Do You Struggle With Self-Doubt?

Are there days when you struggle with self-doubt?

Do you wonder if you’re missing the mark when it comes to your relationships or your career?

And your dreams…Will you ever attain them?

I’ve been struggling with my own doubts these past few days. But, doubt doesn’t come from God. Instead, I need His help in getting past these feelings. I can’t do it alone.

Sometimes He works in mysterious ways…

Last night I happened to come across the Miss Universe Pageant while flipping through channels on the TV. I haven’t seen a beauty pageant in years, but all I needed was something mindless to watch that would help me wind down after a long day. So I lingered for a moment.

The five finalists strolled one last time across the stage in their gowns prior to the final interview in the competition. I later viewed a clip of what could have been devastating experience for anyone. During the initial evening gown parade, Miss USA, Rachel Smith, slipped on the runway and landed on her bottom! She fell while an estimated 600 million people watched. But, with grace, she stood and continued to smile as she posed.

Despite her fall – or maybe because of how she handled it – Rachel was still in the top five for the final round. Her challenges didn’t end with the fall. People in the audience booed while she responded to a question. Apparently the jeers came from Mexicans because of what has been seen as US unfriendliness towards illegal immigrants. They didn’t stop until she spoke in Spanish, saying “Buenas noches Mexico. Muchas gracias!”

I know nothing about Rachel Smith, but I have to admit that what I saw last night impressed me. Her ability to go on while facing humiliation and opposition was inspiring. Instead of crumbling, giving up, or succumbing to tears, she continued as though it didn’t matter what millions of people thought. She carried herself with dignity.

It’s easy to get caught up in doubt and fear of failing. For some, it can be paralyzing. But, it’s so much better if we can shrug off those doubts, pull ourselves up, and press on.

Sometimes I need to remind myself that I can do all things through Christ, who is more than willing to give me the strength if I just ask for it.


An Amazing Love

Seattle is wonderful place to experience God’s creation. Within driving distance we have the mountains, the forest, and the ocean to explore.

I live just outside the city, and during my commute home from work, I have the opportunity to drive through the countryside. My path takes me up a steep and winding hill, which is covered by tree limbs extending from both sides, forming an arch across the road. When the sun is shining (and it does shine here) the rays filter through the leaves above.

As I continue on my route home, the view of the mountains come into sight. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such beauty.

Have you ever been in place where the view has been breathtaking? Have you ever taken many photos, hoping to capture all that your eyes are seeing? Only to find that no matter how hard you try, the photos never do justice to what you’ve experienced?

It’s impossible to capture the true essence or grandeur of such places. Photos are one dimensional, while your experience in the moment encompasses all your senses. You can feel the warmth from the sun on your cheek and the refreshing coolness from a light breeze. You can smell the sweet scent of wildflowers and hear the call of a blue jay.

I think it’s similar to experiencing God’s love.

You may have a concept of what you think God’s love is from reading or hearing other people share their thoughts and beliefs.

Your idea of God’s love may look one dimensional, like a photograph placed in a frame and placed on a mantel.

Or you may not believe it exists.

Until we embrace and experience the fullness of God’s love can we understand all that it encompasses.

His love is grander than any mountain, deeper than any ocean, and richer than the earth giving life to a forest.

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or not done.
He loves you.
He’s never stopped.
And He never will.

Let God’s love surround and awe you with its beauty.

What do Hanging Baskets Have to do with Relationships?

Several days a week I go from my job as an Administrative Assistant to various music rehearsals at my church. On those days, there isn’t time for me to drive the long commute home, which means I don’t return there until much later in the evening.

The other night after such a rehearsal, I drove into my driveway after 9:00 pm and noticed that the flowers hanging in baskets from the house and garage were wilting. I'd watered them only two days before, but even in the dark I could tell the plants weren’t doing well.

I was tired from the long day and all I wanted to do was put on my bathrobe and watch CSI. But, I changed from my work attire into jeans and a T-shirt and tackled the garden hose. With very little light to illuminate my way, I watered all five baskets, the flowers in the long window box, and those planted around the front yard.

During the summer months, I must water the flowers almost every evening, or risk losing the plants. It would be dreadful to just give up after all the expense and time put into them. To see something so beautiful wither away and die, can be heartbreaking.

I love having my yard full of colorful flowers. It does something for my soul. I also enjoy sharing the beauty with neighbors and people who pass by while walking through the neighborhood.

The flowers add so much to my life, but having them doesn’t come without a cost. Keeping them happy and healthy takes a lot of work.

It’s similar with relationships.

It doesn’t matter how wonderful and alive our relationship is with God, our spouse, our kids, or our friends, it can still whither and die if not tended to.

Wanting to keep my relationships full of life,

Do You Want to be a Caterpillar or a Butterfly?

I read something today that made me say, “Wow…”

The Tartar tribes of central Asia used a particular curse against their enemies. They didn’t call for the people to suffer terrible illness or death. Instead, they said, “May you stay in one place forever.”

The worst thing they could wish for their enemy was for them not to grow, but to remain stuck where they were.

Do you know people who seem to remain the same, doing the same things day after day?

They may have dreams, but their dreams are going nowhere.

They may have talent, but they’re surviving on what talent they were born with and aren’t making any effort to grow and go further with that talent.

Their lives could be described as stagnate.

And they’re bored.

Personal growth – spiritually, intellectually, emotionally – takes work. It isn’t easy and it doesn’t happen overnight.

“Let the wise listen and add to their learning.” Proverbs 1:5 (NIV)

A caterpillar has to change in order to become a butterfly.
I don’t want to crawl. I want to fly!

There are so many wonderful things to learn and experience. Take a risk, step out of your comfort zone, and see where it will take you.


Pet Peeves

What pet peeves do you have?

Awww…c’mon. You must have at least one.

My pet peeve is the way people greet each other.

Why can’t we just cheerfully say “Good Morning!” and be done with it?

This has become the standard way to say hello to someone.
“Good morning. How are you doing?”
“Good. How are you doing?”

This makes me insane because it means nothing.
People don’t care to hear how the other person is really feeling or what they’re experiencing in their day. The greeting is just a formality. You know what the individual will say when you ask – and you know what is expected of you in return.

The other person could be dying inside and having a horrible day, but will only respond with “good.”

I’ve tried to change my response and have added a few tidbits of general information, just to make it more interesting. By the time I’ve said a few words, people have either tuned me out, or they’ve physically moved on before I have a chance to finish.

This is what I experience with people in “upper management” in our large company who stroll by my desk once every three months.
They ask, “How are you doing?”
I answer “okay.”
They shoot back, “Just okay?”
Their tone suggests that I've said the wrong thing.
And their expression suggests I’m required to say, “Most excellent! I’ve never been happier in my life!”

What’s so wrong with being “okay?”
I’m at work! I’d rather be at home in my lovely office, looking out the large window into my back yard, drinking a cup of coffee, and working on my manuscript. Can we get real, people? I think being okay is okay. And what if I wasn’t? Would they really want to hear what I have on my mind?

In contrast, when my friends ask how I’m doing, they look into my eyes, stop to listen, and express genuine interest.

I’m thankful for them.


I've Been Tagged!

Blog tagged! Again!

Not once, but twice! Cynthia Ruchti and Julie Carobini tagged me in the same evening. Check out their cool blogs by clicking on their addresses below.

In February I was tagged and asked to list six “weird” things about myself. The rules for this game state I’m to list eight random facts/habits.

What is blog tag?

1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.

3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight (I’m choosing four) people to get tagged and list their names.

4. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog for the 8 random facts/habits about you ...

My 8 random facts/habits:

1. I’ve never broken a bone.

2 I won’t eat Brussels sprouts or liver.

3. I studied Martial arts for three years, loved it, and was in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life. Then I had to go back to work full time and that was the end of being able to work out two hours a day, six days a week.

4. I thoroughly enjoy amusement parks, especially the biggies like Disney World and Universal Studios.

5. I wanted to be a missionary doctor from the time I was in junior high until I graduated from High School. But, the fact that I fainted at the sight or mention of a needle hindered that goal. I overcame the phobia after having my first child. Hmmmmm…do you suppose? Nah.

6. I’m claustrophobic and can’t stand to be in packed crowds or confined spaces. (No other phobias. Really!)

7. I didn’t get a speeding ticket until I was in my late forties. And then I received three in one year!!!

8. The first time I sang a solo in public I was five or six years old and a great aunt made me sing for the Ladies’ Aid group at our church. I’ve been singing ever since.

That’s it!

Now I’m tagging these people:

Annette M. Irby
Michelle Sutton
Ocieanna Fleiss
Mandi Whiteley

I was tagged by:

Cynthia Ruchti
Julie Carobini

Side note... the photo of downtown Seattle was taken by my daughter, Brooke. Beautiful, isn't it?

Those Crazy Christians

Some of the closest friends I have live in other parts of the world, while others live nearby and are a part of my daily life.

Some friends who have become important to me are those who share my passion for writing, and particularily, Christian fiction.

The two women who stand with me in the photo are such people; Gail Sattler to my right and Annette M Irby to my left.

This past weekend we attended the Christian Writer’s Renewal Conference in Seattle and in September we’ll be hanging out together at the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference (ACFW) in Dallas, Texas.

Although Gail lives quite a distance from Annette and me, that hasn’t hindered the relationship we’ve built. The beauty of email is that while all three of us can be working on individual projects, we can still have a conversation about what is working or not working in our stories.

Our friendship isn’t solely based on writing. Our Christian faith is common ground. We share our writing struggles and joys, but we also care about what is happening and affecting other areas in our lives.

Vast numbers of the world’s population may believe Christians to be crazy. Maybe we are. In any competitive market what other group goes out of its way to help it’s competition?

Within the world of Christian publishing, you’ll find established authors mentoring those trying to break in. They cheer and celebrate when their competition signs a contract or writes a book that becomes a best seller.

My friends and I pray for each other’s submissions, meetings with editors, and the ability to break through writer’s block. We brainstorm ideas, critique each other’s work in order to give helpful feedback, and share business information.

Gail, a multi-published author, has been a mentor in my writing and networking. Annette has been an inspiring role model of what it means to have a heart for God and a desire to put Him first in a writing career. I've become a much better writer because of these two women.

When I can be so blessed with friendships like these, you can call me a “Crazy Christian” any day.


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