Why tiny things might hurt so deeply

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Your life used to have that old form. It was nice. You had learned to wear it, to dress your day in the shape it took. It almost felt like a part of you. But then, it was different.

Life took on a different form. Change can happen in a moment and there may have been one instant when it all shifted. But the heart inside you cannot make a shift in a single instant.

Even if on the outside life appeared to keep going on as always, it still happened. And something started happening inside you the day the shift came.

That shape of your life that felt like a part of you, it said goodbye. But it couldn’t wait for you finish saying goodbye back. Because how do you even say goodbye to something that feels like part of you?

And even as you tried to keep your head up and move forward, even if you weren’t going to let it get to you when that part of your life said goodbye… it was after that, that all those old pieces of your life that had said goodbye to you before, came back to enter your memory and remind you of what you’ve lost, to remind you of who you’re not, and the way your life does not look today.  

And while I’m talking to myself, maybe you can relate somehow. Because the Word says there are no struggles except what is common to our experience as people.   

And maybe you’ve had a baby or moved to a new city. Maybe you’ve had to part ways with a person whether you both stayed on this earth or not. Maybe you’ve lost a responsibility or gained one you weren’t ready for. Whatever shape your life has taken, you’ve said hello and goodbye to so very many seasons. It’s a whole lot to be grateful for and it’s also a whole lot for a soul to bear.

And as much as it may seem sometimes to be a much smaller load than what someone else has to carry, life is still a lot to bear for every life that lives here.

Sometimes it can feel ridiculous to give myself permission to call something a real struggle. Tears want to come, but the moment doesn’t feel grief-worthy. Silly me. I’ll just keep stepping forward.  

But then it happens again.    

And this year, while we were learning the hellos and goodbyes of calling a new town home, we had our first surprise pregnancy. And we were so excited to say hello to our little boy, that “goodbye” didn’t seem to have a place. Then, I passed my due date, the induction was scheduled, and the night before he was born we got in the car with the girls to go to dinner as a family. And when we pulled out of the driveway, my eyes got really wet. Because while I was so excited to say hello to my baby boy, it suddenly felt like this season of life was saying goodbye to me and somehow tears were the only response I could give to that.

I thought on it for a few moments that night, but it felt a little silly. And we went on to enjoy the evening, to look to the joy of the next day when we got to experience all the wonder of meeting our precious little boy. Then a few days after Gideon’s birth, tears fell when I looked at Liesel and all of a sudden she didn’t look like a baby anymore. I took some time that day to hold her tight and to journal through the moment, then… we stepped into the next day… and the next week, because that’s what you do.

Then, for the past couple weeks or so, life has felt so wonky. Feelings I’ve known before keep coming back. People I’ve parted ways with, moments of life that brought tears, pieces of life that I’ve struggled to recognize as something separate from what I’m defined by… one by one they keep resurfacing. As if something has triggered the remembrance of how all those broken pieces of my life felt.

Because, I don’t know, but it feels like my soul is trying to grieve something. Like a whisper inside me wants me to know that even while I take joy in getting to know my baby, it’s okay to also feel sad about the season of life that has gone. I don’t completely understand why it’s something that I feel a need to grieve, but somehow I have a need to give myself permission to acknowledge that life no longer looks the same way it did that evening when we rolled out onto the road with four occupied seats in the car. It’s okay for both Liesel and I to grieve that our relationship does not have just the same shape as it did before. Grieving the change does not lessen the joy that we have in getting to call Gideon a part of our family.

It does not make us any less grateful for what we have when we acknowledge the grief that we feel.

Because grief and gratefulness do their best work when they join hand in hand.

And our one biggest reason to be grateful took place in death. The cross brought grief and gratitude. How could it bring one without the other?

So we feel grief and we give thanks.

We feel broken grief just as Jesus body was broken and this becomes a gift. With this grief, we get to press our hurting pieces into His death that brought life.  

This grief, perhaps it allows us to not simply say words of thanks, but to feel something inside us, a glympse of what Jesus felt, and to remember with the heart inside us, the life that His death has brought us. Maybe when grief and gratefulness join hands in our lives, we get to press into something that is big enough to bear it all.   

That life of yesterday that felt like a part of you, it said goodbye. But it couldn’t wait for you finish saying goodbye back. That season where you were a mother of two, it said goodbye and now you remember it all again…

The season when you called Garland home, it said goodbye. The season when that soul you loved was a part of your life, it said goodbye. That season when you were a little girl sitting in front of your dollhouse and life didn’t feel this complicated, it said goodbye. They all felt like part of who you were. And when they said goodbye, shy, awkward and incomplete felt like part of who you were.

It all felt like a war: Feel the grief and hear how incomplete you are, or just try to be grateful enough that you can’t hear the rest of it. It felt like grief versus gratefulness, as if this was your war, as if they were opposites.      

But maybe the grief that invites you to feel as the flow of life carries you forward, maybe the grief of insecurity that keeps showing up to remind you what you are not, maybe this is an invitation.    

An invitation to know that this war that you feel between grief and gratefulness: this is not the war. The war is against that devil who wants you to think that these two pieces of the cross are separate.    

Our call is not to deny the grief, the dark pieces inside us that can feel so incomplete. No, our call is to deny ourselves, but to take up the cross.

The cross of Jesus is the place of grief, where everything that ever said goodbye to us belongs. It’s the place that can bear everything that ever felt like a part of who we are.

I wanted to be enough to hold all the seasons of life without breaking. I wanted to be enough for the ones who parted ways with me. I wanted to be enough to never feel like my personality was shy or incomplete. But that is not what I was made for. Because I was made to know the beautiful glory that happens when all these broken pieces that feel like a part of who I am say goodbye to me and attach themselves to the beautiful cross.   

And when I grieve and feel that grief in the presence of Jesus, I acknowledge that I was not enough to hold it all without breaking. When I grieve, I deny that I was ever enough. I cannot move from one life season to another without things cracking inside me. I cannot live this life without feeling incomplete inside. But when God uses that grief to move me… to help me to keep carrying these broken pieces of myself to Jesus and press them into His beautiful cross, everything incomplete in me dies with Him there. And inside His cross, He gives life to me. He takes these broken pieces of me that were pressed with grief into the death of His cross and in His death He presses these pieces all the way through to the life of His cross that shines on the other side. He makes me a part of His own sweet cross of life and here He makes these pieces of me into a new person that is whole. The broken person of me is remade, renamed and found whole inside of this lovely cross.

He never looks to my grief and says it’s too small and unimportant for His cross to carry. He invites it with His Word. “For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.” (2 Cor. 4:11) And if today wants to bring me grief for all these little things that I cannot carry, these are just more broken pieces of me that will keep being remade inside of that beautiful cross.

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

When God Paints Portraits with His People

Maybe God can paint portraits not just with a sunset, but with my personality too, when I let Him live through it.

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There are those moments. Playing my part, I do it ever so carefully, and, if I really try, I can do it without my mistakes being noticed. Because, well, messing up feels uncomfortable, exposed, like I just showed people that I might not really know exactly what I’m doing.

It feels like the evenings I spent in my little corner at the keyboard. Playing along with the guitars, when our small group of friends sang worship together. I watch my fingers hit the keys and I think on the little insecurities of the moment. I think of the people who do this on a grander scale. In the church auditorium on Sundays when sometimes the distinct way a note is played can be used to stir my soul to my own need. In my own small way, I want to offer my playing to be used that way too. So I try to offer that, and it all comes out messy.

When I sat on that bench, there were really two options. One option was blending in to play the basic chords with no mistakes and very little notice, and the other was to venture with my fingertips up the keyboard and risk wrong notes. The first option is the safest. But the second option opens to the possibility of bringing unique beauty to the hearers through my fingers. One option closes off an opportunity and the other opens to it.

As I played keyboard those Wednesday nights, I hit the notes wrong and I could feel a truth small and simple, a message delivered through my insecurity.

Life can feel just like this.

Sometimes it’s the tiniest pieces of life that feel like the biggest risk, like being willing to play my little part in what’s happening around me, or offering the words of encouragement that my heart wants to give. The words start coming out and suddenly it feels that I’ve ventured up the keyboard away from where I blend in. It’s the whisper to my heart with the remembering of that corner I sat in, inviting me to trust what is true – that He can use me as me.

If I’m honest with myself, I struggle to trust God with my personality more than I like to think. Offering my thought or the words on my heart, it can feel like playing all the wrong notes for everyone to hear.

Maybe God can paint portraits, though, not just with a sunset, but with my personality too – when I let Him live through it. Maybe the awkward things that can come when I open my mouth, maybe they are music to somebody. Maybe they want to be brushstrokes in the beauty God is painting today. I know something happens when people open to the possibility. The room of people seem as if they were blessed in some small, mysterious way, as if maybe the spirit inside one can commune with the spirit inside the rest of us and offer an unspoken joy to us all. Maybe there are secret passageways through personality where a part of us runs through and blesses the other.

I see God shine through a friend’s personality when she says the thing that only she would say, in the way that only she would say it, and it stirs my soul to the sacred healing of something I cannot explain. She said the quirky thing and the words didn’t have to be spiritual, to be used to bless my spirit.

It’s where the mystery whispers hints into our lives and we find it true – Christ in you.

Today for the uncomfortable mystery in the moments we face, may we hear the quiet invitation. Perhaps at times, God calls us to simply trust what He can do with the personality He made in us. And maybe the most beautiful portraits are made by the Artist who made you and me.

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

New Baby Journal

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To spend an evening surrounded by the people you’ve given your heart to, to let the evening glow and listen to the giggles and the singing and snuggle up with your baby in your arms, this is beautiful. And no pain from giving birth or long night with a baby could make these moments any less worth it. Those moments of pain have a beauty of their own.

When my oldest little girl was a baby, that was when shy feelings started becoming something beautiful instead of something ugly I had to run away from. God knew I needed my girlie in my arms. I had always been painfully aware of the “shy girl” inside me, but when I became a mommy, in those first few weeks and months the “shy girl” was all I could see of myself. And it was the ugly wonderful truth of the cross that spoke into my heart through the people God brought me. The truth that was powerful enough to make my ugly postpartum feelings – along with the shy feelings that had been such a large part of my life – so beautiful.

The postpartum, new baby life is what God used to show me my shy feelings as a gift instead of a curse. They were what led me to start writing here. And I’m blessed to experience postpartum life for the third time this October. (Pictures and info about my little Gideon below)

One of the most raw times in life for those small feelings to come are those postpartum days after birth when you are adjusting to the sudden hormonal changes accompanied with the major life changes that come from it all.

The arrival of baby is met after months of anticipation, some of the greatest feelings of anticipation a lifetime can know. All the hoping and waiting is met on a date that is often unknown until it happens and when it does happen the way it all goes is out of your control. There are bound to be numerous unforseen things about the way that day unfolds. And while you always know that the day your babies are born will be in the happiest of your life, nothing can so prepare you for birth, that the joy of the moment does not overwhelm your soul.

All at once, birth can carry with it the weight of joy, the weight of love and the weight of knowing that a life is in your hands. A soul that will last forever is wrapped in skin and placed in your arms for you to give life and nourishment to, for you to train and raise, for you to speak love into as this soul enters a world that is so broken.

And the weeks following can bring you more awareness of your own inability than you have ever known before. While you want to love this child perfectly, and value their needs more than your own, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you just want to sleep through the night without waking up for your baby. Sometimes you wish you could take a shower without having to worry about whose going to keep the baby safe from big sister. The dependence you are met with can wear on you and you might even wish you were free to jump up and go somewhere without having to feed and change the baby before you leave and be prepared and ready to feed and change the baby again when you get where you’re going. It doesn’t seem like a big deal until you remember how long it can take to feed a newborn baby or how hard and long a newborn can cry and make you want to cry until you feed them.

And sometimes you can feel like the worst mother in the world for even having the wishful thoughts in your head. So inadequate, so insufficient to be all that this baby needs. And, of course, you aren’t sufficient. You were never made to do it on your own. But accepting that can be so hard, so much harder than you think it will be.

And then, that’s just a small piece of the story.

This month I won’t be blogging, but my aim is to journal a little every day, and share those words, with a purpose.

My purpose is to share the small feelings of postpartum life and pray that they lead closer to Jesus.

Because I’ve known a postpartum life that felt so alone and thought I was the only one who felt this.

Because Jesus is able to shine through the dark feelings inside me.

Because I like the idea of having a place online to show up daily and remember that all the feelings inside me can lead me closer to Him.

If you’d like to join me, for the next month or so I’ll be sharing my new baby journal on Instagram under the handle @maggiejanaye and the hashtag #newbabyjournal.

May our small feelings lead us closer to Jesus. For all of us in the messy sweetness of life keep our eyes on You. You give the beautiful imperfections and offer them all as a way to see Your grace. The moments we most want to treasure never look picture perfect, but Your grace is too great for perfect picture frames. Be the Shepherd that guides us on down the broken road to the always unexpected show of how Your grace does its work in our stories. Amen.

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Each of my babies have given me some of the greatest gifts of my life, not only in their own lives but in the gifts God offered to my heart with them in my arms. Such a treasure. Thank you for sharing in the joy with me here. I look forward to sharing more in November.

Here is our little Gideon Harley and my first journal entry after his birth.

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“Gideon Harley was born on Tuesday just before 8 pm. I just can’t get over his sweet little face. Having my two little girls, I’ve been a little unsure during pregnancy of what it would be like to mother a son but getting to hold my own little man melts my heart. I’ve only mothered a boy for a few days but it feels beautiful. He has my heart.

He’s been my littlest baby – 7 pounds, 1 ounce at birth and the birth experience I’ve had with him has been so unique to my others. My longest labor. My first c section. The first time Daddy got to hold the baby first. The first time the family got to see baby before I did.

A few minutes after they told Luiz he had to step out of the labor room, the baby and I both went into stress and the c section had to be decided on without Luiz there. They couldn’t get me numb so they chose to put me under and in what seemed like seconds (an hour later) I woke up in a room alone and looked down to see that Baby wasn’t in me anymore. Luiz, Mom and Dad came in to see me and eventually my little guy came. The moment I met him didn’t have the grand newness of birth and I hurt to have not been there in those first few moments but I’m learning to treasure the moment we met as it was. I was told to stay flat on my back and he was laid in the crook of my arm. It’s hard to see a persons face from that angle, especially when you’ve been waiting to see it for months. But we got acquainted in our own little way and it was arranged by the one who knows and cherishes my desires and lays the very best plans still. The moment we met was special as it was.

The past few days I have known a deeper respect for c section mommy’s. When all you want to do is get up and cuddle your baby, it hurts to not be able to get out of bed by yourself. It hurts because you know the mommy you want to be and how can you be that when you can’t even go to the bathroom without help? When your baby is dependent on you, you became nearly as dependent as he is. You get to remember a bit more of what it is to be like a child and maybe while that dependent soil can feel ugly, maybe underneath, it has the nutrients that faith needs to grow.”

Those are some of my first thoughts after having Gideon. Thank you for being a kind listening ear as I step through them without having it all figured out.

This month, as part of my monthly audio series, I’ve sent an email letter on things I want to remember about seasons of waiting. (As September was one of the longest months of my life waiting for baby Gideon’s birth.) Also in that email, I sent the audio file for this month celebrating the ways God has used this waiting season, in its imperfections, to point me to the patience of His Love. If you haven’t received the email and would like to, you can sign up below.

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

3 Encouragements for Giving Wholehearted When Your Heart Wants to Melt

5 Day Guide to Offer your Gift without Losing your Heart

Hello dear Reader, The following post is something that’s been deep on my heart to share. It’s for all of us who want to be a blessing, but sometimes feel like our hearts are so messy in the middle of it. And in a way, this post is an invitation to join me in five days of sitting with this topic. However you choose to use the words below, I pray they are a blessing to your life of offering.

If you’ve ever just wished that you could offer yourself wholeheartedly but your heart just felt like melting, then I feel like we have so much in common and I’m so glad.

There was a day this month, more like a string of days, when my heart longed to be useful, to feel useful, but mostly all I felt was overwhelmed, falling short, limited, broken.

And in that place, my daughter asked me to read her a story from her children’s Bible. It was the story of the small boy with a small lunch, and for those few moments while I read it, it felt like I was that boy. It felt like Jesus saw all these pieces of my heart and still waited with a loving smile for what I had to give. And the tears came.

The beloved Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally L-J
The beloved Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally L-J

So I wrote about it and we made a video. I hope you enjoy it.

In case you’re hard of hearing the transcript for the video is provided at the bottom of this post. Below the video I’ll talk a bit more about those three things I’m still learning from that little boy and you’ll also be invited to five days of letting your heart sit with truth and encouragement as you offer what God has given you.

How do I give wholeheartedly when my heart just wants to melt? Sometimes I think I can never give wholeheartedly as long as my heart feels this way. I forget that the “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted.” (Ps. 34:18)

When we want to give ourselves wholeheartedly but our hearts feel all the things, here is what we can do:

1. Acknowledge the reasons our hearts feel like melting.

We are never more wholehearted than when our hearts are resting in Jesus acknowledging to Him every part of what lies inside. There is no safer place to pour out the depth of our hearts than in His own loving arms. He is the only one who can make good out of every part of what we feel inside us.

When we tell Him what our hearts are feeling, when we tell Him the things in life that overwhelm us, we acknowledge our own weakness and that weakness becomes a tool in His hands. The Bible never tells us to make our hearts invicible, it simply tells us to keep our hearts and to let Him use our weakness. (Pr. 4:23, 2 Cor. 12:9)

2. Give from our melting hearts.

We may not feel it, but we are so wholehearted coming from this place. We don’t have to have hearts that feel strong before He can use us. Because the strength of our heart does not lie in us. It lies in Him. When we don’t feel strong, we are invited to trust Him for the strength and keep on resting in the promise that He is using us.

Even when our hearts feel like they’re melting, by faith His strength holds them together and close to His own heart. Our own usefulness does not depend on our strength.

3. See Jesus meet us in the giving.  

Even as we may question ourselves, when we put our eyes on His faithfulness, our trust is not in ourselves, or in any outcome we can see, but in the simple promise that He is moving in our lives. We may not see exactly how He moves, but as we look to Him, He always meets us in the giving.

We look for Jesus in the giving and we become that little boy giving the little offering from our sack. Though our offering is so small, Jesus gives His big smile because while we don’t know just what He will do with it, though we may never even see how He does use it, He assures us with His smile… Yes, you are so useful.

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If these thoughts speak to you, then I’d like to invite you to a personal, five day Bible study. I’ll share some of my own struggles in this and we’ll look at what Scripture says both about giving our offering and about how to keep heart in the ministry of life on this earth as one of His children. As children of God, there are areas where we can start to lose heart in the giving. We’ll look at five ways we can strive to keep heart even as we let our weak hearts rest in the strength of Jesus.

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Each of the five days I’ll send you a (free) PDF that includes a short intro video, devotional thoughts, Scripture study and journaling prompts / meditation for your own heart in the offering. You can sign up below if you’d like to be a part. I would LOVE for you to join me.

And whether we are offering ourselves today as parents, friends, creatives, teachers, whether we offer ourselves behind a desk or on a stage, may we all claim it together by the strength of His love, “Having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.” (2 Cor. 4:1)

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Video Transcript

There is a crowd surrounding us, a swelling up of people who must surely know they’re purpose in this place. And in the midst of people, we strain to hear the One who leads. We are finding our way in the ocean of possibilities, hoping to stay afloat, our minds drifting and remembering again and again who we are here for in all the mess.

Just one in the world who can be so uncertain, we need one hope to cling to for the noise that swirls around us.

And the leading one holds a dear child close, lifts him up as treasured. What sweet joy to be that one, to be so treasured by him. Yet, the heart of the idea is slapped by a whispering accuser. Perhaps the voice is true. Perhaps my heart does want the praise of all these people. How can I deny that such broken feelings rise inside me?

But when I look up at him, he still gives his gaze my way. Still the smile rests on his face, as he seems to know what’s in my heart. Those eyes don’t look to accuse me, nor do they give one reason to stay away. I look down on what I have to give. Maybe he knows what I hold inside.

Still, I wonder. Still the courage is not inside me, but you, my friend, come close with kindness. You point me on to trust those eyes. A smidge of courage rises in me. And it is not my own. For it was sent through you.

I take a step, clutching the bag in my hand. Ducking through the field of people. For all the assurance my kind-eyed leader seems to give, there are so many calling for his attention.

Seeing a man who knows him stand quiet to the side, I make my way there. As I stand there in the presence of this man, he looks down waiting to see why I have come. My hands tremble to reach for the contents of my bag, for I know they are so small.

With such doubts inside me, I remember your encouragement friend and I look again to the One I’m doing this for. I lift my package and pull it open, to show these two small fish and pieces of bread to the man before me.

The expression on his face seems to be one that has questions too. Yet, he gives a kind smile and takes up my offering. Stepping away from me, he goes on to carry it for me. Beyond the broad shoulders of this man, there is the one who I hope can use my offering. One more time, he gives me the happiest smile I’ve seen from him.

I don’t know what he will do with my offering, but what I do know, is that smile he just gave me makes every part of this story worth it.

For all the broken feelings inside me, for all the ways my offering may be flawed, for every part of my steps to get here that were so imperfect, he treasures me and he treasures my offering.

While we paused in the questions, he already knew how he planned to use our offering. And he waited, without an ounce of judgment on us.

He waits in love for each offering from us. For we are all the little boy with our bits of bread and fish.

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Why the Heart of America Still Stands Strong

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The following post is something I wrote a couple months ago and never shared. But in light of the events of this past weekend, I pulled it back out. I think it’s a good time to share it. What took place in Charlottesville is heartbreaking and it’s a good time to remember the goodness of what it is to be American. It’s a good time to feel the heart of this country with the heart inside our own skin, and sit in the quiet of how God is using the past weekend in our own lives. For this is where battles are won. May we face the small feelings it meets us with and bring them to the one who is Light.  

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I sat on the wooden staircase, veiled and dressed in white, waiting for my dad to say it was time. In just a few minutes, I would live the freedom that did not exist for the nation just five decades earlier. Fifty years earlier, we could have been arrested for a day like this. But this is America, where our legacy has always been in striving to put away our prejudice and call all people equal.

Luiz and I were made for each other. We just happened to have different skin colors.

Taking my dad’s arm, we walked to the chapel doors. And when those doors opened to begin a new chapter of life, they opened to a freedom that had been fought for by generation upon generation of Americans who held tight in their hearts to the belief that people of every color, creed and nation were created in the image of God, just the same as they.

This belief in equality gave the strongest fight, not on a battlefield or in a war of words, but inside of individual hearts. It fought strongest in the hearts of people who admitted the prejudice inside their own mind, and determined to war against it.

Because of God’s grace, lived out in those people, I got to live my wedding day so freely. I walked the aisle of that chapel to take the hands of the one I loved. On that stage, I looked into his eyes and spoke my vows. There was one simple line that I was so proud and grateful to offer in front of so many witnesses. “Your people will be my people.”

The life my husband and I know today would look so different if America had not chosen this. My children’s lives would look so different. I am grateful to over two hundred years worth of a nations people who have lovingly sought to stand on the ground of equality.  

As an American, the grace that can work through my one heart is the same as it was in all of those who made the freedom of my wedding day possible.

As an American, and even as my husband’s wife, prejudice tries to live in my heart too. It finds the most success when I say it’s not there. As much as Luiz and I are proud to belong to each other, and as much as we are proud to call each other’s people our own, we very much need each other’s help and accountability to see every kind of people with the same love.

Prejudice tries to creep in any way it can and it happens with more than just race. It wants us to suspect things about a person simply because of the family they came from, a group they belong to, or a word they said. It wants us to look at any part of them other than the heart inside them that was made just like our own.

But we have a God who is bigger with a love that is stronger than any prejudice we have ever known. He is able to give us the grace to take up the fight inside us, where the battle is really won. A legacy has been created in America because this is just what He has done in so many hearts already.

My husband was not born here but he is so proud to call himself an American. It is not a perfect country, nor does it’s legacy perfectly exist in every part of it’s soil. But the blemishes will never change the legacy that has been made here, the legacy that gave freedom to the open doors on my wedding day. To be American is to be part of all of this.

To be American is to stand in the beautiful victory already won by the years of battles in so many hearts. To be American is to continue to take up the battle to let God’s love pour through our own hearts to all the wonderfully made people in the world who are just like us.   

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

This is why I still feel like a child

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Is there ever a child who does not hear it with the growing of her body? The voice that says her heart is out of place. For do we ever lose the heart we were born with, the one that wants to hold and be held, the one that yearns to love and be loved, the one who gives herself to the world without a thought for how it all comes out.

For all of us living this life, perhaps the child we used to be still lives inside us enabling us to feel this life.

My own life took me from being a high school student one year, to being an adult, a wife and a mother the next. I don’t regret it and I wouldn’t change it, but my soul still feels the sharp turn life took and stands in great need of moments when I can curl up into my child self and say it honestly that I just don’t know exactly what I’m doing and this new road I’m on is still so unfamiliar and just a little daunting sometimes. There is something beautifully comforting in those moments felt in the presence of Jesus.

There was a moment I spent today sitting at the coffee shop when a lady came up to ask for the chair next to me and I began a delighted “How do you do? What’s your name?” conversation only to realize her intention was to take that chair to another table to sit with someone else. And suddenly the child inside me is more alive than it was before, and my heart turns to find comfort in Jesus in a way it hasn’t yet that morning.  

Perhaps the secret of growing up is not in being more adult-like but in staying awake to the child inside you that enables you to feel the whole process. Because there is something about feeling this life before Jesus that can bring his presence into a place.

A child’s heart is beautiful.

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My Amayah, she gives herself honest and beautiful. She is cautious with her stare that observes and does not try to impress. She will not fake a smile or a kind word. No, she will watch until she’s ready, but when that smile does break through, when those words of love come out her mouth they are pure gold, for there is no question that they were meant from the bottom of the little heart inside her.

My Liesel, she meets the world so open-hearted. When she gives her love, she gives it so freely. She hurts deeply for the moment Mommy is not there to hug her just when she needs it. She has no ounce of hesitation to run into our arms when the broken world has hurt her. Embarrassment plays no part in the times she cries out in need of comfort. And the open desire she comes with makes her little life so beautiful.

And my Gideon, he is still in my womb being nourished inside me, and no doubt he has no shame in the constant dependence he lives with. And yet his little life is being used in the world even as an unborn child, because God is always using the child’s heart no matter how small it is.

The world will make us think we must lose our child’s heart that hurts and cries and feels the imperfections of this world so deeply. But, the opposite is true. For the greatest secret of this life we’re given is to never lose our one child’s heart. Never is the tender pain inside us not worth it, for this is where we love, this is where we are loved.

One child’s heart is what we have with which to know and give love. One child’s heart is all we have to know the sweetness of the relationships we find here on this earth. One child’s heart is the gift we are given to receive the love and grace of Jesus that fills every hurt and flaw inside us. May we not despise the child inside us, for this heart we are given is beautiful and every hurting moment is a gift, an empty vessel we are given with which to receive more of Jesus and bring more of him into the hurting world.  

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Remarkable Faith (A Book Review)

Where I am a sheep and my Shepherd seems to call me down a path…

I follow Him, looking desperately for assurance of the sight of His feet ahead of me. I catch an occasional glimpse of His sandals lifting from the dirt, sometimes I can even hear His staff as it falls to the ground. I ache to see His leading with crystal clarity.

Sometimes I wonder if I really did see Him there ahead of me. Sometimes I even pause in following Him because I’m afraid to trust that it really was Him, afraid I’m getting it all wrong…

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He is faithful to give me assurance on the path – a loving pat, a quiet whistle – but sometimes in the fog of everything surrounding me, I’m afraid to trust that it really was Him.

The doubts that want to rise in me call out their questions. What if this is the wrong way? What if you’re way off the path? What if what you’re following isn’t Him, but something that will only lead you into trouble? What if you misheard Him? What if when you get where He seems to be calling you, He won’t be there to meet you?

These questions had been calling out to me for weeks when I began to read the pages of Shauna’s book.

I wasn’t met with someone who told me I was ridiculous for feeling these questions. Shauna didn’t even tell me that I should go on as if I had never heard them.

She simply showed me broken people in the Bible who heard these questions too, broken people who encountered Jesus face to face. And when they met Jesus with their questions, He wasn’t disappointed. Rather, He marveled at their faith.

He didn’t tell them what failures they were for pausing at the sound of the question. He didn’t tell them to ignore the questions and get with it in following Him with haste. Jesus found value in them. Found value in the fact that they felt the questions and yet, continued on in their broken state…

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Jesus valued that they longed for Him so earnestly, valued that they were well aware how broken and sinful they were. He honored their doubts, almost as if those doubts played a major part in their faith.

Shauna’s words bring tears of healing to my heart. For I had felt guilty for listening to these questions. For my guilt, she simply shows truth through moments from Jesus’ life.

“Remarkable faith is the braided strands of doubt, hope and wonder.” – Shauna

Her book fills me up with Jesus’ love as she looks so closely at His words and actions towards the doubts of the people He met. With eight stories from the Bible, she draws me into His grace. And with words of hope she points me on down the path. The questions of doubt will come. Sometimes I’ll wonder about the path. But He is still the One I continue on for, the One who loves me in my questions and values my weak faith. He is my hope. He is why I have faith.

“Refuse to be ashamed if you come to Jesus with questions and doubts, wondering if he can and if he will. It is not always for us to know the how, the why, or the when of his work. The fact that we seek him, with questions swirling about our hearts, is evidence of the seeds of faith planted and waking up in the fertile soil of trials and trouble.” – Shauna

Shauna Letellier’s book has been such a blessing to me and I’ve so enjoyed the gift of being acquainted with such a kind writer.

I pray you’ll be met with the blessing of her words yourself. Perhaps you have a friend who would be blessed by them as well.

You can find her book through the link below and you can read more of her words by clicking here.  

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

When You Need to be Needed

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We all need to know we’re needed and when we don’t feel it from someone we love, it can get to us in the most tenderly painful way. It happens in grown people and babies alike.

It’s such a gift to see the useless feeling in another human being and know we’re not alone, especially in the vulnerable tears of a baby.

My toddler likes to insist on keeping her own little responsibilities at home. Especially when it involves something small and simple that she can do all her own, like throwing away mommy’s trash.

I changed her diaper one afternoon and when big sister took her job of trashing the diaper, she threw herself on the floor with the biggest tears. Her job that made her feel so important and useful to me was gone and she wasn’t able to offer her help to me the way she hoped to.

I saw her crying on the floor and while normally I would have been frustrated that she reacted so dramatically to something so small, that day I could relate to exactly what was happening inside her heart. I wanted to feel needed too…

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That morning, with an earnest longing inside me, the question had found a place in my heart. God, do you need me? How can I truly believe that I matter to You if You’re so self-sufficient that You have no need?

I wanted to find healing from my hurts and look at the ways I mattered, the ways I was needed. For how can I matter if I am not needed?

That day God showed up for me in the tears of my little girl. Her tears spoke truth to my heart that I needed to see and feel, not just hear in words.

I spoke over my little girl who she was to me, and God spoke over me who I am to Him.

If this topic speaks to you, I think you’ll enjoy hearing this month’s audio story in the “Notes to my Shy Self” series. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen.

If you’re already subscribed to the series you’ll receive the audio in your email just as before or you can sign up below.

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Where Truth is More Than Words

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Eliab had harsh anger stirring his heart when he spoke the words to David.

“Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” (1 Sm. 17:28)

Pastor Jeff read the old story of David and the giant his last Sunday preaching for us, and this was the verse that got my attention. Eliab speaks just like the voice in my head.

Take one step toward the giant, and though you lifted your foot to take that step in faith that God could use even you, by the time you set that foot down, your enemy hurls these same thoughts at you.

Why have you come down? He questions your importance and the value of who you are to take that step.

With whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? He identifies your role as small and unimportant and accuses you of failing to be responsible even in that role.

I know your presumption and the evil of your heart… He accuses you of taking that step with a heart of wrong motives that only wants recognition for yourself.

For you have come down to see the battle. He finds a specific accusation to try to dig his foot into, even a weak spot where you have struggled with desire before.

Yet, met with these accusations that can tear people apart, David met his brother with a few short words and continued on in the same determination. Though he was called conceited, David pressed on to ensure that this giant who challenged God’s people would see the power of the God he was fighting against.

What makes a heart so confident in the belief that He will be used by God?

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David’s legacy has lived on most in those dozens of prayers found in the psalms. A man of honest, heartfelt prayer, David let his feelings pour out before the Lord. He prayed his anguish and his hatred and his brokenness. And his prayers always brought him to knowing the place he truly stood before his God.

He prayed his feelings… “For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs on my head; my heart fails me.” (Psalm 40:12)

He lets the feelings pour out before the Lord, and as he pours them out God meets David with hope in his very own words of prayer…  “As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!” (Psalm 40:17)

Just a few lines after giving his honest plea from his heart that feels so broken, those feelings have led him through that sweet communion to the truth God had for him to treasure in that moment.

May we know, just as David, that these feelings are not unwanted in God’s presence but welcome. May we bring the feelings so often to God that we are rooted in the truth of who we are even as the enemy throws those accusation at us.

In prayer, God teaches us to not just hear and know truth, but to feel it with our hearts.

Truth becomes more than words, as we pray from the feelings inside us. As we pray each unimportant feeling, He fills that place inside us with the confidence of who we are in Him. As we pray our useless thoughts, He meets us there and lets us know inside our hearts that we are useful.   

In prayer, we do not just know, but we can feel the truth of this…

I am His valuable bearer of fruit right here, right now.

The role He has given me to play is an essential part of His kingdom, and He calls me faithful.

The imperfect steps I take to offer what I can are the sweetest of offerings in His presence.  

My past mistakes are not a hindrance to His ability to use me; it only makes his light shine more brilliant through my darkness.

Teach us to pray as David, that we may feel with You through our hearts, all the way to the heart-deep hope You store for us there.

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

When life asks us who we are: An Offering

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Life has its ups and downs and the downs can have a curious way of getting our attention. Sometimes it starts with a life-shaking circumstance, but more often it’s much smaller than that. The feelings find us when we’re doing life happy, sure that nothing can deter us. Out of the big world around us, they surprise us with thoughts that make us feel a need to pause. They ask us if we really are doing this right, if there’s something wrong with us. At least that’s how it happens in my world. Maybe you know those times too.

I was in that place the evening it happened. Coming from such a great day, I sat with a group of women. Feeling an urge to reach out to the one on my right, I tried to make a connection. Once then twice, I tried. But the first time, right as I opened my mouth she had a sneeze attack that required a search for tissues. Then again after that settled, I spoke up at the same moment as the lady on the other side of her who had a louder, more noticeable voice than mine. Then the tide of the room changed.

In the midst of group conversation, she opened up deeply and shared some hard hurts and criticisms she had been dealing with. She was trying so hard to do what was best and felt so much criticism from the people she loved. I wanted even more to connect and offer what I could to encourage her. I had to let her know that I believed her, that though there were so many ways people could judge, I knew she was simply trying to do the best she could.

When the conversation quieted down, I reached for her arm and gave her the first words that came to mind. It felt a little awkward coming out, but I offered what I had to give. Though she didn’t quite know what to say in response, she was kind. She walked to the other side of the room to grab something after that. And though we were in the same room the rest of the evening, we didn’t speak any more to each other that day.

It was such a small encounter, and she didn’t do anything wrong or unkind, but that night I felt so many questions rise up in my heart. What did I say wrong? Why do I have so much trouble connecting with people? What’s wrong with me? Why do I always say things at the wrong times and in such awkward ways? Why do I have to be so quiet? I felt like I was failing so much to be useful to my God and I ended up traveling through the memories of some of my most inadequate moments and some of my worst failures…

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Maybe you’ve had interactions that felt so similar, that made you feel your own questions and travel down your own memories. Maybe you can relate, and if you can I have something I’d like to offer you in the best way I can right now.

The encounter I had that night ended up being such a sweet journey. It led me through the crushing I felt and to a place of looking up where I shed so many grateful tears for what I could see because of it all. I’d love to live it with you more than just what I can say in a blog post.

With the help of my husband’s audio work and his beautiful guitar picking, I’d like to speak these next words to you, to tell this story in another way that will help you feel the beauty of it more closely.

I hope you can listen to these four minutes with your cup of coffee or your morning walk… whatever your quiet moments look like. And I hope they speak sweet love into your heart for the moments that felt as if they wanted to threaten who you are.

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Love and grace to you sweet friend,
Maggie

P. S. This is the first in a monthly audio series. By signing up you will receive this audio as well as one audio in your email each month. You may unsubscribe at any time. I respect your privacy and will never share your email. By signing up you are offering your support for my writing in a non-monetary way and I so appreciate your sweet encouragement.

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.