Confessions From the Oldest Child of the Scared Family

One of my brothers used to say were the Scared Family. He had a dry sense of humor, and mostly, he was talking about my mother and me. Anything and everything was reason to be afraid. Very afraid.

Easter morning, forty years ago…

Mother’s hair was a little scary looking, don’t you think? And what about her tie?

Seriously, my brother was right.

Most of the things I’ve been afraid of never happened, but I lived through them just the same.

Hospital waiting rooms were particularly scary. But after fifty years, the Scared Family is changing.

Remember when my mother had her  biopsy? My sister made fudge and we had a party. We didn’t do this years ago–combine biopsies with fudge and sunglasses and silliness.

The other day, my sweet step-father Gene fell taking out the trash and broke his hip. After being rushed to the hospital by ambulance, he had surgery. He’s in a rehab facility recuperating.

And look! Mother’s smiling in the waiting room during surgery. FYI, this is not the woman who raised me. 🙂

I’m sure I’ll have more scary times, but this much I know is true:

Fear doesn’t change the outcome. It’s exhausting, addictive, and leaves no room for good thoughts.

So what’s bringing change to the Scared Family?

1. We’re laughing more.

If there’s anything you can laugh about, laugh.

After surgery, Gene was confused coming out of anesthesia. “Why are we in the hospital?”

“We’re having a baby,” Mother said.

“Oh. Then why am I in the bed?”

“This time you’re doing the work.”

2. Take a break. Do normal things like fold the laundry, go to the grocery  store, or even paint your toenails.

3. Pretend you’re not afraid. It works. Courage becomes real in your heart.

We’re told 365 times in the Bible not to be afraid.

So do not fear, for I am with you…” Isaiah 41:10 NIV.

Have you battled fear too?







  1. anna haney says:

    First, I must admit I laughed at Marion’s big hair. Then I smiled as I read. I believe that as we get older, our fears lessen. This is true for believers and non believers. But while I am 50 years old, I arm 30 years old in the family of God. And as we grow in a relationship, we gain TRUST. He loves us. We thrust Him and fear lessens. Thank you, sweet friend..
    Love, Anna

    • LOVE your thoughts, Anna. “As we get older, out fears lessen.” Wonderful!!

      Love you my friend. Thank you for reading and laughing too! Hope your Wednesday is Wonderful!

  2. Kim says:

    Julie, I am currently reading Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman and it is scary how on target much of her self description I relate to. The way I think and operate in life and have for years. I wear that mask of perfection and being strong. Never showing flaws or needs. I do not know where this will lead me, but I feel like I am living on a roller coaster of emotions with my fear and anxiety. It all overwhelms, I hand it over to God because I just can’t take it anymore, and it gradually builds again. I can not run fast enough, far enough, or long enough to get away from myself and my thoughts. I feel like I am searching for answers to questions that I do not even know what are. Questions I can not even form. I am sick of feeling this way. Fear IS exhausting and addictive. You are so right, it leaves no room for good thoughts. I need to remember that. I want courage to become real in my heart.

    On the bright side, your mothers comments are funny. Prayers for a quick recovery for Gene.

    • Kim, wow, can I relate. Sounds like an amazing book!!! So much of this fear/perfectionism seems to have taken root at an early age with me.

      I’m telling you–fear doesn’t play fair.

      I’m praying for you. Thanks for reading and letting me know it made sense.


  3. smiling from ear to ear!!! Love this happy post J…the picture of MBWA in the hospital w/ Gene is not the Marion I remember when I sat at the hospital w/ you and her and your dad so many years ago…so much to be learned here…love u

    • Ohhh, yes, Robin…Mother in the hospital with Daddy so many years ago. She hid under a table. So much fear.

  4. Anna Haney says:

    PS> Tell dear sweet Marion that she looks like she is in her 40s in the pic at the hospital where she is with Gene.

    • I agree!!!! She looks so young! Must be the lack of worry lines and frowns around the eyes. I’m going to be like that…I am…I am…I am!

    • I sure will, Anna! Thanks, and thank you B.J. 🙂 This will make her day.

  5. Darlene Cronic says:

    LOVED this post Julie. I too have battled being “scared”. Thanks for encouraging us!!! Thankfully, with God’s help, we can change. The possibilities are so very exciting. Love ya!

    • Darlene, whew. Just whew. It somehow makes it better to know I’m not the only one.

      Thank you. Thank you. Yes, we ARE changing. There’s another way to live. Now we know the Truth.

  6. Mike ~ says:

    Julie, ask your Mom to e mail me the name of her anti-aging supplement!
    Ms Marion looks, marvelous! Great photo of the family. HEBREWS 4: 1 ~

    • Mike, Mother doesn’t “do” computer, but I’m going to have to carry the laptop to rehab and show her these comments. She won’t believe it unless she sees the written words–with her own eyes.

      Hebrews 4:1…going to look that up now.

      Thank you!

  7. I especially love this part:
    “After surgery, Gene was confused coming out of anesthesia. “Why are we in the hospital?”
    “We’re having a baby,” Mother said.
    “Oh. Then why am I in the bed?”
    “This time you’re doing the work.”

    Awesome way to relieve tension, Marion. Great way to lighten the hard moments. I want to learn from you and your mom, Julie: to laugh, take a break, and pretend I am not afraid (especially of a big rewrite due in 3 weeks!). HUGS!

    • B.J. you’re going to be blown away at how fast this rewrite comes for you. Because God knows when you need it and He’s at work in your heart right now.

      Call me again soon and we’ll laugh some more. 🙂

  8. Julie, what interesting timing—I’ve been chatting about fear on facebook and twitter today! I loved your article and your photos, and I’m thrilled to see the joy and peace in your mom’s eyes and in these stories. Here’s what I wrote today: A friend sent me this, and it’s a really good reminder from Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts” About the Bible verse: “God’s perfect love casts out fear,” Ann writes, “Fear is the assumption that God’s perfect love will end.” And we know it won’t. End. The child in me remembers “Have no fear, Underdog is here!” Makes me want to revise it and say, “Have no fear, God is here!” God’s perfect love dispels fear! Another verse I love is 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV), “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

    • Amen, Kathy!! You’re speaking the words I need daily.

      I’d missed that Ann V quote, but wow, do I love it. When we examine fear that’s exactly what it is…the assumption that God’s perfect love will end. How can fight that?

      Love you. So sorry to read about your friend. 🙁

  9. Pat Dyson says:

    Julie, this was a great story! I get that scaredy-cat mentality. My parents were both this way, and passed it on to me. I am doing better. Loved Marion’s comments to Gene at the hospital. That girl has a great sense of humor, as do you. Thanks for a great article. Love to your mommy and Gene and to you! Pat

    • Thank you, Pat. Yep, I grew up this way–had NO idea there was another way. So relieved to read that people understand and grew up this way too.

      So much love!

  10. Chris F-F says:

    I’ve recently realized that my fears are mostly the result of unresolved conflicts somewhere along the line. When I learned to face the conflict, forgive myself, and look at it as a learning experience, the fears diminished tremendously. I can’t yet say I am fearless, but I can say my fears are less. Thank you for a very thoughtful, insightful post. Chris

  11. Brenda Greene says:

    Julie Girl…this one is priceless!! Love, love, love the giggles it gave me when I read your Mom’s response to Gene! I LOVE to laugh…got it from my Daddy! As the “baby” of the family I was blessed not to be burdened by fear. However, Hubby and our firstborn are, and I’ve had LOTS(!) of “prayer material” to work on. I had resigned myself that it will be a life-long process but LOVE the encouragement that your post provides. “Keep on keeping on” will be my focus!

    Read this on Face Book this morning and found it “haunting”: “All worry dethrones God. All worrying says we need to be King because God is incompetent. When the King really rules your world, you really don’t need to worry.”

    So…I leave you with the words from that happy song: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy!” Happy Wednesday Sweet Julie and keep on posting cause we keep on reading!! Love you! Brenda

    • Ohhhhh, Brenda. That hit home…”All worry dethrones God.”

      You’re such an encourager and I’d love to hang out with you. You see the “Fear Factor” but you don’t have it. Incredible.

  12. What a great post, Julie! It really hit close to home. I inherited my “scaredy cat” personality from my Mom. But, as I have gotten older, I’ve realized it doesn’t change anything. It just causes a lot of stress and worry! I’ve found that taking a break and either cleaning, baking or doing crafts can really erase those fearful thoughts. Of course, prayer is a big help too!

    • Eileen, between you and Robin (All Things Heart and Home) I really should become arts and crafty…I should. But I do love to cook. This is a great point. Sometimes it helps to change our thought process by just getting busy with something we like to do.

      Thank you. Thank you.

  13. Julie Gilleand says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever known a living soul who didn’t battle fear of some kind at different times! My mother is the most fearful person I’ve ever known. Every single conversation we ever have she mentions something she is afraid of. I brought it to her attention once but she didn’t believe me. I’m only just now beginning to understand the kind of fear and doubt that hovered of me as I grew up. I’ve never been an extremely fearful person, but have certainly had my moments — too many of them! During my single-parenting years when child support payments would stop and I worried about bills because my part-time job wasn’t enough to live on. When I lost a job and I saw things become as desperate as I’ve ever seen them in my own life. When mental illness and addiction issues became constant nightmarish battles. And on and on. If I didn’t know the Lord, I shudder to think where I’d be or in what condition! But like you, He has carried us through all those times and still does.

    And I love that you brought up humor (I loved your mother’s response to why your step-dad was in the hospital — I laughed out loud right at work, lol). My dad was such a card. He kept us all laughing. We have enjoyed much goofy sillyness in our family. The night my dad died, when my boys and I got into the car to pull out of the hospital parking lot to go home, my youngest son David said, “I think all the humor in our family came from Grandpa”. He pegged it. And my Dad would’ve been proud to have that acknowledged — after he made some kind of corny joke about it, that is! So — humor rocks!

    By the way — I liked your mother’s hairdo — in both pictures! Not scary at all! And it’s funny, where you wrote the “scared” family I kept seeing “sacred” instead! Remember — that was my word! Sacred — set apart for God’s use. 🙂

    Leak Sister Julie

    • Julie Gilleand says:

      Well, that was supposed to say LEAF Sister, not Leak, lol. And the mental illness and addiction issues I mentioned were not my own, but family members’s battles. Had to add my little disclaimer!

    • What a precious response, Leaf Sister. And you saw/felt SACRED instead of SCARED. That just blew me away. Isn’t that like God? To send along a friend who shows us His Way?

      Oh, how I love that, Julie.

      And to think–what you remember about your father is his sense of humor. Sounds like maybe we’re supposed to approach life in that Spirit.

      Great big hug to you this cold morning in GA.

  14. I love that your mom can still grow and change! Good for her!! And she looks wonderful!

  15. Patricia Martin says:

    Hi Julie,
    That is such a lovely family portrait! I am so sorry to hear about your step-dad, Gene. If you want I can put him on my family’s prayer list? Your brothers sure look close in age- are they twins? ((: I love that you all are laughing more and worrying less, my Mom comes from a really scared family and I will tell my family about the wonderful advice you gave-laugh more, worry less! Hope all is well with you and yours.

    • That would be wonderful, Patricia–would love for you to pray for Gene.

      Yes, my brothers are twins.

      How’s your sister? Is she scheduled for surgery yet?


      • Patricia Martin says:

        Thanks so much for asking, Julie. (: My parents are taking my sister in for second opinion with another doctor and there may be a chance Maddy does not need to undergo surgery. I hope Gene is on the road to recovery and I laughed so hard reading your mom’s joke about having a baby. (((;

  16. Great reminder to laugh and I did. Sorry to hear about Gene’s fall but your mom’s response was priceless. 365 times so every day is covered. Do not fear

  17. Shelley Elaine says:

    My favorite verse from childhood was “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee”… And it was posted directly beside my bed. Unfortunately, yes, I have struggled with fear as far back as I can remember. Thanks so much for giving me hope and helpful tips on kicking the habit! Sooo sorry to hear that about Mr. Gene-will DEFINITELY be praying for him and your Mom.

    • You’re so welcome, Shelley. It just makes me smile to read that other people have felt this way. And to realize we don’t have to live in fear.

      Thanks for your prayers. Means so much!

  18. Kathryn says:

    My now deceased husband used to say when someone was nervous about something “ain’t nothin’ but fear holding you back”! Made a person think. I’ve had a lot of sad things happen in my life, and, so when I don’t know how to solve something or stop worrying…I leave it to God and sleep on it. You’re mom does look very young, and, I have a feeling she is a fun person. Someone who has experienced life’s upsets. I have had a hip replacement also knee so I know what’s going on for Gene. He’ll be good as new again.

    • Hey Kathryn,

      Your husband was right!!

      Thanks for reading and for your sweet comment. I can’t wait to show Mother the comments–she won’t believe people say she looks young. Will totally make her day!!

      So sorry you’ve been there with the hip and knee…hope you’re healed now.

  19. Sandra Walker says:

    Best one ever!!! God has been working on the fear thing for 35 years now and I am freer than I have ever been! So glad He loves us so much He won’t let us stay the way we were! My Daddy said during the last years of his life “I hope I can’t make someone smile or laugh today.” I am trying to learn that from him. He was a hoot! Love that you include your mother in many of your posts. Love seeing what
    God is doing with her as well. She does look so much younger than her age!!! You just see Jesus in both of you! Yes! keeping writing and posting – we love you and need you!

    • Awwwwwwwwwww, thank you, Sandra. 🙂 🙂

      I love your dad’s words. What a heart!

      Next time I see Mother, I’m taking my laptop and showing her all the comments. She’d really love a computer–she just doesn’t realize it.


      • Sandra Walker says:

        Glad you knew I mean CAN make someone laugh or smile today!. Sometimes my typing gets ahead of my brain!

  20. Love this post, Julie! I hate to think of all the energy and peace I wasted fearing things that never happened. Yes you’re right–we need to laugh more. I’m learning that in my own immediate family as well. I’m learning that my days of parenting and correcting are over. My job is to laugh and love and be a winsome witness for Jesus!

    Love you, sweet friend. (Oh, and don’t forget to check my blog this week. There’s some fun news for you! 🙂

    • So true, Vonda…our correcting days are over. Great point! Went right to my heart.

      Love you too and going now to check out your blog. I’m behind! :-0

  21. Sue Kuster says:

    OOOH Julie, all I can say is AMEN to that! After three years of constant fear, I just don’t have any more.
    Just turning it all over to God helped me finally be at peace. Humor sure does help as well.
    Prayers for Gene’s speedy recovery!

    Love to you my friend,


    • Sue, hallelujah!! You’re free!!!! You’re fearless. I love it! Made my day.

      Love right back to you.

  22. Margaret says:


    I’m sorry to hear about Gene’s fall–prayers for a speedy recovery. I think you all should sneak Jax into the rehab hospital to cheer him up.

    Love the photo of your young-looking mom!


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