the step of obedience.

I find it a little ironic that often, just when you're thinking and talking about fear and courage, God tells you to do something that scares you.

When I first heard about the upcoming Idea Camp on Orphan Care, I thought it would be interesting to go. Then I talked myself out of it, arguing that with the cost of the flight and the hotel, it would be better to donate the money.

Then I saw another announcement about it, and again I talked myself out of it, because I was already leading a women's book study that weekend and my parents were planning to visit.

When it came up a third time, I knew I could just dismiss it. So I rescheduled the book group, called my parents to let them know I wouldn't in town, and registered.

I'm very interested in orphan care, in understanding and acting on the things God is calling me to do in that sphere, so the conference isn't a complete stretch. Going by myself, knowing no one there - that's the uncomfortable part.

But sometimes you just have to step out in obedience, even when you don't understand the reasons.

P.S. If you know anyone who is going, can you put me in contact with them?

i want to be one of them.

I see the long quiet walk along the Underground Railroad
I see the slave awakening to the value of her soul

I see the young missionary and the angry spear
I see his family returning with no trace of fear

I see the long hard shadows of Calcutta nights
I see the sister standing by the dying man's side

I see the young girl huddled on the brothel floor
I see the man with a passion come and kicking down the door

I see the man of sorrow and his long troubled road
I see the world on his shoulders and my easy load

And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them

~ When The Saints, Sara Groves

more thoughts on fear and courage.

As a follow-up to this weekend's post, here are some more thoughts on fear and courage:

"Personally, if I’m going to drown, I want to drown in deep water. When taking a risk, if I’m going to go down, and I may, at least I want to be in deep water when I do it. It’s embarrassing for an adult to drown in a kiddy pool."

"I think there are moments in life when we have to make major decisions that will determine our destiny. And we will spend the rest of our lives managing those major decisions. And if you let fear dictate your decision you'll end up with a ton of inaction regrets at the end of your life. Fear is a great friend, but it makes a terrible master! Don't let fear dictate your decisions. You have to face your fears. And what you'll find is this: the thing that scares you to death is very often the thing that brings you to life.

Here's another lesson learned: few things are as liberating as what you fear actually happening. You realize that God is still there and life goes on."

"Christians today like to play it safe. We want to put ourselves in situations where we are safe 'even if there is no God.' But if we desire to please God, , we cannot live that way. We have to do things that cost us during our life on earth but will be more than worth it in eternity."
~ Francis Chan, Crazy Love

"There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, "Yes, I've got dreams, of course..." Then they put the box away. It takes an uncommon amount of guts to put your dreams on the line, to hold them up and say, "How good or bad am I?" That's where courage comes in."
~ Erma Bombeck

"Creativity actually births courage. It comes after, not before. If you wait until you feel ready, you could be stuck in your small story for a very long time. Dare to see the art in everything, take small risks with great faith. You may find the fear fade a bit, and courage just might rise up within you like two great walls of water on either side, high enough for you to get lost in a good way in the bigness of it all."

"If you don’t say 'oh crap' when God reveals what He wants for your life…then you probably didn’t hear from God! We will never become who God has called us to be and do what He has called us to do if we do not face our fears.

David faced his fear and stepped out to face Goliath. Moses faced his fear of not being able to speak and went before Pharoah. Noah faced his fear of not knowing how to build a boat. People that accomplish great things for God MUST fight through their fears because reality is than God has never asked anyone to do anything that was easy (other than receiving Christ!)"

courage is not a lack of fear.

I used to think that being brave meant not being afraid. Now I know better. It's easy to do the stuff that doesn't scare you. There's nothing courageous about jumping in the deep end when you know how to swim.

Now I know that real courage is when you're afraid and you do it anyway. It's naming your fear and choosing to believe in something more than what you're feeling. Its intentional and its hard.

Courage looks a little different on everybody. Traveling internationally doesn't scare me (it did two years ago) but confrontation does. I'm not nervous about leading a women's small group at church but hanging out with teenagers, particularly non-Christian ones, still throws me.

I'm curious - what scares you? And do you do it anyway?

sunday inspiration.

-- 1 --

I'm not a scrapbooker, but I love this idea from Positively Splendid for a mini album made from paint chip cards:

-- 2 --

This is such a simple and straightforward woodworking project - I'm thinking about making one for my bathroom, even though I rarely take baths, but just for the extra shelf space.

(Source: ReadyMade)

-- 3 --

Seriously, how cute is this test tube spice rack? I love the idea. The only thing I'm wondering - you have the store the rest of the spices, somewhere, right?

-- 4 --

My sister and I saw a colored pencil frame like this in a store downtown over Christmas, and I immediately thought I can make that! I took a picture with my phone, then looked up a photo online to save in my inspiration files. There's a good tutorial here.

(Source: Paper Source)

my life plan.

I've been thinking lately about the plans that I've had for my life, and the way those plans have changed over the last several years. I find it funny the iterations that we go through, and how hard we cling to the road map that we've created.

And I even made pictures to illustrate my point.

Don't laugh.

Well, okay. You can laugh.

When I went to college, this was my life plan:
I was going to study for a career that I found interesting, even if it wasn't something I was passionate about. I'd meet the love of my life, marry him, and get started on the big family that I always wanted. I'd love my husband, raise my kids to be godly men and women, and get involved in ministry as long as it wasn't too uncomfortable or too hard.

I think at this point, I would have said that I would serve God in whatever way he wanted. I'm not sure I really meant it, though - or at least, that I had any idea what that might really mean.

Then, life didn't quite turn out that way. God directed me on a different path, but instead of treating that change in direction like the start of a brand new adventure, I just considered it a little detour. The timeline might not be the same, but my life plan was still intact.
Fortunately, God loves me far too much to let me settle for the path I had mapped out. Now, my life plan looks something like this:
And in the midst of all of those twists and turns are all kinds of precious experiences I would have missed out on, if I had been able to direct the course of my life - things like Russia and Africa, wonderful friends and my church family, a job I really like, a ministry I love, and a cause that I am passionate about.

But the most important thing, the best gift of all - its in that tangled mess that I really met God.

the year of freedom.

Yesterday on the way to work, I was struck by this thought: I spend a lot of time feeling guilty.

Guilt for something I said, or didn't say, or did, or didn't do. Guilt for things that happened recently, or long ago. Guilt for opportunities missed, or time wasted. Guilt for the dishes that have been sitting in the sink for three days, or the suitcase that's still unpacked, or the five chocolate chip cookies I ate the other day.

I'm not sure why that thought occurred to me then - it could have been because I was thinking about recent events that I regret. Or maybe it was because it had been a few days since I had written one of my typically impossibly-long to-do lists, and so hadn't gone to bed with a bunch of still-empty checkboxes. Either way, I think God was prodding my heart because he has something to teach me.

Like with most things he teaches me, I've got a lot of thinking to do still. Thinking and pondering and weighing as I try to wrap my head around this and hear the whisper of truth amid the noise of lies.

Ann Voskamp says that she names years, "because each one births a different life that needs to be raised up and remembered." If I were to do the same, then last year would be the Year of Adventure.

I'm thinking this year will be the Year of Freedom.