Fall Discovery: How to be Confident

Years ago, when I was crafting the beginnings of my own personal blog, this was one of the three verses that served as my anthem. 

I am confident that I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living.

Psalm 27:13

There are a few reasons why I love this verse.

First, I love unique words that stand in for other more common words. The “land of the living” stands in for our earth, the place in which we live and move and have our being. The land of the living speaks to me because it inspires my imagination. What could it look like to see his goodness in this life? What does it currently look like to see his goodness? 

Second, I love the word “confidence” in this context.

Confidence is the state of feeling certain about the truth of something.

In Psalm 27, God is inviting us to feel certain about his promises of goodness here on earth. He is telling us we can confidently trust him. God is asking us to look at Him and his reliable qualities and abilities and believe that whatever has happened or is happening, we will see him work it out in his goodness – – in the hear and now, in the land of the living, and not just in eternity.

I feel you sister. Confidence and trust are not easy when we are living out God’s calling over our lives. The truth we are walking feels very upside down in this upside-down world. Let me remind you of the seemingly impossible things you are embracing:

  • You surrender what deeply matters to you.
  • You practice dying to self in order to live.
  • You embrace last in order to be first. 
  • You willingly carry crosses to express love and sacrifice.
  • You experience thorns in your side to comprehend grace.
  • You turn the other cheek to honor humility.
  • You lay down your life for your friends. 
  • You willingly choose character over “success”.
  • You relate to your Savior as a man of suffering and sorrow as you experience the same in your own life. 

Let’s be candid sisters, it makes little rational sense that living this way would build confidence in God’s goodness. An objective read of the above leads to a sort of death by a thousand cuts as my friend Suzanne D would say. Through a spiritual lens, however, this sort of life leads to saving exactly who you are and who you are meant to be.

So, how do we find confidence in the midst of so much laying down of our lives? How do we venture into this often upside down Christian life with confidence in his goodness?

Researchers have found that confidence is not an emotion. It’s a complex pattern of brain activity. Increasing our confidence isn’t about changing how we feel, it’s about changing what we believe. Paraphrase from The Powerful Purpose of Introverts by Holly Gerth

Confidence comes from a bundle of intentional choices. We can change what we believe by choosing to:

  • Receive, hear and absorb encouragement from our brothers and sisters.
  • Take time in solitude so we can listen to what God has to say
  • Spend time reading (or listening to) inspirational books so we can gain courage in our own walk
  • Read the word and know that God moves in you just like Esther, David, Matthew, Ruth, Deborah, Mary (all three of them), Hannah and teammates Shiphrah and Puah.

The regular practices of hearing encouragement, listening to God in solitude, gaining courage through other’s walks and reading the truth in the word help us make small shifts. “These small shifts in mindset can trigger a cascade of changes so profound that they test the limits of what seems possible”. McGonial, 2016 as cited in The Powerful Purpose of Introverts, 2020, page 81.

Did you hear that?

A shift in mindset can actually grow your confidence in such a way that you change your view of possible and impossible!

When impossible because possible, it is fair to say your mind has shifted to certainty of God’s truth. Our gaze is upon his qualities and character, and we believe. We have confidence.

Back to the Story of the Blog

Be Confident. Be Bold. Follow Your Calling.

That was the original tagline of my blog.

I fell for the confidence offered in Psalm 27. I began to believe that I would see God’s goodness in the land of the living. Once we believe, we become bold. Most of you would describe me as a kind, gentle spirit with a soothing voice. Even so, I chose the word bold because, once we have confidence of his goodness, we have no choice but to be bold with living out God’s calling over our lives.

I started the blog because women boldly following their calling matters. The thorn in my side is seeing any woman stuck because she believes a lie that tells her what she cannot be or do for God. This leads me to my second anthem verse.

Every woman is God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared for her before the beginning of time.

Paraphrase of Ephesians 2:10

Having spent most of my life pursuing friendships and listening intently to the women in my life, I learned to decipher a particular deceitful voice. The voice reflects untruths about her limits. The voice rises from a false belief about limited resources, lack of experience or education or lack of time. The limiting voice sometimes comes from someone she believes has power over her identity and future. That’s the voice that breaks my heart and also makes me bold.

Let’s Talk About Hope

Over the last few years, my core burdens and calling haven’t changed. However, over time, my understanding of hope has.

Like many of you, I have been through seasons where my hope dwindled down to a grain of sand. Life can be deeply burdensome and harsh to the point that your internal self becomes silent. In this way, hope can practically disappear. Yet, the one grain of sand remains by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Like many of you, I also have been through seasons where my faith decreased to a spark; or maybe a smolder is a better description. With my grain of sand and smoldering faith, I kept walking towards renewal by the power of the Holy Spirit. [I grant you permission to laugh out loud while you envision me with my tiny spark and smoldering coal.]

This part is bonus.

This bonus list includes the truths that helped me rebuild my hope and faith, and my confidence in God’s goodness. These truths were hard earned and also make me the woman I am today. As I walked toward renewal, this is what I learned.

  • The only thing I have control over is me.
  • It’s okay to rely on others. Sometimes that will work out and sometimes it won’t.
  • No expectations unless they are based on past experience.
  • It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to hit the bull’s eye on the moving targets in my life; not mine.
  • Some friends step away as life changes and some stay with you forever. Know the difference.
  • The character flaws of other’s are not a reflection of me and it’s okay to be truthful about that.
  • Use communication to ask for what I need.
  • Other than I love you, my best words to my kids will always be Choose Wisely. It’s up to them, not me.

Where are you at with your hope?

As we grow, hope grows. Psalm 27 doesn’t mention hope. Yet, it is drenched in hope. As we grow in hope, we become confident that we will see God’s goodness in the land of the living. Confidence is fueled by hope.

Where are you at with your hope? Are you in a season where you are barely holding your one grain, or do you have buckets full?

If you are holding one grain, you are in a growing season. Ask yourself: What can I learn here? What knowledge do I seek? Who can help? Scroll back up to the list of four intentional choices to help shift your mindset. God won’t give up on you. He wants you to move from impossible to possible.

If you have buckets full of hope, are you following your calling? Have you defined God’s plan for you in this season? Have you designed a plan? Are you following it?

My blog tag line used to be: Be Confident. Be Bold. Follow Your Calling. I spent two full years of my life helping women define, design and follow their calling. In this new season, my desire is to provide tools for the growth of hope. Hope fuels confidence. Confidence leads you to be bold with your life and to follow your calling.

My tag line now says: Be Confident. Be Bold. Be Hopeful.

I stand by my wish that you will follow your calling. I stand by my passionate burden to see all strongholds fall in your life. I stand by my confidence that you will see his goodness in the land of the living. I stand by my wish for you to be bold with your life. I stand by impossible things. I stand by hope.

Discovery Questions

  • Where are you at with hope? A grain of sand, buckets full or somewhere in between?
  • Given your current obstacles or difficult circumstances, what areas do you wish to grow in? Name a few people that can help you grow.
  • When considering the path to increasing your confidence in God, which intentional choices will you choose to shift your mindset? Scroll up to the four bullet points to choose.
  • What’s your “bonus” list? List your big life lessons of the past five years or ten years or even in the month of September?
  • Because I can’t help it and September just ended, name ten things you are grateful for in the month of September. I’ll share mine very soon.

Love,

Sasha

P.S. If you have an idea for my next “HOW TO” blog post, please email it to me at sasha@sashaakatz.com.

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An Invitation to Follow Your Call

Dear sisters,

Before time began, God chose you for a calling that you only you can fulfill. God creatively spoke into you uncountable unique details to empower you and lead you to live, move and breathe in the calling He crafted for you. You were made for a purpose.

Even now, the spirit whispers to you.

Over the course of your life, you’ve known pieces of your calling. Similar to a quilt, the patches have come to you. Some of you dream dreams of who you were made to be. Some of you hear your calling spoken to you by others who see the gifts and talents you can’t see quite yet. Some of you have a heart cry to stand up for injustice but haven’t determined the path yet.

As you decipher the whisper of your calling, you also must choose to face the roadblocks or barriers to living out your calling. Some of us fear. Some of us must make hard choices to say yes to calling. Some will have to let go of control. Some of us must heal from trauma. Some of us will have to dig deep to replace lies with truth.

The foundation of calling is freedom. The only way to calling is to identify your roadblocks and move past them in a healthy way.

Time is like a quilt where the patches and pieces come over the seasons of your life. However, a season arrives when it is time to step into the masterpiece. The truth is you will not likely see every detail of your quilt. You will not know every detail of your calling. You will not be 100% confident that the time is now. But there comes a time when it is time to step into the masterpiece.

As you come to realize that your life has prepared you for your calling, you will need to craft a plan.

Transformational plans don’t come easy in our fast-paced culture.

In fact, darkness will send arrows with the intent to send you in every direction other than your calling. You will be offered valid excuses to tend to issues and projects that push out of your life your God given calling.

You will need a solid plan that includes self-care and community, and contributes to your inner peace.

The bottom line is

  •             It not easy to hear the whisper of God in our often loud, busy lives,
  •             Roadblocks are more easily identified in safe community covered in truth and wisdom; and,
  •             Designing a plan to follow your calling is a layered process that includes a healthy, whole self.

These bottom line realities fueled my passion to create the Follow Your Call class. My passion is to help women step into the masterpiece they were created to be.

Every woman has a God given calling. We simply need the time, space and direction to be who we were made to be.

The class is a Guided Journey because your calling is about the story of your life and how it leads you straight to your calling. The six week class includes live, original content, small group discussion, professionally recorded interviews, hands-on, in class projects and weekly at home discovery questions – – all pointing you to Follow Your Call.

The last class took place at the turn of the new year when most of us are in a time of reflection and goal setting. The next class is taking place at my most favorite time of year. Summer! For many of us, summer means a little more rest and a little less responsibility. Perhaps it is the perfect time for you to Follow Your Call!

If you can no longer ignore the whisper of God, then this class is for you.

If you feel like you know the whisper, but for whatever reason, you haven’t been able to put your call into action, this class is for you.

If you have found yourself in burn out over the years, and you want to make the decision to follow your call in a healthy, powerful way, this class is for you.

I look forward to journeying with you.

Follow the link to check out more details and to register.

Follow Your Call Class

Love,

Sasha

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When Calling Feels Cryptic, Start Here: The Four Categories of Calling

Calling is one of those ambiguous words. The idea starts when we are very small with What do you want to be when you grow up? As the time ticks along, we include more introspective questions like Who do you want to be in the course of your life? If you keep on this course of growth and questioning, you will also ask How (and who) do I want to serve in my lifetime?

So, what really is calling?

Calling is the standing God gave you as his child with a purpose and mission to live out in the service of others.

You are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10

Despite the many opinions you may have of yourself, yes, that’s you. A Masterpiece. Just in case you are figuratively trying to hide from the mirror right now, the word “you” doesn’t refer to humans collectively or mankind in general. You [Insert your name] are a work of art, masterfully and perfectly made.

Not only are you an outstanding work of art, but you were also made to do good things that were planned for you before time began. This is the moment where calling arrives. You have an undeniable passion and a purpose to live out in a way that blesses others.

In order to break down the mystical side of calling, it’s important to note its practical side. Calling isn’t just how you were created or who you were meant to be or serve. Your passion and purpose comes with a roadmap and action steps.

The word of God is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105

Practically speaking, we can see just far enough ahead to take intentional, daily action steps (that’s the lamp by your feet). We can also see the larger vision of the path (that’s the flashlight in your hand). With God, you have the ability to walk with the knowledge of your next steps and have the greater vision of the path ahead of you. Calling is in fact practical.

For that reason, calling can be organized into four categories. As you consider your passion and purpose, you can filter your calling through this framework. That way, you can intelligently organize your thoughts and, eventually, design the action steps to follow your calling.

Category One: INWARD > OUTWARD PROJECTS

Calling often begins inward. When we are led to start on the inside, we usually don’t consider it calling. However, inward projects have great potential to become outward projects. Let me give you an example.

About two years ago, my friend Susan recognized that she was behind and disorganized in some major areas of her personal and family life. She also realized that this was, in part, due to the overexertion she was directing towards her very needy and dysfunctional extended family.

She began by taking stock of her time, setting goals of prioritizing and simplifying her home and work life. She closed a twelve year running business. She opted out of her bible study for a time. She set healthy boundaries with her direct and extended family. Not once did she take action with bitterness or scarcity. She narrowed her path and tasks with love and kindness, especially towards those who were most impacted by her personal or inward project.

As she comes upon her third year of seeking God to minimize the baggage in her life and maximize her impact within her family and work life, a very inward project has the potential of becoming outward. Susan can take what she’s learned, spend some time refining the good work God has done and design a plan to share it with others with the same needs.

With personal projects, the inward has great potential to become outward. Both are worthy and fall squarely into the definition of calling.

Category Two: NONPROFIT CORPORATIONS

Nonprofits are often a spring board to growing your project and pursuing your calling. A nonprofit is an entity that is formed to benefit others. The organization is tax exempt and offers tax benefits to its contributors and donors.

So, what’s the connection between calling and nonprofit entities? Let me give you an example.

My friend Ashely collects and delivers special needs equipment to families in third world countries that don’t have the same access or resources that she does. Ashely does the good things that God prepared for her in a very casual way. She’s a busy mom with passion for her own special needs son. She may balk at the idea of taking the time and spending the money to establish a nonprofit.

But here’s what I know. Ashely is a passionate woman loved by many. As her access to special needs equipment grows, the need for donors to help with shipping costs will grow. Eventually, she may need someone to deliver the equipment and train the family to use it. As others grow a passion for Ashely’s calling, she may find it beneficial to offer tax exempt receipts for gifts to her donors. The growth potential is endless.

The bottom line is: Don’t be intimidated by your dreams. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of formalizing your project and creating a nonprofit. Do the work you are called to do at the pace you are called to do it. You will know your next step as the doors open and close in the path of pursuing your calling.

Category Three: COMMUNITY ORIENTED BUSINESS

If you are reading this, you probably fall into one of the following three categories:

  1. You are a business owner.
  2. You have a role in your current position where you could or do have a voice.
  3. You are the spouse of #1 or #2 above.  

There is a huge opportunity for service projects rolled out of your current business or position. The example closest to my heart is my law firm.

My central legal work is to help people buy, sell and refinance residential and commercial properties. Ten years ago, 4KIDS of South Florida gave me the idea to give a one time charitable gift at the time of each real estate closing. I liked that idea and began giving a gift at each closing. God worked with that concept. Let me tell you about our advocate program at the firm now.

Each quarter our firm supports one nonprofit that centers around empowering women and girls at home and around the world. My clients are aware of the giving and some of them get excited and give too. Not only that, but my office gets involved in the service projects of the four organizations. We’ve cooked dinner for foster kids who were just removed from their homes. We’ve bought and collected from our clients and vendors holiday gifts for teenage foster kids. We bring our colleagues and friends to events to raise awareness for at risk women and girls. For a time, we employed a young foster woman who needed job experience.

When you roll community projects out of your current business, your workplace lights up as you add a layer of service to everyday tasks and responsibilities. Don’t underestimate how you can impact your community through your current business or role. And, if you are the spouse, you just may be the catalyst for bringing the good things prepared before time to the business.

Category Four: FOR PROFIT (Yes, I said For Profit)

In my view, for profit projects are also ministry. Just because a project is profitable to your family, it is not disqualified from calling or ministry. Let me give you an example.

My friend Monica and her girlfriend started a new project out of a heart cry that modern women are just too busy. As they defined their passion for busy women, they identified the need for women to pause. As a result, they created exclusive, small group trips to Colombia to personally minister to each woman on the trip. Their project is a Christian based business that seeks to infiltrate our too busy culture by bringing women to healthy pauses in their lives.

That sounds like ministry to me.

Putting It All Together

Now that you have a framework in which to consider your calling, here is how the analysis works.

My friend Sage has been exploring the idea of a mentoring program for women who need practical help moving their lives in a positive direction. Sage currently has a successful financial firm where she has decision making power. In her case, Sage could decide to roll out the mentoring program as a service project within her business. On the other hand, she could start first with mentoring on her own time to get a better idea of whether this really is a God calling over her life. Or, if Sage already sees available resources and donors on board with this project, she could decide to create a nonprofit corporation. Finally, she could decide to start a second mentoring business that is for profit.

It is worthwhile to understand these four categories so that as you hear the whispers of God in your own life, you can organize your next steps in a very practical way. As long as Susan, Ashely, Monica and Sage are following God’s call over their lives, I believe they are engaging in ministry. Each woman recognizes her position as a child of God with a purpose and mission to live out in the service of others. She is following God’s call over her life.

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