Don’t Miss Out!

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Hi friends! I just wanted to drop a little note to say today is the last day to get the digital version of my new book Holy Doubt: Finding Hope When Faith is a Struggle for only $0.99. The price goes up tomorrow! If you or someone you know is struggling with doubt and tough questions about God, Holy Doubt a must-read! Click here to check it out!

When God Says Wait

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Spoiler Alert: My new book, Holy Doubt: Finding Hope When Faith is a Struggle is available now on Amazon. If you or someone you know is struggling with God, this book will be a huge help along the sometimes dark and painful path through doubt. The digital version is only $0.99 until May 11th (find out more and snag a copy here).

Many of you started following this blog almost three years ago when I first began writing about some of my experiences with doubt and what I experienced as a missionary in India. I shared personal stories about the way God was working in my heart as I tried to process what I saw, felt, and heard during our four years in missions, and many of you shared your stories with me as well. I counted it an extreme privilege that my story connected with you in some small way, and I started to wonder if maybe God could use my story in other ways too.

So I kept blogging and started writing Holy Doubt with the intention of helping people like me who were struggling with doubt and shattered faith.

But the book was terrible.

There was a lot of “then this happened, and then this…,” and the manuscript turned into one long list of events. Ugh! Essentially, it was a poorly written memoir instead of the helpful guide for the dark journey through doubt and questions that I hoped it would be. It was about as interesting and useful as reading my grocery list. Not. Helpful.

So I rewrote it.

After that second rewrite, I submitted it to a national contest and Holy Doubtt was among the top 10 considered for a publishing deal with Tyndale Momentum. That time I thought, “This is it! This story is finally going to make its way out into the world.” But as the date for them to choose a winner got closer and closer, I didn’t feel excited. Instead, I hoped they wouldn’t pick me! Feeling terrified and overwhelmed by the thought of sharing the story with the world and the many ways I would feel exposed and vulnerable, I wished I’d never submitted it to the contest. I finally felt more confident in the manuscript, but I wasn’t ready to be an author.

As it turns out, I wasn’t ready and neither was the book!

So I rewrote it again.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that rejection was God’s way of saying “Wait!”

Somewhere in the middle of the third rewrite I realized God had replaced some of my pain with purpose, exchanged my mourning for joy, and hidden hope for me to find in the dark places. That’s when Holy Doubt finally became a story worth telling.

With each rewrite the meaning behind what I experienced sharpened and became clearer, until finally it became what I had hoped for all along—an easy-to-read guide for hurting people stumbling through the soul-crushing agony of doubt.

I don’t know what you’re facing right now. Maybe God is saying, “Wait!” and you just want to charge ahead, bulldozing every roadblock in your way. I know exactly how that feels.

But God has a beautiful story to tell with your life. It might not feel like it right now. But as someone who has sat where you are (and will likely be there again in the future), can I urge you to trust God’s timing? It made no sense to me back when I didn’t get that publishing deal, why God would ask me to wait, but years down the road, it makes perfect sense.

What is God wanting to rewrite in your life? Where is he wanting to replace sorrow with joy, despair for hope? While you contemplate your story, make sure to check out Holy Doubt on Amazon. I’m praying it will help you see the beauty in the story God is writing with your life.

God Doesn’t Hate You

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Ever felt like God hates you?

Or thought that God has abandoned you?

I have.

I’m writing a book about that time in my life. It’s filled with some very personal stories of how I walked through that season, and my prayer is that it will be honest enough to help someone else who can relate to what I experienced and I want your help!

I want to make sure I’m writing a book that’s genuinely helpful and not just a collection of words on a page. This is an important topic and I feel like it doesn’t get talked about often enough and honestly enough.

If you’ve ever felt that way, like God has abandoned you or hates you, I would love to know what you would be looking for in a book on the subject that would make it irresistible to you?

What would make it a must-read for you?

What would you find most helpful?

What would be least helpful?

I’m also toying with several title/subtitle combinations. Feel free to weigh in on your favorite.

They are (in no particular order):

  1. GOD DOESN’T HATE YOU: And 5 Other Truths to Give You Hope When it Feels Like You’re Drowning in Doubt
    2. THE DIVINE DARK: The Skeptic’s Path to Reconnecting with God
    3. NOT ABANDONED: A Love Letter to the Skeptical Heart
    4. HOLY DOUBT: How to Reconnect With God When it Feels Like He Hates You

I would love to hear your opinion on these questions and titles (you can just comment by number for your favorite title) and I would love to hear your stories.

Please leave me a comment or email me. I can’t wait to hear from you!

P.S. Don’t forget to check out my new blog at: www.droppingtheact.com where you can download my free pdf: God Doesn’t Hate You: And 5 Other Truths to Give You Hope When You Feel Like You’re Drowning in Doubt (a very brief, condensed version of my book).

On Waiting

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I’ve started a new blog at www.droppingtheact.com. Check it out for the latest content.

I hate the saying “Good things come to those who wait.” I don’t want to wait.

Waiting stinks!

Sitting at red lights or in line at Starbucks doesn’t really get under my skin. What I really mean when I say waiting stinks is having a dream of doing something that then takes far longer to accomplish when you

just.

want.

it.

to be.

done.

already!

I’m talking about those ideas that cause you sleepless nights for one reason or another and I’m in the middle of one right now. I announced in my last post that I’m planning to launch a brand new blog, and in my naivete I thought I would just snap my fingers and voila! it would appear. Well, not so much. (Thanks, Michael Hyatt for failing to mention that the reason you think it’s so wonderful to have a self-hosted WordPress blog is probably because you hired someone to do it for you!!–in all seriousness his blog is great, very helpful).

So, we’re back to the waiting thing, and projects taking longer than you’d like. I think that’s the theme of my life right now. I just finished reading Anonymous by Alicia Britt Chole and the lessons she shares about the character developed in hidden years is deep and wonderful, and while I’ve found it to be true, it’s still a hard lesson to digest. I want to have already been there, done that. But it seems I’m still there, in the middle of preparations that are taking longer than I’d like, and I’m trying to savor the process.

So, I thought I’d give you an update, dear reader. I’m still working on the new site (I won’t tell you how many tears have been shed because I’m in waaay over my head (what in the world is CSS anyway?!) or how many times I’ve thought about quitting!) and I would love for you to be my beta testers when it’s finally ready to see the light of day. Which hopefully, will be soon. I really can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

If you would like to be part of my launch team for the new blog, which would consist of just sharing my posts on Facebook, or to be one of my beta testers for the new site message me on Facebook or comment below. Thanks for being on this journey with me!  You guys are the best!

Please leave a comment too about how you deal with your anonymous seasons, when things take longer than you want them to, and what God has taught you through them!

It’s Growin’ Time!

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I’ve started a new blog at www.droppingtheact.com. Check it out for the latest content.

It’s almost planting time in Iowa! The promise of a fresh start. I love the flurry of activity this season brings; tractor beams moving, ghostly, through the fields late into the night, as if floating through the open plains. And by day, plumes of dirt trailing behind the lumbering machines like an organic bridal train.

Green nubs are finally breaking through the too-long-frozen ground in my garden, and green tractors are populating our roadways and the fields, turning up soil, preparing it to nurture and grow the promise of a future harvest.  

With the changing of the season, there’s a palpable sense that each farmer, poised with a sense of destiny–a feeling that this is what they were born to do–is waiting with anticipation for the exact right time to plant in order to partner with nature and God to call something life-giving from the dirt. 

This got me thinking about my response to changing seasons within my own life.

Whenever things around me are changing I find I have two choices: embrace the possibilities or fear the uncertainties. And often my natural inclination is towards the latter. So often I miss the opportunity to partner with God to call something life-giving from what, at first glance, appears to be useless dirt, and by focusing on the things that are out of my control I fail to recognize the possibilities staring me in the face.

How can I be so confident that there are always possibilities to embrace?

Because even in my darkest moments I’ve seen the fulfillment of God’s promise to work all things for my good. 

Thinking back to the farmers, I’m sure as they’re planting they could fret about the summer hail storms that will surely come and wreck havoc on all of their hard work, or the potential for a blight of insects. All things completely beyond their control. But in the end, they have to trust that they’ve cultivated enough ground that they’ll be able to withstand the loss.

The same is true of my relationship with God. When I face change, I find that the amount of ground I’ve cultivated with him through prayer, conversation, and experience, is directly proportionate to the trust I put in him in the face of uncertainty and the amount I’m able to withstand. This season I’m looking forward to cultivating more ground with Jesus, and plowing new rows of trust.

How about you? What’s your natural reaction to change in your life? Do you embrace it or do you feel afraid? What areas in your life seem like useless dirt, but God is actually calling you to partner with him to see something life-giving spring from it? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

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The Fear of Success

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I’ve started a new blog at www.droppingtheact.com. Check it out for the latest content.

It was about this time last year that I found myself sitting in a room full of strangers (and my husband) holding my breath. Waiting. I’d been waiting for a couple months since they first announced on the conference website that my book proposal was among 9 others that were being considered for a book contract.

The moment of truth finally arrived; the announcement was seconds away…and the honor went to someone else.

I exhaled. And as I applauded the winner taking the stage, you know what I felt? Sadness, disappointment? Nope–relief.

I’d felt it simmering in me for a while, almost since I had submitted the proposal (and probably long before). A familiar emotion. Fear. But it wasn’t the kind of fear I was expecting. I expected the fear of failure–what I discovered was a fear of success. I passed it off as complete trust in the plans of God (which was partially true), but deep down I was afraid to succeed. Afraid of the unknown ways in which success would change my life. The ways in which it would expose me, and my weaknesses, to the world. Knowing it would demand a new, truer vulnerability, something I wasn’t sure I was capable of or even wanted to give.

I was afraid to succeed, knowing that in my success I would be opening up another avenue to fail.   

One of the best-est movies of all time is It’s Christmastime, Charlie Brown. In it Charlie Brown sidles up to Lucy’s psychiatric help booth, drops in his nickel, and gets her “professional help.” She then rattles off a list of “phobias” asking if any of them match his vague feelings of unhappiness.

Finally she says, “There’s pantophobia. Do you think you have pantophobia?”

“What’s that?” he asks.

And she says, matter-of-factly, “the fear of everything.”

Bowling her over, in true Peanuts fashion, he shouts, “That’s it!”

I laugh every time. But sometimes I can relate a little too well to that scene. I fear failure, I fear success (and spiders, and rats, and something happening to my family, you get the idea). Sometimes the list can get really long. So today I’m reminding myself that God hasn’t given me a spirit of fear of success or failure. So I’m moving forward out of fear into pure trust in the plans of God.

Have you ever found yourself fearing success? Did you recognize it for what it was? How did you handle it? Drop me a comment; I want to hear from you.

Lies I Tell Myself

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I’ve started a new blog at www.droppingtheact.com. Check it out for the latest content.

I’ve been thinking a lot about a little word called justification lately. And not the good kind of justification where Jesus takes away our sins and makes us right in his eyes. The kind that whispers, “Well, it’s not so bad if I tell a little white lie. It’s harmless. I’m not really hurting anybody.” I’m talking about the excuses I make that let me take the easy way out and ignore the hard things that demand a higher standard in my life. That’s what my justifications are, excuses designed to allow me to do whatever I want to do which is usually completely out of line with what I know God wants from me.

What got me thinking about this, you might ask? I was recently confronted with the knowledge of something that caused my heart to grieve and I kept wondering, completely puzzled, “How could this person even think that what they’re doing is okay?” I just couldn’t wrap my head or my heart around it. I thought, surely they know better! And then I felt the Holy Spirit drop this word–the subject of this blog– justification into my heart. See, we can almost always come up with ways to justify our actions, even truly ugly ones, and the Holy Spirit reminded me that I do it all the time. Um, ouch!

When we were living in India as missionaries one of the things I justified, big-time, was my lack of compassion for people on the street. Whenever I felt a tiny nudge to reach out to a beggar I usually reasoned, “Well, I can’t make any sort of real difference. Since I can’t change everything, I should probably do nothing. This problem is just way too big for me. I don’t have the resources or the time to do anything significant.” Or at least that’s what I convinced myself was true. What I was really saying is, “I don’t want to do anything, stopping to help this person would be too inconvenient for me.” I’m ashamed to admit that the more I told myself those lies the more I believed them, until one day I found I could walk by people, dirty, destitute and broken, and not bat an eye.

1 John 3:16-17 (The Message) says: “This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why  we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.

Justification allowed me to read that verse and say, “The number of people in need that I see on a daily basis is staggering, surely God doesn’t really mean this! I would drive myself crazy trying to live this out on the streets of India!” And just like that I could conveniently ignore it and dismiss it as too extreme and definitely too hard. I just want to say that is a scary place to live, picking and choosing the commands you want to follow, a place I no longer want to live in, and I’m sorry that I lived in it as long as I did. Truly sorry. I weep over the opportunities I missed, the people I could have helped, over the times that I made God’s love disappear in a place that desperately needed it to be tangible and visible. I truly hope you don’t relate to my story, but if you do, it’s not too late to change! Are you making excuses to justify disobedience? Ask God to help you change; he will!

Let me know what you think! Drop me a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts!