Not Afraid to Be Me

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Fear Not

When we give in to fear, we give in to being powerless.

When we give in to fear, we sacrifice our ability to think straight

When we give in to fear, we distance ourselves from God.

It is impossible to trust God with all your heart and also to be afraid. We cannot trust and fear concurrently; we must choose.

Unfortunately, choosing fear has become almost instinctive, hasn’t it?

In many ways, fear exists in us as a healthy instinct, warning us of potential harm, prompting us to flee when faced with danger.

But that instinct has become too pervasive. It has become an unhealthy habit holding us back from who we are designed and called to be in Jesus.

For too many of us fear has become the ruling emotion for our daily lives and the choices we make: staying in a job we’re not designed to do, missing out on relationships that can edify us, hiding our true selves from the world for fear of its judgment.

But the Good News is that it doesn’t have to be that way.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear.

In fact, we are created in the image of God.

Consider that for a moment: we are created in the image of God.

What exactly does that mean? It means that we are intimately linked to the Creator and that we are etched deep in our being with the characteristics of God. No, we are not God; but we are His image bearers.

He designed us in His likeness and with His attributes. With creativity. With compassion. With mercy. With the desire for relationship. With intelligence. With the ability to communicate. With kindness. With goodness. With love. But we cannot live out these things without Him.

We belong to God and when we choose to live in that truth, to live in relationship with Him and acknowledge our need of Him, we receive His Spirit of strength, power, love, self-discipline, kindness, goodness, gentleness, patience, peace, faith, joy.

The Spirit trumps fear every time. Every time.

But we must decide. We must choose.

Which will you choose: fear and timidity or power, love and self-control?

Which will you choose: ordinary or extraordinary?

Which will you choose: the lie of fear or the truth of God?

It seems like an easy choice, but it’s not, is it? Not really.

If it were, surely there would be more people living out their passions and their dreams, experiencing joy, modeling gratitude and immersed in the peace that passes all understanding.

It’s time for that, don’t you think?

It’s time to choose power, love and self-control.

It’s time to refuse the lie and embrace the Truth.

It’s time to quit the fear habit and embrace who we are in Jesus.

So, what will that look like for you today?

Created in His Image

Tonight, I am thinking about my beautiful and amazing 6.5 year old little girl. I am thinking about who she is and whose she is. I am thinking about how God knew her long before I did. In fact, He knew her long before I came into the world. He knew her strengths. He knew her challenges. He knew her gifts and her strengths and her heart because He placed all of them in her when He created her.

baby BAnd He knew that she would enter my life when she did, how she did and He knows who she will become.

He trusted me with His precious creation, His precious daughter, His masterpiece.

He knew that we would be the right fit, she and I. That we would challenge each other, but that we would love each other fiercely. He knew how much of me to put in her to help me work out my flaws, my weaknesses, parts of my brokenness. He knew that iron sharpens iron and so He gave us each other to serve that purpose in our lives as we serve one another in love.

She is only 6.5, but she is resilient and she is courageous and she is fragile and she is timid. And she is mine to watch over and to guide and to protect and to disciple.

She is a priceless gift for whom Jesus paid the highest price.

She is created in His image.

He knows the number of hairs on her head and He knows the words she will speak and He knows what she needs even if she has no idea how to express it.

And she is mine to guard and to shepherd and to meet her needs. To nurture her heart and her soul and her dreams.

He cares for her and for the details of her days. Even at 6.5 He cares about her needs and her concerns and her struggles and her desires. He cares about her struggles with having a younger sister or having new ballet shoes that are the wrong color pink.

And so He entrusted her to me so that I could take her to Waffle House and buy her and her little sister chocolate chip waffles and let them laugh and play and smile. And breathe.

He cares for her.

He cares for me.

He cares for me as I watch her struggle because her ballet shoes are the wrong color and the dance class is doing things differently this year and change is difficult when your 6.5 and your feelings get so beyond B-I-G that you cannot understand them or control them. {heck, change is difficult no matter your age, sweet girl}

His thoughts about her number more than the grains of sand in the desert. He cares for her, He loves her and He created her. She is fearfully and wonderfully made. She is complex and incredible and gifted by God.

my girl

I will celebrate her. I will empower her. I will walk beside her and shepherd her and I will speak life to her heart and to her dreams and to her soul.

Jesus, thank you.

Thank you for this incredibly sweet, incredibly fierce, incredibly spirited girl who reflects so much of you and so much of me.

My sweet girl, may you always know you are so much more than you can imagine at this moment because you are God’s sweet girl and you are created in His image. You are God’s masterpiece, my love. Wholly and absolutely God’s masterpiece. And when you forget that, I will be here to remind you.

The Artist’s Invitation

{this post is part of Five-Minute Friday at Lisa-Jo Baker}

How it works: Write on one word for five minutes. No editing. Then link up your post with the rest of the brave writers on Five-Minute Friday and encourage them by reading and commenting on what they’ve shared. {All the details for how to play along are here.}

Today’s word: Paint

{Go} 

God’s creation.

It is so incredibly perfect.

It is so perfectly laid out.

That God set the sun in the sky.

That he created vibrant colors around the sunrise.

an invitation for the coming day

the Artist’s invitation for the coming day

That he paints every morning a greeting to behold.

That he invites us to look up and there find such beauty.

That he invites us each day to look to him.

To find him in the quiet moments that accompany the rising sun.

An invitation.

To witness breath-taking beauty if we choose to pause.

If we choose to look up.

If we choose to look to him.

If we choose to look to the Artist who paints beauty in every heartbeat. In every breath. In every sunrise.

Even the ones hidden behind the clouds.

The beauty is there.

He is there.

He is always there.

I needed the sunrise this morning to remember this. Maybe you do, too.

My Someday Has Come

Today is my someday.

You know the day to which I’m referring. The ambiguous day we refer to when we think about the things we’re going to do. The things we hope to accomplish. The things we wish we’d made time for that we promise ourselves we will do. Someday. Some day.

Well, today is that day.

Someday, I’m going to accept myself for who I am.

Today is that day.

Today, I shut down my pretentious, perfection-seeking inner critic. I helped her pack her bags and I kicked her to the curb because she is not welcome in me any longer. She has done her damage and today I chose to listen to the Truth. In that already vulnerable moment, I stopped and I prayed. I asked Jesus if he wouldn’t mind speaking just a wee louder today than usual. And then I repeated his words.

I am beautiful. I am incredibly fearfully and wonderfully made. I am complex and intelligent, sometimes fragile, often fierce and I am a daughter of the One True King. Not someday. Today. That is true today.

Yes, maybe I weigh more than I used to, more than I want to, more than a friend. Yes, maybe I am not as young as I was and I feel more my real age than I want to. Yes, maybe I don’t have a closet filled with new clothes or trendy styles.

But I am me. And I choose not to keep waiting for someday to acknowledge how amazing I am. I choose to see me through the eyes of the One who created me. As well as through the eyes of the one who married me.

Someday, things will be easier. We’ll have more money in our bank account. Our girls will be older and able to do more for themselves. We’ll have a fellowship of the heart with a small group of like-minded warriors and believers. We’ll be more sure of our dreams, our goals, where we’re heading.

Today is that day.

Starting today, I refuse to continue waiting for something that isn’t going to happen. Because it’s never been about the somethings. It’s always been about the someones. About Jesus. About me. About my husband, my girls. My family. My friends.

Make this your someday by focusing on the someones, not the somethings.

Make this your someday by focusing on the someones, not the somethings.

Let’s face it, things don’t get easier. Not really. They change. And we experience peaks as well as valleys. But, even so, the peaks are not any easier than the valleys. Not really.

In fact, they may be even harder. More challenging. They require much of us.

Life requires much of us.

In this life, there are challenges. Difficulties. Trials. Injustice. Heartbreak. Sadness. Life is not easy.

But that doesn’t mean that it is not good. That it is not worth celebrating. That it is not a gift.

That the life we have is not easy or perfect does not mean we should focus our eyes on someday.

We should focus our eyes on today. Today we can celebrate the moments we are given. Today we can be thankful for the joy-filled laugh of our child, for the hands that prepared a meal to share, for the smile our spouse offers from across a room.

life is good

Life is lived in the moments. In our todays.

Not in the somedays.

As part of my one word focus on moments, I refuse to spend this year wistfully dreaming about what life might be like somedayI believe that as I choose to live in the moments I am given. As I create moments with my girls and with my husband. As I treasure the moments I have with the people I love.

I believe that someday is already here.

In this moment. And I thank God for that amazing gift.

Just a Moment

It’s New Year’s Day. The first day of a new year and yet.

It feels like any other day really.

It’s another day of being a mama to two little girls who are full of life and energy and uncensored joy.

It’s another day of wondering what to make for breakfast, what to make for lunch, what to make for dinner.

It’s another day of checking the bank balance and whispering prayers that are laced with fears I don’t want to acknowledge.

It’s another day of wondering what to do with all the stuff that sits in piles on the table, on the floor, on the bureau.

It’s another day of wondering what to do with all the stuff that has piled up in my mind. Again. Since only last night.

But, it’s not just another day. Not really.

It’s not just like any other day.

Today is a new day. To heck with the new year and what goals I want to accomplish.

I will take today.

I will take this new day and I will be thankful. I will be mindful. I will be joy-filled.

I will be at peace.

Eventually.

Because honestly, I started this day miserable. I started this day already claiming defeat. I started this day overwhelmed. Overwhelmed mostly by choices and desires and ideal ideas of who I want to be and become in 2014. Overwhelmed by what I want to do in the year ahead. Overwhelmed by all the things that are already competing for my time and attention.

Recently, I joined a few different groups, online communities of people who are amazing dreamers and builders and 30-dayhustlers and 500-word-a-day writers. And their striving and their journeys and their success intimidate me. Because I feel like I don’t measure up. Because I feel like I don’t fit it. Because I feel like I’ve wasted time, wasted days, wasted months, wasted years.

Wasted moments.

Moments. The word itself reminds me to stop and to breathe. To be. Right here. Right now.

When I reflect on my life’s journey so far, I don’t truly believe that I’ve wasted all of my time. But I also believe I can do better. And that my better isn’t a reflection of anyone else’s journey or goals or success or dreams or hustle or life.

My better is about where I am right now. This moment.

As 2014 approached, challenges and goal-setting and talk of changing the world flooded my thoughts. And I got caught up in all of it. Because I want to do all of those things.

But I’ve finally come to realize only today, that this year is not when I will do all of those things. Truth be told, I’ve done some of those things already. As a college instructor of freshmen writing classes. As an interim youth director for a church youth program. As a Compassion International child sponsor. As a number of things to a number of people along my way to today.

But this year, it’s not about changing the world out there or about mentoring or encouraging students and young people and others out there

No. It’s about changing the world in here. It’s about mentoring and discipling and encouraging the people who are right here. In my home. The ones who share my life, who share my days, who share my moments – my family. My husband. My soon-to-be six-year-old artist and explorer. My soon-to-be four-year-old compassionate helper and doer of good deeds.

So rather than a list of goals and dreams, I’ve decided that I will focus on a word. One word. It’s something a lot of folks do each year, and it’s something I’ve wanted to do. But I’ve never made it through a whole year focused on one word. I think this year will be different. I think this year my word resonates deep in my soul.

And having finally shrugged off all the ideals and self-initiated comparisons to any and every person to whom I have even the slightest connection, I feel at peace. I feel energized. I feel ready for the year ahead.

I feel ready for the moments that I will have and share and create in 2014.

Yes. I am ready to focus on Moments.

Beyond the Busyness

{this post is part of Five-Minute Friday at Lisa-Jo Baker}

How it works: Write on one word for five minutes. No editing. {All the details for how to play along are here.}

Today’s word: Fly…

{Go}

Busyness.

Most days it starts as soon as my feet touch the floor. Which is much too early for my taste. I am not a morning person.

But my five and a half year old definitely is. Up with the chickens, as they say.

And so my day begins much too early and the demands begin to surround and overwhelm.

Unless I find time to pause.

Unless I find time to dream.

Unless I find time to take time.

Time away from what needs to be done.

Time to dream about the things that fill my heart.

Time to pause and drink in my life.

The crazy. The chaos. The beauty. The joy.

Sometimes, I just take time to sit and watch my girls at play.

Sometimes, I just take time to sit and watch the birds fly back and forth to the feeder.

Sometimes, I just take time to sit and listen to the lyrics of a favorite song.

Sometimes, I sit and whisper, “Thank you.” Letting God know that I see his hand at work in my life. At work in me.

I let him show me himself and my heart’s desires.

And, then, I let my heart fly. Soar to new heights.

Of joy. Of wonder. Of awe.

And then, I rejoin the chaos of my world. Renewed.

{Stop}

My New Day’s Resolution

Because each day is a new beginning, I choose today to seek my heart’s desires.

Because God’s mercies are new every morning, I choose to live forward and not in yesterday.

Because today matters, I choose to live fearlessly. Boldly. Prayerfully.

Because today is all I am given, I will encourage others. I will love others. I will love myself.

Because this day brings it’s own worries, I will choose *not* to worry about tomorrow.

Because today is here, I will choose to be thankful for this new day. To be glad in it. To rejoice in it.

Because this day has many hours in it, I will choose to be present in the moments I am given with my children. With my husband. With Jesus. With my dreams.

Because this day is a gift, I will live with purpose. I will pursue community. I will work to recover my God-given, God-gifted dreams. My God-given, God-gifted reality.

Because this day falls in November, I will work on my #NaNoWriMo story with passion and abandon.

Because I have this day, I will celebrate my life. My blessings. My challenges. My needs. My struggles. I will see each of these as opportunities to grow in my faith.

Because I want this day to count, I will fight for my dreams. Fight to recover them. To put words to them. To declare them – to myself and to others.

Today I will live my best life and I will not focus on what I do not do, but on what I do. What I create. What I share. Who I am in God.

Because today the world needs what I can add to it. The world needs what I can offer. Because if not me, then who?

Because I am here for such a time as this.

Today, I am here for such a time as this.

Today.