Sometimes I’m a Bad Driver

Sometimes I’m a Bad Driver

Wow. This wasn’t the post I wanted to write. I wanted to encourage and inspire and share something that would bless other women from my own comfort zone.

Instead, I’m going to tell you something real and exercise the bravery that we try to encourage here at BraveGirl.

I grew up in a Christian home. I was involved in Christian groups at my public college. I even worked at a Christian bookstore (and am currently employed as a schoolteacher at a Christian school).
Honestly, I have really embraced Jesus as my Savior on my own since the year 2000, as a college freshman.

But when it comes to my vehicle, I’m incognito…I don’t claim my Christianity.
I don’t have a window sticker of any of the ministries I support displayed on the back. No artistic rendition of the one cross, or the three crosses. No fish emblem. No Bible verses.
I only have stickers from my local chain coffee shop that I’m very supportive of (they give out really great window stickers btw!)
I have a generic white minivan. The lack of window stickers have helped me avoid awkward moments in the parking lot more than once.

minivan pic

Why am I telling you this? Because there’s a reason I don’t have any Christian representation on my car.
I’m afraid.
I know that once in a while, I have been going too fast to stop and it’s questionable if I was all the way through when the light was green or yellow.
I know that sometimes I have changed lanes and cut somebody off.
I am afraid that if I drive poorly, and I am supposed to be representing Jesus, then I will turn people away from Him.

So instead? I hide my faith behind my tinted windows and sunglasses.
There are two solutions to this problem. The first? Become perfect.

Perfect. Driving. Every. Time.

And though I may have good reason to reconsider some of my habits, I don’t think that this is the real answer.

How many of us are waiting to share our faith until we’re perfect examples of Jesus?

Thinking that way means I won’t be sharing Jesus with anyone. EVER. The truth is…our imperfections highlight the NEED for a Savior. Hiding my imperfections says ‘once I needed Him and now I don’t.’ When we claim Him, in spite of our failings, others realize they can also come to Him now. They don’t have to wait until they stop making mistakes.

Plus, it denies them the opportunity to see how Jesus changes us. By letting others see us as the imperfect humans that we are, they will also get to witness Him As He changes us. THAT’S how people see Him most.

So, if I cut you off accidentally or don’t keep my speed in check approaching a traffic light, I apologize in advance. Just know I’m a work in progress. All of us are.

Signature_Tammy

TammyIf you want more mini van stories…check out clean on the outside and acci”dents” . It seems this van is one of God’s tools for helping me grow.

 

 

Embracing the Mess

Embracing the Mess

“Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”
Lamentations 3:23

With each new sunrise, we are given a fresh shot at this thing called life. Sometimes we wake up and hit the floor running, creative ideas spinning in our head. On these days, nothing can bring us down. We sing in the shower, wave to the neighbors, and hit all the green lights on the way to work. Other days are just plain hard. Painful circumstances that we feel the weight of can keep us burrowed under the covers and immobilized. But because we are adults, we often have obligations and schedules to keep, so we force ourselves to get up, put on a “happy” face, and keep putting one foot in front of the other until we can drop back into bed at the end of the day.

Pretending and going through the motions of life will always get the best of us eventually. At some point, we have to be real about the struggle we can’t shake. We have to take a day off from pretending and allow ourselves to embrace the mess and face it head on.

A few days ago, my sister came over for a marathon viewing of Fixer Upper episodes and just to catch up. Due to my husband and I being in the middle of painting our kitchen cabinets, my house was in disarray. (We’re talking Pyrex bowls and crock pots strewn everywhere from the living room ottoman to our bedroom end tables.) But quality sister time trumped the condition of my home, plus I knew she’d have McDonald’s breakfast in tow, so I swung the front door open and welcomed her into my messy world.

Over our breakfast sandwiches, I told her how overwhelmed I was feeling with everything around me being so out of place. Then, with Joanna Gaines’ shiplap dialogue in the background, I got honest about all the burdens I was carrying: my messy house; all the half-finished projects looming over me; the beginning of a new school year that I as a teacher am preparing for; and, of course, that ever-present desire for a baby. Everything I had been keeping inside came unexpectedly spilling out like a flood.

Even still, I was trying to hold myself together and not lose it completely. Unfortunately, the straw that broke the camel’s back came when I let my new puppy back in the house from being outside. She ran inside covered in clumps of mud and grass, leaving a messy trail behind her. I picked up my puppy to clean her but immediately broke down crying. My sister took it upon herself to get my broom and sweep up the chunks of mud that littered my kitchen floor. She didn’t complain or tell me to get it together; instead, when I apologized for being such depressing company, she walked up to me, wrapped her arms around me, and told me, “It’s okay to have a messy day.”

Her permission for me to not have it all together was exactly what my soul needed. But she also loved me enough to not leave me to drown in my own pity. Instead, she motivated me to get proactive about taking care of business and reclaiming my joy. We gathered up some of the excess clutter I had already bagged up to donate, and we loaded it in my car.

We also decided to treat ourselves to burgers for lunch because not only was it good for me to get out of the house for a little bit, but my sister knows eating out fills my proverbial love tank. (I bet you didn’t know there was a sixth love language. And that it involves cholesterol.)

By the time we got out and about, I was feeling much less burdened. My sister’s presence alone had played a part, but what resonated with me the most was her grace towards me when I was in a very messy place, both emotionally and physically. Her permission to embrace the mess, along with her companionship in the midst, made a world of difference to me.

So many of us are hurting and barely holding it together. There is so much healing to be found when the mask is removed and we acknowledge our struggles. I encourage you to find that safe person whom you trust and invite them into your mess. Find someone who will listen, encourage you with Biblical truth, and pray with you. Find someone who, after doing all these things, will encourage you to put your armor back on and fight for something better.

If you are not currently struggling, then ask yourself: To whom can I reach out, wrap my arms around, and give permission to have a messy day?

BraveGirl Martha

IMG_4430

The Sin Good Girls Won’t Name

The Sin Good Girls Won’t Name

I showed up to a get-together with a covered dish and some juicy news to share. It was an opportunity to shock my friends and therefore receive some odd sense of satisfaction, attention, and praise for revealing such scandalous information. Before I could get it out, one of the ladies asked,

“Who has some good gossip?”

Now I was the one who was shocked! We can’t “gossip”. That’s so sinful! How dare she just come out and say that!

Oh, wait…

At least my friend wasn’t in denial about it. She called it what it was. She named it and it made me think twice about what I was about to reveal. Good southern Christian girls like me don’t like to name our sin because acknowledgement brings that uninvited guest named Conviction to spoil our party.

Gossip seeps its’ way into my perfectly innocent conversations, even ones that start out to be godly and life-giving. It is anything but harmless and we have to stop.

“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein

on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

-James 1:26

I didn’t recognize gossip as a problem in my life until my own filthy laundry became the hot topic. When people have been whispering about you, it is beyond hurtful and embarrassing. It permanently damages friendships and deteriorates trust. It’s anything but harmless.

God, help me not to harm others with my desire for entertaining conversation.

Being highly experienced in this area, I’ve narrowed gossip down to four types so it will be easier to recognize the next time it sneaks into your conversation.

1. Secret Telling Gossip
“Promise you won’t tell.”
Even if you are dying to spill someone else’s secret and you know you can trust your best friend, it’s still gossip. If it’s not YOUR business, keep it to yourself.

“He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets,

therefore do not associate with a gossip.” -Proverbs 20:19

2. Prodding Gossip
“How’s Sarah? I heard she’s going through a tough time…”
If you are on the receiving end of a gossipy loaded question, you are not required to answer! People will respect that you politely refuse to give up information and you will prove yourself to be trustworthy.

“For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer,

contention quiets down.” -Proverbs 26:20

3. Angry Gossip
“Her marriage is falling apart, so she’s taking it out on me!”
Someone hurts you so you tell others all of the unattractive things you know about her life. Don’t let your short term emotions cause long term effects. You will regret it later.

“Argue your case with your neighbor,

And do not reveal the secret of another.” -Proverbs 25:9

4. Concerned Friend Gossip
“You need to pray for our friend because you won’t believe what happened…”
Of course we need to pray for and support each other. Just always make sure to keep your motives and your sincerity in check when you reveal anything personal about someone else’s life.

As you go back to your workplace, play dates, and PTA meetings, keep in mind what God’s Word says about gossip. Learn to recognize it, call it by name, and put a stop to it. Don’t let this “innocent” sin creep its’ way into what could otherwise be sacred spaces of trust, encouragement and friendship.

“Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;

Keep watch over the door of my lips.” –Psalm 141:3

BraveGirl Robyn

DSC_9876

Joy Comes In The Mourning

Joy Comes In The Mourning

It was a Friday afternoon in February of 2000 when my life suddenly changed forever. 

I’ll never forget the phone call that came after business hours. I was in my office with coworkers and picked up after the first ring. The voice at the other end of the line was my children’s father, my ex-husband.

His voice was filled with concern as he said, “Sharon, you need to sit down.” Of course I didn’t as I recall…and then he said bluntly as if he had to say it before he couldn’t, “Chris is dead.”

I remember being stunned and confused about the words before they sank in, wondering why he would say such a horrible thing. I even remember asking, “Are you sure?” which I know was my mind begging for one more moment of not knowing. My knees weakened as he finished telling me what he knew about what had happened.

He had been out of town on business and upon returning, found our oldest son alone and gone from this world. Mercifully, gratefully, he had gone home to be with Jesus and that ray of Hope would be the shred of life that would survive while my heart and mind pulled on a shroud of deep black darkness.

The next few days I lived the nightmare of my greatest fear since becoming a mother, losing one of my boys. My heart was filled with infinitely more pain than my fear of it ever had. I isolated myself most of the time as family and friends came to the house offering condolences but I wanted to be alone…in my darkness. Even though I took comfort in knowing Chris was a believer and I would be reunited with him in heaven, my mother’s heart was aching and struggling with accepting he was gone from this earth.

Since Chris was an otherwise healthy 24 year old, his father insisted on an autopsy. The following
Monday was a holiday, so in short the funeral was postponed until almost a week later. I’m not sure how, but it was arranged and attended by more than 800 people I was told.

I can recall only bleak snapshots of that miserable week of waiting…my dad sitting in my living room in the navy tapestry wingback staring blankly overcome by grief, food piled up on every countertop and bulging from the refrigerator, and our house busy with well meaning guests. Then I woke up in the emergency room after blacking out for an extended period of time. I remember hoping to see Chris one more time and for some strange reason thought he was at the hospital. In times of deep sorrow and shock, your mind takes strange pathways.

In the following month, there were many beautiful cards, (I still have every one of them), visits and frequent phone calls of consolation. I returned to work way too soon because I didn’t know what else to do. Sorrow and emptiness became my new painful normal.

Grief is exhausting…not only emotionally but physically as well.

I often tried to pray, but the prayers never seemed to make it above the ceiling. Even though Chris’s dad was very angry at God for the untimely death of our son, for some reason, I never was. But I couldn’t feel His Presence.

Weeks turned into months and months into two years. Cards and visits had long since stopped. Everyone had resumed their own lives. The cruel emotions of hurt and self pity were added to the suffering because I felt so alone in my sorrow.

Sadness. Loneliness. Fear. Dread. Pain. Despair. PURE DARKNESS…EMPTINESS.

And then one Sunday morning we were getting ready for church. I was weary and worn thin from the weight of my grief. I had prayed to die so many times, but this morning, I literally looked toward heaven and cried out loud in total desperation, “God, please replace this horrible darkness and grief with some kind of joy!”

IMG_4955

That morning, as I sat in the comfortable stadium seat of our church with hundreds of others, the message was entitled…
“Where Do You Turn When Life’s Not Working?”

I don’t know if there was a single other person in that congregation who needed to hear those words more than I did. I felt as if they had been eternally penned for me. I knew in the depths of my soul that it was God’s answer to my desperate plea earlier that morning, delivered by His obedient servant, a pastor I hardly even knew.

The message clearly charted the course of the healing power of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As the words washed over me, I experienced a lifting in my soul. That day I actually felt for the first time the warmth of His Loving Arms enveloping me. I saw a beam of His Radiant Light shining from the far end of the heinous darkness in which I had hidden for the past two years. I saw Him…I felt Hope.

It’s not that I had never heard the things that were presented in that timely message. It’s that I had not chosen them as my foundational truths. I had spent a lifetime of self will ignoring the very thing that sustains us through times like this.

God loves us and is constantly pursuing His independent self willed creation.

IMG_4956

He already knows every detail of your struggle and is patiently waiting for you to turn to Him for help.

Even though I had experienced salvation at the age of eight, and had been in church most of my life, I confess I had not invested in my relationship with my Heavenly Father and had grown very little spiritually. My quiet times were never very quiet and those spent in His Word were hurried and rushed. There is no wonder why my faith was so shallow…

I trusted Him with my eternity through my salvation experience but thought I could handle the “living on planet earth” on my own!

Simply put, when faced with the most difficult challenge of my life, I had chosen darkness instead of His Healing Light!

During those two years, many times, I had begged God to let me die, to be free of the pain. But He had chosen not to answer those misplaced prayers.

He did not send His Son to die so that we would be left in darkness!

IMG_1332

The awakening that day was only the beginning of my healing. Over time, the hole in my heart was graciously being filled with His Truth and Promises as I spent time with Him, meditating on His Word. Leaning on Him for my strength and direction was infinitely the better choice…it was filled with hope and the blossoming of joy and new life.

One day as I was in His Word, He gently reminded me that He had also lost His Son and He knew exactly how I felt.IMG_4958 2
And there it was, the very essence of Truth that sponged up the last ounce of my self pity. How could I have ever felt alone? The Creator of the universe, my Heavenly Father, knew how I felt. He had never forsaken me. I had NEVER been alone.

The realization of His intimacy flooded over me! I finally knew in my heart that throughout every moment of the journey since that Friday afternoon phone call, He had been right by my side. I had missed the miracle of it because of my foolish self will.

I realized His desire for me to live was a blessing. He was not finished with my story. He wanted me to share it and His message of hope with the world!

Would I have ever wished my son would die? Of course not, no mother would. But I will tell you that had I not gone through the devastation of losing him, I may never have ever known the glorious riches of walking with my Lord and Savior!

Someone said, “He never wastes a hurt.”

So be encouraged no matter what you may face, THE God of the universe loves you. So much so that He sent His only Son to die for you. There is nothing too big or bad for His sacrificial Love to cover. You only have to trust and receive His beautiful Gift of Salvation.

Life is full of crossroads and choices…choose life! Let Him lead you into His Marvelous Light!

He is a good good Father and His Mercies are new every morning!

In the past fourteen years, I still grieve over Chris but I have also experienced more Joys than I could have ever imagined because I opened my heart up to Him. Please don’t miss it! He will give you joy in your mourning too. Let Him have that chance. Open your heart up to Him…and ask Him.

IMG_4957

Dear our precious Heavenly Father,

We thank you for your love, your faithfulness, and your son Jesus who died for us. We thank you for the person who is reading this post. I pray for the one who is struggling to open her heart up to you in her time of pain and grief. Please soften her heart to want to know you. Give her a hunger for your word. Give her your peace, your rest, and your comfort as she prays and cries out to you. Give her a humble and open heart that is ready to receive your joy and blessings and lean into you every day so that as you carry her, she finds her rest in you. Amen.

Signature_Guest

Sharon

You Are Enough

You Are Enough

You hear the whispers over and over…

YOU. ARE. NOT. GOOD ENOUGH.

It’s a continual theme that rings through your thoughts like the tune of an annoying song on replay…It’s never ending and you can’t seem to make it stop.

Maybe that feeling of you are “not good enough” comes from past mistakes. Maybe it comes from a parent who treated you as though you were never enough. Maybe it comes from a particular statement made by a teacher, a friend, a close family member – a statement that you have believed to be truth ever since.
It doesn’t really matter where it comes from, what matters is that TODAY you recognize it for what it is….an ABSOLUTE LIE.
I lived in this cycle for years. I could not seem to move past this. I claimed it and received it as truth in my life. Plain and simple(in my mind)- I was NOT GOOD ENOUGH. It didn’t matter how many people would compliment me, encourage me or even affirm that I was, in fact, good enough. I had made a comfy little prison cell in my mind where I sat and replayed this lie over and over. This cell had become my home, my truth, my comfort. Even though it was false, there was security within those walls.

Then one day, I remember weeping in the midst of a bible study because God had wrecked my heart with a ramming revelation of His word. Those lies began to fade – it was a revelation to my soul! Satan had whispered long enough and it was time to clean house.

IMG_0137
I tore down the ugly wallpaper renouncing the lies that I had believed for so long and replaced it with HIS TRUTH. If you have ever used wallpaper, then you know how hard it can be to remove! It’s the same with replacing your thoughts. REMOVE and REPLACE. We have to renew our minds with the word of God.
It is now a place of FREEDOM to linger in the beauty of God’s word…His truth about who I am because the captive has been SET FREE!

I am His…
GOOD ENOUGH
Beloved
Righteous
Beautiful
Chosen
Blessed
Daughter…

And so are YOU.

Listen to me dear sister – the place where you struggle the most in not feeling good enough is a guaranteed place where God wants to use you most for HIS glory! The enemy absolutely knows that and he wants to cripple you and render you to be ineffective for the kingdom of God.

Know God’s truth and what he says about you! Take a good hard look at that pretty cell you are sitting in and realize that it’s NOT really that pretty at all…If you look close enough, you will see the cracks, the dirt, the imperfections and ugliness because it is covered in lies. There is NOWHERE in scripture that tells us that we are NOT good enough, it reveals the opposite.

You are GOOD ENOUGH because Jesus says you are.

HE. CHOSE. YOU.

You did not choose him(John 15:16). AND…He would choose you in your messed up, sinful, not feeling good enough, self again and again. It was and is HIS purpose to set the CAPTIVES FREE!
Leave that cell changed and renewed by the WORD of GOD and ONLY return as a reminder of the freedom that took place!

YOU. ARE. ENOUGH.

Jesus says you are.

Signature_Cheryl-1

cheryl profile pic

When My Strength Runs Out

When My Strength Runs Out

I don’t want to write this post. I don’t want to let the world know that I am struggling. I’m okay, but I am struggling. I’m joyful, but I’m sad inside. I’m numb, but I’m trying.

The past few years have been a roller coaster of emotions for my husband and I. And though I feel like a broken record talking about our infertility struggles, it’s where my heart is right now. And I’ve learned that being anything other than real gets pretty draining.

So, here’s the deal: In the past few years, I’ve struggled with sadness, bitterness, numbness, and depression. And because I so desperately want to glorify God through this battle with infertility, I subsequently struggle with shame that I have let myself hit such low points instead of perfectly, at all times, trusting my unknown future to a known God.

I got tired of being let down each month when pregnancy wasn’t achieved, so I tried to convince myself I might be better off if I didn’t care so much. In my efforts to become more apathetic about being a mom, unfortunately, other good, healthy emotions hit the road as well. The “protective” wall that surrounded my heart quickly became hardened and impenetrable. Not only did relationships suffer because of my lack of effort in maintaining them, but my home suffered. I could only muster up enough motivation to do the bare minimum. What that looked like for me was basically just doing the laundry so we would have clothes to wear. I also became good at putting on a facade of a clean house by straightening up but never actually cleaning. My dishwasher ran on schedule, but my floors never got mopped. The bathroom sink might have gotten cleaned, but maybe not the shower. Whatever I could muster up enough stamina to do for fifteen minutes every few days got done. Otherwise, my couch and I shared a lot of wasted, quality time together.

At this point you’re probably wondering why I’m putting all this out there. To be honest, I’m wondering the same thing myself. The only thing I can figure out is that my heart doesn’t want to fake it anymore. I’m done with facades, shame, and secrets. I believe it because I’ve experienced it: secrets lose power over you when you bring them to the light. I know I’m not the only person trying to act like I’ve got it all together on the outside while I’m dying on the inside.

So, in the spirit of being real, I’m going to share a snippet of one of my journal entries from September of last year:

I’m too scared to say it out loud and don’t want to add another burden to a busy world’s plate. But I think I’m depressed.
I lie on the couch, warm tears softly streaming down my cheeks, thoughts cascading through my mind of my dirty bathroom, unmade bed, half-completed projects, and dust-ridden furniture. My disdain for my laziness is strong, but I’m immobilized by a numbing, dull pain.
I’m tired. Annoyances have become heavy burdens that I feel in my chest. Simple tasks have become laborious exertions.
I’m surrounded by people, but I’m all alone. I’m left behind. I’m not a mom.
Lord, I’m so tired. My soul yearns for you, but I can’t muster up a cry out to you, only a whisper of your name. I continue shoveling food into my ever-swelling face.
God, give me joy. Give me energy. Give me faith that moves mountains.
May I some day be brave enough to share these words with someone to help them.
Though I may be in a pit now, my God won’t leave me here.
Every morning, the sun rises on a new day. Every day is His. I am His.

….

So…are you guys still cool with knowing me, or did I take it too far? This is one of those awkward, I’ve-said-too-much-I’m-just-going-to-walk-backwards-out-of-the-room moments.

But in all seriousness, if you see me on the streets, I probably appear super joyful. IMG_0118That’s because I am. The joy of the Lord is truly my strength, and because he lives in me and I have a strong support system, most days are good.

I am no longer in the pits of depression; thankfully, the Lord carried me through that pretty swiftly. I do, however, still struggle to overcome the numbness. These days, I rejoice when I snot-face cry because that means I’m feeling something. I still entertain the idea of mopping my floors without ever actually getting it done, but Lord knows I’m gonna get there some day.

I have allowed hope to regain entry into my heart, even though that means disappointment could possibly follow on its heels. I’m learning that I can’t feel the good without feeling the bad, and after not feeling much of anything, I’m totally ok with strapping myself back into the roller coaster of emotions and just letting go. I know my God’s got me in the valleys just as much as he does on the peaks.

I take comfort in knowing God knew we would walk through dark days while on this earth, so he filled his word with many encouraging verses such as Romans 12:12, which says: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” That is just one verse out of many that encourage patience through trial; standing firm; relentlessly trusting; and never growing weary.

To those who have been struggling like I have, God’s grace is big enough to cover the mess we’ve been swallowed up in. And when we get to the place where our strength runs out, His is there to carry us the rest of the way.

He is sovereign and perfect. May we all find rest and healing in his massive, loving arms.

BraveGirl Martha

IMG_4430

 

What God Says About Your Water Slide

What God Says About Your Water Slide

It has lurked its’ way into my thoughts my entire life. I was terrified of storms as a little girl, afraid I wouldn’t be accepted as a teenager, and still spend way too much energy worrying about everything as an adult. In a world where a child can be snatched from his father’s hand on a family vacation and a horrifying shooting takes place almost daily, it’s so easy to be overtaken by fear.

A week ago, my husband and I meticulously bubble-wrapped every belonging in our house and packed it all on a truck that would meet us at our new home halfway across the country. I knew it was God’s will for our family to make this move, but once again, fear took over. How will we make new friends? What if our kids hate their schools? Can we afford this financially? Should we be doing this?

We stayed at a hotel with a water park on our way from our old home to the new one. My husband has been trying to convince our daughter to go down a water slide with him for years. He’s offered her every reward he could think of and tried every tactic to help her believe she will be safe with no luck. He knew how much fun she would have if she just gave it a try. He finally miraculously convinced her to climb the massive set of stairs all the way to the top. He slid down first so she knew survival was possible and then waited at the bottom for her, yelling up words of encouragement. She mustered up all of the courage she had, reluctantly sat down, and let the water carry her into the dark tube. When she got to the bottom, she was all smiles! She absolutely loved it! She dragged her daddy back up those stairs and down that slide over and over for the rest of the morning. When we were leaving I asked her if she realized what she had been missing all this time. She said,

“I learned that when you are afraid,

you miss out on really great things in life.”

Yes!
It took a hotel water slide and a 9-year-old little girl to open my eyes to the fear that was gripping me. Just like her earthly father went first down the water slide, our heavenly Father goes before us in everything we do.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

-Deuteronomy 31:8

He goes before us. He knows what’s in my family’s future and He placed it on our hearts to make this move anyway. I have nothing to fear. He has big things in store for us if we will just step away from what makes us comfortable and trust Him to bless our obedience.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9

Wherever I go. Even 600 miles away from the only place I’ve ever lived. He tells us right there, in black and white – do not be afraid.1010770_10201477105873578_2072287366_n While it’s true that God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7),

He also commands us not to be afraid.

Believe me, I know all too well how much easier it is to say it than to actually do it. While I have so many irrational fears that will most likely never happen, I have also had some of my biggest fears in life come true. Fears I thought I’d never survive if they actually manifested. But guess what? Not only did I survive, I truly believe God is real because of the way he carried me through those times in such a precious way.
In the midst of strife and sorrow, we can feel God more closely than we ever do when life is going our way. He didn’t promise us that nothing bad would ever happen, but He does promise that He will be there to help us through it.

In this world you will have trouble.

But take heart! I have overcome the world. -John 16:33

He is always with us, even when our fears become our reality, so we never have to be afraid.
All of that being said, because I know myself and my human nature, I know that fear will slink its’ way back into my thoughts again as my family and I continue to face so many unknowns. When it does, I am going to try my best to intentionally seek Him and His truth because I know He alone can rescue me from my fear.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me;

he delivered me from all my fears. -Psalm 34:4

I don’t know what fear is controlling you today or what it is keeping you from doing, but I hope you will join me in trying to seek the Lord rather than spending more of our short time on this earth contemplating worst case scenarios. What do you feel God telling you to do? What doors have been opened that are calling you in a direction you aren’t particularly comfortable going?

What’s YOUR water slide?

My daughter realized that day how much fun she had been missing out on for so many years because she was afraid. I don’t want to miss anything that God has for me. Let’s choose obedience over uncertainty. Trust over fear. Let’s climb those stairs, sit down at the very tip top of that water slide, and enjoy the ride because the ride is where we get to experience Him the most.

BraveGirl Robyn

DSC_9876

Facebook Blessings

Facebook Blessings

I scrolled through my Facebook feed. Laughing kids. Smiling. New house. Engagement. Marriage.

Everyone was #blessed.

I wasn’t out of the #blessed circle. A month earlier I had announced mine and Kevin’s engagement on Facebook. The congratulatory comments, the likes, the “I’m so excited for you”s — they all made me feel special. Noticed. And I was convinced that I was blessed, because God had brought someone into my life to love and I didn’t have to be alone anymore.

And just 72 hours later, God slapped it right back in my face.

As I opened my journal from less than a year earlier, my eyes fell to the entry from April 24, 2015:

“Lord, right now I feel You in the absence. I feel You in the waiting. The waiting, the hoping for a spouse. For someone to love. Because in that absence, I feel Your arms perfectly around me, holding me, and I am joyful. Moments of this struggle through singleness can be excruciating, but You are teaching me to cling to You more tightly, and I wouldn’t trade the closeness with You for anything. Hold me until You bring my husband and keep holding me when he finally gets here.”

Somehow, amidst the excitement of meeting Kevin and making plans for our future, I’d lost sight of the beauty in the moment. I’d lost the perfect peace in submission, in surrender, in waiting, in reverent worship, in trust through painful struggle. I wasn’t blessed because I’d met Kevin, though he was certainly an amazing gift from the Lord.

I was blessed because I was needy.

Grace floods in when we are emptied. The blessing comes as we are stripped away and left with nothing but Him, and we can see He is sufficient. We KNOW He is sufficient.

What if the greatest blessing, the way God blesses us the most, is when we feel most deeply our need for Him? The Greek word translated as “blessed” is makarioi, meaning “fully satisfied.” To be found in His favor, regardless of circumstances.

This is freedom.

If we are blessed beyond Earthly circumstances, beyond relationship status, beyond monetary status, beyond anything other than God Himself, how then can we despair? This is the joy of abundant life, the precious hope we cling to. This is the freedom from attachment to any person or thing on Earth. This is the freedom that allows us our heart’s greatest desire in intimacy with our Creator.

That’s the Gift…

HE is The Gift and The Giver.

 

Signature_Guest

Katelin

397659_10100125545627557_1451427121_n (2)

Hi! I’m Katelin, a coffee-drinking, theology-loving, book-reading, piano-playing introvert (also known as a nerd). By day I’m a pediatric speech-language pathologist, but after dark I get a little crazy, blogging about life, faith, and recovery. After spending 15 years of my life in a dark cycle of disordered eating, I’m now learning to live in the beauty of God’s grace. I’m so thankful to be a part of the BraveGirl Community, and I pray you find hope and encouragement while you’re here!

You can read more from Katelin at her website: https://hashtagblessings.wordpress.com.

The King’s Daughters

The King’s Daughters

We are Daughters of the King,
but doubt controls our life.
Consumed by problems of this world,
each day is full of strife.

More aware of others’ thoughts
than those of Him above,
we blend into this fallen world,
loving what they love.

We hate the number on the scale,
a battle we can’t win.
Yet so afraid to tell a soul
we’re starving to be thin.

We find our worth in the words of others
or in the arms of men.
We see ourselves as damaged, ruined;
our souls feel dark with sin.

Addictions fed in secrecy
have led to shame and guilt.
We’re trapped inside a hollow shell
of the “perfect” life we’ve built.

The lies we’ve heard have become truth,
and we’re tired of fighting back.
“Unworthy” has become our name,
defenseless to attacks.

These are the Daughters of the King,
the ones for whom He died.
The ones He aches for when they hurt,
the ones whose tears He’s dried.

The ones He created so fearfully, wonderfully–
the jewels in His crown.
He craves us, sees us, chases us;
He never lets us down.

Already set free, yet walking in chains,
we’re called for so much more.
The victory is ours to claim
when it’s Him we’re living for.

He calls us precious, prized and His,
He’s spoken for our hearts.
He fights for us and pleads for us,
Forgiveness He imparts.

Lights of this world, He tells us to shine.
He made us to stand out.
He calls us brave and capable
to conquer fear and doubt.

He says, “Arise. Converse with me.”
“With you I will abide.”
You’ll find in all things, looking back,
He never left your side.

Beloved in His eyes we are
and safe we’ll always be.
Forever treasured, beautiful,
Accepted and redeemed.

And so it is well with our souls
when we can just believe,
and walk in truth of all He says
of our identity.

We are the Daughters of the King,
the ones no longer bound.
The ones to whom He’s given hope,
a future, and a crown.

BraveGirl Martha

IMG_4430

For Those Who Struggle In the Month of Weddings

For Those Who Struggle In the Month of Weddings

June is the month of weddings. My Facebook feed is filled with beautiful pictures of love. Couples getting married and couples celebrating their years of wedded bliss. I read beautiful sentiments of love and adoration from wives and husbands. I see pictures of young love with their whole lives stretching before them and you can see the fairy tale dreaming in their eyes.

Yesterday was my turn. My turn to celebrate 18 years of being married to the guy who loves me best. As we shared publicly our love and commitment to each other and received warm “happy anniversary’s” from loved ones, I could not help but think about the countless people who hurt over broken marriages, unrealized dreams and pain of the past. Many of my friends are battling major hurts in their own marriages. So if I could sit with you this morning and share with you from my heart, this is what I’d say.

You are loved with an everlasting love

“…I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love;

with unfailing love I have drawn myself to you” ~Jeremiah 31:3

In a time when love withers and fades, it’s hard to remember this truth. We love so imperfectly, but our Creator is the lover of our souls. His character is unchanging and it is impossible for Him to stop loving His creation. He chooses to love us. We cannot earn that love nor do we deserve His love. The very essence of His character is love. If you are feeling unloved today, you need to rest in the truth that regardless of any circumstance or situation, your heavenly Father adores you. He delights in you. He rejoices over you with singing. He is your fairy tale and your happily ever after.

Only Jesus can heal your broken heart

“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages up their wounds” ~Psalm 147:3

We often look everywhere but the cross for healing. Your spouse will not make you whole. Your children, money, success, food, sex, alcohol, and friends…will not and can not make you whole. We can not fix ourselves. While counseling is good…counseling in and of itself can not restore what is lost. There is no striving to be done, no work to do.

Healing is a choice to rest in the finished work of the cross. That’s where it starts. Your husband will never be able to “complete you.” You are only complete through the blood of Jesus. When you surrender your agenda, relationships, plans and future to the Lord, He responds with his redemptive work. He alone can change the heart of man, and He can be trusted with your pain. He can turn your mourning into dancing.

Do not walk alone

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed” ~Ecclesiastes 4:9

We were created for community. You do not have to struggle on your own. Reach out. Find a Christian counselor, involve your pastor and get in a small group. Share your story, even when it’s not pretty. Ask to be prayed over. Find a church of grace givers and let them speak truth to you. Fight the urge to isolate and believe the lie that no one will understand or that only condemnation will follow if you share your pain and your sin. God uses his people to point the way to healing and victory in Him. Lean into Jesus and take the risk of trusting His people. We are better together.

Choose joy

“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble and keep on praying” ~Romans 12:12

Even in the middle of dark days, you can choose joy. On days when you don’t know where you will find the strength to face your spouse or when you don’t have it in you to fight for your marriage, remember this truth; the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Joy is found in Jesus, not our circumstances. It is possible to have victory over our emotions and to choose gratitude and joy, even in suffering. It’s a game changer, I promise.

Sweet friend who is hurting, whose marriage is on the brink of divorce, you need to know that God is for you. He is for your marriage and He will fight for you. He is merciful and even when our earthly love fails, His never does.

BraveGirl Angie

Angie