The Blessing of Uncomfortable

My husband and I decided to go camping for our anniversary a few years ago in March. When someone says they are going “camping,” it could mean many different things. When I say camping, I mean grab the tent, air mattress, some blankets, the propane camp stove, an ice chest with food, fire starter, and the “chuck box” with everything we need to cook and clean dishes. With packing complete, we headed a few hours out to a State Park, found a great spot to reserve, and set up camp. This was going to be amazing!

As we started setting up our tent, I began to get cold. It was nearing the end of the day and the sun was setting. When we finished, I was ready to find some heat so we went to a nearby town to have dinner. I hadn’t thought about the temperature much before this trip because during the day, it had been nice! I now started to realize what lied ahead of us… COLD.

As we drove back to camp that night, we discussed how cold it was going to be and how to handle it in our tent. We had no heat source other than the warm bodies of each other, some clothing, and a few blankets. When we arrived, we immediately went to our tent. The wind outside was a little too chilly to even sit around a fire. It had been a long day and we were ready to go to sleep anyway. 

We crawled under our blankets and held each other tight, waiting for the night to pass. 

That night was absolutely miserable, reaching a temperature in the low 20’s. I was so cold I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t want to move so my body started hurting from laying in one spot for so long. I had a thought to get up and put on more clothing. I had a nice soft jacket that was really warm across the tent in my bag. But I didn’t want to get out of the only warmth I had to go get it. So I laid there for hours, in my misery. Around 4am, something else forced me out of bed. I needed to go to the bathroom. So I got up, put my soft jacket on and some other clothing, and made the trek outside to the campground bathroom. Brrr……

When I returned, I crawled back into bed and snuggled next to my husband who’d been patiently putting up with me all night. I begin to feel a bit warmer. In fact, the extra clothes I had retrieved during my brief trip across the campground made me more comfortable. I still wasn’t as warm as I would have liked but it certainly was better than it was. I wondered why I hadn’t taken the step to become more uncomfortable for the chance at finally being able to rest.

Recently, our Life Group has been doing a study on the Holy Spirit and I’ve realized that I will do just about anything to create a comfort zone. But you know what? My comfort zone is not where I’ve heard from the Holy Spirit most clearly. It’s in the moments that I’ve been uncomfortable. It’s in the trials of life. It’s in the times that I choose not to let fear smother me but rise to overcome it with Jesus’ help. It’s in the cold nights and hard seasons. 

So why do I resist moving so much? Why do I nestle in, satisfied with where I am? 

Do you experience this as well? When is the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone:

  • to reach for a lost soul?
  • to listen to someone who needs you when you are busy?
  • to do something for your health that is hard but beneficial?
  • to step out on the stage and sing praises to Him?
  • to volunteer to help in your church even though you’re busy?
  • to start writing from a prompting in your spirit?
  • to pray with the lady at the restaurant who is crying even though you don’t know her?
  • to walk into a Life Group or join virtually even though you don’t know anyone?
  • to tell someone about what God has done in your life?

And those are just the little things. You could be called to sell all you have and follow God’s leading full time into missions, or quit your job to follow a different calling He has on your life, or something else. Whatever it may be, big or small, there’s one thing we can be sure of – If God calls you to do something, He will equip you. And when you start living this way, you will see that in the middle of the uncomfortable is where you will find the greatest reward.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 16:24-25

The Mighty Move of God

Now therefore stand still and see this great thing

that the LORD will do before your eyes. I Samuel 12:16

My mind is a jumbled up ball of the goodness and greatness of God. I can hardly contain myself. I have to hold myself back so I don’t sound like some crazy religious lunatic and just run people off. I have given my life back to God and He is MOVING in it. Not only that, the church that He has positioned me in seems to be in the very same place I am. God is MOVING in our church. I can feel it rising up all around me. I am having a hard time writing this out because my heart knows what it happening but my mind is struggling to put words to it. 

About a month ago, after my declaration of my one word for this year (Fearless), I met with an old friend not having any idea that it would be more than a casual lunch date. She shared with me something she was dealing with and wanted us to pray about – FEAR. Fear is paralyzing and we both personally know that well. We ran out of time before I could share with her what God had been doing with me so we vowed to meet again.

Later that week, at the urging of the spirit, I went to the bookstore to look at any Christian books on fear that I could find. There were several I had found online that looked promising but when I went to the bookstore, I felt strongly that Joyce Meyer’s “The Battle Belongs to the Lord” was the book I should read. And I was working it out with my friend to read along with me. We decided to meet for lunch to discuss the first 3 chapters.

The Sunday before we met, our Pastor shared with us that his wife has been diagnosed with cancer. Our church was in shock but immediately responded as he has been teaching us – with WORSHIP and prayer.  You know what? Joyce Meyer’s first three chapters talk about exactly what to do in these situations and it includes exactly what our Pastor has been preaching about. What makes this life changing is that there is scripture to back it up and that it isn’t just the word of people. It is the Word of God.

Do you see how God orchestrated all of this? How all of this is a puzzle that I had no idea was being put into place until now. I have a strong feeling that He’s not finished putting pieces together yet either. And this is just the last month of my life! I could write a book about the pieces He put together when I didn’t see how it would fit over the course of my life!

I am on my knees and in awe of the One who moves in mysterious ways. He has a way of working things out for His people in ways we never expected.

There are battle blows dealt toward us on all sides but we battle back. On our knees in battle position. From there, we trust that God is moving and will continue to move. We  passionately, precisely, and persistently pursue Him. Because we know that all things are in His hands and in His perfect plan.

And I will fight alongside my sister doing this study with me as well as my church family. Because I have never been so determined to SEE HIM MOVE even more.

Watch with me and see what He is going to do. Come alongside me and see for yourself what the excitement is all about. It’s been so long… well maybe never… since I have felt His presence like I do now. And I want as many of you to experience it with me as possible.

The Fear That I Will Write Something Wrong

My Word for the year is FEARLESS. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be writing about different fears I have. This week I am writing about my fear of writing. I hope that you are encouraged to let go of fear in your life so that Christ can truly work in and through you!

I’ve been writing now for about 9 months. I’ve had periods of time where I produced more posts than other times, and periods of time where I did not write a single post. Throughout my experience writing, I have encountered fear. My fear has been that I would write something that was wrong, or that I would write something that other people would talk negatively about. I have battled this fear on various levels.

My goal has been to share tidbits of my life and lessons I have learned in an effort to encourage you, my readers. I want the opportunity to share how Christ can take bad situations and turn them around for more joy and life than ever before. I hope I’ve at least accomplished that to a small degree. My heart is for you to know Christ at a deeper level and be able to see the good that He can bring to your life.

I believe God has encouraged some of you through my writing and I am grateful for His hand in that. I truly give Him all the glory! It is only through Him that I write. It is only through Him that I am where I am today.

God has been good to me and I want to share that with you. But I also want you to understand that I am an imperfect person who may at times share faulty ideas. This is my blog and my feelings but as you hopefully are, I am also working on my relationship with Him and will never be at a place that I do not fail, although I hope and pray that my relentless pursuit of Christ will help me get better and better and that I actually DO relentlessly pursue Him!

I have allowed my fear of what you will think, or of writing something that is not correct, keep me from writing sometimes. And though there is value in desiring that my words be completely of God and sound logic, as a woman working on her relationship with God who has been far from Him for many years, I have to admit I’m just not there.

However, God has still called me to write. He DOES lay on my heart topics to write about and encourages me to encourage you through my stories and thoughts. He is calling me now to stop fearing writing something wrong and just trust Him to give me the words to say. And to trust that He, as well as you, will show me grace when needed.

I love Jesus. And I hope you can read that within the words I write. I hope you can see that I truly desire to honor Him through what I say. And I hope you are encouraged in the process. 

I’m inviting you to journey through this process with me as I seek Him with all my heart. And I pray that you show me grace when I mess up. I also welcome you to gently point out any faulty ideas that I may have, especially if it goes against what the Word of God states. I desire a closer relationship with Him and I hope you desire the same. Let’s work together to draw closer to Him.

I am praying for you and I would appreciate your prayers as well. Until the day that we become perfect through Christ, I will continue to keep striving to serve Him to the best of my ability. And I am vowing to give this area of fear over to Him. What fear are you needing to give to him? Will you lay it down along with me?

 

 

One Word for 2015: FEARLESS

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 ESV

I waited patiently for my husband to answer my question. It’s a question I ask often. In fact, almost every time I have a decision to make. “What should I do?” This morning after he had answered for the third time “whatever you want to do”, I told him I needed to know what he thought. I wanted to know what he would do if it were him. He proceeded to very calmly but firmly inform me that I just needed to make the decision. That there really was no wrong answer and I should be confident and just decide one way or the other depending on what was best for my children and me. And then “own it.”

Then I was reminded of my word. My ONE WORD for this year is Fearless. When I was praying about what God wanted me to focus on in 2015, He spoke clearly to me. I didn’t have to wait long at all. I was in my bedroom and Lance walked in on me tearing up. He asked me what was wrong and I told him absolutely nothing, that God had just revealed to me to focus on being Fearless this year. I immediately understood why and it moved me deeply.

It’s something with which I’ve always struggled. My fear of failure, making the wrong decision, and what other people are going to think. My heart has been judged often and I have let that fact determine the outcome of my decisions too many times. Often, my decision is based on what the majority of other people in my life think I should do. Or even the small amount of people that will cause me the most grief if I happen to make the wrong decision.

Fear can affect my life in many areas but this is the area in which I have had the most trouble letting go. I have spent many years living my life based on what other people tell me I should do instead of seeking God and His Word. I fear making the wrong decision but I more often fear others not agreeing with my decision. I fear my heart and intentions being judged incorrectly.

I also fear failure. I try so hard to be a good Christian, mother, wife, employee, daughter, and friend. But I never achieve the level that I want to be. I always fall short. And I beat myself up over it. But God ‘s presence in my life covers all failures, all sins! I cannot quit and I have to keep trying to be the person He created me to be and fulfill the roles He’s provided me to the very best of my ability. The fear of failure can keep me from trying sometimes but I must keep pushing forward.

God says in Isaiah to FEAR NOT for He is with me. He will strengthen me, help me, and uphold me with His righteous right hand. He is the One I should go to for every decision I make in life. I want to seek Him first, intently, and open heartedly.

This year, 2015, I will make a conscious effort to let God take away my fear. I will daily give my anxiety to Him and I will do my best to completely put my faith and trust in Him. He knows what He’s doing with my life and the lives of those I love. I must trust that it’s in His hands and not fear what may come.

Last year, my ONE WORD was discovery. I spent much of the year learning who God truly created me to be and I came a long way in that journey. I still have some work to do but He has shown me so much this past year.

This year, along with continuing to discover more about myself, I will do my best to not live my life out of fear nor make decisions based on fear. That is my prayer and my word for 2015. What is God calling you to work on? Do you feel Him leading you to a specific word to focus on this year? I’d love to hear it!

The Strength and Dignity Flop with a Side of Fear

She is clothed with strength and dignity,

   and she laughs without fear of the future. Proverbs 31:25

I’m not feeling very Proverbs 31 woman-like today. Not when it comes to this verse and how it describes some woman, because there is no way it could be me! Not today. The day has been a normal day without much of anything going on outside of everyday happenings.  There hasn’t been anything bad happen. In fact, all has gone quite well. Except for one thing. Me. I have lost my strength temporarily. I have misplaced my ability to laugh without fear of the future. There is so much in my life that I can fear. And some days, I do. I get tired of being strong and happy and content. I get tired of being positive.

It’s hard to admit this to you, to anyone. But I really want us, specifically women, to understand that sometimes we just feel this way. And it’s okay. It’s okay to temporarily feel “in the mulligrubs” as my dad would say. We just can’t hang out there all the time. This is normal, right? Tell me I’m not alone. Sometimes, I am just down. Period. No particular reason. Just life weighing on me.

So today I read this verse and I cling to it. I cling to the hope that I will be clothed with strength and dignity and laugh without fear of the future as I do on so many other days. Deep down, I trust Him. I trust His plan for my life and the lives of those I love. I get so tired of having to keep giving the fear back to Him, but I keep picking it back up! And as long as I keep picking it back up, I have to continue to keep giving it back to Him.

I would love some encouragement today. I need it. I crave your prayers and your encouragement. I try to be outward and give to others what I truly desire myself. Because I want to be an encourager and I want you to know how much God loves you and is in control of your life, as He is mine. But today, I am wrapped up in myself and need to be freed. I don’t like this place I’m in and need to give it up to God. In fact, writing about it is helping me. Admitting my weakness to you is helping me.

I will let God renew my spirit and I will put on strength and dignity as only He gives. I will not fear the future. In fact, I will laugh without fear of the future. Because I know I am in His hands. I relinquish my need for control because I know the One who knows what is best for me and I am trusting Him. Who is with me?

God Whispers “Be Transparent”

I’m struggling today.

God whispers “Be transparent”

I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20

I am angry and fighting it.

God whispers “Be transparent”

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.

Proverbs 29:11

I am tired and want to quit.

God whispers “Be transparent”

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

My faith is wavering. I do not feel strong.

God whispers “Be transparent”

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:29

I am crying more than I care to admit.

God whispers “Be transparent”

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

I am being controlled by fear.

God whispers “Be transparent”

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

Satan is attacking me from every angle.

God whispers “Be transparent”

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. I Peter 5:8-9

As I write these words, scripture is coming to my mind. It is the only things that comforts me. God in all His wisdom has laid out for us encouragement and instruction in His word. Sometimes it’s hard to swallow. It’s a constant reminder of my failures and weaknesses. I usually know what I am supposed to do but my emotions lead me other places, off the track of what God and His word tells me.

Life is tough. But I know it could always be worse. So then I beat myself up for not being grateful enough for the life I do have. However I look at it, my mind can see the negative if I let it. And I do let it sometimes.

Most of the time, I am strong and confident and full of faith.

Other times, like today, I have to work hard to replace my negative thoughts with God’s thoughts.

Do you ever feel like this? My guess is that all of you have at some point or another. It’s my desire that we open up and share this side of ourselves. Having it all together all the time is an illusion and is not what God intended when He designed the “church”. We were created to do life together. To “mourn with those who mourn” and “rejoice with those who rejoice.” (Romans 12:15)

Do I put myself in a vulnerable position by sharing these thoughts and feelings with you? Absolutely, I do. And I know what it’s like to have vulnerabilities thrown back in your face and used against you. It hurts. Deeply.

But I believe so strongly in the shift that needs to take place in the church towards transparency, that I’m willing to put it out there.

The church needs transparency more than ever. We are a hurting people and hiding it only hurts us. Sharing with each other is part of God’s plan towards healing, in the right way, at the right time. Will you join me?

~Keeping it Real

The Dream Struggle

I dreamed again last night. The emotions that gripped me when I awoke were more than I could control on my own. I couldn’t shake the feelings that came over me. Sometimes I don’t even remember the dream, just the emotions that come because of it. But this morning, I remembered at least part of the dreams.

Dreams have more hold of me than they should. I absolutely despise them. My history with dreaming is intense. Starting at a young age, I had nightmares and dreams sometimes too strange to even try to explain the bits and pieces that I remembered when I woke.

They still haunt me today though they have changed some over the years. I used to dream of burglars and murderers entering my room at night. Though I still have those occasionally, now my dreams have transitioned to reflect my internal struggles of self worth. In a nutshell, my dreams reflect my deepest fears. At a young age I feared mean people. Today, my fears are of failure and inadequacy.

That’s the kind of dreams I had last night. Whatever I was doing, I could not do it well enough. I let people down. I failed my children. I couldn’t handle my day to day job of being a teacher, wife, friend and mom. Every time I woke up, I did not want to fall asleep again, but the fatigue was more than I could withstand and I kept going back to sleep to dream again. It was exhausting physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I woke up for the final time this morning in tears. My husband asked what was wrong and I had a hard time telling him. I honestly didn’t know at first. It took me a while to analyze what had happened. When I finally let my emotions go, I couldn’t stop crying. I cried on his shoulder, I cried when he left, I cried on my way to work, I cried throughout the day. I kept willing myself to keep moving but it was so hard to do. I just wanted to go back to bed and sleep… without dreams.

It seems as if sometimes I get it. I understand my worth found in Jesus and that I am beautifully and wonderfully made. I know that His love is all I need and that at times I will fail, but that He loves me anyway and helps me get back up. I know that I am doing my very best in what daily life brings me even if it is not and will never be perfection. I even do my very best to encourage other women in this area! I know how I SHOULD feel and what I SHOULD believe. And I’m getting better at internalizing that. But there are some days that I just struggle with not feeling good enough, for anyone or anything.

It sounds silly as I write this. It’s a dream! Dreams are not real! Dreams have never and will never define me. Dreams have never and will never define you. Just as other people, situations, failures, and outside influences have never and will never define you.

Your Creator made you to be exactly who you are. You are only defined through the perfection of Christ’s hand on your life. You will never be perfect but because of Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross, you don’t have to be! He paid the ultimate sacrifice to cover all of our shortcomings.

We may not be perfect on our own, but through the lens of Jesus’ blood, we are perfection. “For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.” Hebrews 10:14

As for my dreams, I see some of them as a window into my soul and bringing to light what I need to work on within myself. I don’t like them at all and I wish they would go away for good, but I wouldn’t be doing the work necessary to overcome these fears in this moment today. I am going to choose to believe that God is working through them to continue working in and through me. As hard as it is, I am going to choose to look at it positively. I am going to choose to start rejoicing in the fact that He makes all things new and is renewing a steadfast spirit within me.

Will you join me today in rejoicing through the struggles? Will you join me as we embrace our weaknesses and throughout our efforts to improve on them, continue to see ourselves through the lens of Christ? Will you join me as we let ourselves off the hook for being and becoming perfect and understand that our heart being in the right place is what God wants for us? Will you give yourself the amount of grace that God gives us?

Keep striving to be better, but give yourself some slack. Do your best and let Christ fill in the holes!

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14