Shamelessly Bold

Ask and it will be given; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened: Gods promise to me. But am I shamelessly bold in believing God at his word? This is difficult for me: trusting that God will really show up when I need him. Yet time and again, He shows up. Just as he says he will.

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This week I’ve made a decision to actively work on my goals for my podcast and for my blog. I’ve listed several areas of my life where I want to see change. I’ve pondered and thought how my words can help others. I want to be a conduit of Jesus to others – but how?

As I drink my coffee this morning, this question stirs in my soul. I want to believe that God will show up and guide me on my path. But so often, I say I believe, but feel I must take control in order to really achieve my desire. So when I am unsure, or when I have set a goal that seems beyond my control, I get scared.

After praying and thinking about direction for my podcast, one of the goals I set was to find accountability. But I honestly didn’t know how to find it. I don’t personally know anyone who podcasts, so how would I find this? I joined Hope Writers, a company dedicated to building up writers and communicators, but as of yet, I have not actively engaged in their offerings. In my heart, I knew I could seek my answer there, but the courage to  step out in vulnerability and ask for accountability is a tough sell. So I gave myself two weeks to reach this goal.

But this morning, God showed up! As I opened Facebook there was a post from a woman in Hope Writers who asked if any podcasters would like to join a Voxer to communicate with each other. Wow! What others may blow off as coincidence, I knew was God answering a prayer. I boldly embraced my challenge, gearing up to take that next step, and God did it for me! I quickly responded to the invite and I’m looking forward to getting advice and wisdom from others. This so-called coincidence is such a reminder to me that He loves us so much!

“What Father among you, if his son (or daughter) asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg will give him a scorpion?” (Luke 11:11-12).

God is the good father. He gives us our needs and wants. He knows our wishes and desires before a single word falls from our lips. He is a good father and wants to give us good gifts. Do we believe that? I easily say with my mouth, ‘yes I believe.’ Yet in my heart, I wonder how I can control the situation in order to truly get what I want. Then mornings like today occur. God shows up, answers the need I have, and I fall to my knees with tears in my eyes – oh how he loves us! Oh how He loves us!!

The Battle

For all my followers, thank you. This brave living project has been a step of personal maturity and growth for me. The last few months I’ve been in a funk. I’ve tossed from depression to blah back to depression. As such, I haven’t posted anything and I haven’t created a new podcast.

For a while I had interviews scheduled and plans made. Then…. nothing. This made me feel lost and forgotten. But I also wasn’t actively pursuing interviews. I just sat still and hoped something would happen. Progress doesn’t occur through passive sitting. Even trying and failing is more progress than just sitting and waiting.

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I’m struggling with direction for my podcast. I’m trying to clarify my goals. How do stories impact me and why do I want to share them? My reasoning is two-fold: First, stories give us insight into our own problems. We have universal responses, concerns, and problems. We often feel like we are the only ones dealing with a specific issue. And at least for me, I feel like I’m doing it all wrong. When I hear others talk about confronting a battle,  engaging in a fight, or relishing the joy of a present life circumstance, I grow and I learn. Even when the situation is not something I’m dealing with, I can gain insight from almost every story I hear. I just have to tune my ear to how God is using that person’s story to help me in my present situation.

My second reasoning for story is to give people, especially women, a place to share their personal struggle, or accomplishment. I think too often we neglect the accomplishment and don’t notice the magnitude of our relevance in this life. When we share our story we are empowered to see the significance of our unique spin. When we interact with others and embrace our vulnerabilities, we grow. God created us to be in community. Fear, guilt, and the plots of the devil make us feel unable to share our story with others. As such we isolate and pull back from the help God has provided. I want my podcast to be an opportunity for everyday women to share their life. I want them to see the relevance of their story.

I so believe in the power of story that I want to share it to the world. This is my point in my podcast. When I accept that perfection is not reality, I can lean on God in my weakness and trust in the calling he has placed over my life. I’m still figuring out all the steps along that path, but I will hold to his promise that we all have a purpose and a calling. That means me too.

 

Boredom to Brilliance

Today I heard on a Ted Talk that boredom leads to brilliance. According to this talk, letting thoughts wonder without interruption is a pathway for neural growth and stimulation. What a novel concept.

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I am so engaged in my phone, email, Facebook, and Netflix, I can—and often do—escape boredom. I often feel stagnant and unable to process information into creative outlets. Is it because I haven’t let boredom and quiet filter in? God’s voice is soft and not pushy. Do I allow enough time to be alone with my thoughts to hear his soft voice?

I go through seasons where I let him in and other times when I block him. I do not block him intentionally, but rather, as habit to avoid boredom. I quickly succumb to fear of the unknown and dislike of the uncomfortable next step. Fear and uncertainty – once again, prop its ugly head into my life. This path leads to destruction: not a fast explosion, but rather a slow deterioration. So slow, I don’t notice.

As a child growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, we didn’t have the technology of today. I had hours of time to figure out my thoughts. I can remember as a child creating stories and trying to play them out. I loved playing house and building lives of people that did not exist. Today I tune out boredom and search for the temporary high, or time-suck, that will numb me. It irritates me, but there is a comfort in the numbness that I’m drawn to.

To break free, I have to step back and acknowledge that this ‘numb’ isn’t God’s plan for my life. I have breath in my lungs, and a calling that God patiently is waiting for me to honor. God wants me to live in abundance; not in neutral.

Looking to the bible I am led to the following passage:

Ecclesiastes 2:25-26 (ESV)
“For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting…This also is vanity and a striving after wind.”

Although boredom can be thought of as slothful, in reality, slothful is ignoring the work at hand. Time-suck of busyness without purpose is slothful – right? It is a striving after the wind.

This morning, I run from idea to idea, combing my mind for the next step. I fear the writing and the work, because there is uncertainty. As such, the pull of distraction is so strong. But what if I let boredom and uncertainty swell inside? What if I put myself in the uncomfortable and press forward despite the uncertain? Discomfort is a step. Can I see it as a process of uncovering the gift?

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). This is a favorite passage of mine. It says so much to my spirit. It is like taking a deep breath and realizing, there is more to this life than busyness and all the demands I put on myself. God doesn’t require perfection. He desires my attention. Our creator formed us so that our neural pathways grow when we are quiet, and still enough, to let him in.

God blows my mind again and again! Boredom, the thing I desperately try to avoid, is a gift God uses to build my unique role in His kingdom.  Taking time to feel his presence is a necessary component to growing and fulfilling my purpose. This life and time here ends. Every moment counts. I need to lean into the boredom and see it as a natural step to abundance.

Even Me

Do you ever question, what’s my purpose? Why am I here? Boy, I sure do. I can sink into a depression pit so fast. I can wallow in self-pity like a trooper. But God is so good; he won’t allow it for long. He wants to use each of us; yes … even me.

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He urges and nudges me … Keep going. Push on. God will direct my steps. Compromise or settling for less-than is not on God’s timetable. God has a purpose. He can use me. Yes, even me.

Words and thoughts enter that say I’m not good enough. I don’t have her ease with conversation; I’m not as well liked as she is; how and why would I ever think I could do this? How foolish. So I pause and listen. Then my writing is stifled. I write, but I don’t post. I have interviews set up, but time conflicts barricade progress. I feel like giving up.

But God reminds me, through a bible story meant for the preschoolers at church, what he directs, he equips. I do not need to be as easily relatable as someone else. I don’t need to be as eloquent as I feel she is. Comparing me to someone else is ridiculous. God gifted me with my gifts, not hers. He knows me and he knows my ability. If he can use rocks to speak, he can use me too.

In Nehemiah’s story, he used all kinds of people to help build the wall. All of Nehemiah chapter three is dedicated to the people who helped build the wall. Most we don’t know: the sons of Hassenaah or the daughters of Shallum. We have no idea their names, how many, what they felt like or said or were in the process of doing. We don’t know these sons and daughters, but God does. He knows each of them intimately. He values each so much he placed them in His book for the world to hear about.

Could my name be among those he knows and calls? Do I need to be a big name such as Ruth or Esther? Or can I be a daughter – one of many that God intimately knows and has called for his purpose? A work that he wants completed and in my small part will complete one section of?

I need encouragement to be pulled from the rut that turns in my mind. It pulls me down. God reminds me this morning, through the bible story of Nehemiah, he uses all for a purpose. Each of us has a role to play in God’s overall plan.

I do not know God’s plan. But I trust he will use me to help accomplish it. Yes, even me.

 

All Humanity

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his faithful love and his wonderful works for all humanity.” -Psalm 107:21

This passage is repeated four times in Psalm 107. The phrase, ‘All humanity’ is sticking with me this morning. Not some of humanity, or only democrats, or only Americans, or only if you agree with me … but rather, ALL Humanity. He creates wonderful works for ALL humanity: the Christian, the Muslim, the married couple and the single, the gay and the straight, the Mexican and the American … ALL! We were not made to be separate from people. We are all human and we all get to see the beauty of God’s handiwork. It’s in our daily duties: our drives, our walks, and our children … it’s all over. It’s stunning and yet, we so often walk right past and don’t notice.

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On Monday as I drove my daughters to dance, we marveled at the gorgeous sunset. The girls took out their phones and tried to snap a photo. There is no justice in the photo. It was orange and purple and wow! A painted picture in the sky for all to enjoy. I wonder how many others marveled at that beautiful painting on Monday evening in Texas.

All humanity is blessed with his wonderful works. What about all those people coming to Mexico from Honduras? My heart is stuck on their anguish. These are people – part of all humanity. The news makes it political. But God makes it human. We are each made in the image of God. Will these desperate people, fleeing for a better life, make it to America? I’m sure some will, but my guess is most won’t. Poverty has a way of shutting down aspirations.

Trudging a family by foot for over 1000 miles is not something easily accomplished. Add lack of resources and the problem intensifies. There is evil in this world and so many of those families will encounter that evil on their journey. It breaks my heart. Why God must they suffer? Why do we, the privileged, ignore the humanity of suffering? Why do I? Oh Lord, break my pride and push my humility. May I step into their suffering and provide aid – oh, but how?
Am I alone in these pleas? No, I believe most Americans, and most people, are good. We have empathy. We see pain and want to mend it. When we focus on our rights only, and neglect all humanity that God has blessed, where do we end up?

We need to do better. It starts with me and my hands and feet. Oh Lord, how? Will I have the courage to make a difference? If I touch one family, will it help? Lord God give me the courage to touch one family. May that family bless others and on down the line. Oh God show me how. What if we all prayed that? What if we all acted? Would our present become better? Would the sunset painted for all, be enjoyed by all?