Thursday, December 17, 2015

In the Waiting

in the waiting
hushed voices, falling gently 

quiet calms, listen 
take a pause
breathe slow

in the waiting
stretching, growing
purpose making
hidden low

careful stepping
abide in now

in the waiting
carving, molding

cocoon weaving

linger here 

In the waiting

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Blogging in 2016

Despite the cough medicine with codeine I took last night, I couldn't sleep. I can't seem to get healthy, now dealing with's just lovely.

I decided to go back to the beginning of my blog and read. I loved it. The pictures posted with my entries that I hadn't laid eyes on in years, remembering where I was and what God has brought us was just what I needed.

I also realized that I missed blogging.

I first blogged for fun, then as a journal to keep track of the kids, sort of like a scrapbook and then I was stepping into the world of reviewing product, networking and paid advertisement. And then I let my domain lapse and it was harder than I imagined getting things back up and running. I lost all of my following as well as my desire to write.

Life got busy and I decided to only write when I felt prompted to, and that was nice. It was nice to not feel the pressure of keeping up with the blog and just writing occasionally. I realize though, it was was quite the outlet for me...even if it wasn't all super deep or inspiring.

So, I've decided to make it a goal to blog at least once a week and get back to documenting life. I'm hopeful to print my blog into books this next year since I'm not a traditional scrapbooker :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Eager for A Fresh Start: Goodbye 2015

I'm not going to lie, I didn't like this year. It started off with a devastating family issue and and the months that followed seemed to be sucked up in a black hole and now here we are, 2015 drawing to a close.

I had some intention when the year started, some of it surrounding my kids and some around my health. Those specific intentions found their way to the back burner and I found myself just treading water most of the time.

My emotions are a big part of me, I feel big, I carry things heavy and it can weigh me down. I felt that weight more this year than I ever have before. Burdened not only for myself, but for my immediate and extended family. I felt a burden to carry the hurt for them, the joy for them and to keep everyone moving forward. Not that I was asked to...but it felt very much like I was holding things together there for awhile. Pointing to joy in different areas and reminding us all there was still good happening. It was true, there was...but I exhausted myself juggling the roles and I reached a breaking point. It was pretty ugly.

My sweet husband and my friend/confident were so gracious with me, listening and providing encouragement and just letting me be me. There are certain things I know help me function at my best,  I need to be in the Word, I need to be with people, I need dates with my husband, I need to exercise and I need to eat good. I wasn't doing any of this, maybe just the people part. But even that was pretty exclusive to just those I knew wouldn't take from me, but could give. That might sound selfish, but I had nothing to offer. I love being the one to encourage, seek out ways to support and help...but this season I had accept I needed to be on the receiving end of it.

I couldn't handle anyone else's issues or needs because I could barely handle my own.

Time has passed and things are slowly starting to normalize. We bought a house in August and that by far made this year so much better. I am so grateful it happened when it did, and it was such an unexpected thing- which made it all the more special. Our boys are doing so good, all in school for at least part of the day which has meant a new season of margin for me and I've loved it. Church/Trev's job is going so well and we are so excited for what is down the pipe. My photography has taken off and I've enjoyed being challenged in this new way as well as continuing to serve in a few different roles at church. Really, life is good. We are good, and there is so very much to be thankful for.

I feel like I haven't learned much, I don't have much insight or glaring wisdom to offer after such a year. Maybe this time next year I can look back and pull a few things out, when it's not as fresh.

What I do know is that God is faithful, He never abandons or leaves us. He can handle my anger, my fear and my questioning. He cares deeply for me, and hurts when I hurt. I do know that having someone you can go to with all the ugly is important, that continuing to communicate with your spouse is vital and that letting your kids see you reaching out to Jesus in desperation instead of hiding it teaches them we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

I'm eager for a new year. Eager to start what I hoped to start this year, which is a rhythm in our home that fits our family, and a renewed sense of motivation for improving my body through running and eating well.

2015 paused a lot of things, it's time to hit play again...trusting in the faithfulness of a God who doesn't give up on me even when I feel like giving up on Him.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Imperfection is Okay

It's quiet this morning, the boys are all at school and I'm sitting down to pray, read and drink my coffee. I'm sitting at our new table that our friend made for us.
I've wanted a farmhouse table for some time now, and when we moved it became necessary for our smaller space to have a different type of table and it would need to be modified. I asked (begged and offered lots of coffee) him to build it, and I asked if I could help.

He's really good at this stuff, but he usually likes to do it alone, so I knew asking him to allow me to help was a give on his part, but I'm grateful he allowed me to be a part of the process. It is pretty incredible to watch a few pieces of wood bought at a local hardware store slowly turn into a beautiful piece of furniture. It's clear to me that it was not a coincidence that Jesus was a carpenter. The metaphors drawn from building and carving plain and often imperfect pieces of wood into stunning art that represents the carpenter who made it are endless. He took something that already existed and gave it new purpose. What was finished was a reflection of him as a carpenter, an artist and the pieces he built would carry His name. Like we label art a "Van Gogh" or music a "Tchaikovsky" a carpenter's work carries his name.

I enjoyed cutting the wood, drilling holes, learning to use equipment I had never heard of before, burning my finger on the end of the drill and getting covered in sawdust while sanding out the imperfections. I also really liked the smell of it. I could have easily let him do this whole thing, and without me there I'm sure it would have gone faster but I love that I had a small part in building something that sits in my home.

My friend is a bit of a perfectionist, especially when it comes to what he's created and while I was drooling over the table in all it's finished glory he was sizing up the areas he saw weren't quite up to snuff for him. It wasn't made in a factory, it was made in a garage. It's not the finest wood you can buy, it's simple, and I'm a rookie. There is something to be said though, for imperfections.

I want imperfect people to gather around my imperfect table, I want broken and misfit people to sit around it and feel safe.

I pray it would be a place where bellies are filled, people are encouraged, dreams are spoken, where restoration begins and memories are made. I pray it lasts forever so that my boys can point out where they sat when they realized what God had called them to, or where we could point out tear stains from a season of hard battles in prayer, and great season of joy.

So, I will sit here in the mornings and pray, and ask Him to continue to sand away my rough edges, not to be perfect, because that is never the goal, but to become the best representation of His work, that people might see me and say,

"Yes, I know this...this could only be the work of Jesus"

 "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
 which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What living like Jesus doesn't look like.

When we say we want to be like Jesus, I think we quite often, don't have a clue what that actually looks like.

We say it because we sure do want to be loving and kind and compassionate, but we don't often think about the situations we will be in where these characteristics would be needed.

We might need to show grace to the person who cut us off heading into Target because maybe they were having a bad day and Lord, Bless them.

But grace for the twice pregnant teen mom who should know now "how these things happen"...nah, how about some "truth in love"? It's our duty, I'm sure to point out how wrong this is, and how they have messed up again.

Compassion for the widowed Dad of three who works 50 hours a week between three jobs to make ends meet and needs food stamps to cover the rest, yes...he just needs a little help.

But compassion for the lady with tattoos in line holding her iphone buying chips and soda with her food stamps? Nope, she must be a drug addict abusing the system. There is no way she's also a hard working widowed Mom of three buying all she can afford for her littlest one's birthday whose phone was given to her by a friend. Instead of compassion let's blast on social media how messed up our system is and maybe even take a picture of her in line to go along with our "soapbox".

We say pro-life but we offer nothing to the Mom's who are looking to abort.
We say sanctity of marriage but our pews are filled with adulterers and porn addicts.
We call for reformation and change within our country but we don't look inside our own hearts.

We feel compelled to call others out and rate our sins on a scale when it's found nowhere in the Bible.

We use our social media platforms to "make others aware" and in reality we continue to ostracize, make others feel alone and perpetuate the belief that Christian's hate anyone different from themselves.

This isn't like Jesus. 

I wonder, when one gets on a soapbox about a polarizing issue, if they are only friends with those who believe the same as them? If they are, then why are they posting it?
If they do have friends who believe differently, what are they hoping to accomplish with a social media post? Do they consider their friends point of view and hope this wins them over? If they are sincere, then why aren't they conversing in person about this issue?

Is it because we are afraid to talk about this, for fear we may change our beliefs? For fear of being challenged because we don't really know why we believe it? Or is it a fear of being wrong?

When we say we want to be like Jesus we must know that Jesus got his hands dirty, literally.
He sat with the most hated people groups, he ate with them and talked with them. He went into places others wouldn't dare. He wept with the weight of what was on his shoulders, and that weight was people. Their sins, their burdens, he saw all of it. From the beginning to the end of time and it overcame Him. He took that to the cross with Him.

The physical manifestation of His love for people showed in the scars he carried on His body.

When we love deep, get our hands dirty, go to the unseen places and live and weep with the people who are hurting instead of sitting safely on the sidelines it will hurt. It will hurt so bad to love like that and often getting nothing in return. It will wound you and you will carry the scars of that love just as Jesus did.

That's what it means to live like Him. Living like Jesus doesn't mean safe or comfortable or tidy.

It's raw and painful and if we aren't willing to live that way, if we cannot comprehend a life of realness that wounds as much as it heals then we should not be asking to live like Christ did.

A few years back my husband and I began praying, "God we will do anything and go anywhere...just lead us" and we knew it could flip everything upside down.
It has. Maybe not in the drastic way of moving to Africa like I first thought...but it's been in little ways. How we spend our money, how we spend our time. It's looked like going all in with a few people who have needed to just be loved despite themselves and it's hurt like heck along the way.

Our friends asked the same thing and they are a few months into their adoption. It's been wonderful and extremely hard and painful all at the same time.

Living the reality of a true gospel life is pretty messy. Just because God calls you to it doesn't mean it will be wrapped up in a tidy bow.

Sometimes you will wonder why you ever prayed so boldly.

My hope is that we would be ever so bold as to say "this life I've been given is not for myself and my comforts, but to make Jesus known and to love others" That that one commandment would be our breath daily and what we use to filter our Facebook posts with, our conversations at Chipotle with and around the dinner table and with how we model our lives for our children and others.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Twelve Years of I Do

We had no idea what to expect when we said those two words, 12 years ago. We fully believed them in that moment, but we didn't know really what they meant.

We didn't know that they would mean "I do" take you even when death swallows up two of our friends within a few weeks of one another when our covenant was still new and we were both suffering and had yet to figure out the best way to carry one another along.

That on the heels of a family crisis that would send ripples through the years and can still be felt, "I do" meant even when we disagreed about how to handle the family we would choose each other.  And when roots of bitterness would threaten to choke out a relationship with them, and we could go red in the face on our sides of the fence, we would say "I do" to one another again and again at the end.

"I do" sounds simple before you find yourself with a brand new baby who was born just early enough to need extra help, and once home cries and spits up everything he eats and in one fell swoop you're a walking zombie, and one half of the couple is squishy and dripping and downright lost in this new season.

Those two words mean something altogether different after you lose a baby. When you face head on, a new kind of grief that doesn't play by any rules and affects you both differently. You can either turn into one another at night or turn away. We chose to turn in, to say "I do" even when I don't believe God is good in that fleeting moment when pain makes you numb. Some crawl out on the other side, limping and some crawl out stronger. You carried me until I could walk again.

Two words, and then two more babies. Two more boys who would turn the tables on how we do anything, and continue to keep us on our tip toes and show us how helpless we are, without each other, without Him front and center.

Cancer. Heart surgery. Job drama. Divorce. It's sent us reeling and clinging to one another.

I am learning, now 12 years in- that "I do" is spoken every day.

When you do the dishes after a long day at work because it just didn't happen even though I never left the house. When I make a warm meal when all I wanted to do was take a nap or when the kids were sick and I don't think I ever brushed my teeth.  When you bring me home a coffee because you know now, that it speaks love more than a bouquet of flowers (although I like those too thank you) and when I scoop the poop and watch sci-fi with you.

It's how you love my family and how you lay down your life every day for me and the boys.
It's how I don't go ape-crazy on your biggest critics at church and how I still manage a smile...sometimes.

I say I do when you make me so mad and yet I know deep down, your soul at the depth and I remember who you are, and that makes me rethink how I perceived your words or actions.

Some say we over-communicate and over-feel...but I think that's why every year gets better and every year we grow closer and every day I can't wait for you to walk in the door because you still light me up within. We feel it all, and we feel it all together and that has made us fused from the deepest places and all the way through.

I'm squishier now and you have a lot less hair. You have more gray in yours, but I have found a few.
I'd rather stay home with you and a bowl of popcorn than get dressed up and go out.

I'd rather stay home with the boys even though I'm at the end of myself, then take off for a week because I miss the crazy.

When we said "I do" we meant it. We didn't know what it would mean, but we meant it.

You are a different person today than when I married you. You are more patient, more selfless, more confident. I loved you then and I love you now and I love who you will be 10 years from now.

"I do" meant something entirely different back then.I think that's the wonderful mystery of marriage. You don't quite know what you're getting into...but if you choose each other daily, it doesn't really matter- so long as you keep saying "I do".

And so, tomorrow and the next and a thousand days from now- I do.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Working With Teenagers: Redeeming My Own Lost Moments

Every Wednesday night you can find me at the same place. Behind a bar.

Not that kind of bar....this one is called the Crow Bar. It was built with the intention of being a place teenagers could go to find resources to help them grow in their faith.

Most of the time I spend talking with students, asking them how their meet was the weekend before. How did they end up doing on that test? That girl that drug you along for awhile, where are you at with her? I'll point them to a new book we have about how to deal with their crazy parents, or a cool new Bible Study tool and force them to sign up for cool trips. And more often than not I'm giving someone a hard time of the ridiculous word they played to beat me in Words with Friends.

Basically I'm hanging out with teenagers and calling it volunteer "work" (best gig ever)

I've always loved teenagers- shoot, when I was in high school and youth group sucked for me...I found myself serving in the Middle School area (that by the way has never happened since...God Bless you if you are called to middle school ministry.

When I was a young married woman, I hosted several different small groups in my home with giggling teenage girls who wanted to pretty much only talk about boys and sex and their Mom's were happy that I obliged.

I love me some teenage girls. Unless it's in a 15 hour van ride, and then you will find me with the teenage boys were are surprisingly more quiet and don't smell near as bad as you would imagine (or I have become immune because I am raising three boys of my own).

I love the" church since birth teens" and the "always in a crisis teens", the "obnoxious just want some attention teens" and the" quiet nose in the book teens".

I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want to join us on a Wednesday night, it's the most fun place on our church campus, and if you don't mind the occasional ball flying across the room and hitting you in the're going to have a blast.

I'm kind of surprised I ended up here to be honest. Working along side other youth leaders, with teenagers. I didn't have a great youth group experience. In fact, if I think on it hard enough, I can still feel the wounds.

Surprisingly, it wasn't the teenagers who wounded me the most, although they did their fair share because- teenagers.

I went to a small Christian High School, and I loved it. I was friends with nearly everyone, All-Star volleyball player who had the ability to make even the teachers let me get away with stuff. I kinda felt like I had it all at my fingertips, I was a class clown, but I got good grades (minus math...who needs math) I hung out with people from every group there was and I still had my solid friends who stuck by me no matter what. I got lead in the play my Freshman year, my junior year my best friend and I beat out the Seniors to win Commissioners of Activities and I was elected VP my Senior Year ( I did end up giving that up because I was working at a coffee shop and that was way cooler and paid real money).

Basically- I had it made, at school....

Church was a whole different story. For some reason, ever since we moved from Eugene when I was about 10 I never quite plugged in. I'm not sure if it was because everyone else there had known each other since diapers, or because I was pretty much the only one that didn't go to school where they rest of them went or if I had some stench that only showed up at church. Bottom sucked.

I have a few decent memories of the grade school years, but more often than not they are sandwiched by some pretty awful ones, and they all include the same people.

When High School rolled around and living was good during the day, I sort of assumed that things would be better at church, and instead they got worse.

During my youth group years I had three different Youth Pastors. That right there sucked, and I know it probably contributed to a lot. Different visions, different personalities and different philosophies on culture within youth group.

I would have come off a great day at school, and awesome practice on the court and then head to church on Wednesday night for youth group.

I was hardly spoken to. By anyone. Forgive me, but even the nerdy kids didn't give me the time of day. I was an outcast among outcasts coming from a day where I had floated around the school with all of my different "peeps".

The worst part is, even the youth workers ignored me. I was pretty good at hiding how I was feeling, flashing dimples usually puts people at ease. Unfortunately, no one seemed to care enough to actually ask. I have a vivid memory of begging my Mom to not take me to youth group. No one liked me, it would be awful. She asked me to try...maybe just once more, and so I did.

Twenty minutes later I was on the phone in the lobby, in tears asking her to come get me because I had been completely ignored, not even an acknowledgment that I was present in the room (this was at a time with our group was pretty darn small too) by both youth staff and my fellow students.

More often than not, the youth leaders just stood around talking to one another instead of engaging with students. Weren't they supposed to be there for us?

 That's when my parents decided to stop asking me to go every week and instead encouraged me to plug in somewhere to serve.

This was before the "sticky faith" buzz word was around, and my parents already had it on lock-down. I started working with the Middle School group and occasionally the little kids. I also went with my friends to another youth group, where I could go and learn and hang out with kids my age and feel included, and visible.

I credit my parents a lot. They could have done a million different things, and yet they encuoraged me to serve and supported me. They didn't go holding meetings and bash sessions with other adults or parents, we didn't leave our church in a huff. I think that's one main reason I didn't just up and leave the church all together.

So many do. So many head to church seeking a place of safety and understanding and instead are met with a cold shoulder. They never step back in a church again, or if they do it's years later with a lot of baggage given to them by other "Jesus followers".

I'm pretty sure that's one reason I find myself behind the bar every week. I know there are kids coming that look pretty awesome on the outside, but no one really knows how they are feeling inside. I try and say hi to everyone. These teenagers, there is so much more there than meets the eye. I see potential, and opportunity and honestly, they bless my socks off. Plus, since I know God is in the business of redeeming, I'm pretty sure I'm living out those redeemed moments week in and week out.

I try and make sure that I'm not caught up talking to other youth workers. I love ya'll, but if I'm talking to you then I can't be talking with a student. I can catch up with you another time, but when I'm here, I'm on and guess what? Students notice.

It's that saying, "wherever you all there".  If you're at the table eating dinner with your family, be there instead of on your phone. If you're working with kids, be with the kids. If you're working with teenagers, be with the teenagers.

There are a few that did this well back when I was in High School. One ended up being a mentor to me, and the other remains one of the most influential people in my life to this day.
I haven't held grudges all these years, but I have not forgotten the way I was made to feel.

That's the thing isn't it? It's not how we intend to come across, or how we perceive ourselves to be engaging or communicating. It's about how make others feel. If I am focused on making others feel included and loved, then I will show that in the way I engage and interact.

I don't remember one thing any of my youth pastors or youth leaders said to me. Not one word.

But I do remember how they made me feel.....that part lasts forever.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Love Beyond Ourselves

Yesterday I drove to the river. I needed to get out and just breathe some fresh air and sit in silence. I drove to a place I often take pictures for people, and then headed down a little path to the edge of the water. 
We never really had snow this past winter, so our snow-pack is really low which makes for a low river. Where I was sitting, it was hardly moving, but it was moving, if even I could hardly tell. 

We've been wading through some difficult things as of late, some of which are heart-breaking. Daily I have been bringing it before the Lord, sometimes it's just an utter of desperation and other times it's with shoulder shrugging sobs. 

Yesterday, by the river, I wept. I wept because my heart was breaking and I was angry and yet I knew that God was wanting to teach me some things, and that even though yes, there was devastating things going on around me, my own heart had so much to be worked on. 

God is using the situations around me to point out to me the sin in my own heart. Was I really, at every step, showing love first? Was my first and foremost reaction to things grace? Or did I merely think it was? Did I explain away the other times, justifying why it my have not been loving? 

It is painful, to be shown where you are wrong. To look at yourself and realize that you have so much work to do. Like the pruning of a bush to bring about a flower, that what God does in our own hearts and before the beauty of the blossom there has to be death. Sometimes it doesn't make sense, why cut that part off? It didn't look so bad, it didn't seem to be causing any issues. It's only later that the un-pruned parts prove to be a problem. Not giving way to life, dying and thus losing it's purpose for being. 

I cannot love all of the time. I cannot love more than I already do. The only way I can begin to love the way I need to love, is by allowing Jesus to do the work in me. Letting Him teach me how to love.

It is a daily thing my friends, I cannot love people the way Jesus loves from yesterday's supply. This is a love beyond myself. 

 I need it new and in abundance daily or I begin to try and love people on my own terms, and sometimes I don't want to love. I want to hurt and return hurt and make people suffer, just like they have made others suffer. That's the ugly truth. The ugly truth that without Jesus I am a mess. The ugly truth is that if I don't have love, my words lose meaning and my actions begin to take a form of selfishness and in my own despair, my instinct for survival trumps anything else. 

This past weekend our best friends brought home the daughter they are adopting. It's been an incredible joy to walk this path alongside them and rejoice at each step. The truth is, adoption comes out of tragedy, it's born out of something broken and yet God uses it to display his redemptive nature in all it's glory. He's redeeming her story and her life before our very eyes and that's what He has done for each of us. 

We are a broken people, in need of redemption and grace. I am a broken person, a sinner through and through and yet God is working in my life and in my heart to bring about a love that points to Himself. 

 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13

Friday, February 20, 2015

Get in the Word

Last year I really struggled getting into the Word. I often found myself reading some incredible books and blogs that also had scripture referenced in them and used that as my "scripture reading".

It was a lame excuse and for 2015 my goal was to get back into the Word. I decided to read through the Bible in a year. I had done it before several years ago, and tried again another time, but I can get frustrated if I miss a day and can't mark off the box with a little check and then instead of reading catching up I just say "screw it" and give up.

I found a plan on one of my favorite sites, She Reads Truth. Seriously, I can't say enough about this website. Go dig around and you will fall in love as well. I downloaded the App, signed up for the Read the Bible in a Year Plan, and haven't looked back.

It's pretty incredible because, I have been at it for almost 2 whole months now and there have been some wonderful and timely nuggets from scripture, but more than that there is just nothing like being in the scripture daily to do wonders for your soul.

My outlook is different, I am in step with the Lord and so my decision making is clearer, my day to day is more focused and I don't second guess certain things when I know I've been in regular prayer and reading with Jesus. I know He is rewarding my faithfulness with His faithfulness and that it's not a magic combination I've clicked into, but I can tell that my entire life is different when I'm daily in the word.

The best part about this plan, and all She Reads Truth plans for that matter, is that it's short and to the point. It's exactly what I need in this season of my life and I am thankful for it.

You can sign up to get the current study (right now it follows Lent) delivered daily to your inbox for free, or you can access any one of their past studies (from Esther to Hospitality to Grace and more!) on their website and walk through it solo. They also have a free App which has it's own Bible and Notes section and all the plans are available there too (most have a small fee to keep the App running, but there are a few free ones including the one I'm doing)

The other cool part is that there is a whole community of women walking through these studies together. You can converse with them both on the website and through the app, and by using the hashtag #shereadstruth you can find even more!

There is nothing like being connected with other women who are walking through the same places in the Bible all over the world!

It's not too late to jump in, or pick one that fits your season of life on their website.
I am warning you...if you look at the Shop section and see the prints for sale you WILL drool- GORGEOUS!!

If you have your own study or plan or system you use to dig into the Word, awesome...keep at it! But if you're looking for something new or different check it out.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Face to Face With Your Soul

We are barely into February and this year has already been extremely hard. I didn't know what to expect when the year rolled from 2014 to 2015 but I do know I didn't expect such a hammering the first month.

My husband has sung or played at far too many funerals already this year, and is also watching as a beloved friend and mentor makes his way toward heaven. There has also been other things, things that have quite literally knocked the wind from my lungs and brought me to my knees in the most literal of senses. 

My heart is heavy. I know no other words to describe it. I ache from the hurt and destruction I see. 

My response to some devastating news recently gave me a good look at the status of my heart. I reacted pretty darn ugly.

  It was as if the depths of my carnal soul came pouring out and I hadn't realized there was so much of me left- and the need for so much more of Him.

It was a reality check for myself, that I still have so much work for Him to do in my heart and in my life. Nothing like being faced with pain and difficulties to see your true nature.

I remember when my Mom was diagnosed with cancer. I was angry and fearful. It took awhile for my heart to find it's way again and lean into Him and trust. This time, when I was smacked upside the head with tough news I reacted....yes, but I remembered how much more pain I went through with my Mom's diagnosis because I resisted falling into Him arms and trusting. I had some weird sense of control when I was worrying- some empty promise that if I fretted over it I could dictate what or how things happened. None of that is true. 

I had to decide, do I really trust God or do I not? Do I really believe what I preach, what I say to others and to my kids? Do I  really believe down to the very darkest part of my that I trust Him, or is it something I say because it feels nice and offers "hope", or do I say it because I believe it with every breath of my soul.

 I decided to just let the waves of His grace wash over me to do what didn't feel natural and to not fear, to not allow my brain to walk the "what if " path and to just trust...despite the pain. 

Ya'll this isn't easy. It is not easy to go against your sinful nature, your humanness and let go of the reigns and just free-fall into trusting God. In fact, I can hardly get through a day where I don't lay it all down at His feet multiple times. 

I am learning what it truly means to walk step by step with Him through this life because if I get too far ahead I lose sight of Him and if I lag behind my eyes lose focus and I get distracted by other things. 

There has never been a more significant time of growth in my relationship with Jesus, than when I was suffering.....

There has never. Been a more significant time of growth in my relationship with Jesus, than when I was suffering. 

I don't know what you are facing, or what is heading your way. What I do know is that there is no other way to walk this life but to trust in God. I see no other way to feel utter devastation and yet a peace that surpasses all things. I am confident in His faithfulness because He has yet to let me down. He has yet to turn from me and leave me to walk anything alone.

Lean in. Trust Him. It's so much better than trying to maintain a false sense of control. I promise you will yield fruit because of it. He is faithful. 

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.
Philippians 3:10

Thank you Jesus for friends who bring by chocolate bars, husbands who are the very definition of compassion and love, family who prays, little boys with cheeky grins, framily that you trust implicitly and the nectar of 

This song below is one of my favorites and makes me cry every time. 
Listen to it if you can.
He's Always Been Faithful To Me

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Morning by morning I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God's hand in mine
Season by season I watch Him, amazed
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful to me.

I can't remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can't remember one single regret
In serving God only, and trusting His hand
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful to me.

This is my anthem, this is my song
The theme of the stories I've heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful, He's always been faithful
He's always been faithful to me.

Monday, January 5, 2015

2015: Fine Tuning

The last two years has been for me, a place of learning to trust God in many areas. He asked me to be stretched, to take risks and to just jump.
I did several things that I didn't think I would ever do, including going to two different countries without my family.

When I felt God asking me to be ready to just go wherever, I did expect some gigantic move across the ocean and a dirt hut. Maybe not that scene exactly, but I did expect some major shift. When a few months went by and no major changes in job or location happened I was pretty bummed. Sure I knew that it didn't mean God wasn't working, or that it always had to look big. But I really wanted it to.

God was definitely working, and I began to figure out really what I love to do and where I love to serve and kinda figure out what makes me tick. It was awesome. God was working in lots of little areas, but I've kinda always held out for something bigger. I am an optimist, and I'm a future dweller and dreamer, that's just who I am!

I started a devotional series at the beginning of the year (She Reads Truth//Hymns) it was short, just a 5 day series. It was based off of 5 different Hymns. The scripture behind them, a short explanation of why the hymn came about and then a devotional. It was fantastic and there was one that stood out to me and has continued to pull at me.

                                              Come, Thou fount of every blessing,

Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.
– Robert Robinson

She talks about how you'd never play a guitar out of tune, but so often our hearts are out of tune and we try and function like that and end up using all of our own effort to make it through the day, walk the road in front of us, grow, and lead.

Along with personal goals I've set for myself this year, this idea of "tuning" my heart to God perfectly melded and I felt God calling me to a season of tuning.

For the last two years it's been about going, and doing and stepping into the places He's called me out to. It's been incredible, but I cannot keep doing the big things if I am not doing the seemingly small things in my heart and home.

This year I want to focus on my home, this place where I spend all of my days and as we are fast approaching all three of our boys at school I want to make each moment home with them that much more focused and intentional. I want to find a rhythm that suits us and makes the most of our days. I want to lean into the graces of God like I haven't before, and soak up what He is wanting to do in me.

It's not that I don't have motivation to do other things, and I'm sure some will come along and I will need to look hard at them, whether a trip or a task. It's that I want to focus on what's going on inside of me and in my home and truly be even more intentional than I have been.

So, 2015 is going to be a year of intentionally focusing on my heart and my home. Tuning each part to the heart of God so that I can continue to step into the unknown with full faith and confidence in His calling.

If either my heart or my home are out of tune, my home being my priority and calling as a wife and Mom then I cannot be effective outside my walls. I can only do so much. I picture it sort of as a layering process. Each one needing to be exposed before you can move on to the next.
This isn't easy for a personality like mine, and I expect that's why God is having me do it.