Don’t Be a No-Sayer

I used to secretly resent the work of God in other people’s lives… especially when that work looked like success. Anytime someone would share a major victory, or accomplish a goal, I would silently stew, or pass over their announcement without a “like”, a congratulations, or a share, because I was jealous they were doing something and I was not. I soon discovered this was a form of insecurity.

I was not a nay-sayer, I was a no-sayer. To me, that’s worse.

Since getting to work on what I know God has called me to do, I’ve lost that jealousy and insecurity because now I know the hard work, dedication, commitment, doubt, fear, the almost-giving up that goes into accomplishing something God asks. Celebrating the work of God in another person’s life, does not diminish the work of God in your own life. In fact, NOT celebrating with others could affect God’s ability to work through you.

Don’t be a no-sayer.

If you find yourself resenting the success in other’s lives, let me be an encouragement to you: break through that stronghold of insecurity with celebration, and then get to work on what he’s called you to do.

When you do it’s Him who gets the glory.
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Press In

I’ve felt the Lord speaking to me about these two words lately. Press In. Oftentimes, when I get a word from the Lord He also prompts me to share it with others through my blog. But lately, I’ve wrestled with feelings of insignificance and inadequacy which has kept me from obeying. “Why would anyone care what I have to say?” I ask myself. “I’m just another voice in the vacuum of space, saturated with opinions and advice, information and inspiration. What does it matter?” But this morning, during my time with the Lord He gently spoke to my heart and said,

“It’s not what you have to say… it’s what I have to say through you.”

Feeling convicted that I’ve sat on this word for half a week, I knew someone out there in that vacuum of space might be waiting on my obedience to share this word, and not even realize it. Therefore, I invite you to Press In.

My four-year-old son doesn’t know the meaning of personal space. He likes to be right up in my business. If I’m sitting in a one-person chair, he wants to sit with me. If I’m on the couch, he wants to be right next to me, pressed up against me, skin to skin. While it’s sweet that my nearness brings him comfort, it’s also annoying and distracting. It didn’t take me long to realize where he got the desire to feel close. One evening I found myself on the other side of the equation when sitting in bed as close to my husband as possible. Pressing in, getting comfort from his warmth and nearness. I apparently don’t know the meaning of personal space either.

That picture of nearness is exactly what I feel the Lord prompting me to share. Press In. Scoot closer. Get right up next to, skin to skin… God doesn’t need personal space, He’s longing for you to press in next to Him no matter where you are, or how you feel. Here’s what He says will happen:

James 4:8
“Come near to Me and I will come near to you.”

2 Chronicles 15:2
“The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you.”

Jeremiah 29:13
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.”

Deuteronomy 4:29
“But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Isaiah 55:6
“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.”

There are countless reasons why we don’t press in:

  • It takes effort and energy and oftentimes we are just too busy or don’t want to put forth what it takes to connect.
  • We are wounded or angry and don’t feel like being close—“what will it help anyway?”
  • Sometimes things are going well, so “what need do I have to press in right now?”
  • Perhaps one of the biggest reasons is we’re afraid of what we’ll find. After all, He’s promised that if we seek Him, we will find Him and that can be a scary thought. I mean, “what do I do when I’ve found Him?”

Among the clatter of all the excuses I just keep hearing “Press in anyway.”

When your circumstances leave you dePressed—Press in
When doubts and fears make you feel opPressed—Press in
When your failures and shortcomings leave you feeling unimPressed— Press in
When lack of motivation leaves you supPressed— Press in
When the stress of life leaves you feeling Pressured— Press in
When financial hardship leaves you comPressed— Press in
And when you can’t exPress how you feel inside—Press in

Press In. Because: “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” —Isaiah 55:6.

I’m just here to tell you, He’s waiting. Press In.

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The Best Way to Make the Greatest Impact

Over the last several years I’ve noticed an epidemic, my generation (the Millennials),  seem to have come under. This epidemic is a kind of pressure we feel to create some “big impact” on the world, and a fear that if we’re not making said “big impact” than we’ll somehow become obsolete, forgotten or left behind. After reading this article “Stop Worrying so Much About Making a Big Impact” and this one too, “6 Myths Millennials Believe About Purpose” I wanted to add my thoughts to the discussion.

Multiethnic Group of People Socail Networking at Cafe

I believe the reason this pressure exists is because it is now easier than ever to create great impact and leave our stamp on the world–if you’re willing to work hard enough. We have several people in our generation to thank for this including Jeff Bazos of Amazon, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Andrew Mason of Groupon, Michelle Phan of Ispy, and Ben Silbermann of Pinterest, just to name a few of the popular Millennials who not only happen to be extremely successful millionaires, but also people in our own generation. The age of technology has made it possible to turn hobbies into profits, followers into audiences and everyday people into superstars, seemingly overnight. Everyone wants to have a piece of that success. When we hear about how so many of the great businesses and services we enjoy today started in someone’s garage, it can leave us thinking “why didn’t I think of that?” or “that could’ve been me.”

The unfortunate thing about this rush for great impact is that we are facing a generation that is bereft of satisfaction. There is too much emphasis on the big successes and not enough on finding satisfaction in doing the small things well. If we are always looking at what could be, we risk missing out on what already is…

The futuristic mindset, mixed with the attitude of entitlement, and the ability to have whatever we want at the click of a button, has left many Millennials void of gratitude and therefore lacking peace, direction, and purpose.

Here are a few ways I, personally, as a Millennial, attempt to avoid this trap, while fully engaging in all the benefits this age is bringing us.

Gratitude

The quickest way to find peace is through a grateful heart. You might not have or be all the things you want right now, but if you took a step back and really looked at the blessings around you, you would find many reasons to be thankful. Anytime peace feels lacking in my life, I make a mental list of everything I can thank God for, including the things we often take for granted, like a roof over our head, healthy bodies, food to eat, an income to provide… you’ll be surprised how quickly thanksgiving ushers in peace.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition,                     with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the PEACE of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6,7

Do the small things well

If, after you have made your list and feel more peace, you still feel God is calling you to do more and be more, make sure you are not neglecting your first priorities and the responsibilities God has already given you. For me, this is a delicate balance. I feel called to write, but if my home is in disarray, my children need me, I am exhausted, I haven’t spent time in His Word, or my husband wants to spend time with me, I have to make sure I am not tilting my attention too far in one area and neglecting the other. I have not mastered this. Oftentimes, I can be typing away while there is a disaster happening in the next room, or, more often, I can go long stints without writing because I don’t make time for it. But I am constantly trying to make sure I give attention to my calling as wife-mom-writer. I have learned the three are inextricably connected.

“His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your master’s happiness!'” 

Don’t Conform

God has uniquely designed you for a special assignment while on this earth. Mine will not look like yours, and yours will not look like hers… It may not be something that is easily seen by others. Making the greatest impact doesn’t mean making the biggest splash. It can be easy to see someone else’s assignment and resent the work he wants done in your life. I have found there are three reasons for this resentment.

  1. You do not know His will for your life.
  2. You know what He has called you to do, but you’re not working diligently in it.
  3. The enemy is occupying your mind, keeping you from pursuing the call of God on your life.

Despite these things, His will remains and He is patient. If you do not know what He wants you to do, ask. If you know, and you’re not doing it, get to work. If the enemy is taking up residence in your mind, renew your mind by spending time in God’s Word and presence. When you do, you will make the greatest impact. 

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test God’s will–His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Ro 12:2

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After Three Days

It’s not often I get inspired to write a fictional story, but when I read through the gospel of Luke and came across the passage below, a story jumped out at me, begging to be written. Sometimes the Bible can be very unemotional–it was written by men. Sometimes it’s easy to forget the characters in the Bible were real people with real emotions, doubts, fears and questions. My hope in writing this short story is to connect emotion to the characters and situation so we may experience a deeper connection to an age old passage, and feel closer to Christ.

“After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts” Luke 2:43-46

After Three Days

She pointed to the sky. The clouds bled red and orange, edges trimmed in gold like the temple dome we left behind this morning. The beauty of God’s creation was never lost on Adinah’s five-year-old mind. I nodded and smiled. Our caravan made good time for the day, but it would be time to stop for the night soon. Thoughts of dinner preparations and settling the children for the night, drained my last stores of energy. I glanced behind me to find Yosef, but I could only see the line of mules waddling under their heavy loads and the throng of my beloved family and friends, seventy in all, who made the trip for the Passover this year.

Turning back to the painted sky, I replayed the last week in my mind, filing away the memories as years past. The feasting, dancing, and singing were more enjoyable this year without a small child strapped to my back, as was the ease of the five day journey from Nazareth. Everyone seemed to enjoy each other. Yeshu`a seemed especially tuned to the ceremony and traditions this year. He was quiet, somber, and watched the men with a learner’s eye, no longer a rambunctious child running around like the others. He was growing up.

The pounding of hooves kicked up the dust around us as the rider sped by. I knew he was carrying the message to the front leader to stop for the night. I was grateful. My feet and legs ached.

We began to set up camp for the night, Adinah unpacked the pots, while I picked up the stray sticks to start a fire. The sun set and the hue of dusk rested on our busy crowd as fires start up down the line. I heard Yosef and turned to see my boys gallivanting back and forth between him and each other. I looked for Yeshu`a but he was not with them.

“And where is Yeshu`a?”
Yosef looked around our circle, “I thought he must be with you.”
“Up here with the women?”
“He’ll find us,” Yosef said taking the sticks from my arms and preparing the fire.

Darkness fell quickly as we prepared the meal. I stood up from the fire once dinner was done and still no Yeshu`a. I shot a worried frown to my husband, “Yosef?”
He nodded, “Iakobos, and I will go look for him. Eat while it is still hot.”

I could not eat, my stomach in knots as the night wore on. The other children had finished and wiped the dishes clean. They were settling in their sacks for the night. I kissed them goodnight without revealing my worry.

Quick footsteps quickened my heart. I looked for Yeshu`a among the returning.
“No one has seen him,” Yosef said, out of breath from running.
My eyes widened,“Was he with you when we started out this morning? Where could he be?”
He placed his hands on my shoulders. “I thought he was. Maria, we will just have to go back and look for him in Jerusalem.”

I did not want to leave my other children with relatives but Yosef was right, they would only slow us down. Oh Yeshu`a, where are you? Are you afraid? Are you alone? I wiped a stray tear, feeling the pull of sleep on my eyes as the caravan became small specks of light behind us. There was only darkness before us. Though it was dangerous to travel at night we did not feel we could stop to sleep.

I kept my gaze on the flicker of flame held by my husband, lighting our path. I wrapped my shawl tighter around my shoulders, and allowed my mind to wander to another time a similar flame lit our way to Bethlehem almost thirteen years ago… It was then when the discomfort I felt in my swollen belly slowly turned to pain. It started while we could only see Bethlehem in the ravine. We started down the steep road that led to the entrance of the city, but we had to stop every few minutes so I could lean on the donkey and pant through another pain. Yosef didn’t know what to do until I showed him to press on my back to help me through it. It was slow progress to the city gate but we finally made it just as a gush of water left my body. “Yosef, he is coming now.” Every place we stopped told us the same. No room. The town was packed with sojourners here to register, the same reason we were. “I don’t care where we go, but we have to find a place now,” I panted, after the third place turned us away. The next inn keeper took pity on us and showed us around the back of his establishment. He shoveled fresh hay over the floor of his half-roofed barn where his animals stayed. “I’m sorry.” His only reply as he left us. The pain was blinding. “Yahweh, help me!” I cried, on my hands and knees, remembering why I was in this situation to begin with. Memories flashed in my mind. An angel. His ridiculous words. The shame. Embarrassment. Yosef’s anger and finally his acceptance and love. Of course no one believed me and I’m not sure I believed myself at certain moments, but when my belly started to grow, knowing I had never been with a man, I was shocked and scared, awed and excited.

This life ripped through me with another rush and Yosef laughed with shock. Finally the pain subsided and he placed my son in my arms. I wrapped him in my shawl weeping, remembering the name the angel had given me. “Yeshu`a… Oh Yeshu`a”

Day 1

The rooster’s crow woke me from my thoughts of his birth. The early morning light broke above the horizon in the east and we could see Jerusalem’s city gates opening for the overnight travelers who slept outside. My mind felt drunk with sleepiness, my body numb.

“We’ll start back at the Bekhorath house,” Yosef said, “Surely he went back there to wait for us.” But he was not with our friends. We went up the block of homes knocking on doors and asking if anyone had seen a lost twelve-year-old boy. No one had. The streets were not as busy as they had been the past week and shop keepers were still cleaning from the festivities of the Passover. I could smell the roasting fires start up and felt a lump of tears crawl up my throat. “Yosef… I” I buried my face in my hands and wept.
His arms encircled me as we stood in the street. “Let’s go back to the Bekhorath’s. We will make a plan.”

My plate sat untouched and cold on the table at the Bekhorath’s, our long-time friends we stayed with when we came for the Passover. The men left hours ago to continue the search. I could not argue with my husband about staying behind, but I felt helpless sitting here. I prayed, Yahweh, show us where he is. Please do not take him from us. I cannot bear it.

I jumped at the latch lifting on the door. Yosef and Uria came through, but no Yeshu`a. IIana came in from the kitchen to trim and light the candles, bringing with her the smell of supper.

“No, Yosef, no,” I whispered, his image fading in my tears. He came to me. “Maria, we must eat and rest. We will do Yeshu`a no good exhausted. We will continue our search at first light.”

I pushed the food around my plate, but none touched my lips. The nausea came in waves as did the tears. After dinner Yosef led me upstairs to the roof where we would sleep. I felt delirious and stopped to vomit before he picked me up and carried me the rest of the way. He laid me on the mat. I grabbed his tunic, “Where is he?!”

“Shhhh…my wife. We must sleep. Perhaps in a dream Yahweh will reveal his plan as he has before.”

Yes. Surely Yahweh would lead us to him. From before his birth Yeshu`a was not like any other child and though many did not believe our story, Yosef and I knew he was special to Yahweh in a way no other person was special. We didn’t fully understand it. The years surrounding his birth were scary and chaotic as we moved from place to place, but one thing continued to ring true. The prophecy. More than a handful of people confirmed it along the way, but we never discussed it with anyone and only told Yeshu`a Yahweh had chosen him for a special purpose. After he turned four-years-old everything seemed to settle down. Until now.

Yosef laid next to me, letting out a long sigh. “Maria… Yeshu`a asked me something strange at the beginning of Passover. I… I didn’t know what to say.”
“What did he ask?” I turned to him. He wrapped his arm around me and I laid on his chest.
“It was right after we killed the lamb and began to prepare it for the meal. He was so quiet, I asked him what was wrong. He said, ‘Papa I am the lamb, aren’t I?’ I… I didn’t answer him.”

“Oh, Yosef, I do not know what to do with him. He knows things I do not understand. What are we going to do?”
He kissed my head, “I don’t know…. I don’t know.”

Day 2

My sleep was restless. Images played in my mind. Blood. So much blood. The bleat of a lamb echoing through flames of fire, Yeshu`a calling for me, but I could not get to him and then the earth shook.

“My love,” Yosef’s voice cut through the fog. He shook my shoulder. “It is morning.”

I rose and washed, finding everyone downstairs for the morning meal. I sat next to Yosef and whispered. “Has Yahweh visited you in your dreams? Do you know where Yeshu`a is?”

“No,” he looked down. “You?” I shook my head. We discussed our plan with Uria and IIana and decided I would go with Yosef this time to the upper region where we had distant relatives, and they would canvas the outskirts of the wall where the squatters village sank into the muddy streets.

I felt more focus today after having slept but didn’t mention my dream to Yosef for fear of speaking words of death out loud. The gleam of the sun glinted off the gold dome of the temple as we traveled up to the region that overlooks the city. The town bustled with movement but quieted the farther north we traveled. We stopped a few times along the way asking shop keeps if they had seen Yeshu`a. No one seemed able or willing to help unless we were buying. I saw Yosef clench his jaw, his beard moving slightly each time, when yet another owner shook his head and offered us his merchandise.

We arrived at the house of Eliakim, the servants washed our feet and set an elaborate meal for us before we even saw Yosef’s father’s distant cousin. I ate a few bites of bread and dates at the urging of my husband and wondered what Yeshu`a was doing for food. I swallowed the food and my tears.

The men discussed their options. I stayed quiet. My eyes followed the curves of the embroidery on the table cloth. What had the prophets said when Yeshu`a was born? It felt so long ago, and yet, just like yesterday. I shifted through my memories of the first couple years of Yeshu`a’s life. It had all been so strange. The shepherds came only hours after his birth. We were sleeping when we heard them approach. They told us the heavens opened before their eyes and told them about a Savior. It matched what the angel told me only ten months before. Later, the Magi with their gifts, the multiple warnings Yosef received from Yahweh’s messenger to keep us safe… all confirmed that I hadn’t dreamt the crazy story of this child’s conception. But nothing else had happened since.

We left Eliakim’s with our next step. Contacting the Roman Guard. This plan did not appeal to Yosef, but it seemed the only course of action now. “They won’t do anything. We are not important enough,” he said on the way back down into the city.

I walked behind him. “Yosef, what did the prophets say? When we brought Yeshu`a to the temple for circumcision, after his birth? Do you remember?”

Silence remained constant until we reached the bottom of the hill. He turned to me, pensive. “One was Shim’on. He said he had waited his whole life to see the salvation of the Lord and now he had. He said… he said Yeshu`a was a light to reveal to the Gentiles and a glory to Israel.”

“There was more,” I said, my voice trembling. “He told me Yeshu`a would cause many to fall and many to rise… that he would be spoken against; that he would reveal what is in the heart of all men. Even my own…. and the old woman? Remember?”
“I think she might have been crazy,” Yosef said.
“No, she was respected. Everyone listened to her when she stopped us. ‘the redemption of Jerusalem’ that’s what she said.”
Yosef looked toward the setting sun.
“What does it mean, Yosef?”
“It means they thought Yeshu`a was the Messiah.”
His words stunned me to silence. I considered him for a moment. “What if he is?” I grabbed for his arm. “Is this it? Has the Lord taken him? Why would the Lord give him to us just to take him away? I do not understand Yahweh’s plan…Yosef, what if… what if he’s gone? What if we never see him again?”
He grasped my hand, “Maria, that is what we will do. We will go to the temple at first light in the morning. To make a sacrifice and pray.”

Day 3

Yosef dropped two denarii in the hands of the priest working behind the desk at the temple gates. I remained close to my husband as the crowd thickened for the morning sacrifices. I secretly examined the faces of every child and saw Yeshu`a in each one. I kept thinking at any moment he would materialize in front of me. I willed it to happen. The priest took down our name and noted our contribution for our sacrifice. He gestured us forward with the waiting throng of worshipers. The line of people pressed against us. We shuffled along until we reached the inner courtyard and had a little more room to walk around and breathe until we found our separate places for the morning services. I scanned the crowd again from my spot in the women’s court, seeing small groups gathered around each other. The hum of voices seemed to vibrate my whole body.

A grouping of priests caught my eye. They seemed engrossed in conversation, their robes creating a curtain as they stood close together. Two stood hovering over two others who sat on low stools. They were speaking to a child who sat on the stone floor. The child had the same inky hair flecked with gold as Yeshu`a’s.

I heard the cry of anguish before I realized it came from my throat. “Yeshu`a!, Yeshu`a!” Yosef caught my stunned eyes from across the rotunda. It’s him. I see him! I screamed internally, pushing past the other women around me. I felt a strong hand grasp my arm and allowed Yosef to take the lead to where I pointed out the group of priests. I saw it on Yosef’s face now too. His distress dissipated with visible relief and he blinked away tears.

We made it to the other side of the rotunda and approached the priests with respect. “Yeshu`a?” The boy looked up from his place on the ground. “Mother.” His voice was calm, his demeanor placid. He got up and walked toward us. I knelt, gripping him with all the strength that came rushing back into my body. I wept into his dirty hair and felt Yosef’s arms wrap around us both. I released my first born and held him at his shoulders, my relief turning slowly to frustration. “Yeshu`a why have you done this to us? Do you not know your father and I have searched for you for three days? We feared the worst. We did not know what had become of you!”

PERDUE64440 TEMPLE

“Why were you searching for me? Did you not know I would be here,” he gestured around the temple, “in my Father’s house?”
A long breath escaped me, “Oh Yeshu`a.” I did not understand what he meant. Sometimes I felt as if he were a stranger and not my own son. I hugged him close seeing Yosef speak to the priests before they dispersed for the sacrifice.

The trumpets began to play and Yosef took Yeshu`a back to the men’s court for worship and I returned to the women’s court overlooking the ceremony. My heart felt heavy despite the relief of having my child returned unharmed. What child is this? What am I to do with him? I felt a foreboding in my spirit as the priests sang. The Levite priests slit the throats of the bulls and lambs brought to be sacrificed. Their blood spilled around the alter, filling the basin. As the sacrifices were made the Holy Scriptures were read aloud by the high priest.

“See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted….” my eyes rested on Yeshu`a, my cheeks suddenly wet as I tried to focus on the reading. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering…. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

We left the temple and after taking provisions from the Bekhorath’s we set out for the five day journey back to Nazareth. Yosef and Yeshu`a walked ahead. I kept at a distance so I would not breathe the dust kicked up by their feet. I worshiped Yahweh for the safe return of my son, pleading that I would never have to endure such pain again. I felt in my spirit this would not be the last time I would lose this child, but somehow it was part of a bigger plan.

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8 Things No One Told Me About Losing Weight

A month after my six-month fitness plan ended, I’m realizing a few things no one ever told me about losing weight….

iu-11

  • A belt is no longer a fun accessory. It is an absolute necessity to keep pants up.
  • You will have to buy new clothes.
  • A$$ rash–When there is no longer enough fat on your tailbone to keep your skin from breaking and bleeding while doing sit-ups.
  • You will have to keep working out harder and more intense if you want to continue seeing new results.
  • Because of that, people at the gym will stare at you, look at you weird, and may even stop and ask, “What the H-E-L-L are you doing?”
  • You no longer require as much sleep.
  • That favorite junk food item you couldn’t wait to have again, now makes you sick to your stomach.
  • You can’t go back to your old way of eating or you will gain all the weight back.

If I had known these things before I started… I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

There is nothing better than the feeling of being in the best shape of your life. What are you waiting for??

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A Surprising, Yet Helpful Fact About Our Insecurities

A few weeks ago I posted a reader survey on my blog to help me identify my audience and give me a better idea of the kind of content to create moving forward. Some interesting things came out of that survey. I found out that,

  • 90% of my readers are women
  • 60% of those women are between the ages of 25-34 and
  • 80% of my readers come from Facebook.

However, the most interesting thing that came from the survey inspired a new thought I want to share with you.

When asked for the greatest insecurity they face, 80% said basically the same thing in several different ways… “My greatest insecurity is finding worth in being a good mom, or parent.”

This confirmed a thought I have been mulling around for a while now, that

The path to your greatest calling is often on the other side of your greatest insecurity. 

We could say it like this: insecurity is the neon sign that points to a life of purpose, freedom, and contentment. We just have to fight our way past it, through it, over it. This applies to anyone in any area of insecurity, not just moms or parents.

I’ve struggled for years feeling insecure about writing. Not just writing, but sharing my writing with others. I remained in a state of apathetic complacency, swatting away the gentle reminders to use the gift I had been given, convinced it was worthless. Others have confirmed the same feelings as they’ve shared their insecurities with me. Motherhood, weight, body image, approaching old age, singleness, finances, employment, purposelessness, and pain from the past. Is it possible that the very thing holding us back could be the source of a great calling we’ve yet to realize?

What insecurity holds you back? Is it any wonder you feel unsure, uncertain, cautious, or doubtful in your approach to this sensitive issue? There is so much working against you. Our enemy knows your potential and fears what could happen if you not only knew your greatest calling, but walked in it confidently. Why do you think he works so hard to make you feel incompetent, unqualified, fearful, or even undeserving? So you’ll avoid it.

Think about it. Oftentimes, it is the unknown that makes us feel unsure or insecure. Most of the time when we’re faced with insecure feelings our instinct is to back-track or avoid those situations or circumstances. If we can’t avoid them, then our other option is to live in fear and dejection of the circumstances that bring feelings of insecurity. But if we understood the path to our greatest calling is often on the other side of our greatest insecurity, we could plunge headfirst into that area of insecurity, knowing that great blessing is waiting on the other side. Because the good news is, there is also much working for you.

The Blessing on the Other Side

The blessing found on the other side of anyone’s insecurity is an absolute reliance on Jesus. You can’t make it through any other way. Freedom from the insecurity is just icing on the cake. The real prize is living a life dependent on Him. When you do there is nothing that can hold you back.

He knows this. Your enemy knows this. Now, you need to know it.

It’s the reason our good God will sometimes place our calling on the other side of insecurity. His number one desire is for you and your heart. He knows to reach that calling you’ll have to go through Him, to Him and with Him.

It’s also the reason your enemy wants you to stay in the bondage of insecurity. His number one desire is for you to stay as far away from God as possible. The enemy also knows to reach your calling you’ll have to go through God, to God and with God. It’s why he works so hard to keep you from moving forward.

The choice is and always has been yours to make. Will you stay stuck in the bondage of fear and avoidance, or will you take your Savior’s hand and walk confidently toward your calling, no matter what it takes?

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

“…my power is made perfect in weakness……For when I am weak, then I am strong.”              2 Cor. 12:9-10

 

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In_Security Book Excerpt –Using Feedback to Gain Self-awareness

I am so excited to share with you the finalized book cover for “In_Security: Break Free from what Holds You Back” So excited, in fact, that I’ve decided to give you a sneak peek on a new chapter being added to the manuscript! So new, this hasn’t made it past my editor yet…

Please enjoy this excerpt and share with your friends.

Book will officially release in March of 2016!!

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Using Feedback toGain Self-Awareness–Excerpt taken from Chapter 8 “You Are Here”

Let’s get a little science-y shall we? I love this definition of Newton’s Law of Motion when thinking about feedback.

“An object either remains at rest or continues to move in the same direction unless acted upon by an external force.”

You are that object and if you want to change your direction and free yourself from bondage you need an external force to help you get the momentum started. That external force is feedback.

Feedback can be scary and unasked or unwanted feedback can be downright humiliating. But when it comes to self-awareness, getting feedback is simply reconciling what you know about yourself with what everyone else already knows about you. In other words, when gaining self-awareness, oftentimes, we are the last to know the things we need to do to help make us better. Wouldn’t you rather be proactive in your approach to gaining feedback instead of reactive to the feedback that may come?

When I was a youth pastor on staff with Life.Church I was immersed in a culture of feedback. Not one event was done without discussing later what did and didn’t work and how we could do it better the next time. Being a part of a culture like that taught me three things.

Develop a thick skin. Nothing is worse than hearing you’re missing the mark, you aren’t your best, or you could do things better. It can be easy to take feedback personally and allow its effects to down-spiral your belief in yourself. That’s why the second and third things I learned about feedback are so important.
Feedback is meant to help you. Most people when giving feedback only want what’s best for you. True, some people like to pick things apart and seem to have the spiritual gift of nit-picking, but true feedback should always be life-giving and help you get to the next step in your development. If it’s not, check out the next thing.
Chew up the meat, spit out the bones. This saying was a constant in our staff. It means that while all feedback can be helpful, focusing on too many things at once can be detrimental. Take the one or two big things that come out of someone’s feedback and leave the rest behind.

You Asked For It
The world we live in is not made from a culture of feedback. At least not life-giving feedback that’s given to your face. People will talk all day long behind your back about what they think you could do to be better, but something keeps us from sharing that information with each other. Unwanted feedback is just that, unwanted. However, as embarrassing as it may be to have a stranger tell you there’s spinach in your teeth, or you have a booger hanging out your nose, you’re glad they stopped you before anyone else saw it. Our insecurities and hang-ups are the spinach-in-the-teeth kind of awareness we are after. Something we are blind to that keeps us from moving forward. Everyone has blindspots that hinder growth, and if you don’t think you do, that may be your blindspot. But feedback in this area is not just going to come. You have to ask for it. You have to create in yourself a culture where feedback is valued and used to make you better. I’m not suggesting you invite every person you’re associated with to give you feedback. Select two to three individuals whom you trust and admire (your believers) to be the ones to speak into your life. It could be your husband or mom, a mentor or pastor, an older sister or friend. When you have a couple people in mind explore these three steps to create a culture of feedback in your life.
Teach people how to give you feedback. Early in our marriage, Cody and I developed the habit of occasionally asking each other this question. “What is one thing I can do, to be a better spouse?” We did this at an unemotional time when we could focus on each other and talk things through. Asking a question like this opens the door for constructive feedback. It shows the other we are open to change and desire to grow. Notice, we didn’t ask, “Is there anything I do that annoys or makes you angry?” Keeping your question around one positive outcome helps guide the feedback from getting lost in the weeds or subjecting each other to a verbal firing line.

Here are a few examples of great questions you could ask:

“Do you see something in me that’s holding me back from reaching the next step in my growth?” “Is there a blindspot in my life, that’s keeping me from being the person I’m created to be?” “Do you see an insecurity in me that’s keeping me in bondage?” It’s important they know you desire honesty, even if it may hurt at first.
Opening yourself to feedback is intimidating, but what you do with the feedback you are given paves the road to true life-change.
Your response to feedback. If you have a negative response to someone’s solicited feedback, they will not continue to help you. Becoming defensive, which is a sign of insecurity, and making up excuses for the answers someone gives you is the wrong response. If you have asked this person to speak into you life, listen respectfully, ask any follow-up questions to gain clarity, and use the new information to create a game-plan for change. This is what gaining self-awareness is all about.
Baby Steps. Growth and development take time. Don’t be discouraged if things don’t seem to change right away. Take your new-found awareness and put it to work for you. Don’t allow embarrassment or negativity to suck you deeper into a pit of insecurity. Use this awareness as stepping stones to help raise you to a higher level of perspective over your life.

And take one step at a time.

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This Could Change Everything

Lately God’s been showing me a lot about love, and it has changed me. It’s nothing eloquent or polished. Mostly just a collection of thoughts strung together like the beads of a necklace.

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Everyone has someone in their life who might be harder to love than others. It might be a family member, a co-worker, a spouse, a child making poor decisions….

These thoughts aren’t new, but over the last few weeks they have taken on a whole new meaning to me and opened my eyes to how I can love others even better.

  • You can’t love someone for who you want them to be. You have to love them for who they are. Right where they’re at.
  • When you love someone for who they are, they can sense it. It draws them near.
  • When you love someone for who you wish they were, they can sense it. It pushes them away.
  • If you continue to love someone for who you wish they were, you will always be disappointed.
  • You can’t change anyone.
  • It is exhausting to try and change someone.
  • But love does change. You.
  • There is freedom in choosing to love someone for who they are.
  • I want to be loved for who I am. Don’t you?
  • Jesus loved us all for who we were, right where we were at.
  • The capacity to love the hard-to-love people is found in Jesus.

I wish I had realized these things a little sooner in life. It would’ve saved me a lot of stress and heartache.

Armed with these thoughts now, however, I feel the strength that comes from them and I am different.

I pray you are too.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

(Previously published)

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