Day to Day, Own Your Brave

Being Still

Last week, I stubbed my big toe on a dining room chair. It hurt, but I didn’t think much of it…until the next morning. At 4:30 a.m. a throbbing in my foot woke me up. My toe was swollen, red, and tender to the touch. Walking on it was painful.

I’m stubborn, so I went to work anyway. But I spent most of the day sitting. It was a busy day, and I felt bad about not being on top of my game, but every time I tried to get up and hobble around to do something, my co-teacher commanded directed me back to a chair. After one such exchange, I caught myself looking at the bookcase and filing cabinet that were within reach. I stopped, looked at my co-teacher and said, “I am looking for something to do. I can’t just sit still. Obviously, I need to work on this.”

Being still is hard.

Frustration overtook me quickly. I don’t do “still” well.

But sometimes, that’s what we have to be—more often than we would like to admit, I’m sure.

Still.

Be still.

I was reminded of Exodus 14:14:

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

At this point in scripture, the Israelites were trapped: “The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea…” (Ex. 14:9). There was nowhere for them to go, nothing for them to do to save themselves from imminent capture and death. And we see in Exodus 14:10 that they were “terrified” and desperate, asking Moses, “What have you done by bringing us out of Egypt…It would have been better for us to serve in Egypt than to die in the desert.” They wanted a plan of action; they wanted answers.

But Moses asked them to be still, to stand firm and wait for the Lord’s deliverance.

Being still doesn’t mean “do nothing.” Far from it. When the enemy shows up on our doorstep, ready to overtake us, we can act. The type of action we take is what matters. The spirit in which we take action matters.

When we’re faced with hardship, the Lord asks us to be still and allow Him to fight the battle for us. When we abide in His strength, we are equipped to stand our ground when the enemy knocks at our gate. When we rest in His peace, we are less likely to turn and run from the fight. Instead, we can face it with His strength.

  
Sometimes there’s no amount of doing that will result in a solution. Sometimes (most of the time), I have no control over outcomes. Often, I just have to sit still and wait. And I don’t like it. Did I mention that I don’t like to sit still? I’m a compulsive fixer/doer. There’s a problem? I’m determined to find a solution. But sometimes I can’t. Sometimes I have to be still and wait for the Lord’s deliverance.

 

While my foot was out of commission last week, I could still check papers, explain concepts to students, send emails, troubleshoot technology issues, and even teach from my seated position. But I also had to relinquish my frustration with not being able to do everything I normally do in the classroom. I had to get over the guilt of putting more tasks on my co-teacher. I had to be willing to ask for help, willing to let others serve me.

And when life gets rocky—for me or for my people, near and far–there are a few things I can always do.

I can pray.

I can speak light and truth.

I can be present.

I can be still.

Still faithful.

Still prayerful.

Still truthful.

Still hopeful.

I can still be.

 

 

How do you practice being still in the midst of the storm?

community

None Of Us Knew: #the4500’s First Year

None of us knew.

None of us could have fathomed how our lives were about to change.

None of us could have orchestrated, planned, or manipulated the circumstances that brought us together.

None of us expected that a rejection letter email would result in an even bigger “yes.”

None of us knew that a “no” on a book launch team application would mean we’d form fast and deep friendships with a diverse group of women from around the country and beyond.

None of us knew.

 

But God.

~*~

A year ago, on March 3, 2015, Jen Hatmaker posted an invitation to apply for the launch team for her upcoming book, For The Love.

I found her Facebook post the day before the March 6th deadline. I didn’t think much of it, but it kept floating around my brain. Two hours before the deadline, I submitted my application.

5, 000 people applied for 500 spots.

On March 6th, 4,500 of those applicants received this email:

 

Within hours, one of the women who received that email Tweeted this to Jen:

 

And another rejectee (yes, I made that up) shamelessly thieved it and ran with to Facebook with it, creating a group where we could gather, commiserate, and unofficially launch the book.

I found these two women commenting on a post on Jen’s FB page, inviting people to join this newly-formed group. I cautiously clicked the link to the group, and even more warily requested to join the group. And then I sat back and watched. For days. For months. I don’t think I ever formally introduced myself. (Sorry girls!)

Until September, when I finally allowed myself to engage.

 

Today, 365 days after the birth of #the4500, we celebrate our first anniversary.

We celebrate a year of praying for one another,

 a year of laughing with one another,

a year of singing to one another,

a year of shifting our perspectives,

a year of meeting one another’s needs in tangible ways,

a year of becoming more authentic,

a year of loving one another,

 a year of growing as a group, and

a year of growing as individuals.

 

In September, I dreamed of meeting the #the4500 chief cat herder, Anna. On January 23, 2016 that crazy dream was realized. Never did I imagine myself participating in the meet-ups that began almost immediately as people joined the FB group. And when the hash tag thief/group creator, Tracy, announced a weekend retreat to gather a larger group of us in Wisconsin in the fall, attending was never a consideration for me.

Six months ago, I dove in head first when I texted Anna and said, “If I were feeling brave, do you have time to talk tonight?” I’m forever grateful for our first conversation that night, Anna.

In seven weeks, I’m flying to Texas for the second Splendid Retreat to meet 70 of these beautiful women. Excitement doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel about this opportunity. Tracy, thank you for stepping into the unknown in order to bring us closer—both to one another and to the Father. I can’t wait to meet you face-to-face and hug your neck!

Last week, I had my second #the4500 meet-up with a local member, Natalie (with whom I have a mutual friend—this world gets smaller every day!). I’m so glad you suggested meeting, Natalie!

This week, one of my dearest 4500 friends has texted me to offer encouragement in the midst of a not-so-great week. I’m forever grateful for her prayers and words of hope. Kelli, you are a treasure! We WILL meet one day, friend.

Xamayta, I would be remiss in not acknowledging our many sing-offs and song lyric conversations. I’m looking forward to the day I know you in person. Maybe I’ll sing to you.

I could list so many more shout-outs, but we’d be here all day. There are so many girls I’m excited to meet in April, and so many more that I’m hoping to meet in the months and years to come.

My life has changed in many ways since the formation of #the4500, and even more so since last September. These girls have challenged me, loved me, prayed for me, cheered me on, and provided a safe space. When I think of the friends I’ve added to my circle over the last year, I’m overwhelmed. The community we’ve formed is truly indescribable.

None of us knew then what we were stepping into when we clicked the “request to join” button, but God did.

He knew this marvelous gift of “yes” waiting just around the bend.

~*~

 

To Tracy and Anna:

Thank you for leading us with grace, wisdom, compassion, and courage.

Thank you for being obedient even in the small things—like Facebook groups that just seem to be for fun.

Thank you for trusting Him to lead us to what we’re called to as a group.

Thank you for loving us well and caring for our hearts.

Thank you for giving us freedom to become.

You have both followed an unorthodox path to ministry and it is growing into something beyond our imaginations.

We love you!

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