Monday, April 2, 2012

Won't You Join Me on the Swing?

Sixty whole minutes before time to pick Taylor up from the high school. I didn't want to drive home and have to come right back, so we headed to the city park. It would provide a much better waiting area than the school parking lot.

Logan bounced from the Tahoe and went straight for the playground and I, gifted with an hour of leisure (or so I thought), found the perfect spot on the grass for my blanket and books.

I tried to read a few sentences between glances at my wandering seven year old, but my mind had shifted into mama mode making it difficult to concentrate or retain any information other than what pertained to my little man. From the jungle gym to the monkey bars to the merry-go-round and finally to the swings.

Faster and higher and higher and higher.

As a kid, I remember swinging as high as the swing would go, pushing and stretching it to its limits and then jumping off. I remember the excitement and exhilaration I felt as I climbed as high as possible and then contemplated the exact time I should jump. I don't remember being afraid or even getting hurt.

But as I watched Logan do the same thing I did so many years ago, all I could think was, "Oh no, be careful! Not so high! Watch out!"

Where had my excitement gone? Where was the risk taker and girl who wanted to test limits and boundaries and gravitational force?

It seems part of growing up and "maturing" is learning to be afraid, learning to be safe, and learning to accept mediocrity. Now, I know there is an argument on the flip side about how all this is good, because certainly it is wise to be safe. But today, I am exploring the possibilities and opportunities often missed because we are too scared to move out of our comfort zone - our "norm" - and take a chance at greatness. We refuse to take risks because...what if...?

For me, attending my first writer's conference last summer was scary. Getting on a plane and traveling from Texas to North Carolina (without my hubby by my side), sharing meals and attending classes with six hundred women I had never met before, going face to face with two publishing houses for a fifteen minute pitch, sharing space with Lysa Terkeurst, Renee Swope, Ann Voskamp and countless others who are national and international speakers and published authors, having breakfast on the last day with two new friends and finding out one was working on her thirtieth book (yes, 3-0)...all this is a little intimidating.  Hang on I'm right back....


Deep breath.

Sorry, I just remembered I'm signed up to attend again this summer and got a little anxious.

I also remembered I'm taking the speaker's track this year (plus writing classes and meetings) and will have to prepare two short speeches to be critiqued.

Have mercy.

When we refuse to break away from the norm (if God is asking us to do so) and live a dream, write a book, produce a CD, enter a contest, accept a speaking engagement, lead the local PTA or PIE at our child's school, facilitate a Bible study, start a business, coach a team, use our gifts as more than hobbies, change careers or accept another job, we could be missing out on God's plans and purposes.

God often asks us to do things outside of our own ability so His glory and strength and power can be known and displayed through our lives.

Don't listen to the voice that says you can't do it.

We may not all slay lions and fight giants and conquer cities or publish books, but He desires to use each of us to bring His glory to the earth and build His Kingdom (not our own) in one way or another. For some that may mean praying bold prayers and interceding for people you don't know, for others it may mean:
  • raising Godly leaders for the next generation 
  • being a voice in your community
  • teaching children's church
  • encouraging those who are hurting
  • praying for someone in the grocery store
  • going on a mission trip
  • trying out for American Idol or The Voice - vote for Raelynn! :)
I haven't jumped off the swing yet, but I'm swinging. My stomach is queasy and I feel excitement building. I'm a little nervous, but I think that's ok. As long as I don't plant my feet in the ground and refuse to swing (I've been known to leave skidmarks).

Is God asking you to do something out of your comfort zone?

Is He asking you to move forward with something, to take action?

Let me take some pressure off and put your mind at ease. You can't do it. Nope. But He can do it through you. And that's exactly what He wants to do.

Won't you join me on the swings? I'll let you jump first. ;)

"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.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Linking with Jen and the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood

8 friends had this to say:

Jean Wise said...

Great post. I too have felt the invitation to dare more this year and haven't done it yet.... ok I will go find the swings and join you in midair... Thanks for the encouragement.

AmyAlves said...

Hi Shelly Girl!
I'm just bursting at the seams after reading your post! Yes, God is calling me out of my comfort zone and I'm SWINGING HIGH! I'm just beginning Life Coaching for women and through all of my weak ways,lack of experience, and limited education...God is calling me forth to bring Him glory anyway! HIGH FIVE GOD and go Shelly go! -Blessings, Amy

Shakin' the Foundation said...

Once again ANOTHER great and wonderful post!!! As my swing has started to sway in the breeze, I fully intend on pushing it higher!! Thank you for such an encouraging word. Swing away my friend!! :)

Jen Ferguson said...

Yes, I concur. He will always ask us to do things that fall outside our comfort zone because He wants us to be clinging to Him instead of feeling like we can do everything ourselves.

Amy Sullivan said...

Good for you!

I was thinking something similar to this post as I followed my two-year-old around. She sings constantly. Makes up songs about river dolphins and cougars, and sings over cereal. She belts out tunes while hanging in her room. I was thinking, why don't I sing? What's the deal?

Anyway, excited about the Speaker track you brave girl, you!

Drop me an email update sometime. Oh, and how is your friend, Robin?

Alicia said...

Just stopping by for the first time today and I know I'll be back. I remember sitting in the middle of a crowd of women at that very same conference five years ago. Thought I might run right back to my room! I love how God pushes the swing even when we think we're content to stay on the ground. Thanks for sharing and inspiring. Keep swinging!

Shelly said...

Thanks, Jean! I will see you there! :)

@Amy! I am so excited for you! Looking forward to watching your journey and getting to know you better! :)

@Stacey girl! You are welcome. Swing high, sister! Love you!

Shelly said...

@Jen...I am so excited about what God is doing in your life! Cling to Him and watch the fulfillment of His promises all around you!

@Amy...You know I was convicted when I read your post yesterday about maintaining relationships. I've not been very good at it lately, playing the lonely writer game lol :) You have inspired me to build and maintain and be intentional about my relationships. Thank you :) glad you stopped by! Thank you and I do hope you come back! :) Are you attending SS this year?