Are Confidence and Courage the Same Thing?

“Jennifer, you are just so confident.” I cannot even begin to tell you how many times some wonderful woman has said that to me. Every time it happens, I cringe on the inside and think, Yeah, right! Girl, I’ve got no real confidence. Me? 

I over-think everything and it leads to insecurities, fears, and self-doubt… but, confidence? Not so much. When women tell me how confident I am, what they are really commenting on is courage.

Courage. Confidence. Do you realize how often those two concepts are mistaken for each other?

Fighting Back with Joy and Sweet Tea – FGF Highlights, Lenoir City, TN

It is so good to be back in Fresh Grounded Faith season! What a fun group of ladies! I love those Tennessee sisters — they make me feel like I’ve come home to hang out with my BFFs that I haven’t seen in years. It was exactly what we needed for our first FGF this month. God is good.

Here are a few photos from our weekend. To see the entire album, click here. Thank you, Vicki Simmons, for the beautiful photos! Also, here are your photo booth pics. So fun!

Our volunteers rocked, as did their fearless leader, Sabrina Stamper. Big thanks to all of you! And while I’m at it, thank you to First Baptist Church Lenoir City and the four co-host churches for loving us so well.

And I had some of my favorite people with me this weekend…

When You Feel Out of Your League: Encouragement for the Self-Doubters

“I can’t believe I am 53 years old! I don’t feel qualified to be this age.”

That’s what I told Phil as we drove home from seeing our new grandbaby.

He laughed and reminded me that I say that about most areas of my life. Unfortunately, he is right.

I mean, there have been days I’ve thought, What am I doing writing blogs and books? I am way too under-qualified to write – like I have all this life stuff figured out?!

Or, I will be standing in front of my kitchen sink, self-doubt covering my heart and suds covering my hands, reviewing my latest parenting issue and think, Why can’t I master this mom-job? It feels so much bigger than me.

Or, inevitably before I get on stage to speak, I’ve fought the feeling that I am too immature or too inexperienced or too inadequate to open my mouth!

Do you ever feel out of your league when it comes to living your life, or pulling off your purpose, or following your calling?

Why Victory Makes You Vulnerable

Sometimes life just wears us out, right? When we have to climb mountains of stress or sorrow, we just get tired. Hard stuff can wear us out and leave us feeling powerless.

But, sometimes our most vulnerable tired comes after we have stood on a mountain of success and seen God’s power.

Have you ever felt that kind of exhausted – the kind of soul-tiredness that shows up on the heels of a race well run?

Live, Love, and Soar: How to Find Joy in the Season You’re In

It’s Sunday night and for the first time in 28 years, I am wandering around my kitchen trying to figure out what to do tomorrow morning. I don’t need to wake up a child for school like I have done for the past two decades, every Monday morning.

I don’t have to check the fridge to think ahead about what I will make for breakfast tomorrow. I don’t need to pull out a lunch box and make sure it is clean and free of Friday’s sticky leftovers. I don’t need to go into a boy’s room and check on his homework or his heart.

I don’t need to go ask anyone about their schedule for the coming week so I can plan transportation or meals. I don’t need to load the dishwasher so my kitchen is not such a mess at 6:00 AM because I don’t have to get up at 6:00 AM and there are only two coffee cups in there anyway.

It was only yesterday that I held my firstborn. It was only yesterday he started kindergarten. It was only yesterday that his little brother was born. It was only yesterday that we listened to Adventures in Odyssey. It was only yesterday that I snuck a paper cup full of Goldfish and Cheez-Its onto the top bunk because he couldn’t sleep. It was only yesterday that our house was full of the pings and buzzes of Mario and Pokemon. It was only yesterday that we were at orthodontists and soccer practice and debate tournaments and orchestra concerts and parent/teacher conferences and graduations.

It was only yesterday, but yesterday now feels like a thousand years ago.

3 Scriptures to Help You Stand Strong: The Battle is the Lord’s

My hand was on the door handle, ready to open the stall and leave the bathroom. But then I heard familiar voices and stood perfectly still. The Sunday worship service was about to start, and two women from the church were standing at the sink talking about our pastor while washing their hands. They thought they were alone. Their comments about him were small and mean. They took turns criticizing the pastor’s sermon, his tie, and even his hair. I was so angry I could barely breathe.

That pastor? He was my dad.

3 Gifts God Gives You When You Feel Insecure

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV

Well, sister, that is some good news, right? Now, if I could only live it out!

I often lack confidence. Timidity sometimes gets the best of me. And, I bet you know exactly what I’m talking about. Timidity, fear, and a lack of confidence aren’t what our Father gives His daughters.

When You Need to Be Cradled in God’s Compassion

When I was pregnant with our first son, I thought that baby would never be born! I was so late delivering him that I actually dreamed I was an old woman — gray hair and all — still pregnant, panicking in my doctor’s office, begging him to do something!

Weird dream, I know. The point is, near the end of a pregnancy, a mama feels worn out. It’s easy to feel like the whole thing is lasting just a little too long, and that’s even when the baby comes on his due date!

Sixteen very long, swollen, puffy, unattractive, exhausting days after we expected our son Clayton to be born, the doctor used a steady stream of Pitocin to coax him out of the womb and into the world. I was so relieved!

Funny how those late arrivals seem to take their time and run late even when they’re teenagers. Too bad a Pitocin drip doesn’t work on them!

There is a reason a baby is supposed to stay in his mama’s womb for 40 weeks — he needs that time to grow, develop and be nourished. A baby born prematurely is at risk and a baby who is very late in arrival is at risk, too.

When Resentment Steals Your Joy: 4 Questions and 1 Prayer

Resentment. We all feel it from time to time.

It’s like the invisible undertow in the ocean that sweeps away even the most experienced swimmer. It pulls at us. It sucks us down into a pit of bitterness.

We hold a grudge. We secretly fume about what he said or she did. We keep a running list of how we’ve been wronged. We review how we’ve been hurt.

It is subtle until it is sudden.

How to Escape a Boring Life and Live a Better Story

In case you missed it, I’m officially a GiGi! I am just beside myself with joy, and I have no time to write because I am holding a sweet baby boy. So I asked my smart, fun, lovely friend Margaret Feinberg to help me out — she’s going to share with you on the blog today. She’s hung out with us before, and I know you love her as much as I do. 

But, girl, today, she is going to share with you how to not only live the life you long for, but write about it, too. I have met so many of you who say you want to write a book or a blog and my girl, Margaret, can help you do just that — in the most brilliant way. So, enjoy what she has to say and let me know what you think! 

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My husband, Leif, is from Alaska. We spent the first five years of marriage living in his hometown of Sitka as well as the capital, Juneau. In each of these towns, cruise ships arrived throughout the summer.

On the busiest days, more than 20,000 people would disembark those ships and fill the tiny towns. The majority of visitors were in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. Many were barely able to walk. Some dragged an oxygen tank behind them.

I found myself welling with admiration for these feisty travelers. They fought hard to realize their lifelong dream of visiting Alaska. Way to be courageous. Way to overcome obstacles.

But the longer we stayed in Alaska, the more I heard these amazing visitors repeat the same story: They had lived their whole lives with a bucket list. Alaska was always in the top five things they wanted to do, but it never reached number one.

By the time they arrived, they physically couldn’t participate in the activities, tours, and hikes that reveal Alaska’s most splendid beauty. They couldn’t hike into the ice caves of Mendenhall glacier to see the mesmerizing sapphires of ancient winters’ beauty. They were unable to kayak along the shore with seals splashing alongside. They couldn’t hike the mountains’ crest to behold Alaska’s rugged coastline while munching on sweet wild salmonberries.

Why do I share that?