can’t focus on my worries and God too!

What would happen in our minds if we stayed in the present? Not the future and not the past. Present thinking. I have found when I focus on living in God’s presence, in the here and now, it tends to wipe away my fears of the future. Sure, I have deadlines. Absolutely, I have things that need to get done. You bet I have a list of things to accomplish each day. Here’s the thing… living in God’s presence allows me to focus on His presence and appreciate His power. As I begin my day with prayer, I pray for those things that tend to cause me fear. I bring them up to the Lord one by one. This verse really helps give guidance for where our minds are focused:

“I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” Psalm 16:7-8

Gosh, the truth is my mind is NOT capable of solving all the things that often fly through it. How does your mind spin around? Work problem? Relational struggle? Unresolved issue? Parenting challenge? When we’re focused on blessing the Lord, we can’t be struggling with fear. Instead, we listen to his counsel. We invite him to help us with our problems and fears. Bring the Lord to mind! Picture yourself setting the Lord before You. He is right there. In his presence, there is no fear. There is peace.

When we’re in Jesus’ presence, nothing else matters. I get it. We still live. We still have our “lists.” We still have our concerns in life. Instead, over and over and over, we give Him our concerns. We ask Him for help. We just don’t have to do life on our own! 

Is it possible to live in God’s presence, being fully present with Him in the moment? I believe it is. Let’s pray that God will give us more of a taste of this type of living.
Take a listen to "These Are the Days" Lauren Daigle. Such a reminder to leave your worries behind!

Nancy Abbott is the Chaplain of the YMCA of Greater San Antonio. 

Monday, September 11, 2023


 I hit the jackpot last Saturday when I sat down to watch college football. I just happened to turn on the TCU and Colorado game. It did not disappoint. As you may know, Coach Prime (Deion Sanders) led the Colorado Buffaloes to upset 17th-ranked TCU. The game had me glued to my seat, as the lead went back and forth throughout the game. By the 4th quarter, I was shouting like crazy, cheering my new team on to victory. Yes, I was one of the new official bandwagon fans. I’ll stay on board until further notice, even though I will always cheer for my Buckeyes.

But Coach Prime. My goodness. I watched his opening introduction when he first arrived in Colorado, notoriously known as “We’re coming.” Well, Coach Prime and his team did come and beat an impressive TCU team. His character, attitude, passion, and faith are beautiful qualities that inspire for sure. He believes in his kids. He loves his kids.

Check out Coach Prime’s halftime words at full volume in the locker room:

We’re not going to beat ourselves. We’re not going to beat ourselves. We’re going to beat them. You’re apprehensive. You didn’t really believe. But now you should. Everything we need is right in this locker room. You need to make up your mind as to how you want this story to be written. Let’s go out and be dominant. We’re going to beat them, but we’re going to do it with class and dignity. Look at the person next to you and say “I believe.” I BELIEVE!

Coach Prime has faced his challenges. In 2022, he experienced a health scare, suffering from blood clots that forced the doctors to remove two of his toes. He admitted it was one of the most trying times of his life, but He trusted God so much. Coach Prime said “My faith was sustained. How can you even measure your faith if you’re not challenged?”

Even as he stepped down from his coaching position at Jackson State, he was met with much criticism. Yet, he ignored his critics. “You have to understand the people that are criticizing you. I never listen to my critics because my critics have critics.”

Perhaps, you and I need a bit of the passion and zeal of Coach Prime. Maybe we need to really BELIEVE that with God, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26) Maybe when bad things happen, we need to ask God to increase our faith. Maybe we need to tell those near and dear to us “I believe in you!" Just maybe, when criticized, you can find God’s unfailing love and approval.

Coach Prime isn’t perfect, but he is surely motivating. We have a heavenly Father that is perfect. He loves us and desires a relationship with us. He believes in us, even when we don’t believe in ourselves. He went the distance for us by allowing His Son to die so that we could experience everlasting life. Do you believe? 
Take a listen: Stand in Faith with Danny Gokey

Nancy Abbott is the Chaplain of the YMCA of Greater San Antonio.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Labor Day Thoughts

Who doesn’t like a day off work every year when Labor Day rolls around?  It feels like the last hurrah at the pool before temperatures dip below 95 here in Texas.

This week, I was incredibly busy. I needed rest but couldn’t seem to fit the time for it! I found my mind racing with worry about how I was going to get everything done on my list. So much left undone.

As I start this busy fall season, I need to remind myself of things that help me truly rest this Labor Day:

Mind my Mind- When my mind goes to all my worries or thoughts of the future, I can’t truly embrace Christ in those moments. He’s not in the future; He’s present right now. Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

What do I focus on in my thought life? Do those thoughts keep me anxious? Worried? Resentful? Angry? Or peaceful? When we are fully at rest, we are anchoring our minds upon Jesus.

Come to Jesus - Today, my mind was spinning in all sorts of directions. What kind of existing desires were making me in such a frenzy? I had to ask God.  Jesus invites “all who are weary” to come to Him for rest. (Matthew 11:28) Jesus was asking me to come to Him. He would calm my spinning mind. He would give me the rest I was longing for. And He did!

Acknowledge your Need for God’s Help- Do you acknowledge your immense need for God’s help? Or do you just live life the best you can on your own? Problems arise when we try to go our own way and live in our own strength. Where have you been living life in your own strength? Nothing reminds me more of my connection and need for God, but these verses in John 15:5, 9 “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing…. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”

I’m not going to say that abiding in Jesus is easy. But today, I practiced over and over keeping Him at the forefront of my mind. Abiding in Him is possible! You see, I know my true state. I’m helpless without Him. It’s in this place of great need that He meets me where I’m at, with His presence, grace, and unfailing love.

Cease Striving- In Marva Dawn’s book, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, she describes what people find when they surrender completely to God “When we cease striving to be God, we learn a whole new kind of contentment, the delight of the presence of God in our present circumstances. When we give up our silly rebellion against God’s purposes, we discover that he provides the security for which we were searching.”  Let God be God. We are not God. Stop trying to be! Allow Him to take the weight of all you’ve been working toward. He can handle it.

I’m writing this message for me today. Hopefully, some of the rest of you need it as well.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
 Matthew 11:28-30, The Message
Take a moment to rest and worship with Kari Jobe:

Nancy Abbott is the Chaplain of the YMCA of Greater San Antonio.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Pumpkin Cool

Pumpkins are officially back. Starting August 24, the Starbucks fall menu returned, and it was a busy day at Starbucks. Did you know that this is the 20th anniversary of customers having their first sip of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, otherwise known as PSL?

Of course, it’s hotter than blazes here in Texas, but sure, who's not ready for a pumpkin something? I sure am.

Have you ever thought how pumpkins must feel about this time of year? This was my favorite tweet of the week by Beth Moore: “Just think how many centuries pumpkins have waited patiently in the patch to be discovered by Starbucks. Never let go of your dreams.”

Think about it. Pumpkins come out with a boom in late August. Everything in the store…pumpkin muffins, Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, Jet-Puffed Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows, Twinkies, Cookie dough, Bagels, creamers, cream cheese, yogurt, coffee, and more. What happens next?

Pumpkin products blanket our HEB from now until the day after Thanksgiving when Christmas takes over and pumpkin is no longer cool. At that time my pumpkin cans are stacked in a lonely and dark pantry, until the next fall when they debut again.

I’m so thankful that we have a God that desires us every day of the year. Song of Solomon 7:10 says “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.” To be desired is to be wanted, enjoyed, pursued, known, remembered, and accepted. This is the Gospel, “That God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

There is no human being that could possibly satisfy the very longings created in us by God. We look to other things, possessions, and people to give us some kind of identity. All fall short. 

Did you know that God desires the closest possible fellowship and intimacy with you? He wants to give your life great meaning, purpose, and value. You are God’s first love. He loves you perfectly. He will never put you on a shelf when you’re not cool, useful, or popular. He wants you to love him more than anything else.

I’m happy that pumpkins are once again cool. I'm more than grateful for being desired by God every single day of the year.
God Really Loves us, He really does! Take a listen:

Nancy Abbott is the Chaplain of the YMCA of Greater San Antoni

Monday, August 21, 2023

Comfort Zone Mentality

Comfort zones are for real. I’m not so sure I’m aware of when I’m in my comfort zone but I sure do know when I step out! 

Going to the Philippines was a bit out of my comfort zone. First, it was a medical mission trip, and I don’t have a medical background. Second, I would have to leave my husband for a long time. I’ve been on plenty of mission trips in the past as a single, but this was different! Thirdly, I didn’t know what to expect nor how I could be used there. Finally, it was monsoon season. Enough said.

What are your comfort zones? I think we all tend to gravitate toward certain circumstances, people, or places that we feel safe around. Maybe it’s a group of friends that you can totally be yourself around. Or perhaps, it’s a job that you’ve had for a very long time. Maybe your comfort zone involves staying in Texas, not moving anywhere else. Maybe you have a comfort zone when it comes to your palette, trying different cuisines isn’t even on your radar. If you would give a TED talk on your own personal comfort zones, what would you talk about?

I sense that God can blow up our comfort zones. I believe He wants to! Why? Because when I get real about my comfort zone, it’s about me feeling safe and secure and doing only those things that I feel “comfortable” doing. Who doesn’t love to be comfortable? We do everything we can to make sure we’re comfortable. 

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that God IS my comfort zone. Yes, He is the one that keeps me safe. He is the One who buffets me and protects me. He is the One who guides me through circumstances that are new and different. I think about Abraham who was called out by God to go to a place where he would receive his inheritance. (Genesis 12:1-9) Abraham had no clue where he was going! He had to trust God to lead Him! Is it possible to follow God and be comfortable even when we don’t know what’s next? I believe it is.

When we let go of the “comfort zone” mentality, God can increase our faith and reliance upon Him. He becomes our Comfort. All throughout scripture, God uses weak and broken people to do amazing things for his glory. I imagine Abraham was pulled out from his own comfort and had to depend on God like never before!

What would your life look like if you freed yourself from the comfort zone mentality? How might You learn to depend upon God to be your Comfort day in and day out?

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power, and love, and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Check out Tommy Walker Ministries and this unique version of "How Firm a Foundation".....we won't be moved as we allow God to be our Comfort.

Nancy Abbott is the Chaplain of the YMCA of Greater San Antonio.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Faces and Hearts

I’m writing this on a long flight home from the Philippines. For most of the flight, the lights are off and you can’t see people’s faces. Many are asleep. Some watch movies. Some eating. Yet their faces are hidden in the dark.

So different in the Philippines. We saw faces everywhere. Many people squeezed into a tiny hut looking hopeful as we came for a home medical visit. We saw children’s faces with all sorts of ailments in an orphanage run by Mother Theresa’s organization. We saw babies’ faces as they first came out of the womb crying at their first entrance into the world. We saw faces of young and old, male, and female, crammed into a jeepney on a hot, humid day, dripping in sweat.

It was in the Philippines that God caused me to see more clearly the person behind the face.  I saw the hearts of so many people. What are they going through? How can I lend a hand? How could I be of encouragement? How could I pray for them?

I’m drawn to the verse in 1 Samuel 16:7 “The Lord doesn’t look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” If we only observe the outward appearance of people, their homes, and circumstances, we’re not seeing as God intended. What matters to God is our hearts. God alone can read our hearts, our attitudes, and our motives. He is not influenced by our outward appearance, our accomplishments, or even the words that come from our lips. God is pleased by the one who trusts Him and acts upon His word.

The image of God is in everyone! We can so easily make our judgments without seeing the dignity and worth each human being has before God. Each person we saw in the Philippines has a story. Etched in many of their stories were poverty, poor health, abuse, human trafficking, and living from day to day.  Each of these precious human beings is loved and valued by God. He cares. He knows. He sees their faces. He knows their hearts.

Perhaps we could replace our quick judgments of people with more profound compassion. Maybe we could be more inquisitive about the pain that others are going through instead of a quick “How are you, I’m fine” moment? Maybe we could initiate more and judge less? I think we often don’t want to hear the pains of others because we don’t know how to handle our own pain! So, we hide and miss the blessing of seeing faces and people’s true hearts.

What keeps you from loving freely ALL people? What keeps you from reaching out and asking how others are really doing? What would it look like to care more about people’s hearts than their outward appearance? May God help us all to love like this.
What a beautiful picture of the God Who Sees, Take a listen:

Nancy Abbott is the Chaplain of the YMCA of Greater San Antonio.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Peace in the Boat

Everybody is looking for peace. I find that there are always things that “come up” that seem to mess with our peace. What are those things for you?

This past week, I was focused on preparing for a mission trip to the Philippines. It was one of those weeks where I couldn’t quite keep up with all the craziness that was happening. From an excruciating dental procedure that continues to be painful to getting stopped by a policeman (thankful for only a warning!) to numerous other challenges, peace seemed elusive to me.

I want a break from the chaos. When I say I want peace in my circumstances of this last week, I’m really saying that I want a break from all the bad stuff happening. 

I think the story of Jesus walking on water really gives the perspective we need for peace:

“During the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink, crying out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, “You of little faith,” he said, why did you doubt? “And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:25-32)

I know Peter wimped out eventually, but honestly, he was the first to respond boldly and energetically to Jesus. He stepped out of his comfort zone onto the water! Peter’s mistake began when he took his eyes off Jesus and realized he couldn’t rely on just himself. When fear sets into our lives, we begin to sink. That’s true for Peter. It’s true for us.

Jesus doesn’t remove all the storms that come our way, even with his closest friends. Yet he was present in the midst of the storm. Even when Peter failed, Jesus was there to save him. Peter knew to call out to Jesus at the moment of the crisis.

Peter showed what little faith looked like. Little faith focuses on circumstances, not Jesus. Little faith is affected by our surroundings. Little faith relies on our own strength. Little faith gives in during times of crises. Oh, may God enlarge our faith!

But look at verse 32! We see that those in the boat came and worshiped God! They acknowledged that Jesus is the Son of God. Just watching this scene changed everyone there! They moved quickly from fearing the storm to worshipping Jesus. That’s where peace is found…. the presence of Jesus. 

In the midst of my crazy week, I turn to a perfect verse to guide me, Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  To all reading this, may we not let fear and worry rule our hearts and minds today. Not today. Not any day. Lord, give us Your peace.
Take a listen to Peace Over You (Here Be Lions) May God give us His perfect peace;

Nancy Abbott is the Chaplain of the YMCA of Greater San Antonio.