Monthly Archives: January 2015

What I Learned from Fear

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“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

I met a liar last year. Well, let me go back. I’ve known him for a while now. I used to let him have so much say in my life. He told me when I should and shouldn’t do something. If God was calling me to step out in faith, he usually told me all the risks and all the reasons why I shouldn’t. He made me think that I probably shouldn’t do that thing if it scared me. He let me know right away all the ‘what ifs’ to consider. He gave me a list- What if I failed? What if I messed up? What if I wasn’t good enough? What if people didn’t like what I said or wrote or did? The list he gave me made me second-guess myself and wonder if he was right. You might know this guy.

His name is fear.

Fear has issues. He has been robbing people of their dreams for as long as I can remember. He’s sneaky, subtle, and unfortunately, always popping his head in with his two cents. In the past, fear has said way too many things to me and unfortunately, he’s very convincing. He’s said things like:

  • You’re not good enough
  • There’s no way you can do that
  • You’re not smart enough
  • You’re not good looking enough
  • You are insecure
  • You will not have any money when you’re older to live on
  • You are not connected to your kids enough
  • You are not good at friendships
  • You are not good at hosting people
  • You’re not a strong enough writer

And usually, when I heard his voice, I retreated back into my shell and into doing what I’ve always done, because doing what I’ve always done is safer. Or is it?

About a month ago we went to an incredible getaway in Austin, Texas called Camp Tejas. All of Jon’s siblings and their families went and it was a very special time. Several of us had talked about doing the zip line. I didn’t think too much about it, but in my mind there was a struggle going on. I want to do it, but I’m afraid. I have this ridiculous fear of heights. Ridiculous. And standing in line was my husband, my brother and sister in law, my daughter, and my 12-year-old son. They wouldn’t have thought any less of me if I didn’t do it. But all year, the Lord had challenged me to be my best brave. I even published a Brave Journal! And I knew my kids were watching. I bought a ticket and got in line with them. They were all excited that I was going to do it. The line felt like forever, as I imagined the torture I was about to endure. “Be brave,” I continued to whisper to myself. And then we had to climb up a rickety, spiral wooden ladder, all the way up. By the time I made it to the top I was literally shaking. The four of us could all go at the same time- my husband, my son, my daughter, and me. They strapped us in our harness as I asked about 20 questions. “Has anyone ever thrown up?” “Has anyone ever fallen off?” “Have you had any injuries?” It was pitch dark, freezing cold, and the view from up top looked much higher than the view from below. I felt ill. Fear told me I couldn’t do it. He said, “What if you get hurt.” And then the countdown. One… two… and three! Hope and Jon went, no problem. Noah hesitated a moment and then just did it! And there I was, atop a massive wooden tower completely gripped by fear. I froze. I felt paralyzed. It almost felt like there was someone physically holding me back. Fear said, “This is way too scary, you can’t do this.” I kept telling the girl, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I am so afraid. Why can’t I just jump?” “It’s the fear isn’t it?” To which she calmly but matter of factly said, “Yes, it’s the fear itself that’s holding you back.” On the ground my family was swinging around, still strapped in, just waiting for them to send me down. They kept doing these countdowns. I sat on the ledge because I couldn’t stand anymore. The girl sat right down next to me. She was sweet and encouraging and tried to talk me through it. She said if I wanted to, I could scoot off the ledge instead of jumping and the seat would just catch me. Finally I heard on their radios, “If she doesn’t go right now, you just need to have her walk back down.” I knew I had to do it- not just for my kids, but for me. I honestly felt like this was symbolic of things to come and I was going to need to learn how to kick fear in the face in the coming year. So finally the last countdown… 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and… 1. And I did it! I scooted off the ledge as I screamed and shouted and screamed some more. Everyone was cheering for me and I think the men working below were just glad I stopped holding up the line. It was scary and exhilarating all at the same time.

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I finally had to realize that FEAR IS A LIAR. (click to tweet)

He speaks lies and there is no truth in him. The more I realize this to be true, the more I have been able to KICK FEAR IN THE FACE.

How can you kick fear in the face? Every time you are afraid and do it anyway, you just kicked fear in the face. Every time you feel unqualified but know God is calling you to do something and so you do it anyway, you kick fear in the face. Every time you quote scripture over that thing that has a hold on you, you kick fear in the face.

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Every time I say yes to a speaking engagement, I kick fear in the face. Every time I do something that scares me a little, I kick fear in the face. Every time I’m compelled to run because that thing is so out of my comfort zone, but instead of running from it, I run to it, I kick fear in the face. Every time I stop thinking about it and just do it, I kick fear in the face.

I hope you learned this lesson too in 2014- that fear is a liar. Fear will paralyze us and stop us dead in our tracks. Fear will always tell us of the worst-case scenarios. But no matter what happens in 2015, just like when I jumped off that ledge and the seat caught me, Jesus is right here to catch you. Our walk with Him is a freefall into His arms of love and mercy and grace. He’ll catch you, I promise. May we live out 2015 with boldness, with bravery, and with courage. Greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world.

Do me a favor, get out there and kick fear in the face!!

 

 

 

What I Learned from My Running Group

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 1 Cor. 9:24 (NLT)- Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!

I used to run when I was in High School. For me it was my therapy. When my parents would be fighting at home, I would take off, and run as fast as I could. And I didn’t know it at the time, but I was fast. If you’ve ever seen the movie 4 Minute Mile (its on Netflix), I was that boy. He had a very rough home life and he would just run to clear his mind and push through the pain. In the movie his mentor, who was like a dad to him, told him, “You have to face that thing that scares you the most.” This is a must watch video clip from the movie! (Click here)  4 Minute Mile

For the first time in his life, this young man finally had someone who believed in him and called it out of him. I will never forget when I was in 9th grade and I had basically given up on pretty much everyone and everything. I was failing all of my classes, I would regularly cut school, and I didn’t feel like I was good at anything. I was in my PE class and they had us running. The Running Team was out there practicing. I remember as I was running by, overhearing the coach say to one of the runners, “she’s pretty fast, go run with her.” And this guy from the team ran with me and pushed me to push myself. The coach approached me afterwards and asked me to join their team. I don’t remember his name or what he looked like, but I will tell you what I do remember. I remember for the first time someone seeing something in me and calling that thing out.

I have been pretty consistent at one thing in my life, and that is running. There have been times in my life when my kids were little that I stopped all together running, but it’s in me, and I always find my way back to running. This past year I joined a running club, M2M. I will be quite honest with you, because, well, that’s all I know how to be is honest. When I moved here from Colorado I wanted to join a cycling group or a running group but I never felt good enough or fast enough. I was always worried I would slow the group down, because I ‘thought’ if you’re in a running group or club, well then, you must be really good and really fast. I always just felt like I was just regular and had to wait until I was really good to join. I have since discovered that this just wasn’t true at all! There are several really great running groups in the Valley and they are all for all levels! Over the year I have thought about this group and how we, as Christians and the church, could learn so much from a running group.

Why I love my running group:

1)  They motivate and encourage me to be my best. I love all the smiles and high fives and words of encouragement I get on a run.

2)  When I feel like giving up (stopping), others are there to push me to keep going.

3)  I am not alone.

4)  I am a part of a team.

5)  I didn’t have to look any certain way or be any certain shape or size to join the runners group. They seriously just love everyone. And everyone is invited!

6)  I am always being invited to events and activities to keep me plugged in.

7)  I can go to as many or as few running activities as I am able. But they never give me the cold shoulder or act awkward towards me if I haven’t been in a while. If I haven’t been in a while, they’re just happy to see me back.

8)  When I’m on a run and it gets hard, I’ve learned to push through it.

9)  We are like one big happy family.

10)  You don’t have to wait to join until you are super fast or super buff! We all are at different levels and we all learn from each other and grow together.

I’m not saying everyone is born to be a runner or you aren’t living unless you’re a runner. I’m simply taking the lessons I’ve learned from my own experience and running with it (you see what I did here?!).

Here’s my top 10 of what I learned from my running group:

The lessons (taken from above) that I learned from my running group make want to grow and become a better person.

(1) We should continue to motivate others to be their best and be all that God has called them to be. We should be giving high fives and celebrating others.

(2) We should be somebody’s cheerleader and when they feel like giving up, may we be the ones to encourage them to keep going.

(3) We should remind those around us that they are not alone.

(4) As Christians, we should spend less time this year focused on those things that separate us, and may we spend more time focused on what we do have in common! We are all on the same team here!

(5) We should love people just as they are! We shouldn’t care so much about if someone is like us or not, or their age, or how they dress, or their size. God loves all people and so should we!

(6) We should continue to go to events, bible studies, conferences, and retreats to stay not only plugged in to our church, but to grow in our walk with Jesus.

(7) We should welcome people if we haven’t seen them in a while instead of making them feel like they’ve been backsliding. We don’t know their circumstances. We don’t know if their kids have been sick, or they’ve been sick, or they’ve been out of town. They definitely aren’t going to want to come back if they’re feeling judged.

(8) One of the biggest life lessons through running and being in this running group is that my body can actually do way more than I ever give it credit for! Being a part of this group has shown me that. I’ve done so much more than I would ever do on my own. And it’s the same way in life- when life gets hard, you remember that you can do hard things and you learn to push through. You can actually do so much more than you give yourself credit for.

(9) I have a friend who doesn’t have any family here and their running group is their family here. It’s the same with the church. I’ve heard others refer to the people in their church as their church family. And we should resemble a family. We won’t always agree. But at the end of the day, we’re family and we’ll agree to respect each others opinions whether we agree or not. That’s what family does. And most importantly, that we’re there for each other. If anyone is hurting or has a need in our group, may we be the first to step up and see how we can help carry the burden.

(10) Some people feel like they have to be spiritual enough first before they can go to church. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! That’s what church is for- to grow together and to learn from each other. None of us have arrived and we won’t arrive until our life is done and we meet Jesus face to face! We are all on a spiritual journey and we’re all in a different place in our walk. This is how it should be. Don’t wait to come to church… just come!

Whether you are a runner or a jumper or a dancer or a Zumba master, or a cyclist, or a jujitsu person, or a speaker or a writer or a mamma or _____________ (you fill in the blank here)- may we all take these lessons, and figuratively speaking, run our race to be all that God has called us to be!

Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)- Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

What I Learned from 2014

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Reflecting on the Past Year

Be honest, this year had some good, some great, some not so good, and some just outright really bad days- all in the same year. Beautiful days and bad days. Days of playing and enjoying your child’s belly laugh and days of intense brokenness. Interesting thing about beauty is that you will often find the messy in the same chapters that you found the beauty. That’s right, same book, just different stories spread through out. I can tell you of great testimonies of us doing our first summer camps with Big Red Ministries, and in the same breath let you know we’ve collected some debt this past year. I can tell you of several precious babies being born this past year, and in the same chapter let you know we are still waiting on a healing in our family. I can tell you of the incredible Thanksgiving that was spent with my family in Rockwall, TX, and in the next few weeks share how my husband lost his grandfather. And it’s all meshed together in the chapters of 2014.

As I reflect on the past year I feel thankfulness and sadness, joy and pain- all of it. I’ve read a few people on social media talking about what a hard year this was and that they’ll be glad to start over. And on the same feed I read others sharing that it’s been their best year yet. Is it because one has more faith than the other? Absolutely not. Does God love some of His children more than others? Last time I checked He was no respecter of persons.

But what I continue to learn through the years is that no matter what we go through, He can use that situation. And I don’t believe He is the one causing all the pain in our lives. There is still an enemy here on this earth whose sole purpose is to destroy our lives. (1 Peter 5:8- Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.) But the Lord does show himself, even in the hardest of times. He wants us to be completely dependent on Him and He wants to show us that even if we feel like we’re drowning, that He will immediately reach out His hand to pull us in. He is faithful to carry us to the other side. He doesn’t always move or work on our time frame, but I will assure you of this- He moves and works. I feel like we’re suppose to surrender 2014 to Him, the good and the not so good, and confess once again, “Not my will but Your will be done.”  Take it all Lord and show me how to learn and grow from this previous year. And show me all the places where you showed up this year and remind me that you will continue to be with me, no matter what.

One of the biggest lessons I personally take away from 2014 is this: God has placed people in our lives to rejoice with us and celebrate the good, and He has placed people in our lives to struggle and mourn with us when our heart is breaking. The Bible says in Romans 12:15 that we are to Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

I am convinced more than ever before that the best investment we can make in 2015 is in people. Relationships. With our spouse, our kids, our family members, our friends, and others who don’t know the Lord yet. Love greatly, let our guards down, and risk it all for love- that’s courageous love. John 15:12This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. Wow, He wants us to love each other in the same way He loves us. We can only do that by asking Him each morning, “Help me to love others like you love others.” It’s His strength and His power in us that will love others and love others well.

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen” -Brene’ Brown, Daring Greatly.

In 2015 may we love and give of ourselves expecting nothing in return. Because really, when it comes down to it, that’s what we have, isn’t it? When we really boil our lives down, we have our relationship with our Abba daddy, our relationship with our family, and our relationship with each other.

I think that’s why I am a photo-oholic. I love memories and I love to make memories and I love to look at memories. I was just reminiscing today after my scrapbooks were in storage for over a year. I love the memories and when I’m gone my kids and their kids will have these memories to treasure. And it’s all because of the ‘people’ in my pictures. Oh sure, I enjoyed every second of scrapbooking, but that’s for another blog.

What are you taking with you when you leave? None of the things we spent hours searching for and buying and cleaning. Nope. Just the relationship with your Heavenly Father and with others. Seems like a pretty good investment, don’t you think? So that continues to be my mission going into 2015. To work on inviting people into my home and into my life, to be intentional about catching up with others when I haven’t heard from them in a while, and the one that’s the hardest for me, to call people more!!

I wish I could tell you I have the art of people and relationships perfected. Unfortunately, I can tell you of many times I chose the project or the thing before the person. I am still human and a work in progress. But it remains my heart goal. And my favorite part about a new year is that we all get a fresh start! Amen!

Here’s to being a work in progress and being okay with that. And here’s to authenticity, transparency, and keeping it real in 2015.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” –Brene’ Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

Praying January has started off well- give thanks to the Lord for all He has done and all that He is going to do. Enjoy those who are around you and thank the Lord for them. For each day is a gift from above and none of us are given any promises of tomorrow.  May we truly see people as the treasure that they are. Each one of them a gift from above.