34 Days of Favorites: Books

If you read this blog somewhat regularly, I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that I love books.

I really, really love books.

I used to love fiction books, but have given up that obsession, because obsessions are exhausting.

I can’t stop reading fiction. I get really into a good book, and before you know it, it’s 3:00 am, my book is done, and I’m in for a grumpy day as a result of a very short night.

Since I find non-fiction much easier on the self-control, and am capable of reading it in small chunks, I’ve decided to stick to that, except when on vacation.

This last January, I had a very small, secret desire to make a New Year’s Resolution. Except that I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions at all. They seem as though they’re usually made to be broken.

But deep down, I wanted to quietly and secretly commit to reading one non-fiction book a month. I had no idea how I would do this, despite my great love for books. Since Kaylia was born, I have read books verrrrrry slowly. I just haven’t taken the time to do something I love a lot, and I decided it was time to change that.

So each evening, I would read one chapter. Before I knew it, I had finished my first book. And it wasn’t even the end of January! So I started my next book. By the end of February, I had read three books, and was feeling a lovely sense of accomplishment.

By now, I’ve stopped keeping track, because reading has become a habit, and I feel like my life is much broader and richer because of it. I like having other people’s thoughts in my head, besides just my own.

To pick only one favorite book would be extremely difficult, because I’ve read some really good ones, including:

One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp

Enemies of the Heart, by Andy Stanley

Loving God With All Your Mind, by Elizabeth George

Finding Freedom From Your Fears, by H. Norman Wright

365 Thank Yous, by John Kralik

Oh, how to pick a favorite?

I really loved Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, but my current favorites would have to be A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller, and Expecting Adam, by Martha Beck. I wrote all about my thoughts on the Donald Miller’s book in these posts, but that second one…Oh, my goodness, what to say about the second one?!

It’s amazing. I laugh out loud, and then I cry, and I list it as my favorite when I’m not even finished reading it. It’s just SO GOOD.

It’s a true story about a woman at Harvard who finds out the baby she’s expecting has Down’s Syndrome, and everyone around her thinks abortion is obviously her only choice.

But she doesn’t, and she writes about how her son teaches her the magic of life in the everyday. She writes,

In his strange, not-quite-human way, he is constantly reminding me that real magic doesn’t come from achieving the perfect appearance, from being Cinderella at the ball with both glass slippers and a killer hairstyle. The real magic is in the pumpkin, in the mice, in the moonlight; not beyond ordinary life, but within it. (p.74)

I love that.

It is absolutely beautiful, and I’m sure you’ll hear more from me about that one yet. It is not a Christian book, and she describes things so strange, there’s no way I could begin to explain or understand them, but it’s reminding me of how God can work in people’s lives is such a variety of ways, whether they call it that or not.

Don’t you love a good book?! There are so many more on my list that I hope to enjoy before the year is over!

Can you think of any I should add to my list?

(If you’re just joining in, and want find out what this “34 Days of Favorites” is all about, click here. And remember, there’s a prize involved!)

Behind the Scenes of My Personality

Sometimes I wonder if anyone else could possibly feel as socially awkward as I do in certain situations.

Apparently they do, but it’s always hard to believe, because everyone else looks so normal. I suppose I look normal sometimes, too, but it doesn’t always feel that way inside.

I have a very sweet new friend I’m getting to know who told me the other day that she thought I must always be cool and calm in any situation.

What a reminder of how deceiving appearances can be! Cool and calm…well, hardly ever, on the inside, at least.

But if I can fake it, so can everybody else. Do you ever wonder what people would really be like if they were completely transparent?

Maybe it would be scary. Or bonding and unifying?

I love what Donald Miller writes in Searching For God Knows What about Adam and Eve. Pretty much, they didn’t have a care in the world. They felt completely loved by God, and they needed nothing else. They could just freely wander around the new world, buck-naked, free, and secure. Until the day everything was ruined…

I started asking myself why Moses would say five times that people were naked before the Fall, but after the Fall they went around with clothes on… The very first thing that happened after Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was that they noticed they were naked. And man, I couldn’t stop thinking about how whatever happened at the Fall made them aware they were naked…

Here is what I think Moses was saying: Man is wired so he gets his glory (his security, his understanding of value, his feeling of purpose, his feeling of rightness with his Maker, his security for eternity) from God, and this relationship is so strong, and God’s love is so pure, that Adam and Eve felt no insecurity at all, so much so that they walked around naked and didn’t even realize they were naked. But when that relationship was broken, they knew it instantly. All of their glory, the glory that came from God, was gone… (Searching For God Knows What, source)

And we’re still longing for that glory.

I am definitely pro-clothes. The point is not being naked.

The point is feeling that secure in God’s love, that free to be completely yourself, and not always be thinking about what is socially acceptable behavior. I know some people pretend not to worry at all about what people think of them, but everybody, no matter how confident they appear, has an image they wish to portray, even if it’s “I’m so confident, I don’t give a rip what other people think of me.” But in their lonely moments, there has to be insecurity there somewhere.

There are countless ways in which we cover up our weaknesses and secret sins. We hide and present a more acceptable self to the world.

There is such a thing as too much information. Or maybe it has more to do with the place and time and people.

Either way, I really, really believe that everyone needs a safe place where they can be completely themselves.Where they could confess anything, and still find total love and acceptance.

I wish I could be that for people. I wish I could get rid of all critical, judgmental tendencies, and make my home that safe place for people. I wish I could get past my desire to display a perfect front.

The other day when I stepped out my door, I specifically thought to myself, “I am SO GLAD no one can see my house right now!!”

And then an hour later, when I came back in through the door, my neighbor came with me.

I did it for me, and for her, too.

For me, because I needed to remind myself that a perfect front gets in the way of what I truly want in life. Although I would dearly love to own a pinterest-worthy home, I really want a home where people are welcome anytime. Where they feel comfortable and at home, and they go grab their own glass of water because they know exactly where the cups are.

And I did it for her, so she knows she never needs to worry about the state of her home when I come over. I did it to show her that I draw her close into my life, even if it means a little mess.

Mess is real. Whether it’s in my house or my emotions or my bad habits, everybody has it, but some people manage to never show it. I wonder what they feel like inside. I wonder if it gets tiring. I get tired when I try to make my life look perfect.

So come into my mess. Feel a little bit better about yours. And remember that everyone has the same deep longing to wander the world fully loved, accepted and free.

Why We Hang Pictures

Because Ben is amazing, we have a new photo gallery up at our house.

Hmm, that makes it sound like he was the one busily arranging frames and choosing pictures….His amazingness was actually shown in the fact that he humored me for three hours of intense measuring, marking, leveling and hanging up pictures, which is not something he would normally choose to do in his free time.

But I am sooo loving having some pictures up on our walls. And I am so thankful for an understanding husband who knew how badly his girls needed some help in feeling “at home”.

You could say we were just filling up blank space on our new walls. But pictures have always been far more than that to me. Pictures on the walls are the fastest way to surround yourself with happiness. They tell stories, and make you feel like the space is yours.

Mark your territory.

I once read about how kids need to see those visual reminders that they belong. They need to see the out-of-date wedding pictures of their parents, because it gives history and a feeling of security and permanence.

Children need to see their baby pictures, because it helps them see where they’ve come from, and to feel like they belong.

They need to see family pictures so that year after year, they have a visual reminder of how this group of people keeps growing and changing…together.

And maybe children aren’t the only ones who need those visual reminders….

Those pictures on our walls are little pieces of this life we are building.

In his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller writes,

When I arrived home from Boston, I realized there were no pictures on my mantel. I set down my suitcase and walked into the living room and looked across to the fireplace, and it felt empty. Empty of real stories. I went to my bedroom where the bed was made, and on my desk there were no pictures in frames and on the end tables there were no pictures. There was a framed picture of Yankee Stadium above the toilet in the bathroom, and there was some art I’d picked up in my travels, but there was little evidence of an actual character living an actual life. My home felt like a stage on which props had been set for a face story rather than a place where a person lived an actual human narrative.

It’s an odd feeling to be awakened from a life of fantasy. You stand there looking at a bare mantel and the house gets an eerie feel, as though it were haunted by a kind of nothingness, an absence of something that could have been, an absence of people who could have been living here, interacting with me, forcing me out of my daydreams. I stood for a while and heard the voices of children who didn’t exist and felt the tender touch of a wife who wanted me to listen to her. I felt, at once, the absent glory of a life that could have been.

Every single day, I live this life filled with hugs and running feet and sticky, chubby hands. I sit on the couch in the quiet evenings drinking tea and talking with my wonderful husband. We have loads and loads of memories, and all these ideas and dreams for the future. All of this happiness actually exists for me.

I love the idea of having “evidence” of a full life being lived.


That first morning when the girls woke up to our newly hung pictures, I saw exactly what I’d hoped to see. They looked and looked at those pictures, and they remembered. They talked about the different places the pictures had been taken, and I could actually see the way in which those pictures affected them.

Now this is home. They see it, there is evidence for them in a way they can easily understand.

And I can sit here, looking at each photo, and I can still feel what it felt like to be in each of those places, each of those memories. I look at my life, not just what is right in front of me today, but also what has been.

It has been so good. I want to be reminded to remember.


Make it happen. Get stuff up on your walls. Pinterest is your best friend, if you feel a little lost when it comes to hanging pictures in a good arrangement. Go type in “photo gallery” and lose yourself in Pinterest for a little while.

And if you are not super excited about all of the work and effort involved in hanging up a ton of pictures, here’s what you do:

  1. Stop thinking about it as “decorating”, and start thinking about it as feeding your soul. Soul-feeding is far more important than having a perfectly decorated house.
  2. Go buy yourself the velcro strips at Michael’s, made specifically for saving your sanity in situations like these, and for hanging pictures without leaving any nail marks.
  3. Check out this tip for making picture-hanging about 10 times easier.
  4. Get it DONE, and then come back to leave a comment, letting us all know about your picture-hanging success!!
  5. Live happily ever after, basking daily in the glow of all those warm memories, your own personal evidence of a life full of goodness, beauty and love.

Happy picture hanging!:)

Write a Good Story

If I have a hope, it’s that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say, Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter, and you can create within it even as I have created you. (p.59, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years)

It’s interesting that in the Bible, in the book of Ecclesiastes, the only practical advice given about living a meaningful life is to find a job you like, enjoy your marriage, and obey God. It’s as though God is saying, Write a good story, take somebody with you, and let Me help. (p. 246-247, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years)

Isn’t that great? That last line is my favorite.

Writing a good story has been on my mind a lot in the recent weeks, for two reasons:

  1. I just finished Donald Miller‘s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, which is so good that you should really head on over to Amazon immediately to buy it. It is changing everything about the way I look at life.
  2. Everything in our lives has been changing anyway, because of moving. We are in this huge state of transitioning and starting over, so Ben and I have had many, many talks about how to start well. What do we want our story to be? How do we want this to look? What choices do we want to make which might not make sense to everyone else right now, but lead to the story we want to write, as a whole? Big questions, lots of ideas, a work in progress.

What I’m finding most often right now, is that “good” doesn’t have to be “big”. I think our culture teaches us that in order for something to be worthwhile, meaningful, and valuable, it needs to be big – big dreams, big ambition, big success.

But how often is it not the little things which really end up being the big things? The good things are the small, simple things.

If God chose to make every single sunset different and unique, just for the beauty of it, you’d think it means He’s into details. He seems to create for the pleasure of it. He made us to create, for the pleasure of it.

He also gave us the ability to experience flashes of joy from such simple things, we almost don’t notice it – flash, and then it’s gone.

But in a world with so much pain and suffering, I think the small flash is noteworthy – it gives us more joy to hang on and let it linger, and it tells us something about God’s view of size. Small flashes of joy, again and again and again, add up after awhile. He made it pretty easy for us to feel joy, but He often does so in the small things.

So basically, I’m learning about living a good life, writing a good story, and realizing that it’s found in the little things, in holding onto the quick flashes.

It’s the everyday stuff, like loving my family, going off on an adventure, and finding Jesus in all of it.

Now you should go buy Donald Miller’s book. 🙂

Making a Scene

I read something yesterday that I really liked:

When we look back on our lives, what we will remember are the crazy things we did, the times we worked harder to make a day stand out. (p. 208-209, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years)

A good movie has memorable scenes, and so does a good life. (p. 212, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years)

Have you ever had moments that were so good and beautiful and perfect, it felt like all you needed was music swelling in the background, and it would feel like a movie-moment? Just one of those magical moments you want to hang on to forever.

Most of the time, I fall into thinking those moments just happen – that it’s my awareness of the joy of life that will bring those moments into being.

I don’t really think about the value of making them happen on purpose.

When Ben and I were dating, we made them happen on purpose all the time. Dating is one big wonderful time of being creative and romantic and making life feel like a movie. We put so much effort into making our relationship full of “memorable scenes”.

Sometimes I’ve done that for our girls, and with our family. But I’ve never thought about doing it on a regular basis, as a way of intentionally building the story of our family.

It does take effort, but the great thing is it doesn’t need to be anything all that big.

I have this really special memory from college. I had a friend who was super thoughtful and creative, and about as high-stress as I was. During exam week one year, she told me that anytime I needed a study break, she wanted me to run down to her room, and we would do something fun together.

I had no idea what she had in mind, but I took her up on her offer one evening. She excitedly welcomed me into her room, and went straight to a drawer in her desk, from which she pulled out two plastic spoons, and two containers of chocolate pudding.

Then, she led me outside, and kept walking, and walking, until we were in the middle of a soccer field.

We sat there in that empty field, eating chocolate pudding and watching the sunset.

And then we ran back inside, back to our books and studying, with renewed energy, and a memory that’s one of my favorites from those college years.

And what did it take? Some plastic spoons and some pudding cups.

It took some planning on her part – a little bit of effort, and some creativity, but it was a huge gift she gave me that night.

We have to force ourselves to create these scenes. We have to get up off the couch and turn the television off, we have to blow up the inner-tubes and head to the river. We have to write the poem and deliver it in person. We have to pull the car off the road and hike to the top of the hill… (p.213-214, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years)

This was the scene we enjoyed tonight:

Ben’s parents came over for the evening, with supper, and a special treat for dessert – gluten-free ice cream cones and coconut ice cream.

Ice cream is always a treat, but cones make it magical. 🙂

It wasn’t a huge, dramatic moment, but it was a special treat enjoyed with much happiness, and it was a moment that makes you want to press “pause”. My happy girls covered with ice cream, loving their grandparents, the sun streaming in, everybody smiling.

Making a scene.

I love those moments. And I love the idea of making them happen with intention.

It doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be memorable.

Paddling Home

Well, we are finally here.

And the question most often asked now is, “How was your move?”

Um…well…it was a move! Some chaos, some sad good-byes, some exciting beginnings, some exhaustion, some new house to clean, some boxes we’ll be unpacking for weeks to come.

The first couple of days, I was really excited to be here. But last night, I sat in our living room filled with boxes, and this thought jumped into my mind: “I want to go home!”

And I meant camp.

I know this will all take some time. It’s still good to be here, but everything feels kind of weird.

It’s funny how much we define ourselves by what we do and where we live. I don’t think about it that much, but now with everything changing in our lives, it kind of feels like I don’t know exactly who I am.

I sit in our new house and think, “This is not me.”

Ben got a new work vehicle, and I see him drive up, and I think, “That is not ours.”

I look out the window, and think, “This is not where we really live.”

We’re the same, but everything is not the same.

I think I was expecting to feel a lot more settled as soon as we were actually in our new house. But now I’m realizing that the adventure is just beginning. I have no idea how long it will take for our family to feel like all this new life is “us”, but I’m guessing these things just take awhile.

In the uncomfortable moments, I start to wonder, “Was this actually a good decision? Did we make the right choice?” Even though I know it is, and we did.

I’m realizing what the problem is: I see the destination, the end result, as my goal. I want a conclusion, I want to bask in the good feelings of being done, of having already made the transition or completing a goal.

I don’t take enough joy in the process, in the journey.

It’s like this when you live a story: The first part happens fast. You throw yourself into the narrative, and you’re finally out in the water; the shore is pushing off behind you and the trees are getting smaller. The distant shore doesn’t seem so far, and you can feel the resolution coming, the feeling of getting out of your boat and walking the distant beach. You think the thing is going to happen fast, that you’ll paddle for a bit and arrive on the other side by lunch. But the truth is, it isn’t going to be over soon.

The reward you get from a story is always less than you thought it would be, and the work is harder than you imagined. The point of a story is never about the ending, remember. It’s about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle. (p.177, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years)

We wanted a good story for our family, and we felt it was important to make this change.

So here we go! The good part is in the middle, even though that’s also the uncomfortable part. We’ll wander through weird feelings of displacement, and we’ll keep trying to make this home, until one day really soon (that doesn’t feel soon enough at the moment, but will come at just the right time), we’ll wake up and not even notice that we are already at home.

It will have become the new normal.

And all the middle stuff will have made us a little bit stronger and a little bit braver, and maybe a little bit better at figuring out how to face change.

It’s like this with every crossing, and with nearly every story too. You paddle until you no longer believe you can go farther. And then suddenly, well after you thought it would happen, the other shore starts to grow, and it grows fast. The trees get taller and you can make out the crags in the cliffs, and then the shore reaches out to you, to welcome you home, almost pulling your boat onto the sand. (p. 182, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years)

It’s just a little move. It’s not to another country, and it’s not a daring adventure, but…in some ways, it is. Isn’t it always a bit daring to change who you are, even if it’s by changing what you do, or where you live?

If you’re out there paddling your boat in the middle, just like us, I wish you all the best as you wait for the shore to reach out and welcome you home!

What I’m Reading

I love reading blogs.

Some people think it’s a waste of time, or an evil that must be avoided, but I see it as a way to learn and grow, to feed my craving for beautiful images and wise words. It is tricky to keep it balanced, but I’m willing to participate in that struggle (at this point!) because of the good stuff I find.

I always appreciate the weekend links provided by Holy Experience and Simple Mom to point me in the direction of good posts without having to do all the searching myself.

So, in an effort to pass on the favor, here are some articles I’ve been enjoying recently:

Pinterest, Mindfulness, and Making the Most of It (Becoming Minimalist) – Pinterest is another fantastic resource that needs to be wrestled down into orderly balance. I love it, but it can easily be a time waster. I loved this post on how to use it wisely.

How to Know if You’re a Controlling Person (Donald Miller) – I love the pillow analogy! How many times have I tried to figure out what and why someone else is thinking??

On Surviving the Crush of the Morning Rush (The Gypsy Mama) – I’m thinking I’d like to memorize this whole post, so I’ll remember it on those crazy mornings!!

5 Reasons Why You Should Take a Nap Every Day (Michael Hyatt) – Finally! My daily naps are fully justified!

A Slow-Books Manifesto – I’m starting Pride and Prejudice as soon as we’ve moved and unpacked our boxes!

Showing You the Way

I taught my last Counselor-in-training session yesterday. It has been great, and I’ve loved it.

I’ve heard that the one teaching is the one who learns the most. I think it’s true.There is one truth that has come out over and over again for me over these last few days, as I’ve taught about prayer, reading God’s word, sanctification, and loving others. The truth is that I get out what I put in. If I love God’s Word, it will show. If I spend time talking with my Father in private, it will show in public. If He is making me new every day, it will show.

If I don’t do those things, I’ve got nothing to show.

And I think that showing is the very best way to be a witness. Live a love for Jesus in a way that is true, and that can’t be contained, and He will take care of the rest.

I was reminded of something Donald Miller wrote in Blue Like Jazz:

I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.

After that I liked jazz music.

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.


Reasons Why I Need to Live in Community

People ask me all the time about what it is like to live in a close community of people at camp.

I never know how to answer that question. Are they wanting the short or long answer? And how honest can I be? Even if I hated it, I could never actually say that. I don’t hate it, but it’s my life, and life tends to go up and down. I’m human and I struggle with stuff, and in my life, “stuff” is sometimes….living in community.

But some of the very best moments of my life happen because we live in community. And some of the hardest, most rewarding lessons of my life have been learned because we live in community.

So here are my reasons for why it is good for me to live in community:

1. Growing a flexible, loving, and unselfish attitude.

I think God looked down from heaven and saw my lovely, structured, controlled little life in Niverville, and decided to shake things up a bit. He knew I needed a constant reminder to include people in my day. In those personality test things, I tend to come out as being very task-oriented. That’s great for getting check marks on my to-do list, but not so great for putting people first in my life. Especially in spontaneous ways. I really do love spending time with people, but being spontaneous has always stressed me out.

But guess what. Here at camp, my little plan is continually challenged. I am always being reminded that the selfish tendencies must be destroyed. I have to lay down my desires, or I will live a very grumpy life. It’s taken me a long time to figure that out.

In his book Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller writes a chapter about living in community. He writes about how hard it can be to adjust to community life:

When you live on your own for years, you begin to think the world belongs to you. You begin to think all space is your space and all time is your time.

The whole chapter is pretty fantastic, but I especially loved this part:

One morning, before anybody woke up, Bill and I were drinking coffee at the dining room table. I told him I lived with five guys and that it was very difficult for me because I liked my space and needed my privacy. I asked him how he kept such a good attitude all of the time with so many people abusing his kindness. Bill set down his coffee and looked me in the eye. “Don,” he said. “If we are not willing to wake up in the morning and die to ourselves, perhaps we should ask ourselves whether or not we are really following Jesus.”

2. Learning to live out my faith in the setting of relationships.

I can be extremely holy when I am by myself, praying and reading my Bible. Except that doesn’t count for much. To bask in the holiness of my own devotions is not the point. The point is to get my heart in the right place before God, and then go live that out with all the other people He loves.

God is about relationships. I need to be about relationships. I could do that anywhere, even if I had a nice house on a nice street in a nice town. Except that I have a tendency to forget about my neighbors. At camp, it’s pretty much impossible to forget my neighbors. They eat lunch and supper with me every day. They share my washer and dryer, they come to every social event I am ever part of, they work with my husband, they play with my children. We do church and ministry and life together.

They invade my life in a way that is good for me. Sometimes I can get tired of that, in the same way that a muscle gets sore when it is being exercised and strengthened. It wants to be left alone. But it’s not good for muscles to be left alone. That was never the point.

God touches people’s lives through relationships – with Him, and with other people.

A few weeks ago, a speaker at camp said this:

Individualism is dangerous. It takes us away from the very center of what God is about – He is about community, love, and relationships. Individualism steals the joy of life.

It’s funny, because I think that I will be happier if I can control every aspect of my life, but it’s actually the opposite. Left to my own devices, I can plan every blessing out of my life! I leave no room for God to work, and who is happy under those circumstances? Not me! His ideas are usually unexpected, and a lot better than anything I could come up with on my own.


This stuff still is not coming easy for me, but we are working on it. When stuff happens that frustrates me, and makes me long for our private, cozy little house in Niverville, I try to thank God for the opportunity to grow. I try to remember that people make life better – even when they don’t do things the way I think they should. I try to thank God that I am forced into a situation where flexibility, love, unselfishness and relationships are not optional. I try to put people ahead of my comfort and my to-do list.

Any other tips out there for how to live happily in community?

What Can I Be Good At?

So I’ve mentioned before that Donald Miller’s new video series is amazing. (Go here if you want to find out more about it.)

We watched another segment of this series at our camp church night a few weeks ago, and I loved it. Donald Miller and Dr. Henry Cloud were talking about self-esteem and the ways in which we seek it for ourselves, as well as for our kids.

While encouragement is a great thing, Dr. Henry Cloud shared that, contrary to popular belief, praise and compliments are not what will build a healthy self-esteem.

He said that working hard and accomplishing good things is what actually gives us a sense of self-worth. Becoming better at something will give us confidence as we do it. He explained that the first time you try something new, you will be hesitant and unsure of yourself. But once you’ve done it a number of times, and know you can do it well, you will do it with confidence.

When we’re attempting something new, and feeling out of our comfort zones, compliments will not build confidence. No matter how many nice things someone says to us, we will still feel unsure of ourselves until we’ve learned how to do it.

I see this with Anika all the time. When we color together, she oohs and ahs over my pictures, and gets really discouraged about her own. She so badly wants her pictures to look like my drawings. I can verbally build her up all I want, but she’s not dumb. She knows that her drawing is not like mine – she can see it for herself.

All the compliments in the world will not disguise the fact that I draw like an adult who took 6 years of art lessons, and she draws like a seven-year-old.

My encouragement might help her to keep practicing, but it doesn’t give her confidence.

What has made the biggest difference in her confidence and enthusiasm to keep trying is actually teaching her how to do it better.

Fridays are “Fun School” days for us. We finish up the “serious” stuff quickly, and then we get out her art book. We’re using this fun book called “Draw Write Now”, and she loves it, because she can see for herself that she is improving.

She’s having fun and she’s becoming more confident.

I love watching it happen. And I’m noticing that instead of getting frustrated, she has learned herself that she just needs to practice, and it will get better.

It makes me think about my own life. When I evaluate things, I can definitely see confidence and enjoyment in the areas where I have experience and ability.

So what about the areas that frustrate me, and make me feel all down on myself? Am I going to sit around and pout because of my inadequacy and lack of confidence, or am I going to do something about it?

Because here’s my little secret: I am scared of big groups of people. I love one-on-one conversations. But walking into a room full of people is extremely intimidating for me. As soon as I’m settled in some corner with someone to talk to, and we can get to the one-on-one stuff, I’m good. It’s just getting there that makes me feel SO uncomfortable and insecure.

Now let’s face it – all the practice in the world cannot make me great at EVERYTHING.  God created each of us with gifts, and we accomplish the most when we all work together. My time would be best spent improving my strengths rather than chasing after all of the things I’m not good at, trying to become an expert.

But if there’s something small I could do to try to face my fears and get rid of some of my insecurities, that would seem like a logical, mature thing to do, right?

I thought about that for a bit, trying to figure out how to face my insecurities over large groups of people. And I couldn’t think of anything.

So I googled it! And I found a huge list of fantastic suggestions on how to deal with overcoming shyness and insecurity in large groups of people! Now I can’t wait for the next time I’m in that kind of a situation so that I can try out all the new tips! So much better than dreading it and feeling miserable about it.

I definitely want to find my identity and self-worth in Christ, but I think that if there are ways to learn and grow and mature, that’s good, too!


So what do you think? Is there an area you could work on that would get rid of insecurity in your life? Are you up for learning something new?