Tag Archives: fear

Sometimes You Don’t Want Advice

Sometimes you don’t want advice. Perhaps that’s why I’ve pulled back the last couple of years. This blog has been barely touched. No new books written. I’ve even been more quiet in “real” life–with most of my face-to-face community.

I’m trying to figure things out. And well, frankly that’s exhausting. The thing is, I really don’t want a plethora of other voices adding to my confusion in a particular area of my life. I want to learn to rest in the hope of the One Voice who leads. Trust in the One who knows the end from the beginning. But it’s been a long two years around this issue–and I do need prayer support. But I’m not ready to talk about that yet–I promise I will. At the end of this post.

The whole fear of advice thing is not all that’s  going on.  Life has simply taken a lot of energy and left little for blogging. After Jerry’s heart attack almost two years ago, we began a health journey that required our focus. Much of the last two years was about doctor’s appointments, diet change, and adjusting. (I talked a little about that here.) The exciting update is that Jerry is healing!!

But even though I think of the last two years as hard, not all has been hard. Some of it has been incredibly good, wondrously good, gloriously good!

My son Sam married the beautiful Ariel!

I spoke at retreats and a writer’s conference and gave a keynote at the Whole and Free Women’s Conference.

 

I traveled to NYC (which I actually told you about) and then to Afghanistan to serve with an NGO (non-governmental agency). Maybe someday I can dig deep enough to write of the great impact of that experience. Today I’ll share only one quote from a brave, female health care worker in Afghanistan. Through an interpreter she thanked me and said, “We know that you come from a place that is safe and traveled to a place that is not safe to encourage us.”

Yes, I cried.

A bonus for this huge life event was that I was part of an all-women’s service team–and my daughter was one of the team leaders! So I got to experience this humbling, beautiful, painful place with her.

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I came home from these trips and couldn’t rest until I found a way to connect with an Afghan woman nearby. I’d simply fallen in love with these beautiful, courageous, resilient women. I found my place as an in-home English tutor for an Afghan refugee. What precious, precious moments this woman and I have shared! We don’t know much of each other’s story–we don’t have enough words in common to tell our stories. But we share each other’s hearts. We are women. We are mothers.  We want to love, grow, and expand.

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Back to the home front–Jerry and I celebrated 30 years of marriage with a week in the mountains!

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And  . . . Drum roll please . . .

Jerry and I became grandparents! Oh the joy!

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There’s more. So much more I could write of God’s blessings. Our small group. The women’s Bible study. Faithful friends. It’s good to stop and remember. Any time. But maybe especially when you start a post with the words, “sometimes I don’t want advice” and admit that you’ve pulled in.

So let’s loop back to my “more on that later” promise.

The thing that has been the most draining for me (except of course for the emotion you feel when you almost lose a spouse and then watch them fight their way back to living over a two-year period) is that I was totally unprepared to be the primary wage earner for our family.

Jerry and I have always lived on a small, one-income (his!) budget. It wasn’t easy raising four children this way. But we believed I was called to some primary things–being a writer, speaker, and homeschooling mother (not necessarily in that order). So we limped along to allow me to do the things I’m passionate about. Making an income through books, speaking, and the occasional article was/is feast or famine. (Well, to be honest it’s more like a normal meal or famine. Never really a feast.)

God was incredibly gracious to me right after Jerry had his heart attack and was unable to work. Our Lord miraculously paid every single bill for six months. I’m so thankful. I really didn’t have it in me to figure out how to make more money on top of all we were dealing with. God is good. Faithful. Steady.

Next God provided me with a ghost writing job with the potential to support us for a while. The work started more slowly than expected, which freaked me out. (You can think you’ve been tried and tested and grown in faith–and I had–but then comes something that draws your faith in a whole new way and though you truly thought you were done with freaking out (because you know your God is good) you find yourself there again.)

Eventually the work became somewhat steady. I loved being able to bring in more consistent income while holding onto the flexible schedule that allowed me to drive Jerry to the doctor, occasionally babysit my granddaughter, and continue tutoring my friend. (And take the occasional speaking engagement, service trip, etc.)

But it was a huge learning curve. This trying to become the primary provider.

(Okay, not was. Is.)

For too many months I stressed over every penny I thought I needed to make. It was hard to balance my schedule, much less my checkbook. Finally, I learned to trust, to believe God was providing, and lean into the work without freaking out.  (To date I’ve sold 78 stories to this company.)

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But not long after I was able to wrestle my fears, questions, and stress to the ground–Not long after I was doing better at leaning on God–Not long after I could work without freaking, the project began winding down. Which meant the work slowed down. Which meant the paychecks did too.

The project is almost completed. I may have enough work to get us through October.

Now what?

(I know I just asked, but . . . um . . . please don’t give me advice.)

Last night I lay awake freaking again.

It’s so not how I thought I’d learned to live with Him. It’s so not how God wants me to live. It so not how I want to live.

I know I am a capable, educated, talented woman. I have skills. Marketable skills. I also have dreams. Whether or not they are marketable remains to be seen. And then there are the hopes I treasure . . . .

I’m not sure where all of those intersect. I’m not sure if they will anymore. I’m not sure how to move forward.

And I am so very sad. And tired. And afraid.

Please pray for me.

Earlier today I did part of what I love. I wrestled with a new spiritual truth that excited me. And I wrote it out to share with others. (I’ll post it here tomorrow–and on my author/speaker page on Facebook.) I have a feeling this new understanding of a Bible passage I’ve previously misunderstood relates to the struggle. Not because it is a direct correlation, but because–as you can read tomorrow–what we see in the mirror matters. (What I wrote talks about what we can see.) But I have a feeling I’m barely beginning to understand the vast applications of that view. Maybe instead of worrying as I climb into bed tonight, I’ll ponder that.

Meanwhile, here in Colorado, I’m just a grandma looking for Jesus. Believing He’s hanging onto me and being grateful for that, because my hang-er-on-er strength feels faint. Sometimes I don’t get that. How God can be so good, so faithful, so kind–and still I feel things that don’t match who I know Him to be. Tonight I may feel overwhelmed, scared, a bunch of things that don’t speak to the truth of the power of my God, but I promise you this. I still seek Him. I still love Him. I still reach for Him.

He IS my all in all.

Until next time,

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How Do I Show Up?

Successful career. Successful relationship.

Finances. Respect.

The list could go on, couldn’t it? The one of things that get in the way of true living. (Notice I didn’t say the list of things wrong to desire.)

But don’t they get in the way?

Of the good moments.

We miss too many of life’s beautiful moments because our focus is in on worrying about something on the list.

They get in the way.

Of productivity.

It slows when fear of financial problems, a need to succeed, or managing relationship replaces creative energy.

Of delight.

There’s nothing like fear and striving and worry to zap life’s joy.

Of healthy relationship.

Relationships are harder when we worry about success or think they can be managed.

Of success itself.

How far could we go if life wasn’t driven by the need to succeed? Is it success if we’re constantly grasping and fearing its loss?

What if we lived from passion instead?

Passion to bless.

God and others. In daily interaction. In work, even work that doesn’t feel like calling offers opportunity to bless. In relationships, even when they aren’t fun.

Passion to receive love and share it.

Humans know how to love because they were first loved by their Creator. (We love because He first loved us.) So we take a stand and shout to the world (and mostly that negative, nagging voice in our head), “I am loved!” Then we pause and reflect the love back to its origin. “I love you, too, God!” Then we step into our families, our friendships, our work place, our Facebook groups, our schools, our blogs . . .  our life. We step into life and love others with the love we are given.

Passion to move forward as our true selves.

To let the real us, the strong, true, gifted person who wants to bless and love, show up in the world. (Which means we constantly tell the fearful, striving, success-craving, down-on-herself/himself, selfish voices to shut up.) We acknowledge our strengths. Enjoy them, even. Believe that we were designed with a uniqueness this world needs.

What if we stopped chasing success and instead stepped boldly into life from our passion?

Wouldn’t this be the ultimate act of glorifying the One who made us?

Until Next time,

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PS These thoughts rolled out this morning as I deal with real life. I write as a sojourner, longing desperately to put aside my self-absorption, worries, and fears to live out my destiny.  To be all-in with God and to be put out with fear. To let my neediness fall aside as I focus on my passion. As I seek to trust God with my life instead of grasping for things that cannot fill me up. To be about passionate work with eternal significance, not chasing a paycheck or significance or career advancement. To believe God will supply all my needs and that I am free to go about my Father’s business without letting lesser things slow my productivity and advancement.

Honey Tears

IMAG0010The tears start early today. Little drops of golden honey that will bring healing to me and to the chosen who read my next book.

At least that’s what He tells me. That my tears will drop and form words, phrases, and paragraphs, coming from the deep places and calling out to the deep places.

Healing.

Not just me. But me too.

The words will be His heart and mine. Together. Right. For many. For me.

But I barely have energy to move today. The tears started long before I reached for the keyboard. I didn’t work yesterday. Tuesday’s writing was done in dropping tears. Taking a break and pacing the living room. Returning. Hands on keyboard. Until I had to stop.

I don’t want to be in a holding pattern of tears. I want to surrender to this latest call, to bravely go where I have not gone before. To get to the other side for whatever glory awaits. Peace. For me. For others.

Telling my story because we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.

Blessing and suffering together. Two cups. He asked me to drink of both. He promised to be in both.

For good. For beauty. For hope.

Not for despair.

But today–and for a stretching of days–I walk through to get to the other side. I choose this journey for love of Him and for love of those He heals.

I choose it in the security of the knowledge that He never does harm. He only does healing.

I brave it because I am loved. Forever. Unconditionally. By Him.

Please pray me through my friends.

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Breaking Free to a Spirit of Adventure

“You’re like my dog,” my agent, Rachelle Gardner, said.1 thin

Not exactly the way you hope a conversation with someone this important to you will begin. At my humorous, self-deprecating response she quickly assured me she adores her dog. Then she got very serious.

“As long as there is a trail my dog runs free. But as soon as we’re in a open field my dog becomes unsure. I’m offering the gift of freedom. My dog could be exploring and running at will but holds back.”

I’ve pondered her words often, especially lately. I sense God saying, “There’s your field. Fields really. Run free. Plant. Explore. It’s all yours to discover!”

And some days I do.

Other days I seek the safety of the trail. Of the KNOWN. Of a list. Someone else’s box.

It goes back that old tape that says I have to do everything perfectly. That says there is only ONE right way. That tells me I better be careful, or I’ll get my hand slapped.

I was mad at God this week.

I’d tried to run free, and I thought He slapped my hand. The voices in my head were louder than they’d been in a long time, telling me I was doing it all WRONG.

After a lot of tears, some prayer, and a couple of good conversations with my hubby and a best friend I see it differently. God never slapped my hand. He never told me I was doing it wrong. Those were the old voices of religion and perfectionism and fear and . . . the enemy of forward momentum.

The Voice of Love said what He always does. That He loves me, His special girl. That He cheers for me. That I could stop striving, trying to do it RIGHT, and run free.

In joy.

“See the fields?” Love whispered. And understanding flashed as I envisioned open fields as far as the eye could see. Fertile fields of hungry earth. Waving grain. Lush green rows in some, wildflowers in others, and emptiness with dry cracked earth in another. All mine to explore. Places to mingle with what was already planted. Places to scatter my little seeds of hope and freedom. Pour water on thirsty ground.

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During a time of quiet reflection last night I understood the struggle. This week was simply another molting, a shedding of too small skin. And as it fell away to make room for new growth I reverted to vulnerable, unsure me. The dog clinging to Master instead of running free in the gift offered. And I knew I was okay. That the journey was okay. That shedding is good, even when accompanied by a few tears.

Adventure_Sports_Podcast_logo_125x125Then this morning.

Oh this morning!

A podcast where I was a guest aired. My own responses danced over me. Adventure! I am free to live a life of adventure. Love has been working every day, all my life, to entice me to joyful freedom.

This podcast is full of metaphors from my own experiences about the journey to freedom. It shouts out God’s heart for me, for all of us, calling for a life that is stronger, freer, and full of adventure. It talks about how dropping the weight in my body helped me rediscover a spirit of adventure in all of life.

How about you? Any voices trying to pin you down and hold you back? Are you in another molting stage, shedding a skin that’s grown too tight? What choice can you make TODAY for freedom?

Join me. Let’s break free to that spirit of adventure. Adventure is more fun with a friend.

Maybe the interview will encourage you, too. Come on over to the Adventure Sports Podcast where I talk about Breaking Free to a Spirit of Adventure.

a great quote to go with podcast

The Quandary

I can’t write.

This is a lie.

This I know.

I have written, and I will write.

But I find myself afraid to start.

Wasting time.

It’s almost as if now that the house has emptied so that I can fully pursue my dreams I have become paralyzed.

I didn’t expect this. Have longed for freedom to pursue the dreams beyond motherhood.

The time is now.

Instead of seizing the day I seize the vacuum cleaner, the telephone, the dirty dishes.

I run errands.

Sometimes I curl up on the couch and cry.

Sometimes I play.

The Christmas break was chaotic and full. Noise rang from these now quiet rooms.

I cooked and cooked and baked and talked and scheduled who got the cars and who didn’t.

Then they went back to college, to apartments and dorm rooms and classrooms.

One at a time they entered their world, leaving me to mine.

I’ve given myself permission to be quiet. To grieve. To regroup.

I think I read 7 books in four days when Stephen left.

The other day I cleaned yard clutter neglected for 25 years.

But I was created to write.

I’ve dreamed of space to write.

To produce more than the four novels completed in the midst of child-rearing.

I’ve worked hard. Served others. Learned my craft.

It’s time.

To write deeper, stronger, more beautiful.

Even here. To be more consistent.

But even here I am afraid. Afraid to start again lest I neglect the pouring forth.

I want to write.

I need to write.

Please pray I can write.

Photo Phobia? Oh, Brother.

Remember my post a while back about totally freaking out that I had a photo shoot? That I almost canceled because I felt so insecure about everything: how I looked, the few pounds I”d gained in the last couple of months of grief, having the “right” clothes, and all that silly girl stuff.

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I love my photos. A friend who prayed me through my freak-out told me, “your smile is genuine and sweet.”

Oh, grace upon grace. A genuine smile after all that self-deprecating crap I’d put myself through.

These photos are a complete and total gift. I can’t wait to update the photos on my author website. (Those photos, too, were a complete and perfect gift at the time. That photographer, Kim Liddiard, is amazing.) But 50 plus pounds of weight loss was also a gift, and I look forward to the new-sized me on that site, too.

I’m still awed that my Creator saw fit to let me be a BENew beta tester and to help me through the physical and mental changes necessary to drop the extra pounds.

And now He does it again, abundance overflowing, with new head shot, a gift of Sandy Puc Photography. The ladies behind the camera did much to help bring forward my “genuine” smile, as you know from the post I wrote that day. They had a gift for making me comfortable as well as for capturing the real me. The gals there helped me pick the best shots when I felt overwhelmed, and the generosity of the studio blows me away. I can see why my friend and fellow author Megan DiMaria enjoys working there, and I’m grateful she mentioned me to them when they were talking about photographing women who’d gone through weight loss.

My heart is full.

To think I almost squandered this gift out of fear of not being “enough” that day. Oh, Jesus, will I ever learn?

Why, oh why do I fear the good things You give to me and to my family.

Help me to accept your gifts opened-handed, without fear, without worrying that I am not enough to handle them. Help me not to hide when you want me to step out.

Thank you, faithful blogging friends for your support on my scared day. Thank you for cheering me even when I can’t do that for myself. Thank you for helping me be vulnerable by telling me it matters to you and helps you be real, too.

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Until Next time,

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Monday Morning Makeover ~ Open War I

Too often I allowed ground to be taken from me instead of advancing in life. The most visual area is in the area of weight gain. Pretending the pounds weren’t creeping on, ignoring the battle waged against my body, didn’t make it go away. Open war was upon me whether I risked engagement or not.

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Open war is upon you whether you would risk it or not (Aragorn, Lord of the Rings)