Category Archives: Faith

All things faith related.

How Much is Enough?

God helps those who help themselves, they say. Just believe and God will provide, they say.

I serve God by being a classroom parent for my eight-year-old, a children’s church worker, on the worship team, the PTA, and running my own business while chasing after my toddler, they say. I serve God by going to church, working, and living a quiet life, they say.

If we’re really honest with ourselves, I think the question we answer with how we live our lives is: How much is enough for God? Maybe we didn’t even know there was a question, let alone that we were answering it by the way we live our lives. But we are.

Is it okay, I ask, as I currently feel like my ministry is writing, though I could be serving more actively in my local church. Is it okay, asks the person who loves serving in multiple ways, and filling their evenings with meetings and events. Is it okay, asks the person who prefers quiet evenings at home, but is secretly a prayer warrior in the night.

Is it enough?

Am I enough?

As Christ-followers, we strive to please our King. We want to know we’re living our lives to please and serve him.

There’s no doubt that every single person we ask would have their own opinions on how we should best live our lives. We get overwhelmed by what others expect, think, or want from us. We insert artificial expectations (from ourselves, others, or God) into our lives and claim them as fact.

How in the world are we supposed to live up the expectations of ourselves, others, and God? How are we supposed to figure out the best things to pour our energies into without leaving ourselves worn and dry?

This is how:

1. Listen to God, above all else. There will always be other voices making suggestions or even demands for our time. Ask God to speak, and he will. Ask him to help you prioritize your life and he will. Yes, he speaks through the Bible, but it doesn’t end there. Quiet yourself and listen for words, impressions, or pictures that God might want to share with you.

2. Guard your joy and peace. Joy is deeper than happiness. It’s something that comes only from God and it can remain even in seasons of sadness. If our lives are so busy or our priorities are out of whack, our joy and peace suffers, plain and simple. If you’re having trouble reclaiming the joy and peace you know should be yours in Christ, I encourage you to step back. Make the space to reconnect with God and his goodness, even if that means saying “no” to things or even disappointing people. Once your relationship with God is rekindled, keep going wherever he directs.

3. Close your ears to people’s expectations. Sure, there are many trustworthy, well-meaning people who only want to help, but if their words begin leading you into a place of stress and uncertainty, hold your horses and take it straight to God. There are times when the people you’re closest to won’t understand what God is doing. They might think you’ve lost your mind. It’s then when it’s most important to cling to God and the truth he speaks. His opinion is all that matters.

We are each blessed to have different personalities, as well as different thresholds for service, people, activities, and ministries. Serving God wholeheartedly is going to look entirely different for one person than it does for another. That’s okay.

Our differences are by God’s design. As long as we seek him, aim to please him, and follow where he guides, we are enough. No matter what that looks like as it plays out in your life.

You are enough. Because God is enough.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.  – 1 John 3:1 (NLT)

Happy November and have a blessed weekend! Thanks for dropping by!

(Quick reminder – Power Up, the ebook, is on sale for $0.99 through 11/2/19! It’s a great tool for demonstrating to kids what it looks like to have BIG FAITH in everyday life. Get it or gift it at this price before it jumps back to full price!)

Raising Kids Who Follow Jesus

I recently wrote a blog post for an online women’s event called “With Purpose,” which was put together by an inspiring Christian blogger named Lo Tanner (at lotanner.com). My post, which I’ll link to in a second, targets moms (women’s event and all) but it’s completely relevant to dads too.

As Christian parents, our biggest job is to raise children who love Jesus. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, but if we keep focused and trust God’s guidance, we can do our best to raise our kids to follow Jesus.

Disclaimer — my oldest is currently eleven, so I’m not claiming to have this all figured out by any means. (Does anyone ever? I want to read their blog post, if so!) So far, so good. 😉

Also, if you read to the bottom of the post that I’m about to link you to, you can enter to win a signed paperback copy of my inspirational novel, Power Up — do it now before you forget; the winner will be chosen on 11/6! 🙂

Here’s the link: Raising Kids Who Follow Jesus. I hope you leave inspired and encouraged! Thanks for joining me today!

Empowered Kids — Everyday Life with the Holy Spirit

I know I’m not alone when I say readjusting to real life after a great vacation is tricky business. Going from the Florida coast back to Indiana has been less than glamorous. In less than 24 hours we traded palm trees and white sand for broken mowers and the discovery of hornets living in my daughter’s bedroom wall. *shudder*

Though things could certainly be worse, all this ridiculousness has left me with a need to be encouraged. Thankfully I have great family and friends to keep my eyes pointed toward Jesus when things aren’t going according to plan. I also have the encouragement of several blogs I read. That’s what I hope to leave you with today–encouragement, not only from my words, but from being introduced to another blog, which is always full of hope.

I recently wrote a guest blog post for an inspirational blogger named Karen Friday. She and her husband pastor a church in Tennessee and have been in ministry for over thirty years. It’s an honor to be featured on her blog (Karen Girl Friday), so today I’m going to link you to my blog post on her site. Check out “Empowered Kids — Everyday Life with the Holy Spirit” and then browse her other posts too, and I promise you’ll leave encouraged!

Have a great week! 🙂

From Stress to Surrender

“Give your anxieties to God.” “Let Jesus carry you.” “Let the Holy Spirit’s peace cover you.”

All messages I’ve been focused on all month as I’ve been marketing my book, Power Up. All important truths, yes?

But then camp.

Camp, you ask?

Yes. Camp.

My two oldest kids are heading to church camp soon and I recently spent several days FULL of anxiety over my two sweet, innocent homeschool kiddos heading into a world of other kids (strangers who have been exposed to who knows what all) without me there to guide them.

I was about ready to pack up my family and move to an unoccupied mountain where I wouldn’t have to worry about my kids being exposed to this world full of awfulness ever again.

My wheels wouldn’t stop spinning as I thought and over-thought some more, my head filled with lies about the safety (or lack thereof) of my children.

It didn’t take me long to realize how wrong and misguided my focus was. I knew in my head that God would be with them (and me), and I knew my thought patterns were unhealthy, but still. Sometimes it’s hard to change, am I right?

Well, after spending more time in prayer and with Jesus (which I hadn’t been doing enough of and it showed), my thoughts began to shift.

What if, instead of all the horrible scenarios playing out as I had feared – what if their lives changed for the better? Imagine that! What if their relationship with God was ignited and challenged and they developed lifelong friendships? What if separation from their family was just what they needed to be stretched and ultimately learn the joy of letting God take care of them? What if they had exciting adventures and experiences that they could look back on and maybe someday tell their children about?

I’m finally (thank goodness) at a place where I’m genuinely excited for them to go and experience a week of camp.

Clearly, this isn’t just about camp. What’s going on in YOUR life right now that has your wheels spinning and spinning, only digging you deeper into the mud? Where do your thoughts need to shift from “expecting the worst” to seeing the ways God could use the situation in positive ways?

It’s not an easy shift to make, so I challenge you this week to spend more time in prayer. More time deliberately being thankful and speaking aloud the truths of God’s word. Ask God to bring about the change in your mind that you feel you can’t accomplish alone. Seek out a Christian counselor if you’re not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel. Have hope.

And don’t forget this promise from Joshua 1:9:

“This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Lord, I pray for each person reading this, that you would ease the burden in our minds right now. This world is full of burdens and brokenness, but it is also full of goodness and hope. Holy Spirit, bring your hope and truth to replace the lies in our minds. Let us find joy in the middle of trials and laughter in the middle of our storms. Be our joy, peace, and truth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Book update: Power Up has been released for about a month now and I’ve gotten some great feedback! I honestly believe this is a book that every grade school aged kid could benefit from. I’ve also gotten great feedback from adults who have told me it opened their eyes to some new ideas. If you know of anyone who might benefit from it, would you help me spread the word? Honestly, this marketing thing is tough, so I appreciate all the help I can get. 🙂 Thanks for following on this journey with me!

 

 

Trust–More Than a Back-Up Plan

When I had an idea for a book about two years ago, I put it on the back burner in my mind. Who has time for writing when you’re raising/homeschooling three kids, right?

One weekend my husband and I went on an overnight road trip without the kids. On the way home, somehow we decided to make a list of hopes and dreams. Anything went.

Onto the list it went. “Write a book.”

I didn’t know we were going to delve deeper into our list items, although I should have, being married to Chip and all. 🙂

“What would you want to write about?” he asked.

“I don’t know…I sort of have an idea I’ve tossed around.”

“Well then, let’s get it on the calendar and you can start writing!”

*uh…*

And so it began. I took an evening, hid away on our back porch with the laptop, and started writing. The story poured out of me. After about a zillion rounds of editing (being brand spanking new to this and all), I finally had a completed manuscript. But then I was left wondering, “what now?”

After reading stats on how few manuscripts get accepted by agents and publishers, I was tempted to quit. But I loved my story. I believed in it, and continue to believe (as basically every Christian writer says) that God gave me this story to tell. I had to trust that he would get his message out however he thought best.

Maybe I would send it around to a handful of agents/publishers and if I didn’t get any bites I could pursue self-publishing (which is a completely valid option; doesn’t need to be last resort, fyi).

After reading over and over how important networking is for writers, my husband and I attended an amazing writer’s conference (Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference). We learned a ton, made some friends, each won an award for our respective manuscripts (awesome!), and finally, on the last evening, we met Deb Haggerty. Deb owns a publishing company (Elk Lake Publishing Inc.) and “publishes what she likes,” as she put it.

She viewed the print-out of Chip’s story, Under the Dancing Tree, and offered him a contract on the spot (it released a couple months ago – check it out on Amazon, it’s a perfect Father’s Day gift!). She invited me to send my proposal after the conference, which I did. I had to trust that if it didn’t work out with Elk Lake, God would lead me and my story where he wanted us.

Even though I knew it could take weeks or even months to hear back, I was so nervous and excited I checked my email every hour or so. Less than 24 hours later, I heard back five words I’ll never forget.

Power Up has a home.

My heart almost stopped. I told Chip. I called my mom. I couldn’t stop smiling (smiling’s my favorite).

And so the roller coaster began. While Deb agreed to publish it, she requires all her authors to have literary agents. That felt like a potential dead end. Not a lot of literary professionals are keen on middle grade book ideas, unfortunately. I had to trust that if God opened a door with Elk Lake, he would lead me to an agent.

A couple months later I signed with an agent and was signing a contract with Elk Lake to publish Power Up. A happy ending, right? Except it was just the beginning.

Thoughts plagued my mind – what if nobody likes it? What if nobody buys it? What if, what if, what if.

The publishing process has its stressful moments, and I remember one evening after everyone else was in bed, sitting alone with my anxious thoughts, lost in worry.

Then I heard a quiet voice.

You say you trust me, but worrying about it all shows that you DON’T trust me. Give it to me; you can trust me.

It was a sobering moment for me. So I took a deep breath and attempted to do just that. Staying on top of the worry is an ongoing, but worthwhile, effort. My instinct tells me I have every reason to worry and be anxious. But giving in to the worry only reduces the gift that Jesus offers (to carry me/my burdens and work it all out for good) to a back-up plan.

Though my book, Power Up, is really close to being published, it’s down to getting the final details right. Worry still tempts me. What if, what if, what if…

But I don’t want to relegate Jesus’ faithfulness to my back-up plan. He’s got his plans for me and for this book all in the palm of his hand, where they’re safer than any place I could ever dream.

What does your journey of trusting God look like? Are you handing your burdens to him in full trust? Is he simply your back-up plan for when you finally reach the end of your rope?

I pray you’ll find the courage to trust God more than ever before, in whatever circumstances you’re experiencing, and have faith in his ultimate goodness and love for you. Even when life is messy, he is a trustworthy God, of this you can be sure.