Run & Never Tire

This time I'm speeding with no direction.Without a reason. (1)

Dear Future Husband,

There’s a prayer I’m praying right now. It’s really the same thing over and over. I am praying for you. I’m praying we can somehow get past this wall that appears to be in front of us now.

I pray nothing will stand in our way.

I pray you’ll find me, see me, run and never tire. Desire is one of my favorite Ryan Adams songs. It has been for a handful of years. But somehow it’s a good one for right now.

Two hearts fading, like a flower.
And all this waiting, for the power.
For some answer, to this fire.
Sinking slowly.
The water as higher.
Desire

I am 100% convinced that amazing things are ahead for us and for our patchwork family. But floating around the edges of those days when my faith is strong, are so many moments when the fear is greater.

This weekend, as I miss you and worry I’ll keep right on missing you, the fear and faith have mixed. Equal amounts of both. One minute I’m certain. The next, I’m dreading a life without you in it.

I’m working on a novel. It’s a love story. It’s our love story. The one that hasn’t happened yet. This too, like my prayers for you – and for us, takes more faith than I have some moments.

But the man I know you are (and are becoming) makes the risk worth every moment of fear in the midst of all this waiting.

I’m going to keep praying big prayers, Baby.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…” Ephesians 3:20

Fearless

Fearless, OneWord365, Faith, Elaina Avalos,

As 2017 comes to a close, I started thinking about my word for 2018. Every year for quite some time, I have had a word for my year versus a list of resolutions (my resolutions were always quickly forgotten).

Somehow, the word always fits. There have been times I don’t know why that particular word finds me. Sometimes, it almost feels ironic. My word for 2017 was hope. This year brought a lot of dark times for me – sometimes feeling quite the opposite of hopeful.

But as happens every year, I see the ways in which these words are woven into my life and impact my spiritual growth and focus. Sometimes it’s in failure that I grow. A few years ago, my word was “intentional.” I was absolutely not intentional. About anything. I sucked at being intentional. But in failing at it, I learned a great deal about myself.

The year has been hard, but woven throughout has been hope. As I’ve chased dreams and worked harder at being intentional (a path I started down after failing at it a few years ago), hope found me.

Throughout this year, and in particular the last month, I’ve realized that much of this year was spent in fear. Fear of  standing up for myself. Fear of what others would think of me or did think of me. Fear of the future. Fear of being hurt. Fear of being alone. Fear of not being able to handle being a single mom. Fear I will always be single. Fear my health would keep me back from following my dreams.

I could go on and on. You can’t live a life of fear if you’re going to live a life of faith. So…this year, I’m bringing back a word. Fearless. After my Pastor’s sermon a couple of weeks back, I was pretty sure that was the word I needed front and center in my life in 2018.

I spent some time this week reading Bible verses about fear. I have a whole page in my journal of these verses. My hope is to memorize one a week for a while.

I’m sure I won’t always be fearless. I’m sure there are going to be some scary moments this coming year as I embark on a journey to being a foster mom. But I know that choosing to respond in faith is the better way.

When you want to react in fear, respond in faith. – Jason Brinker

If the idea of choosing one word for your year interests you, check out this website. There’s an entire community of people who do this every year. You can find others who have the same word as you or join the Facebook group for support.

What do you want your 2018 to look like? Do you have resolutions or goals you would like to accomplish?

Fear & Faith

faith, fear, anxiety, christmas story, virgin mary

I didn’t want to go to church last night. But I went. It’s a good thing I did. The last year has been incredibly challenging. I’m tired and worn. A few weeks back, leading up to last week, a series of events happened that have been the straw that has broken the camel’s back.

The events that started a few weeks back opened the door to a type of fear and anxiety I haven’t experienced in many years. I certainly experience stress. But fear and anxiety have not had a grip on me for a very long time.

But oh how bad the last few weeks have been. The story that has played out in front of me is not what I expected. As a result, I let fear overtake me. I have not understood what God is doing or the story He is writing.

When you want to react in fear, respond in faith. – Jason Brinker

My pastor last night talked about Mary’s story and the “plot twists” that surely must have left her confused, filled with fear, and anxiety about what God was doing in her life and family.

This Christmas season we celebrate the birth of Jesus. We have grown {maybe too} accustomed to His story, as my pastor pointed out. I think that’s certainly true for me. I know that in last night’s sermon, I looked at this story from a new direction. And one that fits my life so perfectly now.

An angel visited Mary and shared the “good news” that she would give birth to a child who would be called “the Son of God.” Yikes. Mary, a virgin, and betrothed to Joseph, was undoubtedly confused and fearful. Besides the obvious issue this raised in her relationship with Joseph, the culture she lived in wouldn’t exactly look kindly on news of a pregnant, unwed young woman.

This was not the story she would have imagined as a little girl. I can relate. She didn’t see her life taking shape in such a way. And yet, this was the story God was writing for her. He was writing her into His story of redemption and grace.

Below are the ESV and NIV versions of Luke 1:36-38 – which are the key verses for me, in this story.

NIV – “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

ESV – And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

The news delivered to Mary was what I sometimes like to call “backwards bizarro world” {everything is flipped on its head, nothing makes sense, nonsense becomes logic, etc.}. That’s what the plot twists I’ve experienced have been like. If it had been me in Mary’s shoes, my response probably would have been something like, “SAY WHAT, BRO?”

That’s what my reactions have been like lately, as I walked into backwards bizarro world. But beyond that, I’ve also reacted in fear and anxiety. But instead of reacting in fear, Mary responds in faith.

She responds by saying, “May it be done to me according to your word.” So what’s the antidote to fear? It’s certainly not focusing on the issue that’s causing the fear in the first place. Choosing faith over fear is just that – it’s a choice. But it’s not just based in my own ability to pull myself up by my bootstraps to get through.

It’s based on who I am in Him and what He says about who I am. It’s based on His unchanging Word. Replacing fear with faith requires that I actively take my thoughts captive and focus on what is true and right and lovely.

I don’t understand what God is doing. But in the last few weeks, instead of reacting with faith, I have been consumed with fear and hurt.

When you don’t understand what God is doing, remember what God has spoken.         – Jason Brinker

Besides being incredibly thankful for my pastor’s teaching, I’m also thankful for grace. God is incredibly kind to me that He allows me to change the track I’m on. I share this with you today in case you too are facing circumstances that have left you feeling fearful or confused about the story God is writing.

Do you sense that God is asking you to respond in faith, though you’re tempted to react in fear? I will challenge myself to respond in faith, if you do!

 

 

Say it. Write it. Do it.

 

Paulo Coelho, Life is short, Elaina Avalos, Chasing Dreams

Life is short. There is no better time to say what needs to be said. There is no better time to chase after those dreams.

I’ve stayed quiet when I wanted to speak. I’ve not written words that needed to be written. And I’ve put off what is most on my heart.

Why? Fear of what others would think is a good place to start, though there are other reasons, too. This is no way to live.

I’ve been half-regretting the post I wrote last week. But I think my calling is to write truth whether it’s about my life or not. I also think it’s important to go first – giving others the gift of going second.

There are people out there, struggling. They don’t know where to turn or what to do. And they feel alone in their struggle. No one should. So . . . part of my calling is to be open in that struggle because I have a Hope in me that can’t be denied, no matter what happens around me.

For me, since my faith defines my life, the safest place I can be is when I’m living out my calling – in spite of what others might think of me.

Is it time for you to do a little saying, writing, or doing? Go for it, my friend!

Say it. Write it. Do it.

Waiting & God’s Will

Waiting, God's Will, Worship While Waiting

When I was young, I read a bunch of books by Emilie Barnes. Between her books, my desire to be a mom & adopt, my long standing love of all things homemaking, and entertaining, I was convinced I would be the best wife & mom . . . ever.

In one of Emilie’s books, The Spirit of Loveliness, she writes about how her home often became the center of action for her high-school age kids and their friends. Her son played football and her daughter was a cheerleader. She mentions preparing food with her kids and then feeding 50 football players and cheerleaders.

Her home became a gathering place because of the love, hospitality, openness, and joy her, her husband, and kids exhibited. I thought then {and prayed too} that this is what my house would become someday – full of love, noise, hospitality, and a bit of a revolving door as people came & went.

Waiting, God's Will, Waiting and God's Will

Fast forward to 2017. At 41, my life doesn’t look like that. I get to hang out with some young people. And sometimes I feed them. But, I don’t have kids or a family.  There is still so much of what I’ve prayed for, for so many decades, that remains a distant dream.

Whatever the circumstances might be, waiting when you don’t truly know what’s on the other end, isn’t easy. I wish I could say it was. There’s a tendency in the delays to despair. Or to believe that perhaps it’s just not meant to be.

Maybe it’s not. Maybe the life I always saw for myself won’t ever happen. But in all of the years of praying, I have continued to ask, and the desire is still there. I guess that means I’ll have to trust His timing.

There is purpose in your season of waiting. – Megan Smalley

Since I can’t see the future {that would be a useful skill, no?} and I don’t believe in psychics {eventually they’re gonna guess right}, trust is my only option. I’m not saying I’ve been getting it right all this time.

In fact, even this very week, I’ve struggled. But sometimes the struggle leads to our greatest lessons. And sometimes it means growing to trust God even more. The truth is, I want what is best for me and I want it His way.

So while I wait, I’ll keep looking forward to that vision of what I always wanted my life and family to look like.  In the meantime, I’ll keep writing, trusting, and praying for the hearts of the ones he’s drawing me toward.

Who loved me through my rebel way
Who chose to carry all my shame
Who breaths in me with endless life
The king of glory Jesus Christ

I will stay should the world by me fold
Lift up Your name as the darkness falls
I will wait and hold fast to Your word
Heart on Your heart and my eyes on Yours

Stay & Wait By Joel Houston

Advice from Oprah on Trying & Failure

Oprah, Oprah Winfrey, dreams, leap of faith, trying, failure

A few years ago, I ran into the image below on Pinterest. I immediately added it as a profile photo on Facebook. I could not even help myself. It’s adorable but also a reminder for us dreamer types. To keep pressing forward, we have to believe in our abilities and in the rightness of the journey (see what I did there), in the first place.

0636a1f4bd742b272354cc054dbaa541

I jumped into the fire in June, by becoming an indie author. My first novel is called Chasing HopeI’m not sure I was ready. But knowing how I am, I’m so glad I jumped when I did. I’m not sure time would have better prepared me. It’s far more likely that I would have found a multitude of reasons why I shouldn’t publish my novel.

Now that I’m a month into this process, I am not selling as many books as I would like. There’s a temptation to let that discourage me. I certainly felt that a few times this weekend. But this is just a distraction from the main point . . .

I took a leap of faith. Now is not exactly the time to stop believing.

Duh.

Like with anything, when you take a big risk, or at least what feels like a big risk, you hope to see some reward. That’s a no-brainer.

Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it. – Oprah Winfrey

But some of our reward comes from choosing to step out in faith in the first place and then not giving up. No, really. If you’re not trying, of course you’re not failing. If you’re not trying, you’re never going to accomplish those big dreams of yours.

But taking those steps of faith, whatever they are, are part of the joy of the process. It’s thrilling (really) to do something you’ve dreamed about for decades. It’s actually thrilling.

The thing is, I might fail at this.

There are moments that I care about that. But most of the time, I’m just so excited that I’ve become more focused on finding my way to success. Keep in mind that whatever it is that you’re aiming for, jumping into the fire is not just your first step to success.

It’s actually your first reward along the way, too. Not everyone takes these leaps of faith. Many like to talk, dream, or think about it and yet, they remain fixed and focused on the potential for failure. Their focus on the potential for failure keeps them mired in the same spot.

But, I can tell you that the joy (mixed with a little fear and trembling) that comes from stepping right smack dab into a dream, is the best feeling ever. It has taken me long enough. I hope you will jump in, too.

Feel like jumping into the fire, with me? What’s your big dream?