I’m very excited to announce that Volcano, Book One of the Calamity’s Hope Series, is going to be published here in just a few days, on March 23rd! In honor of that, I thought I would kick off my blog tour here on my own blog with today’s article.
The theme of the entire Calamity’s Hope Series is just that—there is hope in disastrous times. God is there for us when things are good, but that’s very easy to see. But what’s harder to see and feel is God in the bad times, when things are rough and there seems to be disaster all around us. I’m sure many of you can relate to that over the last year or so.
But we shouldn’t ignore the good times, either. It’s just as important to thank God in the bad times, as it is to remember where the blessings in our lives come from. Every good thing comes from God, so the next time something really good happens, don’t forget to give credit where credit is due.
But today, I want to talk more about who I am in Christ—who we all are in Christ. Where do you find your identity? Is it in your spouse? Whether you’re married or single? In how much money you have, what kind of home you have, or what kind of career you have? Is it in how many cars you have, or what accomplishments you do?
For me, my identity was found in my writing and publishing. How many reads and views I had and how many sales my books earned. I had to learn that my identity wasn’t found in all that. Just like Liam, in Volcano, has to learn that his identity isn’t found in how many views and subscribers he has and in how much money he makes.
But the reason why his YouTube channel is so popular, isn’t necessarily because of the dangerous, adventurous, thrilling things he does. It’s because of his personality and his charisma and the way he makes people laugh and smile. Liam overlooks this, but his best friend doesn’t miss it.
Still, it’s fun to look back and thing about the thrilling things we have done. It may not seem thrilling or exciting to some, but I wanted to share with you today the thrilling things I’ve done in my life. My identity isn’t in how accomplished I am, or whether I’ve gone on adventures that are as thrilling as some people would think. That’s the same lesson Liam had to learn and it’s one we should keep in mind—that our identities are found in Christ, no matter who we are or what we do.
Many of you may or may not know that I love to sing. Sometimes, I sing on Simule and post it to Facebook, but that comes because my sophomore year in high school, I joined choir and I stayed for the rest of my time in high school. It was fun and exciting, but singing in front of a crowd can be both terrifying and thrilling. It was so terrifying that I never gathered the courage to do a solo, but I did sing in a few groups during contest season. Now, that was a bit of a doozy. We would form groups (or solos) and sing them in front of judges who would rate us and there was always a lot of pressure to do well.
I think that’s part of Liam’s struggle in Volcano, is that he pressures himself to do well on his channel, or what he thinks is well. But the only person we should be trying to impress is God, and we can never achieve perfection. We are saved through faith, not works. So, if you’re someone who struggles with feeling over-pressured, take a moment to breathe in God’s Presence. Remind yourself that He loves you and comes to you as you are.
Similar to choir, were plays. I did one every year in middle school and then did my senior year play as well. I love doing it. I never really want a leading role, but give me a side character and I thrive on stage. I love every part of it, even the nerves and the way it churns your stomach. I love the shaking and the feeling you get when you feel like you’re going to fall over because there’s so many people staring at you and you don’t know if you know all your lines. It’s one of the most thrilling experiences I’ve ever gone through and it’s one I would love to do again.
There’s no room for mess-ups on stage. If you do that, you embarrass yourself and the cast up there with you—and sometimes, people remember those mistakes for years. But with God, there is a freedom that cannot be found anywhere else. Whenever you mess up, God helps you stand back up and keep going. And when you truly repent, He completely forgets about it!
- Train Ride
Going on a train ride may not seem that exciting. For me, it’s twofold. One is that I’m a writer and a history buff so doing anything that feels old—like riding in a train—reminds me of the Old West and I just start fangirling and wanting to write stories. The second reason why it was a thrilling experience for me was because apparently, I get motion-sick. VERY BADLY. Sitting down helped, but the minute I stood up, the wobbling of the train got to me and yep…. It was thrilling and terrifying. I still had fun though. But a fun part of the experience for me was when my husband decided to save our seats, so he sent me to go back to the food cart to get our food. This meant I had to cross from our car to another one a few cars back. But that isn’t even the worst part. In between each cart, is the outside of the train, but they have it covered with metal or something—I can’t quite remember. But that section wobbles ten times worse than the rest, because it’s just the part where the cars are hooked together. I kid you not, I wobbled and shook so badly, it took me a while to gain my footing and cross because I was just doubled over, trying to not fall down.
Then, I had to get our food and drinks. Yes, this motion-sick, clumsy girl who naturally falls a lot was the one elected to carry food and drink on a wobbly train and over a wobbly connection-section. It was a doom for disaster. My mind was focused on saving the food and not falling over. I had to steady myself, so it practically took me longer to cross the connection-section than it did the rest of the trip. But I made it back safely—with no spills.
It reminds me how life can feel like that sometimes. Where the world around you is shaking so badly, you can’t even stand upright. Your knees and legs shake and you feel like you’re spinning from all the chaos going on and all the hardships you’re going through. Maybe it even halts you, where you feel like you can’t even take a single step forward.
But God is the one who steadies us. He’s right there behind us, holding us upright, keeping us from falling over. He catches us, steadies us, and gives us steady footing when life feels wobbly.
- Touching an Anaconda
I don’t like snakes. I hate spiders worse, so snakes aren’t too bad, but I don’t like them at all. My husband and I went to a zoo and they had a show there where they would bring animals out, talk about them, and then let people from the audience come up and touch them. As a writer, I want every (good) experience I possibly can, so I went up to touch most of them, including an Anaconda. Surprisingly, it didn’t feel slimy or rough, which were the two textures I had been expecting. It was something completely different and even though I’m a writer, I don’t know how to explain it. Kind of smooth, but it felt almost like plastic—like a slinky would or a similar toy. It was scary, which was also the part that made it so thrilling, because snakes are intimidating as it is, but Anacondas are even more so. They seem so dangerous that you want to avoid them at all costs, not walk right up to one and touch it.
It reminds me how big our God is. God created them. Once, they were good, until Satan entered a snake (or took the form of one) and they were cursed to crawl on their bellies from that point on. But no matter how intimidating something is, God is bigger than it. It reminds me of a song off the kids show called Veggie Tales, which goes, “God is bigger than the boogyman. He’s bigger than Godzilla or the monsters on TV. Oh, God is bigger than the boogyman and He’s watching out for you and me.” So, the next time something in life feels daunting or intimidating, remember that God is bigger than anything and He’s watching out for you.
- Riding an Elephant
I’ve ridden a camel at the state fair many times when I was a kid, but riding an elephant as an adult at the Renaissance Fair was definitely the most thrilling animal I’ve ridden. As a short girl, let me tell you how high it made me feel to be on top of that elephant. Almost like I felt untouchable. Then, after a few rounds circling the enclosure, it was over and the thrill left. Sometimes, the things of this world make us happy and excited. They fill us with this good feeling, sometimes that may even make us feel high, like we’re untouchable. But when it’s over and reality sets in, you’re just left feeling empty.
There’s a void in all our hearts that only God can fill. We should turn to Him to fill it, instead of all these temporary things. This is something I need to improve on as well.
It also reminds me that God created elephants. Such majestic, beautiful creatures and they’re a wonder revealing God’s nature as our Creator.
Some of you may or may not know that I was in Taekwondo. It was fun and thrilling and it actually helped me socialize better and gain confidence in myself. I stopped caring and worrying about what other people thought or said about me and I met some amazing people and got to know and befriend a fantastic bunch. I did things I didn’t think I could do.
Mr. Martin, our black belt teacher, would always encourage you and push you to be better. A front-flip was not something I ever believed I could do… ever. I mean, I am one of the laziest people on the planet, so out of shape I can barely run five feet without getting winded. But Mr. Martin had us start on baby steps. We first would run down the line to a mat and then do a front-roll, the same kind little kids to. Then, when you would get better at that, you would move on to adding in your hands ever time you front-rolled. From there, you’d scrunch your body less and less and extend your hands more and more. Until you could front-flip with only brief touching your hands on the mat as you flipped, to steady yourself. Then, Mr. Martin would add in a foam handheld bunching bag to form a line—as if you were gonna do the limbo—but instead, would have you jump over it until you learned to front-flip higher and higher.
Clumsy, lazy me firmly believed I couldn’t do it. Nope to front-flips and it seemed impossible for me to kick and punch and do knife-hands and movements called patterns and self-defense without falling and hurting myself. And kicking through even the plastic-starter board was out of the question.
But I learned to front-flip. Yes, I took several falls. One time, I landed on my back and knocked my breath out. But Mr. Martin encouraged me and I kept going. I did fall during one kick called the jump-spin-side-kick. Where you face the bag, jump and whirl around, land in the same spot you started on, and side kick all in a single smooth movement. I fell a lot. But I did land it—sometimes. And I kicked through the plastic board. Then, when I tested out to get my yellow belt, I kicked through a solid wood board.
You may think you can’t do anything. You may feel any number of negative things (clumsy and lazy in my case), but God can do wonders through you. Look at Moses. He stuttered and was just a Hebrew raised in Pharaoh’s place. But through him God delivered the Israelites from Egypt, did the plagues, and did many other miracles, and gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments and the Law.
- Helicopter Ride
This was the most recent one I’ve done. For our anniversary last year, my husband and I went on a helicopter ride. Remember the motion sickness thing? Yeah, well another thing about me is that I’m terrified of heights. I honestly didn’t used to be (I remember one choir trip where our room was on the 12th story of a building in St. Louis and we looked out the window and didn’t get an ounce of vertigo).
Yeah. Not so much anymore. So, when you combine motion-sickness with great heights, what do you get?
Me on that helicopter ride. It was insanely beautiful and even though I felt miserable in the physical sense, being so high up and seeing things from that perspective taught me so much about just how big God is. Seeing the world in a fraction of the way God sees it. I also realized Lake of the Ozarks is a WHOLE lot bigger than I thought.
Sometimes, we lose perspective. We see a smaller picture, just a fraction. We think we know best, or that our plans are better. We think our suffering is terrible, and may even get angry and blame God. But God sees things as a whole. The past, present, and future together, from outside of time. He knows best and He’s so much bigger than we could ever think or imagine.
- Gotten Married
This is an ongoing adventure that is quite-thrilling. I went through a lot, but God led my husband and I together. Marriage isn’t like they show it in most movies and tv shows. It actually takes a lot of hard work. Marriage is the hardest job you’ll ever have, other than maybe being a parent. These days, the world has more divorces than marriage that stay together it seems and the idea of one man one woman for life has been tossed out the window. Not just by LGBTQ people, but more so by straight couples who either thing cheating is okay or just give up on their marriage and get married one day and divorce another.
This life isn’t going to be easy. We can’t work to save ourselves, but we should work to honor God, to show Him gratitude and thanks for what He did for us. Faith without works won’t please God. A marriage is a reflection of our relationship with God and what it’s supposed to be—God is the groom and the Church is His bride. So, marriage is a gift God gave us to be an earthly example and reflection of that perfect relationship with our Creator.
- Gotten Saved by Jesus Christ
Last but certainly not least, my journey as a Believer in Christ is the most thrilling adventure I have ever been on and it’s not over yet. I plan to write a book or something about my testimony one day, but I have had so many ups-and-downs in life. We all have. I’ve sinned, and Jesus has saved me and God has been my Heavenly Father, the God who stays through thick and thin.
Know that you don’t have to be perfect. God didn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called. He comes to you as you are and Jesus Christ died for all our sins—past, present, and future. There is nothing He hasn’t already forgiven you for. In Jesus, you can find the only true happiness that will stay, the strength you need to stand on your feet and keep going through life’s hardest times, and the love you’ve been missing out on.