Why the Heart of America Still Stands Strong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where Truth is More Than Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even in a Whisper: For souls who thrive in the quiet music of God’s glory

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My soul thrives in the smallest whispers of glory, in stories told by grandpa and the rag doll grandma made, in a friend who gave their lunch hour to sit with me, in conversations that may not sound revolutionary, may even sound insignificant, but are spoken with grace and love.

These whispers can sing a sweet music to my soul that a shout doesn’t do.

And these same whispers are what my soul thrives in singing itself.

But when the loud shout of it all is what I hear, something in my soul hears so many questions. Where the world feels as if it sings it all in wonder, the heart inside me feels a silent joy that wants to wait in the whisper. The questions that come in the waiting ask why the shout doesn’t sing the same song in my soul. They ask what’s wrong when I don’t thrive in the shout as so many others seem to do. I want to sing the glory of this moment too; the shouts look so normal. I can find a quiet rejoicing knowing others are blessed by the shouts, but I need to hear the whisper…

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Today, in cups of coffee, in new kittens and old screen doors the moments whisper to my soul the sweet reminding truth that speaks grace to me. That maybe I struggle to remember we’re all made differently.

These questions felt as they are, teach me things about myself, about how I was made. Without them the whispers wouldn’t be on my mind today. Without them I wouldn’t hear the voice that tells me where God places me right now.

Maybe the moments where my soul feels out of place, are the voice of God telling me where He has made my place…

Where perhaps He’s here whispering a message I truly need. That people I love will thrive in the shouts and I may not always understand, but God has them where He has them and His story is good and these people are beautifully made by Him.

When I don’t feel like I can join in the shouts with the people I love, that is fine and good. For today, my place is finding beauty in the quiet and speaking God’s glory in the quiet myself. I can trust that this place is good, that there are other’s like me who hear the beauty in the quiet too. Maybe you are one of them and we need each other to be okay in the quiet because in some of us, this is where God speaks the words that reach to hearts, from me to you and you to me.

So today, when life makes us feel small, we will listen for the whisper speaking through. We will live the small words and the tiny steps that the Spirit wants to give through us in our own little way. There is a reason He wants to say it in us. There is a grand purpose behind the whipser that we cannot see. But we can trust that it’s there.

His power works best in weakness. When I can’t see it, I can trust the promise that is so empowering. His power works mightily even in my quiet personality, even in my flaws, even in my quirks. When I can’t see it, by faith through grace, his power flows through even me. Even in a whisper.    

P.S. When I think of God working mightily through whispers, I think of my grandparents who both went home to Jesus this past year. I have paired my words with pictures of their home. I hope the whispers of glory lived there sing some grace to your heart as they do so beautifully to mine.     

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

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

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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.

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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.   

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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.

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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.   

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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.

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.

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.

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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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 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

 

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 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.

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

When God Paints Portraits Through People

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

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

I felt like that last week. I was in my little corner at the keyboard playing along with the guitars, our small group of friends singing worship with the band. I do it most every Wednesday night. And this particular night as I watched my fingers hit the keys, I thought on the little insecurities of this moment more than usual. I thought of the people who do this on a grander scale. In the church auditorium on Sundays, sometimes the distinct way a note is played can be used to stir my soul to my own need for God. In my own small way, I wanted to offer my playing that night to be used that way. I was trying to offer that, and it was coming out messy.

Playing with the band, I have two options. I can blend in and play the basic chords with no mistakes and very little notice, or I can venture with my fingertips up the keyboard and risk wrong notes. The first option is the safest. But the second option opens to the possibilities of bringing unique beauty to the hearers through my fingers. One option closes off an opportunity and the other opens to it.

There as I was playing that night, I was given this truth small and simple, a message delivered through my insecurity.

My life goes the same way.

My tendency is to try to stay safe from those insecurities. And, sometimes the little things seem even harder than the big things. I don’t know what that looks like for you. For me, as a girl who has often struggled with being very shy, it looks like being willing to play my little part in the conversation going on around me. That was where God spoke to my heart in that moment, telling me to be willing to offer myself as the person He made me to be.

It’s easy for me to sit and listen, to let my friends offer themselves to the conversation and hold myself back for fear of doing something I’ll regret. I can play the simple chords – nod in the right place, laugh when it gets funny, and say enough to get along. But what would happen if I let go a little and surrendered to let God come out of me, even if it be in something as small as adding my quirky perspective to the conversation or my simple thought that might give someone a laugh?

Maybe God can paint portraits not just with a sunset, but with my personality too – when I let Him live through it. Something happens when I open to those things. The people around me seem as if they were blessed in some small, mysterious way, as if maybe the spirit inside me communed with the spirit inside them and offered an unspoken joy to us both. Maybe there are secret passageways through small talk where a part of us runs through and blesses the other.

I know it happens. I see God shine through a friend’s personality when she says that thing that only she would say, and it stirs my soul to see my own need for the kind of freedom I just saw. She took the risk and said the quirky thing and the words didn’t have to be spiritual, to be used to bless my spirit.

These are the moments where freedom lives. This is where the mystery whispers hints into our lives and we find it true – Christ in you.

May we listen for the mystery in those moments we face today and freely allow God to live through the personality He gifted us with, even if it looks like a quirky comment to a friend.

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.

Because the job you do right now is sacred

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A couple weeks ago I was sitting in the doctor’s office. Holding my crying toddler, I was told she had double pneumonia and to take her straight to the hospital. And I am relatively new at parenting and when I hear words like that about my toddler I have no idea how to take it. And my mind did not hold to hope and I didn’t know how to respond and I went in and out of worry… worry that escalated when my seven month old woke up with a fever. I ended up caring for them both from home, one with pneumonia, one with bronchitis, nine days of fevers, two ER visits. Though I hear most parents go through similar things, and much more serious things in their parenting journey, it was a brand new experience for me to process. These were words written a couple days after our first ER visit when caring for them felt a bit glorious.

“Today I write from an overarching calm that has found a place, if but for these moments, to nestle deep into my soul. This week my girls are sick and I have worried too much and prayed not enough. This week I held my Amayah, weak and drowsy, while the IV gave her back the strength she needs to get well. This week I made the 4am WalMart run to get the medicine to lower Liesel’s temperature.

Today I was texting my husband a play-by-play of the events here at the house. From the comforting of the tears this morning, to Amayah crying till she fell asleep this afternoon, to Liesel spitting up, to warm baths and delirious words from my daughter… he got a play by play with pictures. And the girls fell asleep and I wonder why I felt the need to speak those things to him all day. And then I realized why and it felt so wonderful…

Partly, of course, I just wanted to let him know how they were doing, but there was something so energizing about what I was doing today.

Largely, I think I’m excited to let him know what’s going on, because what I’m doing feels so important.

Today my shirt is a spit-up catching, boogie-wiping, tear-soaking mess and it feels so sacred.”

And had my daughter not begun crying I think I was going on to say that maybe in the mess of comforting my two feverish ones through nine rounds of days and nights, I could feel the weight of something so meaningful. That right in the middle of those days, God delivered something that isn’t as easy for me to see in the every-day normal when what I do can feel so very small. It was a simple knowing that in order for these girls to get healthy someone had to care for them and keep track of their medicine and ensure their nourishment and I was the one to do that. It wasn’t that someone else couldn’t have done it for me, because they could have. It was just knowing that God had chosen to give me this task right here, right now. It was the sacred beauty of knowing the health of these little lives was laying in my hands. It was the art of rising to that call. There was a sacred beauty in my filthy shirt that day and the real beauty is that the same sacred call is given to me today. It’s not just the health of their bodies but the growth of their soul that is given to my charge. It may not sound as significant as shepherding a church as a pastor, or shepherding a community as a missionary, but I am indeed an under-shepherd to the true Shepherd. I am a shepherd to these two girls in my care. And though that might sound small, it is extraordinarily significant. These two souls in my care hold the greatest value to Jesus. For this day, these girls are the largest scope of my mission field and the task I am chosen to carry is infinitely glorious.

May we all feel the glory in it. We are all privileged with the mission of pointing souls to grace, wherever we may be. May we live out that calling with the greatest dignity in carrying Jesus’ victory, whether we carry it today to one thousand souls who hear the gospel preached from a pulpit or to one soul who sees the gospel preached in the way we match socks.

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.