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

Tag: #LeanIntoGod

When You’re Ready to Throw In the Towel

God knows how to God

 

Note: I’m still doling out posts from the archives while I enjoy my summer break. This post originally appeared March 24, 2016. As I write this note and prepare to load this post into the publishing queue, it’s the Monday following my latest book launch and this message is one I really needed today. I’m sure there’s someone else out there who could use this reminder. If that’s you, hang in there, friend.

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“If this is my calling, why is it so hard?”

“If this is really what God wants me to do, why is there so much opposition?”

“Is this dream really from God? Is He trying to tell me I should just give up and stop wanting it?”

I’ve been in a place of asking these questions. Sometimes, I’m still there. But when I do, I’m reminded of the following:

We’re called to trust, to persevere, and to be patient. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to trust and submit, and then He’ll make our paths straight–not the other way around.

Trust isn’t really trust if the way is clear and easy.

Perseverance isn’t really perseverance if there’s no opposition.

Patience isn’t patience if the outcomes happen when and how I want them to.

Quick and easy is wonderful in the moment but then it’s over and it does nothing to strengthen our faith, sanctify us or grow us in our daily walk. And when the results come easily, we don’t appreciate them nearly as much as when we work hard and fight for them.

If you’re facing hard, if it seems like everything in the universe is trying to keep you from even trying, let alone achieving that thing you know deep in your bones you were put here to do — consider that you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to, and the enemy is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to get you to give up, because he’s terrified of what will happen if you don’t.

So don’t.

Don’t give up.

Persevere. Keep going. One day at a time. One little hard-fought step at a time.

Be patient. Be flexible. Surrender the outcomes to God.

Trust with your WHOLE heart. Trust in His goodness and His complete love for you.

And in due time He will clear the way for you to be ALL He means for you to be. He promised.

You’re not fighting this fight alone. He’s with you every step of the way, ordering your steps. You don’t have to do it all, and you don’t have to do any of it by yourself. Your Maker has a plan for you, and HE will bring it about. ALL that’s required of you is obedience. Show up and be willing. He’ll take it from there.

Remember that God knows how to God. He’s got this.

And so do you.

Love,
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PS – Linking up this week with Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart, Missional Women’s Faith Filled Friday, and the Faith Barista.

Leaning Into God: A #OneWord365 Review

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About this time last year, I had a theme all picked out for the shiny new year of 2016. It was going to be my “Year Without Fear.” And then I found out about One Word 365, which presents the challenge to eschew New Year’s Resolutions and goal setting and instead, in their words, choose “One word you can focus on every day, all year long… One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live.”

Of course if I already had my theme figured out my word was a no-brainer: Fearless! Or maybe Brave. Or should it be Courage? Hmm. I figured I’d better pray about it before committing to a definitive word. So I did. And the word God gave me instead?

“Lean.”

This made me wrinkle up my brow in confusion at first. “Lean? What does that mean? How is that a guide word? What does that have to do with not letting fear control my actions?” I thought of the old hymn, “Leaning On the Everlasting Arms” and decided that God was telling me I needed to spend 2016 learning to be more reliant on Him.

And boy howdy, was 2016 filled with reasons to lean on God. My husband’s health battles alone gave us both ample opportunities to lean on Him for strength, for provision, for wisdom, for courage, and I’m sure for many other things. There also seemed to be a bit more than our fair share of things breaking or falling apart and we had to completely rely on God’s provision to take care of it.

But as the year wore on, it became clear that I wasn’t only going to be challenged to lean on God, but also to lean into what He was doing inside me. This included a major work of spiritual healing that involved confronting some things in my past, allowing myself to grieve and process all of the negative emotions, forgiving those who hurt me and finally rejecting all of the negative words spoken over me throughout my life. I realized that the Lord wanted me to lean into becoming the woman He always meant for me to be, but first I had to deal with identity confusion caused by trying to either live up to or prove wrong the labels that had been placed on me both by people who meant well and by people who wanted to hurt me.

2016 became the year that I was released from the bondage of trying to please people and win their approval and discovered the freedom of being true to who God made me to be. And all because of that one little, unexpected word, hallelujah and amen.

This One Word thing worked out so well that I’ll be doing it again in 2017. Based on last year’s experience, I spent quite a bit of time praying about what my new word should be, and again, it wasn’t something I would’ve chosen for myself, but after studying it and mulling it over I can see why God thinks it’s something I need to focus on. I’ll reveal my One Word for 2017 in the next post.

Did you have One Word for 2016? Leave a comment letting us know what it was and how it worked out for you.

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PS: Find more encouragement for your soul at these linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

PPS: Looking for some a-MAZ-ing tools and resources to help you be more productive, write better and/or generally do life while keeping your sanity? I’ve got the goods — sign up to receive Daydreamer Dispatches, a once- or twice-a-month newsletter from yours truly, and you’ll automatically receive a super-sekrit link to My Absolute Must-Have, Can’t Live Without Tools and Resources list! Click here to get your link!

JeanA Jesus girl through and through, Jean Marie Bauhaus is on a journey of healing and rediscovering who God purposefully created her to be and figuring out how to do life within that context. She’s the wife of Matt and mom to a crew of four-legged dependents, all of whom make their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jean counts coffee, dark chocolate and a yarn addiction among her vices. She’s the author of Restless Spirits, a family-friendly paranormal romance/mystery now available from Vinspire Publishing. You can learn more about her novels and short fiction at jeanmariebauhaus.com.

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What the Bible Tells Us about Tumultuous Times

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Regardless of how you voted, or how you feel about the election outcome, the fact remains that we’re living in tumultuous times and the future seems more uncertain than ever. But as believers in Christ, we don’t need to be afraid. Here are 15 passages of scripture to help put things into perspective as we look ahead and move forward.

Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. “Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Daniel 4:17b – to the end that the living may know that the Most High “rules the kingdom of men” and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.’

1 Chronicles 29:11-12 – Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.

Acts 4:12 – And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

1 John 4:4 – Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

John 16:33 – I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Psalm 62:5 – For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.

Colossians 3:1-2 -If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Isaiah 41:10 – fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Matthew 6:34 – Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

And that’s not all. I encourage you to read these passages, too:

Psalm 37:1-9

Romans 8:28-39

2 Timothy 3:1-9

Ephesians 6:10-18

2 Corinthians 4:8-10

This election came as a surprise to just about everybody, but it didn’t come as a surprise to God. Rest easy, and remember that God knows how to God.

Have any scriptures to add? Leave them in the comments!

In love,
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PS – Find more encouragement at the following linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

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Breaking the Mould

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I’ve never fit too well into any one mould. I’m a walking jumble of contradictions. I’m intelligent, but also spacey and forgetful. I love people and new experiences, but I’m also a homebody who craves and cherishes time to myself. I’m a Christ-follower who lives and walks in the light but who has also always been drawn to stories about the dark. I’m very much a Thinker, but I’m also both a Doer and Experiencer.

Those are just a few of the contradictions that often make me feel like I don’t really fit. And it’s not just me–all throughout my upbringing teachers, parents and authority figures did their level best to trim off my weird angles and force me into whatever mould they thought I should fit into, believing that they were doing me a favor. Eventually, I took over for them, trying my best to shed my contradictory traits and cram myself into a number of different moulds, one after the other. I battered and bruised myself in the process, but I kept trying because I so desperately wanted to fit.

And then, eventually, I figured out that I wasn’t made to fit a certain mould. And do you know what? Neither were you.

None of us were.

God didn’t make us by pouring us into pre-made moulds. He didn’t shape us with a cookie cutter. We’re not products of an assembly line, with personalities and temperaments stamped into us from a template.

We’re custom jobs, each and every one of us. We’re works of artistry and craftsmanship, lovingly designed to a unique set of specifications, created for a specific purpose, hand-crafted down to the most intricate detail.

Some people might look at my jumble of contradictions and call me a mess (maybe even a hot mess). But some people also say that about a Jackson Pollock painting, or a Picasso. God looks at me, at His handiwork, and calls me His masterpiece, perfectly made to fulfill the purpose He has had in mind for me since before any of us even existed.

He says that about you, too.

Stop trying to fit a mould, sweet sister. Just be who you were made to be. Lean into Jesus, and let Him heal all those cuts and bruises that were inflicted from trying to conform to a shape you were never meant to fill.

In love,
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PS – Find more encouragement at the following linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

 

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Still Leaning: A Mid-Year Review, and Looking Forward

Image via UnsplashOne thing I always hated about having a corporate job was performance evaluations. Not that I didn’t appreciate the feedback, or the subsequent raise, but the whole process was nerve-wracking, and also served to remind me that I was valued for what I did (and how well I did it), not for who I was.

Since I’ve been my own boss for the last seven years, regular performance evaluations are a distant unpleasant memory, nearly all but forgotten about, especially this year as God’s been working to remind me that He values me not for what I do, but for who I am, and that I don’t have to work to earn my place or strive for advancement in this life He’s given me.

So it may seem odd that, here at the half-year mark, I felt compelled to pause and look back over my progress so far this year and carefully plan my agenda for the next six months. Not so much to evaluate my performance, whether as a writer, a freelancer, a wife or just a person, but to make sure I’m on track with seeking first His will and leaning into what He’s doing in my life (in case you forgot, my One Word for this year back in January was “lean“).

The first half of the year was pretty full. It was certainly productive — I wrote most of a whole novel, revised two more of my own novels and a novella, released two of those into the wilds of the Amazon, edited a novel for a client, and wrote more freelance articles than I can keep track of.

But more importantly, I’ve had some pretty major spiritual breakthroughs as God’s been helping me release my iron grip on the steering wheel of my life, surrender more and more control to Him, and embrace the person He made me to be. I think the biggest breakthrough was the realization that I had bought into some lies about myself that the enemy has been speaking to me my entire life, and coming to a place of deep healing over my past, rejecting those lies and embracing God’s truth about me (I wrote in more detail about those breakthroughs here and here).

Another major theme of this year so far has been growing more fully into who God created me to be and understanding that I was made this way, with this personality and these specific talents, giftings AND limitations, for a purpose. Understanding that I was made on purpose to be a dreamer and a thinker and an introvert and a slow processor, and that by embracing these things about myself and honoring them I honor Him.

So what will the next six months hold?

I can’t say for certain. I expect these themes to continue. I know there are specific things that need to be done, including finishing my current novel and getting it revised in time for the August deadline, and gearing up for the launch of my debut novel in October. There are things I want to do–other writing projects I want to work on, and personal and household projects–and things I hope to do, including a steady stream of freelance work.

But one thing the last six months have taught me is that it’s best to hold my plans loosely and look to Him to direct my steps and establish my work. During my break the last two weeks, I spent a lot of time praying for direction for the next six months, but rather than a specific agenda, I was given some guidelines for going forward:

  • Stay surrendered. Keep leaning into what God’s doing. Build altars, not stages. Build benches, not cities.
  • Don’t fear the future. Remember it’s in His hands. Focus on each day as it comes.
  • Don’t focus too much on making money. Trust God to provide as you do the work He directs you into (this is a big deal. As a freelancer with an unsteady income, money has always been the driving factor in choosing what I work on, but that hasn’t really gotten me anywhere good, so I’m ready to try it God’s way).
  • Forget “should.” Figure out what works for us and do that. No comparing.
  • Do only what you can do (this is a principle I picked up from Loving My Actual Life — similar to my philosophy of “just do what you can do and leave the rest to God”).
  • Just keep writing and leave the results to Him.

It will be interesting to see what the next six months will hold. To be honest, I’d hoped back in January that this would be the year our lives finally turned a major corner for the better, and six months in, with circumstances much the same now as they were then (albeit attitudes and perspectives have changed), I’ve been a bit disheartened. But I’ve been receiving a lot of encouragement lately that things will get better, it’s just going to take more time–time in which we need to be yielding to the work He’s doing in us to prepare us for what’s next. Because I think that what’s in store for us is going to blow our minds.

Have you paused for a mid-year evaluation? Do you have the rest of the year mapped out? Any big breakthroughs or accomplishments this year so far that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

In love,
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PS – Linking up this week with Holley Gerth and Missional Women!

PPS – Want to get a friendly and casual letter from yours truly in your inbox once or twice a month? This bi-monthly(ish) letter to friends of the blog is a little more personal, a little more intimate, a little more silly — a place to share the things that don’t quite fit here. Sign up and get a special link to my must-have tools & resources page!

Daydreamer Dispatches

Don’t Fence Me In

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I’m a country girl. I mean, I didn’t grow up on a farm or anything like that, but the housing addition I grew up in was out in the middle of the country, next to a lake, surrounded by woods and, beyond that, farm pastures and ranch land. The neighborhood itself was pretty spread out, with houses that sat on lots of an acre or more, the majority of which offered at least a glimpse of the lake, and plenty of empty, wooded lots, teaming with wildlife, scattered in between. There were few fences of any kind, and no privacy fences. You had to drive at least a dozen miles to get to the nearest grocery store. Life moved a little more slowly. There was plenty of space to roam and stretch out. Plenty of room to breathe.

When we bought our house in the city back in 2008, it was so exciting, all the hustle and bustle, being right in the middle of the action. We have multiple grocery stores within walking distance, not to mention restaurants and takeout places and drug stores and gas stations. We pretty much never need to travel more than a mile from our house unless we just want to. It was nice. For a while. But it didn’t take long for it to start feeling a little too exciting, too much action, too closed in. I feel claustrophobic here, and my soul yearns to return to the country, or at least someplace with a little elbow room, where the view beyond the fence offers something other than more fences and rooftops.

I’ve been struggling with this for quite a while now, puzzling over why God hasn’t responded to my yearnings and answered my prayers by opening a door for us to move out of the city. Why He seems to want us planted right here, seemingly indefinitely. I feel so limited here. So stuck. So hemmed in.

That feeling doesn’t just come from my physical location. I’m limited in many other ways. Chronic illness. ADD. Introversion. Only having so much energy and focus to give each day before it runs out and I become useless. God’s been working in me to get me to accept my limitations, even embrace them, recognize how some of them can be flipped around to become strengths.

But this morning I realized something: limitations are not limits. God doesn’t give us limitations in order to fence us in and place boundaries on what we’re able to accomplish, but to provide us with opportunities to rely on His grace and strength in order to overcome our limitations and accomplish more than we ever even dreamed of.

For when I am weak, then I am strong. — 2 Corinthians 12:10 (emphasis added)

I’m coming to realize that God has us planted here because this is where He’s growing us. And I have faith that when we’re mature enough, he’ll transplant us somewhere else — somewhere with plenty of room to unfurl our leaves and achieve full blossom. Meanwhile, I’m learning to see beauty beyond our fence, interspersed with the chimneys and satellite dishes. And I’m learning to find joy right here in my own back yard. And I’m learning that the more I invite Him in and rest in His grace, the more I’m able to breathe, right where I am.

Evolution of a Romance Novelist

Evolution of a Romance NovelistFor about as long as I can remember, I wanted to grow up to be a novelist. I took my first real stab at it in high school, when I wrote the beginning of a novel about a character who wore Chuck Taylors and a trench coat and was ultra-eighties cool (I don’t actually remember much about that story beyond the fact that my protagonist bore a strong resemblance to David Tennant’s 10th Doctor nearly two decades before the 10th Doctor even existed. Does that make me prescient?).

I do know that I didn’t want to be just any kind of novelist. I wanted to write horror and dark fantasy. My biggest inspirations were Stephen King and Anne Rice. I got in a lot of trouble over this because I was a Good Christian Girl and Good Christian Girls weren’t even supposed to read those authors, let alone try to write like them. As I grew into my twenties, my inspiration pool grew to include Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, Batman comics, Buffy, and George R. R. Martin, and while I was still drawn to horror, I decided that my true calling was to be an urban fantasy author. I made several more attempts at writing novels, all of which contained vampires or fairies or non-human creatures of some sort. When I finally finished my first novel around 2000, it was a mash-up of The Island of Dr. Moreau and Beauty and the Beast. It lives on the bottom shelf of the bookcase in my office.

Up to that point, I’d never even considered becoming a romance author. I read the occasional romance, but even though I enjoyed it, I bought into the myth that romance was the bottom of the barrel and not something to be taken seriously — as though my darkly romantic (but not romance! Because romance novels have happy endings–and therein lies the difference) monster mashup was the height of literary hoity-toititude.

And then I went back to college to study social science and was too busy writing lengthy term papers about Max Weber and Sigmund Freud to even think about noveling. This was the height of my Buffy obsession, so I got my fiction writing fix by writing fan fiction. And even though I told myself I didn’t have time to write another novel, I wrote several novel-length fanfics during that time. And do you know what? every single one of ’em were romance novels.

I was shocked when I realized that, and even more shocked to realize I was good at writing romance, and that I enjoyed it. Even so, when the time came to get back to serious noveling, I clung to my identity as an urban fantasy author. I spent years (and years) post graduation (in my defence, a lot of life happened in that time, including meeting my husband, planning a wedding, getting used to being married and then buying a house, all of which tends to slow a writer down) writing an urban fantasy about the Fae living in an alternate Los Angeles.

And then I wrote a book called Restless Spirits, a ghost story that was part paranormal fantasy, part mystery, part chick lit, and all romance. After spending a couple of years editing that book, I decided to self-publish it, but I was in denial about having written a romance novel. I marketed it at first as a paranormal fantasy, and then as a mystery. I didn’t really start to move copies of it until I finally gave in and marketed it as a paranormal romance.

And then last year, because God is awesome and also kind of has a twisted sense of humor, He placed it in front of an editor at a Christian publishing house that mostly publishes inspirational romance and YA. And that publishing house offered me a contract to let them re-package that book and also write two sequels–all of which they plan to market as paranormal romance.

So I guess that officially makes me a romance novelist. But an inspirational romance novelist? Surely not. Not this girl who grew up sneaking Stephen King on the bus rides to Youth Group gatherings.

And no, Restless Spirits and its sequels don’t fit the inspirational romance mould. They’ll be relatively clean, but nothing about them is overtly Christian. So God’s not steering me toward actually writing Christian romance.

Except…

A couple of years ago I wrote my one and only non-fantasy contemporary romance for National Novel Writing Month. I wrote it, and then I hid it away on an unused hard drive, because that’s not what I write, and also the story lacked focus and had problems I didn’t want to spend the energy to fix. I had actually forgotten all about writing that one.

Recently, I remembered it — I’m not sure what it was that served to remind me — and it’s been on my mind pretty relentlessly ever since. And I’ve thought of some tweaks I could make that would fix the focus issues, but would also push this book dangerously close into inspirational romance territory. And do you know what? I think it would be good. And I’m kind of excited about digging it up and starting revisions on it once this sequel I’m currently writing is done.

Does this mean I am an inspirational romance author? The Lord sure does seem to be nudging me in that direction. Other ideas for other novels that fit that mould are also starting to take hold. And I’m not sure how I feel about that, or how to reconcile this with the horror and fantasy stories that are still vying for a place at the starting line in my imagination. How do I reconcile this with the brand I’ve already established as a paranormal romance and dark fantasy author? Will I have to get a pseudonym?

I do know one thing — my one word for this year is “lean,” as in, lean into God, and lean into what He’s doing in my life. Already this has taken me and my soul in surprising directions, and March isn’t even over yet. If He makes it clear (as He appears to be doing) that He wants me to start writing inspirational romance, then inspirational romance I will write, and I will trust Him with the outcomes, just as I’ve been trusting him to rewrite my identity and uncover the woman He always intended me to be. That also means letting him make me into the kind of writer He made me to be.

It’s a little scary, this yielding and letting myself be remade, and not all aspects of the remaking have been pleasant to walk through. But so far they have been utterly worth it. I can trust that this will be, too.

How has God surprised you this year?

Love,
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Leaning Into God: A Year Without Fear

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Happy 2016, Daydream Believers!

Despite some setbacks right out of the gate, I’m leaning into the new year with a sense of hopeful expectation. I have some big things on my plate this year, including the (re-)release of one book and the writing of another one, among other things. Some of those other things are going to stretch me way beyond my comfort zone, which is partly why I’m dubbing this year my Year Without Fear.

But that’s only part of the reason. The rest of the story is that 2015 was a big year for introspection and spiritual growth. Looking back over my life to see how far God’s brought me, I realized how so much of my life has been ruled by fear. Not just things like social anxiety and shyness, although that’s been part of it, but also things like imposter syndrome, fear of rejection, and fear that I don’t measure up. I don’t know how many opportunities I’ve let pass me by simply because I was afraid I wouldn’t be up to the task and people would regret taking a chance on me.

So as I lean into this year, my Year Without Fear, I’m determined to be brave, to lean on God and let Him MAKE me brave, to trust Him and walk in obedience and not allow fear to enter into any of my decisions.

This ties into my theme word for this year. I’ve signed up to OneWord365, which encourages forgoing resolutions and goal-setting and simply choosing one word to focus and guide you throughout the year. This seems to fit what God’s been doing in me to move me away from my planning and goal-setting addiction and get me to be more surrendered and flexible. I didn’t have a word last year, but looking back, “Surrender” was definitely my theme for 2015. When trying to choose a word to sum up my Year Without Fear theme, the word “trust” seemed the obvious choice, but after praying about it, the word that came to me was “lean.”

As in…

Lean on Jesus.

Lean on the Everlasting Arms.

Lean into what God’s doing in my life.

Lean away from fear.

Lean away from worldly solutions.

I could keep going, but you get the idea. Although I do have a list of what I’m calling “New Year’s Intentions” rather than resolutions, my one real goal for this year is simply to fearlessly lean into God and trust where He’s taking me.

What about you, dear reader? Will you choose to be brave with me this year?

Do you have a guiding word for this year? Have you set any goals or made any resolutions? Share what they are in the comments!

In love,
Jean

 
Linking up with Holley Gerth’s Coffee for Your Heart and Missional Women’s Faith Filled Friday.