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Friday, September 30, 2016

31 Days of Brave (again)

I am writing this series because I believe that God is calling us all to be brave. Brave in the middle of the noise and the chaos and the mess and heartache and the uncertainty that we find ourselves in middle of in our ordinary lives. God is inviting us to respond with faith and not fear. To choose love and gratitude instead of worry and anxiety. This, and a lot more, is what I have learned it means to be brave.

And I don't just mean the bravery of David against Goliath or Peter or Paul. I am talking about the bravery of Hannah to give her desires to God, fully surrendering her deepest longing to Him. I'm talking about the bravery of Ruth to get up day after day after day to go glean in the fields to provide for herself and her bitter mother in-law. I am talking about the bravery found in weakness and at the very last bit of the end of our rope. Bravery in weakness. Bravery in neediness. Bravery while we wait. Bravery while we believe, despite everything we see, that God is still for us and we don't have to be afraid.

This is actually the second year in a row that I have chosen to write about bravery. I wrote this blog series 31 Days of Brave last year. I made sure that all the links are active on the landing page for the series and I added some "bonus material" (links to posts I've written between then and now).

This series was originally written as a Bible study for a small group at my church. I wrote a Bible study called "Along the Way" with one of my best friends over Christmas break of last year and it was such an amazing experience that I kept going, writing the material for these posts. It has been a long tough road but God has met here and my wish for you is that He would meet you in these stories too and that as you read these posts they wouldn't just be my words but that they would become a collection of moments that God reminded you of just who He is and the truth about who you are.

Here's where we are going:

Day 1 an invitation
Day 2 Hannah: brave in the asking
Day 3 Hannah: brave in my disappointment 
Day 4 Hannah: brave in surrender 
Day 5 Ruth: brave in the mundane 
Day 6 Ruth: brave endurance 
Day 7 Ruth: brave in my love
Day 8 Hagar: brave in the wilderness
Day 9 Hagar: brave when I feel invisible
Day 10 Hagar: brave when I am lost
Day 11 Gideon: brave in my weakness
Day 12 Gideon: brave when I feel un-brave
Day 13 Gideon: brave in the growing 
Day 14 Joshua: brave when I've hit a wall
Day 15 Joshua: brave in my exhaustion 
Day 16 Joshua: brave when the walls fall
Day 17 Nehemiah: brave in my anxiety
Day 18 Nehemiah: brave vs derailed 
Day 19 Nehemiah: brave in joy! 
Day 20 Daniel's three brave friends: brave in the "but if not" 
Day 21 Shadrach Meshach and Abednego: brave in the fire
Day 22 Hananiah Azariah & Mishael: brave in faith
Day 23 Joseph: brave in the waiting
Day 24 Joseph: brave in perseverance 
Day 25 Joseph: brave in God's provision
Day 26 Martha: brave in the distraction
Day 27 Martha: brave in crisis
Day 28 Martha: brave in work
Day 29 brave in my shame 
Day 30 brave in temptation
Day 31 love responding to love

I am joining the community at write 31 days to write for 31 days in a row about what God has been teaching me about what it means to be brave. You can learn more about me here. I'd love to connect with you on Instagram or on Facebook (where I hope to figure out how to do the Live video thing... maybe?)  and I'll also be on Twitter now and then. I have a Pinterest board for this challenge. I also have a Spotify playlist for this blog series.

Sign up to get follow up posts in your email or sign up to get my newsletter.

I need a few Beta-Testers to read through this Bible Study to give me some honest feedback - are you: a newer believer, willing to let me know where you have questions? a fan of doing Bible studies, willing to tell me how this compares with other studies you have done? a mature believer, willing to challenge me on how I've interpreted these stories? a small group leader, willing to let me know if you would do this study with your group within the next year? a spelling/grammar nerd/goddess, willing to make corrections to my draft? If you are any of the above - please sign up below.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Brave in my smallness

Yesterday another book came out. It's been all over Instagram. I'm so happy for her, and I can't wait to read her book. I feel different though. I don't think it's jealousy, I think it's just a feeling that one day it will be my turn. I just don't see clearly the path to that moment and I feel a bit angsty in the wait. I feel that the question mark behind if I will ever write a book has vanished. Will I write a book? Will I get published? I will. Yes, I will. When? I don't know. How? Still haven't figured that bit out.

I sent off my  first book proposal last week. I have also sent a few inquiry email and I have received auto-replies saying not to expect a reply. It hurts a little. I get it, but it still hurts. With this last email I have heard nothing back. Is that a good sign? Does that mean my file is in a que of files that will actually be read? I don't know. I just know that the silence is harder to bear than I thought it would be. Every day I loose a little bit of hope of hearing anything about my idea. The nothing feels louder than I imagine any criticism could. I'm trying to push it to the back of my mind. Trying to embrace this as part of the process. But if I'm honest, it's hard to wait. It's a struggle to feel like no one is listening. It's hard to feel small.

It's hard to face my smallness, but it is also good.

Today my little shop Instagram account grew by more followers in a single day than the entire time its been active, and by that I mean like maybe five. Yet as I made dinner tonight I thought about how each one of those new followers made me feel joy. How the smallness of that account makes each little action feel big.

Little things matter so much more when we are little. Little shops, little writers, little comments. Little people.

Last week I had another moment when I was facing my smallness. I just felt like I was screaming to be heard amongst the din, waving frantically to be seen. I knew that's not what God wants for me. That He is not a God of screaming to be heard, that He is a God of the power of the few and the small, multiplied into much. I remember in that moment feeling God say that it is enough to love the people in front of me - quietly and gently. That I don't need to scream at my kids to get their attention. I need to speak to them quietly and love them gently. It is enough to love the people in front of me. To send the text saying "how are you doing today?" and "I'm praying for you." To be a voice that says "I see you." "I love you" "I haven't forgotten you." which is pretty much exactly what God is saying to us every day.

I don't want to forget how much it matters, simply that I am here just waking up my big girls to get ready for the bus, and homeschooling my boys, and washing my husband's coffee cup, and just standing here making spaghetti and meatballs and chocolate chip cookies. This will not be my life forever. Life is always changing. This here is important. Even if it is small.

DSC_6515DSC_6497 These pictures are from a post a wrote for my friend Sarah. You can check out the recipe in this post. If you want to see more pictures of my boys and me baking click here.