obedience

Fearless When Ill-Equipped

woman with sunset behind her and the text of Zech. 4:6

God wants those who belong to Him to be brave and fearless. He Himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by the courage of the Spirit. ~ Tertullian Click To Tweet

I felt squeezed. In every direction. Sleep deprived and with more on my to-do list than I could possibly accomplish, pressing deadlines, and an upcoming speaking engagement I hadn’t begun to prepare for, I felt ready to explode. Or hide.

My brain, held captive by my insecurities and fears, refused to function. When I most needed it to shine.

My fear—that I’d fail, and in failing that I’d let everyone down. The conference director who had already purchased my plane ticket. Her team who had already sent out their promotional material, listing me as one of the keynotes. Their attendees, who had spent good money on the conference and were expecting to hear a fresh word.

And more than that, I was afraid I’d look stupid. As I stared at a blank computer screen, my eyes gritty from lack of sleep, my nerves tightly coiled, I worried I wouldn’t come up with anything.

I had nothing. No words. No thoughts.

I suppose much of that came from mounting stress, and sheer exhaustion. In the middle of taking accelerated classes and with an already booked summer, God called my husband and I to something incredibly difficult. Something that took every ounce of strength we had and left me in tears daily. We knew this task was from God. But … what about all our other commitments?

I couldn’t simply walk away. But neither could I, it seemed, walk forward. My insecurities, my fear of failure, my mounting negative thinking, kept chipping away at my strength.

So what’d I do? I stepped away. To pray. To give this thing, this task I felt ill-equipped and ill-prepared for, to God. And as I sat in His presence, His peace overshadowed my anxiety, and His truth stilled my fears.

I knew He’d called me to this engagement, so I decided—yes. I made the choice to trust God to give me the ability to fill this role--as He desired. And I reminded myself that this wasn't about me. Click To Tweet

quote pulled from post with background image of pastel colorsNor was it up to me. It never is. In fact, it’s when I’m resting fully in His grace and leaning deepest into Him that I find my greatest strength.

This is a choice we all must make, whenever our fears and insecurities begin to turn our ears from God’s call, whatever that call may be.

Consider Francis Chan’s words, taken from Forgotten God:

“How much it grieves [God] to watch His children ignore the promises He’s made. Throughout Scripture due to fear that those promises won’t be kept! Empowering His children with the strength of the Holy Spirit is something the Father wants to do. It’s not something we have to talk Him into. He genuinely wants to see us walk in His strength.”

Walking in God’s strength. Listening, with a surrendered heart, for His guidance, then stepping forward in faith, trusting Him to come through.

Is there something God has called you, something that makes your stomach tighten and your knees wobble? Maybe to initiate conversation with a new neighbor or launch a women’s Bible study? Maybe share your faith with a friend or coworker? If so, how does remembering God will be strong on your behalf, that you don’t have to be, give you courage? What are some ways you can lean into Him and rest in His strength? How do our thoughts play into that?

We all struggle with negative thinking, and so often, we become our own limiting factor. We allow our insecurities and fears to hinder our obedience and to prevent us from living out the awesome and life-changing role God hand-crafted each of us to fill. God calls us to greatness. To live courageously. To be life-changers. Click To Tweet

Join us for one of our Bold and Brave conferences to learn how to live intentionally and courageously. Share your thoughts here in the comments below or engage with us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. And contact us HERE to have our team or one of our speakers join you for your next women’s event.

surrender

Big Me, Little God Syndrome–Guest Post

text from post and image of woman looking up

There’s a way to guarantee our misery. To necessarily create an ever-increasing bad attitude. But there’s also a way to grab hold of joy. And herein lies our daily battle, a battle that must be fought and must be fought well. A battle we absolutely have the power to win, if we’d but engage.

As today’s guest, Jennifer Henn, shares in her poignant and transparent post, the choice is ours.

Big Me, Little God Syndrome by Jennifer Henn

I’m too big again. My frustration grows, I’ve taken over and I’m miserable.  I told myself to be careful. I even used to think this could never happen to me again, but it has, and I’m sorrowful. Saddened. Thank goodness there’s a remedy for every time I’m the biggest thing in my life.

In my journal, I circle “ME” and draw a line through it, hoping a visual will help. I go to my Bible and look up the words of John the Baptist, He must become greater; I must become less. John 3:30. This verse reveals a certain road to peace in every situation. Click To Tweet.

Making my life about me causes Big Me, Little God Syndrome. This syndrome comes on every time I make my circumstances bigger than God. Then overwhelming feelings of worry and doubt take over.

Then I remember, more of You Lord and less of me.

The thing I’ve spent the most time worrying about are my children. We are a homeschool family and like other homeschool moms, there have been times I’ve wondered if I was doing enough. Times I doubted whether my kids’ academics were up to standard with public school kids. Also, there’s the whole socialization thing. Are we weird homeschoolers?

When my sons were middle school aged, and my daughter upper elementary, my health failed. We had no choice but to enroll the kids in public school.

Now I would know if my schooling measured up.

I went from total control of my kids’ curriculum and activities, to no control. I loved schooling my kids at home, but I held on too tight. I craved homeschool success complete with learning, fun activities, and a fairly clean house. I also thought middle school would be the worst time to enroll your kids in school for the first time. My plan fell apart and God gave me the gift of letting go.

There were lessons in letting go. The basket of my life was turned upside down. I learned to trust God with an open hand. A “God is with me no-matter-what-the-circumstance”, kind of trust. The basket of my life was turned upside down. My circumstances were beyond me, but God remained the same. Click To Tweet

The balance was turning in the right direction, more of God, less of me. For two years, I struggled with multiple health issues.

The situation was beyond me, but never God. My kids went to public school. God’s grace was sufficient for the adjustments they had to make, and they did well academically.

That was seven years ago. I went back to homeschooling and two have graduated. I, too, had a sort of graduation. One day another homeschool parent said I was the most laid back mom she knew. What a surprise, I had changed. Laid back is not my natural tendency.

However, the battle isn’t over. I fight a continuous habit of making my life too much about me. The remedy comes by looking closer at who God is. God is my Rock and Salvation, my Lord and King, the one I put my trust in. I think of these things in practical terms as I go throughout each day. My part is small, God’s part is big.  I need to make God the center of my prayers, not me. When I remember who God is, once again, I become smaller and Christ bigger.

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Let’s talk about this!

We all struggle with Big Me, Little God Syndrome from time to time, but the more we focus on ourselves, the more miserable we become. It’s when we die to ourselves (surrendering our dreams, our will, our desires to God) that we truly come alive. That’s when we are freed to live authentically, to be the women God created us to be. Share your thoughts here in the comments below or engage with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Get to know Jennifer!

Jennifer Henn is a blogger and speaker who has a passion to help homeschool moms balance their days. She shares with transparency the fun, failures, and heart-aches she’s had while homeschooling her three children.

After 18 years of homeschooling, she’s on to her next career as she writes, speaks, and leads a Word Weavers critique group.

Her heart and home are full where she lives in metro Atlanta with her husband of twenty-six years, two of her three adult children, and two cats.

Visit her online at JenniferHenn.com, on Facebook at The Well-Adjusted Homeschooler, and on Instagram at welladjustedhomeschooler

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R), NIV(R) Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

freedom

Are Your Habits Controlling You?

Image of woman hugging her torso with words from 1 Cor. 6:12By Kelli Thompson

I was a little chubby a good part of my life. Dressing room episodes usually began with hope and ended in a heap of clothes on the floor and a promise to eat better and exercise more.  In my mid-twenties, everything changed. An attempt to squeeze into the largest size of misses jeans resulted in an all-out competition between me and the denim. Barely buttoning at the waist, my reflection in the mirror rivaled the best Betty Crocker “muffin top.”

I committed that day to change my life. “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 6:19, NLT) as the Bible says, and I wanted to treat it as such. I joined a fitness camp, kept a food journal, made better choices, and lost about 20 pounds. I’d never looked or felt better. But the new image I reflected didn’t match the issues raging inside. My troubled marriage I fought to save was ending. Filing for divorce was the one thing I said I would never do. Living that relationship status burned me with the mark of ultimate failure.

Before long, my habits—my food and exercise obsession—began to enslave me. I weighed every ounce of food. Logged every bite. I placed my gym visits above God, friends and family time. I packed and ate my own meals in place of family dinners and business lunches. I competed in fitness competitions, the ultimate cattle call of judging on everything temporary life has to offer.

“I can do anything it takes to stay perfectly healthy!” I thought. “I am free from being fat.”

I wanted to be free, but I was deeply controlled. Controlled by food. quote pulled from post with an image of a woman walkingBy a brainless box of springs that measured gravity. By a community who desired me to appear a certain way. Mastered by the extremes and not the beneficial values of God.

Consider this. Is our desire really to be free? To live as we want even if the actions aren’t beneficial? Deep down, I believe what we’re truly desiring is freedom from consequences.  However, when I’ve worshiped my “right to do what I want,” I’ve become mastered by my desires and left unsatisfied.

Our choices create ripple effects. Not many people think it’s fun to hang out with someone who is too obsessed with examining every calorie and ditching them for the gym. And consequences remain in a daily battle with body image. Because at any healthy weight today, compared to a near-anorexic state, my brain works to dispel the lie that my reflection in the mirror is fat.

As we encounter the natural consequences of our choices, we often strive to achieve our ideals until our situation is so painful, so isolating, we hit rock bottom. In that place, we find we’ve been mastered by our own doing and awaken to the fact that God does not leave us, He patiently waits for our return.

Though God gives us freedom to make our own choices, we’re not free of the consequences. How can we find and live in freedom? We can begin by letting God correct our faulty thinking with truth. Then, we can turn over even the smallest daily choices to God, leading to His perfect will.

 

Uncategorized

Freedom Through Surrender — Video Devotion


 

“I give up!”

The word surrender often makes us think of defeat and failure, right? But what if I told you surrender can mean victory…even freedom?

As a toddler, my mantra was, “I can do it myself!” Unfortunately, I carried that attitude into adulthood. I wanted to be in control and live my way, on my terms. To me, that was freedom—not being dictated by anything or anyone …certainly not God.

But my perceived liberty was a lie.

We were created with an innate longing—to be seen, known and loved. I now know only God can fulfill that desire. But, for years I tried to satisfy the craving with things the world promised would bring contentment. I just needed the right —job, relationship, house, clothes, physique, whatever—and then I’d be happy. Such pursuits, though, tethered me to them…enslaved me. I gave my all, but one by one, each accomplishment and item failed to live up to my expectations, or left me exhausted, living with regret. Ultimately asking: Is this all there is to life? I constantly felt restless and unsatisfied, like something was missing

I finally discovered what I was missing—the most important thing in life, the foundation that gives everything else in my life meaning and purpose. God.

Not the God I’d misunderstood for so long…the distant, controlling dictator. But, the One who “fearfully and wonderfully made” each of us for a specific purpose. The God who sees us—knows us better than we know ourselves—and loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, in the greatest love story ever told—to rescue, to free us from bondage to a broken world.

“Surrender” has never been so victorious as the day I gave up serving myself and this world and placed my life in Jesus’ precious, nail-scarred hands. The day I discovered that living in His love is where true freedom is found.

Are you living free? Lay down your pride and fears today and run to Jesus, as you learn to live Wholly Loved.