When Confidence Grows a Little Too Much

Yup. Silliness is just part of who I am. You can be confident of that.

The year of confidence started out with a bang in January, when I was put in a situation in which my head covering was a possible social faux pas.

A few years back, I had faced a similar, slightly awkward situation, when I was involved in a community theater project with my daughter. And a few years before that, when I was in a wedding. Each time I managed to navigate it. Each time I grew a little more into the whole concept.

After I tried one day bare-headed for a theater rehearsal, I knew that my head covering was there to stay (and my kids were quite adamantly in agreement.) So I had tried my commitment to it, and come through knowing where I was supposed to stand. It was a kind-of-hard but sweet knowing.

The situation this January, though... it had a different flavor. An extremely unusual event, and very very dear people involved. I was tried again.

While my theater test had shown me that I was in for the long haul, finding a way to do it for this event threw me into a tizzy. After a sputtering start, and a few rallying friends, I saw my way. Interestingly, what I saw was that I have a unique style, and that I am okay with that. All three of my beautiful friends are stylish in their own ways, and all three of them made completely different suggestions. Completely.

I have my own shape, my own coloring, and my own preferences. There are kinds of scarves I can't wear because my hair is too thin. There are fabulously elegant turban-style headcoverings that would look ridiculous on this white girl.

So I figured out a solution I could live with. Not only for my head, but also for my body. It was good. After 30 years of feeling awkward about clothing (what scars junior high can dig into a mind!), I was free.

I am a headcovering, skirt wearing Mama. That's me. The longer and flowier the better. Silk and linen, soft cotton and maybe some rayon. That's what I love. And it's good.

It was an interesting first foray into my crazy word for the year - confidence.

Next up were a series of interactions related to my online work. More positives. More confidence. What on earth?

Face to face with people, I kept hearing myself not just gently and softly encouraging, but starting to get fiery, starting to speak all pulpit-like about having vision and pursuing dreams, about eternal perspective and spiritual warfare. Confidence, confidence!

Which brings me to Holy Week.

Holy Week... in which I have made scriptural error after scriptural error. Some written, some in person. Just a great big stumbling of me. I have called tables couches and computers phones. I have been gently teased by loved ones, and held tightly by unconditional arms. I have been a mess. Almost as bad as my house. And this week, that's pretty bad.

I really thought this week, seriously, "I have no right to write. No right to talk to anyone about spiritual matters. No right to weigh in on biblical truth. I must stop." I contemplated what it would mean to get rid of every single electronic device in our home. I sorely wanted to.

Alas my errors were not limited to the computer. Today, it was my off-hand "That's not in the bible" statement, gently corrected by my child. My child. <blush>

But today, blessedly, I was also pondering the cross. Today I kept seeing the image of a bloody Jesus suffering for me. Oh how I don't like seeing that image. Crushes me. But there it was.

Good Friday - a good day to be reminded where my confidence lies.

Even though I understood from the beginning that I was not called to self-confidence this year, but simply confidence, I let it get away from me. I let those beginning exhilarating forays into confidence in Him and who I am in Him morph, without restraint, into self-confidence. And then I fell flat on my face.

Thank you Jesus for my bloody nose!

I can't be really me, fully me, unless I am abiding in Him, unless I am laying my effort and my abilities at His feet for His use. The more I become confident in my own strength, the weaker I really am. But the reverse is also true.

Isn't that crazy? That the less we hang onto ourselves, the more we become who we were meant to be?

..for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh... Philippians 3:3 

Now I just have to walk on. Have to remember Whose I am and Who sets my value, and Who makes me worthy. 'Cause it isn't me, that's for sure.

Self-confidence just leads to disappointment. Confidence in Jesus - that leads to freedom and joy. I'll take the freedom and joy, please.

This bruised girl will be rejoicing in the Resurrection on Sunday... and thankful, so thankful.


A Story of Transformation - To Walk or Stay {review and giveaway}

You all know, because I've said it here repeatedly, that I believe that true freedom comes from the laying down of self. That the road to joy is paved with sacrifice and service. And suffering, yes.

Today I am privileged to be introducing you to a woman who has lived through the valley of suffering and come to find life as she has given over her human desires, and been transformed into the person God made her to be.

God changed me quote from To Walk or Stay

I met Lara Williams online in 2010. We both joined a memorization encouragement group while my kids and I were memorizing Philippians. We also both participated in the Hello Mornings Challenge. Later Lara and I served together on the writing team at Do Not Depart.

Through her writing, as well as the few occasions when I have heard her speak by video or live chat, I have come to understand that Lara is a woman after God's own heart.

It became clear to me, soon after we met, that something had happened in her life that had prompted a radical transformation. I have read a lot of Christian writers, people gifted with words and with a solid knowledge of the bible. But Lara is one of those rare writers who conveys a deep passion, a sacrificial love for God, that is a reflection of a heart truly laid down. You won't find legalism in Lara. I was certain that this was a woman who had walked through suffering.

Lara just released her very first solo book, To Walk or Stay, this week. When she offered pre-release digital copies for reviewers, I jumped at the chance. I find myself having many opportunities to review books these days. Frankly, I don't have time. The fact that this is the first review I have done here underscores how highly I respect Lara, and how much I think this book will bless you. For Lara, I made time, because I knew that her words would be anointed.

To Walk or Stay is a book about a marriage, yes, but marriage only provides the backdrop for a radically transforming journey. The crux of this book is taking an honest look at one's own heart and laying it all out before Jesus. Lara says:

The ultimate point of this book is to show you how I wrestled before my God in the midst of a devastating valley and to testify to His faithful guidance. You won't get tips on which counselor to see -- though we saw many counselors. You won't get instructions on which boundaries to lay -- though lines were drawn. You won't read a detailed account of my husband's transformation before His God -- though he's a different man. What you will get is a dare: a dare to take God at His Word and a dare to allow His promises to affect the choices you make today.
- To Walk or Stay, p. 10

Lara was a Christian before she walked through this valley. A bible-believing seminary-graduated Christian. But in many ways she was a caterpillar Christian. It took the road of pain to grow her into a butterfly, a beautiful child of God free to truly enjoy all He had for her.

Because Lara was open to allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to transform, God is now using her in mighty ways. I am sure she would be the first to say that the impact she has as a writer and speaker is all because of Him, and for His glory. 

As you know, I have a passion for God's Word because it has transformed my life, and the lives of many I know. God-breathed Truth is a catalyst for deep life change. Lara experienced this as well:

To think that God would speak through His Word to those seeking His face humbles me. His Word breathes. If we are willing to look and listen, it meets us in the fires of life and soothes the burn on an intimate level. Through His Word He promises, prophecies and penetrates even the hardest of hearts. Through it He guides even through the darkest of valleys – through whatever valley we find ourselves treading. - To Walk or Stay, p. 18
As we meditate on God’s Word rather than our volatile feelings, hope arises. As we choose to ponder the Truth of His character rather than our fleeting circumstance, peace falls. He gives us this one life, these few days. May we not waste them with futile thinking. - To Walk or Stay, p. 47

Using plentiful scripture, To Walk or Stay leads you through a journey that includes
  • examining your thought life
  • questioning unrealistic expectations set up by worldliness
  • choosing forgiveness
  • actively embracing prayer
  • faithful waiting

Each chapter of the book is followed by several pages of in depth, personal bible study. 

Whenever I hear of a book that is the fruit of brokenness, I always wonder how the publishing of the story will affect other people involved. Lara's husband supported this project, and even shared his perspective on her blog.
The sorrow that we experience today may be the very thing that God uses for His glory tomorrow. - Adam Williams
Don't you just want to stand up and shout "Amen!"?

Again, while this book will be immensely helpful to anyone experiencing challenges in their marriage - and folks, we're all sinners, so that's all of us, yes? - it is applicable to any area of suffering. Perhaps you have a prodigal child, have been deeply wounded, or are experiencing debilitating illness. You too will be blessed by this book. I think you will find it will help change how you think about the trials in your life.

As I read this book, I noted quotes I wanted to share here, but a review isn't really supposed to reprint the book, right? ;-) How about I just give you a copy of To Walk or Stay instead? The winner will be chosen on Friday, March 29, 2013. UPDATE: Congratulations Angie W! You won!

If you are looking for accountability and fellowship as you work through this book, consider joining the To Walk or Stay book club, starting on April 15, 2013. And off you think you might be interested in starting your own group, Lara is giving away a book bundle on her blog.

But if you just can't wait, go ahead and buy yours today!

To read other women's perspectives on To Walk or Stay, you can find more reviews linked up at the bottom of this page.

Read the book. Be blessed. And live free in Him, friends. Live free!


All the Goings On, Hither Thither and Yon

I have been flitting all over the world wide web, like a spider busily tending distant corners of her domain. But right here, the center of my own web home, I have not spent much time. My poor little web house needs some puttering-about in! Sure getting dusty here!

I'm not really sure why, but a while back I stopped linking out from here to the other places I was writing. I have a passion to write about many many things right here at home, yet I find myself ever so busy elsewhere. So I thought today I'd come settle here and rest a spell, and share the adventures we've been having around the web.

I am still contributing monthly or more at Do Not Depart. Hard to believe it has been almost two years that I have been blessed to share there. When Katie first asked me to pray about joining her at DND in May 2011, I must confess that my prayers were mostly "Why me Lord? What on earth could I contribute? I am not good enough." Well, that certainly is true, but He is good enough. I said yes, and I continue to enjoy being a part of that ministry. I have felt overwhelmed and inadequate pretty much constantly, which confirms that it is what I am supposed to be doing, since God is such a fan of keeping me uncomfortable and relying on Him.

About a year ago I volunteered to come up with topics for Do Not Depart every three months. That gave me a little title: Encouragement Director. Isn't that a neat title? I want it for all the areas of my life! We've explored topics like "Thanksgiving in the Word," "Created for Community" and "His Word When You Struggle." I love showing how we women can wind God's Word into our daily lives.

In October, I started contributing to the Build A Menu blog. With my trusty assistant Joshua, I write every other week for their Cooking with Kids series. We have made all sorts of fun recipes.

I have guest posted about homeschooling, mothering and marriage, stretching my wings a little on some blogging friends' sites.

I continue to be involved with the Hello Mornings ministry. I no longer lead my own group but have the privilege of coming alongside group leaders to encourage them and pray for them as they serve. I have a title for this too. And I love it! I am an Accountability Captain Encourager, or ACE. Is that fun or what? Maybe I should change my title from Mama to Kid Encourager and from Wife to Husband Encourager! :-) I am so happy, because this is all God... He long ago showed me that one of His purposes for my life was to encourage and bless other people, and look at all the creative avenues He has given me!

And then, the biggest and best for last: our whole family started a brand new blog which we launched in December! We call it Blossoms and Posies, and our tag line is (okay now I am laughing, because somehow it is only now that I see all this encouraging coming together): "encouraging girls in the home arts." The vision behind this is really so big, I will save it for another post. But in a nutshell, we wanted to 1) meet a need we saw to promote the traditional home arts (cooking, sewing, knitting, gardening, etc) that are being lost or neglected in children's lives and 2) teach our children how to develop and run a website as part of their education. Abbie and I are the face of Blossoms and Posies, but the guys do tons of back-end work.

On the family side, of course, there is much going on... we still have our homestead with its critters (gratuitous photo of chickie cuteness below); the kids are still homeschooled; they still have multiple out-of-the-house activities like PE, theater and track; and the dishes and laundry? They are relentless. RE-LENT-LESS.

Also, I have a 16 year old now. Oy vey. Pray for him. And me. I don't care how cautious and trustworthy a kid is, when he is your flesh and blood and gets behind the wheel of a weapon of mass destruction (also known as the family vehicle) your innards quiver.

To sum up what I have been doing? Apparently, encouraging! It's nice to see it laid out that way, because from this side it looks like I'm just running around like a crazy lady with flour on her skirt and a camera around her neck, answering math questions and brainstorming project ideas for websites while driving to theater rehearsal. Okay, I don't wear a camera when I drive. But I am pretty crazy.

What crazy things are going on in your life?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...