Fear of Failure, Tall Poppy Syndrome, and Nebraska Football

I don’t like doing things if I don’t know I’m going to succeed. This bent keeps me from enjoying simple activities like bowling or mini golf, but it could also rob me of the opportunity to fail, learn and grow in much more important areas.

I’m aware of my fear of failure, and I’ve been working to push past it for a while. In that fight, I’m realizing a new fear: I think I might also be afraid of wanting success, of wanting more than I have, of wanting to be better. I don’t want to be “extra” or a “try hard.”

Especially when I am doing something creative, and certainly anything public, I am afraid of the criticism, “Who do you think you are?” I’m afraid people will see what I am doing and think, “Oh, she thinks she’s so great, she thinks she’s really something.” “Well she has a high opinion of herself.” Continue reading

Waiting Patiently on God

Waiting Patiently on God

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him… Psalm 37:7

Does patience come easily to you, or is waiting a struggle?

My patience is subjective and situational. Now that my daily life doesn’t involve 3 year olds who insist on doing everything themselves, I find it easy to wait on a toddler who wants to zip her own jacket.  It is harder, but I choose to be patient with my kids (most of the time) when they’re acting their age. And I try to practice patience when waiting in line, as a driver, all the normal patience-testing parts of being alive.

But I am not so patient with myself. I get frustrated and discouraged to struggle with the same issues year after year. I know I’m growing and changing, but it’s so much easier to see how far I have to go, rather than how far I’ve come.

And it’s never actually occurred to me that I need to be patient with God. But that is the command in Psalm 37: Wait patiently on the Lord.

The instruction to rest in the Lord and wait patiently on Him sounds quite passive to me. But the psalmist isn’t telling us to sit out of life and do nothing. The Hebrew words translated here are active words. The word for rest does mean to be silent and still. But the word translated “wait patiently” has child-birth undertones: travailing, bringing forth. Birthing is definitely not a passive image of waiting.

What are you waiting on God for?Are you waiting patiently?

I think about the things that make me anxious. Things I’d like to manage or control, outcomes I’d like guaranteed. I think about the unknowns in my future, about the uncertainties in my present. I think about advent and the kind of Christmas season I’d prefer to have (but may not even be a reasonable expectation, given my family and circumstances.)

In those things, what would it look like for me to be silent before God?

In those things, what would it look like for me to wait patiently on God to work, like a mother bearing down as she gives birth?

I don’t necessarily like my answers to these questions, and I don’t love the idea that waiting on God is like childbirth. Because birth involves pain, and silence doesn’t come easily to me.

However.

If I really believe that what God is doing in my life is good… If I believe in His presence and goodness, if I believe the outcome of my waiting is new life, joy, relationship, love…. If I trust God, can I choose to wait patiently?

The people of Israel waiting for generations for the promise of the Messiah to show up in the person of Jesus. Are we willing to wait?

Open up before God, keep nothing back; He’ll do whatever needs to be done:

He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day  and stamp you with approval at high noon. Quiet down before God, be prayerful before him. (Psalm 37:5-7, The Message)

 

Journaling Prompts:

How do you respond to the idea of patient waiting as being work, active, like childbirth? Is this helpful imagery, or hard to get your mind around? Why?

What are you waiting on God for? Is it easy or hard for you to be patient in this waiting? Why?

What in God’s character and your history with Him helps you to wait patiently on HIm?

 

This is today’s devotional from Waiting on God: A 4 week Advent Devotional, which started last week. If you’re interested: You can purchase the Ebook here, or SIGN UP HERE to receive it for free via email (starting with tomorrow’s devotional).

I’ve been amazed and encouraged that so many have purchased or signed up, it is such a gift to be on this journey with so many!

What I’m Reading Right Now: November Book Reviews

In addition to my regular responsibilities, I  worked around the clock this month to get my advent devotional ready to go, and thought I hadn’t finished any books at all.  But look: I finished 6 great books! Well, I finished 4 great books and one I didn’t love as much as I expected, and I’ll finish one today or tomorrow but can’t wait to tell you about it.

November Book Reviews

This month I’m listing my books according to my enjoyment/recommendation level (from greatest to least!) If you’ve read any of these, I’d love to hear what you think.

Continue reading

Waiting on God in Silence

Waiting on God in Silence (1)

My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation… Psalm 62:1

Historically Advent is a season of quiet waiting. God’s people wait in stillness for His arrival, His coming, God-With-Us. We will conclude Advent singing of silent wonder. It is one of my favorite memories of Christmases past and present: A quiet church with voices, and perhaps candles, raised, singing “Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright.”

The irony of that song in what we’ve made of this season never fails to get my attention. Sometimes it is funny and sometimes heartbreaking. Silent Night, Holy Night? If I want any quiet at all during the Christmas season, I have to fight for it, and fight hard.

Because Christmas can be LOUD.

This season is a cacophony of lists, lists of things we want, lists of things to buy, lists of good deeds to do, lists of gatherings to attend. December clangs with the music of parties, the raised voices of maybe more family time than anyone needs, the strident call of all the obligations and expectations we put on ourselves. For some of us, this season is also loud with the wail of unspoken pain. Lost loved ones, lost hopes and dreams, loneliness.

What would it look like, in the midst of this loud season, to carve out some quiet for your soul? Can you choose a regular daily time to step out of your lists, to turn off the noise, to take your pain or your joy and sit in silence with God?

Can you reserve some moments at the beginning or end of your day to sit with Jesus and wait? Perhaps over your lunch hour, or your littles’ nap time?

I am convinced our souls need more silence than this loud world provides. Don’t wait for Christmas Eve to enjoy a silent moment.

I invite you to join me during this season of Advent, to set aside time to intentionally, purposefully wait on God, in silence.

My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him.

He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.

On God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.

Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah. (Psalm 62:5-8)

Journaling Prompts:

What feels loud in your life right now?

As you step into this advent season, where can you set aside some time to be quiet, to be with Jesus and learn to wait on God?

What is your hope this Advent season? What do you want from God, for what are you waiting?

 

This was day 1 of my 4 week Advent Devotional: Waiting on God, which started on Monday. If you’re interested:

You can purchase the Ebook here, or

SIGN UP HERE to receive it for free via email (starting with tomorrow’s devotional).

I’ve been amazed and encouraged that so many have purchased or signed up, it is such a gift to be on this journey with so many.

Waiting on God: A 4 Week Advent Devotional (PDF NOW AVAILABLE!)

Reposting this to let you know that the Waiting on God: A 4 Week Advent Devotional is now available for sale on PDF!  (scroll down, or click the link in the menu) If you’re interested in getting it daily, for free, in your email, that link is below as well!
I learned a long time ago that I need to set aside time in December to sit still. To be quiet. To make space for my soul, to reserve some of my attention for prayer, journaling, God’s Word.

My celebration of Jesus on December 25th is so much richer and more meaningful when I make room, daily, to turn my eyes to Jesus throughout the month of December.

Would you like to join me in observing Advent this year? I  invite you to clear some space in your December to listen, to be quiet, to turn your eyes to Jesus.

Traditionally, the Christian Church has observed Advent in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Advent is a time of waiting. Waiting for the celebration of the birth of Christ. Remembering the years humanity spent waiting for the Messiah King. Reminding ourselves that we wait still, for Jesus to fulfill His Kingdom and redeem and restore this earth and His people.

With that in mind, I’ve written an Advent study exploring different aspects of Waiting On God.

“Waiting on God: A 4 Week Advent Devotional” will walk us through the weeks leading up to Christmas, inviting us to sit with Jesus, to welcome Him into our Christmas preparations, allowing us to make space to listen to Him and respond.

If you’d like to join me, you have two choices

BUY THE EBOOK

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If you’d like the entire devotional, either to print or to read on Kindle or iBooks, you can purchase it for $5 by clicking the button below. I think it looks FANTASTIC on Kindle (if you saw my facebook live, you know how excited I am about this), plus I love the idea of being able to read and process without being on my email or phone.


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** Important! After you click through and pay, you’ll be taken to a receipt page. From there, you need to click on the RETURN TO SELLER link, which will take you to a page where you can download the PDF.

RECEIVE VIA EMAIL FOR FREE

From Monday 11/27 through Monday 12/25, you’ll receive an email with that day’s devotional. Each will include a scripture to meditate on, my devotional thoughts, and journaling prompts to lead you deeper into your own experience of waiting on God through the advent season.

Sign up here to receive Waiting on God: An Advent Devotional for free.

I have loved putting this together for you – I hope you’ll join me!

Download Waiting On God: A 4 Week Advent Study

I Have an Early Christmas Gift for YOU!

A week from Thanksgiving, I can feel the pressure of the Christmas season bearing down on us.

Our family is 2 adults, 3 kids, 5 sets of grandparents, and more cousins than I can count, scattered over 6 states. Like yours, my Christmas involves lists and recipes and travel and gift wrap and parties, and perhaps more festivity than one woman can handle.

It’s easy for me to lose Jesus in the middle of all of that.

I learned a long time ago that I need to set aside time in December to sit still. To be quiet. To make space for my soul, to reserve some of my attention for prayer, journaling, God’s Word.

My celebration of Jesus on December 25th is so much richer and more meaningful when I make room, daily, to turn my eyes to Jesus throughout the month of December.

Would you like to join me in observing Advent this year? I  invite you to clear some space in your December to listen, to be quiet, to turn your eyes to Jesus. Come, celebrate Advent with me?

Traditionally, the Christian Church has observed Advent in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Advent is a time of waiting. Waiting for the celebration of the birth of Christ. Remembering the years humanity spent waiting for the Messiah King. Reminding ourselves that we wait still, for Jesus to fulfill His Kingdom and redeem and restore this earth and His people.

With that in mind, I’ve written an Advent study exploring different aspects of Waiting On God.

“Waiting on God: A 4 Week Advent Devotional” will walk us through the weeks leading up to Christmas, inviting us to sit with Jesus, to welcome Him into our Christmas preparations, allowing us to make space to listen to Him and respond.

AVAILABLE NOW:

Sign up here to receive Waiting on God: An Advent Devotional for free. From Monday 11/27 through Monday 12/25, you’ll receive an email with that day’s devotional. Each will include a scripture to meditate on, my devotional thoughts, and journaling prompts to lead you deeper into your own experience of waiting on God through the advent season.

COMING SOON:

I am making the entire study available for sale as a PDF download,  for those of you who prefer a study that you can hold in your hands.

I have loved putting this together for you – I hope you’ll join me!

 

Waiting on God Advent Devotional (Insta)

Where Am I Looking for Security?

Deuteronomy 33:12 About Benjamin he said: “Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.”

I love the picture in this verse of the one who is LOVED by the Lord, living in safety, shielded by the Lord, resting between His shoulders. But all too often, my life is not reflective of this picture of security – I don’t live this truth.

Too often my experience is insecurity.

A few years ago, the Lord had me on a journey finally really doing battle for security. It lasted months, and in many ways I am still learning. I’ve found the roots of insecurity in my search for validation of my worth and value from the world and those around me. I want acceptance, so I think I need to earn it.

I know I am not alone in this. From childhood we learn expect the world outside us to reflect security, value, worth back to us.

If I’m looking to something for my value, my worth, my identity, I’d better make sure it’s something that’s going to accurately reflect where my security comes from.

I am learning that Jesus (who He is and what He says about me) is the only safe place for me to look for my value, worth and identity. Jesus is the only accurate reflection, the only source of security I can trust.

One thing I’ve learned in the search for security: Our focus on externals is a big trap.

HOW HAS FOCUS ON EXTERNAL THINGS CREATED AREAS OF INSECURITY FOR YOU?

I think you can begin to see some of these things by thinking about what you were complimented or criticized for when you were a child.

If you were criticized for something as a child, it makes sense that you’d grow up with that as an area of insecurity – something that makes you feel bad about yourself.

What areas did you feel criticized for, things about you that didn’t measure up? For me, this was my appearance (no one in my immediate family ever said this, but I grew up feeling like my sister was “the pretty one” and I was “the smart one.” Unfair to both of us.) Also, my weight – looking back, I was not overweight, but I was the biggest member of my family, built curvier and sturdier than my mom, stepmom or sisters. Add to that the fact that my mom, stepmom, and sisters were all chronic dieters and it was a recipe for insecurity.

Does it seem strange to you that we might develop insecurity about things we’re complimented for? Sometimes the areas we receive positive feedback about can become needs and feed drives. Little girls who receive a lot of attention for being pretty can begin to believe their appearance is the most important thing about them, and can become unhealthy in areas related to their bodies and appearance. Children who are complimented for their grades and achievements can become unhealthily driven to succeed.

What are the areas you were complimented on as a child, areas where you learned to find security? For me, this was being obedient, a good girl. Being a good student, an achiever, a pleaser – I did what was expected of me, and to this day the feeling of being “unapproved” by authority figures is a giant insecurity trigger.

What would it look like for us to let go of everything for which we are criticized and complimented? What if instead of looking to the world to affirm our worth or value, we looked to the one who made us?

What if we began to listen to His whisper to each of us that we are beloved of the Lord? Can you see yourself resting between His shoulders?

Deuteronomy 33:12 About Benjamin he said: “Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.”

 

 

Photo used in title image by Rab Fyfe on Unsplash

 

The hardest part of parenting, #13: Letting Kids Learn From Their Mistakes

I chatted with a friend last week who is pretty sure she is not going to survive middle school with her daughter. As I listened, I found myself thinking and saying, “Isn’t that just the hardest thing about being a parent?” Except there wasn’t just one hardest thing, there were maybe 7, in that one conversation, with one friend.

There is way more than ONE hardest part of parenting. So I decided to write a (periodic and probably sporadic) series on the 26 hardest parts of parenting.*

The hardest part of parenting, #13: Letting Kids Learn From Their Mistakes

I am not naturally a helicopter mom, or prone to hovering, but just typing “let them learn from their mistakes” makes me feel anxious. I believe in natural consequences, and I think all kids learn better from experience than from words or lectures.

But the older my kids get, the harder I feel the temptation to rescue them from their mistakes. I think about the hard lessons I learned, socially and personally, and I don’t want my boys to have to learn the hard way.

When my kids were young, I did need to rescue them (sometimes). And when they didn’t know how to do something (or were doing it in a way that would harm themselves and others), it was my actual job to put my hands on theirs and show them how to do it, literally and figuratively.

But now that they are getting older, I know I need to take my hands off. If not immediately and all at once, then slowly and progressively as they approach the teenage years and adulthood.

The Selfie Podcast last week** had a great conversation about the healthy practice of detachment (which I was only vaguely familiar with.) The counselor they interviewed encouraged parents to provide their kids with a safe place to make mistakes and to fall. She talked about toddlers learning to walk: We remember that moment when our little one first took her hand off the coffee table. Not one of us steps in and shouts, “Don’t let go! You might fall!” We hold out our hands to them, inviting them to step away from safety, knowing they will fall. But knowing as well that falling is a natural part of learning to walk.

That is so easy and natural with toddlers learning to walk. But with school aged kids learning to make friends? With middle schoolers learning to take care of their bodies and responsibilities? With high schoolers applying to college and negotiating romantic relationships?

I seriously do not love that falling is part of learning to walk. I don’t love that failure is a necessary part of learning to be an adult.

Nearly every really important life lesson I’ve ever learned had to be learned the hard way. Why am I so driven to protect my children from “the hard way”?

I have to ask myself:

Where is the line between being a coach and a consultant, and being a nag, a helicopter parent, a rescuer?

Where does my son need a reminder to fulfill his responsibilities, and where am I acting like it is my homework, my test grade, my future on the line?

Where can I coach and help my boys learn about relationships, appropriate ways to treat  and value people? And where am I trying to shield and protect them from my own regrets and hardest lessons?

How can I provide a safe, loving, accepting environment for these precious future adults to learn from their mistakes?

How can I provide a soft place to land now, so that they can enter the wider world not afraid of making mistakes?

 

 

* I’m not sure there will actually be 26, but can’t rule it out. And I chose to start with 13 because #1 seems like it should be for real the hardest thing, and I’m not sure what I think that is yet.

** Selfie is a great podcast, but in this particular episode you need to know that before you get to the amazing self-care and parenting conversation on detachment, they have 30 minutes on pubic hair. Yep, you read that correctly. So if you’re not interested in the care and keeping of your nether regions (or if, like me, you never considered anything beyond going ahem au naturel, so you don’t want to think about wax or laser removal or clippers down there), skip to the 28 minute mark.

 

Photo in images by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Insiders and Outsiders, in need of Grace {A Devotional on Jesus and the Pharisees in Luke 11}

I wandered into the Church when I was 19, an outsider in every sense and found grace and love and Jesus. I was one of the sinners Jesus welcomed, not at all like the Pharisees He condemned.

But it wasn’t long before I became an insider. And I like being an insider. I like clear lines between who’s in and who’s out, between who’s wrong and who’s right.

Somewhere along the way, I became less like the sinners Jesus welcomed, and more like the Pharisees He rebuked.

I am helping lead a Bible study this Fall for a precious community of women who are studying the table scenes in the book of Luke, looking at the way Jesus treated and interacted with people. I love how this study is allowing us to focus on passages and conversations that don’t always make the Sunday School Top 10. For example: That time a Pharisee invited Jesus to lunch, and He spent the meal rebuking his host and his host’s friends. #awkward

I learned a LOT from my study of the Pharisees, and the drift toward phariseeism in my own life. I think this is the natural drift of humanity, the pull toward being a religious insider. And I want to take this seriously, learn from this passage and respond the Jesus’ rebuke.

What does Jesus rebuke the Pharisees for in this awkward lunch?

Cleaning up the outside while letting the inside grow rot.

Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness. You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also? But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you. (Luke 11:39-41)

This metaphor is such a compelling image. Imagine coming over to my house and admiring my beautiful dishes, shiny and sparkling, and then finding maggoty food inside them.

When I was first making notes on this passage, one of my take aways was “inside > outside”. And if you stick with the metaphor, it is more important for the inside of the cup to be clean. But the point here is that God made the WHOLE CUP! My outward actions AND my inward heart are God’s, and I want to care for both. I need the blood of Christ for BOTH.

The outside is what people see, so the outside is what the world cares about, and it’s easy for the outside (my appearance and actions) to become my focus. But the whole cup is God’s.

My questions for myself, for us in response to this idea of making sure we’re not valuing outsides over insides:

  • On a very basic, surface level: How much time do I spend on my appearance v. my character? How much time do I spend on Jesus-oriented or Christian activities that people see compared to invisible things, caring for my heart, character, soul?
  •  Do I talk ABOUT God more than I talk TO God?
  •  As a parent (UGH.): To what extent am I driven in my parenting by what people think of ME? Do I have success as a Christian parent wrapped up in my children’s behavior?

Jesus also rebukes the Pharisees for

Pride.

“You love the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the market places…” (Luke 11:43)

 Pride tends to make us into nonlisteners. We can speak, but we cannot hear. We think no one has anything to tell us. If so, we are slipping into a legalistic, prideful mind-set, which is death to genuine spirituality.  (NIVAC)

 This one is the most convicting to me. Pride is such a danger to our souls, particularly in matters of faith and religion.

Pride puts me at the center of the universe. Pride can twist even the most spiritual, holy behavior, and make it about me.

I look like I’m serving others, I’m serving God. But if it’s rooted in pride – in being important, in getting titles or positions, or even just the lovely important feeling of being needed and necessary – then it’s for me, not for you or for God. GROSS. Lord Jesus, save us from the temptation to “preen ourselves in the radiance of public flattery.”

So I ask myself, and I ask you:

  • With every action, choice, habit, especially those others see: Who is this FOR? What is my WHY? And I try to answer honestly…
  • When I’m not thanked or appreciated or noticed, how do I respond? And what does that tell me about my motivations?
  •  My God, whom I love and follow, had no place to lay His head. He was a homeless itinerant. He had no material possessions, and walked the road to the cross, laying down His life. Am I using Him to advance my own fame, my own reputation?

 

The Pharisees in Luke 11 do not respond well to Jesus’ rebuke. I believe He spoke in love for them, as He speaks in love for me.

Am I humble enough to hear Jesus, even if He’s revealing things I don’t want to see?

 

Photo in my image by Ehud Neuhaus on Unsplash

What I’m Reading: October Book Reviews

October Book Reviews: Jayber Crow, The Four Tendencies, Young Jane Young, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, First Frost, As You Wish, Someone Else's Love Story

I am in the middle of about 6 books right now. Seriously, I need to stick with one at a time. But I’m usually listening to one, and reading a fiction and a non-fiction. At the moment I had so many non-fiction books I want to read I started a bunch and read whatever I feel like in the moment.

When I realized it was time for my October books post, I thought I might just have one or two books to talk about, since I’m in the middle of so many. I was happy to see I managed to read SEVEN in October. Not counting the six I started and haven’t finished yet. Yay for good books!

Unfortunately not all of my October reads were actually good books, I struggled to get through a couple of these but there were also some real winners, including one I’m all but bullying other people into reading.

I only finished two non-fiction books this month, both on audio, and both of which I enjoyed and can’t really name a favorite because they are so different from each other.

For my fiction winner, I have to go with my first Wendell Berry book. I am still starry eyed about his writing, and this story.

Read on for more good books!

Continue reading