New Website!

I’ve been mentioning for weeks that a new website is coming, and it’s finally up and running. It’s still a work in progress, so be patient, but feel free to visit and look around (and even give some suggestions if you’d like).

www.stephanienhall.com

In other news, Live Your Story has shipped from the printers and will be available beginning this week! Orders can be placed on the website via PayPal or credit card in either Euros or US Dollars. The book can also be purchased from Amazon, and ebook versions are available on Amazon and iTunes.

In the weeks to come, blog posts will be posted on the new website, and some of the previous posts from this site may make an appearance there as well.

Thank you for coming on this journey with me, and I hope you’ll continue to come along and enjoy the adventures that await.

 

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The Frightening Freedom of Being Known

Do you ever build walls to protect yourself? I occasionally notice that the view has gotten more restricted around me and discover I have erected yet another wall.

Recently, I have begun to realize these walls are rarely to keep dangers out but to keep my true self locked away and unseen. I allow out only those qualities that people seem to like – the one who is good with words, the voice, the cook, the laughing and joyful one, the one who seems to have unwavering trust in God. These parts are accepted and even enjoyed, and so, they are mostly allow to stay outside the walls, (though, even they try to hide at times).

There are aspects of me very few get to see – the one who has a meltdown over fears which may never happen, the one who beats herself up over what she should have said or done differently, the one who forgets God’s promises, (or worse, chooses not to trust them), the one who has been known to sit at home in her pajamas eating junk food when she is struggling or feeling alone, the one who sometimes chooses to immerse herself in stories rather than talk to God about what is troubling her. These parts don’t fit my picture of acceptable behavior for a woman of God who teaches others about finding their identity and purpose, and so, they are hidden.

This may seem obvious to all of you, but I am only recently rediscovering that there is great freedom outside the confines of my self-made prison. The aspects of myself and my life that seem to me to hinder the message God has given me, sometimes make my story more relatable to those who need to hear it. I am not perfect. I have not arrived. I’m still walking the journey of learning to live boldly as the woman God made me to be.

The fear that if we are truly seen and known, we’ll be rejected and left alone is an insidious one. The truth is, I never feel more alone than when I’m locked behind the walls I build to protect me from being left on my own. It may be scary to step outside the confines of our “protective” prison and be known for who we truly are, but there is a freedom found on the outside that is well worth the risk.

We are already fully known and loved by God. He sees beyond our walls, and knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows who we are created to be and how far we still have to go, and He loves us more than we can imagine. His love is all the “wall” we need to protect us from what others think of us. And, while there is a risk some people will reject us if we venture outside, there is also a chance that we will find a place of belonging, a place where we are greeted with the words: “Me too. Let’s walk this path together.”

The Best…

I mentioned last week I’m working on a new website. I hope to launch it in the near future, and I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s ready.

My goal is to have a page on the website where I can share my story and travels through photos, so the project this afternoon has been looking through photos from various trips I’ve done over the last several years. As I looked at photos from Afghanistan, Turkey, Tajikistan, China, Jordan, Holland, Germany, Czech Republic, the UK, Ireland, and more, I realized just how much God has allowed me to see and do in the last thirty-six years.

Yes, there are things I haven’t gotten to do, promises made that weren’t kept, disappointments in abundance at times. During this past week, I have learned that without God’s intervention, another disappointment (with the potential to alter my future in major ways) may be waiting just around the corner.

Even still, God has been faithful. I have lived a pretty remarkable life so far, and I get the feeling it is still just getting to the good part. The best is yet to come!

I don’t know what story you have lived so far. I would imagine there have been some difficult chapters and some good ones too. Maybe you’ve seen the world, or maybe you’ve seen just around your own neighborhood. Perhaps you’re living your dream, or maybe you’re currently living a nightmare. Whatever your story is right now, I believe the best is still yet to come.

The God we serve is full of so much more than we can imagine, and He longs for us to open ourselves to receive more of Him all the time. He is faithful to show up in the midst of our stories and bring His best to us if we will allow Him, and His supply is limitless. No matter how many good gifts He has already poured into your life, there are always more available.

I don’t know what will happen in my life during the next few months. I don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. None of us know how the current events in our lives will turn out, but that’s okay. As we put our trust in God and allow Him to work in and through us, the best is always ahead of us! Let’s run into the days ahead with our eyes fixed on Him and our faith firmly rooted in His goodness.

Living For Him

I’ve heard it said that we should “live for an audience of one.” I’m learning once again how much easier it is to say that little phrase than to actually live it.

Last week, I posted about my book coming out, and I’ve been busy working on setting up a website, learning about Paypal and pre-orders, and doing final edits on Live Your Story! In the midst of all the busyness, I found myself struggling with motivation to move forward on these tasks, and I couldn’t understand why.

On Friday night, I set aside some time with Jesus and my journal to figure out what was going on. The short answer was: FEAR. As exciting as it is to be nearly at the finish line of getting the message of Live Your Story out for people to read, it is also scary. This book is not a story, it’s my story. The sooner it is published, bought and read, the sooner my journey is on display to be reviewed, critiqued, and picked apart.

I don’t know if you’ve ever read (or even posted) book reviews of Christian books, but some of them are brutal. If I’m honest, that scares me. Last week, without me even realizing it, the fear nearly prevented me from taking the next steps necessary to sell my book. I felt like I was busy working toward completing the tasks, but in reality, I was moving from one tab on my web browser to another, reading tidbits of information but getting nowhere with actually doing anything of value.

Since the weekend, I have begun to make (very slow) progress on finding the information I need to accomplish the tasks ahead of me. I am still on a steep learning curve, but I have begun asking for help from people more knowledgeable than I am on these jobs, and I am starting to move forward.

Am I still scared to put my life on display for those who read the book and open myself to whatever criticism people wish to offer? Absolutely! However, I have remembered they are not the reason I wrote Live Your Story; God is the One I wrote it for, and He is the One I want to please. I hope others’ lives are impacted by my willingness to share my story, but ultimately, that isn’t what matters. I have been obedient, and God can use the result in any way He chooses. This book was His dream before it was mine, and I trust that He will use it for His glory and my good.

I’ve probably asked this question on blog posts before, and I will likely ask it again: What dream has God given you that you need to act on? What’s stopping you? Today is a good day to start living for the audience of One, and take the next step no matter how scary it seems. Live to please Him alone, and He will always come through for you!

Coming Soon

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the time has come to publish my book. I’m excited for today’s post, because I can finally share the cover with you! Live Your Story: Walking Out Your Identity and Purpose with the Master Storyteller is coming! Pre-orders will be announced soon, and I believe the books will be ready to ship within the next couple of months. Stay tuned!

Final cover

I am very excited to share Live Your Story with the world. It has been nearly seven years since I first felt God was asking me to share my story and the message of identity and purpose I have learned. It’s hard to believe the process is nearly completed and the book is happening. I never imagined myself having a book published, but God has made a way.

I pray that Live Your Story will impact lives for the kingdom of God despite its unlikely author. God often chooses the least likely people to accomplish His purposes.

Has God asked you to do anything that seems outside your abilities? Take a risk and say yes. It can be hard and scary, but it’s always worth it!

P.S. For those who will wonder: No, those are not my legs. 🙂