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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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There are Blessings Inside the Pains

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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.

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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.

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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?’

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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?

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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“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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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?

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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.

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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

 

The Peaceful Truth in the Overwhelm of Parenting

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I want my little girls to love me. But this week I’ve been guilty of wanting that more than I should, and parenting through that lens always gets messy. On my own, I’m the shy mommy who parents out of the fear that her children will reject her. But I am in Christ and that is not who I have to be. Sometimes I live like my job description is to do what I can to get Amayah to like me. And sometimes I excuse it by saying I am giving her grace, when that is not truly what I’m giving at all. But I can best guide her into the secrets of her Maker when I trust Him to oversee what she thinks of me. I am here to give her grace as I have been given grace. And sometimes I need to remember what that means. Because grace does not always look pleasant. Often giving my daughter the training she doesn’t deserve involves being willing to discipline her even when it’s hard for us both. But without a focus, I’ll try to counter my child-pleasing by disregarding the needs of my daughter’s heart. In my efforts to not be the child-pleasing mom, I become the mom without compassion. This week I’ve needed to take time to replace the faulty job descriptions for mother that I build in my head with a job description that’s healthy and true.

My young girl desire was always to be called mommy… to be cook, maid, teacher, nanny and discipler for little people who also happened to be my children. Maybe it’s common for people to say, but as a pre-mom teenager, I assumed that if, as a parent, I was responsible enough to read the parenting books and stick to them, that my kids would naturally be well-behaved.

As a newlywed, twenty-year old momma, I spent the first year or so of my daughters life reading every parenting book I could get my hands on. And I was so confused. And this is why.

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Page 23, Homepreschool and Beyond, by Susan Lemons

Many of those books were in the bunch that I read, that were recommended to me by caring people. Each and every book was in disagreement with the last book, and I was overwhelmed to discover that parenting books only gave opinions. They haven’t gotten this down to a science at all.

After reading it all, I didn’t trust it. Not that I’ll never read another parenting book again, but I won’t be searching the books for do’s and don’ts the way I used to, because the practicality of parenting lived in faith will look different for me than it will for anyone else. There are no step-by-step, one-size-fits-all instructions on how to put a baby to sleep, or when its right or wrong to let the baby cry, or how to make a toddler stop throwing food on the floor, or stop kicking you and screaming no when you’re trying to buckle them into a car seat. There is a parenting book that has become my favorite. Its called Give Them Grace and is based on the few verses in the Bible that give instructions for parenting. It just didn’t give the specific, step-by-step, practicality of parenting that I went to it trying to find. Instead it asked me why as a parent I wanted so much to be told volumes of information on how to raise my children, when the New Testament, itself, gives parents only two verses that speak specifically to parenting.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21

The Bible, Old Testament and New, gives clear and simple instruction on parenting, and God gives us faith for the details. I want parenting to come with a step-by-step instruction book, and instead I have grace for today, God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit inside me. My job is to have faith that that will carry me through today.

My simple job description is to point Amayah and Liesel to God’s grace, with the instruction and discipline of the Lord, taking care that I do not exasperate or discourage their little hearts in the process. That is what I need to know for now and God is able to guide me into living it.

When I hear myself being the child-pleasing mom, or the one who exasperates her children, I can hold my God’s truth in my heart and trust Him to give them grace through me as I rest in His grace myself.

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Give Them Grace, by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson

When this House became a Home

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The first time we walked through the house we now live in, I didn’t think it could ever feel like a home. The living room was huge and open and empty with smudged walls and hard floors. There were no cushy floors or surfaces – things that feel like home to me – and the only living room furniture we had at the time was one small, brown couch. And I could just picture our little couch swallowed up in that massive room. We weren’t going to have a budget for furniture or curtains or decor. We were not planning to live here for more than a couple of years and it didn’t seem worthwhile to save up for too much in the way of area rugs and furniture. The kitchen wallpaper was tearing, all the bedrooms had neon green and blue walls and the living room was so big it felt more like a warehouse than a home. Initially, I was opposed to living here. But we needed somewhere and this was where the door was open to us. It was really a huge blessing, and I didn’t want to see it that way. We were in need of somewhere else to live and we never would have been able to live here had God not opened hearts and doors. It was bigger than we could have asked for.

We unsettled and moved, six months after doing it before, our fourth place to live in three years. We moved into this house and, of course, my longing was to make it home. For us and for our girls.

And I was delighted to be gifted with so many things that make this place feel more like a home – to arrange the things together and watch them give shape to a place we feel comfy to sprawl out on the rug with our girls, or gather around a meal with friends.

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We all long to know home, a place to feel secure, a place to share love with our people.

I bought this sign recently, because the words speak much to my longing for home. Because, of course, though I might work to make a place we call home, home is not as much the place, as the people I’m with. Home is with the ones I love and even when I have none left on earth to share it with, home is with Christ who lives in me. Wherever I am, with Christ in me, that is home.

And how beautiful to know that He calls me home, too.

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” 1 Cor. 3:16-17

In all the mess I see in me, He makes the place holy and calls me home. He is the One who keeps house here. He will never sit by to see His temple in me destroyed. He is fiercely committed to the home He is making in me.

I am His building, His house where He works in the grace, all the grace needed for this piece of the world to reflect His beauty. He provides the color, the story, the cozy. He provides grace to clear the cobwebs and dust. And I get to be walls and beams that He resides in and works in. I am the temple He calls holy. And He invites me to open the doors and share the home He’s making here, to show the beauty He makes to my little part of the world.

I am His house and that may seem small, but were it not for Him taking up housekeeping here, I would be an empty, lonely building longing for someone to take the space my rooms offered and make them a place where love happened. That was what I was.

But He has called me holy. He resides here and gives grace to open my doors and let love flow in and out. I am not a lonely building today. I am not just a house because my God, He saw my potential. And He has called me home.

 

Blessings! If you’d like to see the before pictures from the rearranging I’ve done recently, you can see them here.

The Gift of Feeling Uninspired

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“Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.” John 6:32

Today is full of sunshine and clutter, giggles and bread crumbs. Today has been a day of finger painting and foggy thinking.

I see unconnected dots in my mind, like random pieces of a picture, and I want so much to connect them so I can see the beauty that they complete together. I feel uninspired because today there are no words to connect the things in my head. But maybe today it is a gift to sit without knowing how to connect the thoughts of today in words. Maybe it’s okay to just absorb the unconnected dots and thoughts of my life as they are and receive the beauty of them in Christ’s presence. Maybe its okay to offer myself this way.

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Jesus spoke of those who thought Moses gave manna, when manna was from the Father. And maybe I am guilty of thinking I do something that God alone does. Maybe I think I connect dots with my writing and forget that God connects the dots of life.

For today, as small as it feels, I can rejoice in the day that God has made by giving worship with the unconnected dots of my life.

For today, when my finger painting feels as messy as my daughters, I can find joy in pink and yellow smudges that don’t look like much.

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I can be okay knowing He will connect the dots and paint the bigger picture.

Maybe sometimes I try to make it complicated, when it is much more simple. Maybe when I try to offer my life and all I can seem to make is childlike “scribble-scrabble” maybe it’s okay.

In my striving to make it all look how I think it should before I offer it…

Maybe He just longs for me to delight in making the scribbles that I am even able to offer.

Maybe He longs for me to scribble with the freedom that my daughter does.

Because though I can’t see it, He’s taking all my scribbles and making the picture complete.

Here’s to giving Him my scribbles and trusting Him to find them beautiful.

When Relationships Feel Broken: 3 Truths that Bring Peace

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Relationships are the only place we can give and receive the thing we were created for. Love. We thrive on relationships because they are what allow us to be human people who do what we were created to do. But those same relationships can also bring us the hardest kind of struggles, because not only are the people we choose to love messy, but because we are messy. We all struggle through our relationships at times. We all feel the smallness that our own mess can cause in another’s life. It was a while back, when processing the shy feelings of that, that I wrote this, and I want to share it now. This was me finding grace in the midst of the hurt I can cause. Whatever kind of friendship or relationship it may be, maybe you have known this same kind of smallness recently. It is a smallness that offers us so many of these gifts in pointing to the relationship we most deeply long for.    

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I am broken, wanting, looking for the grace God offers in the people on this earth who I want to be loved by.

I am messy. I cause hurt.

But I long for love still. For same-day grace, no matter how little I deserve it. I’ve never seen same day grace when I caused hard hurt. Not in anyone on this earth.

And Jesus died for me while I was still sinning. (Rm 5) He considered me worth it. And Jesus is able to carry me through the times when people I love are still trying to work through the hurt I cause. The Savior is able to draw me closer to Him and able to draw me closer to the people I love if that is part of the perfect plan.

I see all my hurt can cause… their hurt, their inability to act from love as they normally would. And I ask why they can’t accept me the way God does. But there’s so many things I have forgotten. Perhaps God allows it all to help me remember…

1. Relationships are hard because the picture we’re made to show is one that flesh cannot perfect. That is why we thirst for more, for the one relationship we’re made to point to.

We live in flesh and always make an incomplete picture of the heavenly face to face relationship with God. The human experience will always leave us thirsty, if we come to it expecting perfect love. The lacking we find there gives us the thirst that draws to the One our soul needs. No matter how beautiful the love in our earthly relationships are, they will never satisfy the deepest thirst of our souls. It’s the truth that can bring the words true from our hearts:

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Ps 63:1

2. Though flesh cannot perfect relationship, found in Him, our relationships can be complete.

Sometimes I compare the love I experience from people, to the love I receive in Christ and these relationships feel so very broken.

And that is just the point. Of course these relationships are broken. Of course all of our relationships are broken. Compared to Christ – broken. But found in Christ… the story is different. We’re covered with His blood. As God’s children, we don’t stand apart from Christ to compare to Him, we stand as people who are found in the shelter of His Person. “Found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” (Phil. 3:9) Found in Christ, me, my brothers and sisters in Christ, our relationships… they stand with Him as the righteousness of God in Jesus. (2 Cor. 5:21) He sees us together in Him and it’s all complete.   

3. God, Himself, did not give me His favor until his wrath had been expressed.

I see my friends, my family in Christ express their “wrath” toward my wrong to them (sometimes that is simply just the silent hurt that they have to process before our relationship moves forward) and I ask why they can’t accept me the way God does. But why in asking that do I think that God dismissed my sin? I forget that God had the strongest wrath toward my sin. Wrath that Jesus stood in front of me to receive. He received that most brutal blow, the loss of God’s favor, and gave me the privilege to receive that as truth. “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.” Ps. 30:5

Perhaps this is the most beautiful gift God has for me here. To receive new the gift Jesus gave me. To know in a new way, that God did not dismiss my sin at all, but in His holy Personhood had to express His full fury on all that was flawed in me. And Jesus chose to stand in front of me through all of that mighty blow.

Yes, first I am broken. I am a small, shy, broken person who causes hurt in the people I love most. And I am the one who has not only forgotten to view the people I love with the identity they have been given in Christ, I am the one who compares them to a false version of who God is. But that broken me has died on the cross with all of God’s wrath in the person of Jesus and I’ve been given the beautiful privilege to move forward boldly in my relationships in the person of Christ. I am found. My relationships are found with Christ and the ability to grow beyond the hurts.