The Better Yes: Beating Your Fear of Missing Out

One of my greatest joys as an author has come through getting to know other writers, and Jerusha Agen is one of those writers. Although we’ve never met in person, I’ve read some of her inspirational suspense novels and had the privilege of writing for her Fear Warrior blog. Recently, she invited me to be a guest blogger again and share what’s on my heart that might encourage readers who are facing their fears.

Below is a re-post of my piece that published on The Fear Warrior blog today. You will definitely want to hop over to The Fear Warrior blog to take advantage of a giveaway I’m offering there as well as to check out Jerusha’s other outstanding content.

Post from The Fear Warrior Blog

Have you ever had to pass up a good opportunity? Maybe you weighed your options, and at the time, that prospect wasn’t a good fit for you. Then later, looking back, you wonder if you made the right call.

I’ve been there. Like most writers, I work a day job as well. The challenge for me—and anyone else who has a side hustle—is finding enough hours for work, family, obligations, and the passion that keeps me up at night.

I’ll never forget when two people in the writing industry invited me to be part of their new venture. It had so much potential for growth, but it was on commission. I had a mortgage to pay and had just started driving about forty minutes every week to be part of a singles Bible study. I couldn’t afford to leave my job, which meant I’d be working nights and weekends—and would have to give up the Bible study. In the end, I said thanks but no.

Fast forward to today. That venture has indeed grown and led to some amazing opportunities for those involved. I’m happy for them, yet part of me wonders if I made the wrong choice.

As I was sharing my doubts with my husband, he asked, “Okay, you said no to that opportunity, but what did you say yes to instead?” It was such a good question! I realized I’d said yes to the Bible study, which led me to join that church group, which led me to meeting him. In short, I said no to one opportunity so I could say yes to another—and ultimately yes to my husband.

Perspective #1: Provision, Not Perfection

I share this story to offer some perspective, which is sometimes hard to find. When doubts and discouragement plague us, we have to fight that fear of missing out with truth.

One of my favorite promises is Psalm 138:8, which says, “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands” (NKJV).

I love the idea that God cares about what matters to me and is “perfecting” a good work in my life. However, let’s not confuse “perfecting” with “perfect.” The former carries the idea of an ongoing work in progress. As a writer, I know how messy that process can be. Rough drafts are riddled with problems that need attention. That “perfecting” or revising process takes time. Even when I finish a book, I’d never call it “perfect.”

Yet as human beings, we crave perfection and often unrealistically compare ourselves to unachievable standards. When we do, we run ragged and become ineffective.

Let’s be content with God’s perfecting work, which realistically requires us to prioritize. We can’t say yes to everything. We are the work of His hands, and when we are intentional in following His leading, He can make something beautiful out of the raw material.

Perspective #2: Providence, Not One-Hundred Percent

Another promise from Scripture reminds us that following God’s will doesn’t mean realizing one hundred percent of our dreams. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand” (Psalm 37:23-24 NKJV).

Did you catch that? The verse begins with the assumption that we’re talking about a “good man” or godly person here. God directs the decisions of and delights in the person who is seeking His will.

However, this believer will still fall. I think we sometimes forget this reality. Even God’s children face failures, disappointments, and defeats. The difference is that God won’t forsake us and will stand by us through it all. He “upholds” or supports us with His hand.

When we choose to follow Christ, the most important decision we could ever make, we are not guaranteed one-hundred percent success in this life. If you’ve been following a name-it-and-claim-it “gospel” that suggests otherwise, you’ve been misled. Following Jesus means we believe in His providential wisdom and care over our lives, not a guarantee of our dreams and goals being met.

The truth is that God works through the imperfections and setbacks—all those “missed out” moments—to make us more like Him. The closed doors encourage us to lean on him harder and deepen our relationship with Him, which is so much more valuable than any lost opportunities. 

Perspective #3: Protection, Not Freedom from Problems

The point of the Christian faith is not that we will enjoy a life free from problems but that we can experience God’s protection—and direction—through them. Yes, we will miss out on opportunities. Yes, we will fail where other people succeed.

Yet sometimes, God’s refusals are His mercies, and He allows us to hear “no,” so that He might give us a better “yes” later. In the moment, grasping that truth can be difficult, but in the long-term, we are so much better off.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (NKJV). God desires our good, and His plans for us far transcend any fear of missing out we may experience.

The next time your mind wanders to “what ifs” and fear that you’ve lost your chance, may I encourage you to stop and reflect on all the blessings you have before you. In my case, my husband reminded me that saying no to one opportunity meant saying yes to something far more important: the answer to my prayer for a spouse. We never know how God may use a “no” in our lives to pave the way for a better “yes.”

We never know how God may use a “no” in our lives to pave the way for a better “yes.” @kjhogrefe

~ Kristen

3 Attitudes to Embrace Change

Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “The only constant in change.” Sometimes, life feels that way, doesn’t it? Even when the change is positive, it can still cause our stomachs to somersault.

In less than a month, I went from single to married and enrolled as a student for a summer class while juggling a full-time job. Exciting? For sure! Nerve-wracking? Maybe a little.

Along the way, I realized my attitudes determine whether I enjoy the change or let it cause undo stress in my life. Maybe these takeaways are simplistic, but I hope they’ll help you if you’re facing changes.

#1: Welcome the Newness

Usually, a few moments after my head hits my pillow, I’m out cold. I tell my now-husband not to worry about waking me when he leaves for work, because I can basically sleep through anything.

However, the night before my wedding, I couldn’t sleep. I may have managed 3-4 hours, and that’s a generous estimate.

There’s something about newness, uncertainty, and the unknown that unnerves us. At two in the morning on my wedding day, I realized I had two choices: embrace the newness, even if it’s awkward, or over-think it and make it even more awkward. I chose to laugh at my clumsy moments in the first few weeks of marriage and reminded myself that I will only be newly-married once. Why not relish the newness instead of cringe at it?

That’s what I decided to do, and as a result, I absolutely enjoyed those moments. Looking back on those first few weeks brings a smile to my lips and no regrets.

#2: Savor the Season

Here’s the other thing about change. It doesn’t last forever. The wedding day comes and goes. The honeymoon ends. The first day of class becomes a daily routine.

What if instead of dreading the unknown, we focus on the anticipation? What if instead of worrying about failure or making mistakes, we look forward to learning and an opportunity to grow?

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven” (NKJV).

There are times for change, and each season brings its own challenges and blessings. Let’s re-train our thinking to forecast joy instead of pain and abundance instead of scarcity.

#3: Remember Tomorrow’s Change Becomes Today’s Comfort Zone

Stop and think about that statement. The event or situation today that has us on pins and needles might very well be our new comfort zone in a few months or even a few weeks. That new job won’t be new forever, and we’ll be the seasoned employee and not the new hire before too long.

Through all of life’s changes, we can fix our eyes on the One constant that never changes: Jesus Christ, “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV). Whether change makes us want to laugh or cry, if we’re God’s children, we have the assurance that He will always be with us (Hebrews 13:5).

What change are you facing that has you on edge? How might a change of perspective help you embrace it instead of lose sleep?

~ Kristen

I’m grateful that this post first appeared on DailyPS.com.

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Renegades Review: Inside a Superhero’s Skin

Is it possible that some villains are unlikely heroes, and that perhaps some heroes are a little villainous? Marissa Meyer’s Renegadesthe first in a young adult science fiction trilogy, trails two teen prodigies, both with superhuman abilities, but from different sides of the fence.

Nova, alias Nightmare, had expected the Renegades to save her when a villain gang murdered her family. But those lifesaving superheroes didn’t come. Instead, her Uncle Ace Anarchy, lead villain of the Anarchists, rescued her and made her his protege. But when the Renegades defeated the Anarchists in an epic battle, they killed her uncle. Two strikes give Nova reason to want revenge. Infiltrating the Renegades during their prodigy selection trials might let her do just that.

But then there’s Adrian, alias Sketch, the adopted son of two superhero Renegade Council members. Did I mention Nova herself had attempted to assassinate one of them a few days ago? Adrian wants justice for the villain Nightmare who almost killed his father and answers, because he thinks she knows who killed his mother.  Of course, he has no clue that Nightmare is Nova, the new superhero on his team who’s slowly stealing his heart. And naturally, she doesn’t realize Adrian has secrets of his own.

Fresh Twist on Superheroes 

Some of my students have raved about Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, and after reading Renegades, I can understand why. Her writing style is delightful and relatable, and in this case, offers a fresh twist on superhero fiction. She doesn’t redo a classic good versus evil or repeat the more recently overdone anti-hero trope typical in this genre.

Instead, she presents two protagonists on missions they sincerely believe will help make their world a better place. Their motivations make sense, and even as they seek to reach their own objectives, they knowingly or unknowingly begin to sympathize with each other.

The takeaway for me is to understand other people’s perspectives. The story reminded me of what Atticus said in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee:

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

Meyer invites us to climb inside the skins of these two characters to empathize with them both. Truth is, if they want to defeat the real villains, they’re going to have to work together.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

I recommend this mainstream book to my fellow Christian fiction readers with one word of caution. Adrian has two adoptive “dads,” superhero leaders of the Council. This lifestyle is presented as normal, though at one point Adrian jokes that he was “obviously” adopted.

Although today’s culture views such a family unit as “the new norm,” the Bible makes clear that God designed marriage for one man and one woman in a covenant relationship (Genesis 2).

I do appreciate that Meyer does not make any explicit references to their relationship, but would encourage readers, as with all books, to be discerning.

Archenemies, the second installment in the trilogy, releases this November, and because I care about Nova and Adrian, I want to find out how Meyer develops their already complicated relationship.

Read on! What books have you finished recently?

~ Kristen

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Finding Center in Life’s Turbulence

In my recent travel adventures, I noticed the flight crew now refers to “turbulence” as “rough air.” I’m not sure why. “Rough air” sounds no less pleasant. Regardless of how we spin it, turbulence remains a reality for air travel and, honestly, for life in general.

Sometimes, we don’t even have to be in the air to experience it. My last travel experience involved being grounded in a plane for two hours before the airline allowed us to disembark (due to weather).

As I waited in the crowded plane, just ready to be home, I felt a rising frustration at my helplessness. I closed my eyes and tried to pray, but my emotions were less than Psalm 23 worthy.

I typically can find the positive in the negative. This is a first-world problem. At least the AC is working, and you’re sitting next to your best friend. But despite all these happy thoughts, an unrest clung to my spirit like gum to a shoe. Have you ever felt that way?

In the grand scheme, this was just an inconvenience that taxed my tired travel nerves. However, God used this low moment in my life to remind me that circumstances shouldn’t control my emotions but that He should be my unshakable center.

To read the full post, visit BigSisterKnows.com. I’m grateful to my friend, author Ashley L. Jones, for the invitation to share on her blog this week!

~ Kristen

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Finding Center in Life’s Turbulence – @BigSisterTweets and @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Graduates, what would you teach us?

This weekend, I’m excited to attend the graduation for some amazing young people I’ve watched grow up through youth group. They might say they learned from me, but in many ways, I learned just as much from them.

I met with them for coffee a few weeks ago to hear about their plans and next steps. Listening to their dreams inspired this post, which appears in full at DailyPS.com.

Whether you’re a graduate or farther down life’s road, I hope this post encourages you.

Post excerpt

Graduates are on fire for life and its seemingly endless possibilities, but those of us on the other side know Forrest Gump was right when he said life can be like a box of chocolates—and not always in a good way. As a result, we adults have both wisdom and experience to offer. However, let’s take a moment to switch places and ask ourselves what we can learn from the Class of 2018.

Celebrate your success, and don’t dwell on defeat.

Sometimes, life and its school of hard knocks jade us. We see the rejection letters, the closed doors, and the failed hopes. When we do, we often lose sight of all the bright moments we’ve experienced, too.

On the other hand, graduates are young and resilient—and for the most part, not as burned by disappointments. For those of us feeling frayed, let’s exercise our stamina again. Accept defeat and criticism when they come, learn from them, but don’t dwell on them.

Oh, and don’t forget to celebrate those successes. Graduates know how to party, and we need to cheer for the moments where we do make the deadline, conquer the laundry pile, and get the upper hand on “adulting.”

To read the full post, visit DailyPS.com. Congrats to the Class of 2018!

~ Kristen

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What graduates can teach us – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)