The Tension Between Trust and Belief

Lately my prayers are full of tension between belief of "Lord do it! You can! I believe!" to trusting "Yet, Your will be done!"

Trust and belief.

Neither of these has ever come easy for me. I'm stubborn, I question everything, I'm too self-reliant, I don't like to ask for help, and I love playing devil's advocate. I've struggled in this tension ever since Jesus said to me, 18 years ago, "Follow me" and I finally said, "Let's do this!"

I trust and believe, then I doubt and question, then I repent and repeat.

I have only recently found real freedom in this tension. I will never understand the Lord and His ways. The more I know Him and read His words, the more I understand this is exactly how it's always been and, mostly likely, exactly how it's supposed to be. Even so, I trust and believe. I may not trust and believe in my current circumstance, and I'm not supposed to. I can, however, trust and believe Him, even when it doesn't make sense. Especially when it doesn’t make sense.

I'm about to be very vulnerable with you all. I don't believe I've ever said any of this out loud, expect just to a few that are most close to me. I shared with you that I want to be a writer and you just heard all about my failures, but I didn't tell you everything.

My recent tension in prayer has been this--  

"I want to be on this shelf. Your will be done."

 

Since college I stuffed this dream, this feeling, this knowing, this hope, as far down as it could go. I hid behind humility. "No not me. I don't need to be published. No, I don't want to be the next Beth Moore; I just want to be Becky. I don't need a publishing deal."

Truth? I was lying. I wanted to be exactly like Beth Moore. I still do. (I can't believe I said that out loud.)

I stuffed this because I feared that I could never measure up. You know why? Beth Moore wasn't an international bestseller and speaker to me; she was my Sunday school teacher. I've never wanted to be like the bestseller and stadium filling Beth Moore, largely because I don't know her. I'm not much for Christian celebrity. I've wanted, however, to be like my Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Moore.

I sat in the middle left and took notes as fast as my baby Christian hands could each Sunday. I picked up the cassette tapes (yes, cassette tape) of the previous weeks teaching and listened to it at least 5 times each week. I could not get enough. I had absolutely no clue others knew who she was-- quite a surprise when I went to college and saw others with my Sunday school teacher's Bible studies! I thought it was cool that our church bookstore sold them for her. (Ha!)

She taught me that the Word could be hilarious and unbelievably practical. She taught me that I was accepted and loved regardless. She taught me that He desires radical obedience. She taught me that His Word was all I needed. She taught me that, even at 16, you could flip through His Scriptures and dive in deep and study Greek words. She taught me how God can use anyone if you say yes to Him when He asks. She taught me that serving your church in teaching is one of the sweetest gifts you can give. Investing in others as often as you can with the gifts you've been given is the best kind of offering. She taught me that prayer was foundational and couldn't be replaced with studying scripture.

She's never once made it about her, even when others do. I've never walked away more impressed with her, but every single time totally in awe of the God she teaches and more obsessed with His Word. In our generation of platform building, she breaks every rule. She doesn't just say He is enough; she lives it. Nothing has been about our likes, comments, applauses or purchases. It's been a beautiful model for this young teacher and writer.

She always has and always will be one of my greatest heroes-- never longing to have her same fame, just her same level of impact. Does that make sense?

Then comes along the Internet and all the insecurities of my lack of measuring up were confirmed. Do you know how many women have a passion very similar to mine? About one billion and twenty-three give or take a few.

Do you feel this way too? How could you possibly measure up? You are so far behind and can't ever get a break or catch up. Hang tight and keep reading. I so hope you are encouraged today, friend.

Back to my dream, knowing, hope, and now, very public, prayer: this shelf.

I want to be published by Lifeway. I want to write Bible studies for Lifeway.

I know a lot of people want to write books, and I'm open to that too if the Lord brings book ideas to me.

Today, I want to write Bible studies. I know I already do through Sacred Holidays. I do this because I believe we can do the very thing God has called us to right now. We have to start somewhere, train ourselves up to the thing God has for us. The training is not wasted and it's also absolutely needed. Too many of us are waiting when we should be training. Too many times we are waiting for the big moment, like the Olympics is all that mattered for those athletes this summer. Every single practice and competition before this day mattered. And every step after the Olympics matters. We don't have one moment of a calling waiting for us, maybe for some, but not for most. Each day is a part of our journey. A new chance to say yes to God and love others.

I believe there is still more to come for me-- particularly standalone (non-seasonal) studies. More doesn't make what is before me now any less, just different. 

I want to write standalone Bible studies because I desperately want to help women love God's Word and see it as enough. I talk to too many women that struggle to spend time with Him and my heart breaks for them. I get it. I know it's normal. Yet, I want to write studies that ignite a passion for women in God's Word! Not a routine or an obligation or a checklist. Nope, I want women to know that it really and truly is "living and active" (Hebrews 4:12). 

We read a lot of books and blogs and magazines. We listen to a lot of preachers and podcasters and friends. We need more scripture in our lives-- God's unfiltered Word speaking right to us. 

For so long I thought my desires were impure in wanting to be published by Lifeway. I thought I had made it about myself. Did I want the fame? The glory?

I can honestly say that's not even close to it after having experienced all sides of self-publishing four studies now. Self-publishing works best for Sacred Holidays right now. However, I would LOVE to have the hearts, minds and souls within the walls of Lifeway all throughout the studies I write separate from Sacred Holidays. Why? Frankly, they know more than I do.

I love to write and teach and will keep doing it as long as the Lord gives me words. However, I really don't like everything else. I would love to be freed up to not be the shipping director, marketing team, proof reader, content editor, designer, etc. We do have a team of people working with me now and they are rocking it. Even so, for a stand-alone study, I want the wisdom of the editors, the creativity of those designers, the insight of whoever else is behind the name. I know they aren't perfect. No one is.

I want to be freed up to write, teach, minister and be lead. I already am a writer and teacher. However, I want to become a better writer and teacher. I fully believe that by joining forces with a publisher that, together, we can create better materials than apart.

This past week I texted some friends and asked them to pray this with me. Tonight I felt like I should put this before you all too.

Will you pray with and for me?

Here's the catch: Lifeway has a "Don't find us, we will find" you policy when it comes to Bible study writers. There's no way in until they find you.

So will you join me in praying for a way in? Then join me in praying, "His will be done." Full of faith that He could, and trusting whatever is best. The trusting doesn't allow room for God to not pull through on the first, but to do whatever is best because I don't know what He does. As my former paster, Curtis Jones, used to say (paraphrased): "We don't add the "Thy Will be done" because we are afraid He can't. We add it because we know His way is better. So we come with all our faith in what we are asking of Him knowing He has our best in mind."

What can you pray for yourself today? Give it to God-- full of faith and full of trust.

What can you pray for your friends today? Often times it's hard for our friends to see the things that God has for them, so we need to pray full of faith and trust until they can see it.

If you know others who are going through this, will you share this post with them? 

I'll leave you with a song that just came on my Pandora station as I made my final read through on this blog post. I'd never heard this song before, but it's absolutely perfect:

"Thy Will Be Done" by Hilary Scott

3 Questions with Kaitie Bryant

Kaitie Bryant is a new (virtual) friend of mine. I met her as I was looking for contributors for the Sacred Holidays Advent Devo for Women because several people had recommended her, and I can see why! Kaitie's social media feed is as beautiful as her photography and as honest as her writing. I'm excited for y'all to get to know her too. She lives in suburban Atlanta with her husband and two boys. She is the co-founder of Gather Workshop, an intimate business workshop designed to encourage and educate the creative entrepreneur. She loves exclamation points, coffee, cheesy jokes, 90s rap, dancing in the kitchen, books about ordinary life, Ikea, and Jesus. 

What is some of the best advice you’ve ever received or would give?

I was having coffee with a wise friend of mine and sharing some difficult parenting situations with her, and her response came from her own experience as a mom in different seasons of big challenges.  She told me something so simple but really profound: get close to Jesus and stay close to Him.  I can't thank her enough for saying that.  She didn't try to pretend to know all the answers on what my specific child needed and a 12 step program for parenting because there isn't one.  But she gave me the best advice and one that I come back to each day that I need to stay close to Jesus and He will lead me in the way I should go in all things. 

 

How do you best connect with God?

I best connect with God through nature.  God has really taught me so much in walks outside, seeing beautiful mountains and oceans and also the regular daily activity of natural life.  In so many ways the scriptures that I read come alive to me in nature, and God seems to have created the whole world with his truth woven into every part of it.

 

What is a favorite thing of yours right now?

My favorite thing right now is Greg McKeown's book, Essentialism.  I HIGHLY recommend this book and reference it at least once a day.  There are so many good things about the book, but my favorite bit is when he talks about focusing on what your area of highest contribution and eliminating all the other areas to give your most to that one area.  I love the phrase, "do less, but better."  His book resonates with me and is something I'm really wanting to characterize how I live life.

 

Connect more with Kaitie by checking out her website, following her on Instagram, and friending her on Facebook. Also, check out Gather Workshop and follow them on Instagram, too!

- Check out the 3 Questions series. -

Three Questions: Intro

I am so excited to introduce you all to a new series I'll be hosting on my blog: Three Questions!

I will be asking Three Questions to people who I think have lived a significantly remarkable life (some of the names you will know and others will be the first you've heard them). We have so much to learn from others and I can't wait for you to learn from these women and men-- they have each made a huge impact on me! 

So you have an idea of what this will be like, I will be asking them all the same Three Questions: 

1. What is some of the best advice you've ever received or would give?

2. How do you best connect with God? 

3. What is a favorite thing of yours right now? 

 

I also thought that if I'm going to put them in the hot seat, I should go first. So here we go, my friends, our very first installment of Three Questions--

1. What is some of the best advice you've ever received or would give?

This is such a loaded question and I could have about 1 billion answers. So I’ll go with the most recent. “Becky, if you could do ONE thing in 20 years would you want it to be A or B?”

I met with a coach recently and she asked me to put two big dreams of mine head to head. I had never done that. I embrace all dreams and all pursuits, unless I feel like the Lord says “no go.” I live constantly in the here and now, that sometimes I forget that every here and no becomes 20 years from now. So when I had to answer I surprised myself with that answer. It has been wildly helpful in every next step I take each day with my family, our church, our community, my personal writing and ministry, and Sacred Holidays. 

 

2. How do you best connect with God?  

(Another HUGE questions. My future interviewees won’t have it easy. #sorrynotsorry)

Clearly I believe there are many ways to connect with God. For me, I have two favorites:

Early mornings before anyone is up (even though I’m totally a night owl, so before kids, this all took place at night after roommates were in bed). I have hot coffee, open journal and His Word. I start first with journaling and praying. I pause and reflect. I try to listen. Sip more coffee so I don’t fall asleep. About this time I open the curtains so I can see the morning sun start to spread across the sky and break through the trees in our front yard. I love doing Bible studies from time to time, but often I just like to read through the Bible at whatever pace happens naturally—typically I’m in a book of the Bible or several books (currently reading the prophets in chronological order). I interact with His Word by underlining and circling and making notes in the columns. I journal about parts that are particularly impactful. Then usually pit patters and request for breakfast interrupt this time.

My other favorite is anything in nature—toes in the sand, mountain air, buzz of a busy city street. I love it all. I struggle with faith but when I see all He has created, I am in awe. It is good for my soul to get out and be around what He has created. 

 

3. What is a favorite thing of yours right now?

The Olympics. We are slightly obsessed. We are also ridiculously tired! Anyone else? I feel like a college student except for I don’t get a second wave and am also totally done the next day. I love it so much though and we keep saying that it only happens once every four years, so we need to live it up. My favorites to watch are swimming and gymnastics. However, you could talk me into watching pretty much anything. 

Close second: meeting the neighbors. I do mean close, because it could be first. We have lived on our street for a little over a year and we have met all our neighbors but not really started to connect. Well this past couple of weeks that has all changed. When Chandler turned one and started walking, I felt like a whole new world has opened up to me. I've also gotten better about prioritizing our time, so had more time to actually have people over and not just wave from the driveway. This has been super fun to make great friends on our same street! 



Would you like to have me ask someone these questions? No one is too big or too small for me. Submit their information here:

Name *
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Best FREE Stock Photo Sites

Finding stock photos that are both awesome and truly free is nearly impossible. I get so irritated when I search for "free stock photos" then am told that I will get "free stock photos" but I either end up having to pay or sign my entire life away to get them. No thank you. 

I wanted beautiful images for social media and the studies we write with Sacred Holidays and like most start ups, my budget was zero. After nearly a year, these are my favorite go to pages. I've had them bookmarked individually but thought I'd pull them all together... for both of us.

In no particular order, since all our preferences are different, these are my top sites I go to with a little description of each: 

Albumarium

I want to like this site, and I do because if you want high quality and free, well you can only be so picky. However, I feel like their download time is really slow. Also, the search fields and selections and fresh uploads seems lacking. Still, I still use the site because the photos that I like, are worth it. I just feel you have to dig a little. 

 

Death to the Stock Photo

So the major disadvantage of this one is the you can't search for what you want, they email you 10 a week once you sign up by giving them your email. I will tell you they really don't spam and you really do get 10 high quality images each week. I wouldn't recommend this unless you use stock photos on a regular basis. They are actually some of my favorite pictures and works if you file pictures away to use on specific projects. Not good if you are always looking last minute. 

 

Gratisography

This site I LOVE but it is not for everyone. They have "normal" stock photos, but if you like to have fun with the images you use, they will have exactly what you were hoping to find! They allow a lot of humor in the images that they host on their site. They still have the standard looking kind as well too. This is one of the first sites I start with. 

 

Life of Pix

Selection is good, not amazing. I always feel like I have to dig more. Still it's free, so that's awesome. 

 

PicJumbo

This site is a good one BUT there is a slight catch. They have free images AND paid. Of course when you search they show you both. There are plenty to choose from in the free but with the even more awesome paid ones right next to the freebies, you will be tempted to pay or disappointed at times. So consider yourself warned. 

 

Pexels

Great photos with high quality and a wide variety of artistic expressions. Easy to search. They do ask you to donate to support the cause, but it is not pressured or required. 

 

Unsplash

This site is definitely one of my very favorites and most used. I feel like they upload new photos frequently (this is important if you are using stock photos frequently). I also don't feel like I see their pictures everywhere else (people like free stock photos and once you use these sites you'll see lots of repeats). It's easy to download and pics are high quality. You can easily search in the top bar whatever category you'd like. 


Happy browsing, my friends! 

Bookmark this page now, so you can get the free sites anytime. 

Share it on Pinterest so you have it there and all your pinning friends can be in the know too. 

Share this link in Facebook groups of small business owners, we gotta help each other out! 

Why I'm Going Facebook Live

I didn't want to do it because we do NOT need another social media channel.

So I avoided filming videos and uploading them to YouTube and then to a website or sharing it other places. Who has time for that? Then I avoided Periscope too. I really wanted to jump on that wagon but I just couldn't do one more social media thing. Then Facebook started Facebook Live and I have been trying to find reasons not to do it, ignoring the encouragement of many friends. 

I'm a believer in Jim Elliot's quote: "Wherever you are, be all there." While he wasn't referencing social media, but actual people in an actual community, I still think it applies... and it happens to be a major motivator for going Facebook Live

I am not a part of a church that has tons of women's classes on Sundays or during the week. This was an adjustment for me as I've always had a place were I could teach. I'm grateful for this shift-- it's created space for God to move and grow our family and me personally. Sacred Holidays wouldn't be in existence had this space not been created. Our family wouldn't be where we are, both literally and figuratively, if this space hadn't been created. However, I've grieved not being able to teach and speak as frequently. 

I've struggled with why I felt sad about this. Could it be vanity? Am I not content with where God has me? I don't think that's the issue. 

This morning was a big breakthrough. As I've been reading through the Prophets, I've realized they had a message that they HAD to speak.

Do you relate to that? Is there something you just HAVE to do? You may not even know what IT is yet, but you know there is something. 

For me that thing is teaching. It comes in various forms-- sharing on Instagram something I learned or saw that day, writing a blog post when I have something that I just have to write out, and then, occasionally, speaking in person at events and women's prisons. There are so many times I'm reading in God's Word and I think, oh I have to share it! The back of my journal is filled with blog posts that have never been written. My inbox is filled with reminders to write about things God has showed me (anyone else use their Inbox as their running To Do list?). Occasionally, I'll share on Instagram and Facebook if I can condense the message, but the best ones are in draft form. Blogging takes time, the good posts anyway. Even then, just words can't quite convey what a face-to-face message could. 

Anyway, I used to feel guilty when the Lord spoke something to me and I wanted to share it with others. I used to think it was some hidden vanity or pride. I knew it wasn't but I thought maybe it was deep down. So I always hesitate to share the things I learn from the Lord or others. I keep silent for fear that I should be content to just be private with the Lord. 

Until today. FREEDOM

For the first time I realized, maybe I have this constant urging to share, not because I'm prideful, but because I am a teacher. I knew I was a teacher, but I never equated this need to share with being a teacher. I never share to impress (anyone that follows me knows that since the majority of what I'm sharing is my failures, ha!). I share because I can't believe what I've read or learned and want so much for someone else to know too! 

So that's why I am going live. 

Jim Elliott encouraged us to be "all there" "wherever" we are and the truth is our society is online, specifically Facebook and Instagram for my people. So I want to be there more fully with you. I want to be able to engage and interact more with you. 

I would love for you to join in on my very first Facebook Live event at 9pm CST. 

<<Click the image below to go to my Facebook Page and friend me. You can turn on notifications so you don't miss it or just come back to my page at 9pm CST.>> 

If you miss tonight's Facebook Live event, you can still go back and watch it and comment after it happens. I will stay active in the comments even after the session is over.