Earlier this summer, my daughter was "learning" how to ride a bike. The streets in our neighborhood are wobbly and wonky. She asked me constantly, “Why is my bike tipping over?!” and “Why aren’t the streets smooth?!” And I told her the line I memorized from the first page of my driver’s manual:
Not all roads are straight and flat.
The first time I read that line in the manual, I laughed. Psh. How OBVIOUS. Not all roads are straight and flat.
But then, don’t we expect the roads to be straight and flat? The earth, after all, is not straight and flat, nor is your plotline. Or your heartbeat. If it were, you’d be dead.
Instead, we get wobbly and wonky, and you just have to learn how to navigate the curves.
See, she’s terrified of falling over. She wants to ride her bike “like a big girl” but at the same time she wants the process to be simple and easy.
Life has been moderately easy. Until the last few months. And I think that even in her little world, she’s feeling the shakiness. And in a big way, she became even more aware that falling over hurts. There was a little bump at the end of the driveway – she screamed. “I can’t do it!”
There was a pot hole around the corner. “I’m going to fall down!” she began to panic. She leaned precariously to the opposite side.
“Just put your foot down,” I stated. “Create balance.”
Through the whole ride, she continued to state her failures ahead of time, screamed about her inadequacies, and demanded assistance. At one dip in the road, I even pushed the back of her seat over a bump to show her that going over the bumps was easier if you went faster rather than slower.
When we got back to the house we sat down, eye to eye.
I asked her why she was so afraid of falling down, and she didn’t have an answer.
Sometimes, when you see that life is changing, you just feel anxious. Your awareness of your smallness grows. Even for the littles.
I know I use this verse often, but I find myself repeating it and exploring it with my children. They have many fears and anxieties. So we use this verse as our motto: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
And on that day, beside this fiery little spirit, those words made a little more sense. God built us with strong bodies, strong hearts, and strong spirits. He crafted us to solve problems, enabled our bodies to become stronger and more capable, and gave us humor and hope to rove these wandering roads.
He didn’t put us together as lumps of green goo. He didn’t make us cats, or gnats, or clay blobs. He didn’t make us to sit, afraid, timid, in the dark, crying and stuck.
He specifically asked his disciples, “Why do you have no faith?”
“That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him” (Mark 4:35-41)!
Jesus knew his plans: Morning meet-and-greet with the crowds on the shore. Afternoon boat tour across the lake. Nap. Evening gathering with the local town outcast. Normal day. The disciples follow along, unaware of the bigger picture (relate?) and suddenly they are in the middle of The Life of Pi and wondering where the tiger is. And somehow Jesus is asleep. Jesus knew the storm. He knew who could control the storm, he knew the power of the storm, and even further, he knew his ability to overcome the storm. He knew of different storms on the horizon.
Do you know how capable you are?
Do you know who made you, piece by piece, capable, competent, and purposed?
Before this storm occurred, Jesus had spoken to them. “Consider carefully what you hear,” he added. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them” (Mark 4:34-35).
Many things spread easily.
Smiles, laughter, silliness.
Tension, anger, frustration.
Panic, worry, blame.
Hope, grit, perseverance.
With the measure you use, you will be given more. Are you focusing on the panic, the gripping fear of the unknown, and the uncertainty that you were unaware of before? OR are you focusing on the author of faith? Are you focusing on the Provider, the Guide, the King of all? The first and last, who knows the storms and has prepared you to face them. Or, possibly, he has prepared that storm to face you. Maybe you need to see hope, and darkness is where you will find it.
Because a shadow just means that there is light nearby.
If you act with hope, you will find more hope. If you act with great faith, with unity, with great perseverance, with kindness, with generosity… you may not always see the measure coming back. But it goes out and ripples onward.
And if you act in fear, if you give out panic, and anxiety, and if you give out criticism, and snide remarks, and blame…those make waves, too. Which waves do you want to spread? And what waves do you want to arrive at your feet?
You know what else? Jesus knew what lay beyond the storm. He knew his disciples would continue struggling with understanding. And they reacted similarly – they were even more shook than before. He controls the STORMS?! WHAT.
The tests show you who you are and whose you are. What lays beyond…that’s where you see faith walking on water. It’s not just the storm. It’s the changed life afterwards that shows who you are.
Some of my most anxious thoughts have been about what will happen “after” this pandemic. What will life be like on the other side? This has opened so many wide, broad doors to fear and anxiety. Let’s not go that way. Let’s instead, like Jesus did, stand up and call out that peace which surpasses all understanding. Let’s use our wit, our strong arms, our strong hearts, our strong spirits. “No matter how you move, always rise” (one of my Reebok shirts).
Regardless of what waves arrive, regardless of the road before you--
You are stronger than you know. You are more capable than you imagine. You were built to overcome the storm.
You were built to thrive.
Why are you so afraid?
Not every road is for the strong of heart. Or perhaps it is.
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Who Invited The Mom That Runs?
"Who invited the mom that runs?" She said it partially in jest, but the hint of insecurity and chastisement were what I heard. Did she really disapprove of the parents who chose to join their kids on the track of the running club? Wasn't the point to get people moving?
No, I think she had a moment where she felt inadequate or jealous and let that win. There's space for every mom. Some moms stand on the sidelines cheering on their kids, some moms drop off the kids and drive to work, and some moms get on the track. I'm glad this mom said her piece, because it inspired me.
The first day of running club, I wasn't sure whether to join my daughter on the track. It was technically FOR the kids, so could parents run too? I stood on the sidelines that first morning, unsure if I could use that twenty minutes to get my own blood pumping.
Then The Mom Who Runs showed up with her kids and took the track with them. She was the only one. The second day? I wore my running shoes and joined the fun.
Don't be afraid or insecure if you want to get on the track. Maybe there's a place for helicopter parenting but I'd also venture there's a place for being an example. I want my kids to see that they can be physically fit at any age, and I want them to be encouraged in their striving. I want them to know they are capable of doing more than they imagine, that it's okay to be courageous, and it's okay to be different.
Time to toss the fear, the insecurities, the jealousy, the inability. You are needed on the field. You're wanted on the field. You're capable of filling the space that needs to be filled. Lace up those running shoes. Take that first step and get on the track. The children are watching. So are the other moms.
I have some fabulous conversations with my college besties. Here's a transcript from a conversation we had the other day about accomplishing goals and realizing dreams. Hope you'll read through and be encouraged.
Part of me sometimes wishes I hadn’t started the journey of my book writing, because I feel like I can’t get anywhere near the level that I want to be, which is just having the book in my hand. It’s so far away. Most people around here don’t even understand that they’re published. They ask me, “When are you going to get those books published?” And I say, “They are published.” But then they say, “No, but when are they going to be published?” They don’t know what an ebook is, or they don’t read ebooks.
If I had not done all this book stuff, if I had not gone forward in pursuing what I really wanted to do—and I honestly cannot say “I felt God calling me to do it,”—it was just something I really wanted to do. It was this NEED, like this need to eat, I had this need to write this story out.
Truthfully? I wouldn’t ever go back, honestly. The biggest frustration is that I can’t get them in print, and that’s my biggest frustration, internally. But getting to where I am now, that has changed me completely from inside to outside. I’ve had to face some of my darkest demons, and I’m not even on the other side of it, but I’m in there. It’s given me such empathy and sympathy for the people who are in the trenches of doing hard things, and even just struggling to be alive. It’s opened my eyes to crushing heartbreak. And I had known it before in high school, when my cousin was murdered, I mean it’s not like I’ve been completely sheltered all my life. I’ve seen really hard things. So even going through this has been this whole new eye-opening experience.
Explore the things you are most afraid of. Explore what you really want to do.
What if God did not have one thing in particular for you to do? What if he had a whole bunch of things open for you? And what if he says, “Pick any of them.” And many of them may not lead to success, but they’ll make you better in your pursuit of them. Usually you will find those jobs in the things you are afraid of. So where you hesitate, I say pursue it.
What other people think about you should not influence the things you do. If you have a passion and a desire, then you follow that. Because God has given you that. He allows you to have fears so you will come alive once you embrace them. Now I’m not saying go crazy and do anything illegal or dangerous, but even if it is dangerous, it could be something life-changing. Like sky diving. Wear that parachute though.
What I have found in exploring all-of-the-things with my books, the fears that I used to have, the fear of failure, of being laughed at, of being a joke, it never looks like you think it’s gonna look in the middle of it and on the other side of it. And you truly can do more than you imagine. And it will always look different than you think.
Branch out. Try something new, something hard. It’s super uncomfortable, and totally worth it.
During the 1988 Calgary Olympics the world saw the debut of the Jamaican Bobsled Team, and also where Eddie “The Eagle” soared into last place as a famously unsuccessful ski jumper. The media called him, “Mr. Magoo,” and “a heroic failure.” At the closing ceremonies of the 1988 Olympics, Frank King, organizer of the Olympic Committee stated, “You have captured our hearts. You have broken world records and you have established personal bests. And some of you have soared like eagles.”
Michael “Eddie” Edwards spent three years of his childhood wearing plaster casts on his legs after a noble yet unnecessarily dangerous risk blocking a soccer goal, damaging the cartilage in his knee. He wore thick glasses. At the age of thirteen he began downhill skiing, and by the age of seventeen he had advanced on the British national skiing team. He decided to pursue ski jumping due to lack of funding for the costly downhill skiing. He traveled the European ski circuit in his mother’s van, utilizing second-hand equipment. He earned money doing odd jobs, such as babysitting, mowing lawns, and working in hotels. The Italians gave him a helmet, and the Austrians handed over a pair of extra skis. His boots were too large, so he wore six pairs of socks to fill the gap. “When he broke his jaw, instead of paying to be treated at a hospital, he tied it up with a pillowcase and went about his business” (The Guardian). Edwards received news he qualified for the British Olympic Team while staying at a Finnish mental hospital—he’d booked their accommodations for the cheap cost of one pound a night.
Edwards was twenty pounds heavier than the other ski jumpers, and barely scraped by the minimum qualifications for ski jumping. But he was the fastest ski jumper from Britain.
At the 1988 Olympics, fellow Olympians watched as Eddie smashed into a glass door at the airport, crushing his skis and ruining some of his gear. But despite all these difficulties, Eddie persisted. The media ran with his story and ridiculed him. Fans adored him. They rooted for the underdog. He participated in all three jumps, and scores landed him absolutely last place. According to Wikipedia, “In the 70 [meter jump], he scored 69.2 points from two jumps.” Next to last place, “Bernat Sola Pujol of Spain scored 140.4 points. Winner Matti Nykänen of Finland had 229.1 points.” Underwhelming results didn’t stop him from showing up and jumping to the best of his ability. And the whole crowd rooted for him.
See, we love an underdog. We love seeing someone dedicate and overcome. We love to see the guy who doesn’t give up, no matter what.
In 1990, the International Olympic Committee even made an “Eddie The Eagle Rule,” raising the minimum qualifications. As People magazine stated, “stricter qualification rules were imposed, making it nearly impossible for Eddie the Eagles of the world to ever make the Olympics again.”
Edwards sold the movie rights to his life story in 2007, and production halted on the movie until the right people fell into place. In 2016, the movie “Eddie The Eagle,” starring Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman hit theatres, which is where I first saw this fantastic story of heart and grit. We all have our Eddie moments. Ever been wearing six pairs of socks to fill someone else’s boots? Are you out of your league? Are you underprepared and financially incapable? <Raises hand.> Eddie braved it all and didn’t look back.
Even considered a “heroic failure,” he still went to the Olympics, man. And he was mentioned in the closing ceremony address, to thunderous applause.
Maybe you’re dreaming of big things and great stories. Maybe you’re stuck facing overwhelming odds against you, and fears which leave you crippled in your spot.
Or maybe, just maybe, it’s time to soar.
She Made The Wrong Decision
I’ve been getting some feedback from readers, which I LOVE, by the way, and wanted to chat about some of the themes/topics/plot points in my Young Adult trilogy, Insurrection. I’ve seen several comments about how in the third book, Indelible, the fact that (spoiler alert!!) Saylor listens to Breame and works with him is upsetting. Readers want Saylor to make better decisions than that! Readers want heroes/protagonists to make the better decision. Readers want to see protagonists DO BETTER THAN. Am I right?
Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?
But seriously, have you ever, especially in your teens, made the decision to go against what you knew deep down to be right? Were you ever in a hard position where you didn’t know what was right or wrong, so you tried your best, but found yourself in what seemed like the wrong place at the wrong time? Have you ever found yourself listening to the lies of fear, hate, or doubt wandering about your brain?
Well, friends, this is what I want my readers to really ponder. I’m excited you questioned it, so that we could have this discussion.
Sometimes we listen to our demons. Sometimes we listen to our doubts instead of our faith.
Sometimes we listen to the crowd, or the false news, or the scary whispers, instead of finding the truth from the Commander. Sometimes we make the decision to go into the tunnel instead of letting the bombs blow up the mountaintop.
I wanted Saylor to face some hard decisions and waver. I wanted her to have to rally. I wanted to let her take a wild risk that turned out a bit sour. Why? Because I wanted to give her a chance to redeem herself. I wanted to give her Commander a chance to let her know the truth about who she was, who HE was, and all she could do. Saylor needed to see the darkness so she could choose the light. Too many spoilers there? I don’t know.
Additionally, I wanted to let readers get to know Wellington Breame and judge him for themselves. Was he a big, fat liar? Or was he a pitiable genius? We can’t often deal with our enemies until we’ve met them and named them.
Saylor needed some impossible moments to realize her full power. Could she have done that if she'd "made the right decision"? Sometimes there is no "right" decision. The right decision finds us. The right decision helps you realize your full potential, because it's exactly the decision you needed to make to be better.
Until next time, readers! Leave a comment, review, or a question on my Subscribe page! I’d love to hear from you! Choose the light. <3 Happy reading!
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