When Your Dream Becomes Too Heavy

If I’m honest, there are times when I wish this writing dream would die.

When I began blogging several years ago, I dove in with both feet. I had no idea what I was doing or how many people would read what I wrote. All I knew was how good it felt to get the words out there. There was no middle man, editor or someone who deemed whether the syllables I strung together were good enough to print. It was just me, the laptop and the reader.

And I liked that.

But to pursue dreams and goals, we can’t remain in one place. We have to keep challenging ourselves to step outside what’s comfortable.

So I looked into the publishing world. I bought a writer’s market guide, took online classes and talked to successful writers. I learned what it took to get a publishing house to notice you, and I got my first taste of disillusionment with the industry.

Platform. Numbers. Followers and email subscribers. At first it seemed easy enough, until I heard numbers far exceeding anything I’d imagined.

I looked at other writers around me and thought I had to keep their rhythm and pace. Then I wondered why I was frustrated. I wondered why something I used to love felt heavy and burdensome.

I wanted my dream to go away, but it wouldn’t.

Every time I was tempted to close my computer and never see that cursor flashing again, a message would pop into my inbox. Or a comment would show up on my blog. A note of encouragement. A reader saying the words reached her at just the right time.

I knew this dream was so much bigger than me. I realized it wasn’t about me at all, really.

It was about the One who placed it in my heart. It was about the readers He brought here. Some close, and some in continents I may never step foot in.

A couple of weeks ago, I watched an Amazon original show that follows the life of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda. Or as he called her, “Z.” She was his muse, his inspiration, and the woman who kept him going when he was temped to give up.

In one of the opening episodes, Zelda’s father, who is a well-to-do judge in Alabama, drills Fitzgerald about his writing, asserting that it is not a viable career. Fitzgerald fights back, saying Mark Twain was a millionaire.

Zelda’s father laughs.

“So you’re going to be the next Mark Twain?” he jokes.

“No,” Fitzgerald says. “I’m going to be the next F. Scott Fitzgerald.”

And he was. He was a writer in his own right, with his own voice. He didn’t have to be anyone else, because his message was recognized as unique. It stood on its own.

Now, I’ll be completely honest. I am not an F. Scott Fitzgerald or The Great Gatsby fan. (astonishing, I know) But I have a fascination with these classic, early 20th century writers. I’m captivated by the fact that they would pursue something most people thought was completely absurd. That they were willing to go against the status quo and take a risk.

As I reflected on the scene from “Z,” what I felt like God was saying to me was this:

“You don’t have to be like anyone else. Just be Abby. Just be the writer I created you to be.”

My job is to put the words to the keyboard. God’s is to do what only he can do.

So to you, dear reader, I deliver this message:

  • When you’re tempted to look in the other lane, remember only you can run your race.
  • When you’re tempted to give up, remember your pace may not look like the person to your right or your left.
  • When you’re rejected, remember He can use each “no” to lead you to the perfect “yes.”

Your journey won’t look like anyone else’s. Because your journey was assigned by a limitless Creator.

 

Linking up with these communities: #RaRaLinkup, #RechargeWednesday

The One Truth That Can Silence the Voice of Doubt

silence-doubt

“You’re always my number one,” my hubby said.

I put my head against his chest and let his affirmation sink in, resting in his strong embrace.

I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been so tired. Adjusting to life with three kids and finding balance was a struggle. I was flailing in a sea of failed expectations in others, but also fighting to maintain healthy expectations in myself.

When I forgot to sign my son’s homework, I felt defeated. When I was unable to spend as much time with my boys, I felt guilt.

As we encounter difficulty navigating new seasons in life, the voices of doubt often creep in.

You can’t get this mom-of-three-kids thing down. Why did you ever think it was a good idea?

 That book proposal will never get done. You may as well not even try.

 And the scary part is, we often listen to that voice-the one who confirms our worst fears and dark thoughts we don’t talk about with others. The one who brings out the worst version of ourselves.

Instead of pursuing our dreams, we convince ourselves failure is inevitable. We shrink away from the edge of the next leap of faith before we even see the drop off.

silence-the-voice-of-doubt

So what do we do? How do we silence the voice of doubt when our eyelids are heavy and the road is weary?

If we want to drown the source of lies, we must look to the source of all truth- Jesus. He didn’t just speak truth. He lived it.

When I look at his life I often wonder, how did he keep discouragement and doubt at bay? When the Pharisees and naysayers questioned his every move, how did he stay strong? It’s quite simple, really.

Jesus knew who he was.

I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.

John 16:28 ESV

He not only knew who he was, but who he is, and is to come. One with the Father. His Son. The One he was “well pleased” with.

And when he looks at you and me, he’s pleased too. Not because we’re perfect or flawless, but because he sees his perfect Son.

You don’t have to compete for God’s attention. Like my husband said to me, you’re his number one.

When we face a mountain of doubt and discouragement, we can choose to listen his thoughts about us instead of the lies that invade our peace. Even when others around us are pointing out our flaws or being negative, we can immerse ourselves in the voice that speaks truth and love.

And when we abide in him, he calls us daughters. He gives us a crown and says, “Come to me, you who are weary.”

I don’t know about you, but those voices of lies are making me weary. Let’s come to the only One who can give us true rest today.

Let’s follow Jesus’ example and remember not only who we are, but Whose we are today.

4 Truths to Hold Onto When You Think You’ve Let God Down

when you think you've let God down


One weekday morning several months ago, I woke up to a familiar tune. In my grogginess I realized my husband had personalized the alarm on my phone.

He can be sweet that way sometimes. He knew the words of Tenth Avenue North’s By Your Side held a reminder I desperately needed. A reminder that his grace covers me, that I don’t need to strive to attain his love.

I’d fallen into the old, familiar habit of running again and the lyrics of the song washed over me like raindrops on arid soil.

Why are you striving these days

Why are you trying to earn grace

To where will you go, child,

Tell me where will you run

Where will you run?

We have a tendency to run from what we don’t understand, don’t we? We can’t comprehend how God could love us despite all of the mistakes we’ve made and the times we’ve messed it all up, so we fight it.

We struggle against his grace when all He wants to do is wrap us in it. (Tweet that)

I tend to fight Him most when I feel as though I’ve let someone down. My people pleasing tendencies lead me to believe I have to be everything to everyone, and when I can’t, I assume God must be unhappy too.

Right? I mean, surely. It makes perfect sense. Um no, and therein lies the problem. Because God’s grace doesn’t make sense.

God doesn’t expect us to please every single person in our life. He simply wants us to abide in his love.

When we quit striving to understand his grace, we can finally accept it. (Tweet that)

We can lift our hands and simply say, “Thank you. Thank you for covering me even though I don’t deserve it.”

Today, let’s not forget that faith, by definition, means trusting what we don’t fully understand. It means putting our hope in what we don’t see, but will one day behold completely.

4 truths when you think you've let God down

Here are four truths to hold onto when you think you’ve let God down:

  1. God’s approval has nothing to do with the approval of others. (Tweet that)

Others may turn their backs on you, walk away, or gossip. Do you know who endured similar ridicule and abandonment? Jesus. Paul says it best in Galatians:

“If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 NIV

  1. God’s approval has nothing to do with your good works.

He paid the price on Calvary. Do you think he would have endured the nails if there was something you could do to pay your own way? The good works we do are works He planned. (Ephesians 2:10) His Spirit empowers us, not our own strength.

  1. God’s not going to let you go. He’s placed his seal on you, and his seal is eternal.

Once you accepted Him, he placed his Spirit with in you. That’s his seal, friend. (2 Corinthians 1:21) It’s a deposit guaranteeing when Jesus Christ appears, he will look at you and say, “She’s mine.” You can grieve Him, but God will always go after his wandering sheep.

  1. God doesn’t look at your past sin.

Once we confess it, he remembers it no more. (Psalm 103:12) Not because he can’t, but he chooses not to. He gives you a fresh slate, made clean by the blood of his precious son. So why do we continue to dwell on sin he’s already forgiven?

Friends, when we soak in the truth of God’s love, it changes us. It strengthens us to stand firm against the lies we hear every day and the attacks of the one who wants to defeat us.

Let his grace permeate your defenses today. And when it does, thank Him for the victory we have in Him alone.

 

Linking up with these communities: #LiveFreeThursday, Grace & Truth 

2 Simple Truths That Can Help You Overcome Discouragement {A Guest Post}

life unstuck intro

Today I’m honored to be welcoming my friend Betsy de Cruz back to the blog. I met Betsy at the She Speaks conference in 2014, and she immediately welcomed me with a hug and a smile. She has been a continual source of encouragement through all the ups and downs on this writing journey, and I am beyond blessed to call her a friend. Her writing always brings me back to the truth of scripture, but in a fresh new way. I know you will be encouraged by her words today as we continue this journey of becoming unstuck and finding freedom in Christ.

Betsy de Cruz headshot

Betsy enjoys God, life with teenagers and dark roast coffee. She and her crazy nomad family are currently spending nine months in Dallas, Texas, but they look forward to returning to Turkey, their favorite home. Betsy’s passion is to encourage women to get God’s word in, so their faith can spill out, even during life’s bumpy moments. She writes about everyday faith at faithspillingover.com. You can also connect with Betsy on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

2 Simple Truths to Help You Overcome Discouragement

The stranger at the door probably wondered if I had a few screws loose or just needed hormone therapy. I’d rushed to make dinner for my family, put on something cute, and drive 20 minutes to join a new ladies Bible study. When I rang the doorbell, a confused man answered the door. The group was meeting somewhere else that night, but no one had let me know. The poor man looked even more confused when I started crying.

I overreacted, but the clincher was they’d changed the meeting night the week before without calling me, so I’d already missed the first study.

My family and I had just moved to a new city. We faced some tough transition issues, and I felt a desperate need for fellowship and encouragement. Now I wondered, “Do those ladies even want me in their group?” As I got back in my car, the weight of all my concerns came crashing down.

I felt stuck in discouragement.

During the drive home, I tried to regain perspective. Maybe the group leader had problems of her own and simply forgot to call me. God’s ability to renew my heart didn’t hinge on one Bible study.

As I told my husband the story later, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “I’m definitely not feeling the love from that group,” I said.

At that moment, I got a text message from my son. It said, “I love you, Mom.”

And I knew it was God speaking to me. That reminder of God’s love changed my outlook.

We all face tough circumstances.

Job challenges, houses that don’t sell, and kids who don’t act like we want them to can get us down. It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts, but God is always there to renew our minds and hearts when we turn to Him.

When I’m discouraged, it helps to return to the simple truths I already know. The Bible gives us a promise with two plain truths we can grab hold of:

“The LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him.” Ps. 32:10 NIV

2 Simple Truths Graphic

The Plain Truth that Overrides Discouragement:

  1. God Loves Me.

He loves me with an unfailing love. He loves you. Now before you roll your eyes at me, remember I told you it was the plain and simple truth. Most of us have heard this since we were kids. We sang “Jesus loves me” in Sunday school, but we often live as though we don’t believe it.

  1. I Can Trust Him.

With God’s love surrounding us, we’re in a safe place. He loves us perfectly. We can trust that He has good plans for us. The same all-powerful God who raised Jesus from the dead is working in our lives.

When life gets hard, we don’t have to stay stuck. God will help us move forward out of discouragement as we meditate on His truth, pray it, and declare it to ourselves. Some days I need to rehearse the simple truth over and over in my mind: “God loves me. I can trust Him.”

Friends, let’s move forward with God. Will you pray together with me? “Lord, I know you love me. Show me more of your love today.”

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.

I’m Here, God. Do You See Me?

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I waited a week for acknowledgement that the gift was received. A book I carefully picked out for this season of his life when he was groping for meaning and purpose.

I opted for the express shipping so it would be there in time for his birthday. My anticipation of his reaction mounted.

But the gratitude never came. There was no text, no thank you. I went online to make sure the package was delivered and saw it had.

It was as though the attempt to reach out never happened.

Self-defeat and pity consumed me. Why did I bother? Why did I make an effort when time and time again it wasn’t reciprocated?

An old wound was irritated. I knew I needed to address the source of pain, but I waited.

When a similar situation happened weeks later, I could no longer ignore the ache. I longed for recognition of the love I was pouring into those around me. I watched as others received pats on the back and validation.

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing over at Kelly Balarie & Friends. You can read the rest of my post here.

For the Discouraged Soul Who Can’t Carry the Weight

burdens

Before I had time to take my fighting stance, the enemy of my soul sat down and planted himself between me and the truth. His presence was firm. He wasn’t going anywhere.

Discouragement in every form took over my thoughts. My church, writing, friends, ministry and everything I held dear were a source of attack. Nothing was off limits.

I tried to hold onto to the words of life I knew lay planted in my soul. I remembered the Word said the enemy is a liar. I recalled verses which said no weapon formed against me would stand.

The tide was coming in and I needed a grip on solid ground. I longed to plant my feet firmly on the Rock I knew would prove stable and unmoving. I opened my Bible but nothing seemed to sink into my heart.

I saw the black and white on the page but I needed to put skin on it. I needed a real person with flesh and blood to speak life into my heart.

A few mornings passed and some friends shared prayer requests via voice text. Hearts were being opened and encouragement poured into the spaces which needed to be filled.

Should I tell them? I looked around at my home, my kids and many blessings God provided. Who was I to be discouraged? Why did I feel this way?

Giving words to my thoughts made them real. To speak them aloud gave them a life I wasn’t sure I wanted, and I hesitated for minutes, waiting and listening.

Something inside me spoke and I recognized the voice of life I’d been groping for.

We can never carry the burdens of others if we don’t release some of our own.

I spoke. I released all the thoughts of defeat and discouragement that followed me around for days upon weeks. Instantly, I felt lighter.

kites

And then, one after another, these sweet sisters of Christ spoke words of life and encouragement into my soul. They lifted me up in prayer and saw an inner strength I needed to be reminded was there.

I praised God and realized this was the body of Christ. This was the hands and feet of Christ extended, carrying my load when I couldn’t sustain it any longer.

In Galatians, Paul tells us,

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2 NIV

As I sat listening to my friends’ voices, I saw this law fulfilled. And it wasn’t the law of Moses. It wasn’t a burdensome law which no one could uphold.

It was the law of Christ: a law where we live by the Spirit and not by the flesh. A law where love is the embodiment of every command, and we love because He first loved us. Though we are weak, we are made strong through his power.

When we lift each other up in Christ, we lift up his Holy Name.

Self-sufficiency is a lie, friends. It leads us down a path of loneliness and regret.

 If you’re struggling today, can I encourage you to reach out to someone you trust? You weren’t made to carry all of that weight on your shoulders.

When we release it and allow others to carry it, we see a little bit if Heaven here on earth.

 

*Linking up with Kelly BalarieJennifer Dukes Lee and Holley Gerth. Come join us.