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.

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 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 this House became a Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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.