My heart is racing. My run has been over for hours.No.. I’m not having a panic attack or a heart attack… . it’s not a delayed response to the sudden onset exercise.  I’m nervous.  OK- so I’m afraid. Scared, actually.

Within minutes, one of my book proposal ideas is very casually going to be mentioned (presented) to a publisher. By someone else.

I am (basically) freaking out. I’m afraid if it’s a go, that I’ll have to actually produce content.. I’m afraid if it’s a no, I’ll be crushed. (I won’t I’ve had other no’s and handled them. Also honestly?  I think a “No” would make the most logical sense. (Not because of my writing, not because of the idea.. I think it’s marketable fresh and needed) but because of how tough the publishing market is.

Honestly, I thought about ducking for cover and not trying.  I thought about saying “It’s not ready” and fiddling with it for another 9 months. I could have made it sound very holy.  I could have said: “God hasn’t given me a green light.” I would have been lying. I didn’t.

But, I thought about it. I wasn’t even going to tell you. Why?  Cause I am afraid I’ll fail in public.

So why am I telling you?

Cause maybe YOU are afraid of something, too.  Maybe you’re afraid of a final exam, taking that last statistics class, making a life change, or taking a risk. Maybe you’re afraid that your best won’t be good enough.

Well- here’s the thing. I am too. I think we all are.

But there is only one way to find out.

By trying.

By taking the risk.

By giving it our best.

So.  Here I sit. Scared out of my mind, and wondering what will happen next, and sharing it with you.

It’s not comfortable. (I kind of  feel like throwing up, actually)  But you know what?  It feels better than living a story that ends with me chickening out and starting to collect cats and teapots. (oops- I may have watched an episode of “hoarders” to kill some time this afternoon.)

Recently Don Miller posed the question: What If….

Well, hold on, we’re about to find out. What If I actually stopped talking about a book proposal and presented one? (Or had it presented… whatever:P)

(Oh BTW.. please pray for good news..that would be good. I’m asking God for this: I’d like to write a book. (As opposed to a bonfire which is it’s alternate outcome:P)

Here is what I know.. this is my Sacred Echo… I’m sending it out to see if it resonates. PING!

Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Words that are true- regardless of the outcome of any meetings- today or other days.

“MOM!  DAD! I’m ready to take my training wheels off!”

I was not ready to hear that.  Noah, however, was apparently, ready to do it.

While I was still sifting through my emotions, my husband sprang into action.  He grabbed his toolbox and headed outside, funny how Dad’s approach these things differently than moms…..

As the shock wore off, I decided I better grab my own toolbox: AKA: the first aid kit.  While they were happily removing training wheels, preparing for a celebration, I prepared for potential disaster. I did a quick first aid kit inventory check: Band-aids? Check. Neosporin? Check.  Butterfly closures?  Check. Emergency phone numbers?  On speed dial.  Defibrillator? (for me, not Noah.) Check. (Ok, maybe not an actual defibrilliator.. but I did wonder if I would need one.. my heart was pounding!)

“Hurry up Mommy, we’re ready!” Noah yelled, from the front porch.

“But, I’m not.” I replied under my breath.

As I slowly (Why yes, I was stalling, you noticed that?.) put on my shoes, I envisioned all the things that could happen: broken bones, concussions, bruises, lacerations…..

I swallowed hard, trying to shove the fear back where it came from. I reminded myself:  “It’s a rite of passage… he’s ready. The older boys learned, he will too.

I’d stalled as long as I could.  I went outside.  I saw Noah’s face. He was lit up like a Christmas tree.  He was excited and mostly likely a bit afraid. He (and his dad) glowed.

I smiled.

I watched him tighten his helmet like a Wright brother preparing for take-off.

I watched his dad, steady the red “Lightening McQueen”  bike  as he climbed up onto the seat.

I watched my husband start to run along side of him gently pushing the bike.

I watched Noah start to pedal.

The bike wobbled.

“You can do it!” his daddy encouraged.

Their faces glowed with excitement and fear.

Noah pedaled harder, he countered the wobbles with his weight, he was learning to balance. (more…)

Mommy v1.0 was released 12/13/89 (the day my oldest was born) – she was the beta version-  & had a lot of bugs to work out with the new tools she was running.  There were questions whether she should have released Mommy 1.0 or not but she let the software engineer determine the readiness, and the engineer used the early release to improve later versions.

Mommy v2.0 was a slightly better prepared release.  (8/8/92- my middle son’s b-day), but still needed to work out some bugs with multi- tasking and occasional system crashes.

The Mommy v3.0, release (when the older 2 boys went to school) was bumpy, as the previous updates needed a reinstall. Mommy v3.0 ran fairly well with the changes and a system re-boot.  She discovered new tools that she hadn’t had previously like conflict resolution and improved trust capabilities.

Mommy v4.0 was a total surprise release. The Software engineers kept the update under wraps for quite sometime before alerting the end users. However- March of 2002 turned out to be the perfect time to release v4.0 (with Noah’s Birth.) This version was a much smoother implementation- the new version was solidly based on previous updates.  Of course- it held it’s own challenges- but in general the release went well.

I feel like I’m about to be upgraded.  It makes me both a little nervous and excited. Nervous, because I know there are bound to be glitches along with the implementation and excited, because I know I’ll have a new tool bar when it’s completed. I’m not talking about my laptop… I’m talking about my mommy-hardware, my life is changing.

Rumors have it, that Mommy v5.0 is in the works, with an expected release date of September, 2009. The Software engineer is keeping the details of the update in strictest confidence, but as each new version has improved both the platform and the end- users experience, it is expected to be both well recieved, and to have the occasional bug to work out after it’s release.

MommySoft appreciates your patience as we prepare for this new release, and looks forward to serving you in the future, with its new tools!

My oldest is in college, my middle is graduating High School this year and my youngest will start school full-time in the fall… CHANGE is COMING!  To be honest- I don’t know exactly what the changes will look like in my day to day life.  But I know this– when “hardware” changes have happened in the past– God has always used them to update my “software”.

It seems like everytime my laptop updates.. there is a short period of chaos and problems, until the bugs are worked out. My Mommy hard drive goes through something similar.

When life changes- so does a Mom. With each change she has a choice.. to either click the “install updates now” button, or ignore it.  I’ve done both. Sometimes risking system failure or security breach because I was afraid it may be another “phishing” scam not an actual good change.. and sometimes because I don’t see a need to change anything because things seem to be running just FINE.

I mean.. why risk an update when there are bound to be glitches along with the improvements? he answer is the same for Moms as it is for software.. because the new tools and improvements are worth the risk.

Like most mom’s I’ve experienced my share of changes: Childbirth, weaning, walking, potty training, addition of children to the family, moving, job changes, moving, kids starting school, changing schools,income changes, church changes, kids graduating and entering college. The list is infinite. Mothering changes daily.

Click  for more and to see my ever changing family.. (more…)

I stood at the top of  32 concrete steps, straddling my trusty Bubble-Yum pink , Huffy dirt bike, one foot firmly on the concrete, the other on the bike’s pedal.  The steps followed the hill’s steeply contoured driveway down and around from the church’s front door/ drop off spot, to the parking lot.  

This was our favorite and most fearful spot to ride bikes.   I could feel the pink rubber hand grips rubbing the crook of my thumb raw as I twisted my hands nervously.  I knew I was going to make it- I’d done it before.. but still.. I was afraid. My stomache flip-flopped.

32 jolting, jarring steps, building speed, then the long SWOOP, of smooth concrete  where we coasted all the way around the back of the building, finally pedalling again when it was time to climb back up to the top of the hill, to do it again.

Maybe it was luck  or divine intervention, maybe it was skill, but we made it.  Mostly.  And, when we didn’t?  Our bumps and bruises, bloodied knees and road rashed palm injuries,  became badges of courage, not deterrants.  We started to carry bandaids in our bike baskets and seat packs.  We bound up our injuries like a mash unit on site.

What would have scared our mothers to death (had they known what we were doing) was to us- a challenge to be conquered.  And conquer we did. Together, one after another, learning form each others experiences.  We learned that the key was to keep the handle bars aimed  STRAIGHT ahead  and NOT to stop pedaling.  “KEEP PEDALING, you’re almost there!” we screamed to each other. And we did.

Lately, watching the news and hearing how it’s affecting people close to me- has felt a lot like standing at the top of those church steps and riding down, over and over again.  Economic crisis. foreclosure, job loss, bankruptcy, bailouts, ballistic missle testing, starvation, addictions and AIDs..the list of jolting bumps continues.  

Each one is like another concrete step– ”  BANG, BANG, BUMP.” I can feel the jarring jolt as each one touches- me, my family, friends and the world around us. It’s overwhelming, frightening.  Each day you stand at the top of the steps and wonder if you’ll make it down, unscathed.

The difference is-this set of steps can’t be avoided.  I can’t turn around and ride home safely.  However- we can encourage each other, we can care for the bumps, bruises and bloodied knees that we come into contact with. I know this- we are not the first generation to face this kind of crisis and it will end in a coast leading to another hill to climb. 

Today,  I encourage you-keep your wheel turned straight ahead– and KEEP pedaling.  I know the economy sucks, I know the needs are overwhelming and so are the crisis’ we are facing, nationally and individually.  But, we can make it.  We can remind each other to “KEEP your wheel straight! Keep pedaling!” We can help to bind up each others bloodied knees and road rashed palms. Other Someday they will be our generations badges of courage. Reminders of how we made it. through, together.  If we just keep pedaling.

1 Cor 9:24-27

 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

In July- when I originally posted the article below, I had no idea that was God preparing me for what Erwin McManus would be sharing at MOPS Convention. Saturday morning… He spoke from his new book “Wide Awake” The story he shared was so parallel to my own experience that I have to respond. I was shaking when I left that session, tears flooded my face (Mental note- always wear waterproof mascara- to general session I forgot mine- I was a mess) — I can no longer pretend to ignore the dream that haunts, delights and compels me. I can’t keep running up to the edge and stopping just short of jumping to my dream. I have to trust that God will catch me. I have to try. I pray that as I share this re-post- that it will resonate with you the way Erwin’s story resonated with me…. Thank You MOPS International and Mr McManus- for giving me the kick in the butt- that I desperately needed to finally jump.

After reading here- I hope you’ll pop over to the MOPS International Convention Blog to read how Lynne Spears (yes- Lynne- the mother of Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears she spoke during one of our general sessions ) visit to MOPS Convention has impacted me and other moms- It was incredible.

When standing on the edge of… oh, ….ANYTHING. I get that stomach flip flopping, hands sweating, heart thumping- kind of feeling. Not the “Ohhhhh, I’m in love” feeling- it was the other one- FEAR. It could be a bridge, a cliff, or the top of a steep set of stairs. Not quite panic— but fear. The fear is manageable… but I don’t like it. It makes me feel  just a little too human and frail.

Recently I stood on the very edge of my fear. I was on vacation. We were camping and went to the biggest falls in Mighigan. It was a crystal clear Norman Rockwell type waterfall/swimming hole, complete with waterbugs of all ages, jumping into the rapids, heads bobbing up through the foaming water with grins from ear to ear. I carefully walked out to the edge of the falls- to take a pic.  I had not intention of jumping.  But as I watched… my heart yearned to get past the fear. I was missing out on half the experience. I sawthe beauty of the rushing water-but I couldn’t FEEL it.

Was I afraid of the waterfall?

No. Not a bit- In fact, I was so enraptured by it- that I totally forgot how short my legs are when I bent down to snap a pic— let’s just say I ended up a “soggy bottom mom”. It wasn’t the waterfall that had me afraid- it was the JUMPING , that worried me.  What if I got hurt? What if I looked like the pudgey mom of three I know I am- and people watched me? What if I never came back up from the river bottom?

I watched as child after child jumped and swam… I watched as adult after adult proved the safety of the jump, by bobbing back to the surface. I watched as my own friends and family rose out of the rapids- aglow with joy.  A tiny bit of courage started to well up in my soul. I wanted to do it.  I wanted to jump.

I took my camera to the rivers edge and asked my college boy to hold it- and told him NOT to miss getting my pic.  I warned him it could be the last.  He knows his mother- he was shocked I was going out there. I carefully edged out toward the middle. I looked down into the swirling water….I walked back to shore. I handed my camera/security blanket to my oldest, and told him I was going to jump. His jaw fell open and nearly hit the shore. I told him to make sure and get the shot- there would only (probably) be one take.

I made my way to the centerpoint, my feet slipping on algae covered rocks. I stepped aside as 2 9-10 year old girls jumped into the deep. (Ok so maybe it was 4 1/2 feet) I plugged my nose… I unplugged it. I stepped back- I stepped forward.  I finally went to the edge–my heart racing… then I stepped down just one rock lower (No need to make it scarier than it already was!) ….I plugged my nose. I made eye contact one last time with family and friends (just in case) .. and then? I jumped.

The water seemed to jump up to catch me. It was not at all like the tearing, torrent that I’d imagined. It was cool, refreshing. Embracing. I sank to the bottom, and my feet found a foot hold on the riverbed.  My legs, automatically sprang me back to the top. . My head broke the surface-I screamed-” I did it!”  I was grinning like a mascara streaked, madwoman. And I did not care what anyone thought. I DID IT! I JUMPED!

I climbed back up the rocks, and then? I did it again, and again.  What had been so fear filled- had become joyfilled. On the way back to camp-  I started to wonder. How many times have I stood on the edge of fun- and  joy filled experience, paralyzed by a fear? There have been hundreds.

I’ve missed a lot more than waterfall jumping adventures.  I’ve felt the same adrenaline rush as I stood at the top of faith leaps- watching others leap- while I stayed on the rivers edge- in fear.

I’ve been afraid to try, for risk of failure. I’ve been afraid to trust at risk of trust broken. I’ve been afraid to jump- at risk of falling… but all I’ve lost- was the joy of being caught- by much stronger arms than the arms of a river.

The waterfalls in faith leaps aren’t always as tame as the Ocqueoc Falls, that I jumped into on vacation. (and honestly- they are TINY— but it’s the biggest we have here in Michigan:P) . They can be truly dangerous. For some reason- God allows them to be. There is risk in trusting God. There are few guarantees.

But- today, as I look back at my vacation pictures… I wonder- how many guarantees do we really need- beyond this one:

Matthew 17:20 (New International Version)
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Are you standing at the edge of a waterfall of faith? Is fear keeping you there? Are you watching as others leap into the deep and are lifted up as God catches them, jump after jump? Stop standing there.  Stop going tot he edge and chickening out. Plug your nose if you have to… but do it-  JUMP!

The risk is worth the taking:)

PS- yes- the terribly unflattering jumper in the pic? that’s really me…on my second jump-caught by my college boy :)