This is who you are…

Dear my beloved daughters,

It’s the day after National Daughter Day. What a chance this is to write you this love letter! And goodness me… how I love you both. So much so, I’m NOT going to tell you all my ways. Instead, I’m going to give you something greater than my love. Something that will last you long after I’m gone one day. Print and save. Tuck this into your Bible my sweet girls. Read it often. Better yet, you find the verses in your own Bibles. Mark them. Rewrite them if you’d like in your journals or on your mirror. Meditate on them day and night.

This is who YOU are.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalms 149:14)

You are His own special possession. (1 Peter 2:9, Deuteronomy 14:2)

You are chosen, handpicked by the God. (1 Peter 2:9, Jeremiah 1:5, Ephesians 1:3-4)

You are treasured. (Deuteronomy 7:6 14:2, 26:18)

You are irreplaceable. (1 Thessalonians 1:4)

You are loved. (1 John 4:19, 4:10, 3:16, Romans 5:8, 8:35-39)

You are worth dying for. (1 John 3:16, Romans 5:7-9)

You are forgiven. (Ephesians 1:7, 1 John 1:9, Romans 8:1, 33-39)

You are His child. (1 John 3:1, Galatians 3:26)

You are free. (Romans 6:18, Galatians 5:1)

You are precious. (Isaiah 43:4)

You are set apart. (John 15:16, 19, I Peter 2:9)

You are His workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10)

Seriously my sweets… Read over that list and take it in. Soak in it. And most of all remember….

This is who you are when you awkwardly must sit or stand alone.

This is who you are when you get that bad grade or the 100.

This is who you are when you don’t make cheerleader or the volleyball team or when you do make head cheerleader or captain of a team.

This is who you are you when you didn’t get into your first choice college or you did in a college of His choice.

This is who you are when everyone else has a date but you do not or when a stud ask you out.

This is who you are when everyone ask what you want to do with your life, your major, but you still have no clue or maybe you are crazy focused and God has shown you a path.

This is who you are when you look into the mirror and primp and then pick apart your flaws or when you take that selfie and think I look good!

This is who you are when you succeed and don’t feel worthy of the blessings.

This is who you are when life hits you with a blow and you are fighting the feelings of depression or anxiety,

This is who you are when you’ve sinned and the guilt leaves you feeling unforgivable.

The world will tell you something else. They will even be sneaky and give you half truths. Your voices in your head as you scroll and look at all your IG followers (and remember they are NOT all your friends) will also tell you something else. But, make no mistake. This here is YOU. IF you’re in Christ, this is who YOU are. This is your permanent identity. Silence everyone and everything else. This is truth. And this truth will set you free and keep you free.

When I say you were created in His image, this is it. This is your identity in Christ.

Now go change your world. Go shine bright. Like a moth to a flame, may others be drawn to HIS light in you. Not your own light, but His light.

Love you with all my guts and more importantly by all His grace,

Mom

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These 4 walls….

“How many of you have had a night out planned, or arranged coffee with friends and suddenly the 4 walls you inhabit seem the only safe haven because it’s the only place you don’t have to pretend you are ok, so you cancel? Or when you are invited out you tell them how terribly sorry you are but you’re already booked up that weekend, when you are actually just really busy holding it together in your safe box?And so the first problem starts, all by itself. People stop asking you and the isolation that at first wasn’t true becomes your only truth. Please don’t give up on your friends. Ring them, go round, even when they don’t want you to. Because they really do they just don’t know how to say it.” 

A friend posted this on Facebook as a request to repost to bring awareness to mental health. I NEVER do repost but this one really struck a chord. Why? Cause I’m willing to bet that so many of you can relate. I can- which might shock a few.I’ve never officially been diagnosed or self-diagnosed myself with official anxiety but I CAN tell you right now I’ve had these thoughts and feelings. And I’ve most certainly seen good friends suffer from this dilemma. Why? Because Satan wants nothing more beloved sons and daughters to isolate us. The best way to keep us from a life of abundance is to cut us off from each other and make us feel like no one understands, something must be wrong with us, create anxiety and panic even. (Please don’t think I’m saying sometimes there aren’t chemical imbalances too.) But he (Satan) wants so much for us to live feeling defeated, feeling like we cannot do hard things. You are right. We can’t do the hard things. But His grace is sufficient. With Him, we can do ALL things. In our weakness He becomes strong. We must step out in FAITH, have guts, to do what’s uncomfortable and sometimes very painful. In that moment, His grace, will meet us in that time of need. Peace will abound. He shows up and shows He is trustworthy. He shows up and all the lies that deafen us and keep us defeated are overcome. One brave, gutsy moment at a time. Whisper as you leave your walls too…the following. It makes it all the sweeter as you walk in victory. 

lonely-expat-not-anymore-antiloneliness

The day I found motivation

Perspective.

You see almost a year ago now I made the decision to train for a half marathon. It was brutal and ugly but it happened. And if I can be honest, it was all about me. It was all about proving to myself that is often ridden with self-doubt and to everyone who thought I was nuts I could do it. Me. Me. Me. Watch me. In your face, kinda of attitude. Sometimes we need to prove to ourself we can do hard things but I took it beyond that cause I was mad. I’ve lived my whole life under the mentality that if you made a 99, where is the extra point. Life wasn’t about excellence. It was about perfection. They are not synonyms. And I’ve lived my whole life looking at my own life and others even with that same critical spirit. It’s suffocating. In some ways it’s created success in my life but at what cost? It’s also put me on an emotional roller coaster ride that is pretty ugly. Unachievable standards are like that. But that half marathon earlier this year taught me a lot. Progress over perfection. Not to quit (those that seek perfection often quit if they aren’t #1). It’s ok to pace yourself. Mental toughness. The list goes on and on… After it was over, I hung up my running shoes for awhile. I needed a break. But, I’m wired that I have to have a goals lest I sink back into a life of lack of discipline pretty quickly. And I’m also a person who finally realizes a good sweat helps me get off the roller coaster ride. It’s hard. I honestly don’t like exercise but I see how much it helps me and clears my head, builds confidence, and keeps me more sane. So I do it. After a hiatus, and a realization that I needed more accountability, and push I reached out to the girl who had my back last year and literally ran without earbuds for an entire 13.1 miles with me in the rain and cold telling me to not quit. And here I am… nothing but love for you Kim! I’m back. But this time, it’s not about proving anything. This time it’s about worship and gratitude. This time it’s not about me. A lot has shifted in my life this year.

Perspective.

Running is a privilege. I have dozens of friends and family right now that would kill to be able to run. They are struggling in their health – some emotionally, some physically, some both. One of my best friends who died of metastasized breast cancer to the lungs at age 37, leaving 3 young children behind, once told me she went to the gym after one of her diagnosis of remission and stayed all day. All day. I laughed and told her you are crazy. She stopped very quickly and said, it was like a gift Heather. It was a gift. I could walk, lift weights, sweat. I felt alive. And she’s right. It is. This morning was for all of you, Laura. It was also for all all you out there that wish and are still hoping for a day to run again, maybe even walk. This new endeavor of training will NOT be about me. It will be about being grateful for the opportunity. I am healthy. It’s a blessing. It will be also be about prayer and hope for those who are in the trenches, just trying to make life happen today. You aren’t hoping for your BEST life. You are are hoping that today is just BETTER than yesterday. Please press on.

Perspective.

It changes everything. And, it most definitely changes our minds, where the battle begins and ends. It will motivate you.

For this reason…

“By the grace of God, I am what I am.” 1 Corinthians 15:10

“Let all that you do be done in love.”  1 Corinthians 16:14

And for theses reasons we CAN seek out authentic real connections with one another. We cannot be fearful of meeting new people. We can accept people right where they are in life. Everybody has a story. Everybody has junk. Often our own past stories of rejection, hurt, and pain get transferred to others unwillingly and prevents us from being all God intended us to be. How many times have we assumed we were uninvited or rejected and it was all just made up in our head because we were tainted, damaged, or wounded?  Today was beautiful. I took the picture below after a few new friends had left but I met 5 new friends today! FIVE. I didn’t know them at all before and they knew little of me or any of the others but they showed up to connect simply with other moms. Y’ALL! We need each other! I pray this blog is going to speak straight to the heart of a mother. You,  sitting there maybe in a hard place. Motherhood is one of the loneliest and hardest jobs on the planet. We are responsible for nurturing the well-spring of tiny other souls, our children’s heart. Wouldn’t it be just like an enemy (Satan) who comes to kill, rob, and destroy to be on a mission to make us feel isolated, less than enough, and just overwhelmed all the dang time?  We easily buy into this lie that everyone has their life together more than us. We easily buy into I’m the only one who struggles with feeling beautiful and strong. We easily buy into it’s only our children who are struggling in development, school, behavior, making friends, fitting in…. or even that we fit in ourselves. If the enemy has us believing and acting into these lies then not only can he wound and damage our hearts, he can damage the hearts of our children too. Life becomes what we think it is.  It becomes easy to shrink into our own homes, and even maybe a pit of inadequacy, and cut ourselves off from the world. We indeed do feel alone. Isolated. Like we don’t fit in. And frankly, this then keeps us from growing as we don’t meet new people.  Did you know variety in relationships can safeguard our success in life? Diversity in dialogue can protect our ability to think clearly. Looking at a problem or issue or idea from different viewpoints and angles protects our minds from being hardened and stagnate.  Challenging ourselves with getting out of our comfort zone keeps us learning and growing our confidence.  And a person not growing is a person dying.  And remember our goal is to become a person full of grace, fully restored to how God designed and created us to be, and living a life of jubilee.  Now, again, wouldn’t the enemy just be so happy with himself if he just stopped all that goodness in our lives. So with this said, I am praising a good, good, good Father who stirred in 5 new ladies to step out and go meet new people this morning. That takes guts. And I pray they felt His grace meet them there in their willingness to step outside their comfort zone. I sure know I did. New friends are my jam!!!! Old friends too!!! Just friends in general….PEOPLE ARE MY JAM! God’s treasures. You beloved, are indeed His treasure. For this reason, let us continue to meet together and lift one another up…..<3

 

Celebrate!!!

Once upon a time, 7 years ago, actually. 😘 I was a girl so depressed with my life. I was pregnant with surprise baby #3, just moved to a place I didn’t want to be. I was coming off 3 glorious years of watching God move as my family broke out of their comfort zone living in South America. My dad said we’d never be the same when we left. I dismissed him as melodramatic but as usual he was right. Shortly after buying a home and finally getting us all back to some sort of normalcy, Christmas 2011 actually, we found out my Dad had Stage 4 lymphoma. Immediately the 700 mile trips began to MDAnderson. Suddenly, us being back here made more sense. Suddenly, me not going back to work made little more sense. Fast forward 7 months in 2012 I lost one of my best friends to metastatized breast cancer to the lungs. She was like a sister to me. I’d never known life without her. Even in all the miles that separated us, emails and calls were our thing. She was 37 years old, beautiful, and a mother of 3 young children. It rocked me to the core. I had a newborn. I had very little friends. I had long days of folding clothes, changing diapers, running carpools, helping my parents when they were in town, providing emotional support to them when they were not, being a wife, mom to older kids also going through reverse culture issues, and watching on Joyce Meyer Ministries, because frankly I was searching for answers. She gave answers. Practical ways to be in a relationship with Jesus in the muck. I grew up in the church. I had heard these things. Heck, I even led others in these things while serving on staff for a short year at St Mark’s before we moved and other women in Bible study in Argentina. But this time I was in a dark season. I had no clue who I was and why life had to be so cruel. I was mad. I was sad. This went on for almost 4 years. I even went on a mission trip during this time to Ecuador and it helped for a bit. Serving does that. But down deep it all felt like a waste. This Life. I ate my blues away. It was my comfort. I was gaining weight and rapid amounts now. 30lbs in one year. I kept a chronic cold, sinus infection. I kept chronic stomach issues. My sparkle was gone.

Then one day after my 6th trip to the doctor in 9 months, and my 4th round of antibiotics and steroids, I broke out in hives all over to what would be my 3rd allergic reaction to a 3rd antibiotic. I sat in the parking lot of that doctor and cried my eyes out. Lord- give me a new lease on life. Help me. I will say yes to whatever, just let it be your yes. Not Heather’s yes. Not the world’s idea of yes. Yours. That was November 2015. Life sucked. Only He could help me.

December 2016 He showed me a word, a concept, Jubilee. It was a year of extreme grace, restoration, resetting, and cancellation of debt for the people of Isrsel. (Leviticus 25). Enter Plexus literally January 2016 from someone who wasn’t even a friend at the time. Mindless scrolling here…. led me to her.

2016 was my year. Intentionality became my game. Learning how better gut health could help me was my first place. Probiotics, prebiotics, vitamins, magnesium, balanced blood sugar with this silly little kool-aid. I didn’t ask questions I just drank it. Back to working out. Back to stomaching (yes that was my attitude) vegetables and fruit and eating more protein than I could stand. I pounded water like it was my job. I took the kids to school. Ana to Day school for a few hours. And I spent those hours on my knees reading scripture. Lord, this is my year. Jubilee! The struggling non-focused girl was laser focused.

Dad entered the hospital again January of that year. More on that later, on the blog, as this is getting too long. But this would be the year from hell for him. He was out of the hospital 2 weeks in 8 months. We said goodbye to him at least 3 times. It was a season of excruciating pain for him with celulitis, leg wound infection, kidney failure, mental dementia that lasted 3 months, a stroke, hernia, bleeding ulcer, all with a compromised immune system from chronic lymphoma and congested heart failure. It was suffering at a level that will make a grown man beg to die. And he did. But he didn’t. God was not done.

So let’s say when I was approached to share my story of health restoration to the world, I was like uh no. Ain’t nobody got time for that. And then the Lord began to impress on me. What if this is not about you, Heather. Our convos went like this. Really Lord? Really Heather. Really Lord? It’s a network marketing company. I hate to sell. No one likes to be sold to. I’m a professional educated woman. Well, used to be! Ha? Don’t box me in he’d reply. Ugh. Audibly? No. But in my head these were the convos. And one night after this dialogue I saw a plaque on my shelf. It read “Yes, Lord.”I remembered that November 2015 convo. I knew. And there, a few days later, I stepped outside my biggest comfort zone… I made my first post about my journey.

And the next two years would be a ride like none other. Intentional growth has been my MO. Books. Scripture. Worship. Podcast. Being coached. Busting through fears. Busting bad habits. Failing forward. Dreaming again. Prayer. Tears. Prayer. Celebration. More Prayer. It’s all happened, still happening…

Do you know who you are?

How you need to grow to change?

How to begin a journey to be the very best version of who you are?

Are you coachable?

Have you asked a dear friend to help you see what areas you need to change in your life to stamp out things that don’t benefit you or your dreams well?

So this is outside my comfort zone to post a silly self-absorbed selfie of me with my pink drink. But you know what? Today, on this Friyeh, I’m celebrating…

I’m not the girl I used to be at all, hallelujah! And even more worth celebrating, you don’t have to be either, if you don’t want to be!

I’m not even celebrating or selling you the Pink. Although it’s pretty awesome! I’m celebrating and selling you the idea that there is a God of the universe that loves you so very much. He sees your pain. He hears your prayers. His answers might be right there, just not in the package you thought them to be in. He might be waiting on you to act. His dreams for you might not be your dreams. But I’m here to tell you they are better. Surrender. Don’t box Him in. Open your mind. Open your heart. Let Him begin a good work in you…

He loves you. He wants for you more than you want for yourself too. Yes, He does. Believe.

The Truth, Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth.

So recently there was a big hype about a new book called Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. Honestly, I liked a good bit of the book and it served a purpose in my life to pump me up and do something crazy and outside my comfort zone, like starting this blog, like leading a book study on this book online, where I met new friends. Thank you to the author for using her gifts to serve a world who needs to know they were made for more. But when reading it, I must admit I found myself not so sure about the Gospel sometimes presented in it. Was this the Gospel or Gospel by Rachel Hollis? How do these things presented as truths stand up to THE truth? Nonetheless, I continued reading it and let it serve its purpose. We are indeed made for more. Stop surviving and get to thriving. Stop self-sabotaging yourself with lies. Know your self-worth. Know your chosen to do good works. Get to work. Your dreams don’t come easy. You can do hard things. Lots of good messages like that. But during the study some of the ladies and I were discussing application to our lives of one of the chapters we had read. It made me realize I don’t always stop and allow application to happen. I am notorious to jump to the next book or reading multiple books at one time. In fact, I have hundreds of books. Hi, I am Heather Howell, and I am a book addict. It’s a well-known fact that you can lose me in a book store, my happy place, especially a Christian one, for an entire day. My husband has even threatened to yank Amazon from me before because of my book buying addiction. Ok, not really, but he should. God love him. I have books piled on my night stand, next to my bed, in the bathroom, in my car, in my office, in my office, and more in my office. Everywhere. I recently just went through a purge thanks to my fabulous well-organized sister-in-love who helped me work through the hoarding and the anxiety of having to let some of them go.  (Shout-out to Marcie Sheffield Howell and her God given talent of organization. Let her help you! Seriously.) And no, I am not a nook or kindle reader. I want the real thing with real pages to underline, highlight, fold the corners, and take notes in the margin. Here is the thing though – my books are not easy light reading or fun novels. They are ALL self-help and personal development books. They are books that grow you and stretch you. So maybe I am an addict of pain. Isn’t there a name for that? Ok, I digress.  All this, all this, made me stop and think, how many times do we turn to a book, an expert, the internet, tv programs, a friend, a blog even…something or someone we earthly follow for the answers to life’s problems. I have a book on every subject you want to know about – marriage, parenting, sex, friendship, difficult relationships, healthy eating, finances, mindset, prayer…prayer…prayer….so many on prayer! Whew. The list goes on and on! But, how many times do I consult the Bible directly for the answers? This does not include going to a book by an author who might be scripturally sound with his/her words but yet still there is their interpretation of it on things. DIRECTLY TO THE BIBLE. Now let me first say – books serve a purpose. I’ve learned so much from reading over my life. Readers are leaders. But, so many times we need to shut down the world and go to Him directly while reading His word and ask him to give us answers and understanding. Ask Him to give us the TRUTH, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Seriously, THE ANSWER IS IN THE BOOK. Some of you might say, “well I don’t understand scripture when I read it always.” Neither do I. That is where we end and He begins. This is where the Holy Spirit, part of the Trinity of God, becomes our guide. He is my “gut guide”. The Holy Spirit is a person.  He is not a spooky mysterious spirit that we often call an “it” or avoid at all cost because he sounds too charismatic. He is our helper. He reveals all things. We just need to ask Him to help us and step in and give us revelation. And, this I know. Each time we sit in God’s presence and read His word, the easier the understanding comes.  These are some other tips, to gain understanding from God’s word:

  • You can get a good study Bible with notes on the bottom of each page to help with understanding. Life Application or NIV have great study Bibles.
  • Attend a good Bible teaching church. One that requires you to open the word and read it and encourages you to bring it to church. No Bibles on the phone, a real, old-school Bible. And bring a pen and a highlighter. Make it your own.
  • Join a good Bible Study that teaches the Word of God and shows you how to pull out truths and life application. (I even know a few going on locally if you would like a suggestion that fits your schedule.)
  • And most of all enter into a time of reading the Bible like entering into corporate worship. Plan it. Get your mind ready for it. You can even worship Him with praise music and read a Psalm to help bring you into the presence of the Lord. Pray and intentionally ask the Lord to show you the truth.
  • You can also google a topic you want to know more about and where it is mentioned in scripture. Go directly to the scripture(s) and read the whole entire chapter. I like to read the one preceding and after to get a context. Read the study notes on the bottom. Highlight the key words that stand out to you and seek understanding of the words used. A next step would be to understand those words in the original Greek or Hebrew. But, if just beginning, that is a lesson for another time. It will blow your mind though how much understanding you can get from this one exercise.
  • Seek out a friend who you know studies and reads his/her Bible. Ask them to disciple you. It is our calling to do so. They will be honored.

I challenge you next time you are seeking to better yourself in any area of your life that you shut down all the other noise, put aside the other places you might seek help, and first go to God in prayer and open your Bible. Be courageous in your walk with your Maker. He can take your hard questions. He honors those that seek Him. You will be amazed at what all He has to say about the matter.  Again, books that are written by authors who stand upon the whole truth are not bad. They just aren’t the BEST. If they are an author who builds their material off the Word of God, even they will tell you that. NOTHING surpasses the glorious truths and promises straight from the Lord, given to us in His word, and studied and accurately applied in our life. It will not come back void (Isaiah 55:11) and it can set you free (John 8:32).

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”  2 Timothy 2:15

 

The Big Bully

I can distinctively remember us (my family of 4 at the time) driving across the Bloukrans River Bridge in South Africa. I saw a person go flying through the air right below us and I was like whoa…..they are jumping from this bridge. No way. We were there on a once in a lifetime vacation. That particular day we were on our own driving tour of the Plettenburg Bay area, an area that had majestic hills that met the Indian Ocean. We crossed the bridge and turned into a tourist watch area for a bungee jumping company called Face Adrenaline. We walked out on the viewing deck and there we watched the crazies jump from 216m high, 704 feet for my American friends, approximately 65 stories, the highest commercial bungee jump in the world. Something immediately in my gut then said, you should do this Heather.  I ignored it. I was afraid. Then, another voice in my head chimed in. You are a mother. That is irresponsible. I said something to my best friend, hubby, Jonathan, about how cool it would be to do something like that and he too thought I was nuts. So there in that moment, a rational voice and someone else’s opinion chimed in with the big ole bully of life, a life more abundantly, FEAR. Ugh. We got in the car and left, continuing our way down the highway. I couldn’t shake it. I wanted to jump from that bridge. Now is when I tell you that I have always had on my bucket list to bungee jump. Nope. Never ever even given it a thought, until this day. But something in my gut said I needed to do it. YOLO. You Only Live Once, for us all old farts, who don’t know teenage lingo. I turned to Jon and said, “We gotta go back. I need to do this. I will never be here again ever. This is it. I want to do this. ”  In typical fashion he had thought I’d lost my mind, but he knew I had my mind set upon it. He didn’t even argue or try to talk me out of it. And so on that cold day in July (remember we are in the opposite hemisphere, so opposite seasons), I did something very crazy. My heart pounded as I suited up in the harness. My hand shook as I signed the waiver. My mind told me this is  stupid. What did I have to prove? My eyes filled up with tears as I kissed my two oldest – 6 and 8 years old at the time, before walking the plank of what could be my death.  The music was so loud. They do that to drown out your breathing. It was almost at a panic level. They do this to get you amped up. It wasn’t working. Although, my oldest said I was bouncing around like a cheerleader on the deck. Nervous energy. I walked a walking path that allowed you to see straight down those 65 stories for what must have been a 1/8 of a mile. It seemed like 3 miles. Longest walk ever. My legs trembled as they harnessed my feet into the bungee. You cannot walk in these things you know. Never even gave it a thought until I had to bunny hop to the edge. Helpless feeling. I could not run. There as I stood on the edge looking at the Indian Ocean on one side, the hills of Africa on the other, gorgeous view, I wanted to vomit. Puke and Tango. Puke and Jump. 5-4-3-2-1. I jumped. Well actually, I think they pushed me. Yes, the pictures indeed confirm these men I did not know gave me the nudge. No time to rethink this. For a brief minute I felt my stomach go into my throat and I was flying. Breathless. Airborn. Free. No fear. None. It was effortless. The work had already been done to step to the edge. And then the cord bounced and I kept flying up and and down….up and down….it was the most fun I might have ever had honestly. Until it stopped. And when it stopped, I hung there for the longest minute of my life, my legs began to shake like I was having a seizure. The adrenaline rush was over. My head took over and my fear came rushing back to me. I was now waiting on one of the guys above to repel down to get me. I just began to cry and scream. I was convinced I was going to die, my shaking legs break loose of the bungee, and in that instance honestly DIE. When the guy got to me he had to blow in my face to stop my screaming and get me to breathe. He turned me upright and up we went. It was over. It was done. I had done something no one would ever be able to take away from me. I had mentally pushed through emotions, logic, over-thinking, and most of all fear. I was on cloud 9 and no one could touch me for days after, heck weeks. Even now, I remember it vividly.

So here is where you come into play. This is why I am telling you this story. Too many of you reading might not even relate as you’d never ever do this kind of crazy. That is ok. Your crazy is not my crazy. My crazy is not your crazy. But hang with me….what I did was not as important as the fear, emotions, thoughts, and then the confidence that came after the event. You might think, this girl is not wired like me. Never in a million years. Y’all. (If you hang with me for any length of time, get used to that word. It is my stop and please listen word.)  Don’t fixate on the thing that was done here. Fixate on the emotions and the thoughts that accompany the fear. Fear is a bully. It is brash, loud, and very unproductive. It will rob your joy. It will keep you from living your best life. It is a liar. It will make you feel like you are not enough, that you don’t have what it takes. It will keep you isolated and it will keep you from seeing God show up and move mightily in your life. You cannot be happy and live in fear. The two are basically opposites. And know this, I am not talking about a healthy dose of fear of a parent or even our Maker that keeps us on the narrow way and out of trouble. That is actually healthy. And I am not talking about the kind that keeps us from walking across a dark parking lot at night alone ladies.  Let’s not be dumb. Let’s listen to inner warnings. I am talking about the fear that plays in your head and counters your gut to do something daring, bold, and amazing. I talk to people every day that want to live more free, more whole, more healthy, more at peace, more joyful. But, they are stuck in a rut. They are surviving not thriving. They are just trying to make it through the day. I was that girl. Have I lived life well? Yes. Have I had adventures and done other daring things? Yes. But in the season I was about to enter into just a few weeks after this jump, I needed this moment. I had no idea but God did. We moved back to the States soon after returning from this vacation. While living in Argentina, I had gone through an incredible season of spiritual growth and transformation and we had lived life large, seeing God work on our behalf at every turn. It was if the presence of God was upon us as we lived in complete dependence. It was an amazing time in our lives.  But,  I would soon find out after landing back Stateside I was pregnant with surprise baby #3. I would not return to work. I would be in reverse culture shock. I would enter a world where I felt the presence of God was not with me. I would be depressed, very lonely, and even sick a lot. More on this season on another day. But it was a dark season in my life even in what should have been one the happiest of times of giving birth. What got me out of this season? I remembered the gut feeling when I needed to jump. I remembered the feeling of following through despite my fear.  I remembered how exhilarating it was not be in control actually, to just fly.  Surrender. I knew then to get out of this season it would require another leap of faith, another mental push through all the fear, another listening to my gut, and of course the Holy Spirit too, to make a change. You my friend may be reading this and you already know what you need to do to make your life better. In fact, I am willing to bet you do. You already know something that needs to happen that would help you live in more peace. It could be a simple reach out to someone you need to forgive. It could be asking for that forgiveness. It could be sharing your story with a friend, knowing it might could help them.  It could be showing love to a difficult person. If you are young, it could be sitting with the lonely kid at the lunch table or stepping away from the toxic circle of friends you are in.  If you are old, it could be taking the job. It could be going back to school. It could be putting on your running shoes. It could be buying the kale. It could be opening your Bible. It could be making the commitment to grace the doors of a church after a very long time and imperfect people hurting you there. It could be cutting up the credit cards. I don’t know what it is…..but whatever it is, you know what it is. If you don’t, get still today and ask God. He will whisper it to you if you are listening. Then, say a prayer. Take a step. Don’t stop and think upon it anymore. 5-4-3-2-1 and just do it. Rip the band-aid. Get out of the boat. You will talk yourself out of it if you stop and think. I promise you. Stop hesitating. Stop over-thinking (that is so my issue by the way).  If God gave the urging, just go, do, and be.  2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given you a spirit of fear.” Every big miracle in the Bible began by someone first taking a step toward God. He will meet you there, outside your comfort zone. I promise. Jump.