For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Telling Me What I Need to Hear

By the time I called her this morning, I already had the answer. At least for that. Still, she just gave me her opinion. And really, it didn't help much because everything she told me I already knew. I have another friend who does that, too. I pour my heart out to him because I need an answer, and he's a really smart man and can see things I miss. Then, he turns right around and tells me what I already know. And I wonder why I bother to tell them anything at all.

Except, the tell me things I don't know. They tell me things I need to hear. Things that have nothing to do with why I called.

I called her to tell her about this dream I had last night, and we ended up talking about my writing. I told him I am afraid to write what's on my mind because a lot of people will find it offensive.

She said a lot about my characters and books and niche. He said the same. They both said, "You're not everyone else. There is an audience waiting for you. Write for them."

Not the exact words, but a good summary.

I know. I really do know. When I'm not drowning in the idea that success is big numbers or the idea that the goal is a huge audience or suffocating under the idea that bigger is always better, I know.

But they tell me anyway. And I get frustrated because I'm confused and I want to know the road and what am I supposed to do about and....

Today, though, I listened, and I didn't just hear what they said, I saw what they see.

I saw them...see me.

They see my heart.
They see my passion.
They see my purpose.
They see God in me...and they see me in God.

And that is what I need to hear.

I need to hear if the two people who see me clearest see Him clearly in me.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Real Question

I am not drowning in feeling overwhelmed. Choking and coughing some, but not drowning.

ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference is coming soon. I'm excited. I am looking forward to learning my craft, getting through some rough patches, and becoming a better fiction writer. The folks on the first timers loop are wonderful. The leaders have incredible hearts of encouragement and support. My heart is in good hands.

However, last week I ran into a wall, and I feel like I haven't been able to really function since. It's like a pile of wet blankets fell on my creative side, and suddenly I couldn't breathe.

All the talk about one-sheets, synopsis, 45-page proposals, pitches, websites, social media, comps, and more hit me like a train, and mentally, I just sat down and shut down. That's pretty much where I've been for the last week. Trying to find my way out of the avalanche, and really not caring if I find my way out or not.

The voice in my head honestly kept muttering, "I don't want to do this. I just don't want this."

Except, that is only partially true. What I don't want is to define myself by the publication of a book. I don't want to define my success by the number of people who like my Facebook page or the number of books I sell. I know writers who do that. They say they writer for God, but really, when the numbers aren't what they think they should be, they go into an identity crisis. I don't want to be one of those writers.

I also don't want to spend so much of my time marketing to people that I don't actually know and minister to people. I look at all the papers I'm supposed to take to the conference, and I feel like I just need to lock myself in my room and work on nothing else. The maybe I'll be finished in time. But while I'm doing all the "need to", my kids are growing up, finding their way into adulthood, launching out of the house, friends are dealing with parents' aging...and dying, and people I know are battling hopelessness and discouragement. And I'm wondering if this writing gig is really part of my really living gig or not. I wonder if I am so busy trying to be a successful writer that I'm missing being a successful mom, friend, and pastor.

Understand, I'm not in any way criticizing what is wanted by the agents, mentors, or editors. I think their requirements are reasonable.

I just can't figure out how to take care of my kids, get them where they need to go, check on the people who trust me with their hearts, get my tire on my truck checked, get to the unexpected dental and medical appointments, clean the house for Bible study, write a blog, research books, prepare for a conference, "be a presence on Facebook", be a pastor, and....sleep.

I'm not telling you this because I expect anyone to have answers. I don't want advice. Believe me, I'm the queen of packing-36-hours-into-24-hours-and-staying-sane. If it is a time management issue, there is no issue. I'm telling you this because most people have the answer of managing time better, hiring a maid, or finding a new way to keep all the plates in the air. I have been looking, and I don't find that in the Bible.

I read, "Be still and know that I am God."
I read, "For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: 'In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.'"
I read about Jesus being still and communing with the Father, hearing Him, listening to His heart.

It is easy to become so sure of what I am called to do that I forget to be intimate with the One who called me.

It is also easy to become so fixated on doing a big thing, like selling a million books, that I forget the immense impact of the seemingly little things, like listen to someone tell me about their hard day or praying with someone who just received heartbreaking news. I can become so fixated on becoming a writer that I forget the importance of really living Jesus.

My intention is not to bash writing or writers. I love to read, and someone has to write those books. I am merely pondering MY writing.

Human logic tells me that as much as I have invested into this conference that I should do everything possible to sell my book. Plus, I'm in my mid-40s, and the time clock is ticking I believe God is time? Do I believe His plan is perfect in its timing? Do I believe if I sell this book or any book at 50 He can use it any less? Do I believe that it's okay to say I'm just going to learn this year? Do I believe my purpose at this conference may not have anything to do with writing at all? Do I believe God is bigger than that box?

And if I do, do I have the courage to live the bigness of Him...even when it looks very small?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Prayer for Teachers

Father God,

This morning I want to lift up teachers to you. It is the time of year when school is starting, some have started, some are preparing, and parents, grandparents, and guardians are placing their children into the care of teachers and educational staff.

Dad, I ask you to bless these teachers this year. They have a lot to accomplish, and it can feel overwhelming. I pray that you would give them help from the counselors and administrators within the school system. I ask you to give them help and support from their team leads and subject leads. I ask you to build a support system around them that they would have a place to go for wisdom, encouragement, and a place to share their frustrations and discouragements.

I ask you to bless their families, to keep their families healthy. I ask you to meet their financial needs in Christ. I ask you to honor their commitment to a higher calling, and teaching and molding children is a higher calling, and remove the stresses from other parts of life. Give them space to use their mental and emotional energies to take care of their families first and the children entrusted to their care second and everything else beyond that. Give them the life room to be good shepherds of the flocks you have put into their hands.

I ask you to give new eyes to each teacher, that they would not see a class, but they would see each individual child. I ask you to give them understanding for each child and that child's situation, life, temperament, and learning bent. I ask that you would give them wisdom for reaching the students who are struggling with that way things are being taught. Give them courage to step out of the box and to educate for thinking and understanding, not just imparting the memorization of a concept.

More than anything, Father God, I pray that you would give these teachers the words to speak into these students, words that will bring health to their spirits, minds, and bones. I ask you to plant good, healing, and strengthening seeds into these kids. I ask that words be spoken into them that would bless the young people you've created them to be. I ask that you would give them wisdom to be good shepherds who tend each student well. Give them divine and holy insight into each child. Give them the grace and wisdom to hold these students to a high standard but to also know that standard applies differently to each child. Give them words of encouragement for these kids, and show them how to offer hope without allowing these kids to live by excuses. Help them to bring out the strengths in these kids and to understand weaknesses are not something to be fixed but a part of each person. Help these teachers create an environment that gives room for both. May these rooms be safe rooms, sanctuaries from whatever happens outside, whatever happens at home. Give these teachers hearts of deep love for the kids and devotion to their calling to bring out the best in these students.

Lord, I pray for parents to step forward and encourage these teachers, to appreciate them, to lift them up verbally to the teachers' faces and prayerfully in the quiet of their homes. I ask that the parents would respect the teachers and teach their children to do the same so that it would go well with everyone, and I ask that you would offer hope to the teachers who are burned out and see no reason but are just biding their time. Renew in them the desire to make a difference because you aren't done yet, and they still have a calling to fulfill.

Finally, I recognize that satan in his wily killing ways places predators into positions to steal, kill, and destroy. Some of those predators are in schools. They steal, kill, and destroy hope, self-image, and spirits. Some steak, kill, and destroy with words, some with sexual acts, some with negligence. None of those demonic forces have a place in your shepherds court, and I ask that you would root such predators out and remove them. I pray that they would be revealed for what they are  and be removed expeditiously. I ask you to complete remove them from the presence of young people just as you removed the demons from the man among the tombs. Cast them out that they would never return to harm these lives and minds of these young people. And until they are uprooted and removed, I ask for your protection over these kids. I ask that you would give wisdom to the kids to know when to never be alone with a teacher, how to let hurtful words slide off. I pray that you would raise up the parent and staff advocates who will not settle for predators of any kind in the classroom, gym, or on the grounds. I pray for a supernatural shift in our schools that refuses to buy into the mindset of fatalism but instead takes proactive steps to protect our young people in every way.

Father, thank you for the men and women you have placed to guide our young people and educate them. I ask that you would bless them with your presence above all things. May your Spirit soak the halls and classrooms and give hope and encouragements to the teachers you have placed there. Thank you for your faithfulness.

In the All-Powerful, lacking nothing, name of Jesus I pray.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Commitment and Service by Any Other Name...Is Love

This morning I am again meditating on 2 Kings 23. Verse 25 says:

Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did--with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with the Law of Moses.

Now if you go back and read chapters 22 and 23 leading up to this, you see the simple pattern:
1. He heard the law--His mind.
2. He committed himself to the law.--His Spirit/soul
3. Finally, he obeyed the law--His strength.

I know a lot of folks like to claim we are no longer under the law, but Jesus Himself said to love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul and all your strength. This is the greatest commandment. When asked how one should live, THIS is what Jesus said.

Notice Josiah was not commended for believing there is a God. He was commended for how he chose to serve Him.
Interesting that Jesus gave his service and commitment another name--Love.
My prayer today: God, lead me to live in such a way that I don't have to tell someone I love God because they see it loud and clear.