Healthy Soul

When Life Marks the “Fail” Box


I think most people lie when asked what their greatest fear is. I know I do. If you ask me what my biggest fear is I will probably answer bridges or fire. They are somewhat honest answers. I don’t like bridges, and I can’t handle people playing with matches and fire. But I still drive over bridges when necessary and I still light candles in my house. Those aren’t really my biggest fear.

The real answer- I have always struggled with a fear of failure. I don’t like getting things wrong. I wasn’t happy with less than an “A” in high school and maintained a high GPA in college as well. And it goes beyond that into adulthood as well. I like to be able to predict my husbands needs, to have our family outings planned for what we will need, to be able to pull off an event without any major glitches. Oddly enough, I would not call myself a perfectionist. I would define my fear of failure by saying that I like to feel like my hard work ends in success. I want to know my time and energy wasn’t wasted.

When I was sixteen-years-old I failed in my first attempt at getting my driver’s license. I didn’t handle it well. All of my other friends got theirs on their first attempt as soon as possible. So I lied. I pretended I hadn’t even taken the test yet, acted like it wasn’t a big deal to me at all. It took me a long time to even get behind the wheel and drive again and then an even longer time to reschedule the test. I could not handle the fact that I had not succeeded and found it impossible to admit that fact to others. By the time I did take the test again, I was much more prepared and passed the test just fine. When I told people I passed the test, I just acted like it was the first time I had taken it.

Now I am 31 and in the same position again. I moved to a new country and must learn to drive again. Over the past year, I have been in the process of “getting everything right”. I studied hard and passed the written test with no problems. Then the complications started. The test center was backed up for the driving test portion of the test. I had to schedule our test 4 months in advance. Already this made my timing a bit sketchy with a baby due in 6 months at that time. Then came the driving lessons. All month long leading up to the test I have been throwing our regular family schedule off with 2-hour lessons sprinkled all over the calendar. At the last minute they changed my test to the end of September, which was not possible with a baby due in the middle of September, and I got it switched around, but ended up with a date that was as close to my due date as I felt comfortable with. Meaning it was pass or wait until after recovery to try again. All of these details are simply to say, when I took the exam, I wanted to know that it was all worth it; that all the sacrifice and hard work that I had put in the past month ended in success.

As the test drew closer and my lessons progressed, I felt more and more comfortable with all the maneuvers and being able to do everything correctly. I was gaining confidence and knowledge and felt like I should be able to pass. I prayed that God would give me a calmness and a confidence as I drove and I knew I was capable of passing.

Still the night before as I was having trouble sleeping, I told Brian: When I was 16 I failed my driving test and I didn’t handle the failure well. I can’t shake the feeling that He might give me a second chance to do better with the failure this time around.

At the end of a 40-minute drive I had the examiner tell me I was a brilliant driver, one of the best he’s ever taken on a test. He handed me an almost empty report. There were 2 small marks on the entire sheet: 1 minor (you are allowed up to 15) and 1 serious — an automatic fail. The serious fault didn’t cause any danger to anyone and it would be tempting to call it silly, but rules are rules and I had committed the error and had failed the test.

I didn’t want that result, I wanted to know all my hard work had been worth it — that it ended with success. But “fail” was exactly the result I got. And even if I don’t like it, I can’t help but know it’s exactly the result God wanted me to have.   I should have passed the test, I’m a good driver, but I didn’t. Why? The obvious answer is that I made an error while driving. But the bigger answer, the one my heart is screaming in the hours since failing — Because God’s plan is bigger than my plan.

I have told God that with a baby coming in 6 weeks, I HAD to pass right now. I told him this was the best timing. I told him that this was the only way I could justify all the practice lessons and all the money we had spent setting this up. And He responded with, “I know better than you. Trust me.”

So I am trusting Him this time around. I trusted Him enough to immediately confide my failure in a few close friends. I was able to say, I failed, and I don’t handle failure well. God was able to use them to speak truth into my life before lies could root their way in. I am trusting Him with the timing of working in another exam and having a baby. And maybe most of all, I am trusting Him that while using my example of a seemingly small driving exam, I am stepping out of that grip that fear of failure has on my life.

That’s what trusting God is all about: taking the steps that might seem small to others, maybe even small to us at the time, but knowing that it is leading somewhere far greater than where I am now.

I have been given a second chance in dealing with my failure, and I don’t want to blow it. I want to trust God with His plan and His timing this time around. And I can’t help but wonder if, just maybe, someone else out there needs to do the same.




Healthy Soul

Choosing Trust over Fear

12 weeks close up

I have a really hard time writing when I can’t be open and honest about what I’m learning. On January 7th I wrote my last post, on January 11th I found out I was pregnant! This was very wanted, but somewhat unexpected at the time. We have spent the last two months getting acquainted with the health care system in a new country, and lying low until we could finally get that appointment that assured us everything was going well. We got the appointment, and everything is going great! So now it’s time to rewind a bit and share what’s been on my heart the past two months.

My first two pregnancies and births have been a bit complicated, and since I have gotten healthier in the past year I wanted to have this beautiful, healthy, fit pregnancy.   It started out so good! For about three weeks I stayed gluten, dairy, and sugar free. I did my regular workout and I felt so good about myself. Then week 8 hit. I had no energy, all healthy food sounded horrible, and I was a mess of expectations. I struggled for about a week of this, and then I started giving myself some grace. I still felt tired. I still didn’t like food. But I ate some ice cream. It was glorious. I ate when I was hungry and what I was hungry for. I lowered my daily step goal from 10k to 6k. Most days I didn’t hit it, but I went to bed anyway. Then there was the hardest part, I put all my fun family adventures on hold. I told myself it was okay to have more family movie nights and less days out. Not all special moments have to be well planned or picture worthy.

I wanted to take this huge new development in my life and just add it right in with all the plans I already had. But that wasn’t God’s best plan for my life. In my case, this unexpected is a great thing, but throughout the past month we have been hit with some not so great unexpected events as well. Sometimes God brings situations into our life to slow us down, make us re-evaluate and change some priorities. But my natural tendency is to pray, ‘God, help me to fit this in my life on top of everything else like nothing has changed.’ When God started showing me that I couldn’t just keep-on-keeping-on like all was normal, my first reaction was fear. My body was reacting differently to this pregnancy than the other two and I convinced myself I was pregnant with twins (I’m not), that I was just old now (I kinda am) and then finally that it wasn’t even an actual baby, just a food baby from all my ice cream choices (thank God for that clear ‘real baby’ ultrasound a few weeks ago). This was just the tip of the worry iceberg along with other doubts and fears about our ministry and family.

As all this went on in my mind, Brian and I were in the midst of some soul detoxing, and I came across this quote that has been ringing in my mind since:

What you fear the most reveals where you trust God the least.
– Craig Groeschel

Through this one reminder, I have cried out to God in prayer with each fear that comes on my heart. At times, I was just praying for enough peace and comfort to get some sleep at night. At other times it meant trusting God to work in someone’s heart, to save a family, or keep my little baby safe and growing. Whatever the situation, it is always about choosing trust over fear. It is about realizing how much Bigger God is than any of my own efforts. And the best part of all of this: I saw it work! I saw God answer an amazing prayer overnight, I have felt Him calm my anxious mind. And I am still trusting Him to work out raging storms.

Prayer is active. It is real. With my whole heart I believe prayer changes impossible situations. In my 2016 experiences, I want to live like I believe that.



Healthy Soul, Uncategorized

Old made New

A little over a year ago, my church decided it was time to get rid of the pews that were originally built in to the floor of our building. Now this church is beautiful, and those pews were historic. But the church had a vision. The people in the church had a heart to serve the community. They knew this would best be accomplished by removing the permanent seating and replacing it with movable chairs. So the big change happened. The nearly 200 year-old pews were pulled up piece-by-piece and the floor was leveled out and a new beautiful floor went down. Since that time we have used the multipurpose room for a weeklong kids club, ladies teas, weddings, Kids parties, and other events all in addition to our weekly worship. The process was hard. It was long. But the results were beautiful and the room has new life.



Yesterday I went to a coffee shop I had heard about but never visited. When I went upstairs to sit down I realized the table I was sitting at was a piece of my church. The shop had used some of the wood from the old pews and turned them into tables. And man, were they cool tables! In our church, those pews were no longer accomplishing the purpose we needed; but at this coffee shop they were given a brand new life and purpose.


Now, let me tell you why I was at that coffee shop in the first place.


Last week I reached a point in my life, my ministry, and my soul where I was overwhelmed. I realized that in trying to do too much, I was shutting down and not doing anything well. Brian knew I was falling apart, and I did too. So we came up with a plan. My first step: fill my life with scripture (more on that later), my second step: to start reading a book to give me some guidance (my book of choice was “The Best Yes” by Lysa Terkeurst), and the third step: Brian graciously sent me out to, um, I guess you could say- get my stuff together.


When I walked into that cute little coffee shop yesterday and sat down at that repurposed table, I was working through cutting ‘good things’ out of my life to make room for the ‘best things’. Isn’t that just like God to orchestrate such a real life example of this literally right under my nose?


When those pews were removed from the church, there were some people who did not like it. When I start saying no to opportunities- some people will not like it. However, if those pews were never removed- the church would have never been able to minister in the variety of ways we have been able to this past year. If I never say no to a “good opportunity” I will not be available to minister in the BEST way God has planned for me.


And let me take this a step further: because our church was no longer using the wooden pews, the coffee shop was able to use it to make tables. When I say ‘no’ to an opportunity- I am giving someone else the chance to say ‘yes’. I am placing my trust in God to fill that need instead of putting trust in myself to do it all. Sure there are some things that I do that aren’t necessarily fun, but they are needed and I am the person for the job. This is not an excuse to pass off everything I don’t want to do. Instead it is a way to involve others in what God is doing.


I sat at that meaningful little table for a few hours and worked on simplifying (there’s that world again) my schedule and responsibilities. And God worked on refreshing my soul with the excitement of new possibilities. Possibilities that are born out of passion and vision instead of obligation and a fear of “no”.


Thank you, God, for using a seemingly simple table to help teach me a big truth.



Healthy Soul

How I Intentionally Plan my Week

IMG_9894_2My family moved to Wales two weeks ago. That is a reality I am still having a hard time grasping. This thing we have been working toward for 4 years is actually happening now. God has worked in some amazing ways and our last 2 months have been crazy good saying good-bye to our life in the US and hello to our new life in the UK.

In the past two weeks we have had an ever-opening door on our apartment as we have invited people over and welcomed in teens that need a place to talk and a willing heart to listen. To add to all that crazy goodness, our baby girl started school for the first time this week! A new routine is starting in our home and a new phase of family life.


This past week has been amazing, but very full. I decided I needed to go out and decompress and just spend some time alone. Brian graciously said, “GO!” (I might be a tad bit hard to live with when I get to this overloaded state)

When I need to get my priorities back in line and organize my life, it usually goes like this:

  • Go get coffee
  • Start with a small project that will give me a sense of accomplishment

So that’s what I did. I took a bus ride to Starbucks and started deleting old photos off my phone – tell me I’m not the only one that waits until I my storage is full to finally delete those photos that have already been on my computer for months. Anyway, as I did this I found a screenshot of a quote that spoke to my heart right where it was at this exact moment.

guard your time image
“Guard your time fiercely. Be generous with it. But be intentional about it.”

Generous but intentional. This is my heart right now. I have made “Simplify” my word of 2015. With this I have wanted to be intentional with what I have, spend, eat, and probably most importantly- invest my time in. But I also want to be GENEROUS. Oh, how I want to be generous with my time. It is one of my greatest fears to take this amazing opportunity to live and minister in Wales and live for myself instead of God.

I love my iphone, my laptop, and I love talking- but I think with a pen a paper. So I got out a notebook and got intentional. 6 full pages and a major cramp in my hand later, I had an idea of what guarding my time and being generous would look like.

This was my process:

I wrote “What is Important?” across the top of the first page. I started with God and then moved on to people. Under people I wrote out every name that was important to me. People I wanted to invest time in, people I wanted to impact, people I wanted to get to know better, people I love and people I want God to make me love. Under people came my health, my home, and my personal interests.

IMG_0020 After I wrote out everything that I have a desire to spend real time on, I moved on to the next page – “What Do These Priorities Look Like?” The names and things written on the first list were goals, but they weren’t a plan. So on this page I started really dreaming. What would it look like to really put time into these areas? Discipleship, dates, budgeting, letter writing, and many more real tangible ideas.

IMG_0018 Then comes the putting it all together step. If I had been at home I probably would have gotten out a wipe off board or some cute post- it notes. But I worked with what I had: paper and pen. So I ripped up little slips of paper and wrote an activity or event on each slip. Then I made a week-long schedule and placed the slips of paper where they fit in the week. I intentionally placed the most important items first and worked through my slips.

IMG_0017 Will my week really go as perfectly as I have it laid out right now? Goodness no! But I am taking a step in being intentional but generous with my time.More important than following my schedule, it is my prayer that I let God guide my time this week and make it count. May you have a meaningful week too!