Braving it out because that’s what it takes to overcome

My daughter spent almost all of her 8-year-old  life living in a home without a paved driveway or a neighborhood with a sidewalk.

Bike riding for us was a spurious affair.  About once a year, everything aligned perfectly.

The weather was cool, but not  cold, and definitely not hot or rainy or snowy or even too windy.

The calendar was clear.  We did not have rehearsal, school, camps, dance, karate, sports, church, a birthday party, or some other activity.

That was the one day a year I would load up the minivan with all of our children and then, after they were all buckled in, pack that minivan with every single one of their bicycles and helmets.  We would then drive to  a school parking lot and “practice biking.”

Loading  all those bicycles up so we could drive somewhere to  practice, though, wasn’t really fun.  For any of us.  The kids tried for a little  bit,  but gave up and we all went back  home again so we could move  along to other ways to spend our time.

But now, “the time has come.”  We live in a neighborhood.  Not only that, we live on a cul de sac with a sloped and paved driveway in a neighborhood.

This is the ideal place.

Eight years into life, though, is enough time to build up some fears about going too  fast and falling, about scuffing up knees and elbows and maybe not always landing in the grass.

It’s enough time to build up some immunity to  mom’s pep talks about being  courageous and persevering  in the face of adversity.

So, thus far, our attempts at mastering  this whole deal without training wheels have involved more injury than success.

It is slow going and it is painful going and it is discouraging going.

What  I want is for my daughter  to decide in her deep-down heart of hearts that this is worth it, that she’s going to do whatever it takes to master this elusive skill, that she’s willing to get back on that bike 50 times if that’s what’s needed.

And if she falls 51 times, then she’d get back on there 52.

So far, though, I think she hasn’t decided this is worth doing.  She wants all the fun of bike riding to her friend’s house a few doors down without any of the actual learning.

I get that.  There are some ways that  my heart is right there with her.

God says to brave it out and tough it out.  Put on those  sneakers and that helmet and get on out there where it’s  rough and hard and we might fail.

Yeah, falling and failing is part of it.  That may be what we fear the most, but God doesn’t .   He knows it’s part of  the learning and the growing and without it,  we’re just  living what’s easy instead of what takes faith.

And, faith is what it takes to  please God.  That’s what blesses His heart.  That’s what makes Him pump His fist with joy when He sees us down here.

Without faith,  it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6)

So, it’s hard.  Yes.  It is.

God calls us to do  hard things, though, EVEN impossible things maybe, not because  He wants to see us fail, but so that He can succeed.

in  1 Kings 12, King Jeroboam decided  to take the easy way out. He wanted whatever would earn him brownie points with his people even if it meant disobeying God.

So, even though God said the nation of Israel needed to  worship in one place only, Jerusalem, Jeroboam decided this was too hard a burden.  He set up idols and places of worship in Dan and Bethel so people wouldn’t have to travel as far or work as hard to get there.

Priscilla Shirer says this:

“If left to  ourselves,  we will always choose “Dan” and “Bethel” over the more  cumbersome journey to Jerusalem” (Discerning the Voice of God p. 139).

Do we want “Dan” and “Bethel?” Do we want the pain-free and the easy even if that’s not where God is?

Or do we want God’s best, His will and His plans?

What I want is for my daughter to set her heart on overcoming so she holds out for Jerusalem.

Maybe that’s what God desires for us also, to determine in advance that we’re going to obey.  Period.  We’re going to follow Him.  Period.  We’re going to pour ourselves out for Him.  Period.  We’re going to worship Him.  Period.

Even if it means we have to pass right by Dan and Bethel and trek all that way to Jerusalem.

Even if it means some skinned knees and bruised egos as we stumble our way along all because being with Him is the greatest desire in our deep-down hearts.

What’s the next right thing today? #AnywhereFaith

This week, we celebrated my son’s birthday and he loved every minute of it.   The next morning, he told me, “It’s  still my birthday” and asked for a cupcake.

There’s nothing like a good celebration!

And,  here’s another reason to celebrate—it’s the one-year anniversary of the release of my book,  Anywhere Faith.

Thanks so much to you for buying the book, reading it, sharing it with others, studying it with small groups, and sharing about it on social media.  You blessed me and encouraged me, and I’m grateful.  Here’s a little encouragement for you today:


As a teen, I attended some huge youth conferences with my church and they tended to have something in common:

There was always a tremendously dynamic speaker who had a jaw-dropping testimony of God’s grace: He did drugs.  He was in a gang.  His girlfriend got pregnant and he made her have an abortion.  He was an alcoholic, who was addicted to pornography, and homeless.

Then He met Jesus.

By the time the testimony was over, the altars were flooded with teens crying and praying for God to save them and use them.

But my story didn’t seem to fit in.  They’d ask if anyone felt “called to ministry” and I’d raise my hand and pray that God use me “anywhere” and send me “anywhere.”

Only, how could He use a girl like me?  I’m relatively boring and surely the world truly needed displays of God’s grace and mercy on a grand scale.

I prayed and searched for God’s will for my life, but I didn’t end up in foreign missions or traditional full-time ministry.  So, does that mean God didn’t call me after all?

Now, that’s my story.  How I struggled to truly let grace seep deep in my soul.

How I searched so hard for one “big calling,” that I overlooked the impact of daily obedience and the calling to follow Him right here, right now, serving Christ by serving others in small ways every single day.

Your story might be like mine.  Maybe you desperately want to follow Jesus “anywhere,” but you can’t see where He wants you to go.

Or perhaps your story is entirely different.  Maybe you have that testimony of radical transformation, but you feel like an unworthy vessel, unfit for His use.

“Calling” is a tricky subject for Christians.  It sometimes trips us up into a mess of confusion.

We talk about God “calling” me to do this or “calling” me to do that, but we don’t always know what that looks like day in and day out.

And sometimes we miss it entirely.

When I wrote in my book, Anywhere Faith, about following God anywhere He calls us to go, I shared some truths about “calling” because God wants all of us to follow Him, whether that’s around the world, across the street, or in our own homes.

GOD CALLS ALL OF US

Your past, your present and your future don’t have to look like anyone else’s in order for God to use you.  anywhere-faith

Maybe He called you to foreign missions or full-time ministry.  Maybe He called you to pray for the teachers at your kids’ school or to help young moms who need encouragement.

If we obsess over what someone else’s calling looks like, we can sometimes miss what He has planned for us.

God uses the ordinary. He uses the everyday and the mundane. He uses the untrained. He uses the sinner who repents and the prodigal who returns. He uses us despite our past and even sometimes because of it (Anywhere Faith).

CALLINGS DON’T HAVE TO BE (AND OFTEN AREN’T) GLAMOROUS OR GRAND.

I’m not a speaker at conferences talking about deliverance from addiction.  Today, I have played Play Doh with my son, scheduled doctor’s appointments for my kids, prayed for my family, written to you, washed dishes and laundry, and performed a million small and seemingly insignificant tasks that are actually ministry.

Sure, the disciples traveled with Jesus, witnessed miracles, and even healed and performed miracles themselves in Christ’s name.

But the calling wasn’t all glitz and glamor.  They packed light and traveled far. They left families and jobs behind to pursue Jesus.

Jesus told them to bend low, to do the dirty jobs, to wash feet, to love outcasts, to touch lepers.

He asks us to humbly serve others every day, too.

Your calling might not be to a stage or arena; it may be to faithfulness at work, witness in your community, and ministry to your family.  Every “calling’ is significant to Him.

GOD CAN USE YOU RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE

We can get so caught up looking for big visions for our future that we miss the ways He asks us to serve today.  I’ve done it myself, praying desperately for God to show me “His will for my life” instead of His will for this moment.

Let’s ask God to show us the next right step and walk that way.  We can trust Him with our future.

 WHEN WE TALK ABOUT CALLING, LET’S REMEMBER THIS:

God isn’t looking for the flashiest vessels; He’s looking for yielded vessels…
He uses the humble, the willing and the obedient (Anywhere Faith).

May we be yielded today, humble today, and obedient today as we follow Him “Anywhere.”

I Didn’t Feel Ready

 

Sometimes we want to see the provision in advance.

Before we step out in “faith,” we want to know we have enough: time, money, strength, ideas, training, support.  We want our offerings to God and our ministry for Him to be perfect.

But in Hebrews, we’re told:

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

God helps us in our time of need—not as a stockpile for our seasons of neediness.

This is a lesson I’m learning inch by inch.

For just about a whole year before it ever happened, I worried over my oldest daughter starting middle school.  I ran through every possible question about the transition.

When will the bus come?  How will she adjust to earlier morning hours?  How do we get her to school on time without waking up all the other kids? Will she need to take showers in the morning or at night?  How will her after school activities fit into the schedule?  

This might be reaching levels of extreme crazy, but there it is.  I’m a planner.  I like to consider all the possibilities.

But I also prayed.

And that was so much more important.

Here’s what happened.  On the first day of school, she got up, got ready, and went to school.  She did that all year.

Just like that.

A new ministry, a schedule adjustment, an extra activity thrown in, a needy friend, a season of pouring out to others—these aren’t opportunities to freak out; they are opportunities to see God come through.

GOD GIVES US WHAT WE NEED WHEN WE NEED IT, AND NOT OFTEN BEFORE.

One of my favorite “callings” in Scripture is the moment God spoke to Jeremiah:

Then I said, “Alas, Lord God!
Behold, I do not know how to speak,
Because I am a youth.”
But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
And all that I command you, you shall speak.
“Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord (Jeremiah 1:6-8 ESV). 

On the surface, It sounds like Jeremiah thought he was too young for prophetic ministry.

But then I consider context:

the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign (Jeremiah 1:2 ESV).

Jeremiah began prophesying during the reign of Josiah, who became king when he was only eight years old.

So even if Jeremiah was in his teens or early 20s when God spoke to him, he had seen God use an eight-year-old king to lead the nation of Judah in one of its greatest spiritual revivals.

“I’m too young” doesn’t seem like a good excuse.

Maybe what Jeremiah really felt was unready and unprepared.

And that’s where I totally understand Jeremiah.

Sometimes I feel unready, too.

Like the whole transition to middle school, I wanted to know all the answers in advance and have the perfect plan already in place.

You too?

When God calls you, do you ask Him to wait until you feel “ready?”

Maybe if we train a little longer, stock up a little more, save a bit, work it all out on paper, and prepare, prepare, prepare, then we can follow God’s call.

We wait until we have extra money to give.

We wait until our gifts are perfected to offer them to others.

We wait for free time before we serve.

BUT THE TIME TO SERVE GOD ISN’T WHEN WE FEEL READY; IT’S WHEN HE ASKS US TO FOLLOW.

After all, God told Jeremiah, “I am with you.”

He promises us His presence, too!

IF WE WAIT UNTIL WE’RE “READY,” UNTIL WE’RE PREPARED, UNTIL WE’RE FULLY TRAINED, UNTIL OUR GIFT AND OUR OFFERING ARE PERFECT, UNTIL WE FEEL LIKE ENOUGH, WE’LL WAIT AND WAIT AND NEVER TAKE THAT STEP OF FAITH AND OBEDIENCE.

We’ll be trusting in ourselves rather than relying on God to be with us and to be enough for us.

Ecclesiastes 11:4 says:

If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done (TLB).

What is it you feel the Holy Spirit nudging you to do?  What season are you entering?  What task has He laid at your feet?

God will be enough for you.  He will give you everything you need exactly when you need it.  So, don’t pause until you feel ready or until you’re perfect and your gift is worthy.

Right now, right where you are, with what you have, you can follow Him where He’s calling you to go and trust Him for provision and strength for the journey.

Bible Verses on Overcoming Fear and Worry

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  • Exodus 14:13
    And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again (ESV)
  • Deuteronomy 31:
    Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
  • Joshua 1:9
    Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened,and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
  • Nehemiah 4:14
    After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
  • Psalm 23:4
    Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
  • Psalm 27:1
    The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
  • Psalm 34:4
    “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”
  • Psalm 56:3
    When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
  • Psalm 56:4
    In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?
  • Psalm 91:4-6
    He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
  • Psalm 112:7
    He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
  • Isaiah 35:4Say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, and do not fear,
    for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
    He is coming to save you.”
  • Isaiah 41:10
    So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  • Isaiah 41:13
    “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
  • Isaiah 44:8
    Fear not, nor be afraid;
    have I not told you from of old and declared it?
    And you are my witnesses!
    Is there a God besides me?
    There is no Rock; I know not any.”
  • Isaiah 51:12
    “I, I am he who comforts you;
    who are you that you are afraid of man who dies,
    of the son of man who is made like grass,
  • Jeremiah 1:8
    Do not be afraid of them,
    for I am with you to deliver you,
    declares the Lord.”
  • Zephaniah 3:17
    For the LORD your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
    He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.[a]
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
  • Matthew 6:34
    Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
  • Matthew 10:31
     Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
  • Mark 5:36
    But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” (ESV)
  • Luke 1:74-75
    We have been rescued from our enemies
    so we can serve God without fear,
    in holiness and righteousness
    for as long as we live.
  • Luke 12:32
    “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
  • John 6:19-20
    They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, 20 but he called out to them,“Don’t be afraid. I am here!”
  • John 14:27
    Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
  • Acts 18:9
    And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent,
  • Romans 8:38
    And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
  • 2 Timothy 1:7
     for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
  • Hebrews 13:6
     So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
  • 1 John 4:18
    There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Struggling with fear, anxiety, and crushing worry?

Me too.anywhere-faith

I wrote in Anywhere Faith a reminder that I need myself some days:

“What happens in our Christian walk will always be with God. Even when we stand on the precipice of the unknown, feeling the knots in our stomach, fretting at night rather than sleeping, wondering what will happen next, we can hand that situation over to God and remember that He is with us. Jesus said it to the disciples when they called out in fear on the lake, ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘Take courage. I am here!’ (Matthew 14:27 NLT).

Take courage, because He’s here, right here with you, present with you, never abandoning you, not sending you out all by your lonesome self. He knows the risks. He knows what makes your heart quake. He knows exactly what’s going to happen when you obey His call, and He promises to be with you no matter what.” (Anywhere Faith).

 

How to Do the Thing You Don’t Want to Do

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This week, I’m having to do some things I don’t want to do.

Life is like that sometimes.

Eventually, you have to just go to the dentist or get the flu shots for your kids.  No more procrastinating.

You need to make that phone call…have that tough conversation…ask someone for help.

When we’re obeying God and following Him “Anywhere” He calls us to go, it’s sometimes exhilarating. Other days, obedience can be difficult, messy, frightening and overwhelming.

This week, as I do some of the hard things, I consider how Queen Esther did what she didn’t want to do.

When her cousin, Mordecai, asked her to speak to the pagan King about preventing the genocide of the Jewish people, she wrote back to him:

All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days (Esther 4:11).

Still, instead of hiding away in fear, putting off the task, or running away from God (all of which I’m tempted to do at times), Esther chose the hard obedience.

Here’s what we can learn from her:

Pray and ask others to pray

Esther asked the Jews in Persia to fast and pray for her before she finally went before the king.

Her story isn’t one of a lone heroine rising to face an enemy. She … depended on the intercession of her people.  #AnywhereFaith

I pray some specific things when I know God is asking me to do something I don’t want to do:

Please:

  • grant me favor (Proverbs 3:4)
  • give me courage (Isaiah 54:4)
  • bless the work of my hands (Psalm 90:17)
  • make me competent to do things I can’t possibly do on my own or in my own strength (2 Corinthians 3:5-6)

Like Esther, I also sometimes make myself vulnerable and share my request with someone else. Just knowing I’m not alone helps me move forward.

Just do it!

Esther set a deadline—fast and pray for three days and then she’d go before the king (Esther 4:16).

Deadlines can work for us, too. We can pray and think about it forever, but in the end, it’s time to just get the job done.

After the three-day fast ended, Esther walked into the throne room uninvited and faced the king on behalf of her people.

Leave the results in God’s hands

One of the hardest parts of my calling is asking.  I send out proposals and ask publishers if they’re interested.  I ask businesses about book signings.  I ask for input on my book from others. I  ask people to join my launch team.  I ask radio stations if I can come on the air.

I have to ask.  It’s part of being an author, but it’s the hardest part for me because I fear rejection. What if others say, “no?”

I’m learning, though, to leave the results up to God.

Esther made a famous declaration when she finally decided to go before the king, saying, “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).

These are words of submission to God’s big plan.

Whatever happens, no matter what the outcome, I’ve done what God wants me to do and He’s in control.

Sometimes I ask myself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen here?” And then I remember that any “worst thing” I face is still in God’s hands.

Success doesn’t depend on me, nor was it up to Esther to change public policy or the heart of the king.

Ultimately, we can walk in obedience and trust God with the outcome.  Even if the worst happens, He will carry us through.

Celebrate

When Esther obeyed, God saved her people.  As a result, the Jews celebrated, and they are still celebrating the Feast of Purim with “feasting and gladness” to this day! (Esther 9:22 ESV).

In a much smaller way, I celebrate even the smallest acts of obedience, too.

When I’ve made the phone call I didn’t want to make, talked to the person I was afraid to talk to, stood up for something when I was afraid to speak, or submitted a proposal when I feared rejection, I usually treat myself.

It’s not big or expensive. For me, it might be a a hot cup of tea or a piece of dark chocolate, maybe a morning off from normal work in order to rest and read.

Maybe your treat is a Starbucks coffee or a new book.

It’s not about going big; it’s about rejoicing over obedience and celebrating what God has done in us!

Want to learn more about Esther’s fears and how God helps us go “Anywhere” with Him, even when we’re terrified?  My new book, Anywhere Faith, is available now.anywhere-faith

A Look Behind the Scenes

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Today, my friends, just for fun,I’m going to share a little backstage pass into what my book release day looked like for Anywhere Faith.

Here’s a little bit of what I did and my thoughts along the way:

dedicated the book with prayer

After the initial morning rush of getting everyone where they were supposed to go for the day, I paused.

My todo list was especially long because of the excitement of the book release.

But I knew once I jumped into productivity mode, it would be harder to stop and do the most important thing:  Pray.

So, I laid face down on my bedroom floor, held the book in my hands and offered it to Him.

I prayed for you–for anyone who might read the book. I prayed for its message and impact and for His favor.

And I thanked Him, wholeheartedly praising Him for doing this work.

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! (Psalm 90:17 ESV).

Prayer isn’t in addition to the work; it isn’t after the work or beside the work.  Prayer is the “work” that matters most.

 Spent the morning being a mom

Life definitely helps us keep perspective.  Even if it was a super-exciting book release day, I was still a busy mom.

I took a walk both for the exercise and for the soul-restoring quiet it gives.

My son wanted a trip to the library.

Dishes needed to be washed, meals planned, mess cleaned.

I remembered what matters: Service to God through our service to others, whether that’s writing a book, playing with a preschooler, or cleaning my house.

God values our sacred offerings of even the simplest acts and most daily ministries.

Felt blessed by my support community

Once my son went down for his nap, I was off and running with “official author business.”

For me, that meant lots of posting on social media and being completely blessed by the support there.

Thank you for your prayers, friends.  Thank you for your notes of encouragement, your post shares, your video comments, your “likes,” your Amazon reviews, your pictures and more.

You reminded me that one of the greatest gifts we can give to another is cheering them on when they follow Jesus.

I want to be that voice of encouragement for others and the kind of friend who comes alongside another.

We need friends who will carry us to Jesus even when we feel paralyzed and unable to walk to Him on our own. #AnywhereFaith

worried about failure

At some point in my day, I pulled out a copy of Anywhere Faith and I felt the full weight of looming failure.  I actually stopped where I was in my bedroom, hand stretched out over the box of books, and almost cried.

These words pierced me:

No one is going to buy this book or want to read this book.  Everyone was so nice about your first book just because it was exciting and new, but you are too small and insignificant for this book to have any impact.

On a day when my heart celebrated all God had done, Satan was still at work speaking lies, stirring up anxiety, and beating me down with hurtful fears.

I’m so thankful God meets us precisely in the moments of our greatest need.

Later that day, I read this verse:

Shall I bring to the point of birth
and not cause to bring forth? (Isaiah 66:9 ESV)

God is faithful to complete the work He begins (also see Philippians 1:6).  He doesn’t abandon us along the way or lose interest and give up on us.

We can trust Him with our callings, our ministries, our offerings, but trusting Him means leaving it in His hands.

It’s not up to me to make a book “successful.” We simply walk in obedience and we leave the results to Him.

Worked hard!

Results are always up to God, but we do need to do the hard work of obedience and be good stewards of our calling and ministry.

So, sure enough, I spent most of my day (in between trips to school and ballet and making dinner and the like), working through that to-do list: Create events, print signs, make images, write posts, share about the book in videos, reply to comments, offer giveaways.

I was a busy bee and thankful the whole time for the privilege of writing and sharing with you all!

Thank you again to all of you for your support and encouragement!  Here’s some news for you if you’re looking for info about Anywhere Faith or ways to help me as part of this book release:

Here are some quick links if you are looking to order the book online:

Facebook Giveaway:

For those on Facebook, I have a completely quick and easy giveaway posted on my Facebook author page here.   To enter for the giveaway, you leave a comment on the pinned post and that’s it!  Voila!  You’re entered!

Book Signing:book-signing-1

For my local friends, I’ll be on site at The Courthouse Restaurant on Main Street in Gloucester, VIrginia on Saturday, October 22nd from 1-3 p.m.   I’ll be signing books and chatting with those who stop by and visit!  If you drop by and see me that day, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a giveaway!!

Bible Verses for When you are Feeling Small #AnywhereFaith

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  • Psalm 37:16 ESV
    Better is the little that the righteous has
        than the abundance of many wicked.
  • Proverbs 15:16 ESV
    Better is a little with the fear of the Lord
        than great treasure and trouble with it.
  • Isaiah 11:6 ESV
    The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
        and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
    and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
        and a little child shall lead them.
  • Isaiah 40:29 ESV
    He gives power to the faint,
        and to him who has no might he increases strength.
  • Zechariah 4:10a ESV
    For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
  • Micah 5:2 ESV
    But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
  • Matthew 11:25 ESV
    At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children
  • Matthew 13:31-32 ESV
     He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
  • Matthew 19:14 ESV
    but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
  • Matthew 25:21 ESV
    His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
  • Luke 12:32 ESV
  • Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
  • Luke 16:10 ESV
    “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

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Have you been feeling small?

Oh my friend, I have been there.

At first, it’s overwhelming.  We feel weak and insignificant, maybe overwhelmed and unworthy.

But then I remember this truth:  God uses the small.

When the twelve spies returned home with their report from their jaunt in the Promised Land, ten of them said this:

The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. …and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” (Number 13:32-33 ESV)

Here’s the lesson for them and for me and for you:

Your victory or success–or even just your ability to make it through this very day–does not depend on you.  So you’re a grasshopper. That’s okay.  God uses grasshoppers…You can be a grasshopper and still take possession of the Promised Land because you serve a great and mighty God who is stronger than any giant and can knock down any wall.

God didn’t call you because you are able; He called you because He is able (Anywhere Faith)

Want to learn more about how God helps grasshoppers face down giants?  My new book Anywhere Faith is available now!

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God Gives us What We Need When We Need It #AnywhereFaith

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Sometimes we want to see the provision in advance.

Before we step out in “faith,” we want to know we have enough: time, money, strength, ideas, training, support.  We want our offerings to God and our ministry for Him to be perfect.

But in Hebrews, we’re told:

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

God helps us in our time of need—not as a stockpile for our seasons of neediness.

This is a lesson I’m learning inch by inch.

For just about a whole year before it ever happened, I worried over a “need.”  My oldest daughter started middle school this September and I’ve been running over questions about the transition since last September.

When will the bus come?  How will she adjust to earlier morning hours?  How do we get her to school on time without waking up all the other kids? Will she need to take showers in the morning or at night?  How will her after school activities fit into the schedule?  

Maybe it all sounds a bit extreme to you, but still I stressed, planned, and considered possibilities.

I prayed.

Here’s what happened.  On the first day of school, she got up, got ready, and went to school.  She’s done that every day this month.

Just like that.

A new ministry, a schedule adjustment, an extra activity thrown in, a needy friend, a season of pouring out to others—these aren’t opportunities to freak out; they are opportunities to see God come through.

God gives US what We need when WE need it, and not often before.

One of my favorite “callings” in Scripture is the moment God spoke to Jeremiah:

Then I said, “Alas, Lord God!
Behold, I do not know how to speak,
Because I am a youth.”
But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
And all that I command you, you shall speak.
“Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord (Jeremiah 1:6-8 ESV). 

On the surface, It sounds like Jeremiah thought he was too young for prophetic ministry.

But then I consider context:

the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign (Jeremiah 1:2 ESV).

Jeremiah began prophesying during the reign of Josiah, who became king when he was only eight years old.

So even if Jeremiah was in his teens or early 20s when God spoke to him, he had seen God use an eight-year-old king to lead the nation of Judah in one of its greatest spiritual revivals.

“I’m too young” doesn’t seem like a good excuse.

Maybe what Jeremiah really felt was unready and unprepared.

And that’s where I totally understand Jeremiah.

Sometimes I feel unready, too.

Like this whole transition to middle school, I wanted to know all the answers in advance and have the perfect plan already in place.

You too?

When God calls you, do you ask Him to wait until you feel “ready?”

Maybe if we train a little longer, stock up a little more, save a bit, work it all out on paper, and prepare, prepare, prepare, then we can follow God’s call.

We wait until we have extra money to give.

We wait until our gifts are perfected to offer them to others.

We wait for free time before we serve.

But the time to serve God isn’t when we feel ready; it’s when He asks us to follow.

After all, God told Jeremiah, “I am with you.”

He promises us His presence, too!

If we wait until we’re “ready,” until we’re prepared, until we’re fully trained, until our gift and our offering are perfect, until we feel like enough, we’ll wait and wait and never take that step of faith and obedience.

We’ll be trusting in ourselves rather than relying on God to be with us and to be enough for us.

Ecclesiastes 11:4 says:

If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done (TLB).

What is it you feel the Holy Spirit nudging you to do?  What season are you entering?  What task has He laid at your feet?

God will be enough for you.  He will give you everything you need exactly when you need it.  So, don’t pause until you feel ready or until you’re perfect and your gift is worthy.

Right now, right where you are, with what you have, you can follow Him where He’s calling you to go and trust Him for provision and strength for the journey.

To read more about what people in the Bible said to God when He called them, please check out my new book, Anywhere Faith (releasing October 3rd).  

Bible Verses on how God forgives us

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  • Psalm 32:5 ESV
    I acknowledged my sin to you,
        and I did not cover my iniquity;
    I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
        and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
  • Psalm 51:1-2 ESV
    Have mercy on me,O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
    according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
    Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!
  • Psalm 103:11-12 ESV
    For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
        so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
     as far as the east is from the west,
        so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
  • Proverbs 28:13
    Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
    but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
  • Isaiah 1:18 HCSB
    “Come, let us discuss this,”
    says the Lord.
    “Though your sins are like scarlet,
    they will be as white as snow;though they are as red as crimson,
    they will be like wool.
  • Isaiah 43:25
    “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
  • Daniel 9:9 NIV
    The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him
  • Micah 7:18 HCSB
    Who is a God like You,
    removing iniquity and passing over rebellion
    for the remnant of His inheritance?
    He does not hold on to His anger forever,
    because He delights in faithful love.
  • Matthew 26:28 HCSB
     For this is My blood that establishes the covenant;it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.
  • Acts 2:38 ESV
    And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receivethe gift of the Holy Spirit.
  • Acts 3:19 HCSB
    Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord
  • Acts 10:43 HCSB
    All the prophets testify about Him that through His name everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins.
  • Ephesians 1:7 ESV
    In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace
  • Colossians 1:13-14 NIV
     For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
  • Hebrews 10:17 ESV
    then he adds,“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
  • 1 John 1:7-9 HCSB
    But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  • 1 John 2:2 HCSB
     He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.

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Accepting Christ’s forgiveness can be a struggle at times.  Maybe we try to hold ourselves to a perfect standard, trying ever so hard to be good enough and erase our sin on our own merit. Maybe shame makes us feel like God can’t use us because of our past and because of what we’ve done. anywhere-faith

But God’s grace and His forgiveness are perfect.  He doesn’t need our striving and all our effort to make grace happen.

And sometimes God doesn’t use us despite of our past; He uses us because of it.  The transformation work He does in us shows others what Christ can do when we give ourselves to Him.

Want to learn more about how to overcome excuses, insecurity, and feelings of insufficiency and say “yes” to God?  My new book, Anywhere Faith, releases October 3, 2016.

Some preorder goodies and a giveaway for #AnywhereFaith

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Friends, excitement is really building around here.

For one thing, my almost-three-year-old is super-pumped about his upcoming birthday in October.  He’s talking about it everyday, planning presents and a cake and all kinds of fun things.

Then there’s me, prayerfully looking forward to the release date for my new book, Anywhere Faith, on October 3, 2016.

That’s less than 2 weeks away!

I am excited to share the message that sometimes we’re afraid to follow God, sometimes we don’t know if we’ve heard Him correctly, sometimes we feel overwhelmed or uncertain or insecure.  But when we tell God what’s on our heart, He helps us overcome and follow Him “Anywhere.”

Thank you so much to those who joined with me to be part of the Launch Team for the book.  I hope you’re having fun sharing and participating in the group.  I know I am!

Thank you also to those who are praying over the book release.  Your prayers mean so much to me!

As a way to show how grateful I am, I wanted to offer some free gifts and goodies to you and host a giveaway!!

One of the ways books receive a huge boost on websites like Amazon is through preorders.  They make a big difference in the success of a book’s release.

If you preorder Anywhere Faith, you can click here (or use the button below) to fill out this simple form letting me know that you did.  We’ll email you some free gifts:

  • Printable Scripture verse cards
  • A printable image of the quote “Lord send me anywhere, only go with me.”
  • A collection of a few of my favorite Bible verses on faith that you can print and post in your home or at your desk or wherever you like!
  • A quick-and-easy book club discussion guide.

Right now, the paperback version of the book is available for pre-order on Amazon.  You can click here if you’re interested in pre-ordering your copy now.  (If you’re waiting for an e-reader version, don’t fear!  It will be offered for Kindle and other e-readers around the same time as the paperback release.)

Remember, this only works for preorders!  So, these offers will end on October 3rd when the book officially releases.

If you’ve already pre-ordered the book (some of you did that months ago), you get the free gifts, too!  Just complete the form and you’re all set.

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Oh, and I have another treat for all of you!

I know this amazing young woman who started her own business creating hand-lettered wooden signs on Etsy.  She calls her business Paintings for Mada and she gives part of her proceeds every month to missions or charity.

I adore this girl!

I’ll be giving away one 12×12 hand-painted/hand-lettered sign from Paintings for Mada to one of you!

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(I love this sign.  I’ll be honest.  I ordered one for me so I didn’t have to give them all away!)

If you don’t win, don’t worry!  I’ll be running another giveaway when the book releases so you can try again.  You can also visit Kailyn at Paintings for Mada on Etsy and see all the beautiful signs she has to offer.

How do you participate in the giveaway?

Leave a comment here on the blog (It has to be on the blog please.  I can’t include Facebook comments in the giveaway drawing) letting me know if you have done any of the things below.

Each action earns one individual entry—so make an individual comment please to make those separate entries count!

  1. Preordered the book.
  2. Liked my Facebook Author page here.
  3. Signed up here to receive my once-a-month newsletter with updates and other fun musings that I don’t share on the blog.
  4. Shared this post on Facebook so others can enter, too!

So each time you do (or have already done) one of these four actions, you leave a comment below saying, “I preordered the book” or “Followed on Facebook,” etc.

This giveaway will end on October 2nd at midnight.  I’ll use a random number generator to choose the winner of the sign and then contact you if you won.

I hope you enjoy some of these thank you gifts!

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