A Letter for the Days When You Feel Insecure

God's canceled your debt. Two thousand years ago He put it on someone else's tab.

You’re wondering how your faith dissipated so quickly and why you find yourself mired by constant self-doubt. I want you to remember this.

  • You are called.
  • You are capable.
  • You are loved.

So you’ve lost a week or so. Don’t lose the whole year! Remember: “Quick down, quick up.” Brush yourself off. Get back up. The dust is no place for you.

So much of our “progress” hinges on whether you know how to quickly get back on track. When life knocks you off track, learn how to keep going.

Receive God’s new mercies today. Jesus purchased them for you! Open your heart to them.

And that guilt you’ve been holding? It needs to go. To dwell on God’s love and accept His mercy, you need to toss the guilt.

What are you waiting for? There’s no place for shame here, no condemnation. (Rom. 8).

God sees your hiding and hedging. He will never reject you or cast you out.

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God wants you to know that you’re forgiven.

God’s canceled your debt. Two thousand years ago He put it on someone else’s tab.

Stop hiding from God’s restoring love. You can’t escape His presence. Open yourself to perfect Love. Let it wash over you.

You’re still measuring your worth by your work as if God measures your productivity, not the state of your heart. God’s love can’t be earned.

Remember that peace that comes from surrender? You know how you sense God’s smile when you finally obey? Make this your daily goal.

Don’t let the “should haves” and the “could haves” drown out God’s voice any longer. Tune into God’s gently whisper because He calls you:

  • Beloved. You are valuable and worthy. (Rom. 5:8)
  • You are God’s child, and He’s One very good Father. (Gal. 3:26)
  • A work of art—His masterpiece, custom-designed for His purpose. (Eph. 2:10)
  • If you’re in Christ, you’re a new person. (2 Cor. 5:17)
  • You’re the dwelling place of God—His “temple.” (1 Cor. 6:19)
  • You’re a citizen of Heaven. (Phil. 3:20)

In short, you’re enough because Jesus is enough.

Stop rehearsing all the ways you don’t feel good enough. Instead, dwell on these lovely truths.

Listen for the gentle footfalls of the spirit and keep in step with Him. These are your new marching orders.

Abandon the success metrics of the world for the satisfying communion of following Jesus. You are loved. Don’t believe anything different.

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When Good Is the Enemy of the Best

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The clock read 4 a.m., and I had lost count of how many episodes of Community I had binge-watched.

Earlier that day I had blocked off an entire day for writing. I planned to spend several hours editing a piece I wanted to bring to a writer’s group the next day.

So instead of getting to work, naturally I decided to procrastinate. I read an entire book in one sitting. At the time, info about detoxing my body seemed WAY more important than working.

I wanted to give myself an excuse not to go the next day. Can you blame me? Letting other writers critique your work feels a bit like jumping into a lake of piranhas.

What I didn’t realize is how fear so often drives procrastination. I wanted to give myself an excuse not to go to that writer’s group, so I sabotaged myself.

Maybe you can relate. I started taking note of all the incessant self-distraction. Turns out I’m afraid to focus and really give something my all.

What if I fail?

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Turns out I’ve devised a complex scheme of avoidance behavior. Below is a list of ways I’ve been tempted in the past few days:

  • Care for friends with the flu. (I’m actually volunteering myself to do grocery shopping for sick friends just to get out away from my computer.)
  • Text a long-lost friend.
  • Obsess about the Turpin case in California, reading every scrap of news.
  • Deep clean the house. (I mean seriously?)
  • Schedule extra playdates for the kids.
  • Deep dive into school subjects and teach way over my kids’ level.
  • Diagnose myself with all kinds of maladies. (Turns out I’m only a hypochondriac when I’m avoiding writing.)
  • Obsessively research natural health and natural remedies.

 

Did you notice something? Most of these activities are healthy and a pretty good use of time. That’s how I’ve been duped for so many years.

I’ve hidden behind good while neglecting what’s right. 

I’m finally learning that doing good things can’t hold a candle to doing the right thing!

As they say, “Good is often the enemy of the best.” But in my experience good is also the enemy of the right thing.

Are you hiding behind something good instead of stepping out into the right thing—God’s best for your life?

Women especially are good at hiding behind our role as wife and mom. We have a million legitimate excuses because the kids and our homes ALWAYS need something.

If God is calling you out of hiding, the laundry and dishes can wait. Nothing is sweeter than obeying Jesus and feeling His smile on your life.

Can we please stop sidestepping what God has called us to do? Let’s be brave. Let’s kick fear in the face.

So tell me. What good things do you substitute for the right thing? How have you learned to face fear?

I would love to hear the tips you’ve learned along the way.

 

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Can Homeschooling Be Easy?

Can Homeschooling Be

The panic hit me like a hurricane.

My eighth-grader would enter high school soon, and I felt totally unprepared.

Transcripts. Chemistry. Physics.

How in the world will I manage it all?  Googling “private schools near here” and “classical online academies,” sent my head spinning.

I can’t remember if I prayed, but a few days later I learned that my friend, Lea Ann Garfias, wrote a book called Home School High School Made Easy.

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This book has been a godsend! With lots of humor, Lea Ann covers each year of high school and each core subject in detail.

Her tips on getting middle schoolers ready for high school are valuable enough to warrant a read.

So can homeschooling high school be easy? Yes, it can when we have a strategy and understand why we’re homeschooling.

Homeschooling will still take time and focus, but when we choose to homeschool in faith, we cut out so much needless worry, which drains our energy.

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Quieting the fear demons is half the battle of homeschooling, and this book steadily reminds the reader to homeschool in faith. I loved this excerpt:

“It takes faith to spend more time understanding than regurgitating. It takes faith to wrestle with the messy truths of history rather than memorizing pithy sayings. It takes faith to slow down math to learn the principles instead of the shortcut.”

I especially drew courage from Lea Ann’s decades of experience, and I enjoyed her perspective as a homeschooled student herself.

Homeschooling doesn’t need to feel like slavery. It can be fun and everything we imagined when we started. We can find impossible joy homeschooling when we find our sweet spot where our teaching style intersects with our student’s learning style.

If you have younger kids, you’ll enjoy Homeschool Made Easy, the first book in the series.

It focuses more on the early and middle school years and gives practical advice in teaching through all the stages of learning.

It takes faith to wrestle with the messy truths of history rather than memorizing pithy sayings. It takes faith to slow down math to learn the principles instead of the shortcut.

It takes faith to spend more time understanding than regurgitating.

I’ve been the mom trying to do too much, pushing my children further and faster than they’re ready to go. This is where we make school hard, Mamas.

Both books will breathe fresh vision into your school days.

If the thought of teaching your child in high school intimidates you, grab a copy of Homeschool High School Made Easy. It’s like having a personal homeschooling mentor or counselor at your fingertips.

This book helped me calm down. Everything I need is in one book. I don’t need to spend hours researching and reading articles.

A bonus, I found the book full of extra parenting wisdom that I wasn’t expecting—teen driving, dating relationships, and the changing dynamics as teens grow.

Its 278 pages are filled with lessons learned and inspiration to love and parent our children well during these challenging years. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Feeling Superior? How About Jealous?

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I don’t get jealous often.

Ok, if you tell me you got a book contract, I’ll probably jealous for a few minutes.  Then I’ll get over myself.

I’ve learned to find happiness in other people’s joy, not grow green with envy.

I can’t think of a darker emotion than envy; it stings in our deepest parts. Knowing I serve a good Father that loves me as much as he loves you, makes all the difference.

In celebrating your wins, I’m able to celebrate a loving God who loves to bless His children.

Your blessings don’t threaten mine. God has enough goodness to go around!

Growing up with a sister gave me lots of practice combatting jealousy. For years I thought my lack of jealousy signaled spiritual maturity, but I was blind to jealousy’s counterpoint growing in my heart.

Superiority is the opposite of jealousy, but just as destructive

As I walked one morning, God lovingly began revealing my sin of superiority. It caught me by surprise!

Through my earbuds, Andy Stanley described superiority and jealousy as two sides of the same coin. Both are caused by a poor understanding of God’s love.

Imagine a ladder with one person standing on the ground and another standing on the ladder. Jealousy looks up at the person on the ladder, wishing they had what someone else has. Superiority gazes down, glad to stand a couple rungs higher.

Since childhood, I’ve battled with feelings of inferiority. Gently, God pointed out how I combatted those lies by looking for ways I excelled.

I guess I didn’t really feel good about myself unless I could feel better than someone else. Mind you, this all occurred subconsciously.

Growing up in legalistic Christianity only further taught me to compare and measure myself against others. And subtle habits of the mind can be difficult to break.

Exposure is the first step, and God’s grace always abounds to us, regardless of the sin habit.

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If you know anyone who acts haughty, please know that they’re probably covering up for a deep-rooted insecurity. Give them love and grace.

Jesus continues to heal me. He constantly reminds me of my worth in Him and keeps pointing out how I’m no better or worse than anyone else.

That’s what I love about the gospel. It levels the playing field, leaving zero room for superiority.

The disease of original sin struck us all and left us exactly the same—needy sinners incapable of self-help.

Just as I couldn’t even see my sin of superiority, I can’t heal without His help either.

I read this beautiful verse this morning that shatters my idealistic plans of self-help. “No one will succeed by strength alone,” (1 Sam. 2:9 NLT).

We can trust God to heal and forgive us. Only He holds the keys to heart change. Don’t you just love how He deals with us in gentleness and kindness?

Have you ever been blinded to a sin, only to be totally surprised when the Lord pointed it out?

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Lifelong Friend?

5 Elements of Lasting Friendships-2

I walked nervously to her front door. Years had passed.

The last time I saw Valerie her son was reading mid-grade fiction. Now he’s learning to fly airplanes.

Where did the time go? Different seasons led our families in different directions.

Friendships can lurch to a sudden stop, but so often friendships slowly drift apart.

When we reconnected with Valerie over dinner, conversation picked up almost where it left off, and so did the laughter.

It got me thinking about the kinds of friends we carry with us through life. The ones we don’t let go of–the ones who won’t let go of us.

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Following Jesus means sticking by our friends throughout the roller-coaster ride of parenting. It means supporting each other in every season of marriage.

As our lives speed up, let’s not let the quality of our friendships diminish. Let’s not let our consumerist culture seep into the fabric of our friendship.

Real community isn’t plastic, and relationships are never disposable.

I grew up before “globalization” became a buzzword, when dial-up was still a thing. Friendship required real, face-to-face interaction, and unfriending someone required more than a keystroke.

When disagreeing we tread lightly because we knew the same people would be on our lives in a year or decade later.

  1. Enduring friendships give each other the benefit of the doubt.

In the last 20 years the friendship landscape has drastically changed. We are slow to ask questions, quick to judge, and we hand out advice in lightning speed.

A quick glance of Facebook proves just how arrogant and condescending our culture has grown. We’ve forgotten how to mind our manners and play nice.

We’ve forgotten the essential ingredients of enduring friendship–tolerance and respect. When did we become so impassioned by our own opinions that we discount everyone else’s?

Friendship

I’m just susceptible to the chip on my shoulder as the next. I hate to admit that I’ve caught myself feeling superior to friends and neighbors in the way I parent or teach my kids.

2. Enduring friendships require humility. Let’s face it, no one wants to be friends with a self-righteous know-it-all.

I know this one from experience. Thankfully, I had friends that forgave me. That’s what lasting friendships take, isn’t it?

3. Lasting friendship requires forgiveness.

Recently I’ve heard my friends bemoan our “multi-level marketing culture,” the  kind of transactional friendship that makes us all cringe.

Folks, let’s stop being like this. Let’s stop giving to get. That’s creepy. Instead seek to give, build up, and encourage. 

Enduring friendships weather life’s seasons with grace and acceptance. Time slips away, but let’s not let our friends.

Be the friend that reaches out. Host a dinner party and catch up with old friends that have drifted. Bridge the gap time creates.

I’m so glad my friend Valerie reached out to me. The day I stepped onto her front porch with a salad in hand, conversation and friendship resumed as if it had never stopped.

And for her son who has grown taller than me. I’ll cheer for him when he makes it into the Air Force Academy. Hopefully I’ll be there to hug his parents that he gets married.

Ultimately that’s what lifelong friendship is all about, marking the major events.

4. Lifelong friendship bears witness to life’s milestones. It acknowledges life’s big and small accomplishments. It’s a hundred tiny gestures compounded over time.

Don’t underestimate the small gesture of friendship. It’s in these small acts of love that a greater love story unfolds, a story grace, love, and acceptance.

Lasting friendships echo a greater love. They reveal to us the One who is Love.

“A friend loves at all times,” Proverbs 17:17.

**I’d love to hear from YOU! Do you have lifelong friends> What are some of secrets of lasting friendship that you’ve experienced?

 

How to Speak God’s Love Language

For Beginners

This week I hosted a live Facebook event, and the idea really scared me at first, but I’m trying to face my fears.

If you tuned in, thanks. I’m making these chats a weekly thing because I need community, and I know so many people in my life who need it too.

I’ve prayed for community. For years and I’ve been scared of letting myself be known. I think as women, we can intimidate each other and for years I battled an inferiority complex.

Growing up, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t insecure.

The devil wants to keep us insecure. He wants to keep us intimidated of each other, and He wants to keep us isolated.

The enemy has a target on your back. You’re so much easier to take down when you’re not encouraged and built up in community.

I want you to know that there’s a seat for you here. Each Friday we’ll gather at noon on Facebook Live.

God has answered my prayer for community in all of you! If you’re also looking for a place to connect, join me every Friday at noon for Faith Fridays to encourage and enrich one another.

We’ll talk about identity in Christ, faith, overcoming insecurity, joy. We’ll talk about grace and more grace and how to stop living a defeated life. You probably have topics you want to tackle, so bring them.

Faith Friday (1)

Back to today’s topic. What is God’s love language? Is it quality time or words of affirmation?

We can be really good at spending time with Jesus and not be following Him. It’s possible to spend our days singing praise affirmations to God, but not obey Him.

You can know everything there is to know about the Bible, but not do what it says. I’ve been there. I’ve been caught in this knowing/doing gap.

Several years ago God asked me to start encouraging people on social media, but I totally shunned that call. Instead of taking step one, I wanted to skip to step ten. Have you ever wanted to skip the steps God has asked you to take?

When we obey God it makes Him so happy, and I’m convinced that obedience is God’s primary love language.

In John 14, Jesus tells His disciples that if they love Him, they’ll keep his commands. In other words, we prove our love to God by obeying Him.

What are ways you can speak God’s love language by this week? It might not be a big gesture, but know that every act of obedience is large to God.

To God, no act of obedience is ever small.

Your obedience sings a beautiful love song to God, a sweet melody of worship to your Father.

When you feed your kids and tackle the laundry, know you’re pleasing God. He sees you at your work. He sees you making dinner and doing those dishes.

Keep being faithful. Keep pouring out your worship to Him.

Next week on the blog and on my Facebook author page, we’re going to talk about celebrating! Have you thought about celebration as a spiritual discipline lately?

Are there ways you can incorporate more celebrating into your lives? How would this benefit you? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

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