undaunted, part 2 {thoughts on living fearlessly}

dear friend, have you ever looked at the things wrong in your life and blamed them on your spouse or your kids? on the people you work with or work for or live near?  so often, i have found myself blaming my perceived and real failures on those i live with and love.  i have fought them as my enemy on what i believed to be my path toward success.  i did not know then that this journey was the next step in my soul’s dare for living fearlessly.

 

(this post is part 2 of a series called undaunted.  here is part 1, if you’d like to begin there.)

it’s not new: even in the garden, eve blamed adam for her sin, and he hurled the blame right back at her.  a professor-turned-dear-friend in college called the human syndrome “hide and hurl.”

i have a friend who reminds me often that if I fight for me, God may not.  in my park-bench, life-changing conversation with my husband one day, i mercifully began to lay down my stones and let my heavenly Father fight my battle.  i believed i was discovering that my husband, in his servant’s heart, had unwittingly strayed from his first calling in work and ministry, in order to help me.  i  believed it so strongly that in that conversation i told him if I never took another photo (our full time career at the time), it was a sacrifice i’d make to see him know confidence in his calling and find great joy in his work.  later that day i set a daily alarm that still sounds each morning, reminding me to pray for him in that way.

although we made a decision together to begin to seek God’s heart for a possible change in his work, answers didn’t come right away.  in fact, it was a looooong time before changes started to happen.

this is where my second life-lesson came in: God may intend to use suffering for our good and His glory.

our move to seek work for my husband outside our photography business was slow going.  at first, we thought we were being called to work alongside a family we knew at a Christian camp much nearer to where my parents lived.  during this time I wrote:

a (our daughter) is excited about a move (one minute), then sad about leaving heart friends.  her brother has been sharing advice with her about coming to peace with God’s leading for our family and for her best, about how she doesn’t need to worry about friendships, that God will work those out. that she will minister to the girls God puts in her life, as they will to her.” (7/7/13)

and a few days later:

“it seems so long we’ve been stuck wandering, this crew of mine, and i feel often the wandering-est. the most lost. i’ve asked friends i trust for wisdom and one suggested, perhaps we’re less in the desert, more in the wilderness.”

and after a deep heart-talk with a devoted and wise friend:

“the desert, she mused, is a place of discipline – the result of broken choices and the place for learning from mistakes. it’s a lonely, hungry, aching place. the wilderness, though, is the place where there is provision (think: the isrealites and the manna…), there is hope for the future, and there is learning; there is fruit from the wandering in the wilderness. if we do not give up hope.” (7/9/14)

 

suffering and glory

during this time I started turning down photography jobs in order to find balance and clear the way for what God was going to do. as finances at times became very tight, tension between us rose.  in an effort to heal our marriage and build healthy patterns, and to be prepared for change, we didn’t make any commitments at our church.  the firstborn, people-pleaser in me ached to let people know i was still a “good Christian.”  so often my fear of others’ opinions rose to choke me and drove me to be ever more hard working and impatient with my precious children and husband.  as things went outside my “plan,” i noticed my tendency to seek validation made me feel desperately lonely because I didn’t have a “visible” role in the body. I wrote:

” what you don’t think about is that the waiting hurts. in the waiting, you realize you’re broken. impatient. fear-driven.
in the waiting, you see your tendencies to self-preservation at the cost of mercy and grace-giving.” (12/10/13)

during this same time, the opportunity for the ministry job feel through – rather suddenly.  our house was on the market, and God seemed to provide work in our field, so I took on just what i felt I could handle, praying hard for the right doors to open and close as I went along.

(a huge life lesson here that learned painfully, is the importance of seeking wisdom from God’s word first, then our husbands, if we are married women, before asking a trusted and godly friend.  i caused myself confusion and got myself into messes when i committed based solely on opinions of others.)
I was challenged during this time to still invest genuinely in relationships even while feeling we would soon be uprooted, and to fight the tendency to withdraw, either because I thought we’d “desert” those connections, or because I was afraid of failing.  i’m so glad i didn’t, because it was in the brokenness that I saw God working to encourage others.

have you ever found that when your sisters found a weakness you shared, they were somehow emboldened to share their own, and so be encouraged?  have you struggled with the tension between the now and the not-yet?

 

i would love to hear and share your experience, as well.

 

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cauliflower risotto recipe (meal planning tips)

do you have a meal planning system that makes your day go smooth as butter, knowing that you’ve got meals planned, ingredients shopped, and recipe ready to go?  at times over the years i’ve felt so scattered that we’ve doubled our grocery spending, i’m pretty sure, because we grabbed “out” so often.  and it certainly didn’t help my waistline along the way, because usually what we grabbed wasn’t exactly the most nourishing, natural recipe.  today i want to share a plan we love, along with a killer paleo/primal, grain-free recipe for cauliflower risotto with bacon and mushrooms.

 

cauliflower risotto recipe e

 

i’ve shared before about emeals, and since it’s been super helpful to me during a long transition cross-country, i thought it was time to mention it again.  emeals is a meal planning system that operates by sending you a pdf each week with seven complete meals, a list of ingredients, and quick and easy directions to create them.  the best part of emeals is its phone/ipad compatible complementary app, which allows you to view recipes and lists on a larger scale and share them with your family (or beg your son/husband to pickup your groceries for you!).  by sharing the app across multiple devices within your family, you can also allow family members to choose which recipes they want to try or bypass on a particular week.

cauliflower risotto recipe a

 

this recipe was my variation of one of our menu choices this week.  i substituted the protein and let me tell you, this dish is both simple and so delicious.  (my a-girl may or may not have had several helpings.  i’ll never tell.)

 

cauliflower risotto recipe b

 

one huge advantage to emeals is the variety of plans offered.  we use the “paleo” plan because it best suits our family’s culinary lifestyle in this season, but there are more traditional plans, allergy-friendly plans, “clean eating” variations, and so on.  you can also choose to add lunch and breakfast options to your plan for even more help with your meal planning.

 

cauliflower risotto recipe c

 

i find that our eMeals recipes are simple to prepare, with every-day ingredients that are often seasonally or sale-based, and in using the system, i save money and stress, and more importantly i find we eat much healthier.

 

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undaunted, part 1. {thoughts on fearless living}

it began with a heart-wrenching conversation in the park. (of course it began much sooner, when in the course of working together in a dream job of our own making, i began to resent my husband. i began hating (and no, that’s not too harsh for truth) this very person in the tiniest of ways, as he served alongside me in a job that may not have been best suited for him. regardless, i reacted in fear and in desire to control, to make him do it my way. i fought him and God and my own self because i didn’t trust God’s timing or His provision. so over time walls of stone began to build in my heart and then, i think, in the heart of the man i married. thank God, He brought friends and family with courage to see and speak what they saw, and brokenness began – necessary, life-changing brokenness. but not before some of those wall-stones were thrown right at the one I’d promised to cherish, to respect, to serve. not before there were heart-breaks that caused hidden uproar in our home. it came to a head one afternoon when there was shouting and anger over the phone.  we hung up and made plans to meet outdoors, and to talk for real about what was happening.  to begin, i would learn, a bit of fearless living.

we left the children in good care and we met like a couple on a blind date, both nervous to see each other. but for us,  the reasons were different. though I think we both wondered if the other felt the same about us, it was because there were hurts, deep hurts, that seemed to cover the years of love invested in the “us” that God had formed 18 years back.

we sat across from each other at a picnic table, ignoring the sweltering heat. we didn’t touch – there was too much tension for that. we were each angry, though I only focused on my own feelings to start. i admit, I didn’t begin from a place of humility. i began from a place of “ME.” i told him, “i’m not going to do this anymore. i am tired of fighting. i am tired of operating in fear. i’m tired of taking more and more work because I’m afraid if i don’t, we won’t have enough money to make it.” i went on for what must have, to him, seemed like hours.

 

over the course of that picnic-bench conversation, love began to glaze over the broken places, and fill the sharp edges of mine and my husband’s conversation. although our level of surety of our next steps didn’t match, we agreed that we needed to make drastic changes in our current patterns and direction, in order to find healing and God’s next steps for us as a couple and as a family. and for me, that day, began what i suspect may be a lifelong journey, discovering much about fear and blessing, and the Great Adventure to which our Papa is inviting us.

 

over the next few weeks, i’d like to share with you some thoughts on living fearlessly.  the following comes from a talk i gave recently to a group of ladies in our hometown, focusing on the journey i’ve been on the last year.  the word i claimed over my year for 2014 was undaunted, and this is the story of some truths i believe my Papa taught me through one little part of journey through the shadowlands.

 

the first thought i want to share is that:
when we operate based on fear, we miss blessing.

 

fear_and_faith_and_living_undaunted

 

beginning on that bench, the Lord revealed to me that much of my action was directly driven by fear. i was afraid of so many things, and i acted passionately to try to prevent those fears from coming true. on the outside, i was running a successful photography business, educating and raising five kids with active interests and lively schedules, and doing it all alongside my husband – people told me often I was so lucky!!

but on the inside, I became more and more driven to provide for my family  and to “succeed,” and I wasn’t even sure what that looked like.

during this season, i began reading a book called Start, by John Acuff. he asked readers to list out our greatest fears – the ones that paralyze us. I wrote the following:

my greatest fears: that I’m trapped in our current circumstances. that I don’t have the self-control to change, or that our family doesn’t “deserve” to change.  that I am bound by my husband’s insecurities. that my kids make it impossible for me to “advance” in life. that someone else is always a step ahead of me; someone else has already “done” my dream.

i realized that in my fear of these things, i was hardening my heart to both my husband and kids, and ultimately to God, as i fought to “protect” myself. (AS IF i actually could on my own!)

 

i wonder if you ever feel that way.  do you ever feel like you are stuck because of your husband’s weaknesses?  that your kids are the “weight” that holds you back from “true success?”  take a moment and on a scrap of paper, i dare you to be really bold: write down one or two of your greatest fears.  imagine what is the worst happening you run from in your own striving to “fix” things.

Phil Vischer was a man who struggled with this same tendency.  you may have heard of him: he co-founded a company called Veggie Tales, which made a huge splash in both the Christian and secular community, and then went belly-up.  he said this:

“We’re drinking a cocktail that’s a mix of the Protestant work ethic, the American dream, and the gospel. And we’ve intertwined them so completely that we can’t tell them apart anymore. Our gospel has become a gospel of following your dreams and being good so God will make all your dreams come true. It’s the Oprah god. So I had to peel that apart. I realized I’m not supposed to be pursuing impact, I’m supposed to be pursuing God. And when I pursue God I will have exactly as much impact as He wants me to have.”

as i thought through the acuff challenge, i wrote this of my fears, and then the corresponding truths to counter them:

that i’m trapped in our current circumstances. - my children are a BLESSING. and that blessing is TEMPORARY. (be careful about wishing it away, little one!)

that i don’t have the self-control to change, or that our family doesn’t “deserve” to change. - i am a DAUGHTER OF THE KING! HE SAYS I AM WORTH IT – i have been granted his VERY BEST.

that i am bound by my husband’s insecurities. – God can break through BOTH of our insecurities to make us a great team for HIS GLORY! (and by the way, who am I to talk of someone else’s insecurities?)

that my kids make it impossible for me to “advance” in life. - LIAR!! My kids are amazing – maybe my greatest “asset” in life! (there is NO CAREER that is worth pursuing if it does not directly benefit not merely their earthly comforts, but their very hearts and souls.)

that someone else is always a step ahead of me; someone else has already “done” my dream. - There is nothing new under the sun. (Someone else’s walking a road before me) is not a handicap! God has given ME a unique voice for whatever He calls me to!
in my fighting my fears, i also made a shocking discovery: i was making my husband my enemy. just like a drunken sailor on an imaginary ship, i was wielding my sword at my own shipmate.
there’s a biblical principle here, and I know for most of us, it’s a familiar one. Proverbs 14:1 says, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” the Greek word “haras” used here for “tear down” means to overthrow, to shatter, and to destroy.

 

oh, Papa, i am determined not to tear down, but to build up.  i long to be part of creating something beautiful in partnership with You and Yours.

 

do you have a story of challenge, of calling, and of grappling to understand Truth as it is walked out in everyday life?  i would love to hear and share it.  please drop me a line below.

 

if you would like to hear more of my story of learning to be undaunted, please sign up to subscribe to this blog (click the link at the top).

 

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