Fearless: The Freedom to Take Risks

Taking risks is scary, but in order to live a bold life, taking risks is often necessary. Thankfully we have the freedom to take risks, and this is why…

Last week we celebrated my daughters 2nd birthday!


Y’all, let me tell you about my little girl. She is absolutely the brightest part of my day. I am crazy about my boys, but I am gushy with her! The moment I go to get her up in the morning, she is beaming with joy. When she comes down the steps, she greets everyone with “g’mornin’!” Wherever we go she says “hello” to anyone and everyone we pass, and waves her farewells when we leave. She spreads joy like it’s jam.



She also will have a meltdown when I take the spoon that she was handing me. She knows she needs help, but desperately wants to do it on her own. She has begun to refuse to hold my hand on the sidewalk, and goes noodle limp when I make her hold my hand in the parking lot. She’s the only child of mine who has been in trouble for hitting another kid in childcare at the YMCA. At 8 months old, army crawling around the house, she would smile at me while she did something she knew she shouldn’t. She still does this, and it drives me bonkers. She will yell at her brothers if they are touching something that she has determined should be hers. Heck, she yells at me if I have my hands on the shopping cart where she doesn’t want them.



She is also fearless. She is the one who will try to climb out on the roof. She is the reason I’m feeling nervous that there is a second floor balcony over our foyer. She is why I cannot relax at the pool. She knows how to get out of the puddle jumper, and she will jump right into the pool. Lord help me. I even dunked her underwater in hopes that it would discourage her from going in alone. Did it work? Nope, she thought it was fun! When we were at the beach, she dove face first into the waves. Only because she didn’t care for the salt water, did she not try that again.



As much as her boldness, and strong-will tires me out, I love it. I want to live with that kind of fearlessness, just without so many melt-downs.

The freedom to take risks…

In my attempts to “warn” my daughter about the water, I think I actually emboldened her. By dipping her under the water, and bringing her up, she knows that she can trust me. By me letting her dive face first into the ocean surf, and then scooping her up, she knows that she can try new things (even if she doesn’t want to do it again). I could have kept her away from the water, but I wanted her to experience it within my grasp. I was ready to “rescue” her, and anticipating the dive. I want her to live fully, and be willing to take risks.

This is how we can live boldly in life. Trusting that the Lord will pick us up when we fall. He doesn’t keep us from falling. Then we would never learn how to swim. We are free to take risks because we can trust that when we fall, we will be met with compassion, and a deeper intimacy in knowing who the Lord is, and who we are.

Right now my favorite song to run to is “You Can’t Stop Me” by Andy Mineo. Yes, I run to rap. Yes, I rap out loud with my hands in the air. And yes, I’m a scrawny little white girl. Anyways… there is a line where he says, “My God is good, He is not safe.” This is how I want to live. Not safely, but boldly. I’ve experienced a deeper life with the Lord by taking risks. Yes, it is uncomfortable, but I am not willing to trade it for safety.

I want to dive face first into the ocean.

The Lord does not keep us from falling. But He will pick us up when we do. Click To Tweet

Your turn…

When was a time in your life you took a risk? What happened? How did it change your relationship with the Lord? Tell me in the comments, or on Facebook, or on Instagram. I can’t wait to hear about it!




Anastasia Taioglou

Present: Responding to God’s Call

Throughout the Bible the Lord calls His people to action. The same is still true today, so how are we to respond to that calling?

There are many things that my kiddos do that drive me nuts. One of them is when I call them, and they say, “what” or “yeah”. My older son now knows how to respond, but my younger son is still learning. This is usually how it goes:

Me: Gage?
Gage: What?
Me: Gage?
Gage: What?
Me: Gage?
Gage: What?
Me: Gage?
Gage: Yes ma’am?

This is the point that I say the command. This is the point that I know he is really listening.

(Please note!! This is not a parenting blog, I am by no means telling anybody how their children should respond or how to train your children. You gotta do parenting the best way that works for you and your family.)

So what about us? How do we respond when we are being called?


I am currently going through the bible study Seamless, by Angie Smith (which is an amazing way to see how the whole bible is woven together). Early in the study I saw a theme emerging of God calling people, and the way they responded. The first example, and the one I’m going to focus on, is Abraham.

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am. He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him… Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together… Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am. He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” Genesis 22:1-3, 8, 10-12

This is how I picture this happening in today’s setting

God: Hey Abraham!
Abraham: Yes, I’m here.
God: You know your son?
Abraham: Who?
God: You know, your only son. The one you waited decades for and didn’t have until you were a hundred?
Abraham: Oh yeah, him. What about him?
God: I want you sacrifice him.


Responding to God’s call…

Respond immediately
There is no hesitation in Abraham’s response. He doesn’t even know the exact location of where he is to go. He just knows he needs to go. God only gives us the information we need at the moment we need it, not before.

God only gives us the information we need at the moment we need it, not before. Click To Tweet

Trust God’s timing
Isaac was actually not his only son. There was also Ishmael. But Isaac was the one promised to him to be the inheritance of a great nation. Ishmael was born as a result of Sarai trying to make God’s promise happen in her timing, and not God’s. God’s promises will come in God’s timing.

God's promises will come in God's timing. Click To Tweet

Trust God for provisions
When his son, Isaac, asks where the sacrificial lamb is, Abraham immediately responds with “God will provide.” At his ripe old age, Abraham has learned to trust God’s calling. Whatever the situation calls for, he knows that God will provide whatever is needed in order to accomplish the calling.

God will provide whatever is needed in order to accomplish the calling. Click To Tweet

Other examples of responding to God’s calling (just in case you are curious)…

JacobAnd God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. Genesis 46:2-3

MosesAnd Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Exodus 3:3-4

Samuel: Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” 1 Samuel 3:4

Isaiah: And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8

Ananias: Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” Acts 9:10

Your turn…

What are you being asked to do?
Are you trusting God’s timing, or yours?
Looking back on your own life, how have you seen the Lord provide?


Aware: Knowing Our Strengths and Weaknesses

Often, the attribute we consider a strength can also be our weakness. Likewise, the things we see as weakness in ourselves may just in fact be our strength.

Watching my children grow and develop into their own selves is an incredibly rewarding experience. Of course, it’s also maddening and terrifying. Even though I see so much strength in them, I know they will also struggle with their weaknesses as they experience in life.

My specific prayer for my oldest son, and the meaning behind his name, is that he would not only be strong but also bring strength to others. I see this being developed in him, and it’s beautiful. He is incredibly compassionate and has a tender heart with a desire to care for others who are hurting. Unfortunately, he also gets his feelings hurt easily. I don’t want him to hide from others, seeking protection. But it’s his compassion that makes him sensitive. It’s his strength and his weakness. He also has a desire for fairness and justice. Unfortunately, he can be lazy and selfish, only concerning himself with his own justice. Life is rarely fair, and I don’t want him to only do the minimum required just so he is not taken advantage of, but it’s recognizing the desire for justice in himself that will spur him on to speak up for others. It’s his strength and his weakness.

For my younger son, I pray that he will be loyal and a trustworthy man whose word is true and dependable. He is a hard worker and already a huge help when working on projects around the house. Unfortunately, he finds it difficult to communicate which results in vast amounts of frustration. I don’t want him to feel inadequate because he is unable to use words. His ability to express himself with his actions and creativity is amazing. It’s his strength and his weakness.

I pray for my daughter to be a bright light to others, to bring joy to those who need to be uplifted. She’s bright alright, bright like a fireball! I have lots of praying to do…

The attribute we consider a strength can also be our weakness. Click To Tweet

 Strengths and Weaknesses…

We were each created in a specific way, designed for a purpose. As my friend Cheryl said in her guest post, “I can never be you, and you can never be me.” Each of us are given our unique gifts, and quirks. We each have valuable gifts and strengths to share with each other. This is how we function best in relationships, the church, and society.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6, ESV

This does not, however, mean that we are not to weed out certain areas in our lives. With each of those strengths, comes a weakness which we are prone to. There are parts of us that need to be challenged, weaknesses that need to be strengthened. I believe this is the ploy of our soul’s enemy. He is a deceiver, and perverter of the good our Creator has made. The enemy cannot create things of his own, so he twists what the Lord has made.

To begin the process of strengthening our weaknesses, we must acknowledge them.

Our weaknesses can be related to our strengths. Perhaps your strength is…

organizing… but get irritated when things don’t go as planned.

flexibility… but struggle to complete a task.

being driven… but become obsessive.

serving others… but get taken advantage of.

dreaming… but don’t complete a project.

having endurance… but collapse under the strain.

responsibility… but don’t give out of abundance.

trustworthiness… but don’t trust others.

determination… but don’t know when to ask for help.

diligence… but don’t take risks.

compassion… but get your feelings hurt.

communicating… but say too much and hurt others.

Once we have identified our strengths, or talents, that the Lord has given us, we can be aware of how the enemy will try to twist it in order to make us less effective. Then, we repent of it, and tell Satan to “be gone“!

Your turn…

Just like we each have different strengths, we each have our own weaknesses. I challenge you to recognize and be aware of that weakness, and allow our Creator to use it. The Lord will use it for His glory. He will use you in mighty ways if you will allow Him.

What are your strengths, and what are your weaknesses?


Meiying Ng

Approved: Freedom From Pleasing Others

Sometimes we find ourselves looking to others for approval to confirm our self-worth. This is unfair to those around us, and to our own well-being. We need to be free from the trap of pleasing others.

My name is Rachael, and I’m addicted to the approval of others.

It has come to my attention that if I don’t receive praise, then it must mean that I am doing something wrong. Nobody is telling me anything negative, but I perceive silence as just that. I then begin to doubt myself. Now, please understand, this doesn’t mean that I should receive more praise. It means I shouldn’t need the approval of others in order to remain motivated. Somewhere along the way I have become an approval junkie.

This doubt creeps into several areas of my life. With parenting, I want to be told that I’m a good mom, and for others to recognize how well mannered my children are. With my health, I want others to find value in my knowledge and experience. With writing, I want to be told that my words were helpful. With my house, I want to know that my cleaning and cooking are appreciated and enjoyed.

Do you see it? Do you see the pattern? It’s all about me. It’s about my achievements, my talents, my sacrifices. I’m glorifying myself and expecting others to give me praise. The really pitiful part is when I go fishing for compliments. You know, the whole woe-is-me mentality. Telling others that I’m not good at something just so they will tell me that’s not true and I really am great. That’s so pathetic.

This also indicates to me that I find my identity in what I do, not who I am. There is nothing I can do, and nothing I cannot do, that will ever change who I am. And I am loved by God. He fought for me, and died for me. Whatever may happen, that truth remains.

There is nothing I can do, and nothing I cannot do, that will ever change who I am. Click To Tweet

No doubt that it feels good to be recognized, and to be given a sincere compliment. Realistically, however, I will never please everyone. And I’ll never please anyone all the time. I can’t expect to receive compliments for everything I do. I’m either going to be too honest, or too guarded. I’m either too permissive with my kids, or too restrictive. I’m either too healthy and intimidating, or I’m a slacker and need to do better. I want to feel justified in my thoughts and actions, so I look to others for affirmation.

Before I can stop looking to others for approval, I have to stop making myself the center of attention. When I focus on myself, everything else in life loses focus. My parenting suffers and I become short-tempered with my children. My health becomes too much pressure and turns into a chore. My writing becomes empty and pointless. My house begins to be a point of resentment because of the never ending supply of laundry and dishes.

Freedom from Pleasing Others

To achieve this…

First, I must repent. I have to apologize to my Savior. I have placed myself in the position that belongs to Him alone. After this I can change my focus, and redirect myself back to The Lord.

Secondly, I have to stop putting unrealistic expectations on those unknowing people in my life. I am looking to them to fill something in my life that is not their responsibility.

Only after this am I able to let go of the need for approval. I want to live this life seeking only the approval of my Lord. People die, family moves away, friendships fade, and marriages end. But God remains. Only the Lord is able to give me security.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10, ESV

Unfortunately this is not a one and done lesson in life. Several times a week (or day) I have to repent, and then re-position my focus on what my main focus is, which is to glorify God. I want to love Him and to be obedient to Him and to what He has called me to do. I want to be a woman who exudes love because that is what is within me. I don’t want to hold back that love because of fear that it will not be returned in the way I think it should be. I want to encourage others because that is what God has created me to do, not because I secretly crave it for myself.

My name is Rachael, and I am a recovering approval junkie.

Your turn…

How do you find validation from others?

Do you find self-worth in the things you do?

Lord, forgive us for placing ourselves as the main attraction. Forgive us for finding our value and worth in people, and things, and activities. Lord, thank you for continually pursuing us, and challenging us, bringing us into a closer relationship with you. Thank you for your goodness and patience. Amen.

Silvestri Matteo

Support: The 6 People You Absolutely Need in Your Life

We all need to be surrounded by people to challenge us to be our better self. These are six examples of people who will support and help you be who you were created to be.

This past week I decided to do a whirlwind trip back to Greenville, South Carolina. I needed to pick up new items that will be appearing soon in the shop, and I was feeling a bit homesick for the town and the people. So on Monday morning I sent my oldest son off to school (we have year round school here), packed up my younger two, and hit the road. One potty stop, and four hours later we arrived and accomplished the first goal of the trip, picking up the items. After that was accomplished, it was on to hug some necks. And boy, did I ever hug! Good, soul-filling hugs.

I got to hug the neck of a sweet lady who is experiencing deep grief at the moment. Then I got to hug and drink coffee with a friend while we watch our kiddos run and play. After being revitalized there, I pulled myself away to have dinner and stay the night with the most giving and gracious woman I have ever known. My whole time knowing her, she has inspired me to be kinder and more generous, and she gives great hugs too! The next morning I went back to my old cycle class at the YMCA. So many people I love in one place at one time. I got to hug the precious lady who is in charge of the child watch. I love that woman, she has touched more lives than she will ever know. I got to hug so many friends while I was there. So many sweaty hugs were to be had! But I still wasn’t done… I then met up with a friend for brunch who continually impresses me with all that she juggles, and all that she accomplishes. I didn’t want to leave, I could have sat with her all afternoon, but alas, my 2 year old was beginning to melt down, and I needed to hit the road so I could be home before my son got off the bus that afternoon.

My heart was so full after that 24 hours. I was able to see so many people that have encouraged me, helped me, and challenged me over the last few years. There were so many more who I wished I could have seen, but there was only so much I could do in the little time I had. Many of these women were the inspiration for a blog post I had written a couple years ago, so I wanted to share it again.

If you are ever struggling with your day, or week, or even year, these people will be there to keep you going, or in some cases, keep you still. They love you and want what is best for you and your family. These are…

The 6 People You Absolutely Need in Your Life

The Dreamer: This is the person that is always coming up with ideas. Every time you see them they have a new adventure planned and one for you as well.

!!!!Warning, don’t be tempted to lose focus and get off the path you are on.

The Motivator: This is the person that once you have an idea, they tell you should go for it. They think you are the best at whatever it is that you are doing, or at least make you feel that you are.

!!!!Warning, don’t let this prompt you to act before you are ready.

The Brainstormer: This is the person that will keep you going once you have an idea or plan by keeping your mind focused on what you can do to keep improving.

!!!!Warning, planning is a good thing, but be sure to take action after you have done your planning.

The Realist: This is the person that will keep you in check and not allow you to run too far ahead.

!!!!Warning, this can feel like discouragement, but that is not the intent.

The Questioner: This is the person that will ask challenging questions to make you think through all the steps. The questions are not to discourage or encourage. Just to make you think through every possible angle.

!!!!Warning, nothing will ever have all the kinks worked out, don’t let this immobilize you.

The Encourager: This is the person that will shower you with compliments and make you feel like you are changing the world. And they will do this just about the time you want to give up.

!!!!Warning, this person loves you and what you do, don’t let it cause you to think higher of yourself than you should.

Some of the people in your life will have more than one of these traits. Or you may have multiples of one kind of people in your life. Life is too complicated and busy to spend time on discouraging thoughts. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and challenge you!

Life is too complicated and busy to spend time on discouraging thoughts. Click To Tweet

Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and challenge you! Click To Tweet


I love those people back in South Carolina, and am thankful to be finding more of those people here in North Carolina. I could not have pulled this trip off without the help of friends and neighbors. I am truly blessed!

So what about you? Who do you have in your life that encourages you to be who you were created to be?



Ian Schneider