What If I Fall?

What if I fall_

 

I’ve fallen before… many times, I have scars to prove it. And as a child I don’t think I ever feared the falling. Falling from my first steps, falling from the pine tree at my sister’s as I learned to climb it, falling from my bike, my Rollerblade races, from sitting on my self-made tower of waffle blocks….

I’m sure that my parents didn’t even try to keep count of my scraped knees, the band-aids, or tears.

To this day I can still ride a bike, Rollerblade… and I’ve added long boarding, skiing, and so much more to my list.  And with time the falling grew less.

However, what I never meant to add to my list was the actual fear of falling.

Last ski trip, I was scared for the first time of riding the ski lift. I pulled the safety bar down as we climbed up into the mountain.  A thing I never did in the past, no matter how high we would climb.

When did that fear slip in?

And not only has it found me, but it’s taken over corners of my life.

Now I’m scared of what people think, fear of failing, fear of embarrassment, fear of disappointment… To the point that sometimes fear paralyzes me. It feeds me the lie- better not to try then to try and fail (in front of everyone).

Oh, but darling… What if you fly?

You could not only obtain your dream, but God could take you further than you allowed yourself to first dream.  Maybe this dream will whisk you away into a life you truly love- wrapped up in excitement, purpose, meaning. Maybe this dream is a step into a further calling.

Perhaps you’ll be as loved as those you love and admire- Beth Moore and Jen Hatmaker… Maybe you will do what you’ve always wanted to do- Write a book, or have a beloved tribe of friends.

Be surrounded by those you need, be where you need to be, doing what you were made to do.

And the only one holding you back is you.

Please don’t let fear hold you back from the life you’ll love and even more importantly- the life God has asked you to live, that He has equipped you for, the life that will breathe life into others.

Fly and Live.  Fly and Love.  Fly and Inspire.

When did fear join your journey? Why do you think you’ve given fear so much power in your life? What do you want to fly into?

My Favorite Christmas Story

One of my favorite Christmas stories comes from John 1.  I know it’s not the usual baby in a manger scene you might expect, but it helps me soak in the Christmas miracle a little better than that well-known picture of Mary and Joseph bent over a cradle.

In John 1, a picture is painted of Jesus Christ being God. The same God who was there when the world was formed, the same God who created that world and each and every one of us.

Be still, and know.

Be still and soak in the power of God, the Creator.

God, the Creator, became a man, the creation.

Photo Courtesy of Giu Vicente at Unsplash

The first thought that comes to mind is 26-year-old-me being stuck in a baby’s body. How limiting that can be… little control over my limbs, complete dependence on mom and dad to feed, change, and clothe me.

I am only 26-years-old and not nearly as wise, righteous, and amazing as God… and I don’t think I’d like going back to being a baby.

Yet God… who IS all knowing, all powerful, all present, humbles Himself to human limitations.

Not just human limitations, but baby limitations. So that He could connect with us in a tangible way, and provide us the best Christmas gift.

Philippians 2:6-8 Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”

Jesus Christ was fully God and fully Man. The only one completely pure, good, and just, the only one who was deserving of eternal life, left His throne for us.

Have you let the Christmas miracle soak in? Have you let the audacious love of God soak in? It’s tremendous.

What parts of the Christmas story excite you? What inspires you?

Build Each Other Up

Kids tend to make people the punchlines of their jokes.

They often grow-up, but don’t grow out of it. The jokes may take different set-ups, forms, or turns… but people still end up battered on the other end. Their bruises covered by laughter.

In highschool, I was blessed with a positive influence. My youth pastor, Brian, made it our mantra that we would not tear each other down, but that our job was to build each other up.

Whenever we said something negative about someone else, we had to apologize and list three things we liked about that person- and the mantra would be spoken again “Build Each other up.”

Ryan McGuire at StockSnap.io

Life is hard, why make it harder for each other? We have the power to tear down and the power to build up. Why not stand together to make the burden lighter?

How are you using your voice?

As I get older the challenge has changed.

Instead of redeeming negative comments with positive ones, I should be keeping my mouth shut before I say anything negative in the first place.

Bob Goff shared that every time he says something critical to another person he logs into his bank account and gives away $500.  He said this helps him stop and think, “Do I really want to say this, or would I rather take my sweet Maria on a trip?

Most of the time he picks a trip with his wife, keeps his mouth shut, and instead focuses on speaking words of “life and encouragement.”

This is the next step… Speak life and encouragement into others without prompting.

I want to live my life as an encourager… a builder.

This is especially important in my marriage. As a wife, my sole job is to be a helper and encourager to my husband.

As a wife, I get to see the worst side of my husband, but I am called to be his greatest cheerleader despite it. This is oxymoronic, but that paradox gives it even greater power.

Knowing his faults, yet respecting, loving, encouraging, and believing in him anyways is what makes it mean more.

As I try to master being an encouragement to my husband, I need to let that habit flow into all of my relationships.

What would it be like if we used our words to build instead of tear down?

Build up our family, friends, leaders, servers, or the next generation.

I think we will find that a kind word goes much farther than a critical one.

 

Is it easier for you to speak negatively or positively about others? Is there someone you are specifically speaking life into during this season of your life? Who do you know that could use some life-giving words right now?

 

 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

-Philippians 4:8

 

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

-1 Thessalonians 5:11

The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

-Proverbs 14:1

It’s time to let it go

Our hands can only hold so much.

I can think of several examples, let’s see if you can relate.…

One time, I grabbed every single grocery bag in my car and began to carry it towards the apartment. When I reached the door, I realized that I couldn’t possibly grab my keys, unlock the door, and walk in without dropping half the bags to the ground. #overzealous #fail

So the next time, I unlocked the apartment, left the door open, and then tried the same thing. I went and grabbed every bag so that I would only have to make one trip, and then a bag breaks…. Bananas bruise or the cans begin to roll.

from StockSnap.io by Santalla

Our hands can only hold so much.

I picture full hands and toddlers yanking on your legs or trying to hand you their toy. Making dinner while children scream and your husband tries to tell you a story. I picture ripped grocery bags and bruised bananas.

I picture chaos.

 

And in each of these scenarios, it is best to drop one thing in order to grab another.

It is best to set the groceries down before you try to open the door. It is best to stop stirring the pot and look your husband in the eyes. It is best to let it go, before you grab something else.

 

The Bible often mentions this idea: to let go, in order to grab something better.

To let go of seeking material possessions, and instead grab onto the things that last.  Matthew 6:19-24

To let go of all our grudges and all the sins against us, to grab onto the powerful grace and mercy of God and the forgiveness He offers us. Matthew 6:14-15

To let go of anything holding us back from holding on to God’s blessings, and His exciting plans for our life.

For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him…

Philippians 3:8-9

We have to let go of our own desires: Vanity, materialism, busyness, sleep, television. Whatever it may be that is distracting us from developing a holy desire to do good for the world.

We have to let go of our grudges and our unforgiveness: the time our parents missed our basketball game, the rumor that was spread like wildfire, the friend who stood us up, the person who broke your heart.

Whatever grudges that are holding you back from understanding grace to it’s fullest potential, you need to let go. Let it go so you can finally receive it and offer it to everyone else.

If we hold tightly to the things of this world, our hands will be too occupied to grasp the new, the good, the great.

God wants to fill our hands with blessings, with mercy, love, and peace. If we hold tight to the wrongs of others or the vain pursuits of our selves, we won’t ever be able to grasp the amazing things he has in store for us.

 

Do you have vain pursuits that keep you busy from pursuing God? Do you have someone you desperately need to forgive in order to move forward with peace? Do you keep a record of wrongs?

It’s time to let go, and grab hold of God.

Not too Proud for Pennies

‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

Matthew 25:21

Believe it or not, a lot of people will walk down a sidewalk and skip over an abandoned penny. “Oh! It’s just a penny!” they’ll say.

Not my mom, she always told me not to be too proud for a penny. She instilled in me that no blessing was too small. If we deny the small blessings, why would He give us bigger ones?

Another way you could look at it, is that those penny moments add up to make the big blessings.

stocksnap.io

I was reminded of this life lesson when I was on a walk with Tap two days ago.  I hadn’t seen it, but he dropped down and grabbed a penny.

“It was even face up!” he exclaimed through his smile and put it in his pocket.  At the time, I retold the lesson my mom had shared with me.  (She even picked up the pennies that were face down.)

The very next day, on our walk, we both paused and looked down at some crumpled trash on the ground.

It deserved a second look…

It was a five dollar bill!

“Well, would you look at that!” Tap reached down and added the bill to his pocket where his penny still sat. One blessing accepted, a second to follow.

We were surprised, and laughed at the little blessing… we remarked about the coincidences and let the thoughts of my mom’s life lesson turn in our heads.

I don’t expect a bill to follow every penny, but I want to always keep my eyes peeled for the blessings in each and every day.  I want to be sure I don’t pass them up, and that I’m not too proud to notice or appreciate them.  They are all gifts, and they were lavishly given to me.

What are some small blessings you stopped to admire today? What are some blessings you’ve passed over recently?

Does Your Heart have to be in it first to be Considered God-Honoring?

I see my friends, my colleagues, and, in hindsight, I see myself miss out on awesome opportunities all of the time.  God opens doors wide open for us, and we walk past it.  Meanwhile, our hearts are empty and we desire a closer relationship with God.

The reason we miss these doors are numerous.  We can hear ourselves often say, “I didn’t want to do it, because my heart wasn’t in it.”  -or- “I would feel like a fake, it wouldn’t be genuine.”

These excuses could be used for a wide variety of things : Not wanting to sing hymns, or refusing contemporary worship; Not signing up for a service project or praying for an individual; Not sharing the gospel with a stranger; Not forgiving a trespasser; Not going to Church or Sunday School.  Because, “I’m not feeling it, it wouldn’t be genuine.”

In our culture, we give our hearts too much control of our actions.  This often leads us to more heart-ache, which is probably what we are trying to avoid.  We need to lead with our minds, and let our hearts follow.

What if we did our Spouse’s chores when we didn’t feel like it?  What if we chose joy when it would be easier to wallow in our sadness?  What if we offered forgiveness before a grudge set in?  What if we sang praise to God even if we didn’t “feel” the music?

I can hear those excuses surfacing back up again in me already… But that’s not genuine, that’s fake, I need to be real.  Yes, we do.  But we also need to understand that the heart makes some bad decisions.  I can attest to that! My heart has chosen some lousy relationships to follow, and has led me to insecurity and bitterness in the past.  This has taught me that the heart is a much better follower than it is a leader.

You can choose, and your heart will follow.  Soon your heart and mind will work in tandem, spurring each other on towards the goal.  When I let my mind lead, in time my heart will catch up and swell at the enormity of God’s grace.  It will overflow at the opportunity that was seized.  Then my heart begins to crave more.  More good decisions, More love, More service, More grace, More God…. MORE GOD.

Let’s be a little more like Isaiah:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’

And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’

Isaiah 6:8

Have you ever done something when your heart wasn’t in it?  What did you learn?  Did your mind lead your heart closer to God?

Knee Jerk Reactions can Teach Us About our Hearts

Last week, I shared with all of you how my husband and I use walks to reconnect.  I’d like to share a story about a specific walk we shared recently that illuminated a weakness I have.

Often times on our walks we come across a dozen or so bees.  We live in a townhouse in a large neighborhood of rental properties.  With so many shared lots, there are a lot of community mailboxes.  For some reason, bees love these.  They claim these mailbox huts as their own tiny homes.  Whenever we come across one on our path we are sure to find three to nine bees crossing back and forth across the sidewalk as if they were creating an electronic force field.

Bee House AKA Mailbox

EVERY.TIME. Our pace becomes a little faster, and we keep our chins up as if to say to the bees “We’re not scared of you.”  But, in truth, we are.  We are very afraid.  All it takes is for the bee to stray it’s path in our direction and we jump off the sidewalk into the road and run a good five paces until we see the bee has decided to leave us alone.

After a handful of walks, I decided I was going to be brave.  The bees haven’t stun us yet, why should I still be so fearful?  We began to walk towards Bee-Row.  The bee hovered in the middle of the sidewalk, as if staring us down.  Out loud, I confessed, “This bee is going to think he owns us!”  In this moment I was determined to show it otherwise.  Then it juts straight towards us, and I push my husband in the direction of the bee at the same time as I leap toward the street and run.

My husband catches up to me, as I am laughing out loud to myself.  He asked me what that was about, and between laughter I admitted that I sacrificed him for my safety.

Up until that moment I hadn’t planned on sacrificing my husband to the bees.  However, in these knee-jerk moments we realize what lays buried in our hearts.  There are still things, as small as a bee sting, that keeps selfishness and fear rooted in my heart.

What do your knee jerk reactions tell about your heart? What do you have yet to hand over to God? What sin is he trying to chisel out of you?

Declare : Ephesians Worship

Last Friday night, my husband was a part of Declare.  Declare is a worship gathering put on by the Miami Valley Worship Community.  You can listen to the music here.  Several churches are represented, as each team is comprised of various leaders, denominations, and cities. It is an awesome gathering as many come to worship the One.

tapworship

This particular night was focused on Ephesians.  Both bands did a fantastic job leading us in worship.  It reminded me a lot of the worship services at the Christian Bookseller Association Conferences that I was able to attend growing up.  The similarities would be the modern songs, cream of the crop musicians, and most importantly a strong Christ-Focus instead of a denomination focus… God’s presence was real, the worship was moving, and it was easy to lose myself that night.  I wasn’t even distracted by my own sexy husband playing drums (as I often am), but I was wrapped up in God’s presence.

This is what the night looked like:

OPENING TEAM
This Is Amazing Grace (Wickham, Bb)
Eph 1:3-4 – praise
Behold Our God (Sovereign Grace, C)
Nothing But the Blood (Redman, B)
Eph 1:5-10 – redemption through the blood of Christ
In Tenderness (Citizens, A)
Eph 2:1-10 – made alive in Christ
Raised To Life (Elevation, B)
In Christ Alone (Passion, Eb)
Eph 2:19-22 – Christ the cornerstone
Cornerstone (Hillsong, C)
Eph 3:14-21 – BREAK
CLOSING TEAM
Cannons (Wickham, A)
Forever (Kari Jobe, Ab)
Eph 4:1-6 – unity through one Lord
To Be Like You (Hillsong, C)
Set A Fire (Will Regan, C) – w/ Eph 5:19-20
Eph 5:8-14 – imitate God, living as an offering
The Stand (Hillsong, G)
Eph 6:10-12 – benediction, declare the Gospel boldly
This I Believe (Hillsong, C)
It Is Well With My Soul (D)
New Doxology (Gateway, G)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Can you believe it? It’s Thanksgiving already! I survived the drive (because my husband let me sleep), and was able to wake up to the smell of my mom’s kitchen, the sound of family laughter mixed with the Thanksgiving parade, and the warm feeling of being home for the Holiday.

I can’t wait to eat up on a few traditional favorites: Mom’s homemade noodles and marshmallow fruit salad.  I am excited to see my family, especially the Aunts and Uncles that I normally don’t.  Then tonight my mother-in-law is making bacon-wrapped dates just for me!

However, most of all, I look forward to standing in the circle of all my loved ones.  Staring into the faces of my family as they take their turn sharing their favorite blessings this year.  Wrapped up with a prayer of thanksgiving to the Gift-Giver Himself.  I am so thankful to have a family that credits God for everything, and who chose to demonstrate it throughout their lives- even during the bustle of a holiday.

As you know, to prepare my heart for Thanks, I have been counting down the days with a thankful thought.  I’ll be honest, I stopped posting them on twitter around number 18… But I have plenty to be Thankful for… more than 27 things, but here’s my list.

  1.  Sitting on the couch, nestled between my parents.
  2.  Christmas decorations- The warm glow of a snowy evergreen.
  3.  Ghirardelli Turtle Brownies… especially the corners.
  4.  Waking up to my husband’s handsome face every morning.
  5.  My husband’s unpredictable morning hair.
  6.  An evening with absolutely no commitments.
  7.  Heaters to keep me warm.
  8.  A day full of small favorites.
  9.  My husband knowing how to use a toolbox. He fixed my jewelry cabinet!
  10.  Communion at Church, and open honest discussion in Sunday School.
  11.  Dinner with friends.
  12.  When my husband jams with his buddies, making rockin’ songs to the Lord.
  13.  Meeting someone new.
  14.  Cuddling up to my husband and enjoying some cookies.
  15.  Watching a good, wholesome, T.V. show with my husband to unwind.
  16.  Saturdays, our All-Day Date day.
  17.  When my husband gets to play drums at Church.
  18.  Church parties, like the Battle of the Ages.
  19.  Beautiful Snow-Covered Trees.
  20.  Safe travels.
  21.  Surprising my husband.
  22.  Laughing at the Ellen Show.
  23.  Being a part of something bigger than myself.
  24.  Being my husband’s teammate, and co-teaching a Sunday School class.
  25.  God talking to me through someone or something else.
  26.  The ability to travel with ease.
  27.  Catching my little nephew under the mistletoe.

What are you thankful for this year? Do you have any traditions that keep the reason for the season at the heart of your celebrations?

I will look back…

There are times in our Spiritual Journey where it feels that we are merely walking, one step at a time, through a dull and boring desert.  We feel far from the awe-inspiring mountains of God’s majesty, we desire the exhilaration of free falling into His oceans of grace, and we lose sight of His peaceful islands.  Instead, we feel stuck in a place of drought, but we receive postcards of all these wonderful places God is taking our friends or family… wondering when it will be our turn again for a vacation into a spiritual “high”.

Life may be a roller coaster of ups and downs, and we may be experiencing a plateau in our lives, but God is consistent.  We can trust that God is with us always, and that He is there even in the mundane.  During these times of silence, boredom, or uncertainty… It is important to look back…

Just this Sunday we were singing “I will look up,” and my tongue caught on the words “I will look back and see that you are faithful.

There are so many times that I am too busy, too caught up in my own life, that I forget to seek and remember my Lord and Savior.  All the prayers God has answered, and although I asked, I never waited to hear His response.  All I have to do is look back on my own life, and God consistently proves Himself and His love for me.

Through my body-image issues, and all my insecurity, God loved me and taught me to be confident in who He created me to be.  God forgave me for all my wrong-doings, and over time He helped unlock me from the chains of sin and guilt.  When I was too weak to make the right choices, He put roadblocks in my path and reminded me to turn around.  He protected me from the things I was unable to bare, and He strengthened me by challenging me in the things I thought were impossible.  God has seen me through, and continues to bless me with friends, family, forgiveness, love, food, shelter, and so much more.

What are some ways God has proved Himself to you over your life?

Let’s look back and see that He IS faithful.