Shaking Knees

faith

As I lay in bed last night I turned to my husband and said, “We are really doing this. We are having a kid. Whether we are ready or not, life is about to change at light-speed. How do we get ready for this?”

This question could be applied to any life transition you like: graduation, new jobs, travel, dating, marriage, risks… change. I spent the morning with a friend and mentor who in the past year married off a daughter, became an empty nester, and is currently packing up her house to move to Colorado. Light-speed change. We both voiced our fears over the fact there is so much that we cannot see in our futures. It’s a cocktail of excitement, trepidation, anticipation, and random worries. I love the loop-da-loop on a good roller coaster when my stomach ends up in my throat, but I also hate the slow approach up the very first hill. Even though I know I’m going to love a majority of the coming experience, I still dread that initial dropoff!

In the face of all the newness and uncertainty of life, how do we step forward without our knees shaking?

I don’t know that we have to fake fearless living. The more I experience the more I realize that fear is a valid feeling and emotion. But I’ve also learned that I don’t want fear to make decisions for me. The first time I jumped off a high dive I screamed the whole way down and even continued to scream below the surface of the water. Did that make my jump any less authentic?

It is okay to acknowledge that I am afraid of the changes coming my way. I don’t know what it’s like to parent a child 24-7. Part of me wonders if I’m up to the task. I know I’m selfish. Do I really need to have a child to figure this out? Do I need sleepless nights to affirm the strength of my marriage?

I may scream the whole way off of this diving board, my knees may shake as I climb the ladder, but either way… July will come and my life will transition for the thousandth time.

We walk forward even when our knees are shaking.

“Feelings are indicators, not dictators. They can indicate where your heart is in the moment, but that doesn’t mean they have the right to dictate your behavior and boss you around. You are more than the sum total of your feelings and perfectly capable of that little gift . . . called self-control.” – Lysa TerKeurst, Unglued

I’m just sharing in case you needed a pep talk today. I know I did. Clinging to this… the answer to our fear is faith.

Following,
Ginger

Shalom, Y’all

She’ma, Yisra’el Adonai Eloheynu, Adonai echad Ve-ahavta et Adonai Eloheykha bekhol-levavkha u-vekhol naf’sh‘kha u-vekhol me’odekha. Ve-ahavta le’re’akha ka-mohkha

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might; and love your neighbor as yourself.

Tomorrow my husband and I head out on a new adventure. We are leaving for a trip to Israel. Eleven days in the Holy Land. I’m jumping out of my skin excited.

Why Israel?

We all want to know where we come from.

No, I’m not Jewish. And none of my family hails from the Middle East. But the singularly most important part of my life lived and breathed and WALKED the roads that I will encounter next week. I am a sucker for history and completely giddy for knowing the backstory of just about anything. (Ask my family how many times I start a sentence with “So guess what I learned on this podcast?!”)  I’m also a storyteller. So the fact that I might come away with a fuller, clearer picture of what I read in the Bible absolutely thrills me.

I believe that I’m headed to Israel so that I can know His story with all of my senses. I want to better understand the metaphors, traditions, and significance of the text. I want to feel the weight of my faith and the urgency with which it should be shared. And I want to wean myself from approaching the Word solely based on what it says about me… simply put: I want to be overwhelmed by Him.

But why now? Isn’t Iran about to launch an attack? Can’t God increase my knowledge and passion right here?

Absolutely. God can reveal Himself to me anywhere and at any time. But this is an opportunity that fell into place for this year, for right now.

Look, if we waited for peace to come in Gaza we would never get to go. I have to tell you, I’m not afraid of the situation. Not because I don’t believe that violence and war isn’t a possibility, but because God is the one in charge of my time and my story.

My husband and I both place our lives, resources, home, possessions, gifts, and time on this earth in God’s hands. It’s His call. When He says I’m through, I’m heading out. It’s as simple as that. Either He is the author of my life and in control, or He’s not.

So, we aren’t afraid.

I’m not afraid of my house being broken into while I’m gone. It’s just stuff. I can get more stuff. I’m not afraid of losing my luggage on the flight. I can wear David’s clothes. (HAH.) I’m not afraid of flying. I’d like to meet Him in the clouds, anyway!

Here’s the thing: I don’t believe the Bible casually. I’m willing to stake my life on it’s Truth: that my righteousness comes from Jesus Christ alone. Because of His death and resurrection I have full assurance that my relationship with God has been restored.

If anything, I’m a little nervous about how physically demanding our trip will be. We are hiking all day, every day. So if you think about it, will you pray for our health while we are gone? Other requests: safe travel, a unified group, and open hearts for what God would teach us! We are asking to have faith that follows and eyes that see as a result of this trip.

Because I’ve spent so much time preparing for this trip, I don’t have blog posts or guest posts scheduled while I’m away. I had to let something go. But I do happen to have a link to a blog that will be updated every day while we are gone. I’d encourage you to check in and see photos, listen to audio, and read what God is doing in our group of 52 while we are away!

Knowing the God of the universe means that we can live adventurous lives without fear. Of course we apply the wisdom He has given us, but we do not need to fear!

“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the
beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.”
 C.S. Lewis

Following and adventuring,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Fighting Fear

I don’t know what keeps you captive to fear, but I do know that I have spent my share of time fearing when I should have chosen courage. I still struggle, but I’m slowly learning to process my fears using wisdom and the truth in God’s Word to move from fear to faith. Here are a few steps that have helped me…

1. Talk through the situation

-Why are you afraid?
-What’s the worst that could happen?
-Do you believe lies or truth?
-Have you employed the advice and wisdom of others regarding your fear?

Last week one e-mail sent me spiraling into fear. One of my greatest fears is disappointing others, especially authority. I sent some of my notes for an upcoming project and received two sentences in response. Anyone else in the whole world might have read that e-mail and not given it a second thought. Not Miss prone to the think the worst in a situation over here! I had to talk myself through those very questions. I pulled out my prayer journal and wrote across the top of the page: WHY AM I SO AFRAID AND EMBARASSED? I worked through the process and ended up acknowledging that my fears were unfounded.

“Wisdom will come into your heart. Knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Foresight will protect you. Understanding will guard you.” (Proverbs 2:10, GWT)

2. Identify lies
When I boiled down my fear to three different points I realized that I believed some pretty ridiculous things. Most importantly: the perception and approval of others was more important than the message I felt God had laid on my heart. Ouch.

“Am I saying this now to win the approval of people or God? Am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant.” (Galatians 1:10, GWT)

“The weapons we use in our fight are not made by humans. Rather, they are powerful weapons from God. With them we destroy people’s defenses, that is, their arguments and all their intellectual arrogance that oppose the knowledge of God. We take every thought captive so that it is obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, GWT)

3. Admit your Weakness
Confess to God your fears! After pinpointing the source of my fears and worries I was able to then turn them over to the Lord and admit that once again, I feared the disapproval of others. How freeing to admit and turn to the one who has the strength for our every weakness.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)

4. Claim God’s Promises
I can either choose to be ruled by my emotions and fears, or I can claim the words of God found in the Bible! When God promises you something, you can take it to the bank. Over and over He says to you, “You are valuable, I am for you, I love you, I have work for us to do and I will be the one to see it to completion!” Will we trust Him?

“Faith is believing or trusting a person, and its reasonableness depends on the reliability of the person being trusted. It is always reasonable to trust the trustworthy. And there is nobody more trustworthy than God…” (John Stott)

I may not know the source of your fears and how big they really are, but I do know how mighty, awesome, powerful and personal our God is. He will be with you wherever you are and wherever you go.

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” (Hebrews 10:39, NIV)

Facing Fears,
Ginger

Frying Pan

Confession: One of my biggest fears for as long as I can remember has been making a decision outside of God’s will. I think it paralyzed me for years. I have prayer journals filled with the like:

Lord, I am asking for you to speak clearly about the direction of my steps. My life is moving after you… wherever I am. Please show me the steps I should take. But what if I can’t hear you? I feel like I can’t hear!! I’m afraid of staying, but I’m questioning my motives for going. What do you want from me? I want that answer. Show me where I should go… India, Uganda, Bolivia, Peru, Texas, Right here? Housing situation? Roommate? Stay put? Plan for the future? Prepare for transition?

Can you hear the desperation and fear in my requests. Although I was coming to God in prayer, I was still terrified that somehow I would miss Him.

So rather than moving forward (here or there) in confidence, I clung to my square of carpet and declared, “I’m not going unless you tell me specifically where and when to move forward.”

God used my dear friend Adrianne to challenge me in my moment of fear. She wrote this to me in an e-mail:

God is drawing all things together under Christ, and our part is to pursue holiness and blamelessness in the midst. Ministry will happen in your life because you have already declared Christ as Lord and you live towards that end… so choose! God will close doors if he doesn’t want you there, but move forward.

I had forgotten that our God is constantly pushing us forward. Or as C.S. Lewis pointed to us through Narnia… “Aslan is on the move!” Our God is moving and we would be wise to step in and join Him.

Either God is powerful enough to direct and guide your steps… or He isn’t. I choose to believe that all power is His. So now my prayers have turned from the fearful, terrified fumbling to something more concrete.

Lord, I’m going to choose to step forward in this direction, believing that I’m joining you. If I’m wrong, please quickly hit me over the head with a frying pan of truth… whatever it takes for me to get the message!

It’s not poetic and it certainly won’t make it into a book of prayers any time soon, but it reminds me to keep the right perspective when I pray. God is greater than all of our fears.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV)

Facing Fears,
Ginger

Courage Habit

“We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are, to see through plastic sham to living, breathing reality, and to break down our defenses of self-protection in order to be free to receive and give love.” Madeleine L’Engle

FOOD HABIT
I am by nature, a creature of habit. I hang my keys in the same place each time I return home. I keep my socks folded and tucked away in their proper drawer. I think that’s why I resort to drastic measures when it comes to food selections. When shopping for cereal I make it my goal to never purchase the same product twice in a row. I could go eight months in between boxes of Cheerios, one of my favorites. If I don’t live on the edge in the morning, I probably won’t during the rest of my day. I used to be so predictable that you could tell me what I was about to order at any given restaurant. In recent years I have made it my goal to live life on the edge when dining, to incur some sort of a risk. If I don’t like lunch, I can always eat dinner, right? (Sometimes it’s the small victories that make your day.)

I’m not suggesting that food is a major fear for me. It’s not. (Quite the opposite, my friends.) I am telling you that my natural tendency is to play it safe. Sometimes it takes practicing courage in the simpler tasks to remind me that living without fear is possible.

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” -Ronald E. Osborn

COURAGE
Dictionary.com defines courage as the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery. I love that! Doesn’t it just make you want to run through a field screaming and waving a banner? Nope? Just me? Look, the only problem with this definition is that I do not think courage is one of my defining characteristics. The sad truth is that I line my bookshelves with inspiration, purchase maps of the world, and make life mission statements that would rival the greatest explorer. I take notes on anything that has to do with adventure… and yet sometimes I’m too afraid to actually explore.

Check out this definition of courage that came up in a Bible study: “taking action (despite fear) for a purpose.” I recognize that there isn’t a great moral or philosophical purpose in choosing Special K. I don’t expect to wake up tomorrow ready to take on the world, but I am taking steps daily toward reckless abandonment in every aspect of my life. I am asking that the Lord would show me where a fear of failure rips the courage out from under me. My fear isn’t heights, speaking in front of a crowd, or even being alone. My fear is missing out on the adventurous life God has for me because of my own self-doubts. Thankfully He is and will always be there to push and guide every step of the way.

“How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow on those who take refuge in you.” Psalm 31:19

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

What are you afraid of? How can you push yourself to be brave today?

Facing Fears,
Ginger