Oh me of little faith

Heart’s racing. Knees weak. Stuttered words. What will they think of me? Will I be rejected? Laughed at?

Sharing my faith with other people isn’t always easy.

I fear and worry still today even when the last time I tried to get things going spiritually, everything went fine. My waiter was receptive. It was an awesome conversation. The last time I had the opportunity at my eye doctor’s office, I didn’t take it. I had a hard time transitioning into spiritual matters. I think most of all, I feared what the admin. assistant would think of me.

I’ve been really thinking though- what is the worse thing that could happen when we share our faith? The worse thing that has happened to me so far is that my husband was fired for sharing his faith on the job three months into our marriage. You can hear more about our story in this 3 minute video.

I remember in high school being called “religious” at times. I’ve had people change a spiritual conversation on me really fast. I’m guessing I’ve been made fun of for my facebook status updates that are about God. And I’m guessing someone may have chosen not to be around me because I love and talk about Jesus. But I can’t pinpoint anything (as of yet) where people cussed me out or just hated me after loving on them and sharing my story of grace.

And even if they did, that’s okay. I’ve been commanded not to be silent. Heaven and hell are at stake. I know, no one talks about hell anymore. But it’s the hard truth. It’s okay if our heart races a little and we feel like we’re going to fall over and die! Because God is the one who cultivates. Convicts. Redeems. Restores. He is the only one with the ability to raise a life up from the dead.

He just chooses to use us in his plan. I’m so thankful he does despite all my crazy, ridiculous fears.

My first white hair: thoughts on being 27

This past weekend, while Jeremiah and I were talking in bed, I thought my life was just about over. As we were engaging in meaningful conversation, he blurts out and says, “Honey, you have a white hair!”

I look at him like he’s crazy. Why did he have to tell me that? My husband loves to play and joke and sometimes it’s just not funny.

“Oh, let me get it!” he says.

He pulls the white hair out and I look at it: “It’s blonde! Not white!”

“Look at it again. It’s not blonde,” he says.

I moved it around for the light to catch it at different angles. I studied it for a bit. “Okay… it is white. Ughh. I can’t believe how old I’m getting! That makes me so sad.”

“Oh everyone gets a white hair once in while no matter how old you are. It’s okay babe, you’re beautiful,” he says.
………..
Well I’m not sure it’s been “okay” with me lately. A lot of my friends and myself included are in the stage of growing our families. I think just about every facebook profile pic I see has a sonogram on it (and it’s awesome). I’ve been told by acquaintances that I look like I “have it all together” now that I have a child (really? Hmm). Jeremiah and I looked at some pictures when we were first dating and we look like babies (that was 6 years ago). Now, he’s 30 and I’m 27. And to top it off, my 10 year high school reunion is this year.

Everything is just happening so fast.Where does time go? And will it really be okay as I age?

I’ve had these thoughts way before the white hair episode and I’m still trying to figure out how I can best give God my worry about growing older. But I’ve been encouraged by these verses:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” – Matt. 6:25-26

There’s so much wisdom here because God knows the natural tendency for us is to worry… what’s for lunch, what to wear, where the money will come from, who we’ll marry, who our kids will marry… Things that are not even here yet.

Life itself, however, is more valuable than anything else. God sustains us and gives us the ability to experience life to its absolute fullest: to feel the sunshine, laugh over meals, write out words, engage in meaningful relationships, drink a warm cup coffee, share his truth with others, know him through his Word, and feel our very own breath. As his children, he cares deeply for us and for our concerns. And he wants us to depend on his daily provision, not what we plan for ourselves.

I think he understands my struggles in facing the fact that life just happens and we grow older. But I think he might also wants me to realize that the best is yet to come because he’s on my side and no matter if I grow weaker or my looks change a little, what ultimately matters is the life change that happens in my heart as the days get faster.

If I do end up finding a white hair again and I (or Jeremiah) probably will, I told God that I’m going to thank him that I even have a head of hair.

Latest article on Permission to Speak Freely

Anne Jackson has a book releasing in 2010 called Permission to Speak Freely: Essays & Art on Fear, Confession, and Grace. We’ve been in touch here and there since we had lunch together at the RightNow conference.

Recently, Anne asked if she could publish my article An Uptown Confession (originally published on Ungrind.org) on the blog of her book.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the story (over there), and explore a little bit about her upcoming book and wildly popular blog Flowerdust.net. You can check it all out here.

I think you’ll be glad you did.

life without fear?

29_NewsPGMPHovIn less than one month, my brother-in-law Paul who is a Navy Chaplain will get on a plane and head to Afghanistan to serve our country. He will say goodbye to my sister and four-year-old nephew for six whole months. Because of what’s going on over there, I have my share of worries and fears when it comes to Paul’s safety and God’s sovereignty.

But I’ve been encouraged today in reading Chapter 1 of Max Lucado’s new book Fearless. I downloaded the PDF off of The Fearless Times, a site that’s all about the book and is a great marketing tool for it.

In almost 25 years of writing, more than 65 million books filled with Max Lucado’s words have been sold. Max is so gifted when it comes to words that you’d think he was Jesus. But he’s not. He’s a human being with fears just like you and me.

Here are some of my favorite lines from Ch. 1 that I hope will tease you into heading over there and reading it for yourself:

“Fear herds us into a prison and slams the doors.”

“Christ-followers contract malaria, bury children, and battle addictions, and, as a result, face fears. It’s not the absence of storms that sets us apart. It’s whom we discover in the storm; an unstirred Christ.”

“Fear corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness. We begin to wonder if love lives in heaven. If God can sleep in our storms, if his eyes stay shut when our eyes grow wide, if he permits storms after we get on his boat, does he care? Fear unleashes a swarm of doubts, anger-stirring doubts.”

“And fear feels dreadful. It sucks the life out of the soul, curls us into an embryonic state, and drains us dry of contentment. We become abandoned barns, rickety and tilting from the winds, a place where humanity used to eat, thrive, and find warmth. No longer. When fear shapes our lives, safety becomes our god. When safety becomes our god, we worship the risk-free life.”

“If we medicate fear with angry outbursts, drinking binges, sullen withdrawals, self-starvation, or viselike control, we exclude God from the solution and exacerbate the problem. We subject ourselves to a position of fear, allowing anxiety to dominate and define our lives. Joy-sapping worries. Day-numbing dread. Repeated bouts of insecurity that petrify and paralyze us. Hysteria is not from God. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear” (2 Tim. 1:7).

I have always loved 2 Timothy 1:7 in that fear is not from God. Fear can make us do all kinds of crazy things.

As we get closer to Paul’s deployment, I know that God wants me to continue to trust that he’s in control and he’s directing Paul’s path no matter where he goes. The issue isn’t really about Paul going to a dangerous place, but whether I will trust and have faith in God that He is good and is sovereign over everything in life.

Don’t Be Afraid

FearlessHB_LThe economy, global warming, finances, job losses, health care, swine flu… Behind these issues often comes the word FEAR. A lot of us are living lives in fear and can’t seem to tackle it. I’ve definitely had fears and struggles when it comes to those things.

But God has been showing me more of his love lately and it’s been casting shadows on the fears I’ve had inside. When I go to his word, I’m strengthened because he addresses my very fears (amazing how He knows them all) and gives me such indescribable love and peace.

1 John 4:18 says it beautifully: There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

I love how John says that perfect love drives out fear. If we live lives constantly overwhelmed by fear, we’ll never have the life God wants for us. We’ll never experience the depths of his love. Our goal is to be made perfect in love, and not fear. The way to do this is to cast our cares, worries, and concerns upon Him. To literally throw them on him. And he will take care of our burdens for us.

A few months back, I had the opportunity to meet mega bestselling author and master storyteller, Max Lucado. I absolutely loved meeting him and talking with him for a little bit. He just had this great peace about him. You just wanted to be around him. He barely answered the questions I had for him. He just wanted to know more about me and my family and what I did.

My work was interviewing him for some small group training videos to help leaders across the country. We asked him some questions about fear, keeping in mind he was writing a book called Fearless. Max’s clip has been edited and you can check it out here at SmallGroupExchange.com.

If fear is something you really struggle with, in addition to finding all you will ever need in God’s word, be sure to pre-order Max’s book to get another glimpse on the topic of fear.

Monday Wake-up Call

This past Monday, I went to bed consumed by fear, worry, and anxiety. It all started when a few coworkers of mine were briefly talking about the potential Health Care plan and its implications on our insurance and America as a whole. After we talked, my thoughts just began to snowball into thinking about the crazy czar’s that Obama is surrounding himself with (Just check out GlennBeck.com), communism, socialism, a one world economy, end times, the anti-Christ, the rapture, and wondering if a New World Order is coming? I know it sounds crazy. And I’m really not I promise.

Everything just kind of got to me that day. I acted differently around Jeremiah. I laid down with a headache and woke up with one. But on Tuesday, something changed.

I realized I had been a little ignorant of what’s been going in our world. Maybe for a reason because turning on the news can be depressing. But I realized that I was letting all those things affect me so much as if I had never heard about them. As if I had no hope. I was encouraged by a friend to be more aware of what’s going on. To be educated. And most of all- TO WAKE UP! to the crisis that we’re really in as a nation.

So… my goal this month is to be more informed but not to be so affected that I’m not the person I want to be. To worry a little less and trust that whatever the next few years hold for our country, that God is moving at the same time- somehow, some way. Even though evil is clearly and tangibly at work, Good is right there with it. His plan is unfolding and if anything, we’re getting a little bit closer to His return…

So if that’s the case and His return is in fact near, then I need to get back to work and start focusing on eternal things.

My Dad’s Surgery Approaching

In my first year of seminary, I was taking a break from classes to visit my parents at our lakehouse in VA. That weekend, my dad came down with an awful sickness. He was throwing up, felt dizzy, couldn’t see or barely walk. He was looked at by a doctor in the small town our lakehouse was in. The doctor didn’t have much to say. He and my mom decided to travel to Lynchburg where my school was for a second opinion. I was standing in our kitchen when I heard the news. My mom called me to say that dad either had an aneurysm or a brain tumor. They would know soon. She sounded anxious and a bit fearful. I knew it was serious especially in the way she relayed everything.

At that moment, I broke down into tears and was tempted to call all my friends and spill the news. Instead I set the phone down and headed over to our big comfy chair that overlooked the peaceful water. I grabbed a pen, my journal, and Bible and spilled all my fears and frustrations out on the pages. In that time, I felt God’s peace and presence like never before. Several hours later, I heard the news that thankfully dad had a brain tumor and not an aneurysm and would be operated on soon. I packed my bags for the hospital.

My family camped out in the hospital for several days praying for dad and awaiting his return out of surgery. I was joyfully overwhelmed by all the calls and emails we received from friends and the seminary faculty praying for my dad. Through it all, he made it out and recovered well- even though it was tough.

Fast-forward five years later and we are in the same place again. Dad’s tumor has returned and he’ll be operated on tomorrow at 11AM at Baylor University Medical Center here in Dallas.  Many thoughts and emotions run through my mind right now. Why must he do this all over again? Why the pain again? Will the doctor do his job correctly? How will his recovery be?

Yet through it all, like what I learned in the chair at our lakehouse– God is sovereign over everything and he cares deeply for me and my family. Despite everything, He’s in control. He is with my dad and knows all the circumstances. So the question remains: Will I trust him again?

May my dad rest in your care tonight as he prepares for this surgery tomorrow God. Comfort his heart and may your glory be made known all the more. Calm his spirit as I know he is nervous. In your awesome name. Amen.

He’s got the Whole World in His Hands

blueThis past weekend wasn’t typical that’s for sure. Saturday morning at approximately 2 AM, we heard gun shots that woke us up out of bed. Yeah, not the exact thing you want to hear at 2 AM. Half way asleep, I just kept thinking: Is that really what I think I’m hearing? Jeremiah is much better than I am in stressful situations. He had heard the shots before I did. He then called 911 and explained the situation. The dispatcher said she’d already received calls about it and they were taking care of it. Oh well that’s good, I thought. Meanwhile my heart is still beating a million times a minute. So is Jeremiah’s. We went across our apartment to check on John and he was fast asleep. I couldn’t believe what was happening. 

Believe it or not, we live in a very nice area. Our apartment complex is very nice. Three-story luxurious town homes and midrises are right beside us. The problem with Dallas is that right around the block from a nice area can be a really bad part. It’s a very transitional city. Unlike any I’ve lived in. I’ve been reflecting on the past two days about God’s sovereignty in my life. It’s crazy to think how there’s never a moment in time when He is not in control. I’ve heard it said once that you’re indestructible until God calls you home. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the mission field in the Middle East in the hot spot of war and danger or serving God right here in America… God is still in control. He knows when my time is up. My days have been numbered. He is protecting my family and nothing happens in my life in which he isn’t sovereign over.

I’m not really sure what gun shots mean in the start of 2009. Hopefully nothing but a wake-up call to pursue things that matter most in life more. We don’t even know what really happened yet that morning. But I do know that I trust in an all-powerful God who cares deeply for my needs, for what concerns me, for the fears and frustrations that fill my mind. He is watching over my son too just as Jeremiah and I attempt to do our best in protecting him. I definitely don’t understand all of God’s mysterious ways but I can definitely trust that His ways are higher and his thoughts are not my thoughts. His heart breaks because of the evil in our world. I can lay my head down at night, a little more comforted, knowing that He’s got the whole world in His hands.

I just now found out that my husband blogged about this too on his Old Testament online journal for DTS

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. – Luke 12:17

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