When it’s Hard to be a Woman

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Whether you’re 24 year-old me, or my four year-old little girl, some things about being a woman hold true for the littlest girl in ribbons and I would guess also for the one with the whitest crown of curls.

Every woman has felt the pain of days that make it deeply challenging to be a woman. It’s a pain that can easily bring the deepest wounds a woman’s soul will know. But even as every girl’s womanhood can be so deeply wounded, it is also true that a woman is most deeply moved and emboldened in her person, when she is offered the freedom to embrace the womanhood she was made with…

When I was eighteen and you and I had just met, I would stay put in church every week until you came to talk to me. I always knew if I stayed around long enough you would make your way to me with a kind smile and gentle conversation. You could always make me laugh but more than that, you were a gentleman. And it made me feel like a woman.

Then one Sunday as church ended, I got up and left. I was afraid you didn’t want me to wait, so I didn’t. But that same Sunday night, I was headed for the door again and you didn’t want me to leave without letting me know. I was almost to the door when you called my name. I turned around and there you stood with the courage to be nervous in front of me. You weren’t ashamed to let me know that you had missed talking to me that morning. And more than that, you weren’t ashamed to give me a sheepish grin and say those words that made me float, “I made you something.” You said it like a shy schoolboy who was so in love and gave me your handmade card, the one you had cut out and drawn on yourself and I felt like a woman in the very best way.

And the first time we went to lunch, you didn’t have to hear a word of how I felt about you before you gave a nervous speech letting me know with an open heart that I was the girl you hoped to grow old with. You risked a rejection that could wound you so deeply. And you meant it, I could see it in your eyes. And even though I’ve always been shy, though I was struggling with who I was as a woman, I knew I could trust you to treasure my womanhood, whatever that meant. And close to seven years later, though it’s never been perfect, though I’ve seen how very human you can be, and you have felt the pain of wounds that I have given you, it has been a constant truth to me that you are a man who embraces me as I am and fights to free the woman in me.

You embrace my womanhood. You speak love into my wounds. And sometimes perhaps I’ve expected you to heal the wounds of my womanhood as well. Sometimes I forget that no man can heal those kinds of wounds.

I still bear those wounds and I’m still seeking healing. And while you’ll never be able to heal my wounds I know you’re always there to help point me to the Healer.

There are still times when it’s hard to be a woman and these are the wounds that still sit on my soul. Every woman bears wounds of her own and sometimes a lifetime can feel like too short a time to heal. There are still moments that pick at old wounds. And those old wounds can hurt just as much as ever. And even while trying to bind up old wounds, there are still wounds coming in this wounded world. But the wounds to a woman, while they may leave her feeling powerless for a moment, they can become her greatest asset. Because every ugly wound can make her beauty that much stronger.

Here are moments that wound a woman.

It’s hard to be a woman when there is no one asking you to dance. This does not make a woman weak. It makes her a woman and it’s the strength of who she is.

Women are born with souls that long to be pursued because this nature plays an essential part in our world. And women don’t simply want to be danced with. They long to be ‘asked’ to dance by a gentleman. And asked by him again. And no matter how much a girl might think or say that she doesn’t want a request to dance, she does. Yet sometimes her request fades away. And sometimes the request never comes.

This can leave a woman feeling that her beauty is not worth being pursued. And while every woman can know truthfully that her beauty has the deepest worth, even with that knowledge she can still be deeply wounded.

If all was perfect perhaps there’d be a gentleman to pursue every girl but even still, maybe sometimes the reason a girl isn’t getting her request is because men are wounded just as easily as women and those wounds can leave us both struggling to be what we were made for…

It’s hard to be a woman when you must wrestle through the question of whether it’s the time and place for you to do your own asking. This rubs rough against the grain of who a woman is because the mystery of her womanhood is made to be pursued. Sometimes a woman must step outside of her nature, yet when a woman is doing the pursuing, she doesn’t feel much like a woman. She opens up so much potential for old wounds to grow deeper.

If she questioned before whether her beauty was worth being pursued (as her nature has intended) now she’s opened to the struggle of feeling that it’s not worth receiving even if she offers it herself.

She boldly dared to defy her own nature and open up the mystery of her womanhood for another. Whether it was treasured or not, she took a bold risk and gave away a piece of her own mystery for the sake of love…

It is also hard to be a woman when any little piece of your womanhood feels taken from you instead of offered by you. When a woman is danced with without being asked… When she is flattered by a man who doesn’t recognize the mystery of the woman inside her…  When she is treated like her womanhood has an owner… When her affection or commitment is assumed instead of pursued… these are moments that want to trample the worth of her soul. A woman is fully a woman when she is strongly pursued while also given the space to offer her own womanhood.

A woman needs this space dearly. For it is a pain that echoes far into her life when a woman struggles for the space to let her nature be free.

These wounds can leave you in a battle with yourself… trying to remember that your wounds do not define you. It is one battle to know it in theory, but it is another battle completely to learn to part ways in daily life with how you’ve let your wounds define you before. It can leave a woman saying no for a bit, simply because she’s still battling to find her own yes. For she does have a need to heal.

And what does a woman seeking healing do with her wounds?

She stays in the battle. And when she looks at the womanhood she wants to embrace and knows that she can’t do it, she looks to One inside her healing her soul and trusts that He can. No matter how many times she falls, she keeps stepping forward in the nature she was given.

And she loves the one who wounded her. She recognizes that every person who has wounded her has first been wounded themselves. She never excuses the wrong that was done, but she always forgives. She does what she must to protect her womanhood from the offense, while she loves the offender where they are.

And inside of the cross, every soul is worth loving no matter how wounded. No matter how often we’ve allowed our wounds to drive us, no matter how many wounds we have caused, no matter the wounds we bear on our soul or how much of our lifetime it can take for us to heal, nothing makes it impossible for us to still give love and still receive it.  

A woman in healing acknowledges her wounds and invites Jesus in. She can learn to boast in these wounds because there is a Savior whose love penetrates the hollow places these wounds have made inside her. These wounds are where Jesus breaks into her beauty and uses it to invite others into His love too.

When it’s hard for a woman to be a woman… this makes her deeply needy so she can be deeply aware of how she is pursued by the only One who fully knows her.

This is the strength of who she is… Yet she gets to be more.

The nature of Jesus is one of pursuit, but the funny thing about pursuit is that it takes two and in the kingdom of God we all get to play a part in both sides of this story. The more deeply needy and inviting we are, the more we will notice Jesus pursuing us. And the more we see Jesus pursuing us, the more His love will drive us to pursue the needy people around us.

So in Him we find that we are both the one pursued and the one pursuing. And this is the best adventure we could live.

So in the end… when it’s hard to be a woman, life gets fuller still.   

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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.

The Soul’s Reflection

Welcome to this space you. I’m happy you showed up here. The words below are words I’ve been holding onto for over a month. I wrote them before Christmas and I’ve struggled to embrace them, but I hope they will be a blessing. This post is part of the audio series I aim to send out by email each month. If you would like to hear the audio version of this post or read a bit of what prompted me to write this, you can subscribe at the bottom of this post. I thank you for being here. So many of you have encouraged me to keep sharing and I’m so grateful. It’s a joy to share with you today…

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While I have sat in the corner of life where you stare at your soul’s reflection, maybe you have sat there too.

The reflection my eyes can see isn’t pretty.

What I know with my eyes, and what I know in my heart don’t always match up.  

With my heart, I know I have come to the table where the bread of life is given. This is where the ugly mess inside us dies. When I sat at this table with Jesus, it was true of me too.  

But sometimes I look in the mirror, and that ugly mess still mars my reflection.

Here on this earth, isn’t it true? “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12  

That ugly mess still comes out of me sometimes. That ugly mess still sits in the reflection of my soul. But still, it is true that that ugly mess is dead.

There is only One who knows us as we truly are. Only One who can see what we look like without that deadness on our soul.  

We see in a mirror dimly, maybe you feel this too…

Jesus is yours and you come here to the table having so much you want to share, but you see this, your soul’s reflection.

The moment brings its gift… Yes the mirror says there is an ugly soul inside you, but the One who loves you keeps offering the bread of life. Take this gift in faith and believe the One who knows you better than you know yourself.   

What you can see is a poor reflection. So, keep giving Jesus the deadness inside you and don’t believe what you see in the mirror.

Trust the only one who can see you as you truly are…

We gather around together here. Sometimes your drink might tumble. Sometimes I might spill the gravy. But as sure as the table gets messy, it is sure that we need each other.   

We come here together sharing in the same body. This is where we all became one.

When you look around the table, we don’t look like much. But we can’t trust our eyes.

May we come to the table looking around with faith instead of our eyes – faith to see ourselves as a needed and lovely part of what is happening here. Faith to look across the table and see each other as the same. So much darkness can exist in a world that is so broken, but just as Jesus is our Lord, love is who we are.

We all came to the table with faith that He could make us new. We will trust it for ourselves and we will trust it for each other.

The prayer for myself is what I pray for you.

Even as we see the poor reflection of our own souls, may we trust You more than the mirror. Give us grace to keep offering ourselves to each other when it just feels like a mess. Give us grace to welcome the person across the table as you welcome us. May we believe You when you tell us that every spiritual blessing is ours to claim, that we are all equipped and gifted to play our part in this sweet Gospel story we sing with You. When we sing the song with the voice you gave us, in the part you gave us to sing, and all we can hear is a mess, we will keep giving the deadness to you and we will keep singing because we trust you more than we trust ourselves. You are in us, shining through us and You make the Beautiful Song.

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 hurts: the binding secret

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Sometimes an old pain echoes back through my mind. Sometimes I want to bring out my claws and growl and let the hurt rebound out from me to cause more hurt. It can feel that to put down my claws is to say that nothing unjust happened to the people I care about at all. It can feel that to not fight back is to give up on the hurting people the situation still represents to me.  

Yesterday, the question of my heart was “how?” How can I carry a burden for a group of people without carrying bitterness for those who can appear to stand against that same group?

I couldn’t sleep last night and two words kept singing to my heart… love believes…

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Bitterness cannot live towards a person when you are believing in the beautiful creation they are. Love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor. 13:7) When we love our neighbor we believe they are created in the same image that we are. We believe in the image of God inside them.

The question posed back to my heart today… Even more than carrying your burden, do you carry the love of Christ for the people who may not share that burden at all? Do you believe in them?

We are all people who are broken and make mistakes. Yet, we are also all people who seek to be honest, who want to give the best to our families, who want to play a useful part in this world. While that desire may not be apparent in every life, I believe that somewhere in the heart it’s what every soul wants. We are all people who are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are people who are made in the image of the same God of love. (Gen. 1:27)

We have different ideas, different views and faiths, different cultural identity, different pasts, different personalities but we are all more alike than we are different. Love sees his neighbor and love believes. Love sees that you’re the same more than it sees that you are different. And when love does see where you are different, love doesn’t see a threat, love sees someone searching for the same place that it has searched for – the same place where you are known and loved and welcome.

Love looks at his neighbor, whatever life he may come from and says you are just like me. Whatever differences stand between you love believes and love sees someone just like them.

Isn’t that the encouragement we all look for to help us live the life we’re made for? I think it’s what we all want. For someone to care to step into our world against all odds and say ‘Friend, I believe in the work being done in you.’

It’s so easy to see the things that divide and hardly notice the things that bind, when the binding part is what we need.

When I see the dividing lines first, I feel rejected and the insecurities rise. And from that place, love is hard to welcome. But with eyes on Jesus, I see the One who binds with His own life, and from there my eyes open to the binding all around me.

From His own binding, flows the love that believes and binds across the differences and we find ourselves seeing each other the way we want to be seen – with the identity we were created for.   

So today, may we keep our eyes on the One who believed in us enough to die for us and bind our own wounds and from this place, love will flow and create binding places in this broken world. Love will flow out from us as we believe in the ones around us just as the Savior has believed in us.

Love believes. And the believing binds what once was broken.   

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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.

How Pocahontas helps me see grace in confusion

My Amayah and I watched Pocahontas together this week. I hadn’t seen it since I was a child. But watching it with her touched some of the deepest places inside me. To me, the movie spoke to so many aspects of my own heart.

Growing up in one culture of people, and loving someone from another, brings all kinds of feelings to me as I try to make sense of life in all of it. Perhaps we all know these feelings in a way. Perhaps, whether it has to do with skin color or not, perhaps we all experience the confusion of seeing life from one place, then seeing it from another and struggling to make these very different things we’ve seen make sense in our hearts.

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Photo by Aaron Burden. Used with permission.

Whether or not the Pocahontas movie is historically accurate, I love it for telling the story it tells. When John Smith, in love with Pocahontas, accidentally calls her people savages to her face, it tells true stories of people loving each other beyond the fears that have kept them apart. When his friends believe that her kind is not trustworthy and when her father worries that his people are not trustworthy, they are really both friendly people who want the best for their families. They can’t get along because they are afraid the people with different skin mean them harm, when really they are so much more alike on the inside than they know. When Pocahontas and John Smith find their people at odds with each other, they are find confusion in their story. Pocahontas struggles with doubting herself. But when an act of her love spreads peace in a time of division, it finds me where I am.
I do find myself confused by my story. Trying to see the world as someone who grew up one way and deeply loves someone who grew up another way, makes the constant struggle for peace between peoples bring that much more ache to my soul. Seeing the world through so many stages of life, can try the soul, no matter who you are or what your story is.
Sometimes my heart aches to find the end of confusion, and I want it all to look as simple as when I had only seen it from one point of view. But I would not trade the beauty of the love I have known for all the simplicity in the world…

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And the truth spoken through John captures me today. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)

A lack of peace is always caused by fear. And it is love that breaks that fear.
When Pocahontas threw herself in front of the weapon meant for John Smith, love broke fear in the hearts of so many witnesses. The story that day was changed by love.
When Jesus took the shame of our worst darkness, love broke fear in the greatest way, changing our own stories. And love breaks fear every time we give on the love He gave us.
And the story is confusing sometimes, but it doesn’t have to make sense to be a part of the beautiful love I’ve been given. And the thing that confused me becomes something that breaks fear in my heart and by grace on from there.
Even when it is confusing, sharing the story is sharing the love. I can testify to the times people have shared their story with me in confusion and in doing so they poured love into me.
For my own story, watching Pocahontas makes me remember what a blessing I experience in my own love story. It makes me want to say thank you. This country has been one that intends to strive for the equality of people. And there have been so many triumphs. We have walked away from slavery. People from all different backgrounds and cultures can vote today and be voted into office, actions that flow from beautiful triumphs. Different races now share the same schools and bathrooms. In 1958, Richard and Mildred Loving were thrown in jail for the “crime” of getting married across cultures. And today just fifty-nine years later, my husband and I are blessed to enjoy our own union at no threat of the law.
Today, even though it can take on so many differing forms, we see Americans from all viewpoints striving for equality. So many Americans strive for equality of the unborn. So many Americans strive for equality of immigrants and refugees. So many Americans strive for equality of the belittled and underprivileged. And with grace and love that carries beyond what our own eyes can see, Americans can strive for equality of all.
On the inside we are all in the same image, with the same feelings, the same struggle with fear, the same longing for love. We are made able to see each other with love, no matter what differences stand between us, and we continue to strive for that love.
We may be confused by the story, it may make us feel so many doubts and questions, but may we befriend the way it feels in the presence of Christ and tell the story still. This is grace: we do not have to understand everything about our stories, in order for God to use the sharing of them. When we share the story God is authoring in us, we share the love we’ve been given – love that breaks fear.

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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.

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

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 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.

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.

One Thing You Can Do When You Want to Give More than Love

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This is my gallery wall where I am collecting the faces of the people I love. I’ve been thinking on what keeps me loving them and what keeps them loving me.

There is a certain smallness in the knowing that the souls of the ones I love are out of my hands. Do you feel it too? It’s a gift isn’t it – to know our people and love them and hopefully to shed some bit of hope on their life with our own.

Sometimes it’s hard to be content there though, the hardest kind of contentment. Because I feel like I’m not enough – not enough for the people I love.

There is a beauty inside our people that we went to see flourish.

Lynne Lorentsen, a writer who’s words I love, said these words that have stuck with me. “We are all eternal souls. Every person you meet will live on long past their circumstances. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.(I Cor 15:19)  This is not all we are, life trapped in a jar,  and I do not love people to gain worth. I love because people are full of worth. And worthful people will never go away.”

Those words touch the same place as words that were said at our churches missions conference. I think it was Vanessa who said the words that brought tears. She was talking about the bus driver who knocked on her door every week for years, the man God used to bring her back to Himself. “He loved me not for who I was or what I was, but for what God could make me.”

At the time, I really wanted for someone to tell me why I was crying like I was. But I think this is it. I think this is what keeps us loving our people through the good, bad and ugly – the knowing that God has made beauty inside them that wants to come out.

Maybe it’s why people love me through my ugly.

God has given it to me to be responsible for letting His beauty come out of me. That is the very thing He has given me to bear. Perhaps you could say that is my load. (“For each one shall bear his own load.” Gal. 6:5) Perhaps letting the beauty come through in all the good and bad I see in life is what I bear in the yolk with Christ. (Mt. 11:29-30)

And here is this other side of that verse that can feel small sometimes – each one bearing his own load. It speaks of “the responsibility each person has in those troubles…” (Reference) I am responsible for living through those troubles in Christ. And the people I love are responsible for bearing their own troubles in Christ.

And as if I know what’s best in this great big world, sometimes I say that’s not right. As if I’m God, I say I need to be bearing that person’s load too. But God knows better, and despite my big-headedness He still gives me this small part to play. “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2) This speaks of “helping one another through troubles.” (Reference.) These are the things I can do and there is one thing in all of it that is key… Because I can be present with my people. I can pray. I can help meet their physical needs. But it’s when I do these things in faith that God uses them. Do I live and think from the faith that God is in control of their story? It is here in this faith that God’s grace pours out of me onto them. This is the part I am given to play and it is a beautiful gift.

I am not given to bear anyone’s load but my own and that is for the better. Because God has a better plan. Marsha said it in our ladies group last week… That the story might not turn out how I want it too, but I can trust that God writes better stories than me.

The best gift I can give to the people I love is to trust God with their story while I walk with them through their troubles. When I live from the faith of knowing their story is in His hands, the beauty God has made in me will come out as He intended – to do whatever He has for it to do in them.

Today may we love our people with the peace that God knows exactly what He’s doing with them. May we be thankful for the part we are given to play in their life. And may we rest in the One who can write this story so much better than we can.

For today may we find the place to sit with our people and be present with them in their troubles. And may we do it with a love that is propelled with faith in what God is doing with their life.

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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.

Story Share: When Love is a Journey

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At the beginning of holy week, when we think on the One who chose to love us through the pain and hard moments, may we find little tastes of His struggle in our own small moments where we find love to be a journey. Because I think we all know how it is to struggle to love somebody, to want to make that choice, even when the choice hurts. And Jesus made that choice most fierce of all for us, enduring all the pain and unappreciated efforts to the farthest extreme in order to love us.

I’m enjoying Wendy’s post this morning about the people who you feel a little shy and unknowing about how to love. I’m feeling her feelings and seeing how my Jesus felt much the same on this holy week. Read Wendy’s post here.

Jesus, may we step into holy week reminded to slow and see you in every shy moment we face, because in Your pouring out of love, you have faced all the moments before us. May we let the journey of today press us deeper into the heart of Your cross. When we feel the long journey of love in our life, may we slow to see you pointing to the love you poured out there. To see the journey you took to get there and the blank responses you got along the way. To see the love You choose to step into every day of your life even though it didn’t feel good. To see You loving us through the awkward life you lived to be human like us and love us even in your human-ness. Be our grace to hold today in every moment of the journey.

 

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.

On Being Needy

Needy. We know it’s not healthy to carry our need, our burden, always in front of us, for our needs to be forefront in our thoughts, our words, our conversations. It’s an unhealthy extreme, but sometimes in trying to stand our distance from that extreme we live in another. Sometimes I live with the idea that I should refuse help when it’s offered, that when people offer help they probably don’t actually mean it, and that I should keep my real needs to myself. It’s not a healthy way to live.

I’ve lived that way with my Nano, too. A few weeks ago I was feeling bad for getting so much help from him with the girls and with housework when I feel like that’s my responsibility and I voiced that to him, and he told me something that’s been sitting on my heart ever since. He told me that when I say things like that it makes him feel like I don’t think of us as a team. He said that when I ask him not to help, I’m asking him to stop showing me love through service when he delights in loving me that way. He asked me to be more needy.

Needy… It caught my attention when he said it because needy is the word that has been on my mind since Liesel’s birth. It’s what He’s teaching me through Liesel, through my helpless baby who needs me.

When I’m at my lowest, being needy brings the sweetest refreshment. Because needy is the word we go through to get to God. Our need drives us to find a Savior. And daily, our need takes us to the only place we can find real refreshment… C. S. Lewis said it: “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.”

Need also produces friendship. I like to know that I can help someone through their needs, but often I’m not as willing to be helped myself. And when I find myself lonely could it be my own doing? Could it be me to proud to go to people with my real emotional needs?

Everyone wants to know their life has a purpose. Knowing that gives our life meaning, it gives us energy to live another day. But, when I refuse to let others help me, I refuse to let them fill a purpose where they had the eyes to see that they could be useful. Perhaps, sometimes, I refuse the blessings God is trying to give me through them.

When I refuse to believe people, refuse to believe that my brother’s and sisters in Christ really do want to help me, I’m refusing to think of us as a body. I’m refusing to trust. But we are a body and when I’m hurting the whole body hurts. They may not know why they are hurting, but because we are one, the hurt will be there for them too. No matter how much they want to help, the rest of the body may not know how to help the hurt, but how can I expect them to, if I don’t speak it.

So here’s to being needy, because sometimes we need that, sometimes the whole body needs me to be a bit needy. We need each other. We need Him. Here’s to admitting that and having the courage to live it.

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.

Love’s Beautiful Mess

Almost a week since our new little Liesel was born. She’s my cuddle bug and she’s surprised us in how easy-going she seems to be. New life is beautiful. New life in her, new life in me.

I’m learning to rest in the new, in the fresh reminder to remember God’s benefits, (Psalm 103:2-3) to remember my newness in the newness of my daughter. She too is a precious gift who He points me to the Gospel with. For now, I look at the newness in her and remember it, she is new, and I am made new in my Jesus. The miracle of birth takes place in me as I experience the miracle of being found in my Jesus and the new creation He makes in me.

Learning to take my Nano’s advice to let the Lord be my shield. (Psalm 3) To be my shield against hormones and fears and doubts and all the senseless worries that want to fill my head. When I feel inadequate He is “my glory and the lifter of my head.”

Learning to Love two daughters together, that that’s messy, but to let it be messy because it’s beautiful… That was the theme of the Curious George movie I watched with Amayah the other night. Thankful for lessons learned even in the cute, silly ways… Loving both is messy because sometimes I have to give Liesel attention and Amayah doesn’t understand, and sometimes I give too much attention to one and not enough to the other and sometimes I just want time to slow down so I can enjoy them both better and there’s a million other worries along with that. But I can never know the beauty of Love without plunging into the beautiful mess of it. I want to give my Love fully, not cautiously, and living messy is the only way to do that. I want to enjoy these moments with my girls and that means just Loving and letting it all come out messy. And maybe Love is just that way all around… a beautiful mess.

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.