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.

When Relationships Feel Broken: 3 Truths that Bring Peace

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Relationships are the only place we can give and receive the thing we were created for. Love. We thrive on relationships because they are what allow us to be human people who do what we were created to do. But those same relationships can also bring us the hardest kind of struggles, because not only are the people we choose to love messy, but because we are messy. We all struggle through our relationships at times. We all feel the smallness that our own mess can cause in another’s life. It was a while back, when processing the shy feelings of that, that I wrote this, and I want to share it now. This was me finding grace in the midst of the hurt I can cause. Whatever kind of friendship or relationship it may be, maybe you have known this same kind of smallness recently. It is a smallness that offers us so many of these gifts in pointing to the relationship we most deeply long for.    

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I am broken, wanting, looking for the grace God offers in the people on this earth who I want to be loved by.

I am messy. I cause hurt.

But I long for love still. For same-day grace, no matter how little I deserve it. I’ve never seen same day grace when I caused hard hurt. Not in anyone on this earth.

And Jesus died for me while I was still sinning. (Rm 5) He considered me worth it. And Jesus is able to carry me through the times when people I love are still trying to work through the hurt I cause. The Savior is able to draw me closer to Him and able to draw me closer to the people I love if that is part of the perfect plan.

I see all my hurt can cause… their hurt, their inability to act from love as they normally would. And I ask why they can’t accept me the way God does. But there’s so many things I have forgotten. Perhaps God allows it all to help me remember…

1. Relationships are hard because the picture we’re made to show is one that flesh cannot perfect. That is why we thirst for more, for the one relationship we’re made to point to.

We live in flesh and always make an incomplete picture of the heavenly face to face relationship with God. The human experience will always leave us thirsty, if we come to it expecting perfect love. The lacking we find there gives us the thirst that draws to the One our soul needs. No matter how beautiful the love in our earthly relationships are, they will never satisfy the deepest thirst of our souls. It’s the truth that can bring the words true from our hearts:

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Ps 63:1

2. Though flesh cannot perfect relationship, found in Him, our relationships can be complete.

Sometimes I compare the love I experience from people, to the love I receive in Christ and these relationships feel so very broken.

And that is just the point. Of course these relationships are broken. Of course all of our relationships are broken. Compared to Christ – broken. But found in Christ… the story is different. We’re covered with His blood. As God’s children, we don’t stand apart from Christ to compare to Him, we stand as people who are found in the shelter of His Person. “Found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” (Phil. 3:9) Found in Christ, me, my brothers and sisters in Christ, our relationships… they stand with Him as the righteousness of God in Jesus. (2 Cor. 5:21) He sees us together in Him and it’s all complete.   

3. God, Himself, did not give me His favor until his wrath had been expressed.

I see my friends, my family in Christ express their “wrath” toward my wrong to them (sometimes that is simply just the silent hurt that they have to process before our relationship moves forward) and I ask why they can’t accept me the way God does. But why in asking that do I think that God dismissed my sin? I forget that God had the strongest wrath toward my sin. Wrath that Jesus stood in front of me to receive. He received that most brutal blow, the loss of God’s favor, and gave me the privilege to receive that as truth. “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.” Ps. 30:5

Perhaps this is the most beautiful gift God has for me here. To receive new the gift Jesus gave me. To know in a new way, that God did not dismiss my sin at all, but in His holy Personhood had to express His full fury on all that was flawed in me. And Jesus chose to stand in front of me through all of that mighty blow.

Yes, first I am broken. I am a small, shy, broken person who causes hurt in the people I love most. And I am the one who has not only forgotten to view the people I love with the identity they have been given in Christ, I am the one who compares them to a false version of who God is. But that broken me has died on the cross with all of God’s wrath in the person of Jesus and I’ve been given the beautiful privilege to move forward boldly in my relationships in the person of Christ. I am found. My relationships are found with Christ and the ability to grow beyond the hurts.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

For the One Who Feels Weak Coming into Easter

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It was a Sunday morning this week, Palm Sunday. In another shy feeling moment, I said something that I meant to come across one way and I think it came across different. It was subtle enough that I didn’t feel it was important to correct, but more than that I wasn’t quite sure how I would correct it if I tried. I don’t even know now if I could even tell you what it was I said or was trying to say. I don’t even know if in the moment I could tell you how it came across wrong, and the person I was talking to probably didn’t even think anything of it. But in my mind that still struggles with this stuff, it bothered me because I felt misrepresented, or maybe misunderstood is the better word. Maybe I’m alone, but if I had to guess I’d say I wasn’t. Maybe these feelings sound familiar to someone.

For that moment, the truth was and is simply that God knew I would feel that way that morning, and He intended it for a specific purpose that within the next hour was becoming a little clear. Soon I was sitting in the church pew thinking more on that conversation than I might have otherwise because of the feelings that came with it. And thinking on the openness of the people I spoke with brought up all sorts of reminders of the bitter feelings I had chosen to listen to throughout my week.

Then within minutes, I was hearing the words of Mark 15 spoken from the pulpit. Jesus was hung on the cross between thieves.

“And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; He cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.” (Mark 15:29-32)

And I connected with this story in ways I had never before. Misunderstood. Bitter. Those were the words on my mind as I began to hear this story. Those would be the feelings in my head were I on that cross. I knew that before, yes, but the shy feelings of my morning pressed me deeper into that.

These were the words of the passerbys, the priests, the scribes, the thieves at his side. And in Sunday school we had talked of His friends. Were their thoughts very similar? These were the ones who ran when He was arrested, the ones who felt hopeless after His death and doubted that He could ever rise again. The ones who asked him upon His rising if he had not heard of the death of Jesus who was a prophet, (Luke 24) as if a prophet was all He turned out to be and as if the person of Jesus was no more. Did they not believe Him though He had told them He would rise? Though they loved Him, did they give up on who He said He was when they saw Him hanging there, looking helpless? Did they think He was powerless to step off that cross?

And if I were the one on the cross I think my heart would burn with anger and bitter hatred towards these people. These are the very people I’m doing this for, and they won’t believe in who I am. And Him, though He was still in flesh, “tempted in every way, just as we are” (Heb. 4:15) He still surrendered every temptation to savor a bitter thought… surrendered it to the very One who’s forsaking He felt the most in that moment. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) To that same God: “Father, forgive them.” (Luke 23:34)

His words that surrendered his misunderstood moments to the Father, that focused on the Father instead of His image with people, this was His love in action. This was the love that kept Him on that cross.               

And this same love is the love He gives to me with His rising. This is the love that rescues me from all my shy moments and sees the perfect love that Jesus won for me and you. This is the glory of holy week and this is the glory of Easter.

May we thank Him this holy week for the privilege to journey through our shy moments, our weaknesses, because they are beautiful gifts that He allows to press us deeper with each step into the gift of Easter.

“There was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice… And someone ran… saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!””    

This was His Love poured out in death. And today that Love is alive inside of all who believe it.

 

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