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Category Archives: Unafraid

Faith in Motion {Nourish Your Soul: Day 17}

When we come to Jesus, He gives us what we need for every next step. He gives us faith. He gives us His Spirit.

And that is how we move by faith into every next step. That is how He nourishes our souls. Somehow when we move, even when we feel like we don’t have it in us, He gives us what we need for every. next. step.

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But sometimes it feels like He forgot because the fog is thick, the steps are steep and we can’t see the other side. In fact, we can’t even imagine how we’ll get to the next step, much less the top of them.

That’s when we come back to Him and trust Him for that next move, look to Him for the energy and strength to take that next step.

And always. He shows up and strengthens us enough for it. Always and without fail.

Because when we trust Him as the Master of our lives, His Holy Spirit lives inside of us. He promised.

As you go into your weekend, look toward next week, is there something that looks too steep to climb? Fog that looks too thick to conquer?

Come to Jesus. Live. By faith. Soul nourished, Spirit alive, faith in motion.

Because, really, it’s the only way.

Question for you: I would count it a privilege to pray for you this weekend. Are you facing something that looks scary or too steep? How can I pray for you? Let me know in the comments? I promise I will pray.

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When You’re Afraid of Your Dreams

Last year in Germany, God pulled me through a season of ripping off chains I didn’t even know I wore. Chains that looked like fear and anxious and opposite of peace.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

He used abrasives sometimes. Like morning bus rides full of Germans and afternoon bus rides with people I did not understand.

Other times, He gently peeled away the layers of my afraid. Like when I’d walk into the butcher shop and she would greet me with happy words and smiles and helpful hands. Always helpful serving hands. Even though I couldn’t understand most of her words, the Metzgerei’s friendliness helped peel away pieces of anxiety chains so I could know what real life means.

The kind Jesus promised I could have if I’d trust Him and fear God alone.

So a few weeks ago in church, when we studied the story of Barak and how afraid he was of doing what God asked, I really didn’t think I had many fears left.

Until the end of the service when it was time to name my fear.

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It was a fill-in-the-blank deal. We each had a piece of paper that read just like this: “I fear ____________________” And we were supposed to write down what we were afraid might happen if we do what God asks.

I sat in my church seat and asked God if I still had fears I needed to hand over to Him.

Then He gave me an answer in the form of a thought, and I knew what I needed to write on that line.

I fear screwing up my kids if I go all-in with my writing.

I have long dreamed of being a writer and a speaker, writing a best-seller someday, speaking to groups about real life in Jesus Christ. But until recently it has only been that. A dream.

And now suddenly it seems I am faced with the realization that the dream was actually put there by God. And it’s what He wants for me.

And all the what-ifs of those dreams becoming reality are starting to surface.

I already knew that following Jesus meant giving up my life, trusting Him with every ounce of everything I have. So I thought I was denying myself by offering Him my dreams. Because I know He called me to be a wife and a mom first. And in my head I haven’t been able to reconcile the two.

How could I be both really well at the same time?

What I had not considered was the truth that following Jesus means offering Him both. My dreams and my family.

I’m not the one who decides. He is.

I’m not saying God wants me to deny my family. But I believe He is calling me to trust Him with the time issues that will be required of me if I go all-in with pursuing this dream.

I have long struggled with the idea of doing ministry so hard I ignore my kids and my family. Or I make them hate God for calling me to it.

But until that morning sitting in church, I had not considered that trusting God with my dreams, denying myself, might just mean He helps me keep it in balance. He doesn’t let me turn my writing or my dream into an idol that steals time from my family.

I had not considered that by denying my full-on chasing of the dream for fear of making it an idol, I was making my family an idol all its own.

I hadn’t even thought about the fact that by not going all-in as I pursue this dream to make Jesus known, I have been disobeying Him and trusting my own understanding of how I think it’s going to work.

What about you? Is there a dream God has given you that you’ve been scared to chase? Is there a passion you have that you’ve long ignored because you thought it would be selfish to pursue it?

Do you think you could trust God to figure out the details?

 

**I’m thinking of doing a Wednesday series here about dream-chasing. Do you like that idea? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

 

The Only Shadow That Does Not Change

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty . . . He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge. (Psalm 91:1,4)

If we let Him hold us between His two wings, we can rest. Right inside His shadow.

And His shadow is huge.

My daughter reminded me how big our shadows sometimes are. You know, depending on which side of the sun we’re on.

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I thought about that truth and remembered the promise somewhere in the Bible about God and shifting shadows, and I had to use the cross reference guide in the back of my Bible to find it.

. . . the Father of the heavenly lights . . . does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

So there’s plenty of room to rest. And we don’t even have to hurry it up before the sun switches sides and His shadow gets tiny.

Because it never will.

Remembering that today. This week. These last few months as we deal with things we sometimes feel like God forgot to filter out.

As we let Him guard us with His great big wings even as He continues to strip us of the stuff that we don’t need.

And we are clinging to the promise that if we rest, His shadow will not change. He will hold us fast. Keep us near His breastbone, between His shoulders, under His wings.

To Actively Remember: Honoring The Ones Memorial Day is For

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My parents came to visit us when we lived in Paris, France. We took a day-trip to Normandy. It was Memorial Day Weekend, 2005.
We’d been on this side of the Atlantic for about three months, but it felt good to be on official U.S. soil. The American National Cemetery at Omaha Beach is officially the United States of America.
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It is dedicated to the soldiers who gave everything they had in order to protect everything they knew.
They gave it all to defend the freedom of those back home. The liberty of those of us who were not yet born.
We walked around, peered over the edge and imagined the terror that had happened on the sand in front of us. The bunker in the hill made my heart beat hard, as I imagined the fighting, the death, the spilling blood, the loud screams.
My dad fought in Vietnam. His dad fought in the war that made the place where we stood U.S. property. He wasn’t there in the fighting. My grandfather was stationed far away from the D-Day horrors in the land of Burma, where he secured more of our freedom.
Still, all I could think about was the courage it took for each one of my patriarchs — my dad, my grandpa, every soldier approaching those Normandy beaches — to give what they gave. To shun their fear for the sake of my freedom. To face untold horrors on my behalf. So I might not have to.
We walked among the white crosses. They beautifully lined the entire plot of land. My then three-year-old skipped in her little Gymboree red white and blue dress as her ten-month-old sister watched and giggled.
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I felt bad about that. Because it’s such a solemn place. So serious. So much blood in the soil on which our feet now stood. Skipped. Ran.
Then I looked at my dad, who’d known the realities of war. I remembered that was why he did it. So we could stand there that day. So they could skip and run and dance. Freely.
He survived the war in that Asian land a true hero. Injured by shrapnel from an exploding bomb.
He is my hero. He is America’s hero.
My dad’s courage inspires me.
That I could stand there on U.S. soil won with lives whose memories marked the land, stand there with my hero whose bravery secured my footing — I will never forget that moment.
And today I will do more than not forget those who gave their lives so I could live as I do today. I will actively remember.
*I’m pretty sure my dad’s going to be reading this today. (Hi Dad!) He knew so many who gave their lives for our freedom. Would you be willing to leave a quick note in the comments honoring their memories and the memories of all who have?

When Terror Hits Home and You’re Not There

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Last summer when America went crazy for chicken (or at least about it) as Dan Cathy proclaimed his belief in the Biblical definition of marriage, I read about it on facebook. I watched through the eyes of a foreigner as friends fought with words and took action both for and against the stand of Chick-fil-A.

I read in July about a man with a gun in a Colorado movie theater. And my heart broke for the fear of those nearby. For the horror of those affected. I watched from afar, an onlooker glad for the non-option of taking my kids to the movies last summer, living in this foreign-speaking land in which we only knew a few words.

In mid-December, when a shooter walked into an Oregon mall and started shooting, I was checking up on facebook and noticed my cousin’s status. She lives in Oregon. So I did a quick search and found news of a man in a Christmas-shopper-filled mall walking in and shooting three people, including himself.

Two days later I was sitting on my couch when I first learned a 20-year-old man had wreaked havoc at an elementary school in Connecticut, killing 27 people. Again, it was facebook that informed me of the horror.

I cried.

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When my kids saw me crying I realized the blessing of the built-in filter through which they could learn the news. No picture-filled newscasts. No background screaming and crying as news anchors interview parents or friends or teachers.

Then I read status after story after blog post and more about the fear such news evoked in my friends at home in the States. Afraid to send their kids to school. Not sure whether homeschooling might be an option.

Being 4284.8 miles away from home gives me a different, almost detached perspective on national tragedies.

I have to choose my news sources. Have to seek it out. Often I can’t find more than a few sources to choose from, so I read what I can find. Of course we get German news, but we understand little, so we mostly avoid it.

As such, I find myself in a unique position.

I see my friends react from inside the fray of the ever-so-close terror, and my heart reels  as I watch somewhat objectively from these thousands of miles away.

I understand the fear. I used to live inside it.

It’s the kind that holes you up, leaves you lifeless and shaking, pretending for your kids that everything is fine. Begging God to protect you, to protect them, from the evil that seems to be exponentially multiplying, getting closer by the day. Lurking just behind the gun laws and the new alert systems and the border patrols.

I know that fear well.

And I am tempted to let it back in when I see my friend’s status Monday night asking for prayer for a friend running in Boston whose safety is yet unknown. It prompts me to search twitter then CNN.com.

Yes, fear knocks loudly when I read about bombs that take lives and limbs and the joy of the finish from both runners and loved-ones alike during America’s iconic marathon in Boston.

Suddenly those less-than eight weeks left here in the Land of the Deutsch sound less appealing, and I wonder if we should just stay here.

Do I really want to return to that place where people get shot just for going to a movie? Or Christmas shopping? Or school? Where bombs blow up people just cheering on their dad who’s running the race of his lifetime?

I am tempted all day to re-think my excitement. What if we just stayed here? Maybe we could avoid the terror that might happen when we get home.

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Then the bobbling buoy of truth takes an above-the-water swing, and I grab it long enough to remember. It’s the truth about fear and afraid of which I cannot lose sight.

There is a certain kind of afraid that will actually lead us into more life rather than keep us from it. It’s called the fear of God.

With all that I am, I remember that God is worth fearing because He is good. He Himself is real life. And if I bank on that truth, I will only live.

He is good enough to know what’s best. Good enough to not let me go where He is not.

I can say boldly that somehow, even in the middle of that summertime movie theater, that elementary school hallway in Newtown, Connecticut. Yes, even in the midst of that Boston street yesterday — God is still good. He is still worth fearing.

He is so good that He grieves with the victims. Stands by and listens as they yell at Him for letting such a horrible thing happen. So good He will wait and keep loving. Keep grieving.

I don’t know why He let it happen. But this I do know: God is good. And He is worth all of my trust because He is Who He is.

So I will trust Him enough to follow Him back to the States just as I have trusted Him enough to bring me here to this foreign land. I will take Him for Who He is and trust that He somehow knows best. That He sees what I cannot.

Because I know Him, I know He can be trusted. Even in the midst of the terror-ridden races and the fear-laden newscasts.

I do not understand. And I do not like it.

But I have nothing to fear.

Because God is still good.

Maybe you don’t get it from deep inside the fear. If that’s the case, might I suggest reading this short little book called Life Unafraid. Perhaps it will give you some needed courage to really, truly live. Or maybe just remind you of a truth you’d forgotten from long ago. You’ll find it in the top right-hand corner of this page. Or you can click right here. Type in your email, and I’ll send you the link to the book.

Indeed

Happy Easter

 

Celebrating today because Jesus is alive…  and I am free to live real life.

Happy Easter, my friends.

What Unafraid Reveals

We went shopping a few Saturdays ago. It was a successful German day. That’s what we say when we are able to communicate with Germans with less grunting, more actual words.

As we checked out at Karstadt, my husband said to me, “A few months ago we would’ve been too scared to ask where all this stuff was. And we would’ve missed out just because of our fear.”

That, my friend, is Life. Unafraid.

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It happened again two days ago. Monday I walked into Hugendubel and searched for the book I’ve been stalking for months. Since I found out Dietrich Bonhoeffer was martyred just 57 kilometers from Bayreuth. I want to see it. But first, I want to know his story. So I started looking for the book.

But Germany’s amazon scares me a little. Because I’m never quite sure if I’m ordering the English version of a book or its German counterpart. And the cost of shipping requires a good amount of certainty for such purchases. It was something I needed to physically see.

Also, I plan to mark it up a whole lot. So I didn’t want the nook version. I wanted the pages.

So I searched the shelves for German version of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Spy. But the book was not on the shelves. Not even the German version. It would have helped my plea, having a physical representation of the book I wanted. Because I can say the words “in English, please.”

I’d been feeling cute and spunky that morning, having just returned from two fun days in away in Munich. Also, I had my favorite hat on and my shoes that make me feel like I don’t sit around all day watching TV and eating bonbons. Perhaps the Unafraid hid inside those shoes.

For they walked me up to the information counter and placed me directly in front of a German-speaking worker. I spoke an Unafraid dialect of German, which the nice lady understood. She helped me find the right version on her computer and then she ordered it for me! Not only that, she said she would have it for me the NEXT DAY.

That’s when I blurted out, in German

Das fruhe mich!!

Because I think that means something like, “This makes me so happy!” And the lady laughed at my Unafraid.

To be honest, so did I.

And so this week, I am finding even more of the real life God wants for me. The life that nests itself right inside the fear of God. Directly behind Unafraid.

**Have you checked out my manifesto yet? It’s called Life Unafraid: The Manifesto. It’s all about what God’s been teaching me about living and fear and what it really means to trust Him with every step. You can get it for free if you’ll just sign up for my email list. Just click right here.

The Gifts He Keeps For Always

I was always really good at coming up with get-to-know-you questions when my husband and I were only dating. We’d be driving along, and I’d come up with a doozy. Like If you could live inside any TV show, which one would you pick? Or if you could only eat two foods for the rest of your life, what would you eat? You know, stuff that intrigues me but that most people would probably think is dumb.

I’d let him think about it. Then he would answer, and I would swoon inside because, of course his answer was always awesome. Until he turned it to me.

I was always unprepared. (Which completely befuddled him, because really who asks questions like that and doesn’t have an answer themselves?)

Well, today I pose one of my ever-so-lovely questions to you. Only, this time, I’ll start.

If you could hang out for a whole day with anyone, from ever, besides Jesus, who would you choose?

I’d choose Mary of Bethany.

She was so brave. Amazingly impulsive but she had her priorities straight. Focused and awesome.

Yep, I would totally hang out with Mary.

I’d probably have to invite Martha too, though, so we could eat. Because goodness knows Mary wouldn’t be doing it. And if Mary wouldn’t do it, well neither would I.

Every time we find Mary in the Bible, she’s pointing to Jesus with her all-that-she-is. Every time she shows up, she’s at Jesus’ feet.

My favorite time, though, is the one in which she took a year’s worth of l’eau de Toilette and spilled it all over Him, focusing, of course, on his feet. She did it on purpose, too.

Mary loved Jesus so fully she didn’t even have to psych herself up to be unafraid. Not if it had to do with Him. That’s how unashamedly in love with Jesus she was. Totally not afraid to let everyone know it.

Mary was willing to give up any sense of respect she might have had with the men who knew Jesus best. She was content to let Jesus’ best friends make fun of her for her crazy act of fierce adoration when she poured that super expensive perfume where Jesus would soon stink again. (See John 12.)

Her gift of love was not practical.

His feet got dirty quickly. He walked roads before pavement was even invented. He walked a lot. No doubt Jesus’ feet got sweaty.

Still, she gave Him extravagance beyond any I could dream up.

For all practical purposes, Mary’s was not a gift that would last. Jesus wouldn’t be able to pull it out and admire it later, remembering the day she poured it all over Him.

The liquid would dry up. The fragrance would fade.

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Still, here I sit writing about it. Some two thousand years after she gave Jesus the gift that looked like it would not last. Tells you what I know.

What my eyes cannot see, what my mind knows of this world’s gifts, shows nothing of the gifts He keeps for always.

The gift Mary wasted, the one that vanished before the eyes of mortals, remains close to the heart of Jesus the Savior, even to this day.

What evaporated within minutes for eyes like mine persists eternal before His.

If I hung out with Mary all day, I think I would ask her, what can I give Him today that Jesus can keep forever? How can I be so absolutely in love that afraid is not even an option?

And I believe she would tell me something like this: Give Him UnafraidThe gift of fearing Him even when He asks you to do something you’re scared of. Give Him an obedient heart that loves Him so madly, there is no other option.

We’d probably be sitting at Backwerk for coffee and croissants. And, looking across the little cobblestone street there, I might see the guy who sits outside the department store on his knees, filthy hands cupped before him.

So I might ask Mary, But what if God asks me to talk to a German beggar? Will that last forever? Words that linger for mere seconds? One Euro that might last an hour?

And we’d both know the answer because we’d remember the promise Jesus gave her that beautiful perfum-y day so long ago.

. . . wherever the gospel is preached . . .

I’d go through my day looking for ways to show Jesus I love Him. Facing my Afraid with the absurd adoration that would make me want to do whatever I could find to obey Him and love Him and pour it all out in the form of Unafraid. 

Then I’d probably stay up late writing all kinds of blog posts about my day with Mary of Bethany. Maybe I’d even write a book about it.

Perhaps I would write a challenge for myself. One for you, too. It might look something like this: Is there an Unafraid you can offer Him today? An offering of absurd adoration that will last for eternity? A sacrifice of total trust for fear of Him?

I would then ask for your stories of your day with your person. I’d laugh with you and read and love hearing the wisdom of your time together.

And my day would end as I fell asleep thinking of another dumb question…

 

**Have you read the book yet? The one about real life. It’s called Life Unafraid the Manifesto. I wrote it to help myself find my Unafraid. Maybe it will help you, too. I’ll send it to you for free when you subscribe to my email list.

How to Leave a Legacy of Life. Unafraid

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I read this post about raising brave kids by Jen Hatmaker a few weeks ago, and it kind of messed me up. I read her words like, “I want to have to say to my sons, “Only boys would think something like this up,” and pretend to be put out when really I’m enamored.”

And my heart got all excited as I remembered how I used to think I wanted five little boys so I would be forced to be that kind of mom. Because I admire such motherhood bravery.

The kind that teaches unafraid and risk-taking. And lets her kids actually live.

I’ve always wanted to be a mom who doesn’t hold my kids back for fear of something bad happening.

It sounded awesome. Until my daughter climbed to the top of that reeeeaaaallly tall slide at the age of six, and all my mind could see was a paralyzed kindergartner in a full body cast for a year.

The truth is, I haven’t been good at teaching my kids unafraid until recently. In fact, He’s used this time in the land of Deutsch to show me the amazing of kids who live unafraid.

 

He has given me a new legacy to leave for my children.

The legacy of life. Unafraid.

We’re talking about it today over at my friend, Becky’s blog. Join us? Why not poke around a little while you’re over there? She’s doing a series this month and next about the legacies we leave. Good stuff.

Come on over . . .

 

**Have you signed up for my (free) e-book yet? You can click right here, and I’ll send it right to your inbox. Enter your address up there in that subscribe box where it says, “Sign up here for your free e-book and email updates.”

Life Unafraid the Manifesto {A Free Book}

We went to bed at 10 last night. But I could not sleep. Perhaps it was the large Cappuccino I consumed at 4pm for Sunday afternoon Kaffee und Kuchenzeit. Okay, it was most likely the Cappuccino I consumed at 4pm for Sunday afternoon Kuchenzeit.

Anyway, I couldn’t sleep. So I finally got out of bed and moved to the window in the living room. It was 11:30 by then, and I was curious about Bayreuth streets on a late Sunday night. I only sat there a moment before I grabbed my camera and started studying the light and the way it cut through the darkness.

Here’s a little bit of what I saw.

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I used to be afraid in the dark. Then I learned that living afraid, no matter what time of day, is not really living at all.

(T)he Life was Light to live by. . . The Life-Light was the real thing: Every person entering Life he brings into Light (Jn 1:5a,9).

So last night, as I watched the quiet nighttime streets of our home-for-now city, I opened eyes wide for beauty I would have missed were I still living in the afraid.

Because afraid is a dark all its own. Only it doesn’t reveal beauty or cool things like this. It hides them.

You see, the thing about the dark used to be the unknowing. Unsure of what may lurk that my eyes couldn’t see. Afraid of surprises for which I could not prepare.

The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out (v5b).

Then I realized that the Light of Life holds every bit of dark unknowing in the very palm of His hand.

And I decided I would rather fear the Light of Life than the dark of fear.

I am on a mission to live Unafraid, and I’m looking for fellow sojourners. Because so many times, it’s the subtle fears that freeze us up and keep us from the real kind of living. And I don’t want to be kept from any kind of living.

So I wrote a manifesto to remind myself where to put my fear. I’ve been working on it for a while now, a self-challenge to live. Unafraid. A reminder to live apart from the scared that keeps me from the real life Jesus came to give us.

It’s helping.

I think it will help you, too. Because so many of us live in survival mode. Hopping from intimidated to scared without a second for breaths of fresh air.

That’s why I turned the manifesto into an e-book. One that I want to give to you. Seriously.

Team of rock climbers.

In all truth, it’s a little bit scary for me. Because there is a super whole lot I do not know about e-book publishing. But, well, I’ve decided to live unafraid, so today I’m facing the scary and offering it to you.

If you sign up for email list, I’ll send the link to my free ebook right to your inbox. Can’t wait to for you to read it! Seriously. You can sign up right here. Just click this link. Or you can move over to the right side of this web page where it says, “Sign up here to get your free book and email updates.”

So go read it. Tell your friends about it. Send it to them. Join the unafraid movement. Tweet about it at #lifeunafraid. Then come back here and tell me if you’re in. Because I want to pray for you as you journey to unafraid.

But first, tell me — what’s something you probably missed out on as a kid because you were too scared to try it? Tell me in the comments.