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What Runs Through Your Mind When You Wake Up At Night?

Jan

28

Posted by on Jan 28, 2018 | 1 comment

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8 NIV

 

As We Think, So We Do

For years I’ve battled insomnia, trouble with both going to and staying asleep. Over the past six months I’ve seriously addressed it every way I know how–medically, physically, holistically, alternatively, and spiritually (prayers welcome), and while my sleep quality has improved slightly, it’s still an issue. It’s not a question of whether or not I’ll wake up between Bedtime and Rise and Shine, it’s how many times will I awaken.
On good nights I’m able to fall back to sleep relatively quickly, but the roughest nights have me tossing and turning for hours (yes, I know I should get up for a change of scenery, but apparently knowing what I should do doesn’t necessarily translate into doing it–a whole ‘nother post for another time.).

When I’m wide awake at two in the morning it usually goes like this:

  1. Relax and try to keep the dream you were just dreaming going, to fool yourself into thinking you’re still asleep.
  2. Get mad because you can’t even remember the dream, but you know it was a good one and you want to know how it ends.
  3. Become increasingly irritated that you’re awake.
  4. Decide to take advantage of being awake by praying for every person on your prayer list, and even a few more who come to mind…

and it is right about there my mind begins to wander off track (anyone relate…?).

Recently I’ve been convicted about the direction my thoughts were taking. A new series I discovered on Netflix offered a steady diet of…

 

Click here to continue reading As We Think, So We Do over at {in}courage today.
I think most of us can relate…

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Our Beautiful Beginning

Dec

29

Posted by on Dec 29, 2017 | 1 comment

 

I want to push you, gently but sure.

Not in the way that bruises knees and pride but in the way a mama bird nudges her lovies out of the nest. She knows they’re capable of doing so much more, that they only need a little encouragement. Mama knows they’ll soon find out she wasn’t being mean after all, that she just wanted them to experience Great Things, Wide Open Spaces . . . and what they were designed to do.

And it hits me, that in this nudging, mothers share a kinship with God (though mamas push and God “pulls”). Isn’t it when we seek God and walk in obedience that we discover our calling and begin to live with passion and purpose?

It slays me to know I’m created in the image of God; I can barely think on it. I don’t think it’s possible to comprehend fully all it means.

If we’re called to be imitators of Christ, to look like the One whose image we bear, what does that mean? What are the first qualities that come to your mind? To love lavishly and without condition? To forgive freely even when you’ve been wronged? To serve sacrificially and to consider others’ preferences above your own?

There’s another attribute of God I’d like us to consider together: creativity.

Your potential to create.

God’s creative nature is revealed from the moment we open a Bible.

 

“In the beginning God created . . .” (Genesis 1:1)

Then, a few verses later, He describes the creation of man: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . . ” and then how He fulfills it: “So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God . . .” (Genesis 1:26-27). 

Because we’re created in the image of God Himself, we’re inherently creative. 

 

Our Beautiful Beginning continues at {in}courage.
I hope you’ll add your thoughts to the comment thread–
I can hear bravery and boldness stirring…. 🙂

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God is Working in the Waiting

Nov

30

Posted by on Nov 30, 2017 | 4 comments

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He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

I remember it like it was yesterday, when a new-to-me speaker posed a question that burrowed under my skin like a chigger in the heat of summer —

“Are you the kind of person who walks into a room and declares, ‘Here I am!’ or do you walk into the room and say, ‘There you are!’?”

I wasn’t an “all about me” person, but I’m naturally outgoing and comfortable talking to new people. I can work a room if that’s expected of me. My nerves do rattle on the inside, but they’re energy fueling confidence and conversation.

It also wasn’t that I didn’t notice other people; but the question forced me to realize at best I was blissfully unaware, or at worse, I was more concerned about myself than others. Ouch.

Over the past ten years through unexpected personal deserts and crazy life, I’ve tried to become a There you are! friend, the one who notices what you’re not saying as much as what you are saying. I’ve challenged myself to notice people in the margins. And trusting the providence of God (mostly in hindsight), I’ve wandered into those places myself, learning by experience what it feels like to be ignored, rejected, forgotten, irrelevant, and sometimes invisible.

I’ve hated it.

But on the other side of those hard lessons and hurt feelings is what has become a passion of mine: redemptive purpose

Just as sure as the sun hangs in the sky behind a veil of dark clouds, God is accomplishing His will and His ways even when I can’t see His hand at work.

 

And when I do gain insight and understanding in the aftermath of pain or heartache? It is an astonishing gift and grace to discover beauty among ashes.

Pride and ego were subtle idols of mine. God was kind enough to reveal them to me in a way that would sear an impression on my heart and ultimately change me.

———-

It’s been a long, long while since I’ve attended a Beth Moore Bible study. I forgot how she gets to me, how every study I’ve ever taken will somehow speak a word over me so strong it’s undeniable God had her write it just for me.

What . . . you, too? 🙂

It was in the fourth week, day three, on her study of James, when a section started doing its thing.

Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment. (James 3:1)

Beth spoke about “landmines that go with the territory” of teaching:

  • The temptation to teach more than we know.
  • The capacity to mislead.
  • The capacity to be misled.
  • The temptation to use the platform for personal agendas or opinions.

And though not exactly in the context of being a teacher, I sensed these landmines speaking to my life as a writer.

———-

It would seem that the natural progression for a long-term blogger is to write a book; that is the childhood dream of many in the online world. Those of you who’ve followed (in)courage since its inception know many of our regular contributors have gone on to lovely writing careers.

Here’s the thing that’s hard for me to admit: 

Please continue reading God is Working in the Waiting at {in}courage.
It’s personal but in some ways the story of ALL of us….

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Oh Happy (#AMomentToBreathe Book Release) Day!

Oct

03

Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 | 2 comments

If you aren’t yet a subscriber, how about today?

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Our world is reeling these days, isn’t it?

Collectively, we feel the tragic news out of Las Vegas, horrified that one man could rob so many of so much; for too many, their lives.  I can only imagine that those who are directly affected wonder how anyone can go on in a world gone mad?

There’s no reconciling the absurd.

There are times when faith comes easy. This isn’t one of them for a lot of folks.

I know all the Christian platitudes, the things we say at times like this. But I can’t bring myself to say any of those things out loud – even if they are true – because sometimes the loudest lament is silence.

 

God hears the cry of the broken ones, and he alone offers hope during obsidian days.

 

So, we mourn with those who mourn. We ask a lot of questions. Yes, we want answers, but the truth is we’ll never be able to make sense of it.

This world we find ourselves in is still spinning, sun and moon nudging us into the next day and the one after that.

 

And, here’s the important thing to remember: even in the darkness there are beacons.

 

We need light to guide us to where we are going, yes? We need light to show us the way.

Months ago (a year ago?) the date was set for A Moment to Breathe to release. No one could have anticipated the timing, that this collection of “365 devotions to meet you in your everyday mess” would launch right after the deadliest mass shooting in our nation’s history.  Eighty authors, inspired by scripture and for the glory of God, poured their hearts and lives into its pages, hoping it would bring light into the lives of those hopeful or desperate to find a beacon.

 

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I’m proud of this book, thrilled and honored to have seven devotions included. There’s a part of me that feels guilty for being happy when so many of our neighbors have suffered unimaginable loss – before Las Vegas, the multiple earthquakes in Mexico, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and those awful west coast wildfires. Unresolved racial tensions and political discord add to our collective grief. And beyond these national tragedies and disasters are countless more personal tragedies and disasters. Every day our neighbors are facing financial ruin, infidelity, addiction, illness, difficulty with children, debilitating accident, death…. Maybe you are the neighbor.

Here’s the beautiful, liberating thing: humans are a complex and multi-dimensional creation, capable of simultaneous, opposing emotions. (Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.) In other words, the “guilt” I’m feeling is a false guilt, the kind the enemy of my heart loves because it has the potential to defeat, paralyze, or confuse me (sometimes all three). False guilt materializes in a thousand different ways, and often it’s rooted in comparison; for me, at least.

 

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With all tenderness for those who are suffering, I can still celebrate the happy and good things happening in my world (if you need permission, I’m extending it to you, too, because sometimes we just need someone else to tell us so). It doesn’t have to be one or the other. It’s essential to have compassion for those in pain, to pray for, help and support those who’ve suffered loss. It’s also important be light for those walking in darkness (Matthew 5:16).

A Moment to Breathe is a disco ball of light.

You will find it to be a lovely, hardback devotional, rooted in scripture and the stories the authors first lived before sharing, with prayers and calls to action. It can be found at any bookstore that sells Christian books, or here are a few links (including affiliate):

For fun, Sarah Mae and I talk through the question,“What does ‘a moment to breathe’ mean to you?” (Why didn’t anyone tell me to smush my shirt down in front so my stomach didn’t look so poofy??) 

 

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The Next Best Thing to Live and In-Person

Sep

29

Posted by on Sep 29, 2017 | 3 comments

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In case you missed the Facebook Live about friendship complexities and the (in) Real Life: FRIENDED event I mentioned yesterday (because I am AWESOME at giving advance notice!), the magical wizards at Facebook make it possible to watch on replay. You probably need to watch just TO LEARN FROM MY EXPERIENCE that lumberjacks in your back yard (thanks to Irma) are distracting, and you can’t help but be who you are. I remember saying I hoped (in)courage/DaySpring/Lifeway wouldn’t fire me, but for the life of me now I can’t remember why….

I’m a little horrified to think about how many bunny trails I streaked.

Anyways…. Thanks to texts from Saynor, Paige, and Frank during the event (I saw ’em and tried to ignore ’em), and for prayer minions who made a difference. It is not your fault I SQUIRREL! at All The Things.

Last, remember two copies of A Moment to Breathe are up for grabs
(for commenters from the FB comment thread & my original post about the broadcast).

(Also? What’s up my expression on the freeze-frame? I AM NOT FORLORN!)


 

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Sometimes I’m Shy (Like When I Do Things Like This) + A Giveaway!

Sep

28

Posted by on Sep 28, 2017 | 16 comments

First, set your calendar for tomorrow at 10am EST.
I’ll be giving away two copies of A Moment To Breathe
BEFORE IT’S AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE!!
(Details at end of post)

Facebook Live for inRL FRIENDED event

 

Most people who know me would consider me an extrovert. I can work a room like nobody’s business when I need to and it looks like it comes easy for me. Natural.

Well, pass me an Oscar. I’ve earned it, if that’s what you think. While I do love people and I’m naturally friendly, introducing myself to strangers or beginning a conversation with those I don’t know well (or even folks I’ve “known” on the internets FOREVER) makes me shake in my shoes. I’ve just learned ways to be the boss of those silly fears. 

The secret is twofold:

I’ve learned how to channel nervous energy into a positive force; and,

I’m convinced it’s important to be the one to BE the one.

My (in)courage sisters would say that second thing is “going first,” being willing to share your story, initiating a conversation or gathering, or plain and simple, getting the old ball rolling on friendship.

As mentioned in my previous post, (in)courage and Lifeway have partnered together for a special event in Nashville next month:

(in) Real Life: FRIENDED

To tell you more about it, I’ll be hosting a Facebook Live tomorrow morning at 10am EST (Friday, September 29th). Why? BECAUSE I’M SO EXCITED ABOUT IT – thrilled to participate as a panelist, sure, but more so because of the inspiring, motivating, and encouraging content from all the amazing featured guests. It’s a wonderful opportunity for a Girls Weekend Away, or, if traveling to Nashville isn’t a possibility for you, Lifeway has made a way for anyone to join us via the comfort of home or church via a very affordable simulcast.

I’m a little mortified to host a Facebook Live; WHAT IF NO ONE WATCHES IT? And I really, really want you all to tune in to learn more about inRL: FRIENDED because it’s going to be such a special gathering.

Even if you can’t make it at 10am EST, you can watch the video anytime. (After it’s over, I’ll be sure to pop a link directly into this post).

As promised, I’m giving away two copies of A Moment to Breathe, the new, 365-day devotional from the (in)courage community, and here’s how you can win one:

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  1. Comment to this post (questions about the event, topics you’d like me to address during the Facebook Live, whether or not you’ll be attending, or why you’d like to win a copy. ANY COMMENT WILL BE AN ENTRY!).
  2. Comment during the Facebook Live OR on the replay if you’re viewing later.

Easy breezy.

I sincerely hope you can watch tomorrow’s Facebook Live thingie;
would you mind sharing this post on your timeline
and invite others to join us, too?
Tag me so I’ll see it, and THANK YOU in advance.

inRL_FRIENDED_Panelists_JenSchmidt_KristenStrong_RobinDance

In addition to the lovely friends pictured above, Aliza Latta, Holley Gerth, Alia Joy and Jennifer Lee will be joining me as panelists. Lisa-Jo Baker, Chrystal Hurst and Annie Downs are featured speakers and Meredith Andrews will lead worship.

 

Congratulations to Susan G! The copy of AMTB is headed your way
as soon as you get me your address.
Thanks to all for commenting!

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