Sometimes it IS About You

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Yes, you read that right. Sometimes, it IS about YOU! Society teaches us to to put others first. We are taught at a young age to put others first and to only think about those around us. If you grew up in church, especially a Southern Baptist Church, you were taught the prayer model of JOY. This means you repent and thank the Lord for blessings. You then pray for those around you and finally you pray for things you need. We are taught that putting ourselves before others is selfish. We are told that our thoughts and opinions should take a back seat to those around us.

There are times when we need to take a step back and care for those around us. There are times when a family member or friend are in crisis and they need us to be strong. As parents, we often put our kids first and ourselves on the back burner. This is not necessarily a bad thing, BUT I’m here to tell you that it is absolutely OK to put yourself first every now and then. Sometimes you NEED to put yourself first. Sometimes you NEED to let others know that your opinion is valid. Sometimes you NEED to let others know that while you love them, you really can’t be there for them and that you are taking a step back.

Your opinion IS valid. What you think matters. I will give you a semi petty example of this. At this point I have 2 kids in our county school system and our 3rd will join them next year. On the county school page there was debate going on over a proposed change. A parent said that because I was a newer parent to our district that my opinion didn’t count. Honestly, the issue isn’t a hill I want to die on. That being said, my opinion does matter and it is just as valid as hers. How many times, when it comes to larger issues, have we allowed another person to tell us that our opinion doesn’t matter? How many times have we shut our mouths and walked away, even though it really was a big deal for us? How many times have you felt that you aren’t experienced enough or good enough to have your opinion count? It’s acceptable for you to share what it is you think and allow your voice to be heard.

Your past experiences DO matter. There are times in the valley for all of us. While our valleys may not be as low as others, it doesn’t mean that your emotions and experiences are any less valid. Yes, your valley may have seemed a little easier to another person, but that doesn’t mean you were really walking on a plateau. How many times have you shared a valley experience and had another person tell you “it really wasn’t that bad,” or “That person had it much worse than you and you should be thankful that it wasn’t as bad.” It stinks to be told your emotions aren’t valid and you shouldn’t feel a certain way. It’s acceptable to stand up for your emotions and let others know your past experiences count.
Taking time to care for yourself is important. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you will eventually lose steam and crash.There are times when you need to take a step back from your activities and take time for yourself. It could mean it’s time to find a counselor you trust to talk through and process whatever the situation may be. It may also be time to take a trip to your PCP to have a conversation about an anti-anxiety, an anti-depressant or some sort of mood stabilizer. It could also be doing something as simple as signing up for a class at the gym, or a class in another area that interests you. Sometimes you NEED to take care of yourself and you need to be honest with your spouse, or inner circle about what it is you need. If you don’t speak up for yourself, how will those around you know what you need.

This post flies in the face of what most of us have been taught. Remember there were times Jesus went off to be by Himself. He needed time alone. There were other times when He went off with just Peter and John. Time alone and time with your closest, inner circle is not a bad thing. You just need to brave enough to speak up for what it is you need.

There are times when it IS about YOU!!!

A Glowstick Season

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Last week I was searching images in Google and came across a meme that said “It’s ok to be a glowstick; sometimes we need to break before we can shine.” Since I read the meme, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head and it seems appropriate for this season of my life. Think about a glowstick for just a minute. Unless it’s broken, it can’t be used. It HAS to be broken in order to fulfill its purpose and glow. Many times the Lord has to break us in order for us to function and glow as He desires.

It’s hard to believe that I am now closer to 40 than I am to 30. In October I will only have a single year left in my 30s. My life is changing. The Lord is breaking certain things in me and I can tell a new chapter is getting ready to begin. Since I resigned my job as a school based therapist back in May of 2013. I feel like I have been in a holding pattern. It’s been a chapter of waiting. While I don’t have all of the answers, I can see where the Lord is breaking me and He is slowly changing my circle of friends.

Honestly, it’s hard to imagine knocking down walls one has spent almost an entire life building. Different circumstances and events have added bricks and reinforcements in my own wall and it almost resembles a fortress at this point. I am now watching the Lord bring people into my life to start tearing down that wall. Yes, I have some great friends, but many of those relationships aren’t what they used to be. Part of that has been me pulling back. Part of it is life has pulled us in different directions and other times it’s just part of the natural ebb and flow of life. There are days when it’s hard to see that some of those relationships are not what they used to be. In some ways I look at how life has pulled certain people together and while I haven’t been left out completely, the relationships have changed. Here lately, I feel like I am on the outside looking in when it comes to certain friends.

Two years ago, the Lord allowed me to walk into a Christian Women in Media Association regional dinner. I had no idea what I was walking into and had no idea the blessing I would receive from this group. The beginning of this year the Lord brought an incredible small group of ladies to a regional dinner. While we are all still getting to know each other, I am grateful for the time spent with them this past week in conversation and a ministry event. These ladies are all beautiful in their own rights. They have amazing testimonies of how the Lord has moved in their lives. I count it a privilege to cheer them on in their current projects and am grateful for their encouragement in pursuing my own dreams. I’m excited to spend more time with these ladies and get to know them better. I’m also excited to watch the Lord expand all of our ministries with the support and encouragement of each other.

I have spent almost 2 years attempting to write a book. The first time I was about 3 chapters in when my computer ate the whole thing and refused to let it be recovered. Last fall I started writing again, but stopped almost 2 chapters in because I was terrified of failing. If I didn’t finish the book, it couldn’t be rejected and I wouldn’t be seen as a failure. Fear has never stopped me from pursuing anything in the past, but I have dreamt of writing a book since I graduated from college and the fear of moving forward is almost paralyzing. The Lord never hands us fear. He only gives courage. In my season of being a glowstick, He is trying to break me of my fear. At my age is almost embarrassing to admit that fear is even a factor in pursuing my dreams. “Do not fear,” “Be courageous” is something I have heard repeatedly over the past several months. Without a shadow of doubt, I know the Lord wants me to release all fears and trust Him to move forward with the dream He gave me.

The Lord is also trying to break me of my independence. I don’t mean this in a way that I will start being codependent and not able to function on my own, but breaking me of the mentality that I have to do things alone. When I rely on my strength and my strength alone, I will fail every single time. When I rely on the Lord, things fall into place in a way that only He can make them work. When I allow others to be His hands and feet in my life, it takes bricks out of my wall. It opens me up to genuine relationships. I have been stubborn and independent my entire life. Granted, there are times when it’s helped, but too many times I stumbled because I was too proud to ask for help.

Allowing the Lord to bring you into a time of breaking is hard and can be somewhat painful. While it can be a lonely season, especially when change is involved, lean into Him because it will be worth it in the end.

Allow the Lord to break you my dear friends and shine!

Courage and Obedience

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This is probably going to be one of the most honest blog posts I have ever written. The Lord has had me one a journey for 2 years now. Honestly, I still have no idea as to how all of this is going to play out over the next several years. It’s weird to be on the downhill slide to 40 and asking the Lord where I’m headed. I feel like I should be in the middle of my calling at this point, but feel like He is getting ready to write a whole new chapter for me.

The last 2 weeks our pastor has continued to preach out of Acts and has talked about stepping up to serve as well as courage. Last week Pastor Mark gave reasons as to why people won’t serve. These include “not feeling led,” “not having time” and “not wanting to take away from family.” This week, he talked about the courage of Paul and how Paul knew what was coming and was willing to go for the sake of The Gospel anyway.

As I have chewed on these sermons and looked at where I have been the past 2 years, I can’t help but think about other reasons why people don’t serve and why I am still sitting where I am. Yes, I have been actively involved in dance ministry, worship choir and Summer Jam. I have also been serving in a contract position as the Family Assistance Coordinator with responsibilities in our automotive ministry. If you asked me, I would tell you that when it comes to ministry I am doing what I need to do. Sadly, it’s not the truth.

4 years ago, this month, when my husband and I walked into The Glade Church we were church hurt and had walked through crises in 2 other churches. We were over the whole church thing. We knew our kids needed to be involved in a solid theological, evangelical church. We knew we needed to be surrounded by a solid body of believers, but didn’t necessarily think we could find a church we could trust. The Lord only brought us to one service at The Glade and we felt at home. It was scary, but we trusted. We needed time to heal. Up until the beginning of this year, I would have said I was completely over the hurt of our experiences. It’s funny how the Lord uses circumstances and conversations to show you that your aren’t really where you thought you were.

I acknowledge I have a wall around me, but didn’t realize how high and reinforced that wall was until late February, early March. When talking with one of the pastors on our staff about situation, I was hit with a startling reality. People at our church, even the staff around me, don’t know me at all and it’s all because I have refused to let anyone in. While I have been involved, I haven’t been serving with my whole heart. I have only been serving in partial obedience. I realized that I have an entire set of talents and skill sets that our staff and others at church have no idea even exist. I have kept my relationships at church on an extremely shallow level because it’s been the safe route to take.

Obedience. I am the Major’s Daughter. I know what it’s like to be the daughter of a soldier. I know the importance of receiving marching orders and then following them without question or hesitation. While I have always said I don’t care what others think about me, I realize my drive to be the “good girl” and “do as I’m told” comes from a desire to please those around me, but it’s not necessarily been to please the Lord even though I have acted as it has.

Around the time I graduated from college, I knew the Lord was calling me to eventually write a book. He called me seminary to prepare for ministry. While I was still working as a full time school based therapist, I knew the Lord was calling me to women’s ministry. I have only completed about 2 chapters in the book and am honestly terrified to keep on writing because I don’t know how it will be received. I am still waiting for direction on women’s ministry. I know that on the women’s ministry front I have not been completely obedient, but am earnestly seeking His face for direction.

Last summer, I knew the Lord was calling me to teach a ladies Connect Group on Sunday mornings and I gave the Lord every excuse under the sun as to why I couldn’t do it. In the past I have taught little ones through high school, but never adults. Yes, I have taught at conferences, but never taught adults on a regular basis. While I was never overly rebellious growing up, I did have my moments. My past doesn’t necessarily look how I think it should and have struggled with wondering why anyone would think I was qualified to lead in that area. I love singing in choir, but used it as a reason as to why I couldn’t step out during the first service and serve. This past spring there was a string of events and the Lord used those events to kick my tail. I said I would start teaching in May and ended up putting it off until the first Sunday of August. Yes, I am teaching class out of obedience, but it was delayed obedience and I’m not proud of that fact.

While I think Pastor Mark hit the nail on the head with some of the reasons why people don’t serve, I think there is also a different set of reasons why people won’t/ don’t serve. While he was talking about the courage of Paul this morning, I couldn’t help but think about how many of us sit silent because we lack the courage and confidence to serve. We don’t sit on the sidelines because we don’t desire to serve, or lack of calling. We sit on the sidelines because we lack the courage of Paul. We lack confidence. Too many of us sit sidelined due to fear, guilt and shame. We don’t think we have much to offer. We also sit sidelined because to get up and serve means to be authentic and vulnerable to others.

Where do I go from here? I have a document sitting on the Google drive at my computer at the church that needs to be turned into one of the pastors. I need to faithfully continue to teach the Connect Group I committed to teach. I need to continue writing the book the Lord has laid on my heart. I also need to pray the Lord would remove the fear I have struggled with over the past several years and move forward in confidence.

The verse that jumped out to me this morning and one I underlined in my Bible was Acts 23:11 which says:

“The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

“Take courage!” Yes, courage. This means to put aside fear and walk boldly in what the Lord has called you and I to do. This means not worrying about our past or what others may think, but rely on the Lord and only the Lord. HE is the sole source of our confidence. Once we embrace the confidence that can only come from the Lord, we can then walk boldly in obedience. It may not always be easy, but we can know with no uncertainty that we are being 100% obedient and that is all He asks of us.

I See You

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Towards the end of spring I had the privilege of attending the Sandy Patty Farewell Tour Concert and then hearing Christine Caine speak at an event. There were similarities in both events. One of those was the worship. All I can say is the Spirit was moving in both sanctuaries. Lights were turned down low and they gave you the time to be “alone” with the Lord. The second thing both had in common was they talked about how the Lord says “I see you,” “I found you,” “I know you” repeatedly through out scripture.

“I see you.” How amazingly wonderful is that? Back in Genesis the Lord asks Adam and Eve “where are you?” It’s not that He didn’t know the answer, but the Lord was letting them know that He knew. No matter where we are in life, He knows. No matter the amount of running and hiding we try to do, He sees us. He sees all of us and knows everything there is to know about us. There is no thought or action we have that He doesn’t already know. The things we are the most scared others may find out, He knows and loves us anyway.

“I found you.” Like the parable of the lost sheep, the Lord comes and looks for us when we walk away, or are trying to run away. He sees us valuable enough to come looking for us and then rejoices when we are found. Personally, there are days when I want to run and hide. I may not necessarily want to run from the Lord, but circumstances in life cause me to want to run away, never to be seen again. The thing I find most comforting in those moments in life is that I know the Lord loves me and will never leave me.

“I know you.” That’s right. There is nothing the Lord doesn’t know about us! He knows it all because He created us. The deepest pain and biggest dreams we don’t dare to share, He already knows. Those things we long to say to another person, but are too afraid to speak, we can tell Him, because it isn’t a secret to Him. Those things we dared to speak, but no other person wants to believe, He does! He knows every single movement we’ve ever made, every thought we’ve ever had and saw every tear that fell in private.

As I reflect on all of the craziness in the world today, I take comfort in knowing the Lord sees all of us. So many times I think that’s what people want. We want to know that someone sees us, not just acknowledges our presence, but really sees us, the good, the bad and the ugly. We want to know to someone cares enough to really listen to what it is that’s on our hearts and minds. We want to know we are valued. We want people to below the surface and see into our hearts. Even when it seems not a living soul around is capable of this, the Lord is.

What would happen if we followed the Lord’s example on this? What would happen if we really took the time to see the person/ people in front of us who may be driving us crazy and even causing us to be angry? What would happen if instead of muttering under our breath when we encounter that one person/ group of people, we took the time to really listen to what it is they want to say without trying to rely on an auto response based on what we think we know?

What if we really took the time to look deep into the eyes of our friends to see what is beneath the surface. Too many of our friends put on a brave front every day. They work so hard to keep their hurts concealed, while hoping and praying someone loves them enough to see the past the mask. We have friends we interact with on a daily basis, but don’t take the time to have deep heart to heart conversations with. These friends not only need to hear from you that you see them, but more importantly that the Lord sees them. They need to hear the Lord loves them and took the time to seek them out, even if they can’t feel His presence.

Who in your life needs to hear their seen, found and known? I challenge you to take a look around you and find the person in your circle who needs to hear this message. Take the time to be the voice and the hands of Christ.

To Be or Not To Be a Lady?

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Before anyone decides to lynch me for this post, let me tell you a little bit about myself. People who have known me my entire life will tell you it’s all true. I am a Tomboy. I am a bluejeans, t-shirt and tennis shoes/ flip flop kind of girl. I’d rather be camping, hiking, or out on the water than in a mall shopping. I can’t stand wearing make-up, but will wear it only when the situation absolutely calls for it, maybe. I don’t enjoy wearing dresses and there is not a single pair of heels to be found in my closet.

I also support and encourage girls and ladies to excel in all areas. The valedictorian and co-valedictorian of my high school graduating class were females. My undergrad degree is from a Southern Baptist all women’s college, where I spent four years surrounded by intelligent and driven ladies. Several of them have gone on to excel in their areas of expertise. At SWBTS I had the privilege of serving as secretary, vice-president and president of the largest student organization on campus. I believe it’s possible for ladies to lead and be the top in their fields.

Now that I have cleared that part up, let’s explore my frustration with a growing trend I have seen on social media and on television. When did we decide that being treated and acting like a lady was degrading to our gender? When did we decide that men holding doors open for us, picking up the tab, leading on the dance floor, or even fixing things for us was bad? When did we as a society decide that men were another mountain to  be conquered?

Yes I have a strong personality and am extremely independent, BUT, and this is a huge but, I LOVE it when my husband does certain things for me. I love it when he opens doors for me. I love it when he kisses me on top of the forehead. I love it when there is an issue with our home, or one of our cars and he takes care of it. He doesn’t do these things because I am incapable of doing them. He does it out of respect for me. He doesn’t view me as weak, or dumb. He does it because he loves me and wants me to feel every bit a lady.

While I think we have come a long way in women’s rights, I think we have tried to overstep what that really means. We should have the right to vote. We should have the right to an education. We should have the right to excel at work. Granted, pay equality still needs some work. I don’t think we should push until we have turned men into the weaker sex. I don’t think we should push men out of their Biblical roles.

Eve was created out of the rib of Adam to be his helpmate. Adam was still created to lead. We are wired differently than men and I fail to see where that is a bad thing. In spite of my independent personality, I LOVE it when my husband takes the lead. I love knowing that I have a husband who isn’t afraid to lead and to wear the pants in our marriage.

I will raise my daughter to be strong and independent. I will encourage her to do her best in whatever field of study she lands. I will also encourage her to find a man much like her daddy. I will raise my daughter to know how to take care of certain things, but at the same time teach her that it’s ok if her future husband takes care of it for her. I want her to know what it means to be a helpmate for her husband and what working along side him means. I by no means expect my daughter to be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.

My boys already hear me say “be a gentleman.” My boys are being taught to open doors for ladies and to to watch our for and protect the girls around them. I will also teach them that it’s ok for girls to be smart and independent. I pray the girls they marry are strong and independent. I also pray those girls will allow my boys to lead their homes.

My husband and I function as a team. I have a voice in what happens inside of our home, including finances. Most of the time we will come to an agreement on how to handle things. This doesn’t mean that I will get my way, or that he will get his. Many times it’s a compromise of what we both want. There have been a handful of times in our almost 11 year marriage that we have disagreed and he has done what he felt was best for our family. Most of the time, that’s worked out well. There have been a couple of times where he has come back and said he wished he had listened to me. Regardless of what happens, my husband is still the head of our home. By allowing him to be the head, we are following the Lord’s guidelines for marriage and it means that I am the lady of the house, rather than the one wearing the metaphorical pants.

Being a lady doesn’t mean being dumb or being unable to do anything for ourselves. It means allowing the men in our lives to fulfill the roles they were given. By my husband taking care of certain things, it allows me to focus on our kids and our home. It even frees me up to write and to pursue my dreams.

Mothers Day can be Bittersweet

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Mothers Day can bring about a myriad of emotions. There are some who love it. There are some who hate it and others who feel everything in between. Even from where I sit, there are times when I struggle with Mothers Day.

For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you know my story. Those of you who are joining me for the first time, I will give you a brief overview of the path I’ve walked. I had my first miscarriage a week before my husband and I celebrated our first Christmas as a married couple in December of 05. My 2nd miscarriage would come a week before Mothers Day 06. It would take a while to get pregnant again, only to have my 3rd miscarriage in August of 07. It would be September 08 before I would find out that I was pregnant with my daughter and she would be born 2 days after Mothers Day 09. I then had my older son in July 2010. It wouldn’t be very much time after was born that I found out I was pregnant with my youngest son. When we went in for the first ultrasound, I would have the joy of seeing twins on the screens. That joy would be temporary because the tech would tell me that baby B had no heartbeat and had passed the week before. His birth in May 2011 would be a bittersweet day because I knew I should be celebrating the birth of two baby boys, but would only ever get to hold one.

I have friends who have seen more positive pregnancy tests than they care to admit, only to have those sweet babies enter back into the arms of Christ before they ever made it into the arms of their mothers. Other friends have never experienced the emotions associated with a positive pregnancy test. I have another group of friends who have walked both of those paths and looked towards adoption to expand their families only to have the adoptions fall through and still have empty arms.

Having been on both sides of that coin, I struggle with how Mothers Day should be celebrated. When I was walking the path of miscarriage and infertility, I struggled with going to baby showers and eventually would only send a gift through a friend. I stopped going to church on Mothers Day and Fathers Day because it was just too hard to be surrounded by so many happy mothers. On those days, I would hide at home and watch my favorite chick flicks and order Chinese food.

I also wanted to honor my mother, my sister and celebrate my friends who had become mothers. I still sent a card to my mother and would call my mother and sister. They deserved to be honored and celebrated. My mother brought me into this world and raised me as a single parent while putting herself through nursing school. She deserves to be celebrated. My sister walked a hard path to having my niece and nephew. She deserves to be celebrated. I have several spiritual mothers who prayed along side my mother to get me to where I am now. They deserve to be celebrated. Churches should acknowledge and celebrate mothers in their congregations.

Yes, that means I think churches should give mothers a flower or small gift. The oldest mother, the newest mother and the mother with most the most kids should be recognized. The sermon should be geared towards mothers and what motherhood means. Mothers do so much and deserved to be celebrated. Without them, none of us would be here. Many of us wouldn’t have made it to where we are in life if those mothers hadn’t spent many hours praying for us, cheering us on and encouraging us.

Nowhere in scripture is the role of motherhood downplayed. Nowhere in scripture did the Lord say that mothers weren’t important. In fact, the Lord talks about women from the Old Testament all the way through to the end of the New Testament. There are some women who may have never been mothers, but they mentored those around them. He saw them all as important. The church should do the same.

Tomorrow, I will celebrate the fact that I have three precious kiddos who bestowed me with title of Mom. I will celebrate and honor my mother and my sister, who are both incredible moms. I will also think about the four little one whom I will never meet this side of Heaven.
Tomorrow, regardless of what side of the coin you are on, do what you need to do. For some of you it may mean spending a quiet day at home. For others, it may mean heading to church to celebrate being a mother and celebrating the mothers around you.

To those of you with empty arms, I pray for a peace that can only come from the Lord.

To those who are mothers, enjoy your day with your little ones.

To my mom and my sister, I love you both and pray you both have a wonderful and Happy Mothers Day!

Fear of Failure

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Fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Failure: lack of success

As believers, why is it that we spend so much struggling with fear? Did you know that “Do not be afraid,” “Fear not” is in the Bible 365 times. That’s one verse for every single day of the year. It seems to me that if the Lord has put the much time into telling us not to be afraid that we’d be able to lay our fear at the alter and move on.

I’ll be honest, I there are several things that cause me to be afraid. Some are normal. Others, maybe not so much. I have learned that if I think I am going to fail at something, then I don’t even make the attempt to try. I grew up as a military brat. Failure at anything was never really accepted. This led me down the path of not even attempting to do certain things that I really wanted to do because I couldn’t handle the thought of anyone viewing me as a failure.

I have shared in at least one other post that I am a member of Christian Women in Media. I joined this group because I have a desire to be a freelance writer, author and hopefully, one day a speaker. After attending meetings for over a year, I officially joined and paid dues back in November. My husband asks me frequently “You want to write. What are you doing about it?” I’ll be honest. I don’t always have an answer for him, even though I have a long list of dreams associated with writing.

Fast forward to March. I attended a regional dinner of CWIMA. April was sitting at my table and was getting ready to launch a brand new online women’s ministry within the next week. She talked about her dreams for the ministry as well as talking about guest bloggers. I knew I wanted to be a part of what she was doing, but couldn’t find the words or the courage to speak up.

Our main speaker, Angela, talked a great deal about overcoming fear. It was almost as if she had been inside of my head, knew what I had been praying, as well as been a part of several conversations I’d over the past couple of weeks. There were several times while she was speaking that I honestly wanted to cry. As she was speaking, I felt like the Lord kept telling me that I needed to talk to April once the dinner was over. I argued with the Lord for the better part of an hour.

Once we had been dismissed I really wanted to run to my car and speed home. After all, who was I to ask to write for a new women’s ministry? My degree is not in journalism and all I have is a blog that I don’t keep up with like I should because I don’t think most people want to read what I have to say. Most of my writing is in my journal and those are private thoughts that I know no other soul is going to read. Yes, I gripped with fear.

I have to laugh how the Lord works. As I am trying to get to the door to basically escape, who should I hit the door with at the same time? Yep, April. At that point, I opened my mouth and tentatively asked if she was looking to add any more guest bloggers and would she consider me? I was shocked when she said “Yes.” I really wanted to ask if she was sure, but I didn’t. We ended up standing in the parking lot and talking until almost 11p that night.

The following week I sent her a link to my blog. We talked about a possible timeline for a post. Within about two weeks I had sent her a bio, a picture and a blog post. Honestly, I didn’t think she would like or accept it. When she actually posted it, I was probably little more excited than I should have been. This was the first time I had been published anywhere. If I had let the fear of failure grip me that Thursday night, this never would have happened. Yesterday I submitted my second post for the ministry.

What is it you are afraid of? Are you like me and the fear of failure has prevented you from truly going after your dreams? If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do? Do you have a dream you know the Lord has placed on your heart and it’s been there more years than you care to admit? What are you waiting for? It’s past time to take that first step! Go forth and do NOT fear!