Thursday, December 6, 2018

Cages.

 "Lord of the Rings: Two Towers" has several amazing scenes. This one is just about my favorite...
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Aragon: "What do you fear my lady?"

Eowyn: "A cage. To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them. And all chance of valour has gone beyond recall or desire."

Aragon: "You're a daughter of of kings, a shieldmaden of Rohan. I do not think that would be your fate."
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Whoa.

What is it about this moment that strikes my innermost being like no other?

Because my deepest fear is not becoming who I was created to be. 

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It's been a journey for sure.
For years- try a decade- I took 1 Peter 3 out of context: I became a quiet, submissive, don't-laugh-too-loud-'cause-that'll-annoy-a-man, don't-be-taller-than-a-man-because-that's-emasculating-, don't-answer-like-you-know-the-answer-because-a-man-doesn't-want-a-woman-who-knows-more-than-him KIND OF WOMAN.

No, really, ask my bestie: I became that woman.

Then through the years, a few things happened. A.) It became exhausting not being who I truly was. B.) I came across a Matt Chandler sermon that God used profoundly and C.) God used a normal-every-day phone call with my bestie to change my world. So here we go with the explanations:
         
*A.) Needs no explanation. I was exhausted of faking it all the time.

*B.) Matt Chandler calls out Single women in one of his sermons. He tells [us] that it's better to be single than to dumb ourselves down and marry a stupid man. Because what happens is this: We dumb ourselves down... A (dumb) guy comes along that will finally ask us out...We agree on everything (because that's what we do when we feel we don't deserve to speak up)... and then we wake up 2 years into marriage and think, "My gosh: this is miserable. And I'm stuck with a stupid man."

Golly. That scared me. I DO NOT WANT TO BE HER! (Also note: I know too many "hers".)

And that phrase, "dumb [ourselves] down" struck my innermost being: This was exactly what I had been doing. I had been pretending I didn't know God, His word or my calling as much as I knew I did. Let me tell ya ya'll- I stopped the video, repented & prayed, and replayed those few minutes of the sermon.
         
 *C.) Fast-forwarding the topic during the phone call... My bestie asked me if I had come to truly believe that having confidence is pride and insecurity equals humility. Say what?! But as I truly pondered over that I had to confess (eventually) to myself and out loud that I believed that it was true. That to believe that if I did anything really well or above average or even better than most others, than I believed that was not okay. That it was sin. And that the less I thought of myself... the more I thought of myself not doing things well... then, well, that was the humility that God approved of- and wanted of us.

W R O N G.
So. Freaking.Wrong.

But there's also a D.)

I began to believe that Jesus love(s) women. I began to view Scripture in its historical context more. I began to believe that women can be in leadership.

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It would take way too long for me to go into all the little nuggets of truth from Scripture and conversations and learning and experience for me to give examples of how each of the above shifted me into more of a Woman of Confidence.

But I will just share this.
In Genesis 2, when God speaks of Eve being Adam's helpmate, that word is "Ezer", meaning, help. *shocker* But- here's what's powerful. Ezer is used just 21x's in the Old Testament. 3x's, referring to Eve, but the other 19x's? EACH ONE IS GOD REFERRING TO HIMSELF AS OUR EZER! He is our "ezer and our shield", our "ezer and our sword", "Where does my ezer come from? my ezer comes from the Lord."

I do not believe that this is saying that women are better than men. But rest assured, it most definitely does not mean that we as women are below men.

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So studies like the above changed my life. I was about 33 years old when I began my journey into confidence. I am more free than I have been in my entire life. I am more in love with Jesus than I have been in my entire life.

I am more me than I have ever been in my entire life.

And you know what?
The cage only surrounds me when I fly into it.

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P.S. Proverbs 31: "An excellent wife..." That word "excellent" is from the Hebrew word, "chayil", meaning strength or valor. It is the same word that the angel of the Lord calls Gideon in Judges 6:12, "Mighty man of Valor".

So go ahead and reread Proverbs 31 now knowing the Hebrew word for "excellent". Don't you look at her differently?

<3

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

My Story: Which is really God's Story.

The pastor at my church challenged us to share "our stories" this week on social media, and so it had me thinking: I don't think I've ever shared my story (God + me) on this platform. So in 1000 words or less: here I go.


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Always Believed. Walked Away. Prodigal Daughter.
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If I had to define my story in even less words, I would say, "Decisions and Freedom". Because that's what He gives us- what He offers us, is decisions and freedom. 

I "prayed the prayer" when I was three, so basically, I always knew God existed and talked with Him like He was in the room. ('cause He was. er, and is.) But it wasn't until I was 14 and went to a [new to me] camp where I saw teens and college students raising their hands during worship and doing a quiet time (I thought only old people did that?!).... They were beautiful and cool and showed me that a relationship with Jesus was actually possible, even as a teenager.

So from there came a bunch of little decisions that altered my life, little by little. I chose to do a 4-year Bible school. From there I toured with a Christian Ministry for 3 months. Was offered a job by them and moved to SoCal. Discovered in my time there that worship leading was more of my heart, so of course I knew to say yes when offered a position as a vocalist in a worship band back East. Moved back East. Learned [the very hard way] that I am NOT a gifted administrator. 

Those years began to just become the grind of life. By 2011 I had been living outside Boston for a year and well, not really actively pursuing God: I just kept keepin' on. No real established quiet time. No studying. No real interest in investing in, well, anything, except my own fulfillment. My single on Itunes bombed. And then, a decision happened which affected me and I grew bitter and more bitter. (Anger + Bitterness = a lethal combination.) The chance to work seven days a week for extra cash came up: offer accepted. New roommates. More money. No church. No small group. Closed ears to accountability and oh, a non-loving-Jesus guy in my life. It was the exact ingredients to create the Perfect Storm, aka, the walk-away daughter.

And so I did. And what followed were a couple of months of a tortured soul who tried to believe she was truly happy with earning a bit of extra money, a man's attention and living for no one else but herself.

And then one night I sat straight up in bed as I heard the Father's [almost audible] voice say, "It's time Beloved." And I knew what He meant: I either needed to turn and run back to Him or He had to let me go to the world. And in that moment, there was only one decision I could make: I had to turn back to God. (Denying His existence terrified me- but to live a double life was against a longstanding life-principle of mine.) So right then and there, around midnight in August of  2011, I said, "I'm done Lord. I'm done. I'm Yours."

What I didn't realize though was that for those first few months after I had turned back to God: I was walking around on tip-toes. One afternoon at a Starbucks (yay, coffee!) my mentor spoke one of the most life-changing words that anyone had ever spoken to me. "Shauna: you're living and thinking as if God is holding His gavel and just waiting to bang it to declare justice and condemnation on you. Shauna: HE WILL NEVER DO THAT. He already did that - on His Son. There's no fear...." And with the tears shed that day, flowed a freedom and grace that I had never experienced before...

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There's so much more to my story. More decisions- and even MORE freedom. But I will leave you with two thoughts:

*NO ONE EVER FALLS INTO SIN: You are only ever taking steps toward Christ- or away from Him. You are only ever growing, or you are dying. You don't wake up one morning hating your significant other or hating your job or hating your life. You made a bunch of decisions, over time, and whether physical and/or emotional, and instead of correcting them along the way, you buried them or started finding life and justice in them... But it was never overnight.

*IT IS FOR FREEDOM THAT CHRIST HAS SET YOU FREE: "So do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1) Believe it or not God does not have a list of "don'ts" for you. Being angry, lustful, envious, an addict and selfish is actually more exhausting and more deadly than being free in Christ.

Oh, and often times, the list of "do not's" that you give yourself is more exhausting and more heavy than the list of "do's" that He'll give you. 

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, 
but in order that the world might be saved 
through Him. (John 3:17)

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My Six-word story was a challenge from my teachers at 10,000 Fathers Worship school, which comes from the story of a writer winning a challenge at having the most powerful story- but in 6 words. (Ernest Hemingway is often attributed to it, but many say it was not.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Singleness is NOT a season, people.

I mean, you know: I get it.

The majority of humans will marry.I get it, I really, really do. But, not all will marry.

In Scripture we are never told Singleness is a season or stage. (Actually, we're told it's a gift, but, I digress.)

So why do we walk around saying and sharing that? To make people feel better? Because it may flatter in the moment, but it does not build someone up in love and encouragement.

And I know that from experience.

And here's the reason why saying "Singleness is just for a season" bothers me to the core: What you're not saying is, "You were made for more. You are not complete - yet."

Dear reader: This is so incredibly a.) untrue and b) unbiblical that I can not be in a conversation, overhear this and stay silent anymore.

And here's how this is untrue and unbiblical: EVERY HUMAN IS MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD: the Imago Dei. He may be triune (Father, Spirit, Son) but HE IS ONE.

Dear friend, you don't need marriage or a partner to complete you: and neither do I.

If you ARE married then know this: that itself is a gift! But it in no way completes you. Only the Lord can do that.

The term "soul mates" comes from Greek mythology (aka, not real life) where in there was one soul which was split in two as a consequence and had to spend the rest of their days searching for each other to be whole.

That is not you, me, or any other human on this planet.

Ecclesiastes (3:11) tells us that God set eternity into the heart of man: He is the one who completes us.

So do you see how that alone should stop us from using the term "season" or "stage" when it comes to singleness vs. marriage? In seasons and stages we're always planning ahead. Trying to predict the future. Preparing for it. Very, VERY rarely are we ever in it fully and presently. This is not healthy.

And let me give a personal example of that: I grew up during the "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" years. (Which as a side note: I don't think Joshua Harris needed to apologize for writing those books. But again, I digress.) I've read all the other books that came out in the 90's and 2000's... always trying to "prepare" for marriage.(I went to a 4-year Bible school: Believe me- there was a lot of teaching on marriage. ha!) And as I live now in being 35 and single, I can honestly say: that to read and go to those seminars and conferences (on marriage, etc): it hurts my heart more than it helps it. Because why? Because God may not have marriage for me and that is beautiful too. Do I have desires that I pray for God to fulfill, like marriage? Yes, I do actually.

But do I think He has to give it to me?
No.

Do I think marriage will complete me?
Probably more than I should, but weren't you all naive when entering marriage? Besides, I've seen and encountered more marriages that I wouldn't want mine to look like than what I would want. So no, I don't think marriage will complete me.

And what if we follow that mind set--what do we say to widows and widowers? "Oh, don't worry, this is just a season." Absolutely not.

So please, please don't say it to us.
Only God knows the plans He has for someone.


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I was interviewed for a podcast by Hey Girl, and the 2nd half of the interview is on the topic of Singleness. (The first half being on Bullying.)  If you'd like to hear it, head on over to the Hey Girl podcast or you can listen to the interview on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzMdAY2dXQA&t=1s

Saturday, September 16, 2017

35 Blessings.

Today I've officially lived 35 years. (Technically longer because of that whole 9-months-in-the-womb-thing.) 

Whoa.

Anyways, here we go, my annual number-of-blessings-according-to-how-old-I-am. [In no particular order.]
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35. God's whispers. This year God has whispered so much to me- and/or- I've finally been listening. Some of my more recent blog posts will tell you more of those conversations.

34. Subaru Imprezas. I leased my 4th Subaru this past Spring- MY GOSH I LOVE THESE CARS. *Also note: paddle shifters

33. Chiropractors. My life is forever changed. Last year I was not on antibiotics ONCE since working with kids. Bloating went down. Health was the best ever in 34 years. 34 YEARS. 

32. 10,000 Fathers. This is the worship school that I'm a part of. If you know me via social media or in person, I probably seem to never shut up about "them". I don't idolize the school. (I think.) However, my being supports them 1000% because they teach discipleship, hospitality and the Bible in the most genuine, Biblical way I've ever encountered. 

31. Podcasts. I still barely listen to any, but my top few are: Hey Girl (the Christian one), Passion City and Mike Rowe. (Yes, he's a celebrity crush of mine. ;)

30. The Gym. Gosh, I just started working out (in a gym) for the first time since I left Boston in June... I'VE MISSED IT OH SO MUCH.

29. Hallmark Movies. Yes, I'm a hopeless romantic and yes they have a way of wayyy over-simplifying love and attraction and commitment. However, some of them have helped encourage me to keep my standards high and my perseverance in standing up for myself. (Also note: They help shut my brain off when I need to.;)

28. Georgia. I think God created me to live in the South. 

27. Books: Two books I read this year that God used to help transform my life: *The Life You've Always Wanted" by John Ortberg & "Keep Your Love On" by Danny Silk. And by life transforming I mean: #LIFETRANSFORMING

26. CoWorkers: Three months ago I left a set of workers that I love and had to hold in the floodgates while saying goodbye to them and then had to say hello to a new set. And they welcomed me with open arms. <3

25. This laptop. So you don't know it because you're not sitting next to me, however: This laptop has a touch screen. IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS IN LIFE YA'LL.

24. My former dentist. So in moving a 1000 miles away obviously, I had to leave my former dentist (and his brother who also helped me out). It took about 3 years and I still have some work left to be done-- but I am so much healthier due to having healthy & happy teeth. Don't take it for granted guys. I had mild fevers and chronic headaches due to teeth issues. DENTAL HEALTH IS SERIOUS.

23. Friends who have taken me in. My friend Katie and her husband took me in for the summer, and then my coach/friend Verna and her husband have taken me in as I try to get some things together because of the move and pay cut. Both couples are incredibly hospitable and loved on me. #ForeverGrateful

22. Mary Kay. No, I don't sell it. I do, however, use their Clear Proof line... and I'm SO THANKFUL. Also- their mask? AMAAAAZING.

21.the Enneagram. LISTEN INTERNET: THIS IS A PROFOUND PERSONALITY TEST. and No, I am NOT joking. And especially if you're a believer/Christian... knowing yourself, strengths, weakness, healthiness & vices are vitally important- along with knowing how to discern others so you can relate and work with others with respect and wisdom. <3 [Also note: I'm a 6. LOYALTY. My vice is Fear and my Strength is Courage and if you're in my life I will fight for you and defend you- physically if need be. Also, I hate it when people don't follow through with what they say.]

20. When the sun shines through the trees. These moments that I catch - God whispers affirmation, beauty and reminders to me. 

19. Karaoke. Gosh, so. much. fun. <3 #girlsnights

18. Best Friends. Life-changing conversations. Accountability. Investments. Family. Dog sitting. Bethany: I love, love, love and miss you. <3

17. Church Family. Chapel of the Cross: It was an amazing 8 years. You support me in prayer, finances and encouragement. You supported me through all my awkwardness in growing as a worship leader. I could not have asked for a more amazing church family to walk with. 

16. Solitude. When was the last time you spent even just 5 minutes alone- quiet? DO IT.

15. Courage. "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear."~Ambrose Redmoon ---------------------------------------I've written a bit about my journey this past 12 months, or, honestly, my life... so fee free to check out my previous posts. However, I heard this quote from Matt Chandler and it is JUST SO TRUE. So many of you have asked me "What's Changed?" or "How are you able to move your entire life?" - Because of the words in this quote: At some point you have to realize there's something more important than whatever is trying to hold you back. 

14. Blankets. But really guys. Curling up with a blanket (and good book or movie and/or coffee is just. so. amazing.) *Especially in the air condition ;) 

13. Voxer. Listen, if you do NOT HAVE THIS APP ON YOUR PHONE: GET IT. It's like a walkie-talkie and you can bypass the whole calling and leaving a message. You can leave a message longer than a voice mail and you can listen and reply whenever you want. #lifehack

12. Chick-Fil-A. Listen, don't judge. You know aalllll about it. #chickfilasauceiseverything

11. Dancing. And by dancing, I mean, when doing the dishes or making dinner. (I'm sure I would love dancing on a night out, buuuuut, that never happens. ;)

10. Instagram: Thank you Instagram for making me feel (and look) like I could be a professional photographer. (Okay, okay, or for at least making my mom think I'm a professional photographer. ;)

9. Katz Donuts. Dairy Free. Gluten Free. AND TASTE JUST LIKE BUTTERMILK DONUTS. Gosh, many weekends' breakfast made amazing. 

8. Aldi: So thankful that this grocery store is everywhere down here. 

7. Yum-Earth Organic Lollipops. OH MY GOSH AMAZING. <3 

6. Seltzer. This year I gave up soda as a New Year's Resolution. Now, in reality, I really only drank soda's with an evening meal on the weekends. Anyways, a study on Diet Soda's (I don't like the taste of Coke or super sweet sodas) and their ingredients are terrifying.

5. Amazing Landlords. My former landlords back in Massachusetts were amazing. Lev would shovel and/or plow my spot and get my car out with no complaining.... fixed things in our apartment super quickly. Don't take amazing landlords for granted.

4. 5 am wake up times.  Okay, so this one is MORE that I miss this wake up time. Because of my new starting time and work hours (7-3 instead of 9-3) I now wake up at 4:15ish. *ROUGH* 

3. Taking out gluten. My former chiropractor encouraged me to do so upon learning about some issues of mine- despite testing negative for Celiac's. As hard as it's been- and extremely inconvenient, I feel OH so much better.

2. Non-Light Gel Nail Polish. Super superficial, and I only have two colors, but I love love LOVE them, because I can go about a week and it makes me feel feminine without the cost- or putting a lot of effort into it. <3

1. Coffee. Now really: Are you surprised by this?

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Hope you've enjoyed reading & perhaps even read of some things that you yourself could and should be thankful for. 

One of the biggest lessons I learned this year: Life-changing moments aren't always in the lightning strikes or revivals... They come in seeing God in the little moments, things and people He puts in your paths. Don't underestimate the power of a conversation over coffee, an author's words or cheesy movie. If you do- you might be limiting God.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Limiting God

I used to believe that God only really worked a certain way. That God didn't speak through prophetic word, heal through people or raise people from the dead. I believed that God is an unchanging God. That He worked one way in the past, and now only works in one way.

Then God whispered.
He stirred.
He brought books and people into my life to challenge that thought.

*Books like, "The Heavenly Man"- the story of Brother Yun.
*Friends who train underground pastors in China who say over a cup of coffee "Shauna, you know God still raises people from the dead, right?"
*Friends who while praying for others have visions or pictures when praying over someone.

So slowly, in the course of a few years, God has stirred and moved and showed Himself to me [and of course others] in a way I never thought possible.

And one of those moments was recently.

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When I sensed God stirring and moving me to Atlanta, He reminded me often in those days (and to quote Matt Chandler), "God gives His command, you obey in faith, and then God will show Himself."

So I did.

I knew I was to tell my roommate God was moving me to Atlanta. Now, I was terrified.... I had never been the roommate who moved first, and I have a strong dislike of disappointing people when I can do the opposite. But I couldn't not tell her: I knew with every fiber of my being I would be disobeying God if I didn't tell her.

So I did.
(It went amazingly, by the way.)

Then I went back into my bedroom, picked up my coffee and continued watching the movie I was watching... when my phone went off. A text from my friend Christy Lee that I hadn't talked with in a few months. "Hey lady... had a vision of you living in Atlanta... Can't wait to hear that testimony!"

She had no idea that God was stirring a move,  never mind my having taken my first step of obedience in this journey.

And then I heard His whisper again... "Well done, Beloved. Here's a gift for your step of obedience."

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Today I want to challenge you and encourage you: Are you limiting God in how He works, not just in the world, but in your life? Can you name a time or situation in the last year that in a moment, you saw God in that situation? If not, you may be limiting how He's working in and around you.

Steps of faith and obedience are scary, and not for the faint of heart. But God is GOOD, and He is GRACIOUS and He is FOR you.

My coach told me one night a life-breathing truth: "God never prepares His people by instilling fear. He gives courage."

Repent of your unbelief, ask God for courage and the eyes to see Him.

That is a prayer He will not ignore.

Try Him.

<3


Saturday, August 5, 2017

God's Whispers.

At some point I'll share the [honestly, fascinating] journey that God has led me on the last few months, but I can't do that yet because I haven't even had a chance to tell one of the main people of that story... well, the story.But until then, I'll share lessons and stories as they come. This one is... recent. Like D A Y S recent.

So God kept whispering to me and guiding me and nudging me throughout my most recent journey, including the job I've now had for 3 days. <3 [A categorical (1:1) para professional in a special ed preK classroom.] I knew from the first email re: an interview that this was where I was supposed to be. THE FIRST EMAIL.

So the couple of weeks come and go... God heard my (and yours!) cries and expedited paperwork and credits and honestly, just EVERYTHING for me to start on the first day as every one else. I WAS SO EXCITED.

Then, all the HR paperwork (W4s, insurance) was taking forever to find online -- nevermind, to fill out and send in.

Then I asked the coordinator, "So... when is my first paycheck? It's before the 30 day deadline, right?"

Coordinator: "Oh ma'am.... I honestly don't know."

CUE TEARS.
CUE HEARING GOD WHISPER, "I've got this Shauna, I've got this."

I walk back to the classroom saying to myself, "God's got this Shauna, He's got this. He's led you this far."

The next few hours as friends text or call, I say, "Hey, will you pray... I don't know know when I'm getting paid..."

Finally, in texting a friend and hitting "SEND", I can't do it anymore, as the tears are running down my face... I quickly text her right back, "I'm sorry. Forgive me. God keeps whispering to me that He's got this."

Fast forward to the next day, I check the mail when I get home.
There's mail for me.
That mail?
A check.
And notes of encouragement from so many of my camp family and friends.
They had taken an offering for me.
And I just happened to have received the check that day.
The day after God whispered to me.

See, the number one question I've received (actually, that's a lie, it's the 2nd most asked question) re: my journey South has been, "How did you know?" My response is almost always the same: it's a "gut thing"- and hearing His whispers. [Note: See my IG post re: God using our entire beings to speak to us, including our "guts".]

See, I think too often we view God and His working as all lightning bolts and big shouts, when honestly, I don't think He normally speaks that way. Has there been some of those moments on this journey or in my life in general? Absolutely. But have I heard His whispers in the sunset, journaling, emails, prayer time, car rides, conversations, music, silence and tears? Absolutely.

Believe me, I am no expert in hearing the voice and whisper of God.  I can probably give to you the equal amount of stories in which I ignored or couldn't hear or see Him. However, two observations that I have noticed through the years and even in this journey is: 1.)We surround ourselves with noise to the point that silence is deafening and 2.) We have lost our reverent awe and fear of God.

I'll leave you with a list of questions, a checklist of sorts.

*Do you always have the radio/music on in the car?
*Is the tv/ipad always on?
*When was the last time you just sat on the chair/couch/bed with no technology, book or distraction?

*When was the last time you read Scripture for more than 10 minutes per day?
*When was the last time you cried out to God? Or in front of Him?
*When was the last time you got on your knees or the floor to Him? Either out of despair or awe? (Both approaches show humility.)

I would love to have expanded from those questions, but this is it for now. And before you even think of it: don't contact me and flood me with "my kids are everywhere! My kids are loud!": I am a firm believer of seasons of life. But do I think these questions do a tremendous job of probing where some pride may need to be broken or let go of. In fact, I would push you further: if any of these questions caused a flare up in you, either of wanting to push back or say, "nah", I would challenge you to ask God to search your heart and reveal it to you. It could be you are right- and I believe you could be.

Or it could be that your life is too loud to hear God's Whispers.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Lesson on Honoring God.

God's been challenging me on something the past...mmm year?

 And the issue is this: Am I being who God has called me to be? Or, am I trying to be what others (or I think others) want me to be?

And to be genuinely honest in this, my most recent/common area of this is being single. And the backstory to this is, well: I've had several men tell me (Christian and non-Christian) phrases like, "I would've never date you... you would've intimidated me" or "Well, I can see how you would intimidate men...." [Insert palm-face emoji here.]

Not only is that just what every single woman wants to hear- what we actually hear is what is NOT being said:

*"You're awfully tall in heels." (actually, wait: that HAS been said to me. Also, sorry, I can't help it God designed me to be 5'8".)

*"Guys really love feeling a lot taller and stronger than their girlfriends/spouses."  (Again, I can't help the height thing and sorry that I played sports when I was younger and that I love lifting weights.)

*"Guys are too shy to approach the quiet ones..." (Sorry I'm an introvert and only on rare occasions when I first meet someone/people does an extroverted me show up. That's usually reserved for friends/family.) [But she's really fun when she does.]

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And then, enter the Christian Bubble and you hear, either from the pulpit, books or "culture",

*"Women should be like the woman in 1 Peter 3. Quiet, submissive and modest." (I'll refrain from my rant on the word "modest.")

Well, you know what: That about summarizes it right there.

And for years I became "her"... You know, the 1 Peter 3 woman (that we take WAY out of context, just an FYI). I was afraid to laugh too loud because a man might think I was drawing attention to myself. I didn't give my opinion or thought [on spiritual things] even though a.) being a daughter of God gives me that right and b.) being a 4-year Bible school graduate taught me one or two things.

And then I moved, and God ushered in a new community of friends and job- and He begin to breathe life into those fearful and insecure areas. But insecurity still had a hold on me, and it's grasp was strong at times.

A few years later, I walked away from the Lord, but by His grace, I ran back. And it wasn't until after that that I began to truly SEE, FEEL and KNOW that God loves me. Showers me with grace. And He gives His children good gifts. And then two years ago I came across a Matt Chandler sermon... and he said life changing words. [I'm summarizing].... "And to you single women, I urge  you, STOP DUMBING YOURSELF DOWN. Because this is what happens: You love the Lord but you find you're still single and not getting asked out. So you dumb yourself down, then a [dumb] guy feels bold and strong enough to approach you and so you settle. And then two years later you wake up married to a dumb guy and you're trapped... STOP DUMBING YOURSELF DOWN. It is truly better to be a strong and godly woman with a 100 cats who's doing more for the kingdom then it is to be trapped in a marriage to a dumb guy...."

And that began to set the course for walking in the freedom of being me. 5'8". strong. lover of heels. lover of study and lover of weight lifting. worship leader and dreaming of teaching women (uh, hello Christine Caine, can we chat over coffee sometime?)

But I almost battle sharing it in the perspective of being single, because, well, like most of life: our spirit and being don't compartmentalize well. So in my professional life and relationships with friends- I was that insecure, never-stood-up-for-myself, I'm always wrong kind of woman. And you know what? That's not Godly... that's not being who God called me to be.

And guess what? It's an ever-learning lesson. Just this past week I sat in Starbucks, really battling this and I began to write, "Lord... just help me to learn the balance between being me and...."--- and I realized I couldn't finish that sentence. I heard the Father whisper, "The only way to honor Me is for you to be who I created you to be. And she is tall, strong, wise and a leader."

So dear friend, know this: It only brings honor and glory to God to be the you He's created you to be.