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. 🙂

The Burden of Friendship?

I am a social person. More often than not, I want to be around friends. I want to go for coffee or lunch or a walk and chat with people. I want to hear about their lives and tell them about mine or just talk about the weather (a favorite topic in Ireland). If I can’t be with people, I like chatting on Facebook or via text message or on the phone.

Some of my closest friends, I contact without a second thought. I know if they can’t chat when they receive the message, they’ll leave it until they have time to respond. I have no doubt that if they don’t have time to get together in the next few weeks, they’ll let me know and not feel pressured to fit me into their busy schedule. I know we’ll hang out when life gets less crazy.  

I have recently begun to realize (with the help of a good friend), though, that with many of my friends, I second guess myself when initiating communication. I assume people are busy and I will be interrupting them if I send a message on Facebook – maybe even more so if I send a text message. I’m afraid if I invite them to coffee or lunch, they’ll feel pressured to squeeze me into an already packed schedule and it will be an imposition for them.

In short, I find it easy to assume that I will be a burden to others simply by initiating a conversation. I am realizing that this is a subtle and effective tool of the Enemy to isolate me and others.

Recently, I timidly mentioned to a friend at church that when her life slows down a bit, we should try to go for ice cream or something. Her response surprised me. She said, “You call or text me. I actually have a lot of time free right now, and just hadn’t called because I thought you were busy.” Each of us was waiting for the other to get in touch because we feared interrupting the busyness of her life.

How many times have I sat at home feeling alone and unloved simply because I was afraid I would be a burden? Why do I assume I am an inconvenience? Why do I believe those lies so easily and so often? Am I the only one who falls for this?

I’m learning to initiate communication and invitations. I’m beginning to trust that if people don’t have time to hang out, they will simply be honest and tell me. I am determined that I will no longer allow myself to stay quiet for fear that I will be a burden. When someone comes to mind, it may be that God knows they need a friend to listen just then. If I stay quiet for fear of burdening someone, I may be keeping both of us from the blessing of friendship in a time when it’s most needed.

No more.

From now on, I want to reach out instead of waiting for others to reach out to me. Completely one-sided relationships are no fun, and they are not healthy. However, sometimes we have to reach out beyond our comfort zone and make the first effort.

Is there anyone you need to contact today?

God Loves…

I was having a conversation with some friends on Sunday afternoon, and one of them made a comment that caught me off guard. The comment? God loves us, His children, but He doesn’t love everyone. By this statement, he meant not everyone will spend eternity in heaven; some people will spend eternity in darkness, separated from God.

While I know it’s true many people will not be in heaven, I am bothered by the conclusion he made that God doesn’t love the people who are not “His children.” There is so much going on around the world right now, and it would be easy to think God doesn’t love this person or that group of people. But God IS love. He cannot choose not to love people – even when they choose not to reciprocate His love – because it would mean denying His own character.

God loves each person on this planet the same amount. The only difference is whether His love brings Him joy or pain. He is not willing that ANY should perish, and I believe He weeps over every life lost without being surrendered to Him.

The part my friend must find difficult to reconcile is how God could love someone and still condemn them to eternity in darkness. The simple answer is: He doesn’t. It is because of His love for people that He gives us free will to choose Him or not. If a person wants nothing to do with God while on earth, how would it be loving to force His presence on them for eternity?

Each of us chooses our eternal destination by deciding whether we want a relationship with God or not. In His love, He gives us that choice. When the choice is made to accept His love and love Him in return, there is a party in heaven. When the choice is made to reject God’s love, He weeps for the one who rejects Him. He loves them still, and it breaks His heart that He cannot be with them forever.

Nearly every time I open Facebook or see a news story, it seems hate fills so much of our world. Even among people who follow Jesus, it appears so often that lines are drawn and sides are taken. Races, jobs, political parties, religions, and on and on it goes. So many barriers to unity are being built with words and ideas that are harder to break through than any brick.

God doesn’t take sides. Despite what my friend says, God does love everyone. I want to be more like Him. I don’t know exactly what that looks like in the midst of the messes surrounding us, but I want to learn. I want to seek Him for solutions and receive His grace to love as He loves. I want to see the best in others and forgive when the worst becomes evident. I want to bear, believe, hope and endure all things.  

Who’s with me?

The Time Is Now

In previous posts I’ve mentioned I’m working on a book. I’ve been working on this book for nearly seven years, and on many occasions, I’ve wondered if I would ever complete it.

Last week, a good friend bought me a gift: a mug declaring in bold letters “THE TIME IS NOW.”

I doubt the publishing process is what she had in mind with the gift, but the message certainly fits. I signed a contract a month ago with a publisher. For a while, not much was required from me to move the project forward, and it was easy to forget all that’s happening. Today, I am completing my review of the first round of revisions from the publisher, and I’ve been in contact with him about cover designs and finalizing a title. Suddenly, the reality is sinking in: soon, I will be a published author!

After years of doubting whether I would finish the book (or have the courage to publish it), the time is now. I am excited. I am scared. I wonder who will read it and whether they will like it. I imagine criticisms I will receive, and sometimes, I think of positive comments I might receive. (Why is it always so easy to imagine the worst and forget to dream of the best outcomes?) If I allowed the onslaught of thoughts and feelings to overwhelm me, I’d never take the next step of the process; I wouldn’t have started the process in the first place!

The time is now to take a step. The book is one area of my life where the time has arrived. I may have to take steps in other areas in the near future. Sometimes, these steps feel like leaps off a ledge more than a small stride forward. Fear is a close companion in these times of uncertainty. “What if…?” can become a debilitating question if allowed. Thankfully, the One directing the steps can be trusted!

Could it be time for you to take a step? I would wager most of us have some place in our lives where God is waiting for us to move, but He won’t force us to take a step.  We get to choose whether and when we move forward. We don’t want to move ahead of God, so it’s essential to seek His wisdom and timing. However, if fear is what’s keeping us in the same place, waiting for it to pass will keep us stuck forever. Sometimes, we just have to take a deep breath and step into the unknown with God, believing He is with us no matter what the outcome!

For some of us, I’m sure:

MUG

Celebrate!

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and I must be having a blast! How is it nearly July already?!

I love July. Independence Day is fun with fireworks and BBQs (when you’re in a place that celebrates that particular day), but the main reason I love July is my birthday. I may be turning 36 in a couple of weeks, but I’m still like a kid when it comes to how excited I get about celebrating every year. It’s a little hard not to be with family to celebrate most years, but I’m grateful for the friends God always brings to celebrate with me wherever I am in the world!

I know some people who hate to celebrate or even acknowledge their birthdays. Others just don’t pay much attention. Maybe I’m weird, or perhaps I just like an excuse to splurge a bit and go out with friends, but I like to think that there is more to it than that. No offense to those who ignore or even dislike their special day, but I believe life is something to celebrate. Sure, we don’t have to wait for one specific day each year, but why not take the chance to mark the occasion and thank God for another year of life? It is a chance to reflect on what has happened in the last year (or over the course of your life), to dream with God about what the next year might bring, and to thank Him for the great things that have come so far and for bringing you through the hard times.

Some of the people I know who do acknowledge and even celebrate their birthdays are hesitant to share their age. I’ve never quite understood why that might be. I know that aging may not be the most enjoyable thing there is, but it certainly beats the alternative! While my life looks nothing like what I thought it would by the time I reached the second half of my 30’s, I have lived a pretty incredible life so far, and I believe that the best is yet to come.

I don’t know exactly how I’m going to celebrate my birthday this year. I know it will include friends, food, and fun. I also know that I intend to make the most of it and celebrate another amazing year of life. It has been a hard and confusing year at times, but I wouldn’t trade it in for an easier one because I am grateful for the growth it brought. There have been a lot of tears, laughs, late night talks, prayers, encouragements, disappointments, surprises, and adventures, and I am so thankful to God, my family, and my friends for being with me through all of it!  

You may not have a birthday coming up in the next couple of weeks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take some time today to thank God for the years you’ve lived so far and dream about the future too!

Cleaning House

I’ve spent the last couple of days painting a friend’s bathroom. I’ve also been offering to help others clean and do various odd jobs. It sounds crazy to say this, but I actually enjoy it!

Sometimes, I work with the people I’m helping, and I love that. Quality time is my love language, so no matter what activity I’m doing with a person, I’m happy just being with them. Other times, I’m working on my own, and I’m content with that too. I’ve learned to be happy with my own company and having work to do with my hands gives me time to think and pray.

The thing I find interesting tonight is that my house is currently a wreck. I am embarrassed to admit this, but there are dirty clothes on the floor, clean clothes in the basket to be put away, and almost no surface in my kitchen that isn’t covered with stuff to be cleaned or tossed out or put away.

So, why do I find that interesting? Because while I love helping other people with cleaning or painting or whatever, I rarely enjoy doing those things in my own house. I suppose there is something to be said for helping others and making that a priority, but there is also something to be said for being a good steward of what God has given me to care for.

As I arrived home and started to clean the paint off my hands tonight, I started to think about the less visible ways I try to “help” people. How often do I try to help someone clean up an area of their life by pointing out a spot that could use some attention? I know there are times I seek out people who need to talk to someone when, in reality, I should be dealing with some things in my own life. It seems noble to always make myself available to others, but there are times when it is necessary to take a step back and look at the areas in my life that need work.

It can be uncomfortable to focus on the rubbish in our lives. We may be able to put off the work for a while, but at some point it will catch up with us. I have visitors arriving in 36 hours, and my home needs to be ready. I have been intending to get it ready for days, but have managed to convince myself I’m too busy helping (or in some cases just spending time with people) to do it today. After all, there is always tomorrow.

The problem is that I’ve reached the end of the tomorrows before others are affected by my mess. Crunch time has arrived, and I can no longer put off facing the dishes in my sink or the laundry or floors or… It can be that way in other areas of our lives too. If we put off the work, it will eventually affect not only us, but others as well.

Is there any “dirt” in your life you’ve been avoiding? It might be time for you to do some cleaning too…  

On Faith and Doubt

I’ve shared a couple of times in recent weeks that God has asked me to have faith for some things that seem highly improbable. In a number of verses in the Bible (James 1:6-7, for example), it says to ask in faith, without doubt, and you will have what you ask for. I have been doing my best to live up to those instructions.

However, it seems no matter how hard I try, little questions often sneak into my mind. “Did God really promise…? What if you got it wrong? Do you seriously believe God can/will do THAT? For YOU?” Each time these thoughts come, they bring guilt and condemnation with them. The one thing God has asked me to do is to believe without doubting, and I can’t even get that right!

This past Sunday at church, we had a guest speaker. There were a lot of great points in the sermon, but one thing has been stuck in my mind for the past three days. He made the comment that faith is not the absence of doubts, but confidence in the face of them. He went on to say that uncertainty of the outcome of a given situation is what makes faith possible. If we were completely certain that what we hope for would happen, there would be no need for faith.

What a freeing thought! I am not a failure because questions come to mind on occasion. I only fail to have faith if I entertain those questions and dwell on them. If I give them more room in my mind than I give to the confidence that God “will accomplish what concerns me,” then I give in to doubt.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Confidence and assurance in the face of uncertainty. We don’t see the fulfillment of God’s promises yet, and it is normal that questions will arise. Every person mentioned in Hebrews 11 – the “Hall of Faith” – asked God questions on numerous occasions. Questions don’t equal sin or disqualify us from receiving the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Some teachers might tell you that if you only had enough faith, life would be easy and God would have answered your prayers by now. That is a load of rubbish. God never promised an easy life to anyone who chose to follow Him. In fact, in many cases, it was the opposite. What He did promise was that He would be with us, that He would never stop loving us, and that His words are true no matter what! (There are many other promises in His Word, so go read the Bible to find more.)

Whatever it is you’re hoping and praying for today, have faith. Don’t choose to live with the doubts that try to fill your mind. Acknowledge them, remind them of the awesome power of the God Who loves you, and send them on their way.