Maybe, it’s a disease or a disorder….either way- I cannot pass a bookstore without going in. I can’t go into a bookstore without buying a book. (or maybe 5…)

So- yesterday, that’s what I did. I went in to the bookstore as I passed it on my way to the salon, at the mall. And, since I had to pass the bookstore yet again, on the way out of the mall.. I went in again.   Miraculously the first time I left with nothing. I was searching for a “Choose Your Own Adventure” Book for Noah.. (Yes, I use my children as an excuse to book-shop- who doesn’t?) and couldn’t find one. When I returned, I did and then…somehow, I accidently ended up in the (woefully stocked) “Religious” book section. (Funny how that happens, isn’t it?)

As I paced the aisle, staring at the shelves trying to make more books (to choose from) appear, a voice caught my attention: “Just let me know if you need me to move.”  I looked up, to see long straight, blonde hair framing a smiling face. “Oh, I’m just wandering- no need to move.” I replied. “You’re in a good aisle to wander.” She said. I agreed.

She picked up a book and asked me if I’d read it, and what I’d thought.  I had, and well- let’s just say it’s not among my favorites. I was torn how to respond.. and then just went with the truth: “Well- I kind of feel like all of his books are the same.. read one and you’ve pretty much read them all.” I immediately regretted what I’d said. What if she loved that author and I offended her?

I held my breath and waited for her to respond… ready with an apology if necessary…. (I tend to speak my mind- and so, I need to have apologies ready- at all times…) “Oh- I read another book by his wife and was wondering if this one was like a pre-quel or something. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.” I let out my breath. Whew. one less offense to worry about. “No, I think they cover a lot of this in that book- it might be redundant.” “Good- I really want this other book I heard about, but I can’t remember the name…”

We talked for a few minutes, trying to figure out the title. We searched the shelves… nothing. I pulled out my iphone and googled the info she had about the book… Princess something or other…(FYI: there are a LOT of Princess something or other books on the market- just sayin.) we found the title, but, it wasn’t at that store. Her smile faded. “I went to a conference this weekend and I really want this book- they quoted it and it really touched me….”   “I’d go across the street, to Family Christian.. I know they have it over there…”

Her head drooped just a bit. “I have a gift card for this store.”

Oh, that I get. Shopping on a gift card and wishing that the thing you REALLY want would magically appear… and fit your giftcard budget. Been there. Done that.

Which is when I decided to take a risk and (maybe) look crazy at the bookstore. (It wouldn’t be the first time…)

“Ok, so this may sound weird… but, I’d really like to bless you (yes, I actually said: “bless you.” I mean, who says that? Well..apparently- me.) with that book… is it ok if I give you some cash so you can go to Family Christian and pick it up?” I held my breath. I waited to see if I’d offended her… Had I assumed too much?  I mean this chick could have been loaded and was just trying to dump that giftcard before it expired…. what had I done?

Tears started to well up in her eyes. She blinked them away. “Really? You’d do that? You don’t have. to…..” I didn’t wait- that was all I needed.. I slipped a $20 out of my purse and into her hand. We hugged. (I wondered what the heck the college kid looking at manga at the end of the aisle was thinking..) She took it graciously and with a big smile. Then she looked at a book on the shelf… then at me… Have you read this one? I still have that gift card….” “I did and I loved it—- get that one too!”  I smiled.

She left.

I tried not to cry.

I’ve gotta say….It feels amazing when you take a little risk to look silly.. and end up in the middle of a divine appointment… used by God- to yes… “bless” another’s heart.

Tomorrow- (or maybe even today) I challenge you to open your eyes to the people around you….is there a little risk you could take? Take it!  It’s more than worth it….. you’ll be glad you did.

Dear Lord- Thank you for using my weird book-store addiction to help meet the heart need of another woman. I pray that the words she finds in those pages will grow and change her and fill her with the knowledge of your love…. I pray that you’d continue to grow me and stretch me to take risks and reach out in love… even  when I may look crazy… Oh.. and Lord– I also ask you to help me not use weird-irrelevant- semi- archaic words like “bless” in public…. it’s.. just weird. I love you Lord- amen.

J.R.R. Tolkien once asked the question What if there existed a place called Middle Earth, and What if Middle Earth were under threat? Every good story begins with some form of this question, and so does every life.  by-Don Miller,  you can read the rest of the post here.

What if…..

The question has haunted me.  Or maybe, it is my answers that haunt me.

tracey solomon says:

  • What f I just submitted the book proposal and it got published?
  • What if my basement was clean?
  • What if I let go of my past and moved into my future?
  • What if I exercised instead of complaining about my size?
  • What if my dream, IS God’s plan??

To each of my “what if’s” I withheld an unspoken “what if”…a fear.

  • What if I submitted the book proposal and it never got published?  Would that mean I’m not supposed to write?
  • What if I left the basement messy?  What if I don’t really CARE about my messy basement? Does that make me a bad mom?
  • What if I don’t know what pain the future may hold, and am afraid to face it? I know the pain of the past.  It’s familiar, in a sick way-it’s almost comfortable. ( At least: it’s predictable. and I can visit it at will.:P)
  • What if  lost weight and became “visible” again?  (umm yeah, being a little “fluffy” makes a woman kind of invisible… it’s true. I am wonder woman with invisibility powers!- also women judge thin women harsher..imo.. it’s not fun. Yes. see? I have issues. )
  • What if my dream is NOT God’s plan?  What if I made the whole thing up and am actually, just crazy?  What if it IS.. and I can’t handle it?

What if.. I stopped thinking so far  ahead and just did the next thing.  What if I took one small step in the direction of a what if… and that led to the next and the next and I found the answers along the way?

What if I lived loved and lived the adventure of my “what ifs?”

You know what?  I think, I just did.

And now– here’s the “what if” of my heart….

What if women took risks to connect in honesty, truth, respect and love?  What if we did it regardless of background, differences, prejudices, fear and insecurity?  What if we did it anyway, and what if, one at a time, two at a time, ten thousand at a time…we changed the world????

Well.. I don’t know the answer to the what ifs… but I know I want to find out.

What are the “what if’s” of your heart?  What are the unspoken things that hold you back from taking a step in their direction?

You are not alone. We can face the what ifs- together.

What if our what if’s are meant to bring tension to our faith and  exercise it and change it from dead, to living as we test them with our actions?

18But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[e]and he was called God’s friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

25In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Edited because seriously- this is the next thing I read….apparently John Acuff is also haunting me… well- or God wants to be very clear today…if you have dreams and what ifs… please go watch this video.

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 :)