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Finally Feeling Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14, NIV)

For quite some time, I didn’t feel fearfully and wonderfully made. I felt misplaced and abnormally made. I could never quite find my place in school or sports. I wasn’t academically challenged, but I wasn’t Top 10, I wasn’t uncoordinated, but I wasn’t coordinated. I was…meh.

I had dreams of being someone great because that is what chick-flicks and Seventeen magazine was about. On the surface, I wasn’t visibly moved by others’ comments, but deep down I craved to be extraordinary; I craved to stand out. I fought to become something, or someone, and changed my mind an umpteenth number of times to be that. I went from wanting to be a vet to a teacher, and from a teacher to a psychologist.

Then one spring day at a Women’s Conference I opened my heart to God and said “I’m tired of moving from one place to the other unsatisfied. What do YOU want me to do.” And from that moment on, I was steadied by the Lord in what He has called me to do. There are still times when I feel misplaced and misunderstood, especially in my writing; but I am more firmly rooted in my identity and I know what God has called me to do and I know that He will make a way.

As I look at the world today and I see the power struggle between men and women, I see myself back in school trying to be someone great and I hear this ringing in my spirit:

“It’s an identity issue.”

The enemy has been calling our identity into question from the moment the woman came from the rib of a man. He did it to Eve when he questioned her about what God had said concerning to fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the question “Did God really say?” is racing through the minds of women all over the world today. *

The reason it is an identity issue is that we have not wielded the Sword of the Spirit, but we have wielded the words of the world. It is no wonder that we are at the crux of an identity issue when, instead of combating the lies of the enemy with the Word of God, we have succumbed to the lies of the world and undertaken the identity they have given us. We have allowed our surroundings or our circumstances define who we are.

We are all part of the body of Christ according to 1 Corinthians 12:12, and we all have a specific role to play, but society tells us we have to be a hand when we were created to be an eye. When we all try to operate out of a function we were not created to function in, there are chaos and disorder.

I think the secret is discovering what part of the body we as a woman are to operate in, and being that body part with all the confidence and authority given to us in Christ. I think that once we figure out where we’re supposed to be, there will be less of a struggle and more acceleration—in all areas. Because when we operate as we’re supposed to, there’s unity..and well, unity? Unity causes others to know that it is God who has sent us. And at His name, every knee will bow and every tongue confess. (Romans 14:11)

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Cultivating a Spirit of Perseverance: Physical Fitness

Over the course of a few weeks we have been studying endurance and/or perseverance and what that looks like as a Christian. I mentioned that I believe there are three areas in our lives that help us overcome and endure: mental, physical, emotionally; or, mind, will and emotions. We’ve discussed mental perseverance, and you can read that here if you’d like.

Before we get further into the second part of this series, I feel it needs to be said that the example I am using in running is not one that is meant to demean or discourage. I understand that there are some who are unable to run, or simply do not like running, and that is just fine. I use the example of running because that is how the Lord has ministered to me for this series. I am an advocate of any form of physical exercise, for reasons we will get to later, whether that is walking, running, swimming, spinning, yoga, what have you. So, if you’re not a runner, don’t feel that this doesn’t apply to you–fill in running with the exercise of your choice.

I love sweets. Love. Them. Cake, ice cream, cookies, candy bars, chocolate, pop.. you name it, I like it. Pop used to be my absolute weakness. I would have two, sometimes three 32oz Dr. Pepper or Pepsi’s a day depending on the day. When I began running, I tried to run on a little less pop, but not enough water. I experienced breathing issues, side pains, and joint pains. I realized that I needed to make more changes than running so that my body could begin to endure. I started cutting back on pop and drinking more water, as well as decreasing the type of food I was eating sugar wise, and increasing in protein and carbs. As I made these changes, I realized it made a huge difference in endurance levels what my body processed on a daily basis.

In Matthews account of the Gospels, he records Jesus saying the following:

Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone. (15:17-20)

Luke records the following:

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (6:45)

What we put into our bodies manifests on the outside, both spiritually and physically. Which begs the question: what are you putting into your body, physically or spiritually? Not only does our body physically process food, but it does spiritually.

When we feed our physical bodies junk food, we will reap the consequences of those choices: obesity, weight gain, high cholesterol, heart problems, diabetes, etc. Our bodies are not meant to survive on the junk that we put into them, whether that be food, alcohol, or drugs.

If you were enter into a race, you would prepare, correct? You wouldn’t sit on the couch and eat potato chips and drink a bunch of pop, because then your body wouldn’t be able to withstand the pressure that is being put on it by running. It’s the same spiritually: your body cannot operate on junk. We won’t be prepared for the spiritual battle at hand if we don’t make the changes necessary to be spiritually fit on the battlefield.

How do things get into our hearts? Things we watch, things we read, things we say, people we surround ourselves with, etc. Everything we do plants a seed in our hearts, and it depends on how much water it gets.

When someone signs up to join the military, they go to boot camp. There, they have to train their bodies to endure whatever comes their way. Leisurely lifestyles are stripped away and a more strict schedule is set in place. They have one goal: to be the best solider they can be and to protect their country.

We are soldiers of the Lord’s army, and it’s important that we have this same mindset. We have to train our bodies to endure by making the necessary changes: instead of reading that book, pick up the bible and study God’s Word. Instead of going to the bar, go to bible study or church. Each day we have the opportunity to choose whether we will sow to our flesh, or the spirit. As we make the right choices, it becomes easier to endure. Instead of praying when times get tough, you’ve already established a prayer time with God on a regular basis. If we wait until the battle to start training, we’ll lose the fight, no doubt.

Any type of physical exercise helps with mental clarity, just like reading God’s Word guards against the fiery darts from the enemy. When we spend time in His word, and with Him, we know what His voice sounds like. We don’t turn our eyes to the right or to the left because we know that looking either of those ways will cause us to lose sight of God.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me,is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.I and the Father are one. (John 10:27-30, ESV)

So what changes is God calling you to make? Please know that there isn’t an expectation to have every change made in a matter of days, or hours. One change at a time will make a drastic difference across the board.

I won’t say that it’s always easy to make the right choices, because there are some days that I just want to be lax, but this is not a time to be lax. I give the same lecture to myself: if you don’t prepare before the battle, you won’t be prepared in the battle. A solider never goes to a fight without his firearm.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:4)

 

Cultivating a Spirit of Perseverance: Mental Endurance

The three changes we must make deal with the mind, will, and emotions. Or, Mental, Physical and Emotional. Today we will discuss the mental aspect of endurance.

Romans 12:2 tells us:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (English Standard Version).

Our minds are not naturally geared toward running, though our bodies have the “fight or flight” mentality. You may be hard-pressed to find someone who thoroughly enjoys running from the very beginning. Just as our minds aren’t naturally geared toward running, our minds are not of God. Our minds must be transformed by the Holy Spirit to become of God. So, how do we make our minds of God?

Change the way we think.

One thing that has really helped in the area of endurance for me is deciding from the very beginning that quitting is not an option. In every situation my husband and I have faced spiritually, quitting has not been a thought we would ever entertain. We may get tired, but we continue to push through until breakthrough happens.

Another area is allowing the revelation that our walk with God is a marathon, not a sprint, to settle into our hearts. The times when I am the most exhausted are when I forget this important truth. Naturally, my body is not built like a sprinter. Spiritually, our bodies are built for endurance, but we must train to endure. You can’t keep up the sprint needed to win a 100 meter dash when the mileage is high.

I shared with you last week that I had to change my mentality as I was running, and when I did that, my body followed. It is the same way spiritually.

Proverbs 23:7 says “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” (NASB) Whatever we think, that is what we are. If we tell ourselves to quit when the going gets tough, that’s exactly what we will do. If we tell ourselves we are stupid, and talk down about ourselves, that is what we will carry out naturally. 

Romans 12:2 tells us Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

The word “transformed” in the Greek is the word “metamorphoo,” which comes from the word “meta” means “change after being with,” and the word “morphoo” means “changing form in keeping with inner reality.” When it’s translated in it’s completion, it literally means “transformed after being with.” It makes me think of when Moses spent time on Mount Sinai with God, his face shone like a radiant light. It was evidence of being in the presence of God, and people recognized it. We should be transformed after being with God.

What it boils down to is that our thinking is our responsibility. When we accept Christ as our Savior, He doesn’t take over our minds to tell us what we should think. He gives us His word so that as we spend time with Him, the Holy Spirit transforms our thinking because we are transforming the way we see things by the revelation of God’s Word.

Mind renewal is a battle. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we do not war against flesh and blood, but against rulers, authorities, powers of this present darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. We have a very real enemy who is FOR our destruction. He has come to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). He is hell-bent on our failure and does not want us growing and becoming more like Christ.

I believe the enemy’s favorite game to play is with our minds. He loves to shoot his fiery darts of doubts, lies, fears, and worries and then sit back and watch us take off with the rest. It has happened so often to me that you would think I would have his number by now in this area. However, because I’ve acted in the flesh enough after thoughts of doubt, fear, worries and lies, he knows that this is my weak area.

Let me pause here and say that the enemy CANNOT read your mind. He is not omnipresent, omniscient, or omnipotent. He only shoots fiery darts and we choose whether or not they will stay. He can influence our thoughts, but he is not capable of reading our minds. It is up to us whether or not we allow him to influence our thoughts. This is the importance of renewing our minds. As we renew our minds with the word of God and spending time with God, we are transformed and we know that the lies we hear is the enemy attempting to influence our thoughts. We can then stand against them and speak God’s word over the situation and go on with our day.

Having a negative mindset was nothing new for me–I had a negative view of myself and therefore just about everything around me. Anyway, as I began to grow, the middle of the nights were the hardest for me. I would wake up in the middle of the night, and it never failed that’s when the thoughts of doubt and fear about stepping out and trusting God would bombard my mind. It would be one fiery dart after another reminded me of the situation we were in at that time, and I’d take it from there like a kid takes halloween candy. It was relentless. I used to try and hide under the pillow with the squeezed hard against my ears to try and stop the thoughts. I graduated to praying about the situation, slowly trusting God. Finally, I began to confess the word of God over the situation. I’d either whisper vehemently, or I’d go to the bathroom and yell quietly so I didn’t wake my husband.

When I would wake up the next morning after entertaining those thoughts, I was in a terrible mood. My actions and my words would reflect my worries, and the lies that I had heard that night. But as I graduated up, as I mentioned earlier, my attitude began to change. As I transformed my mind throughout the day and fortified it in the word of God, I began to see that what God said is true and there is no false thing. I also began to see that as I applied His word to my situation by speaking it, things began to change. The nights quit becoming an issue because I knew exactly what to do with it.

Philippians 4:8 tells us “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (NIV)

The truth is that our minds will always be bombarded by worldly things. There will always be worries, there will always be fears and concerns. What matters is what we do with those thoughts. Are we going to dwell on those things? Or are we going to take them captive like 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to? It is vital that we meditate on the word of God, because when we meditate on the word of God, when we dwell on what His word says, we will naturally choose the truth of God’s word instead of the worries or fears.

Cultivating A Spirit of Perseverance

I have run 83 miles since March 26, 2018. The first day I ran, I did not think that I’d be this far in the mileage. It was a challenge. On the first ever on-purpose run since college, I agreed to run two miles with a friend. As I was stretching, my husband asked me if I thought it was a good idea to run two miles right off the bat. In my head, I thought “oh yeah. I might have to call you to come pick me up.” But I wasn’t about to admit that out loud.

It was a terrible idea to agree to two miles. I got home and collapsed on the floor. Every part of me was screaming in shock over what I just forced it to do. My sister had come over, and I couldn’t even voice a word I was so tired. My lungs were on fire and I was tasting blood. Later when I googled it, I learned that strenuous exercise (like what I had put my body through) without proper training is not good on your lungs, and you’ll taste blood. I wanted to quit so bad that same day. The pain was miserable, and I didn’t feel it was worth it. I’d find another way to be active. But, I had agreed to run over the lunch hour. I couldn’t quit. I am not someone who quits…especially first.

I made the decision to at least stick it out for a few weeks and see where I was then. God used it to minister to me about our race as Christians. A week later, I told my running partner of my goal to run one mile straight through. We would set a good pace, and I would try to keep it. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you haven’t run since college, it’s a huge goal. I was about a half mile in, and my pace was a fast one. Contemplating quitting, I heard “the Christian race is one of endurance.” I slowed my pace a little bit and began to chew on that. Immediately, I realized that my breathing slowed, the pain subsided and I was able to run further. As I progressed through the days, weeks and months, I realized that a mile became easy. The only reason it was ever difficult was due to my mindset prior to my running, and during my run. When I made the decision to quit early, my body took after that and became tired. But when I made the decision to keep going, my body kept going.

The author of Hebrews says the following:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (12:1-2, English Standard Version).

We have people who have gone before us in the arena of faith, just as there are people who have gone before us in training to run a marathon. This isn’t a task that is done by yourself. We are surrounded by others who have gone before us, not only immediately, but the fathers of our faith: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Daniel, Moses, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Deborah, Mary, Rahab.

There are many things that tempt us and attempt to convince us to quit following God, to quit standing for His promises to come to pass. When an amount of time passes and nothing has taken place, the toddler questions take place. “God, why hasn’t this happened? I thought You said that it would?” Or when you’ve told people what you’re standing for, or you’ve made a decision that doesn’t make sense to them, and they start to question you.

The compilation of questions become hindrances in our race. We forget that it’s an endurance race, a marathon. Not a sprint. When anyone is training to be a long distance runner, it takes time to build up to that ability to run far, and to handle the distance. Your body has to make a transformation through training. It’s no different in our walk with the Lord. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we enter the grand marathon race of life. However, to be able to run the race with perseverance, there is training involved. When you commit to running long distance, you commit to changes: mentally, physically, and emotionally. It is my belief that endurance is a mentality. When you take care of your mind, everything else follows. Over the course of the next weeks, we will unpack and unravel the three changes we must make to endure.

Radical Trust: 3 Ways To An Enduring and Stout Heart

“Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.” Psalm 27:14, AMPC

Having a stout and enduring heart comes over time. To wrap up this series, I wanted to share with you a few ways that my heart has become stout and enduring. I know that I am still learning, still growing, and my heart is becoming more and more secure, but when I find it wanting to waver or lose hope, these are what I go to.

1.) Relationship/Intimacy

I know that this might seem obvious, however, a relationship with God in which you experience intimacy with Him is how your heart becomes more steadfast in the goodness of God.

I like to think of the Psalms that David wrote. Some of us may know David as “a man after God’s own heart.”  You can see the agony that he experienced being chased by Saul, but through the agony he felt, he continually turned toward God. He spent time with the Father, not only pouring his heart out to Him but getting to know Him more and more.

There comes a time where we must move past mere religion, and doing what the bible says because it makes one a good Christian, and deliberately choosing to obey and follow the Lord, no matter the cost. As you spend time with Him, your spirit man is strengthened and when circumstances arise, your spirit-man is stronger than your flesh, and that’s what will rise up.

2.) Choose your words, thoughts, and actions

When faced with a circumstance, or doubts about stepping out, be intentional about thinking, speaking, and walking in trust. If the situation around you looks contrary to what God’s word is saying, you must choose to put your flesh under and declare the word of God over it. I had a teacher in High School that told me “the only thing you can control is your reaction to the situation.” We have the ability to endure, but we have to choose to endure.

There are days that it’s hard, I understand. Everything within us is wanting to cry out and ask God why this is happening, and wondering why it’s not going to work. Because of your spending time with Him, you know that He is a good, good Father, and you’ve also seen Him come through for you, so why not quickly pass the test by staying in faith?

I remember one time I was sitting at our kitchen table, crying. I knew I needed to speak the word of God and rest in His promises, but I was beating the table like a child asking God “why,” and “how much longer, Lord?” It was quite the temper-tantrum. Shortly thereafter, there were two things given to us that changed what we were looking at drastically. I felt like a spoiled brat. Instead of really rejoicing that He had come through, I spent time in repentance and rejoicing.

When you’re worrying, angry, stressed, etc because of the thoughts rolling through your mind, you have two choices: entertain or toss it. When you choose to give it to God–who already knows what needs to be done, when you choose to keep your mind stayed on His promises and your mouth declaring His praises, you can walk in perfect peace as Isaiah 26:3 says.

3.) Step out in faith

Sounds contrary, I know, since what we’re talking about is trusting God. But I feel like I need to continue to encourage you to step out and trust God. As you do that, you will build a remembrance of the ways that He has come through for you. Like David when he went before Saul to fight Goliath. He told Saul of the ways God had come through for him as he was doing his job, and he was confident God would come through in this situation.

The story that I mentioned above? That has been a marker for me to remember to stay in faith, because even when our situation looks dire, God is, in fact, moving on our behalf. There have been plenty of times that I’ve had the opportunity to give up, to speak doubt, but I have learned that it is better to stay silent than to speak doubt.

I watched a friend of mine with her daughter, who was battling a little fear. She looked her in the eyes and had her recite 2 Timothy 1:7 “for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” She told her to say “God has not given me a spirit of fear” until she herself believed what she was saying.

And it is exactly what we should be doing in our lives. We may not necessarily believe what God has said at that moment, but we know that His word changes our lives and changes our situation and in speaking it, things change. We need to be disciplined to speak the word of God until it is deep into our spirit man and we are declaring to the enemy that he has lost.

As I read this scripture, I remember the verse before it as one that I clung to when my Pabo (grandpa) was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was what I declared with every fiber of my being as we lost him. It didn’t look like we’d see the goodness of God in the land of the living, but I just knew that we would at some point in time.

It’s time to move from the milk of the Word of God and cut into the meat of His Word. It’s time to start growing up and stepping out, riding that bike without training wheels knowing that we have a Father who is walking beside us each step of the way.

Radical Trust: Guest Post by Missy Watts

GUEST POST from Missy Watts

Our Vacation Bible School has been studying the life of Joseph. This story is taking hold of me. Joseph’s life is all about radical trust (and brokeness). Often, I think we hope that radical trust means that once we are “all in” we will have a smooth path towards our goal and life plan. We think if we just caught the vision we could withstand anything. Well, let’s review Joseph’s life.

He receives 2 dreams from God and excitedly shares with his family. They reject him. Let’s be honest, his 10 brothers get mad, stage his death and sell him into slavery. What kind of plan is this? Then, as a slave, he earns respect and has a pretty cushy job being the right hand man of a powerful individual. In the midst of that, he is falsely accused and ends up in jail. How is this all working together for good? Seriously, I probably would have given up. Those visions were over 10 years ago. Was I wrong? Was that a joke?

Despite the external circumstances, God is with him. Joseph ends up running the jail. Everyone around him realizes that God is with him – even if he hasn’t chosen his place to minister. In jail, he meets some servants of the Pharaoh and correctly interprets their dreams Maybe Joseph’s time has come!!! Nope. Joseph is stuck in jail for another 2 years. It’s only when Pharaoh’s dreams remind the cupbearer that there was this guy . . . in jail.

This does not sound like going from glory to glory. It does not sound like the path any of us would choose. It does sound like radical trust though. It looks like holding on to a promise and trusting in a big God – regardless of your physical circumstances. It looks like people being blessed even in the midst of hard situations – because Joseph was there and knew God. It looks like humbling and growth. It looks like leaning into God – no matter where you are. It looks like amazing gratitude when the story comes full circle. It looks like forgiveness and reconciliation in the end – where before there was division and discord. It looks like God’s good plan prevails and a whole region and family are saved.

Remember you are in the middle of your story. Maybe you had a vision, a hope, a dream. Has it been lost in the midst of difficult circumstances? Do you wonder if God sees and remembers you – at all? Are you running to God as your refuge or have you given up on him? Has it been too long? Have your circumstances been too tough?

God can’t be faithless and he can’t lie. The method, the circumstances and the path may not always be what we expected or hoped would happen. Radical trust may put us in crazy situations where our only hope is . . . BUT GOD. I am praying that you don’t end up in a well, slavery and a jail. If you do though – can you lean into God, allow him to shape and use you in the midst of those places and let him fulfill the dream and vision in His time and way?

Radical trust chooses to trust the character and promise of God, more than our circumstances.May you allow your circumstances draw you into closer relationship with him, trusting that he is able to redeem every situation. May you hold onto his comfort and care in the midst of the hardship. May his Spirit speak life and truth to your heart. Your story isn’t finished.

Missy Watts is a wife and mother of 4 in San Antonio, TX. Her family keeps her busy, but she is always ready to grab coffee with a friend, dive into a good book or start a new crazy idea. Education has been her passion but it is changing as her 3 older kids start school in the fall after homeschooling for the past 6+ years. She is excited to see how God will show up in this step of faith and is amazed at his just right timing and provision so far.

Radical Trust: Lila’s Testimony

Lila’s testimony of stepping out and trusting God hits close to home as a fellow writer, but I know that anyone who has been wondering if God has really called them to what they would like to do can identify with this.

Check out her testimony below:

I’ve always been a fearful, slow-moving, indecisive girl. I always doubt whether what I want to do is really what God wants me to do.

Though I’ve always been an avid reader, a book with me wherever I go, I have always doubted whether I was a good enough writer to publish my own book. It’s been one of my dreams, a pie-in-the-sky, sometime-maybe wish.

Over the years, I dabbled in writing, starting a chapter here, creating character sketches there. But I never finished anything. Nothing. Except for the few short stories I was required to finish for school, I never could finish any plot. I never had a clear idea of where the story was headed.

Then in Christian college, I used one of my English electives to take a Creative Writing course. When the teacher told me that my stories were too obvious, with too many morals explained, I felt like a failure.

I gave up writing for many years. I got married, began scrapbooking (enjoying the journaling), and then had kids. I began homeschooling.

Then it happened. Inspiration struck again.

I had a vivid dream, and I wrote it down the next morning. I kept returning to it, wondering how it would have ended if I hadn’t awakened then.

Then inspiration struck even further. I got an idea to use this dream as the kickoff for an entire romance series. I would base each book on one of the characteristics of agape love found in 1 Corinthians 13. I grabbed a pencil and enthusiastically wrote all this down before I forgot. I plotted out the major characters seasons of life and which one would fit best with each characteristic of love.

Then I started writing. I knew how I wanted this book to end, but I didn’t know how it would get there. I stalled again, just like every other story.

My friend and former college roommate mentioned that she was writing a book for NaNoWriMo. I had never heard of such a thing, so I asked and found that there is an entire month—every November—set aside for writers to just write. I signed up and began the first couple of days. But I still hadn’t outlined my plot.

Just as I hit writer’s block, I got a call that my sister had tried to commit suicide.

After I got over the shock and found out she would be okay, I sat back down to write and found that I couldn’t. My idea, my Christian Romance novel about a guy and a girl getting together, was silly. It didn’t matter a hill of beans in eternity. What good would my story do in matters of life and death? So I set it aside.

But God continued to speak to me. He continually reminded me of my desire to publish a novel. He brought several people and articles into my life to show me that I could still write. I could still write in the genre that not many people take seriously. But if I would be obedient to write what mattered to me and honest enough to share my soul, it could help others, too.

I felt compelled to write, and I had to include some of my sister’s story. I obeyed and began writing again at Camp NaNoWriMo the following April.

I wrote an entire novel in 30 days. This was what I needed: a deadline, accountability, and a daily word count to break a whole novel down into easier, bite-sized chunks to swallow. Instead of choking like I had with every story before, I persevered and accomplished my goal.

And I finished my first story ever. Love is Not Arrogant or Rude, the first in the “Love is…” series, was the first plot I ever completed.

Then came the publishing part. I won’t go into all the details here, but suffice it to say that I had to persevere through many trials. I had to figure everything out myself and do every task myself. I did all my own editing. (I had two beta readers who finally gave me some notes, but three other close friends and family members I asked to read it never did.) I did all my own formatting. Boy, was that a frustrating process! I designed my own covers. (That, too, was a long process before I finally got to something that looks like a romance, but I at least I enjoyed that process.) I set up all my own social media accounts, email provider, marketing campaigns, and website.

There were many times I was tempted to give up. It was too hard. No one was going to like my book. No one even knew my name, and the few who did didn’t seem to care about my work. But I kept feeling that God wanted me to continue down this path. It was scary. It was difficult. It was frustrating. It was time-consuming. But I did it. It wasn’t easy to obey, but I was compelled to. So I did.

Now, not only am I an author, but I have self-published all three of my novels. I just received a message from a fan (who I have never met, which is amazing, as I started out with just a handful of supportive friends and family):

Hey, just wanted to say that I just finished reading, Love is Not Arrogant or Rude. Wow! It was so good! It was so personal to me, I can’t wait to get the rest in the series, and read them….I wanted to mention that the incident with Amy Grace near the end of the book, hit close to home for me, so really spoke to me. I have a sister, who is in very similar circumstances as she was. And I am often worried that she would try to take her life. All I can really do is pray for her. Thank you for your wonderful contribution to the reading world. I loved it. God bless.” – Abigail, May 30, 2018.

Conclusions: It might not be the easiest path, but it’s always the best path to choose to obey. It may be scary and hard. It may cost you something; it almost always does. But what you gain is so worth it! And you always get closer to the Lord, which is the most precious reward. Don’t be afraid to take that step He’s nudging you to take. Obedience takes courage; courage doesn’t mean you’re not afraid, it just means you go ahead and take that step of faith, in spite of fear. Just do it. You won’t regret it.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Lila is outnumbered by a houseful of males: a husband of 16 years, two energetic boys which she homeschools, and a hyper dog. She loves purple, sushi, dark chocolate, and reading. As the author of the “Love is” series and a blogger at Creating Romance, she loves to help readers create romance in their marriages and in their spiritual walks with Jesus. You can find her at liladiller.com.