Surrendering a Dream {My Final Post}

surrendering dream

When God gives you a dream and asks you to surrender it to Him, the only option is obedience. Because without complete obedience and surrender, He can’t bring that dream to fulfillment the way He has planned.

It didn’t make a lot of sense. I knew that God had called me to communicate His Words through writing.  God was asking me to give up this blog. Even though, I haven’t been consistently writing, this was hard for me to take.  I questioned it for a brief few hours because the dream of writing had most definitely been from Him in the first place. But I also knew that often times our plans for how our God-given dreams will turn out are much different than His plans. So I let the though settle in my heart and remained open to the idea. The next morning, I read 1 Peter 5.  Verses 6-7 say “So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs; he’ll promote you at the right time.”(emphasis mine) I felt this was confirmation that what I had heard the day before was really from the Lord.  I knew that obedience was the only option, and so I told my husband and my writing friends so they could hold me accountable.  But I needed to work through all of this in my heart before I could publish this final post.

I quickly came to the realization that surrendering my dream does not mean giving up my dream. It means laying it down at God’s feet and saying “You gave me this dream, and I trust that your plans for its fulfillment are better than my own plans.”  I know that God has called me to write.  Last year when I attended a Christian conference for writers and speakers, God reminded me that this was His dream for me; it wasn’t something I came up with on my own. I believe He even gave me part of the title for my first book at that conference. That was a year ago.

Soon after the Lord spoke to me about closing down this blog, I began reading A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman, about how the art we were made to live comes out in so many small ways.  There was a chapter in the book dedicated to when you need to stop. Coincidence?  I think not.

Emily says, “It seems counterintuitive to stop just when you’ve convinced yourself you are already so very far behind.  But stopping is really the only answer, because to carry on is to become a manic workaholic.  To carry on is to worship the art rather than the Artist with a capital A.  To carry on is to be pushed around by fear.”

This stood out to me because I had already felt behind as a writer.  I wasn’t writing consistently and my blog community wasn’t growing.  There was a fear that if I closed down this blog I would never have a reason to write again.

Very soon after I decided to be obedient in shutting down my blog, I got an email from someone in a Christian writer’s community I am part of (Hope*Writers), asking me what book I plan on writing in July.  I replied with my answer, still unsure if it was really the Lord prompting me to focus my time on writing a book right now.  Then several days later, a friend texted me and asked how my book was coming.  Well, that was enough confirmation for me. And so I have set out to focus on working on the book God laid on my heart two years ago.

There is so much I could say about what this blog has done for me, but I’ll just share the most important thing.  When I first came up with the title, it had more to do with me sharing my heart, because doing it through writing seems to be easier for me.  But over the last almost 3 years, God has used it to reveal His heart to me and the things in my own heart that I didn’t know were there. I realize that this particular blog has served its purpose. Now that I am writing this final post, I feel so much peace about what lies ahead for my writing “career.”

I don’t know what God has planned for me in the future, but I know He does have a plan, and I can trust that it is better than anything I could come up with on my own.

As of September 1st, this blog will no longer be running.  I thought about leaving it up indefinitely and just not writing on it, but I knew if I did it would always be a temptation.

You will still be able to find me at my Facebook page, where I will hopefully be more consistent in sharing little snippets of what the Lord is teaching me.

Thank you to those who have read my humble words on this blog over the years. I hope you have been blessed by them in some way.

“May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.” Numbers 6:24-26(NLT)

From my heart to yours,

Great Amish Fiction

I’ve been drawn to Amish fiction since I was a teenager.  Initially, I was intrigued by the idea of living in a modern day world without electricity, cars, and many more of the conveniences we live with today. Over the years, what has kept me interested in Amish fiction is their slower way of life, the close-knit community that is characteristic of the Amish, and the simplicity with which they live.51gFieK2tzL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

*The Quieting, which is the second book in The Biship’s Family series by Suzanne Woods Fisher doesn’t disappoint.  Even having not read the first book, I was easily drawn into the story of David’s family and community.  David, a bishop and widow, is at odds with another church leader over a situation that could potentially lead to a Quieting–which in the Amish community is the removal of a leader.

Adding to the stress of this conflict, David’s meddlesome mother and straightforward niece, Abigail are visiting to help with his children and are making all kinds of changes in his home and his business. David’s patience is tested as he seeks to do the right thing for his church while dealing with the fall-out that is happening in his own household.

Although Abigail is helping her uncle and family, her primary reason for being in Stoney Ridge is to help her father with some genealogical research he is doing for a client in that community.  Something quite unexpected happens during her research, and I enjoyed “watching” Abigail wade through her findings and her emotions.

If you’re a hopeless romantic, you will not be disappointed.  Romantic love is found for several characters despite the obstacles that aim to keep them apart.

If you love Amish fiction I think you would enjoy this one and most likely the others in the series. It is easy to read but keeps your interest piqued with surprises along the way.

*This book was given to me by Revell in exchange for my honest review.

Happy reading!

From my heart to yours,

Mom Failures and God’s Grace

mistakes

Looking back over my short almost 8 years of motherhood, I can see that I have made many, many mistakes.  I have given in too often, been too critical, been overly gracious at times and not gracious enough other times. I have often been selfish and put my own needs and desires ahead of the needs of my kids.  I could go on and on about my parenting mistakes, and I could dwell on them and worry about how they could be messing up my kids.

But God.

When I worry over my past mistakes or even over decisions I am currently making in my parenting, I am putting my trust in myself and my ability alone to meet the needs of my kids.  Instead, I could choose to trust God to redeem my parenting mistakes–to use them for something good in my kids’ lives. And I can trust that despite my many mistakes, God can and will lead them where He wants them to go.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” ~ Romans 8:28 (nlt)

I want to encourage you moms (and dads) that your parenting mistakes don’t define you as a parent and they don’t determine who your kids become.

Yes, our decisions do have an impact on our kids, sometimes negatively.  But if we are willing to humbly admit to ourselves, God, and our kids that we are going to get it wrong A LOT, and we are willing to own up to our mistakes and seek forgiveness, God’s grace will cover those mistakes.

God is sovereign.  We can trust Him to take care of our kids and to work in their lives despite our inadequacies and failures. He may even choose to use those failures to do something amazing in their hearts and lives. Let’s not spend precious time agonizing over our mistakes. Let’s choose, instead, to watch what God can do with them when we give them to Him.

From my heart to yours,

The Mother Letters: Sharing the Laughter, Joy, Struggles, and Hope

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For years I waited to become a mother. I cried, I prayed, and I hoped as month after month, and year after year my womb remained empty and my home remained void of the cries and laughter of little ones.  Then, finally, the day came when I held my first precious baby in my arms.  Then not long after that, my second.

The years of waiting were excruciating, but there are days when I think motherhood is even harder. The weight of responsibility is sometimes crushing.  I doubt my ability to mother well.  I worry that I am doing everything all wrong and that I am going to severely mess up my kids.  You, too?

If you relate to my doubts and fears as a mother, *The Mother Letters: Sharing the Laughter, Joy, Struggles, and Hope will remind you that although you are not perfect, you are the perfect mother for your children. The Mother Letters is a book of letters written by mothers for mothers compiled by Seth and Amber Haines.  They are stories of hope, pain, unexpected hardship, and beautiful miracles to encourage moms like you and me in our courageous journey of motherhood.

As I read through the letters, I was reminded God is my sustainer, and He is also my children’s sustainer. He loves them more than I do, and His grace can cover all my parenting mistakes.

In her letter, Shannon Lowe reminds us to “press on, knowing that He will shepherd you in shepherding them…know that you’ll fail sometimes, possibly even spectacularly so.  Trust Him to redeem the difficult part. And between the difficult parts? Laugh often, and hard, and unexpectedly.”

Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and for the mom who loves to read and needs to be encouraged that she is doing a good job, The Mother Letters would make a great gift.

*A copy of this book was provided to me by Revell in exchange for my honest review.

Linking up with #Intentional Tuesday.

From my heart to yours,

Why I’m Thankful for Depression and Anxiety

trials

I have struggled with anxiety for 10 years now.  Depression has been thrown into the mix at different times, too.  At times I have felt suffocated by them to the point that I wanted to just die.  But I have learned to be thankful for those seasons in my life because, without them, I would not be who I am today.

We’ve probably all heard the scripture in James 1:2-3(niv) that says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” Something I’ve realized is that it is often difficult to be joyful during the trial itself, but when it is over and we have remained standing in our faith, there does come a joy and a thankfulness for having gone through it.

Here are three things that have happened because of my anxiety that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

My knowledge of my need for God has grown exponentially. Before anxiety, I thought I was doing pretty well.  I was keeping all the major rules of the Bible, going to church, reading my Bible occasionally, and praying when I felt the need. When anxiety and depression hit the hardest, I was brought to my knees in search of God in a way that I had never sought Him before. I was desperate for Him. I knew my only hope was in being connected to Him at all times. My faith grew as He showed Himself faithful. I learned that His grace truly is sufficient, and that His strength really does shine through my weaknesses.

I have developed deeper friendships. Before my depression and anxiety, I would say that I was a bit of a recluse. I was content to have few friends and to lean mostly on my family for my social needs. I was happy to be home and strongly disliked going to social events. I very rarely shared my struggles and my thoughts. Vulnerability was saved for a select few. But something changed when I began struggling with anxiety and depression. I quickly became aware that I felt better when I was around people. I started reaching out to people and slowly developing friendships. Over time, as I learned to share my struggle with others, I recognized that healing didn’t come until I brought my struggle into the light instead of keeping it to myself in the dark.

I have learned to take bigger leaps of faith. I remember when I quit teaching to stay home in anticipation of becoming a mother.  I was so glad that I would never have to speak in front of people again.  Now, because my faith has grown through my experience with anxiety and depression, I lead small groups and have publicly shared my testimony several times. Because God has shown Himself so faithful to me in my darkest times, I have a much stronger desire to do whatever it is He asks of me, no matter how much it might scare me.

Today, I still struggle with anxiety (although it’s not as crushing as it once was), and as much as I would like to be completely free from it, I am learning to be thankful for it.  Without it, I would not have the relationship I have with God. It is something that keeps me dependent on Him and staying connected to people.

What trials have you faced that you are thankful for?

Shared at #Intentional Tuesday.

From my heart to yours,