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.

Quiet Mama Meets New Town: When you need to know that you are free to love

When you move across cities, it’s your heart’s cry to find people you can call family who live where you are.

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When you leave the town you’ve always lived in, the home of your parents and grandparents, your brothers, home to your closest friends, home to the church family you love, fear tries to tell you that you’re trading a life of relationships for a life that is scratched of them – a life that is lonely.

Fear is the voice of a liar.

And when you so quickly find a group of people who welcome you with open arms and treat you and your children like you are family and give themselves to meet your needs, you are awed and grateful at how God provides. And even then, fear pokes up it’s ugly head.

You may be in the middle of a conversation, when it whispers that the real you is someone they’ll never trust, when it tells you to be someone else. It may ask you if these people could ever truly say that they believe in the work that God is making in you.

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Fear speaks words of doubt and worry and nothing from the hand of God.

Fear speaks words that could drive you away from the very people God is pointing you too. In questioning the love people have for you, fear tries to kill the love you have for them.

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The joy is in the knowing that fear has no power in a heart that belongs to Jesus.

If I was found in the goodness of shy Maggie, then when fear speaks I would have no strength of my own to stand.

But shy Maggie is dead and buried and fear’s words can stay in the grave with her because fear is powerless in a life that is found in the person of Jesus. He calls me free.

On the day He made me new, His Love found me where I was held captive by fear and made me free. I am free to love.

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died.” 2 Corinthians 5:14

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1

“So if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

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

The Quiet Invitation of New Beginnings

We pulled in to this new city we’ll be moving to, went to order dinner and asked the cashier what she liked about Paris, TX. She laughed, a hysterical laugh, and answered with, “nothing… work, eat, sleep. That’s all there is to do here.”

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Then we met Sergio. He hopes to leave his parent’s town soon and go to where we come from – Dallas. He has wonderful hopes for a future there.

I think somehow I really wished to hear from one person that night who was thriving in this little town. In a last effort, I started talking to Holley, the cashier at the dollar store. Holley told me she tried big city for a few months and decided she just couldn’t stay away from the small town that feels like home. Thank you, Holley.

I walked out the door to this, my Maker’s artwork and a reminder that the same God who forms the skies forms our life. Thank you, Jesus.

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Of course, location is not the key to happiness, but our spirits sure know how to let us know when the place we live isn’t suiting our soul, or the purposes we were made for right now. Earth won’t give us the place that is suiting to our soul. Yet, God gives it to us to be where our purpose takes us. That is why we are moving.

And maybe the small feelings of changing places, or being the new person around, maybe these big changes invite us to see the value of little moments.

It’s the small things of life that follow along behind you, no matter how the scenery changes. They don’t need to be packed in boxes, and driven across cities to remain a part of your life. And while parts of them might stay where you came from, there are pieces that always come with you. And you see the life you’ve been living stripped from its outward parts.

So maybe it’s these small parts of life that matter the most.

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And in my life I’ve felt the need to pray over big changes, but in the big changes my Maker bids me see that these little things of life might just be so important that I want to pray over them much more than what appears to be so big.

These little moments are where life is lived and where our purpose takes on shape.

Maybe sometimes I think of living for Jesus as productivity and “work, eat, sleep” life. But maybe it looks more like being present and hearing the small questions of our spirit, so we can take them to the Holy Spirit who knows what we were made for in this moment.

Maybe I need to know that times of silliness and laughing with people I love can be an offering of presence and what I was made for.

And even when I feel like I’m not sure how to do that, the Spirit is the One there ready to teach me in each small moment when I listen for His leading.

Somehow I forget that I can go to Him, not just for the big things, but the tiny things too. The tiny feelings of our moments always invite us to His presence where we can fall freely into His direction. And it feels like being a dependent sheep who is free to not have the path mapped out. He doesn’t know where he’s going or exactly why and doesn’t need to because he’s following his Shepherd just one step at a time.

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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.

When the Future asks ‘What If?’

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Change has a way of bringing questions to our mind. What if this is the wrong decision? What if I regret this? What if it never gets this good again? What if? Change has a way of closing doors sometimes before we see the next door open. And we can choose to never close the doors on the things we already know, and in doing that we would instead close the doors that stood open before us. And then again we could ask ourselves what if? What if that was the door we were supposed to walk through?

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But really, as a child of God, I don’t have to live in the what if. Because I’m dancing this life in the shelter of the Person of Christ.

Dancing has been on my mind since I started a daily dance workout routine last week. It’s a good way to get a workout at home even when my girls are around, and I’ve absolutely enjoyed it. I’ve done clumsy dancing boldly this week because it gives me a good workout, and if I’m clumsy, my family just gets a laugh out of it. In fact, the more clumsy I am, the more enjoyment they do get. I admire people who can willingly offer their clumsy selves even with people they barely know, and maybe I have a long way to go. But dancing like that on a regular basis, even if it just be with my family, has had a really strange way of helping me be more bold in other ways too.

I’ve been enjoying thinking of life like dancing. I want so much to get the dance down, to not make mistakes, to dance flawlessly, to live without falling down. I want to know the right steps to take, the right doors to go through, the right way to move. But when my focus on that is bigger than my focus on living freely in the Person of Christ, I become the self-conscious dancer.

The bold dancer and the self-conscious dancer can mess up just as much. The only difference is that the bold dancer knows that her mistakes can still bring others delight and she’s okay with that. She doesn’t try to mess up on purpose, but she is okay with the fact that she will mess up, knowing her mistakes can be the best gift of the dance to the people looking on.

The self-conscious dancer desperately wants to offer perfection. The only problem is that she can’t. I know the self-conscious dancer well. I wear her shoes on many days. She is at odds between what she is trying to offer and what she is actually offering. She wants so much to offer the dance right that she forgets to offer it freely – as a gift, mistakes and all.

When we deeply know that we are dancing in the shelter of Christ’s Person, that is where we dance life freely – no matter where on earth we are.

A couple of years ago I was writing out my thoughts as I tried to look at daily mommy life as a dance. And today, as I look at life’s transitions, the same idea still applies.

“Will I ever know what the answer is…? Will I ever get this dance down? But maybe getting the dance down isn’t the point…

Maybe the point is finding grace in every step, learning to give my every step to Him. Maybe it’s realizing that He’s already danced the dance of life perfectly and that He did it for me. If I seek Him, He will be faithful to guide me and sometimes I won’t seek Him and I will lose my step. But sometimes its in those moments when I lose my step that I see the Gospel more clearly. I can try my best to dance, to dance in Him, but even when I mess up, I can still enjoy the dance and come bold to the One who danced it perfectly, because that’s the Gospel. I never have to live guilty. Not because He’s accepted my imperfect dance, but because He’s accepted the Son’s perfect dance as mine. I don’t have to bear all the weight of the life that is before me. He’s in my yoke with me and as I rely on Him, He will push the yoke for me. And with Him here, I can enjoy this dance and even when my sight comes off of Him and I lose my step, I can dance on boldly before Him pouring out my every need, trusting that He’ll work out my failures for good.”

As I accept change in my life, I may not always make the perfect choice, and that’s okay. I won’t try to make a choice that turns out bad, but when I do I can dance on boldly knowing He can use each choice I’ve made. God has accepted Christ’s perfect dance as mine and I am free to dance boldly as a person found in Him, even when the dance takes on a new scene.

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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.

Story Share: Promise for strength when we’re afraid to say no

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Do you feel the pressure sometimes of needing things to slow down? And if you’re anything like me, maybe sometimes you don’t feel like you have much control over making it slow down, when really you do.

That idea that we can’t slow down our own lives is curious. Maybe it boils down to fear – fear rooted in the pressures we put on ourselves, or the pressures we feel from other people – pressures that might not even be present as much as we think they are.

When I do try to slow my life down and have time for the small things that matter most, I battle the fear that I will be judged for pushing away from busy.

It’s easy to forget why I want to say no to busy. It’s easy to wrap my own idea of who I am in all the things.

I’ve been excited to share this post of Heidi’s that I read a few days ago. Her words have stuck in my brain.

Heidi’s post opens with the tears of her son who just wants to spend some time with his mama. Heidi shares her own battle of working through it too, the things she felt pressured by…

“For many years, I was under the mistaken impression that to be busy… was to be spiritual and therefore highly esteemed. I mean, if you had a full schedule doing God’s work, this surely must increase your level of spirituality.”

The few minutes have been so worth the read for me. Heidi has filled me up with the reminder of why I need to say no sometimes. Those opening words about her son made me teary to think of my girls and I’ve been soaking in those last several paragraphs.

“What if I saw my true self, that I am uniquely created by a living, loving God? What if I saw my utter dependence upon Him, my helplessness without Him? What if, like Job, I let go of my own agenda, lay my hand over my mouth and listened to what He has to say to me?”

For all the fears that try to lead us, may we give them to our Jesus who bore them when He said, “It is finished.” May we guard our days from the pressures we feel, and embrace our freedom to be still and know You are God. Give us faith in Your promise of who and Whose we are. Give us grace to put the fear of judgment in it’s place with faith in Your promise about the mind You have given us to use.

“The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Cor. 2:15-16

In the context of this passage, “the spiritual person” refers to anyone who is born again, who has the Holy Spirit living in them. We have this promise to hold: the mind of Christ is ours and we are able to use it. We may forget to use it at times, but as spiritual people, God has given it to us to think and act from the mind of Christ. He is our Head and no one can judge the mind of God.

We have a promise that can put every fear of another’s judgment to death.

We do not have to live in that fear because our God is gracious and His promises are good.

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.

Fear’s Rising Tide

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Saturday night in Garland, TX, we huddled in closets and sent up prayers to the background music of thunder and pounding rain. Some felt laughter, some felt horror. Because when the reality strikes close and the wind tears into your city, with no mercy for the value of life, you feel the questions. It’s where horror lives. How do you claim peace when wind monsters can jump from the sky and claim life? You can feel the tide of hearts rising, the door opening for the entrance of fear, the suppression of love. Because whether you’ve been directly affected or not, when that kind of disaster comes to your city, its not natural to feel peace. The questions rise, and the rolling tide they send in seems impossible to stand against. But I am one who belongs and a voice inside whispers truth. I am not my own.

This feels so small, this tide that’s rising. I have not seen death’s face close by. But even in this, there’s a Spirit inside whispering truth. Victory’s been won over fear already. The tide rolling in has no power. The peace state of my soul has been branded safe for eternity’s time. Peace is not a question, not a distant hope. Peace is mine to claim, because death and destruction is a lie to one who belongs to Christ. He will not give more than is bearable to one who has the Spirit living inside. The threat of death is not true for me because I am His child and if I just hold on a little longer I’ll see the truth of peace unfold. It unfolds today in the nooks of my heart. Soon, very soon, it will unfold for all time.

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.