Where Truth is More Than Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When life asks us who we are: An Offering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Love and grace to you sweet friend,
Maggie

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

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

When you wonder why you’re made that way

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Sometimes my prayers look like questions. When I feel like I could be more useful as the girl who could connect with people deeply and quickly, but no matter how I try it doesn’t seem that is the person He made me. When I want genuine conversations to be a normal part of life but instead they come slowly and take much more time. Sometimes the prayer is why did you make me this way?

I’m glad to read about Moses who only stood before Pharoah with his brother to speak for him, and I’m thankful for Paul who wrote strongly in letters, but trembled to speak in person. It’s beautiful to have a Bible that shows me God using all kinds of people with all different personalities to carry out the story of His kingdom.

And this past weekend, the scene of the cross brought me here, where believers played purposeful roles in this story that took on all different forms.

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Peter was passionate. He was rebuked for wounding a soldier. And after fighting for his Lord, he hid in the shadows and denied knowing him. We don’t know just where he is when his Lord is on the cross, only that he is remorseful of the person he’s been during these hours. And three days later, when told the tomb is empty, Peter is the slow runner who bounds straight into the empty tomb of Jesus. He is the one abandoning ship and diving into the water when he sees Jesus on the beach.

Mary Magdalene valued presence. She is one who stands there at his death. She valued presence in His last moments. She valued what she could offer his dead body. When she saw the empty tomb, she ran to the ones who would care, then she came back to the tomb. She was the first to see her Lord risen. Though by his direction, she had to go on without his embrace.

The thief was the one who stepped into heaven as the empty-handed criminal who had no good works to his name. He died next to Jesus on the cross and asked simply to be remembered. And for two thousand years, his simple story has been one that testifies to some of the sweetest mercies of Jesus and brought so many lost souls to the cross themselves.

Thomas was the doubter. Again we don’t know just where he was when Jesus was on the cross, though we know he was one of the twelve who were closest to Jesus. And after Jesus rose and witnesses testified, he said he would not believe unless he had the physical proof of Jesus standing before him and could touch the scars in his hands and side. Because of Thomas, we see the mercy and love Jesus showed to a doubter.

Nicodemus had been a Pharisee who had visited with Jesus in the dark of the night. And though he had been one in the group that had it all wrong with their rules and religion, he loved the Lord and he was there to tend to his body after he died. The man who had first given his life to rules denying grace, now came to the body of the one who gave his life so even he could know that grace.

Joseph of Arimathea had been a believer in secret. His love of Jesus was not something many knew about, but at the death of Jesus he came forward and asked for the body. And he provided his own tomb as a resting place for the body of his Lord. Though he had been so private about his faith, he played a major role in this story. His own tomb was where the resurrection happened.  

John, the disciple that Jesus loved, was the only apostle we see in the Bible being there at the feet of Jesus at his death. He was by his side at his last supper, one of the ones closest to him during Jesus’ prayer in the garden. With the rest, John had fallen asleep when Jesus told him to watch. With the rest, John fled when Jesus was arrested, but at the cross he was there. He was addressed by Jesus from the tree, entrusted with the care of Jesus’ mother. At the scene of the tomb, John was the fast runner who arrived at the tomb before Peter and stopped in his tracks at the site of the empty tomb.

Mary was the mother watching the torturous death of her own son, watching the very body that was formed and nourished from her own be destroyed. The heart of her own heart beat it’s last before her very own eyes and she lost the son that was promised her as a young girl. She was the confused mother, who didn’t know how to understand the promises of God right now when her son was supposed to be the Savior. In Jesus’ dying moments, some of His last words, he reached out to make sure she was cared for.

The death and resurrection shows us Jesus loving people from all walks of life. Both the lowest of the low, and the one who had been highly esteemed for all the wrong reasons. Both the ones who failed Jesus again and again, and the ones who were there by him the most. The one who doubted, the one who denied him, and the one who had followed him in secret, they all played a role in making the story what it is.

And no matter who we are, what kind of role we play in this life today, He gives every child the joy of being a part of His kingdom in their own special way. He uses the failures, the insecurities, the personalities, the love of each and every one of His children and He treasures them as they are. He receives love from each of us given in the way we know how to give it and He values and redeems each and every part.  

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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.

Life is not an impossible climb

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I think I was fourteen. She was pointed out as a such a strong Christian who did so much for Christ, who heard God’s voice, who followed His lead. While I wanted so much to be like her, somehow, I felt so small inside.

A year or so later, a girl I knew asked me if I had ever heard God’s voice. I didn’t really know how to answer that. I was afraid to say no because perhaps that would make me less of a Christian. So I answered yes. Yes, I had.

Not long after that, I sat with a friend and expressed what was, in my mind, my concern over some girls I knew, but deep down I knew the words came from a place in my heart that I didn’t want anyone to see.

I wanted to be what they all called a strong Christian but more than seeking the God who is Love, I was afraid, afraid I could not live up to the expectations. So often, more than Love, I had fear.

I didn’t want to give in to the idea that I didn’t have what it takes to be a spiritually strong person. The idea scared me and I fought against it with Bible reading, and ministry opportunities. I gave my greatest effort to fighting against this fear of mine.

And as I kept fighting it, instead of feeling better about my own spiritual condition, I only felt smaller and more afraid that people were going to see through me.

Friendships, marriage and motherhood brought me face to face with my inability to be strong. One thing they taught me was how much I could hurt people. And it felt like I had no choice but to give in. Maybe I never could be strong spiritually. Maybe life is designed to point us here.   

Because we are not made to live as people who fight to hold a spiritual state. We are people made to be free, made to freely delight in the graceful One who delights in us and calls us His own beautiful sons and daughters.

We are made for this… “Blessed are those who recognize they are spiritually helpless. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.” (Mt. 5:3, GWT)

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Maybe we can delight in Him most freely, maybe we can enjoy fellowship with each other most freely, from this place where we see that we are all spiritually poor people who get to receive the gift of being His and being used of Him in each small, unique way He chooses to use us.   

Maybe it’s not as much about how much of my Bible I read, but more about my soul desperately longing to hear the truth of it’s words because I am in need.

Maybe it’s not as much about ministries people see me involved in but about my heart desiring to work in step with the Spirit because this is what I was made for, whether it be in the quiet of my home or with my children at the library or in the home of the neighbor down the street.

Maybe it’s not about climbing a spiritual ladder, but about finding anew each day that I am more and more in need so there is more space in the soul to receive more and more grace.

And the one ladder I know of in the Bible that went from man to God, did not involve the man Jacob climbing up to God, rather it involved God pouring blessings of promise down on Jacob. It was not a ladder that was climbed by man, but one that man stayed at the foot of to receive from God. (Genesis 28)

Maybe the point of us here on earth is not to climb a ladder towards our God, but to receive the graceful place where we know we only fail at climbing the ladder and He says He’ll climb it for us. Where we don’t try to climb any longer, but sit at the bottom of it all and receive grace from the hand of God.

Life is not an impossible climb.

Life is a journey of receiving the grace that Jesus made the climb for us.

And the small feelings that I thought were foe point me to this sweet place, where grace is not something I have to strive to give enough of, but something that I need most to receive. For when a soul is filled with how very much she has been given, that grace overflows in her and multiplies beyond the one, and on to the ones she sits with.   

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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.

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 truth is but a candle

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Truth stands bold and small, a candle lit at the feet.

It bids the one its offered to follow its humble but trusty light that knows the path. Because Truth is the Way is the Life that gave first breath in a cattle stall. The Life that walked the path that knows struggle and victory, hardship and peace, bitter disappointment and unfailing hope.

His life is the gift that lights the candle at our feet, lays hope before our broken steps.

As sure as the candle stands, the questions come back to my head. I look down at my candle and I am distressed that I can’t see the road far ahead of me.

I look down at my candle and I feel fear to follow it’s light in a direction that I don’t know how to explain to the world around me.    

I follow it’s light down paths that feel sublime and paths that feel wounding and paths that I cannot understand.

When it hurts, I struggle to process the pain. I wonder how I should feel, and what to do when I don’t have an answer for what to do with all the feelings. It’s hard to embrace the gift of this next step. And when it’s wonderful, I struggle to receive the gift without feeling guilty for receiving something so good.

I try to filter my candle’s light, and I struggle to embrace it’s gift.

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It was just before Thanksgiving when the Wilson’s showed up at the farm to meet a need we had. When my first reaction was guilt to receive their gift, it showed on my face and I struggled with what to say. And Mr. Wilson, told me straight, he wasn’t doing this to make me sad.

His words hit something inside me that went further than that day. If each step the candle lights for me is a gift lived for me by the Jesus I worship this Christmas, perhaps each step is given to be embraced. Perhaps He desires for me to really embrace the gift of these steps and not be so concerned with trying to filter the way I feel about each one.

To receive the steps of life that bring joy with abandoned celebration and to receive the steps of life that bring pain with abandoned grief. For it’s the raw feelings of these moments that give us the gift inside them and point to the God who alone makes each of them a beautiful gift.

With the changes of my year that have scratched on old wounds, the death of my grandma this summer, my cousin this November, my grandpa this Christmas, I have had a need. And trying to push pain out of my heart feels like trying to push God out of my heart. This year, meeting God means meeting the pain of these steps and letting them sit raw in my heart for all the gift God wants to give me.

And some of the truest beauty on earth may just live in the moments where life is received like a child who takes it raw and open and honest, where Job fell on his face and David tore his clothes and Ruth lifted up her voice to weep and Jesus was in so much “anguish” before his crucifixion that his sweat was like great drops of blood. (Job 1:20, 2 Samuel 13:31, Ruth 1:9, Luke 22:44)

We are made by a God who grieves and is angry and maybe we forget what image we were created in. (Gen. 6:6, Deut. 32:21, Gen. 1:27)

In a culture that may frown on outbursts of emotion, I quickly forget the beauty in the raw feeling of the moments I’m gifted.

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This raw embracing of the step my candle offers, without seeing the whole path that it’s leading me down, makes me feel cracked and broken sometimes, like I am less than enough. And that is the beauty of it.

The Gospel comes to us wrapped in stables and mangers, cow dung and animal feed.

And brokenness is the stable through which He tells the story in you and me.

Good News is spoken through us in humble wrappings, in insecurities and pain, and when I don’t keep my composure, when I know I don’t have it all together, something beautiful happens. My own strength that never can measure up is released and His own strength carries me.

It’s how He wraps Gospel in us. It’s always wrapped best in weakness. No, my candle does not call me to despair or to anything less than hope, but as I embrace the steps it lights in front of me, I am revealed as weak and struggling and He is revealed as strong.

What a beautiful gift to embrace each step, feelings felt and lifted up to the Father who carefully takes these most broken pieces of ours to wrap His most beautiful gift.   

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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.

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.    

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.