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

God doesn’t give you more than you can handle…or does He?

I’m grateful to my friend and blogger Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com for sharing this encouraging post. Her biblical, honest approach to this topic of “too much to handle” was a blessing to me, and I hope it will be to you as well.

“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” I’ve heard this saying all my life, always from well-meaning Christians.

But there have been plenty of times when I just couldn’t “handle.” After my grandmother passed away, I couldn’t handle the grief, and depression set in for two years. Later on, my body couldn’t handle what I was eating and the stress I was under, and I suffered with physical pain for several years. During those periods, hearing that God hadn’t actually given me more than I could handle felt disingenuous. What’s more, it added to my frustration and self-condemnation.

So let me give it to you straight: yes, God may give you more than you can handle.

You are human, after all, and human beings are fallible creatures. You will make mistakes. You may suffer from illness or grief. You may be called into a family role or ministry that is far more than you can do on your own. At some point, you’ll feel like you’re drowning.

But that doesn’t mean your “failing” at being a Christian.  In fact, that over-your-head feeling is all part of God’s plan to make you understand and accept your reliance on Him…

  • Like the Jews had to do in the wilderness
  • Like Noah had to do when he built a boat unlike any other
  • Like Jonah when he was sent somewhere he didn’t want to go
  • Like Paul when he shared the Gospel to the Gentiles for the first time.

The good news—no, the great news—is that you don’t walk through life alone. As a follower of Jesus, you have His ultimate protection over your life, and the Holy Spirit as your inner guide. Whenever you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed, remember that God is in control. The journey may not be comfortable, and you may not end up where you wanted to go, but God is with you, and He has good plans for you. (See Jeremiah 29:11.)

I’m speaking from experience here. During my times of grief and illness, I relied on God completely. He was my Comforter, Protector, and Guide. And in the end, it was He who healed me and made me whole.

When you’re going through a rough patch, don’t rely on platitudes. Instead, claim powerful verses like these as your own, reading them out loud to encourage your spirit:

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 11:29 NAS).

 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4 NAS).

 “We would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10 NAS).

 “The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NAS)

 “‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him'” (Lamentations 3:24 NAS).

Platitudes may sound nice, but the Word of God is powerful. Let His Truth give you comfort and guidance in every season of life.

Have you ever needed a word of truth, only to receive an empty platitude? How did it make you feel? Does that experience encourage you to speak truth into the lives of your loved ones?

~ By Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

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Love, Truth, Love

You are in for a treat! My friend and writer Ashley Jones of BigSisterKnows.com is my guest here today. She and her husband Robby demonstrate how differences can complement each other. Are you more like Ashley or Robby? Read on to learn how each personality type has its own strength and weakness … and how these blended styles help us make the most of our relationships.

Guest blog by BigSisterKnows.com

My husband Robby and I have been happily married for over six years now. One of the reasons we work so well together is that neither of us likes drama. We prefer the simple life. But, sometimes, stuff happens and you just have to deal with it. And that’s when our complementary personalities really shine. You see, Robby is a natural-born peacemaker, and I’m…well…scrappy. As you can imagine, we didn’t always see this difference as positive thing.

Early into our relationship, Robby’s “can’t we all just along?” temperament grated on my “why can’t everyone just do it right?!” attitude. It wasn’t long before we realized some very important things about ourselves.

Truth, Truth, Truth

I am a “truth, truth, truth” kind of person. Not only do I want to know the truth, but I want to relay the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, at all times. If that hurts your feelings, I’m sorry—but not really, ‘cause I can’t help that it’s the truth.

Love, Love, Love

Robby, on the other hand, is the quintessential peacemaker. He is a “love, love, love” kind of person. Yes, he wants to be truthful in all things, but if he has to pick, he’ll choose a loving silence over a truthful discourse any day.

Truth or Love?

At one point, we talked about what was more godly: truth or love? Fortunately, I was taking Bible classes at that time, and we looked into the following verse:

 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24 NAS)

The teacher suggested that “in spirit” means “in love,” since we know that “God is love” (1 John 4:16 NAS).

Although the context of John 4 is worship, all of our activities can be considered worship if we do them as unto the Lord. (See Colossians 3:23.)

Pulling these concepts together, I realized that my words and actions should be as loving as they are truthful.

Love, Truth, Love

That’s when Robby and I made a pact. He would be more upfront with the truth, trusting that I wouldn’t overreact or blame him for passing along difficult news. And I would be more loving, sweetening each word of truth with love. Now, we’re both striving to be “love, truth, love” kind of people—sandwiching the necessary truth in love.

I have to admit that this has made me a better person, wife, and friend. It’s also enabled me to minister to others in a meaningful way.

Learn to Love

If you’re a truth-focused person like I am, take heart! You can learn to be more loving in your interactions with others. Here are a few tips.

  • God first – Remember, the great commandment is to love God, and the second is to love your neighbor. (See Matthew 22:37-39.) We can’t fulfill the second commandment until we fulfill the first. It might help to think of the image of the “love cup.” Focus on your love for God first, letting that fill your love cup. Then let God’s love overflow and pour through you into your relationships with others.
  • Fake it – In the meantime, “fake it ‘til you make it.” I don’t mean that you should be a fake person, but if you make an effort to be nice and caring, you’ll find your emotions follow suite.
  • Pray – You can’t dislike someone you’re praying for—at least not for long—so pray daily for their welfare.

Learn to be Truthful

If you have a hard time telling difficult things to people you love, you can learn to be more truthful.

  • Right motives – We should never speak the truth out of a sense of self-righteousness or judgment. However, we should speak truth in love if it will help the other person in some way. This could be as small as telling your friend that she has spinach in her teeth; or it could be as big as confronting her with her addiction to alcohol. Just make sure your motives are righteous before you speak.
  • Faith – If you need to say something, then have faith in your friend and in the strength of your relationship. Even if the truth rocks the boat a bit, your friend should appreciate that you said what you did in love.

What about you? Have you struggled with speaking truth in love? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NAS).

~ By Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

Thank you, Ashley, for sharing this guest post! You can follow Ashley on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Adored Giveaway!

Thank you to everyone who participated in and shared about last week’s Adored giveaway.

Congratulations to the winner, Elizabeth!

 

 

6 Items You Won’t Find on a Supply List, Pt. 2

In college, I was the girl who set two alarm clocks and chose outfits the night before. I stressed over syllabi more times than I care to admit.

Sometimes, I focused so closely on the tangible details that I overlooked the spiritual equipment needed to get through the day.

Ephesians 6 outlines the ultimate Every Day Carry (EDC) list we can’t do without—whether we’re in high school, college, or beyond. Last week, we saw the first three, and today, we’ll examine the final ones.

Item #4: The Shield of Faith

The Apostle Paul underscores the importance of a soldier’s shield. Most of us don’t sling medieval metal over our shoulders, but the idea is one of protection.

In different ways, we apply the same concept today. For example, this weekend, I went scalloping and slathered on SPF 50 (twice). I wouldn’t dream of spending four hours in the sun without it!

Shields (whether metallic or ultraviolet) protect us from dangers. On the spiritual front, faith in the unchanging work of God guards us from hidden hazards.

The Bible says that the just live by faith (Romans 1:17). To live by faith, we first need to live rightly (item 2), which means we must think rightly (item 1).

Item #5: The Covering of Salvation

Coverings or helmets were a big deal for safety in Bible days. Without them, the soldier’s most exposed part of the body was vulnerable.

In his epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul restates the importance of this spiritual armor. He warns his readers to be alert or to “keep awake and be sober” so that they aren’t caught off guard (I Thess. 5:6 ESV). In order to be prepared, he challenges them to don “the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation” (I Thess. 5:8 ESV emphasis added).

Our salvation should both command our center and give us the confidence to face whatever challenges we encounter.

Item #6: The Sword of the Spirit

Leaving for class unprepared is code for disaster.

Obviously, students need their books (or tablet) to learn. If you attend Christian school or college, the Sword of the Spirit (code for your Bible) will probably be among the items you’ll bring. Regardless, I hope you’ll want to bring it.

It is the best defense for the day. According to 2 Timothy 3:16, it’s good for more than just Bible class. It teaches us about doctrine and righteousness, and corrects us when we mess up.

Download the Bible on your tablet or phone—or better yet, bring a print version. Whatever you do, don’t leave home without it.

A Daily Checklist

After the first day of school, we forget about supply lists (and sometimes, even about the syllabi), but the list from Ephesians 6 is one we need to remember year round. These items should form our EDC even on weekends.

To all my student friends, I challenge you to cut out the list below and tack it on your mirror or in your locker. Look at it every day. Remember it when the day brings an unexpected blow, and cheer through it when God grants you a spiritual victory.

Ask yourself: Do I have my EDC?

Start strong, and finish well.

~ Kristen

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6 Items You Won’t Find on a Supply List

This time of year, stores greet you with shelves of back-to-school supplies, an ominous reminder that summer is almost over. Soon, students and teachers will be saying goodbye to lazy summer days and the snooze button.

Sure, scissors and number two pencils have their place, but students won’t find what they need most on a supply list. If you’re a student, whether new to high school or finishing college, your biggest hurdles this year won’t be mental or physical. They’ll be spiritual, so you can’t afford not to have these items.

Ephesians 6:14-17 provides the list of essentials to start the year right.

Item #1: The Belt of Truth

Growing up, I never had the nightmare my peers seemed to have—of finding themselves undressed in the middle of class. Maybe that’s because I was homeschooled. Regardless, no one wants her pants sagging the first day of school, so belts matter.

The Bible describes truth as a belt “girded” about our waists (Ephesians 6:14 NKJV). We don’t use words like “gird” anymore, but the concept is that belts tighten or bind our clothes about us so that we don’t trip. They’re essential to keeping our outfits together.

Truth keeps us from tripping over lies we’ll be tempted to tell or believe about ourselves. What are some biblical promises that will help your mind stay centered on truth? Jot them down, and memorize them.

Like a syllabus, our thoughts determine the semester’s course. Make sure they’re pointing you in the right direction.

Item #2: The Under Armor of Righteousness

Right living, holy living is not something our culture commends. In fact, the trend is to break the rules, not follow them.

But this world shouldn’t set our moral GPS. God’s Word should, and it makes clear that we are to be holy in our conduct (I Peter 1:15).

Holy doesn’t mean perfect but a striving toward Christ-likeness. I like Paul’s description in Philippians 3:12: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (NKJV).

Item #3: The Shoes of Peace

Shoes are a big deal, especially since most of us wear them with multiple outfits during the week. We girls like them cute and comfy. Guys tend to prefer comfort over style, but I once had a student, a seventh grade boy, obsessed with LeBron James’ style athletic shoes. I’ll leave it at that.

Regardless of what we want in a shoe, there’s one feature department stores don’t advertise, and that’s peace. However, where we go and what we do when we get there say much about our testimony.

Check your steps against the parameters of Isaiah 52:7.

  • Am I known for being a peacemaker, someone my friends enjoy being around?
  • What do I share more: good news or gossip?
  • Am I ready to tell others my testimony, or do I keep my salvation a secret?

How would you answer these questions?

Next time, we’ll look at the final three items we can’t afford to forget this school year.

~ Kristen

 

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The Pixelated Lens of Fear

Fear isn’t just something that plagues children. Although we might laugh about monsters in the closet now, the truth is that we all struggle or have struggled with fear at some point. Only, our fears morph into more subtle villains, masked with titles like rejection, self-doubt, and failure.

Or, they may even be seemingly laughable “little” things that tempt us not to trust God … like my somewhat irrational fear of needles. (I say “somewhat” because trypanophobia is a word in the dictionary, which makes me guess I’m not alone.)

Today, I’m honored to be a guest on author Jerusha Agen’s The Fear Warrior Blog. There, I’m sharing a challenge about fear. When fear blurs our vision, how can we shift our focus back to where it needs to be?

Click here to read the post. I’d love to hear your comments!

~ Kristen