Tag Archives: trust

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.

Giving God the Benefit of the Doubt

Why does it come so naturally to think the worst about others?

Let’s say a friend is supposed to pick you up so you can go out to dinner together. You’ve been looking forward to it all day and the time of her arrival finally comes…and passes. Twenty minutes later you get a text: “Sorry, running behind, be there soon.”

Your mind gets fired up. She’s just now texting? Where was this text twenty minutes ago? I’ve been counting on this night out all week and she doesn’t even have the decency to be on time. Doesn’t she want to hang out with me?

She finally pulls into the driveway and you hop in the car. She smiles at you and says hello, but you can tell she’s been crying. “Sorry I’m late,” she says. “I was running a couple minutes late because Jason and I got into an argument, and then I got pulled over on the way here since I was trying to make up lost time. Now I have a ticket to deal with…anyway, I’m really glad we’re going out tonight. I could use some friend time.”

Oops. For a second you’re overwhelmed with feelings of your own jerkdom. You mentally scold yourself for doubting your friend and then move on with your evening, comforting your friend and having a fun dinner out.

I’ve realized it’s much easier to think the best about someone when you’re in person. When we’re hearing the account from the person themselves and they’re standing right in front of us, looking into our eyes, our instincts lean more toward understanding, rather than blame.

Isn’t it the same with our relationship with God?

When we are distant from God it’s easy to blame him for all the wrong in our lives. We get a little too comfortable and then we get lazy. We know he’s our friend, we know he’s there for us, and so we don’t lean in to him as much.

We read the Bible…some. We pray…some. We certainly haven’t forgotten about him but we haven’t been actively pursuing him either.

And when something bad happens, as it inevitably does, our world is rocked. So we turn to God. But instead of falling into his arms of love, we start blaming. Why would you let this happen? Why wouldn’t you stop this person from doing that thing? Why…?

But when we’re walking in stride with him, in person, we remember who he really is. We remember his unchangeable character and we give him the benefit of the doubt.

When we make the effort to stay intimately connected with God each and every day, that’s when our trust in him is unshakable. We know who God is. We know his character and his promises, and we don’t doubt his goodness or his love for us.

And then, when he’s standing right in front of us, looking into our eyes, we believe him when he says: I’m sorry this bad thing happened. I hate it too. But I love you more than you could ever know and I’ll never leave you. And even though Earth isn’t perfect, Heaven is. And it’s waiting on you. I’m waiting on you. And I’m for you—always.

And maybe…just maybe next time, whether in dealing with friends or with God, our first instinct will be to trust instead of blame.

 

Please leave me a comment below to let me know your thoughts – I’d love to hear from you. And while you’re at it, make your way over to the “subscribe” button and leave me your email address so I can email you future posts directly! Have a great weekend everybody and thanks for reading!