A month of gifts—and when my greatest obstacle is me

I know Christmas isn’t about things, but it’s also true that anyone who knows me knows that I love to give gifts. So that’s what I’m going to do this month… offer giveaways every week. Just because :-). This week we’ll kick things off with a guest post from my awesome friend Kristine Brown. At ...

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I know Christmas isn’t about things, but it’s also true that anyone who knows me knows that I love to give gifts. So that’s what I’m going to do this month… offer giveaways every week. Just because :-).

This week we’ll kick things off with a guest post from my awesome friend Kristine Brown. At the end, I’ll tell you how you can enter to have a chance to win a copy of her book.


When My Greatest Obstacle Is Me

I stood on the other side of the auditorium door, just steps away from the moment that stirred in my heart just weeks before. I had seen the flyer advertising open auditions, and I wanted to be in the school play more than anything.

There was just one small problem. This wasn’t a play. It was a musical, and I couldn’t sing. At least, that’s what someone told me once, and once was all it took for the words to stick.

I thought I’d moved beyond that self-defeating thought. For the past three weeks, I’d planned and practiced a ballad taught to me by a family friend. A ballad I would be expected to sing by myself in front of total strangers.

I committed to follow through, to open the door and step into whatever happened next. But now, so close to that moment, the doubt came flooding back like a raging storm set to destroy.

I’d like to say I marched with confidence onto the stage and sang my heart out, not worrying about the outcome, but that wouldn’t be true. After staring at the back of that door for a few minutes more, I turned around, walked straight to my car, and drove home. I’d let myself become my greatest obstacle.

“And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, ‘You are out of your mind.’ But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, ‘It is his angel!’ But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed.” Acts 12:13-16 ESV

Rhoda knew what it took to stop the ugly voice of doubt from invading her thoughts and causing her to lose confidence. Just a young girl, Rhoda served in the house of Mary. Many believers gathered there that night for a massive prayer meeting. Peter had been arrested by King Herod, and Christ’s faithful followers came together to pray for his safety.

When Rhoda heard Peter’s voice on the other side of the door, she knew it was him. They’d been praying for his release all night, and God answered their prayer! No one in the house believed her, but that didn’t keep her from opening the door.

“They said to her, ‘You are out of your mind.’ But she kept insisting that it was so…” Acts 12:15a

From the actions of this innocent servant girl, we can learn an important truth.

We stop words of doubt from invading our thoughts by insisting on God’s promises.

Inside each one of us, there’s an unsure teenage girl still waiting behind the auditorium door. Every day we face circumstances where words from the past creep in and try to build an obstacle inside our very hearts. It’s hard to stay positive when negative words plant seeds of doubt, causing us to lose faith in what we know to be true.

Rhoda’s story brings hope when we’re tempted to give in to self-defeat. So let’s join together today and insist on what God says to be true. We are worthy. We are loved. We believe.

And with the promises of God in our hearts and minds, we become our biggest ally instead of our greatest obstacle.

To enter a drawing to win a copy of this book, leave a comment below. Share with us one of God’s promises, a truth that you hold onto when times are rough. And then, if you would, pray for the person who commented before you. I’ll announce the winner next week.


Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart who teaches about God’s powerful, relatable Word. She is the author of Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan and founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. You’ll find Kristine’s weekly devotions and Bible study resources at kristinebrown.net. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Reclaiming my voice

You’ll notice that this makes three posts from me this week! Have I been inhabited by aliens? Sheesh! I’ll never be able to sustain this pace, nor will I try to. But here’s the ironic thing: I may have published three posts in a week, but this is the first one in which I have something new ...

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You’ll notice that this makes three posts from me this week! Have I been inhabited by aliens? Sheesh!

I’ll never be able to sustain this pace, nor will I try to. But here’s the ironic thing: I may have published three posts in a week, but this is the first one in which I have something new to say. My first post was an excerpt from Designed to Pray and a coloring page. The second was a guest post. In the midst of putting those together, and uploading a post for Internet Café Devotions, I realized a truth I’ve been hiding from. Well, that’s it, I guess: I’ve been hiding. But now it’s time to come clean.

I feel like I’ve lost my voice.

I want to bring hope and encouragement, not despair and criticism. And over the past few months, I’ve struggled. What I’ve had to say hasn’t been popular, and knowing that several people will unsubscribe as a result of each of those posts has silenced me. (I’m not kidding: while I typed this post a few days ago (just after posting a different post), I received a notice of four new unsubscribes.)

I’m not complaining, I promise; I’m just being real.

I’ve struggled through the election and aftermath, knowing that my opinions are not popular ones, including among many within the Church. I’ve wrestled with what to say and how to say it. I’ve tried to stay focused on God and not politics, to only voice opinions if they’re backed by the Word of God. To only talk about it if there’s a bigger issues—living as a Christian, and what Christianity is about—not about a political issue. I’ve wondered if I have an obligation to use what little “platform” I have to try to effect change, or if I should just shush.

I’m certain that I’ve offended people, in spite of very sincere efforts not to. If you’re one of those people, please accept my apology.

The unfortunate consequence of it all is that now I feel as though who I am, what I think, and how I try to live my faith are not acceptable to a bunch of people I like and admire. (Please know that I’m not asking for affirmation. Truly, I regularly hear from people expressing gratitude for what I do and say and I’m moved by every one of those messages.)

But I’m human, and I want people to like me. Even more than that, though, I want to write and remain true to my God and my faith. And I’ve let myself go silent.

So consider this my public confession. What is kept secret often holds a kind of power over us and brings shame, but I want God’s light to fall on this. So I’m revealing my insecurities to you, trusting that this is a safe place for me to be real. I’m asking God to start fresh in me. To ignite new passion and point me in the right direction.

I’m asking Him questions like: What do I write next? What do people want to hear from me? And more important even than that: what does He want me to say?

Now I’m bringing this to you to ask for your prayers. To thank you for walking this road with me. And to admit that I don’t have it all together.

Yet I know who does have it all together—and in spite of my cynicism and disillusionment and lack of direction, I’m entrusting this to God. Because His will is my deepest desire. I don’t want to do anything if I’m not doing it with and for Him. And I’m not accomplishing anything of value on my own.

Pray with me? (And then leave a comment to let me know how I can pray for you, or what struggle you want to reveal in order to let God prevail over it.)

Dear Lord, I find that I’m withdrawing into myself, even though I’ve experienced firsthand the truth that healing is found in the company of friends, in the sounds of laughter and tears, in the breaking of bread together and the sharing of lives. Expand my view, Lord. Let me look beyond myself, reach past my emotions and opinions and ego and instead lean on Your truth. Let me remember Who You are… All that You are… All that You have been to me—and all that You want to be to me. Give me the desire to embrace it, and let me be willing to change. Even if it’s painful or embarrassing or complicated. Because I don’t want there to be a wall between You and me. You came to remove those barriers, to give us unlimited access, to build intimacy with us and to share our lives. This is one gift that I don’t want to throw away—or leave in a gift bag stacked in a corner. I want to use every gift You’ve given me to its full extent. I want to come alive again, to be used by You, to be revived by You, and to be Your instrument, fully obedient and passionately dedicated and weary from overuse, not lack of use. I offer my life to You, again, fully surrendered and releasing control. I walk forward in obedience, not sure yet where I’m going, but doing my part to keep moving forward until I get clear direction. And I feel my hopes rising up as I anticipate finding You on this path in a deeper way. I am Yours, Lord, in every breath, every thought, every dream, every hope. Yours and Yours alone. Because there is no One else like You. Thank You for wanting me. Thank You for hearing. And thank You for the answer I know You have for me. Amen.

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ~1 Peter 2:1-5, NIV

You don’t mean me, do you?

Picture this scene. It’s a Sunday night church service, and a small group of “regulars” stand in front of the altar while music plays. One after another, we lay hands on people and pray. A woman comes up, her head wrapped in a scarf to hide her bald head. She has cancer, and she wants prayer. I pray, calling out ...

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Picture this scene. It’s a Sunday night church service, and a small group of “regulars” stand in front of the altar while music plays. One after another, we lay hands on people and pray. A woman comes up, her head wrapped in a scarf to hide her bald head. She has cancer, and she wants prayer. I pray, calling out to God to heal her, to let her feel His presence, and for God to put the right people in her life, people who can help her with the everyday things. And suddenly, my mind shuts out all the noise but this one thought: “You’re a person.”

It’s not enough just to ask for God to provide people to help someone. Sometimes we have to be willing to step forward and do the things that nobody else is doing.

I wish I could say I changed her life. I wish I could say that I did all of these caring, generous things. I made some efforts—offered help, bought her new head scarves, gave her some money. But somehow, that’s all I did. In my defense, I think I tried, but for whatever reason—inability to coordinate schedules, or something—I didn’t actually do much.

Years later, remembering this makes me feel embarrassed. How many opportunities have I missed to show someone kindness, to let them know they’re not alone?

How many times have I thought “someone else will do it so I don’t have to”?

More than I want to admit.

I wrote an article for Crosswalk recently called Three Things Jesus Didn’t Pray For. And one of them really stood out to me. When someone asked for healing, Jesus didn’t pray. He didn’t tell them he’d pray about it and get back to them. He healed them. Prayer was not a reason or excuse to delay. It was simple. They asked, and He answered.

If only it were that easy! If only I could miraculously banish cancer and disease and illness with a touch.

But Jesus said whoever believes in Him will do the works He did—and even greater things than these (John 14:12-14).

I believe that in abstract terms. I do. When I pray, I give myself over to the belief that God will heal. That He has given us power to act in His name. That we can still be part of miracles. When I offer myself to God, again and again, I ask Him to use me.

Sometimes, I think He does. And sometimes I willfully refuse to hear Him when He nudges me out of my comfort zone. I justify my inaction—I’m busy. I’m not equipped. I don’t know that person very well. I feel awkward. They’ll think I’m weird. Maybe I can find someone else to do it. I don’t know how to (fill in the blank).

We do need to set boundaries, and we have to care for our families and friends and take care of our responsibilities.

But I want to be used by God.

I want to show someone the extraordinary mercy and kindness God has shown me. I want to clasp hands and pray and then watch with tears streaming down my face when the person I prayed with sees God’s answers. I long to talk about God and the things He has done. I want to be God’s hands extended, reaching out to those who feel alone or afraid or unwelcome.

And yet as I typed that last paragraph, I bit my bottom lip. Stopped typing and took a deep breath. Stared at the backspace key and considered some serious deletion. Because here’s what I know: when you ask things like this, God answers. When you want opportunities to live out your faith, you won’t be able to take a step forward without finding them blocking your path. And I’m afraid. That I won’t live up to God’s expectations, or that I’ll come across as condescending instead of compassionate. That I’ll make things worse because I don’t have the right words. That I’ll start off well and then get busy and that person will feel abandoned, not just by me, but by God, too.

But I know that I can’t let fear of failure stop me. If God wants to use me, He will give me what I need to get the job done. So tonight, I hope you’ll join me in my prayer:

Dear Lord, it’s a frightening prospect to ask to be used in this way. To know that there are so many needs out there—all around me, among friends and acquaintances and strangers—and to not know what I can do to help. So please, Lord, show me. Remind me that I don’t have to do this on my own. I don’t have to find the need, or create a problem, or even know how to fix it. I just need to lean on You and let You lead me. Connect me with people and let me share what I’ve found. And, even better, let me learn from the people You put in my path. When the load is too heavy to bear, give me strength to carry it to Your feet and then release it into Your powerful hands. When someone else’s heart breaks, and mine breaks with it, be the soothing, healing balm that will put us both back together. And whatever I do—whether it’s a huge task or the tiniest of details—walk beside me. Whisper to me. Flood my soul with Your Holy Presence. And teach me how to let You shine through me.

In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


This was written for Suzie Eller’s #liveFreeThursday linkup. The prompt: You don’t mean me, do you? Take a minute if you can to read some of the other posts at the bottom of that page. There are some really amazing women and stories among the women who have been inspired by Suzie.

A letter to the women at Allume

Haughty eyes, a proud heart,
 and evil actions are all sin. Proverbs 21:4 Can you forgive me? I don’t like to admit this, but the reality is that I judged you. I looked at your skinny legs in your skinny jeans, at your fashionable tall boots, at the stacks of bracelets wrapping your slender wrists, ...

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Haughty eyes, a proud heart,
 and evil actions are all sin.
Proverbs 21:4

Can you forgive me?

I don’t like to admit this, but the reality is that I judged you. I looked at your skinny legs in your skinny jeans, at your fashionable tall boots, at the stacks of bracelets wrapping your slender wrists, at your taut, luminescent skin. I listened to your gracious southern drawls talking about intentionality and living life in grace and nurturing your precious babies and the holy calling of being a mama. I looked at your popularity—how many people you know, how many followers you have, which publishers you are with, what you have accomplished. You sang popular worship music and knew all the words and I made assumptions about your churches and faith.

In short, I walked in with a judgmental, divisive spirit. You came in to the conference as empty vessels, preparing to be filled up. I lugged in bushel baskets of ugly. I looked through lenses of envy and jealousy. I let my longing to be better ignite my insecurities about my weight and age and the church background I come from. I assumed you weren’t interested in anything I might have to offer, so I held tightly to myself.

I pride myself on my ability to look for similarities, to focus on what people have in common rather than dwelling on the differences. So I’m feeling especially appalled and ashamed that I fell so far and so quickly.

True, I may be in my late 40s and you might be 23. I may have a muffin top and no excuses while you wear a FitBit and manage to work out even with a little one (or two or three or four). You may be especially stylish and I may feel frumpy. But since when has surface stuff mattered to me? And why did I let it consume me?

Maybe it’s this: I sense that you are genuinely that selfless and gentle and kind, and I’m just not as nice as you are. And I don’t like it when I become—what was it Logan said?—Judgy McJudgyPants? And the more I didn’t like me, the more inferior I felt next to you.

But when I took the time to fight through my feelings, when I turned again towards God and away from the master liar, I rediscovered the beautiful truth: We’re not that different. We both love God—love Him so much that He has become our source. We’re not in competition. We’re on the same team, and we’re representing the same Kingdom. We’re inspired by the same Source, and even so, we’re not meant to be exactly the same.

What you’ve found with God does not in any way diminish what I have found or what remains available to me.

You will have stories I won’t, and you will use them to reach people I can’t. That’s good. It’s how it’s supposed to be. Forgive me for succumbing to the falsehood that there are not enough pieces of pie for each of us. Please grant me forgiveness for my ugly—and unfair and unfounded—thoughts.

We all know the story of the woman at the well. She went in the middle of the day, alone, because she was an outcast. But Jesus met her there. He saw through her charade and spoke truth to the innermost part of her heart, and she discovered something in the water He offered that she had never found anywhere else.

When I picture the women who taught us, I can’t shake this image: Women who draw their strength from the well of life, which is the Word of God. The idea that won’t leave me is that of each of you casting your bucket into the well with abandon—and withdrawing life-sustaining power. You don’t drink of the leftovers or rely on others to bring it for you. You lower your buckets and when you draw them back to you, they’re overflowing with living water, and you bathe in the overflow. Even more impressive, you go back again and again. And again. Because you can’t get enough. You’re not content to merely survive. You long to grow, to thrive. To live.

I spent so much time dwelling on this idea that I missed something. Apparently, I am the woman who walked alone to the well, certain that I would be judged, and I almost missed taking a drink because I made such an idol of who I thought you would think I was.

But you? You welcomed me with kindness. Your face shone with the reflected glory of God as you shared your stories. I spent a lot of time feeling like an outsider, but that’s not your fault. I could have gone to the well early in the morning, like the other women of the village. But I chose not to.

The beauty of it all, though, is that Jesus still met me. He still waited and He still had something to offer.

Because He always does. He whispers the truth of who He is, and who we are when we belong to Him. He reminds us that this life has nothing to do with other people and everything to do with Him. Period. I need to look upward, not sideways. I need to ask Him to change me, to help me learn to be content, to instill in me such a confidence in His love for me that I no longer measure myself against others. He sees me—with all the ugly on the inside—but He doesn’t run away. He pulls me closer and tells me the truth about myself. And reminds me what I already knew: I am forgiven.

So now I need to forgive myself. I hope you will forgive me, too.

I went into Allume focused on promotion and meeting people who could help me further my career. And boy did I miss the boat. Because this conference wasn’t about success, or even really about publishing. It was about nourishing the souls of women who write about God, about feeding the desire we each have to connect more deeply with Him through knowing others.

And it was a learning opportunity. A place where God could show me my weaknesses in His ongoing efforts to prune me, to refine me, to redeem me and mold me into His image. I have a long way to go. But you know what? I’m feeling a surge of gratitude in my heart that I have the opportunity to walk alongside you on this path.

I’m finally feeling what I should have felt from the start.

I’m thanking God for the beautiful women He allowed me to connect with—in spite of my insecurities and inner turmoil. And I’m asking God to nurture you, to open doors and allow you prominent platforms from which to tell your God-stories. I’m praying for your success in publishing, and I’m trusting that God will reveal new things to you along the way. I’m in awe of your authentic relationships with Him and I’m inspired to renew mine. I’m pledging my help to you, in whatever ways I can, from a genuine desire to see you go forward, to see you change lives.

It’s how I’m turning my prayers upside down today. With each pang of insecurity I feel, I’ll pray for all of you. And I believe that in the process, God will transform me. Because He’s good like that. Oh so good. And I’m so grateful.

What a tangled mess

Carey Scott is a lovely, vivacious woman who responded graciously when I posted a cry for help in my agent’s Facebook group. I don’t know her well, but I was grateful for all of the encouragement and ideas she’d offered regarding marketing and growing my blog, so I jumped at the chance to get an ...

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GRAPHIC God's voice louder

Carey Scott is a lovely, vivacious woman who responded graciously when I posted a cry for help in my agent’s Facebook group. I don’t know her well, but I was grateful for all of the encouragement and ideas she’d offered regarding marketing and growing my blog, so I jumped at the chance to get an early copy of her new book. Untangled is about “letting God loosen the knots of insecurity in your life.”

And, really, is there any one of us who isn’t insecure?

OK, I’ll confess. When I struggle, it’s more often with pride than with insecurity. And deep down, I didn’t think this book would really apply to me, but I was happy to read it anyway.

One of the great things about God is that He doesn’t shout to the corners of the earth “You are WRONG!” every time that we are wrong. Thank goodness. Because, like usual, well, I was wrong. And like usual, God gave me the opportunity to see what I needed to understand about myself—and the grace to face it.

In the intro, she says this: “But in my midthirties God’s voice became louder than my brokenness.” And I thought, wow, what a perfect way to say what I’ve learned to be true. Then she shares with complete openness the most vulnerable parts of her story and her inner self, and she walks through the different “I’m not good enough” messages that I think we’ve all experienced—even though our circumstances and situations may be very different, at their core, our doubts and fears are very similar.

As I mentioned, I don’t feel like I struggle much with insecurity. Somehow I’ve always believed the fact that in spite of all of my failings and inadequacies, God wants me. Yes, I’m overweight; no, I don’t care enough to say no to that donut or get up early to go work out. Yes, I know I’ve messed up plenty. But I don’t have the emotional energy to beat myself up for it, so I usually let it go. In many ways, I’ve grasped the message Carey offers to all of us: that the only way to see ourselves is with the generosity and grace that God gives us.

But along the way, I have certainly had my moments. She writes,

“[these lies about not measuring up] become bricks in the wall we build around our hearts to keep people from seeing the real us—the us we’re certain isn’t good enough… If you’re breathing air today, you have walls. We all do. We’re all guilty of partitioning off our hearts so we don’t get hurt anymore. Walls shouldn’t be confused with boundaries, because establishing healthy limits with toxic people and beliefs is smart. Boundaries are proactive, but walls are protective. Boundaries help us live within community, but walls keep us from it. Boundaries are put in place for healing, while walls are built to hide our hurting. Walls are boundaries gone bad, and their bricks are made from feelings of rejection and inadequacy. But that’s not how God wants us to live.”

In Praying Upside Down, I wrote about the walls I built to protect myself when Mom died. I still find myself building walls to keep from risking being hurt. I struggle with jealousy and comparison, particularly since entering the publishing world—how many people read my post? Clicked Like? Retweeted? Why does she have so many more subscribers than I do? How can I get a post to go viral like that one of hers? Why is she so popular? It’s not fair…

The voiceover track in my mind sounds like that of a whiny teenager.

And I thought I wasn’t insecure.

Recently, I’ve been going back and forth between reading Untangled and part of a Bible study called Seamless by Angie Smith, and I’ve been thinking a lot about shame. About the Garden of Eden, and the way that Satan planted doubt in Eve’s mind. I’ve always hated that story—it doesn’t seem fair to me that there should be eternal consequences for mankind forevermore, banished from Eden and a close walk with God, simply because one couple messed up. It doesn’t seem right that women should always suffer with pain and childbirth because of their actions. Before long, I started wandering down a thorny theological path—if God is perfect, why did He make an imperfect creation? Why does He require a method for mankind to be reconciled to Him? If He’s God, why can’t He change the rules?

As I read and studied, I was troubled by the power these thoughts had, by the tumultuous feeling of these questions battering my faith. And then I understood. When the serpent planted that doubt eons ago, he was introducing shame. Eve felt shame because she didn’t know something she thought she should. Because she’d obeyed when maybe she didn’t have to. I think she felt stupid. Ignorant. Weak. She bought into his lies that maybe she wasn’t enough—that maybe she could be more, more even than God Himself. And so she grabbed an apple. The big revelation for me was this: Those words of shame that Satan hissed that day in the garden have never stopped rippling across the ages, inhabiting generation after generation. How do I know? My own thoughts were proof that I bought into the same lies that Eve did. Just like Eve, I started questioning God—who He was, and whether He had the right to be God and make the rules.

Deep down I know the answers; of course I do. God is God. We can’t be reconciled to Him without a sacrifice because it’s like we’re opposing ends of a magnet. He is holy and perfect, and we are not, and without a supernatural intervention, we cannot come together. Holiness repels imperfection.

And yet. Yet He wants us. Yet He loves us. Yet He welcomes us in, allows us to nestle safely under His wing, warmed by His love, transformed by His power. As Carey wrote:

Even when you mess up, he sees who you are instead of what you’ve done. Those seasons where you made bad choice after bad choice mixed with bad choice (yeah, that one) didn’t scare him off. His perfect love for you never wavered. And even better, there is nothing you can do, more or less, to alter that truth in any way.

She’s right. Absolutely right. And I bet that you have struggled with some of the same feelings of self-worth described in her book. You don’t feel like you measure up against that supermom. In your marriage. In your career. In your friendships. In your gifts and in how they’re received. You wonder if you’ve done enough for your kids and how they will measure up against others. If your husband truly still finds you attractive. If you’d be prettier, or more desirable, or more successful if you could just lose that weight. If you will make enough money for the things you want. If someone else could do it—whatever it is—better.

You wonder if you’re enough.

The short answer: yes, you are. For the slightly longer answer, pick up a copy of Untangled. And while you’re at it, grab one for every other woman in your life, too.

I realize this review is all over the place, rambling right along with my thoughts, tumbling around as God unknots the insecurities that tangle me up. Right now, things may be a convoluted mess. But there is One who can sort out the string. Release the hold of the knots. Straighten out the fabric of which I am made. I’m trusting Him to do His thing with me. Again and again, always. And I know He will do the same for you. I think God has great plans for this book—because He has great plans for you. And reading this book will set you well along the way to discovering all that you are. Not who you will someday be, but who you already are: An amazing, unique woman, already adored, and infinitely lovable.

278603_Scott_TwitterHeader1140

For more quotes, a free download of the first chapter, and many other goodies, visit the Untangled Women website.

Confessions From a So-Called “Prayer Expert”

The lovely Jennifer Dukes Lee, author of Love Idol and one of the most uplifting, encouraging people I know, is featuring me on her blog today. I wrote about what an inspirational example I am. What a good prayer expert I am. (Or, perhaps, I wrote about how I am the exact opposite of that.) ...

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The lovely Jennifer Dukes Lee, author of Love Idol and one of the most uplifting, encouraging people I know, is featuring me on her blog today. I wrote about what an inspirational example I am. What a good prayer expert I am.

(Or, perhaps, I wrote about how I am the exact opposite of that.)

Join me over there?

prayerpower-640x469

Whenever someone refers to me as an expert on prayer, I want to laugh out loud. Then I feel embarrassed for being such a hypocrite—after all, I did write a book about prayer. It’s not an illogical conclusion. Yet I’m not comfortable with that praise. Finally, I open my mouth to try to speak—and close it again without saying a thing. Eventually, I usually move forward as though I didn’t hear that comment after all.

Because if there’s one thing I’m not, it’s an expert.

I start to pray in the shower, often making it only as far as “Dear Lord…” before << read more >>


P.S. The book launch party was fabulous and I’ll be posting soon, possibly tomorrow, with pictures and other info :-).

 

 

To the blogger who feels as if no one is listening

I know you write from a pure heart. I know that when you put words on paper, you dig down deep. You turn your soul inside out to try to express the depths of all that you feel, of all that you see. You hold nothing back. And yet the blog numbers don’t follow. You ...

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I know you write from a pure heart. I know that when you put words on paper, you dig down deep. You turn your soul inside out to try to express the depths of all that you feel, of all that you see. You hold nothing back.

And yet the blog numbers don’t follow.

You have a precious relationship with your God. You’ve learned that He really is all that He claims to be. That if you listen, you will hear Him. If you watch, you will see Him. And when you write, your greatest goal is to faithfully reproduce the way you experienced Him, the way He revealed Himself. And you now understand the meaning of grace, because you don’t deserve such a beautiful thing. Because you didn’t earn it. Because you don’t know how you lucked into finding something so completely above and beyond anything you ever imagined it could be.

And yet the blog numbers don’t follow.

People respond to your posts. You get emails requesting prayer, and you lift the requests up to God, marveling at the compassion and kindness of a God who hears their needs. Who placed these people into your life. The One who forged instantaneous, deep, lasting relationships with people you never would have had reason to meet otherwise.

And yet. The blog numbers don’t follow.

So you start to wonder. Why are you writing? Are you still writing from a purity of heart? From a singular desire to encourage other people to look for Him? To reach for Him? To tell people that it’s OK to have questions, to show them that even if their experience looks different than yours, it’s no less real? No less fulfilling?

Because the blog numbers just aren’t there. And after months of trying to hold up your end of the bargain, of working to promote yourself and build your platform and do all the things publishers ask, you’re discouraged. So you start asking a new question.

What’s the worst thing that can happen if the blog numbers don’t follow?

Do numbers change the reasons why you began writing? Do they negate the insights you’ve found as you struggled through doubts and loss and longing? Do they invalidate the fact that it is through writing, through words, that your perception of the Almighty has grown, expanded, rooted itself deeply, built your faith, strengthened your heart, and enlightened your world?

And you know. You know you wouldn’t change a thing. You know that you would still write, even if no one else ever listens. You know that you write for the sheer love of writing. You write because God gave you this sweet gift of expression and He gave you something to say. You say it for Him. Because He is there, listening. And you know that He sees what is done in secret. He knows your heart.

And so you ask God for help. You ask Him to change your heart, to keep you on the right track. To purify your motivations. To help you stop watching numbers and instead watch Him.

Because in God’s economy, our numbers mean nothing. Only one matters, the highest of all possible measures—the number One. The One who inspires it all.

And you know it’s too late to stop now. So you close your eyes. Direct your thoughts towards God. Still your heart, slow your breathing. Wipe your eyes.

And you write. You write and you write and you write. And you know that you’re not alone. That you’ve never been alone. You know you’re doing exactly what He made you to do.

And as you write, your heart soars, reaching toward the heavens. Toward the God that brought you here. Toward the God that lets you do this.

And you find that it’s enough.

It’s so much more than enough.

Because the numbers are nothing. But the God you’re writing for? He’s everything.

Insecurity

I’ve been working towards publication of my book for around three years now and I’ve had a contract for over a year. So it really threw me when I got an email from my publisher requesting my official author photo and bio — and I panicked. I don’t want people to see me with my braces ...

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I’ve been working towards publication of my book for around three years now and I’ve had a contract for over a year. So it really threw me when I got an email from my publisher requesting my official author photo and bio — and I panicked.

I don’t want people to see me with my braces and the big gaps left by the teeth I had pulled. I need time to find a good anti-wrinkle cream and figure out how to lighten the bags under my eyes. I need to lose 20 pounds (or, let’s face it, 50). My platform isn’t big enough. My book isn’t good enough. My spiritual life isn’t strong enough. I don’t have enough contacts. I need more blog posts. I’m stressed. I have work piled up for the next few months. I need to make cookies. Balance my checkbook. Take a nap.

Finally, I made myself stop.

Just stop.

And I prayed — what is it, Lord? Why am I freaking out?

[Join me at the Internet Café to read the rest…]

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