Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Month: June 2015

You Have Nothing to Prove

One truth that God’s been working to communicate to me lately is that I have nothing to prove.

I first had this epiphany a little over a month ago, and it was one of the main reasons I wanted to shift the focus of my blog. Because this one truth has been so freeing and healing to me, and I know there are people, women especially, who need to hear it.

It’s taken me so long to finally share it because it just struck me on such a deep and personal level, and I needed to make sure I really get it. I’m still working on internalizing it. It’s become a daily thing that I remind myself: “Relax, Jeanie. You don’t have to prove anything to anybody.”

Growing up, I had a lot of negative words spoken over me, by teachers, bullies, even my own father. I had undiagnosed ADD, inattentive type, which means that I’m forgetful and prone to zoning out and getting stuck inside my own head. I guess to elementary and junior high teachers in the 1980s who had never even heard of ADHD, or at least the non-hyper kind, or of it occurring in girls, I just seemed lazy and not very bright.

My test scores disproved the “not bright” hypothesis, though, so then they doubled down on the laziness theory. I was labeled an underachiever. I got accused of lying a lot, and making excuses for not doing my work, when the truth was that I really did forget to take my books home, or forgot to bring my homework to school, or remembered my books but forgot the assignment. And like I said, I was bullied a lot. It’s not like I had friends who I could call up and ask what our homework was supposed to be.

The words my dad had for me were along the same lines, though harsher. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice to say that I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to prove that I’m not the things people said I was. Even my previous blog was mainly there to show everyone how industrious and hard-working I am, how very much of an achiever I try to be.

My whole life I’ve been striving to silence the voices of people who haven’t even been part of my life for a very long time.

Until God showed me that I can stop striving. I don’t have to prove myself–to former teachers, former classmates, the ghost of my dad, my peers, my family or anyone else.

I don’t have to let their words have a hold over me anymore.

I don’t have to justify my successes, or make excuses for my failures.

I don’t have to demonstrate that I deserve good things.

I don’t have to earn my right to exist.

Best of all, I don’t ever have to strive to prove my worth to God, because that’s just not possible. Because my worth comes from Him.

“The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV [emphasis mine]

We have a Heavenly Father who loves each of us just as we are, and His grace meets me where we are. In Christ, we can stop striving, and relax.

I hope this realization gives you the peace it gave me.

With love,

Turning the Train Around

Original image by  Mislav Marohnić via Flickr Commons. Modified by me.

Original image by Mislav Marohnić via Flickr Commons. Modified by me.

I did not want to get out of bed this morning.

I had woken up around 4:30, and by now it was past 6 AM and for one thing, I was still clinging to a sliver of hope that I might be able to get a little more sleep.

My mind kept racing as I lay there, trying to get back to sleep. Some of the thoughts were serious, some frivolous. My brain kept bouncing around between meditating on scripture, thinking about my stuck-in-the-outline-stage novel, and composing Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan fiction (it’s been at least 10 years since the last time I actually wrote fan fiction, but my brain refuses to give up the habit). Finally, after my husband got up to take care of the dog and eat his breakfast, I decided to quiet my mind by saying my morning prayers.

But when I finished, instead of feeling ready to get up and start the day, as I contemplated doing so, mentally going over today’s To Do list, a deep tiredness began to creep over me. I don’t mean sleepiness–that might have actually been useful in the moment–but a sense of weariness and overwhelm, and suddenly instead of fanfic my mind was seized with a barrage of negative thoughts.

It’s getting to be that time of month, when my hormones flare up and make it exceedingly difficult to maintain a sense of objectivity about my life. Suddenly all I could focus on were all the ways my life is less than perfect, all my flaws and failings, all the things I want to accomplish but can’t because there’s just not enough time. I was also thinking about one particular chore on my To Do list, a phone call I needed to make that was making me feel intimidated and filling me with worry.

The old me would have not just allowed that train of thought to continue, but would have packed her emotional bags and climbed on board to ride it all the way to depression-town, where I would have spent the next several days feeling miserable and making my husband miserable, to boot.

But now I know better. Now I know what to do.

The first thing I did, still lying in bed, was to offer up an honest prayer to God, telling him how I was feeling and all of the things that were weighing on me. I acknowledged that He’s bigger than my problems and also stronger than PMS hormones, and asked Him to give me the strength I needed to get out of bed and start my day.

The next thing, as I stood in the kitchen waiting for my coffee to brew, was to give thanks for all the good stuff in my life (which is actually a pretty long list), and to sing hymns of praise.

After breakfast, I went for a long walk (exercise is also an effective way to get some happy, mood-altering endorphins flowing, not to mention that Vitamin D seems to do wonders for my mood and energy levels) and used that time to intercede for other people.

By the time I got back home I had prayed for several people who I know are facing some monumental challenges right now, and I had completely forgotten about feeling sorry for myself in the process. I found myself able to rejoice in a new day and the opportunities it holds, and to tackle that phone call with a sense of peace instead of dread.

Of course, PMS isn’t usually a one-day event, so I need people to pray for! So tell me how I can pray for you this week (you can e-mail me if you don’t want to leave a public comment)?

Relevant to the “old me” vs. the “new me” and my new-found ability to stop the negative thought train in its tracks, I encourage you to check out today’s excellent devotional at Proverbs 31 Ministries — especially if you feel hurt or haunted by the past.

I have a question before I sign off. On my old blog, I had been doing a weekly update at the start of each week going over my bullet journal and my goals for the week. I stopped a couple of months ago when I became too overwhelmed with freelancing projects. Is this something you’d like to see me start again? If so, leave a comment and let me know!



You Count.

Luke 12:7It’s so easy to be made to feel like you don’t count for anything in the world. I’ve felt this way myself many times, under various circumstances. When I was single sans boyfriend, I often felt like the world revolved around couples and my single-ness disqualified me from happiness. When I was struggling with obesity, I often felt like thin people were the only ones who really counted in our society–or at least in our shopping malls.

Of course, I was wrong on both counts, and I knew it then as well as I know it now, but that didn’t stop me from feeling that way from time to time.

It still doesn’t. Now that I’m married and struggling with infertility, it often seems like most of the blogs, websites and magazines I read or shows I watch for women my age are aimed almost entirely at moms. Mostly I’m cool with that–it’s not like advice on how to be more organized or how to save more money with a large family can’t be modified to apply to a household of two, after all.

But sometimes it gets to me, and I think, “What about me? What about all the other women out there who have struggled with this, who are childless, or who are child-free by choice? Don’t we count?” I’ve even refrained from commenting sometimes because I can just imagine responses like, “Oh, your chihuahua keeps waking you up at 5 AM? Get back to me after you’ve had a baby and you know what REAL sleep deprivation feels like” or, “You have trouble keeping your house clean and organized? But you can’t be that busy or have that much clutter–you don’t even have kids!”

I often hesitate to call myself a mother. I’ve had two pregnancies, but no births. Two babies that I’ve never even gotten to hold or touch or gaze lovingly upon, let alone nurse at 2 AM or sit up with all night enduring colic or bandage boo-boos or have to convince to eat their vegetables. REAL moms do all those things, right? Just getting pregnant does not make one a mother, right? You don’t get a trophy just for showing up at the starting line. I haven’t earned that badge.

So it was with tears in my eyes the other day that I read Holly Gerth’s post that boldly called ALL women mothers:

“I love how even women without children {I was one until I adopted my 21 year-old daughter last year} somehow feel the need to nurture, to grow, to pour themselves into the next generation like so much water that just never stops. Mothers of the heart if not the body.

It was a muchly needed reminder that yes, I do count.

And do you know what? So do you.

Whether you’re single or dating or married, young or old or in-between, child-laden or childless or child-free, fat or thin, in shape or out of shape, running marathons or hanging around the house in yoga pants without ever actually doing any yoga, writing bestsellers or still trying to find an agent or just trying to finish a book already, successful or still struggling, wherever you are in life, whatever you are, whoever you are . . . you count.

You count so much that God Himself keeps count of each and every hair on your head!.

You count so much to Him that He gave up His own son so He could have you.

Remember that the next time someone or something makes you feel like you don’t count or your experiences are less than.


Here I Am

So here is my new blog home, complete with a new title and a new focus (although I’m still pulling the sidebar and pages together). It’s pretty basic, but getting back to basics is kind of a thing with me right now, so that works out. I’m hoping to move the rest of the content of to soon (meanwhile, the blog is archived here), and put it in a configuration that puts the focus more on my books, but that might be a while yet as my freelance workload starts to pick back up.

I had a nice break, though it was longer than I’d planned. Before Memorial Day Weekend I was scrambling to meet deadlines so I could take a long weekend, but then I ended up getting the entire week off after the holiday. It was a wet vacation spent mainly indoors, where I used my time off to pray, plan and refocus my priorities.

This new blog is partly the result of that. God has been doing a major work in me lately and I wanted to create a space where I can talk about that, and although I’ve alluded to it here and there on the old blog, my “author blog” just didn’t seem like the appropriate place. For one thing, it was all about me — and that’s a big part of what God’s been working on: getting my eyes off of myself and my own ambitions and onto Him and His calling for me.

I’m still not sure exactly what that calling is, but I think this blog might turn out to be part of it. At any rate, I’m trying to keep myself flexible and open to where He wants to lead me.

I was tempted to add on an apology here for anyone who might be offended by all this God talk, and a reassurance that I’ll still post about other things and this won’t primarily be a faith-centered blog. But I’m going to resist the urge. You see, that’s another part of what God’s been dealing with me about. The Internet circles in which I’ve been traveling are primarily filled with agnostics and atheists, many of whom are writers I admire, and I’ve been too fixated on their good opinion and worried about offending them or driving them away and not nearly concerned enough with pleasing God in ALL areas of my life — including blogging — and putting Christ at the center of everything I do.

The truth is I don’t know where this blog is going with any real certainty. I only know that I have a story to share about the transformation God has done and is doing in me, and some people might be helped by that story. Some people might find healing in it. If you’re not one of those people, that’s okay. I’ve already steeled myself to lose some followers, but this isn’t about followers or numbers. It’s about ministering to weary and hurting hearts and giving glory to the One who healed my heart.

Not that I won’t still post updates about what I’ve been up to and how my writing projects are going, or talk about more frivolous stuff like crafting and iZombie and, oh yeah, how I’m trying to learn to play the guitar. Again. But you can expect things to be filtered through a God-shaped lens and lots of prayer and reflection.