The Blessings of Believing

As I’ve written here, I’m working through the Bible this year studying all the times the word “believe” or “belief” is used and trying to understand God’s perspective on the word He gave me for 2017.

Today I got to the verse that’s been tied to my word for the year for 2 years.

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!” (Luke 1:45)

Do you see how God did that? He’s so amazing! In 2016 my word was fulfill, but I wrote here about how much I struggled with that word. It was a hard year of wrestling with my word, so I thought I might need a do-over.

No, God clearly dropped “believe” into my heart for 2017, but when I went looking for a key verse, there it was. The same verse as last year. I got a new start and a do-over all in one. Woot!

Imagine how excited I was this morning to scroll down in my BibleGateway search to find that today’s verse is MY verse. I mean it’s Elizabeth’s and Mary’s too, but I know they’re sharing it with me. 🙂

I want to testify one more time at how vibrantly alive and active God’s Word is. When I dug into this verse for the hundredth time this morning, I got a whole new message.

We have to believe before God fulfills His promises to us.

I was struck again this morning with how hard that is for a reforming perfectionist. I wouldn’t ever say out loud that I think God needs help. I’m too church-girl for that! My actions, however, reveal what I really believe. I rush ahead into the fulfilling part, trying to make it all happen, when that’s God’s exclusive job. My job is simply in the believing. And patiently waiting.

Belief is confident resting.

That’s not to say belief is passive. It’s resting and watching just like the Israelites did in the dessert. They camped and rested until God moved, and then they followed Him until it was time to camp and rest again.

How does that perspective change things for us? It means that we don’t have to rush around trying to make things happen. We simply respond as Jesus leads. It means that we don’t worry. We trust God to move us into the fulfilling of His will in His perfect timing. It means that we don’t sink into despair when things aren’t going our way. Our hope is firmly in God Himself and not our circumstances.

Even as I write these things I know they’re my biggest challenges. Rest is hard for me and trust has been elusive, but these are the essential elements of belief. I’m seeking God for no less that full belief, complete confidence, and total rest.

Blessings follow belief, and these are the blessings I want for my worn out perfectionist heart and for the people around me to share.

Let’s all use this verse for ourselves. Go ahead, and put your name in it.

“Blessed is ___(your name)___who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!” (Luke 1:45)

What promises has God whispered into your heart?

How can you move into your believing job today and out of God’s fulfilling job?

O, my soul, believe! O, sister, believe! Let’s move into confident rest together.

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Congratulations to the winners of the book giveaways!

Janet (4.6.17 8:32 am) is the winner of Unsinkable Faith by Tracie Miles.

Cynthia Bashaar (4.10.17 5:28 am) is the winner of Out of the Saltshaker by Rebecca Manley Pippert.

I’ve sent emails to both of you, so please reply to me with your mailing address. You’re going to love these books!

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Belief is Better… Than Fear

Belief is better… than what?

After studying the word “believe” for just three months this year, I can tell you with confidence that belief is better than fear, than wavering, than uncertainty, than doubt…

Those were just a few of the emotions I wrestled with until I was exhausted last year. How I wish I had followed Jesus’ words from mini-lesson #1 of 4 today. Well, it’s a new day, so I’m starting now! How about you?

Subscribers, click here to watch the video in Facebook, and I’d love for you to follow me while you’re there so that we can connect in person next time.

If you’d like to learn more about how I’m leveraging my word for 2016, click here to watch a short video I made for Kathi Lipp’s blog. I hope it’s something you can use to maximize your word for the year too!

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Beyond Wallowing

Happy Thursday, friends!

I’m so happy to be here with you today. I don’t know what it’s like for you outside, but the sun in shining in my heart when I think of all of us here– a gathering of girls who just want less perfectionism and more joy. That’s what I call freedom!

Freedom. What a beautiful word. It’s right up there with another word I love which is “celebrate”. Celebrate is one of those words that sounds like what it is– balloons, pink icing, and raucous-sounding party favors. Toward the end of last year, I had decided that “celebrate” would be my theme for my January blogs, but I got side-tracked.

I wanted to celebrate, but first I needed to heal.

Now I’m ready to celebrate, and I hope you are too! I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how tough 2016 was, but I want to move on. I’ve never been a wallower, and I don’t intend to start now. Jesus promised us abundant life, and I don’t want to settle for less,

Make sure to come back next week for a video I’ve been saving for months to share with you. I promise that when you watch it that you’ll fully enter into the mood to celebrate with me.

In the meantime, I want to give you a little assignment this week that I’ve been doing since the beginning of January that has lifted me out of any remaining funkiness and washed the wallow right off of me. Here are the steps:

  • Choose a word for 2017 or dust off the one that you started with.
  • Do a little scripture study of your word. You can type it right into BibleGateway.com to find all the verses that contain your word.
    • Your word isn’t in the Bible? That’s ok! Choose a synonym or word that expresses the meaning of your word and search for it. ie.  Your word is “sparkle”. Search “light”.
  • Answer these questions and take some notes on one verse a day:
    • What does it say? I just write out the verse word-for-word.
    • What does it mean? Write down the main idea that God is trying to get across.
    • What do I apply this? Write down an action step to make in your current circumstances based on the truth God showed you.

Next week, I’ll share the video and some insights God has been filling my heart with about my 2017 word.

Want extra inside scoop? Click here to watch this 4-minute video I made for Kathi Lipp’s blog!

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Jesus Helped Me Bounce Back

I’m a glass-half-full kind of girl.

My personality leans naturally toward sunny, and joy seems to be a gift God has woven into my DNA. I tend to be able to let things run off me, and I’m not offended easily.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not completely Polly Anna. Just like you, I’ve had pain and losses and disappointments, but I’ve always rebounded pretty easily.

Until 2016.  2016 kicked my booty.

In multiple areas of my life, I experienced some things that broke my heart, and instead of settling in to let God heal and reassemble, I wrestled. I cried. I sank into the hurt, and as I embraced the hurt instead of God’s healing, I fought a loosing battle with…

Doubt

Despair

Disappointment

I didn’t stay in these dark places all day every day, but slowly over the course of the year, I was moving towards decline instead of growing towards incline. I covered it pretty well, though, so that most around me didn’t know the darkness I was experiencing.

Finally, in the weeks before Christmas, I confessed to Barry and a friend, “I feel like I’m walking along the edge of a cliff. I’m ok right this minute, but I feel like I could fall off into a major depression at any moment.”

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever let your circumstances overwhelm you? I knew that’s what I had done.

I let my circumstances overwhelm me, and only I can let that happen. Still, I couldn’t figure out how to stop.

The day after I had confided the depths of my hurt to Barry, I sat in the chair where I meet Jesus every morning, and I asked Him, “How did I get here? And how do I get out?”

Gently, He reminded me of two blog posts that I had read in the previous weeks, one from a wise mentor and one from a young woman who is the daughter of a friend. Then He whispered into my heart with a voice as clear as yours across the phone lines, “Amy, you’ve let your identity slide back into what you do. Your identity isn’t in what you do. It’s to be in Christ.”

Oh. Yeah.

It’s so simple, isn’t it? Even baby Christians know this is the way it’s supposed to work, but I forgot somehow… even though I pecked out these words on my keyboard in 2014,

“When tasks rise to the top of my priorities, I stop seeing myself as the richly loved daughter of King Jesus and start feeling like the stepdaughter dressed in rags scrubbing the floor under her Father’s harsh, critical gaze. I start to see God as an unrecognizable taskmaster, and I begin to believe I’m only created to do His work…. Viewing God simply as a divine project manager skews our view of ourselves into dangerously prideful territory, where the work of our hands is exalted above the work of God’s Spirit. The path to the perfectionism pit is short when we trust our own methods and focus on our product.”  ~Breaking Up with Perfect

Even though it was hard to admit that I needed to learn an old lesson again, I thanked God for clearly showing me how to get back on the path to joy. I asked for His forgiveness in allowing my identity to be anyplace but in the safe and loving arms of Jesus, and I asked Him to change my heart.

That’s when a miracle happened.

I’m not one to bandy around lightly a weighty word like “miracle”, friends. I know I experienced a true miracle and the healing of my heart. Many times God heals over time, but this time, I got out of my chair almost physically lighter for having let go of the heft of my own responsibility and shifting into Christ’s rest.

And yet I worried… I was worried that it might be temporary. Or that the sadness might come back the next day. Or that I couldn’t live in this joy, but I’ve experienced a permanent change of heart.

Jesus helped me bounce back.

Are you struggling with the hurt of unexpected circumstances? The pain of being misunderstood? The despair of doubting your calling?

I have one step for you to take. Do a little heart check. Where is your identity resting? Is it tethered to the crumbly underpinnings of your own work? Your own efforts? Your own calling?

Or is it attached firmly to the sure foundation of Christ– a place of rest and safety and unfailing love?

Taking that one step, checking where my identity lay, and asking God to move it back where it belonged set me back on the right track. I believe it can help you too!

In picking apart how I got into the pit and how God helped me out, He also let me see the growth and good that has happened this year. Please hang with me next week to hear about a major victory that might be just what you need too!

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Congratulations to Katharine (1.5.17 10:35 am), the winner of a copy of Overwhelmed!

If you read this, and your first reaction was, “Oh pooh! I really wanted to win that book!” can I make a suggestion? Go and buy it today anyway. There’s still an opportunity to get the companion planner for free when you buy it, so click on the title above and see all the details.

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Episode #27: Jesus, The Lord of Grace

For the last two weeks of our Holiday Break series, Cheri and I turn our full attention to Jesus. Just as it should be!

We all need grace for our failures, and Jesus’ disciples needed it too.

Suzie Eller points to both Judas and Peter as stunning failures who had Jesus’ forgiveness extended to them. One chose to accept grace and one rejected it.

Will we live a life of thank you for the grace we’ve been extended? This is the perfect season receive grace with thankfulness.

Click on the graphic above to listen, or download the transcript right here!

Note: Starting at the first of the year, I’ll stop posting the podcast links here and go back to sending just one blog post a week to subscribers. We hope that you’ll continue joining us for the podcast, though! If you scroll down to the bottom of the podcast page, you’ll see an opportunity to subscribe there. Cheri and I want to give you the option of receiving all three of our weekly mailings (1 post from me, 1 post from her, 1 podcast post) or any combination of the three. 🙂

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Episode #24: Alone But Not Lonely

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Every holiday image we see is centered around family, friends, and rooms full of smiling people.

Facing a holiday spent alone—or feeling alone—is hard.

Cheri and Amy talk about shifting our perspective so that a “silent night” isn’t a painful night but one filled with peace instead.

(Click on the graphic to go listen. Prefer to read rather than listen? Download the transcript right here!)

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Procrastination & Perfectionism Go Hand-in-Hand

Today is the last guest post from my group of recovering-perfectionist friends. I hope you’ve enjoyed them and collected some of the books along the way!

Glynnis Whitwer, today’s guest, is a woman I both love and respect. I pursued her friendship from the first time I met her at She Speaks with our Proverbs 31 team because she’s smart, warm, and a woman known for her integrity.

Please welcome her today and leave a comment at the end to win a copy of her book and mine.

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Years ago, I naively thought I was decent at decorating, until people started re-doing my efforts. Whether at church or work, if I was assigned the setup of a table of any kind—snacks, desserts, book sales—someone would come along behind me and re-arrange the items.

It happened so often, that I just stopped trying. I’d laugh it off, and ask to be assigned something else. It’s hard to face a weakness.  And because I so desperately want to be good at decorating, it hurts.

When I take a step back, I can see that my standard for decorating is ridiculous.  I’m comparing my home, my income, my resources and my style to others who are truly gifted in this area.  Logically I should see those comparisons and my personal expectations aren’t fair, and give myself a break.

Only there’s this critical voice inside me that says admit defeat and give up.  In a quiet little hiss it says things like, “You’ll never be happy with the results … someone will come along behind you and do it better … you aren’t artistic … if you can’t do it well, just forget it.”

That voice has a name: Perfectionist.  And it’s not my friend.

One would think that the desire to do things well is an asset. And it is.  But perfectionism isn’t the pursuit of excellence. It’s the pursuit of perfection.

Excellence is possible is some things; perfection is possible in nothing.

Excellence pushes us to do our best; perfectionism pushes us to be the best.

Perfectionism is the enemy of learning and growing and enjoying areas of life where we haven’t achieved mastery. And we procrastinate addressing those areas for fear of feeling unsatisfied, critical, and discouraged.

Procrastination and perfectionism go hand-in-hand for me.  And one of my most memorable bouts with perfectionism was when I was writing a book on procrastination.

It was amazing what other tasks I chose to do rather than write.  They were all things I’d procrastinated, but apparently dreaded less than writing that book.

I scheduled a medical screening I’d put off for years, made a copy of a car key that required a special locksmith with a special machine, and decided to start excising again.

But write? I was paralyzed by the thought of it.  Seriously, why did I tackle a topic that only very intelligent people with lots of degrees and initials behind their name wrote on? I’m no expert!

The more I researched the topic, the more I became so consumed over what to include in the book, that I couldn’t start. Visions of people thinking they’d wasted their money just about made me sick.

Then it didn’t help that I’m friends with someone who has had three books hit the New York Times best-seller list. And although I know I shouldn’t compare my success with hers, the impossibility of writing a best seller made me want to call my publisher to quit multiple times.

Finally, I had to admit I wasn’t going to write a perfect book.  And I’m not the perfect person to write on this subject. But I have been called by God to do it.  So, since He is MUCH smarter than me, I decided I better sit down at the computer, ask for His help, and start writing, trusting God to lead me.

This was not a one-and-done conversation I had with myself. Each chapter, I had to face that same high expectation and those same fears.  What if I left something important out? What if I quoted a study that was debunked a year later, only I didn’t know it? What if a psychologist reads this and posts an angry comment on Amazon?

The perfectionist bully taunted me with dire consequences throughout the entire process of writing this book.

So how did I actually get it done?  I chose to trust God.

I know that sounds simple, but it’s really true. Years ago God challenged me to trust Him, not just say I trusted Him.  What a difference it makes.

Perfectionism directed my focus on the end result.  But when I took my eyes off the results and put them on God, perfectionism lots its grip on me.

No longer was the burden of the results squarely on my shoulders.

Just knowing God won’t let me down gave me courage to start. And He’ll do the same for you. Here is some truth from His Word:

Psalm 9:10, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

Isaiah 42:16, “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”

When we are faced with a challenging assignment, one where we doubt our ability to do it perfectly, we can choose to trust God will not fail us. Assured of God’s faithfulness and His love, we can proceed with confidence, giving the work our best efforts.

GlynnisWhitwerGlynnis Whitwer is on staff with Proverbs 31 Ministries as the Executive Director of Communications. She is one of the writers of Encouragement for Today, the Proverbs 31 e-mail devotions, with over 750,000 daily readers.  She is the author and co-author of 8 books, with her latest, Taming the To-Do List, releasing last summer. Glynnis, her husband Tod, have five young-adult children and live in Glendale, Arizona.  She blogs regularly at www.GlynnisWhitwer.com.

 

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Holiday Expectations and Traditions: Keeping the Good and Letting the Ugly Go

In the first of the Holiday Break episodes, Cheri and Amy tease out the difficult issues of holiday expectations and traditions.

How do we decide what’s worth keeping and what needs to go?

They come up with key questions to ask and a permission slip to enable you to move away from holiday dread and move toward more delight.

Click the graphic below to listen, and don’t forget to print your permission slip for your fridge while you’re there. There’s an amazing pre-holiday expectation buster there too!

Note: Aren’t into listening to podcasts? That’s ok! We have a transcript of our conversation each week. Click here to access the transcript.

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Episode #16 and Little Note

I know it’s hard to believe, but I’m out of words.

Seriously.

It’s been two years of writing, writing, writing– first my book and then lots and lots of extra writing to get the word out about the book. It may sound funny for an author to say, but the truth is that writing is super hard for me. I’m thankful, but I’m tired.

So I’m going to do what God often calls tired girls to do. I’m going to rest for a little while. I’m taking a rest from writing in October so that I can fill back up with God. The links for Grit ‘n’ Grace will still come to you, but my Monday posts will be missing for a few weeks.

I hope you’ll hang in there with me, because I hope to be recharged with some fresh words and new passion when I come back!

In the meantime, I invite you to take a rest with me if you need it. The world doesn’t make much room for rest, but it was one of God’s priorities from the very beginning. He rested on the seventh day of the very first week ever just to show us how it’s done.

Take a breath.

Rest.

Soak up Jesus in the silence so that you’ll have more of Him to share.

I’ll look forward to coming back revived in November!

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If you haven’t listened to Grit ‘n’ Grace yet, I’d love for you to give it a try this week and the rest of the post-less weeks. 🙂 Cheri and I can’t believe that we’ve already had over 10,000 downloads, and we’d love for YOU to join our little community.

Also, if you’ve been a listener, would you help us get the word out? Share with your friends, and if you’d take a minute to leave a review on iTunes, that would be fabulous!

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We’ve pinned negative labels on some very human processes like play and grieving.

Play is often consider slacking and grief is sometimes seen as a pity party.

Lucille Zimmerman, author of Renewed, explains why both are essential to the full life and how they serve as powerful tools to creativity and healing. Click on the graphic above to listen to the podcast, download great freebies, and enter to win a copy of Lucille’s book.

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When Tangling Words Catch You Off Guard

You’re in for a treat this week, friends! My friend Carey Scott is our guest blogger today, and I love her immensely for many reasons. She’s always a breath of fresh air in my life with her honesty and wisdom, and Carey lives so authentically that she makes me feel brave enough to do the same.

I know you’re going to adore her, so welcome Carey!

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“Are you saying no because of your weight?”

Those words caught me off guard and stung. I’m always amazed at the freedom some feel to say they words they do.

Rather than respond with a full-frontal attack, I used gentle words so I could hide the hurt. “No, I just don’t want ice cream right now. Thanks, though.”

In that moment—at a dinner with old friends that should have been filled with joy and celebration—I found myself in a very tangling situation. I put on a brave face and pushed through. The last thing I wanted to do what ruin the evening for everyone else. But honestly, I’m so tired of just pushing through. Even more, I’m frustrated that I’m still so easily tangled.

Isn’t there a point in our lives when insecurity doesn’t knot us up anymore?

The shaming voice inside tells me I should be able to overcome it. And so often I agree. I’ve known Jesus for most of my life and have seen Him heal my heart more times than I can remember. I know what the Bible says about how much God loves me. I believe that He created me on purpose with purpose. I am a Biblical Life Coach, and speak and write about issues surrounding a woman’s self-esteem.

I know the worth I hold to my Creator, yet here I am again questioning my beauty. My value. My significance.

The struggle to see the truth of our worth isn’t new. Chances are you’re intimately aware of the places you don’t feel like you “measure up.” And dare I say it’s a battle we’ll most likely carry to the grave. Because part of the human condition is wondering if we’re good enough. Those insecurities cause us to take a sobering look at our life to see if we’ve been a success. We want to know we made a difference—our lives, our words, our actions—during our time here. We need to know we matter.

So we wonder… Am I raising my kids the right way? Have I been the kind of wife my husband needed? Am I doing enough to create healthy community and love on others well? Am I a good friend? Have I volunteered enough hours? Am I nurturing my relationship with Jesus enough? Do I handle our finances like I should? Am I as encouraging and affirming with my words as she is? Can I still pull off that little black dress even when things jiggle and wiggle a bit more? Do my opinions and ideas matter?

We want to know that we have contributed to the world in significant ways. We want to know that we are important. We want to know that we’re beautiful in our own way, and that others see it too. And we need to know that no matter what, we are valuable. So when a careless comment tightens a tangle that’s already been tightened around our heart—a tangle that makes us feel unlovable or unworthy—it can leave us feeling less than.

Here’s where it gets so frustrating. I had an expectation of growing out of those insecurities. I assumed that once I was well into my adult years, the need for worldly acceptance and approval would go away and I wouldn’t be so easily tangled by the same old people and the same stupid situations. And while some of my insecurities aren’t as easily triggered as before, words still hurt. So when she made the comment about my weight being what kept me from the ice cream desert, I felt those familiar less than lies flood back into my heart.

But here is the good news…God looks at us differently. He doesn’t measure our value by the way we look, what we’ve accomplished, the money we have made, the health of our body, or any other worldly measuring stick.  God values us simply because we’re His. Here’s proof: “You are the ones who make yourselves look right in other people’s sight, but God knows your hearts. For the things that are considered of great value by people are worth nothing in God’s sight.”  (Luke 16:15 GNT)

In other words, the world is wrong—plain and simple. And because of that, we can’t allow society’s standard of what is worthy of love and adoration be our truth. We just can’t listen to it anymore.

Sweet friend, here is my challenge to you:

… Ask the Lord to untangle the expectation that you must earn the love and approval of others.

… Let Him heal those places where words have hurt you by replacing them with His truth.

… Ask God to loosen the knots of insecurity that make you feel unimportant and insignificant.

… And live in the freedom that you were created on purpose and hold immeasurable value to your Heavenly Father.

Because when we do—when we truly untangle—words won’t hold the same power over us anymore. So when someone questions why we’re skipping desert (or we get triggered in some other way), we’ll remember that God sees the beauty and complexity of our heart… and delights in His creation!

careyCarey Scott is the author of Untangled, a book where she bravely shares her story of abuse, the insecurities birthed from it, and the freedom she now has through Jesus. She is also an international speaker who loves to have honest conversations about real life. She discusses the struggles women face the most, always reminding them of their immeasurable value. Carey lives in Northern Colorado with her family. Learn more by visiting CareyScottTalks. You can also connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

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