When you want a map for the path through hurt

img_1645

There are hurts in life that are hard to put a finger on. It’s hard to explain them to a friend, hard to make sense of them in your own heart, and hard to learn to bring them to the God who authors the story and cares to hold the hurting heart.  

Maybe it’s the loss of someone you love. Maybe it’s your own inadequacies to meet the needs around you. Maybe it’s the discovery of waking up in a world that is different than you thought it was. Maybe it’s a big life change that leaves you unsure of how to find your footing again. Maybe it’s past rejections that you still don’t know how to move on from. Maybe it’s things in life that bring back painful memories that you just don’t know what to do with. Maybe it’s many of these things combined that make life look and feel foggy. Maybe the filter that you’ve learned to experience life through feels a little dusty. If you’re there, you’re in good company, because I’m right there with you, and I’ve been trying to write through it for weeks.  

img_1578

img_1452

img_1516

Maybe you need time to dust off the filter, whatever that means for you right now, but it seems the time is scarce and there’s Christmas lists and people to care for and work to be done and laundry to do. And distractions too, lots of distractions that can numb it all for a little while.

Because there’s a desire to just move on and then there’s a questioning how. I like to try to patch my hurt right up, but patching isn’t always what my hurts need. Hurts come with so many questions, and when I patch the hurt I try to shove the questions right back in that little place they came from. That can feel smart because really, I don’t have the answers to all of these questions, and the inability to answer them can really put a sting in my heart. On the other hand, somewhere there’s a burning knowledge in my soul that those questions are there for a reason and that they are each sent to me to deliver a gift to my soul. There’s a need to let the questions come, because though they are hard, though they try me, though they burn things that have sat in my heart for years, they are sanctifying and they are gift.

Cousin Kenneth spoke it at Janie’s funeral this weekend. “God is here with us, He is weeping, mourning, and hurting with us in this time and place. He is here and He is encountering it all with His love, His grace, and His mercy… How do we move forward? We let ALL of these emotions, all of them, transform us, knowing that God is in control and that He is here with us.”

He spoke the reminding words that Jesus wept when death happend, Jesus threw tables at the sin in His Father’s house, and Jesus knew the feeling of being forsaken by God when He was at deaths door.

I have spent weeks looking for the answer to a question that I’m not really sure how to ask. How do I refuse to patch, how do I sit with the hard questions and be honest with them without giving in to the hurt they make me feel. How do I honestly feel the pain in my soul that I don’t even know how to put words to without giving up hope? How do I embrace the gift of all of the emotions while holding on to the love my God has shown me. What do the dark things I feel have to do with the God who I am loved by. How do I embrace the gift of them both simultaneously?

I’ve wondered if there’s some strange secret, some curious set of brain waves to travel to get to the end of hurt, some near magical combination of thoughts to reach all the way through the hurt and find the way through to the other side. No one has ever given me any secret recipe for that.

One thing Janie’s funeral is still teaching me in a way I haven’t learned it before, is that there is not a secret path for me to walk through the hurts of life; instead there is something much better. There is One who has already walked that path for me and has given me His own life to claim as mine. Because of the Gospel, I am loved as the child of the One, holding the hand of the One, filled with the Spirit of the One, who has already walked the hard path that all these questions take me on. He doesn’t give me the complicated roadmap all the way through a life of hurt and leave it to me to find my way through. He gives me something I can handle. He holds the roadmap for this path He has already walked through and He gives me this gift. I can boldly speak all the dark feelings at the foot of His cross where I am loved beyond measure and He tenderly lifts my foot in His own power to take that next step in front of me. Just one step at a time, as a beloved child of God, I walk through a world that hurts, by the power of the faithful love and victorious grace of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.         

img_1520      

When I Am Shy: On the journey of learning that I am free to love

fullsizerender-18

There is a longing in my soul to be independent and responsible, and there is another longing to be okay with being needy.

There is a longing to do all the things right and there is another longing to avoid being the people pleaser.

There is a longing to serve but sometimes that comes out of a longing to be loved for my serving.

fullsizerender-20

I don’t know how many people can identify with these shy struggles, but I have a hunch someone can and I know for myself that when I see myself in another person’s struggles it gives me a strange encouragement to know that there are others fighting the same struggles with me. So as much as I can feel like my mental process is such a complicated mess to try to share, connecting with people over the shy stuff of life is where I feel called so I’ll just keep writing and trust that it’s useful.

I’m a people pleaser who likes to drive in reverse. I just mean that I often do whatever I can to keep people from thinking that I’d really like for them to like me. And so, in a roundabout way, I end up being a people pleaser who weighs in on the other end of the scale.

Last week I had the urge to tell someone that their words were a huge encouragement to me, but before I let those words come out, I stopped myself because I was afraid that I was saying that just to try to please them, or maybe I was just afraid that they would think that. I do that more often than I like to say and let the fear that people will think I’m a people pleaser drive what I say and do. Somewhere along the way, I developed such a fear of being a people pleaser that I would go as far as avoiding kind words and deeds, in order to hold on to that.   

img_0837

And God has used so many people this week to tell me that it’s okay to just chill a little. I live so often as a person who constantly questions why I want to do everything I feel the urge to do. There is nothing wrong with questioning my motives, but when I question my motives so much that I live in fear that I will do something with wrong motives, I am living as a prisoner. Maybe sometimes I even tell myself I’m questioning my motives when really I’m questioning the way my motives will be perceived. Either way, when I choose to think this way, I’m still living as a prisoner when, as a child of God, prisoner is not at all who I am.

fullsizerender-19

On Sunday, Pastor Jeff shed a light on the idea of kindness and I saw the freeness of a life of Christ-centered kindness. And over the week other’s words keep bringing me back to it and the more I think on it the more I realize that that life hasn’t been something that I’ve been embracing.

The truth is that I am free in Christ to express the kindness that He puts in my heart and I don’t have to bother with fear about how that kindness will come out. I am afraid that I won’t do kindness perfectly, but I forget that Jesus already did it perfectly.

I am found in Jesus and free to let the kindness flow. My habits don’t live there, but I am loved by a God who renews minds (Romans 12:2) and gives all the grace I need to turn from my kindness stopping habits again and again and again. (2 Cor. 9:8) Though it’s a habit I’ve learned my whole life, I’m holding to the promise that when I fall, He is able to lift me up and keep me moving forward to let the kindness flow. It might come out funny, people might misinterpret it, sometimes there might even be streaks of people pleasing desire that come out with it. What matters is that I offer my imperfect will and let Jesus use it.

His grace is made perfect in my weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9) Any kindness that can come out of me will be coming from a weak, imperfect body, but that is what makes His grace and glory shine through me all the more. Praise God that he can use my desires for kindness in all of its imperfection.   

img_0859

img_0827

fullsizerender-21

When agreeing to disagree is harder than ever

Sometimes situations look so black and white. Sometimes so much so that we feel to be silent is to evade our responsibility to stand on truth. The past few weeks I have felt so confused about this – confused about the situation and confused even more about what was happening inside my own heart. Maybe I haven’t been as alone as I have sometimes felt. 

fullsizerender-17

Sometimes its easy to agree to disagree with our brothers and sisters in Christ and other times, it can feel as if it goes against everything inside us to do so.

Sometimes perhaps we all have to say what we believe we must say and sometimes the members of the body of Christ do not agree.

Sometimes Paul and Barnabus each have opposite convictions about an issue, so much so that they cannot agree on a compromise. And perhaps neither one of them is wrong. Perhaps unity in the body is not a matter of agreement, but of respecting and understanding that we will each follow the decisions God is leading us to make even if we do not agree. And perhaps the matters of my heart have been a matter of finding peace with this.  

For several weeks I have been confused by all of these things more than ever. I have been concerned and I have let that concern rule me. Though I’ve tried to be respectful, I have still refused to choose God’s peace in my heart over the decisions that my brothers and sisters in Christ are making. I have been wrong to do so and it is healing to say all of that.  

img_0527

If you can relate to all of this in some way then maybe the same things that fill me with grace today can fill you too. Today the story of Peter is filling me with my God’s grace right now. Peter was so ready to say and do without a thorough examination of his heart in the light of Christ. I’m grateful to read the story of God taking a person like that and delighting to work on him and use him to share the good news of His kingdom.

Today I am grateful for physical reminders of how much he treasures me – for meeting Ms. Martha and seeing her artwork last week. For she has chosen to hang her museum worthy art pieces that are painted on clean white canvases next to things that many people wouldn’t give a second glance. She has chosen old gourds and scraps of wood and pieces of bone, and she has cleaned them up and painted them pretty and displayed it for all to see as a masterpiece that she delights to display.

I’m grateful that God delights to take people with flaws and crooked edges and display them as if on a shelf with all the rest of His handiwork. He calls me beautiful because though I may feel like my edges stick out most unbecomingly, I am most importantly a reflection of Him, not based of anything I have or have not done but because that is what He has found it in His heart of love to make me. 

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10  

img_0494

Quiet Mama Meets New Town: When you need to know that you are free to love

When you move across cities, it’s your heart’s cry to find people you can call family who live where you are.

fullsizerender-16

When you leave the town you’ve always lived in, the home of your parents and grandparents, your brothers, home to your closest friends, home to the church family you love, fear tries to tell you that you’re trading a life of relationships for a life that is scratched of them – a life that is lonely.

Fear is the voice of a liar.

And when you so quickly find a group of people who welcome you with open arms and treat you and your children like you are family and give themselves to meet your needs, you are awed and grateful at how God provides. And even then, fear pokes up it’s ugly head.

You may be in the middle of a conversation, when it whispers that the real you is someone they’ll never trust, when it tells you to be someone else. It may ask you if these people could ever truly say that they believe in the work that God is making in you.

img_6744

img_6825

img_6654

Fear speaks words of doubt and worry and nothing from the hand of God.

Fear speaks words that could drive you away from the very people God is pointing you too. In questioning the love people have for you, fear tries to kill the love you have for them.

img_6646

The joy is in the knowing that fear has no power in a heart that belongs to Jesus.

If I was found in the goodness of shy Maggie, then when fear speaks I would have no strength of my own to stand.

But shy Maggie is dead and buried and fear’s words can stay in the grave with her because fear is powerless in a life that is found in the person of Jesus. He calls me free.

On the day He made me new, His Love found me where I was held captive by fear and made me free. I am free to love.

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died.” 2 Corinthians 5:14

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1

“So if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

img_6709

img_6737

img_6751

The Quiet Invitation of New Beginnings

We pulled in to this new city we’ll be moving to, went to order dinner and asked the cashier what she liked about Paris, TX. She laughed, a hysterical laugh, and answered with, “nothing… work, eat, sleep. That’s all there is to do here.”

IMG_6203

Then we met Sergio. He hopes to leave his parent’s town soon and go to where we come from – Dallas. He has wonderful hopes for a future there.

I think somehow I really wished to hear from one person that night who was thriving in this little town. In a last effort, I started talking to Holley, the cashier at the dollar store. Holley told me she tried big city for a few months and decided she just couldn’t stay away from the small town that feels like home. Thank you, Holley.

I walked out the door to this, my Maker’s artwork and a reminder that the same God who forms the skies forms our life. Thank you, Jesus.

IMG_5275.JPG

Of course, location is not the key to happiness, but our spirits sure know how to let us know when the place we live isn’t suiting our soul, or the purposes we were made for right now. Earth won’t give us the place that is suiting to our soul. Yet, God gives it to us to be where our purpose takes us. That is why we are moving.

And maybe the small feelings of changing places, or being the new person around, maybe these big changes invite us to see the value of little moments.

It’s the small things of life that follow along behind you, no matter how the scenery changes. They don’t need to be packed in boxes, and driven across cities to remain a part of your life. And while parts of them might stay where you came from, there are pieces that always come with you. And you see the life you’ve been living stripped from its outward parts.

So maybe it’s these small parts of life that matter the most.

IMG_6259

And in my life I’ve felt the need to pray over big changes, but in the big changes my Maker bids me see that these little things of life might just be so important that I want to pray over them much more than what appears to be so big.

These little moments are where life is lived and where our purpose takes on shape.

Maybe sometimes I think of living for Jesus as productivity and “work, eat, sleep” life. But maybe it looks more like being present and hearing the small questions of our spirit, so we can take them to the Holy Spirit who knows what we were made for in this moment.

Maybe I need to know that times of silliness and laughing with people I love can be an offering of presence and what I was made for.

And even when I feel like I’m not sure how to do that, the Spirit is the One there ready to teach me in each small moment when I listen for His leading.

Somehow I forget that I can go to Him, not just for the big things, but the tiny things too. The tiny feelings of our moments always invite us to His presence where we can fall freely into His direction. And it feels like being a dependent sheep who is free to not have the path mapped out. He doesn’t know where he’s going or exactly why and doesn’t need to because he’s following his Shepherd just one step at a time.

IMG_6210

There are Blessings Inside the Pains

FullSizeRender (5)

This is my precious grandmother’s embroidery and the shoes my Nano gave me to promise that we are always a pair. They are things that speak to what has been on my heart over the past two weeks.

As the past fourteen days have seen hurt piled on hurt, and the struggle to process it all, I’ve been reminded in a such a sweet way yesterday and today of those things inside the hurts that I have to be grateful for. There was a pain that overshadowed the week last week and a deeper pain that overshadowed that this week. Yesterday the two pains both spoke to the same need in my soul to see the graces.

Since I became one with my Nano on our wedding day four years ago, I have felt the tension of prejudice in the American culture in a way I’d never seen it before. Interracial harmony is something my marriage must thrive on and when interracial harmony in our culture is threatened, it saddens me in such a personal way that’s hard to put words to. It hurt in a hard way to see that tension displayed tragically as it was last week in the two who lost their lives. Then we hurt for the men and women in blue who have so violently felt that same kind of prejudice displayed towards them because of the uniform they wear. Even then, much deeper pain has been felt since Wednesday when much of my grandmother’s mental abilities were taken from her so suddenly and the family was told to expect the worst. And the other pain was overshadowed by the pain of wishing I could redo the last few weeks and spend more time with my grandma. To think, in the still moments, that I may never get to have that last conversation with her, or hear her cute laugh again or say the little things I wanted to say, broke my heart.

Today I’ve been reminded of the blessings inside the hurts. In each of these hurts I have been given graces. Today I heard an, old, true story that gripped me of an American man and woman whose lives were at risk because they dared to marry interracially. Today I am so very grateful that though issues of prejudice are still very alive in this country, that there is somehow a difference between what was and what is. I’m thankful that interracial marriages are not under the threat of the law today and I am married to the man I love in freedom.

Today I’m grateful that though we’re unsure as to what is in store for my grandmother’s upcoming days, her life has pushed beyond doctor’s expectations. Because of that I’ve had the opportunity to stand by my grandma’s bed and say the little things I wanted to say. Though she wasn’t able to respond in clear words, the fact that she reached for my hand to squeeze gives me faith that she heard me. I was so glad again to get to sing to her for a little while yesterday. Though we don’t know what’s in her future I’m so grateful to have these little moments with her.

Each of these pains gave me a unique way to experience a blessing and for that I am so grateful. I have faith that even when we can’t see it, our God gives unique blessings inside of each hurt we face. Not every marriage exists in freedom. Not every person gets to have the bedside moments with that person they love. Still every hurt carries grace.

Today the chapter of Psalm seventy-seven speaks to the things on my heart.

“Has God forgotten to be gracious?”

“Then I said, I will appeal to this.”

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord.”

“You are the God who works wonders.”

When hearts are hurting and grace is difficult to feel, may we hold on to faith that the graces are there.

The Psalm speaks of God’s unseen footprints. I’m so glad that even when I don’t see it, God walks right along the path of all I face giving grace inside each painful moment.    

Where smallness is victorious over the boldness of hate

Hate speaks loudly. Boldly.

And trying to stand in a world of it feels small.

FullSizeRender-9

It feels small to offer love and find yourself pushed to one side of something that can feel like a battlefield. It feels small to be in a world that is so confused by hate that love itself can feel like hate. It feels small to stand for things that looked so clear only to find that they are so much more complicated than our minds can understand. To speak to things that we all see from different places. To want love and justice so badly that we have trouble seeing it ourselves.

There is a certain smallness in being one person in a world of people who wants somehow to bring your own offering of good to it all. Because none of us know how to do it just right.

FullSizeRender-10

It is confusing to try to love two sides of something that can feel divided. To want so very much to love and support one side hard then love and support the other just as hard. It is hard to raise any flag of truth without getting knocked onto a side.

Maybe, just maybe, we all get lost in it sometimes. Maybe somewhere inside us we were all made to stand for good and against evil, but somewhere, in our own mess, we blurred up the lines between the two.

And maybe in the confusion of all the loud voices around us we can believe that in some curious way the smallness of it all speaks victory over the boldness of hate. Maybe the small feelings that come from living in a world like this are the invitation to the answer. The small feelings ask us if we do it right, ask us who we even are. Questions that invite us to the answer. I don’t do it right, but Jesus did and who I am is Loved by Him. Whoever we are, black or blue, brown or white, the small feelings find us where we are and invite us here.

I am not right.

You are not right.

But, we desperately want to be right, to do right, to give ourselves right.

So, Jesus is right for us.

And He calls us all loved.

His righteous Love has already won victory in this battle we stand in and that victory brings us together. When the small feelings come and you question yourself, listen closely because when you reach inside the questions, the victory shout of Jesus whispers through. In a world where we are never perfectly right, He is. He called all of us wrong people loved and His victory was won. In every little moment, He gives me the right to claim it too. He whispers through the questions and offers Himself as the Rescue.

When the Future asks ‘What If?’

IMG_4950

Change has a way of bringing questions to our mind. What if this is the wrong decision? What if I regret this? What if it never gets this good again? What if? Change has a way of closing doors sometimes before we see the next door open. And we can choose to never close the doors on the things we already know, and in doing that we would instead close the doors that stood open before us. And then again we could ask ourselves what if? What if that was the door we were supposed to walk through?

IMG_5246

But really, as a child of God, I don’t have to live in the what if. Because I’m dancing this life in the shelter of the Person of Christ.

Dancing has been on my mind since I started a daily dance workout routine last week. It’s a good way to get a workout at home even when my girls are around, and I’ve absolutely enjoyed it. I’ve done clumsy dancing boldly this week because it gives me a good workout, and if I’m clumsy, my family just gets a laugh out of it. In fact, the more clumsy I am, the more enjoyment they do get. I admire people who can willingly offer their clumsy selves even with people they barely know, and maybe I have a long way to go. But dancing like that on a regular basis, even if it just be with my family, has had a really strange way of helping me be more bold in other ways too.

I’ve been enjoying thinking of life like dancing. I want so much to get the dance down, to not make mistakes, to dance flawlessly, to live without falling down. I want to know the right steps to take, the right doors to go through, the right way to move. But when my focus on that is bigger than my focus on living freely in the Person of Christ, I become the self-conscious dancer.

The bold dancer and the self-conscious dancer can mess up just as much. The only difference is that the bold dancer knows that her mistakes can still bring others delight and she’s okay with that. She doesn’t try to mess up on purpose, but she is okay with the fact that she will mess up, knowing her mistakes can be the best gift of the dance to the people looking on.

The self-conscious dancer desperately wants to offer perfection. The only problem is that she can’t. I know the self-conscious dancer well. I wear her shoes on many days. She is at odds between what she is trying to offer and what she is actually offering. She wants so much to offer the dance right that she forgets to offer it freely – as a gift, mistakes and all.

When we deeply know that we are dancing in the shelter of Christ’s Person, that is where we dance life freely – no matter where on earth we are.

A couple of years ago I was writing out my thoughts as I tried to look at daily mommy life as a dance. And today, as I look at life’s transitions, the same idea still applies.

“Will I ever know what the answer is…? Will I ever get this dance down? But maybe getting the dance down isn’t the point…

Maybe the point is finding grace in every step, learning to give my every step to Him. Maybe it’s realizing that He’s already danced the dance of life perfectly and that He did it for me. If I seek Him, He will be faithful to guide me and sometimes I won’t seek Him and I will lose my step. But sometimes its in those moments when I lose my step that I see the Gospel more clearly. I can try my best to dance, to dance in Him, but even when I mess up, I can still enjoy the dance and come bold to the One who danced it perfectly, because that’s the Gospel. I never have to live guilty. Not because He’s accepted my imperfect dance, but because He’s accepted the Son’s perfect dance as mine. I don’t have to bear all the weight of the life that is before me. He’s in my yoke with me and as I rely on Him, He will push the yoke for me. And with Him here, I can enjoy this dance and even when my sight comes off of Him and I lose my step, I can dance on boldly before Him pouring out my every need, trusting that He’ll work out my failures for good.”

As I accept change in my life, I may not always make the perfect choice, and that’s okay. I won’t try to make a choice that turns out bad, but when I do I can dance on boldly knowing He can use each choice I’ve made. God has accepted Christ’s perfect dance as mine and I am free to dance boldly as a person found in Him, even when the dance takes on a new scene.

FullSizeRender (15)

4 Things I’ve Learned in May about Offering Myself – Lessons from My Children

FullSizeRender (9)

This month I’ve started a process of writing notes to my shy self on Instagram, so that in the times when I forget who I am or why it matters for me to live this life, I can find reminders that made sense to me before, so hopefully they’ll make sense to me in the moments when I need them. This is one I wrote yesterday that was inspired from an interview I saw with writer, Bri McKoy.

FullSizeRender (13)

 

As someone who needs daily reminders that it is a gift to offer yourself to the world, I am so glad to be able to live life with my daughters who freely give me every day the gift of themselves. I get to see them offer themselves to me without fear, in the comfort of our home where it’s okay to be imperfect. They teach me what is true about offering myself to the world around me. These are four lessons I’ve been learning from them this month.

FullSizeRender (6)

“Bragging” can bring joy.

Opposite to what I tell myself when I’m trying so hard to “filter” my own actions, (hopefully someone out there can relate) ‘bragging’ can bring joy. I say that based on my daughter’s ecstatic, “Mommy, I got Peppa!!” after she was gifted a Peppa Pig toy this past month. She loves all things Peppa Pig and being given a new Peppa toy she was brimming over with excitement and it was every bit delightful to see her reaction. The look on her face when she opened it that delighted the room, the way she grabbed my hand and pulled me across the house so she could show me every bit of it, it was pure joy.

It stood out to me because when I get the notion to do anything like that, I tell myself that that would be ‘bragging,’ so normally I resist the urge to explode with excitement like my daughter did. And perhaps I’m missing out on an important way to offer the gift of myself to the world. Of course bragging is a sin, but I think most of my life I’ve been calling something ‘bragging’ when it’s not really bragging at all. It’s just giving the world this gift – the gift of experiencing along with you the joy you find in life.

I’ve already developed a habit so I don’t think I’ll be snapping out of it just like that, but I’m glad my daughter helped make me aware of it so I can move towards healthier ‘bragging’ habits.
IMG_3242

We are people who delight in being recognized and responded to and that’s okay.

This month, Liesel has been more and more fascinated with the idea of being recognized and responded to. One day this month, she was screaming and when I looked her in the face and screamed back she was beyond excited. We made a game of it for a good fifteen minutes and she thought it was hysterical. Then again, in the car one day she did a funny little jig with her feet and Amayah couldn’t stand how funny it looked and just blew up giggling. So, of course, Liesel was so proud, and she did the same little jig for the entirety of that car ride. Even after Amayah was too tired to laugh anymore, Liesel kept trying to get her attention.

We are people who love to be recognized. We love when others find joy in what we can offer. Often I criticize my own desires to be recognized and responded to believing that they are all desires based in pride. But then when I look at my baby daughter’s desire for the same things, it doesn’t look like pride to me at all. She’s finding joy in her ability to bring someone else joy. Certainly, pride can disguise itself in the midst of those desires and certainly pride is a sin, but I dare not be too careful. It might just be better to boldly try to bring someone else joy through my talents and abilities and risk the struggle with pride along the way, than to shy away from offering myself because I’m afraid it’s too similar to pride. I know it makes me so happy when Liesel is bold in trying to bring us joy.

IMG_3997

Expressing my dislike can be a gift.

Sometimes Amayah says something that can really make a person feel down, but the thing is she’s honest. And because we all know she’s honest, the times when she offers a compliment or a hug or a simple “I Love you,” we don’t question whether she is sincere. That stuff carries so much weight coming from a child. This month we have had moments when she told me she didn’t want me and sometimes it breaks my heart. But the times when she wants to share her ice cream with me, the times she expresses her appreciation to me for cleaning ‘her house,’ the times when she asks me to cuddle with her, the times when she pulls my face into hers and tells me she loves me, those gifts are so very beautiful because I know my daughter is honest about how she feels about me. It’s because the truth hurts, that it can give the most beautiful love as well.

That’s a challenge to live out and maybe I shouldn’t be as blunt as my daughter, but I need to know that it’s important for me to express my dislike and my criticism because without them my compliments may just fall on deaf ears.

IMG_3292

Give love and do the next thing.

In the past month, Liesel has learned how to give kisses and her hugs have become more clearly pronounced and intentional. And I’ve noticed this week her affection that can be so contrasting to mine. Sometimes she crawls up to me to give me a hug and turns right around to climb back down and crawl off to the next thing. Sometimes her hugs are quick like that, then sometimes she’ll put her head on my shoulder and hold tight to me for a good couple minutes.

Both kinds of hugs are a delight to me.

There’s something beautiful in her ability to give the hug she needed to and move on with life. In those moments, she doesn’t have to wait to see how I responded to her hug. She just knows she gave it and she’s ready for the next thing. When I see her do that I want to be like her, to give love with a freedom. She teaches me to give the love I want to give and carry myself into the next thing focused on what is in front of me. Because when love is given freely I can move into life free from worry over the effects of the love I just gave.

FullSizeRender (11)

I hope that these moments in my daughter’s lives are a blessing to you like they are to me. I have four ways to think about how I can offer myself to the world, four ways to think about what it means to be like a child. May we offer ourselves like children today.

FullSizeRender (8)

“Jesus never tells children to grow up, but he often tell adults to become like little children.” -Wess Stafford  

“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said,“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:2-4

Being told to be childlike is a gift to be free, and lest I forget that and feel overwhelmed and pressured to be perfectly childlike, this beautiful quote from Lysa Terkeurst that was posted this morning @proverbs31ministries. As someone who struggles with being shy and afraid that my daily choices won’t be just right, these thoughts have been treasured this morning.

FullSizeRender (14) FullSizeRender (12)

How to Fight Back when Life Throws You Around

Dear you, how is today? Does life throw you around and is it hard to fight back? I know what that feels like and it’s the reason I’m writing in the wee hours of the morning. Can I tell you a story? And speak into yours?

IMG_3882

I’ve been trying to work through this thing I’ve been struggling with – to be fully present in my moments. Because I don’t want to spend these years of chubby, little hands on my face and bouncy curls, and the sweetest giggles I’ll ever know – I don’t want to spend these moments thinking on “to-do’s” and miss being present in these moments that matter now. Because it’s not just who these girls will become but the people they are right now, that I want to protect, to Love, to give opportunity. Because God didn’t design them to just have a grown-up purpose, He designed them each with a purpose for this part of their lives too and I am here to help that purpose shine, to give them the opportunity to bring life in the world as they are right now.

But sometimes that doubt wants to creep in and tell me that this battle is too big. That when I get back up and let the distractions knock me back down again, that I am just failing and I cannot do this. And the enemy whispers, who do you think you are to think you can win this fight?

And for a second, I want to say I’ve lost. But the Victorious One has words in this battle too. And He says I am not of those who shrink back and are destroyed. (Heb. 10:39) And the very fact that He causes those words to go through my head is enough for me to know that He speaks it over me. Because we are not people who think life-giving words on our own. There is a God who puts those thoughts there on purpose. And He has spoken this over me.

And I can speak to that enemy to his face and say,

Who do I think I am? I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. (2 Cor. 5:21) I’m a Child of God. I am Chosen, Redeemed, Set Free and you don’t hold me captive anymore. I am not of those who shrink back and are destroyed. (Heb. 10:39) I am of those who have faith and preserve their souls. (Heb. 10:39) And I can win this battle because I am found in Jesus, and that same power He has that defeated you, its inside of me. I don’t have to be captive to this thing you’re throwing at me.

IMG_3741

IMG_3638

Friend, know that it’s true. When you have some curiosity that calls you to look for truth – that curiosity didn’t originate out of your own good, because you’re not that good by yourself. That curiosity is put there by Someone who Loves you and is actively drawing you to Himself. That is enough reason to have confidence – because He has confidence in you. “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1 Thess. 5:24) If He calls you, He’ll be faithful to carry you through. Whatever thing you’re struggling with, it doesn’t have you. Because by faith you’re not the shrinking back one. By faith, you can be the assured and convicted, (Heb. 11:1) that God’s power is in you and in Him, you’ve got this.

May we take up the shield of faith that blocks every dart of the enemy (Eph. 6:16) and plunge onward in the name of Jesus as the victorious people we are.

“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.  For,

“Yet a little while,
    and the coming one will come and will not delay;
 but my righteous one shall live by faith,
    and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”

 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it the people of old received their commendation.”

– Hebrews 10:35 – 11:2