Growing in Confidence

How do you grow in confidence? That was my word. Confidence. As I sat at the Global Leadership Summit almost two weeks ago, I was challenged as Craig Groeschel delivered the final message on leadership. He told people to pick one word from his list of five areas to focus on over the next year. It’s overwhelming to pick too many areas to improve. So choose one. One area to increase your capacity over the next year.dawn-sunset-person-sunrise-medium

I chose an area to increase my capacity. My capacity as a leader. As a thought leader. As a ministry leader. As a family leader. As a person. Confidence. Confidence was my word. How do I grow in my confidence and expand my influence and capacity over the next year?

“Rise up. Rise up.” Those were the words from God. To me. “Rise up because I have called you and I will equip you. Rise up and walk. Rise up and go.”

Yet here I am. Over two years later after receiving that message. I’m still here. Wait. No to the “Yet”. There is no yet. I have stood up in the confidence of Jesus. Not of my own doing. I moved to a different state. I started a new ministry. I have created. Not of my own doing, but of the one who has called me and equipped me to do so.

Do I stop here? Do I rest here? Is that it? No. Because I feel called to more. I know in my brain that He will equip me for every good work. Yet I often sit in fear. Fear of other’s words. Fear of other’s opinions. Fear of not measuring up. Fear of not being good enough.

Girl, read what you just wrote. Read what He wrote through you. Read what He just wrote to you. No to the “Yet”. There is no yet. There is no pause. There is no pause to wait for confidence to begin. There is no pause to wait for life to start. There is no yet. There is no yet to sit in the fear. There is no sitting in the fear. Don’t hold still in the fear. Don’t be paralyzed in the fear. Don’t hide in the fear.

Perfect love drives out fear. He is perfect love. Perfect. He perfectly loves me. He perfectly calls me. He will perfectly equip me. With. Out. Fear.

It’s okay to see the fear. It’s okay to feel the fear. It’s okay to wrestle with the fear. It’s okay to face the fear. Because when I feel I can’t go on I get to ask my perfect Heavenly Father to show me the Angels. Show me your armies who are fighting for me. Show them to me lined up, shoulder to shoulder, ready to battle. For me. Battle for me. Because there is no yet. No waiting. No idling. No more trying to do this on my own. No more trying to build confidence in my own strength. I can’t. I surrender. I surrender to the “Yet”. I wave the white flag to the “Yet”. I stop living in the “Yet”. I am not the “Yet”. No more living in the pause.

I am done waiting. I am done waiting to step into confidence. I am done waiting to step into the life You have called me to. Because You have already promised to do more than I can even dream to ask for or imagine. I know you will equip me. I know you will make the way. I know You will bless this. Because You have ordained this. You have said it will be so.

So I say no to the “Yet”. No to the waiting. No to the pause. No to the fear. You are no longer welcome in my life. In this moment, right now, I step forward into the confidence you graciously give and stand in confident expectation to be used by You.

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God Redeems Even Ugly Parenting

IMG_0405Have you ever had one of those truly awful parenting moments? One that you think back on and shudder with regret? Remorse? Maybe you acted before thinking. Maybe you spoke words that wounded your child. Maybe your anger from another situation spilled over to your kids.   Perhaps you were overprotective and kept them from a situation that in hindsight would have been amazing. Maybe it was worse.

Let me first tell you this: We’ve all been there. Many times. Raising children is hard, messy business. And we never have it all figured out. Just when we think we’ve reached a place of understanding and maybe experienced a bit of auto-pilot with our kids and life, boom, it changes again. They grow and change. We hit difficult situations. We react. Sometimes in a way completely opposite of grace and love. Maybe we feel shame. Regret. Sadness. Depression. Anxiety.

As difficult as those situations and the consequences are, know this: God Redeems. Yes, He redeems us through the life, death and resurrection of His Son. And he redeems all of these moments with our kids. Good and bad. Hard and difficult. Shameful and regretful. There are a few things I have learned through this process:

I can stand with confident expectation that God will use these ugly situations for His good. He will grow us through them. He will show us a new way when we’re open to His course correction. He will always walk beside us and be there for us.

Knowing and being reminded that He is there prompts me to ask for forgiveness. First, I ask Jesus to forgive my transgressions. Forgiveness for not walking with His heart and wounding His children. Then, I have to ask for forgiveness from my own children. Yes, even as parents we need to admit our faults and ask for forgiveness. We can apologize for our mistakes, talk about what we’re learning about ourselves and God through the situation, and we must ask for forgiveness.

I’m not saying this is an easy process. Asking our children for forgiveness can seem like an odd choice, but it’s a necessary choice.   As we do this we’re modeling Christ for our children. We’re modeling His heart to the children He has entrusted to us. During this time we know that we can rest in Him. He will be there, He will guide us, He will give us the words to say when we don’t even know what to say.

He alone is our source and we need to stay connected to Him rather than seeking affirmation, contentment or absolution elsewhere. When we have those ugly parenting moments we can be tempted to turn to our friends, get lost in addictions, or go into hiding from God.   Those may be easier in the short term, but so damaging in the long run. We need to know we can turn to Christ right in the situation. As soon as we recognize it.

Remember, you are not alone. Be encouraged, have faith, and trust that God will redeem even your ugly parenting moments.

Enjoying the Gift Giver

Do you remember as a child when a distant aunt & uncle or grandparents would come to visit? Or maybe just a close family friend you didn’t get to see often would stay over? They either lived far away or life was just too busy to see them often.

I spent nine years living in Alaska as a child, so there was definitely a distance issue for us. But I loved the times my grandparents would visit. And they usually brought gifts! Good gifts!! I remember waiting and waiting for them, actually standing by the side of the road. My brother and I would dream of what kids of things they would bring us.

Then, after much anticipation, they would finally arrive! Lots of hugs, maybe a few tears of joy, several, “I can’t believe how tall you’ve gotten!” comments. Then we would ask, with a mix of eagerness and hesitation, “Did you bring us anything?” We were like kids on the ultimate Christmas morning!

My grandfather would snap us back to reality. “Hey! We just got here! Give me another hug! Besides, maybe we did bring you something, but it’s buried somewhere in the motorhome. So you’ll have to wait. Come, sit here beside me, tell me what you do during your days. You’ll have to show me all the places you go and introduce me to your friends. But for now, let me just hug you and hold you. Let me just enjoy you!”

Those were sweet times. I don’t even really remember any of the gifts. (Except for one Christmas when they bought me a much desired Mets baseball jacket!) I just loved being in their presence! Hearing grandpa’s funny stories and silly one-liners. Watching grandma lovingly care for us, making sure we had a shower that morning and every few minutes asking, “Can I get you anything? Can I make you a sandwich? Are you sure? Want a cookie?!”gift

They are both gone now. And it’s not the gifts and the things I remember most about them. It’s that they wanted to spend time with me. They wanted to know me. They wanted to enjoy me. And yes, they wanted to bless me.

It was fabulous to curl up in their laps as a child, to find refuge with their arms around me. To feel grandma’s naturally long nails running through my hair or scratching my back. I just loved to snuggle into them and spend time with them. I loved to just enjoy them.

Those memories bring a sweet smile to my face. Easy going times just resting in their presence. And as I reflect on those times, I wonder how often I just rest in my Heavenly Father’s presence. How often do I just sit with Him, letting Him know me rather than clinging for the good gifts He promises.

Jesus longs to bless us. He wants to give us good gifts. Sometimes He even lets us see a glimpse of what is to come. When He’s done that for me, I instantly feel like that wide-eyed child again. “For me? Really?! That’s what you want to give me?!”

Eager anticipation sets in! Because that is usually a glimpse, a foretaste of what is to come. Not yet. Not now. So I set about in my human ways. Ok! If that’s what Father God wants for me, I had better set to work to get to that spot. I should either live life fully until that point or be consumed and busy working to get it!

Then, the Holy Spirit gently whispers and reminds me of a few things. “Hey! Just sit with us awhile. Just enjoy us. Father God longs to bless, and you can wait with confident expectation that He will bless you. But in the waiting, just sit and enjoy His presence. Be reminded of who He is to you. Snuggle in the embrace. Enjoy His creation. Enjoy the gift giver—the one who gives good gifts—more than the gift itself.