For The Days You Feel Left Behind…

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Yesterday I was doing puzzles with my youngest two boys. As in true toddler fashion, we got to the very end and realized one puzzle piece was missing. Emotions started to rise, cries started emerge and then there were tears. I tried to console my littlest as I grazed about the table. I was completely confused.

If we were doing an old, worn-down puzzle, I would have left it at that. But we weren’t. This was a brand, spanking new one, never out of the box. The kids hadn’t gotten their mess-making hands on it yet, so logically this was going to be the one puzzle in our house that could have a satisfying resolution. But here we were again. Staring at another unfinished task. Focusing on the hole. Wishing Chase’s face would magically appear in its Paw Patrol place.

It felt a whole lot like my life. Like all of the pieces were floating around me, never able to find their final landing spot. Everything I’d been trying to do lately was adding up to incomplete. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how many cups of coffee I drank, I could never keep up. Not with the house. Not with my writing. Not with my relationships and work. I felt like I was missing it. Missing the mark. Missing the opportunities. Missing the people. And I found myself wanting to sit on the floor and cry with my toddler.

There’s really so much going on in our culture. At least, that’s what they try to make us believe. There’s always something more we can do. There’s always something else to pursue. Things rarely feel truly complete. Most days I feel desperately behind, like I’m stumbling forward trying to find the right path to take. Trying to find the best next step. And sometimes when I finally decide, it seems like it’s too little too late. Instead of experiencing new ventures or finalizing plans, I’m met with closed doors and ‘try agains.’

And I’m starting to feel exhausted.

Because who has time to keep up with all the things? Who has time to do everything wonderfully well and find all the missing puzzle pieces? I don’t. They don’t. And if we are honest with ourselves, I’m pretty sure all of us feel like we are behind in some areas that require serious crushing. Slay all day, right?

But what it we are looking at the puzzle wrong? What if the pieces aren’t together for a purpose? What if the process is more important than the product. I’m not sure when I started believing incomplete projects meant I was incomplete too, but I did. I’ve assigned my own worth according to how much I can get done, how much I can please people, how much I can do for my family and even God. And it’s incredibly inaccurate.

My Creator knows me. He sees my days and understands my struggles. He doesn’t want me to feel like I have to prove myself to Him or anyone else just because I check off a box on a checklist. Sure, it feels fantastic to finish things and finish them well, but it becomes dangerous when we start to define ourselves by our successes instead of our Savior. We are worthy of His lavish love regardless of our performance. We remain His precious children even when we feel like failures. We are held together even when we feel like we are falling apart.

And maybe… just maybe, our good God sees our lack as an opportunity to fill us with more of Him. Maybe our missteps make room for Him to step in. Maybe when we feel left behind or the unfinished pile looms overhead, that’s when we can turn to Him and ask Him what He sees. Because His wisdom knows no end, and His judgment is true. If He allows for things to be imperfect, it’s because He understands the beauty of redemption. He understands how growth can lead to greater gain, more than instant gratification could ever generate. He wants to give us His best. And He knows exactly how He is going to get us there.

So, next time we see life’s holes, let’s choose to walk in the footprints of our gracious God. We aren’t behind, lovely friends. As long as we are standing with our Jesus, we will always be right where we need to be.

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When New Years Freaks You Out…

 

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Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

 

It’s here. The time of well-intentioned resolutions and goals.

It’s the season of change and pursuing dreams.

And while I’m all for living with purpose and determination, this time of the year also stresses me the heck out!  Should we make lists and step boldly forward? Totally. Should we dream big and hope for abundant futures? For sure. But things start to get murky when we look around, get freaked out and proceed to haul loads we were never meant to carry. Let me explain.

I was on Instagram on January 1st, and I was stalking hard. I fixed my sight on my Instafriends, and I was amazed at their gumption. Their goals were dead set, with clear direction and drive. Meanwhile, I stared at my computer screen and could barely muster up enough energy to make breakfast (aka: pouring cereal in a bowl). I immediately started to heap on the guilt, so I made a brilliant decision. I was going to copy their lists.

So, let’s see: I’ll add 20 min of Bible reading each morning with a dash of Weight Watchers and then some 30 minute daily exercises because why not. And while I’m at, let’s throw writing goals and speaking engagements and building an author platform into the mix. Wait. I forgot about purging my home and reorganizing all of my dreaded ‘dear-God-don’t-open-that-door’ closets! Oh, what about the kids and husband? I forgot to put them at the top of the list… well right under God because He comes first… wait, hold on… I totally spaced on my friends! I need to invest in these sweet relationships more too. That will be my third priority, I mean fourth… Agh! I don’t remember the order. Did I get enough sleep? Shoot. I need more sleep. Add it to the list.

After almost inducing a panic attack, I made another decision. A better one. I decided to ask God what He thought. What did He think of all these resolutions and resolved minds? Was He the author behind these grandiose lists and longings? He answered me with a single sentence. “In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.” (Romans 12:6 NLT). As I read these words, I felt my spirit sigh with relief. Different gifts for different people. Unique callings for certain things. All done with one purpose: to do it lovingly well. How kind of our King? How thoughtful of Him, to let us know He does not expect us to do it all. We don’t have to imitate one another’s aspirations. In fact, it has never been His plan to do so.

Our Creator is generous in His giving. He created the universe in all its spectacular glory, while forming His Daughters and Sons with distinct and directed precision. He placed talents and desires in our hearts that are meant to showcase His love, and no two hearts are the same. Our lives reflect His beauty in varying ways, which means our goals are going to look different as well. Really now. We can stop trying to copy and paste. Instead, how about we focus on following His lead and listening for His Voice whenever we encounter life’s opportunities and questions.

What does He wants for our days? What greatness does He have in store when we allow Him to be our guide? Because He’s got this. He has the giftings covered.

In His grace, all of our precious callings have been combined and connected in order to compliment one another… not stir up comparison.

Together, as the Body of Christ, we can show the world the diverse aspects of God’s character. And when we hone in on what He has called us to do, we can do it abundantly well.

So, this year I’m choosing the better way. I’m choosing to listen instead of list. I’m choosing to ask my Father what is needed, and let go of all the extra expectations I am tempted to lug along. He wants us to set our eyes on His good leading. He wants us to experience His gracious best.

May we feel lighter, Dear Reader.

May we fill our lives with Him.

Embracing Silent Night

milky-way-984050_960_720I checked my email again this morning, and there was nothing.

No word. No perceived movement. No answers. I wanted a response before Christmas, but instead I’ve found myself dwelling in this silent space for months… An in-between standing where one foot is in the desert, while the other rests in the Promised Land. I’m holding on to hope, waiting for the invitation to come and join the world of published authors. And it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Sometimes I wonder if Jesus picked the wrong girl to be a writer. Did He accidentally call my name when He meant to call my neighbor’s? Because my struggle with rejection has always been real, a fact that doesn’t jive well when hearing no’s or nothings. I’ve always wanted to be received and welcomed and chosen. The people-pleaser in me often assigns my worth according to accolades of others. But this publishing process is a whole new world, one with navigations and rules I never knew existed. It’s a slow-moving machine that often leaves me sitting in silence, wondering if I have what it takes. Wondering if it will ever happen. And as the voices begin to creep in, I try to drown them out before my heart begins to sink…

Maybe you should just turn back.

Maybe you are dreaming too big.

Maybe you are not that good.

Maybe it is not meant for you.

Maybe your God won’t come through… 

 It’s such an easy slope to slide down, especially when I’m prone to making myself feel low. As women, I think we tend to be experts at tearing ourselves apart, even if others can see our beauty and brightness in full. We look at our perceived flaws and forget our glory. We choose to focus on what’s wrong instead of what’s right. We look for affirmation and confirmation from different people, places and things, hoping they will tell us what our hearts need to hear… Are we loved just as we are, even with our broken and tattered parts? We pray so. We pray we don’t give in. Because when the feedback is negative or we hear nothing at all, we begin to believe the lies whispered to our souls in the silence.

But our mighty God is known for birthing miracles in the dead of the night.

In Bethlehem. In Judea. In our own homes…. A few evenings ago, I was rushing around, trying to get my oldest son in bed. I noticed he had ripped down his window curtains again, and in a flurry of frustration, I snapped at him and asked why on earth he kept doing it. He shot me a sideways grin and said, “Can you see the stars? I see new ones today.” His answer stopped me dead in my tracks. I couldn’t remember the last time I simply paused and looked at the stars. So there, in the stillness of my boy’s room, I stopped what I was doing, walked to the window and decided to stargaze. It was breathtaking. Twinkling lights shimmered above the neighboring houses, reminding me that silent nights can highlight unnoticed beauty in our lives. Even when things seem dark and voids of unanswered prayers exist, God’s promises will continue to shine through. These quiet moments calm our hearts and help us listen as our kind Creator speaks. He longs to show us what is true. He longs to show us who He is. He longs to tell us who we are.

Even though I wish my email box had plentiful replies from publishers and agents, I am grateful for the unknown void. Because this is where He has shown me. This is where He tells me I am worthy of His goodness, regardless of anyone else’s approval or acceptance. This is where He calls me His pride and joy. This is where His mercies are never-failing and His faithfulness reigns. Here, He holds my identity in the palms of His love-scarred hands, and nothing else can take that away from me. Book contracts do not define me. Social media doesn’t have a say. I am His Daughter and delight. I am His friend.

Dear Reader, this stillness is not only needed, it is sacred.

Without the pause we wouldn’t have the chance to reflect and receive. We wouldn’t have the opportunity to trust Him for His best. As we enjoy His presence, He welcomes us into His peace, and He blesses our hearts with real rest. So why should we rush it? Why worry or fret? Let’s linger in this holy place a little longer.

Let’s embrace our silent nights.

And choose to be with Him.

People Over Parties

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We have all survived another political season. Congratulations, friends.

My son wants me to grab certain signs for different candidates as a keepsake of the midterm elections… it’s just his thing, but I think I’d rather bury them. Because even though the ballot boxes are closed, I still feel the heat. Passions are boiling. People are praising and people are praying, which is usually a good thing if their eyes are focused on the One above. But so many times I look around and think, “This has gone too far… we’ve taken it too far.” What was meant to encourage healthy discussion and spur on change has now turned into violent division. Our society has created this monstrous rift that dives deeper than any political party and widens its gap by the minute. And I wonder, Dear Reader, do you feel it too? Do you feel the lure and sense its pull?

This is such a fierce time in history. War, famine and disaster have always been with us, but our ability to tear each other down has reached new heights. Instead of valuing kindness, we’ve valued our views. Instead of listening, we’ve lashed out. Instead of acknowledging, we’ve accused. We’ve attached people’s identities to causes and campaigns, instead of their Creator. And we’ve done it all in the name of the Left or the Right. It’s sad and disheartening, and I’ve felt myself sink as I’ve been sucked in. But this reality is also the reason I needed to write this post.

I will admit it. I’m a people-pleaser to the core. It’s always been a struggle for me to step out and share my voice when it could make someone angry or upset. *Hence why I tend to avoid the political arena like the plague* But God has been tenderly releasing me from my fear of rejection, and so I’m going to be brave…

I read an article today that made me raise my hands in solidarity. The author, Austin Roscoe, wrote, “We’re not a party. We’re His Kingdom.” Okay, stop. Reread that. We are not a party or a platform. We are the Kingdom of God. A force of redemption and beauty in the midst of a broken world. That is who we are. That is who we are called to be. As God’s Sons and Daughters we were made to walk side-by-side, regardless of our political stances and thoughts. No matter where we stand, we were meant to stand on the Rock. We are told to cling to the gospel in its purest form and hold tightly to one another when we feel like we are being torn apart. Because believe me, dear one, it’s not in your head. There is another force with that hurtful purpose in mind, and we need to pay attention.

As we hold our diplomatic ground, we fix our stares on members of the opposition and declare they are the problem. We take the bait and assign someone’s weight and worth according to their political opinions. But it’s all a charade… a brilliantly masterminded show orchestrated in hopes of blinded us from the true culprit. We have a hidden foe, and we are fueling the flames of his arrows. Arrows meant to penetrate families and annihilate friendships. We have decided to wage war against each other, meanwhile our real Enemy snickers in the shadows.

The Bible makes it perfectly clear. Satan has come to steal, kill and destroy, and unfortunately, he’s pretty good at his job. But make no mistake about it, Satan will always strike at the hearts of God’s children first. And it makes complete sense. Take down the foundation and the whole house falls. Take out the light and you can no longer see. So why are we surprised when churches fail and leaders fall? Why are we taken aback when we see disunity and disdain in the Body of Christ? Why are we surprised when cruel words are exchanged and characterizations are drawn just because others hold opposing views? Why are we surprised when we witness horrible acts hate in the name of personal beliefs? The Kingdom is under attack! And everyone living in the land is feeling it.

Don’t be fooled… We are not each other’s enemies. Instead, we need to be each other’s allies.

We need to be united in the truth of the gospel and the personhood of God. And if we really want to talk political shop, then we need to look at the facts and study the life of Jesus. When He walked the earth, He didn’t come for policies or partisan parties. Some wanted Him to pursue power, but instead He chose people. Some wanted Him to pick religion, but instead He chose relationships. Some wanted Him to focus on laws, but instead He fulfilled them. He didn’t play into the game of governmental tug-of-war because Jesus knew the end of the story. He knew no government would surpass God’s plan. He knew He would conquer and continually overcome. And, thankfully yes, He knew His Church would withstand every fire-filled arrow. It would remain victorious and rise strong and true. Not because the perfect candidates would win the right race but because God’s real triumph had already been won. The cross sealed the sacred deal. It struck down Death and defeated sin. And now our Jesus is alive and He rules above all. A seat in the oval office is too small for the greatness of this King, so He sits with supreme power in the throne room of God. Hope stands. Love wins. God’s grace is enough. And His glory reigns.

Oh Church, we aren’t a party… We are a Kingdom. One where we all belong.

If we are going to spend the rest of our lives together, let’s start getting along now. Can we have disagreements? Sure! Can we fight for what we believe in? Of course! Can we tear one another down in the process? Absolutely not. God’s heart beats for you and for me and for every other person on this planet. Let’s show the world His love, by loving our Brothers and Sisters first. Let’s speak life to one another and affirm everyone’s importance. Let’s see humanity through the eyes of the Father… eyes that see value and worth and purpose.

Because laying down our swords is worth it.

Restored relationships are worth it.

People are worth it. And they will be worth it every time.

Five Things You’ll Never Hear Me Say

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The more I do this adulthood thing, the more I realize few things in life are ever really certain.  Jobs switch, moves happen, people come and go.  We are in a constant state of motion, moving forward, stepping backward or swaying somewhere in-between.  Few things remain the same.  But if we are lucky, we can stop and think about our hopeful handful of certainties.  These are the aspects in our lives that stick with us through thick and thin, in seasons of triumph and trials.  Their truths are engraved so deeply in our hearts, we can confidently say that if they changed, it would change who we are.

So, I decided to do it.  I sat down and wrote my top five you will never hear me say.  And even though it’s been said that we should never say never, these realities are my exceptions.  And it makes me wonder, Dear Reader… what would be on your list?  What would be your handful?  If you are feeling daring, I would love to know 🙂

1.)  I hate chocolate.  I mean, let’s start this off light, but completely serious.  I will never betray chocolate.  I believe God made this manna from heaven because He knew we would need phyiscal proof that He is good.  For real.  When I need a pick me up… chocolate.  When I need to reward myself… chocolate.  When I need something to bribe my kids with… chocolate.  When my husband wants to show me he loves me… chocolate.  It really is the answer to almost any problem, and it is the taste I just couldn’t live without.  Chocolate and I are here to stay.

2.)  I can go it alone.  There are times I like to pretend I can do things without the support and encouragement of others, including God, but who am I kidding?!  I need my people.  I can’t do life without others by my side, something our Creator knew full well… He knew we needed relationships with other humans.  He knew we needed authenticity with those we trust and fellowship with people we enjoy. God, Himself, is extremely relational.  He could have made the universe and left it at that, but His heart craved closeness with His children.  Our Father moved heaven and earth just to be with us.  Jesus left His throne room in order to walk by our side.  His love is no joke.  It is infinite and true and full of grace.  And as He walked with God’s Sons and Daughters, He called them by name.  He called them His dearest friends.  If God chose to never go it alone, I figure it’s okay for me to never do it either.

3.)  Family isn’t important.  Kind of piggy-backing off of the previous point, I could never NOT put my family first.  Sure I have passions and dreams and work that I want to pursue.  But in the end, if I pursue those things harder than the people God has given to me, a part of my soul will feel it.  My husband and boys are my world.  My parents, grandparents, siblings and their families help make me who I am.  No family is perfect and relationship strains happen, but nonetheless, every relationship within my family is important.  They help me grow and give and love, and I am so blessed to experience those things in return.  Even if we experience pain and heartache within our earthly families, God extends a royal invitation to His children… an invitation to sit at the table and dine with the King of Kings in His Kingdom.  We are part of a holy family that will never fade, a kinship that is eternal and powerful.  We can never remove ourselves from this family, and our Father can never remove His love from us.  It’s the deepest part of who we are, and it always comes first.

4.)  There’s nothing for me to do.  Sure, I have a house full of boys, with chaos and clutter following me wherever I go.  There is never dull moment, and I never get to the end of my to-do lists.  Still, as I push past the surface level mess, I realize God has called me to do great and glorious things.  Sometimes I forget who I am, and I forget my role on the is earth.  But when Jesus gently reminds my heart of the truth, I can’t help but stand a little taller.  I am His.  I am important.  And I am going to change the world.  As long as I am breathing there will always be something for me to do, but I want to make sure I’m doing the right things.  Things that make a difference and reflect His ultimate purpose… loving others well and loving Him.  As long as everything I’m doing points to those two imperatives, all other things will fall into place.  The white noise in our culture is at an all-time high, but God’s voice will always break through.  As He speaks His life into my heart, He wants me to share this life with the world.  He wants me to know my worth and embrace my identity.  And I pray I get to be a part of others discovering theirs.

5.)  God is not real.  I’m sorry, but God has just done too much in my life to deny His existence.  He’s changed me in ways I never thought possible, and He’s saved me from things I never could escape on my own.  And it’s not just me… I’ve seen countless lives transformed by the power of His love.  Relationships restored.  Pasts redeemed.  Hearts healed.  There’s just too much evidence pointing to the truth of His personhood and character.  His beauty is part of my soul.  His Spirit is part of my life.  His goodness defines who I am.  He knows me and loves me and has changed everything I am.  Many other religions have gods and goddesses that require sacrifice and service and perfection in order to gain acceptance.  But the God of the Bible is the only God who did the opposite.  He sacrificed everything so we could be with Him.  Jesus’ life was laid down in order to make the unseen seen.  It was a tangible expression of His faithful promise to make all things new and brings us back to Him.  There’s no other love like His out there.  Not in any religion or any church or any relationship.  His grace is perfect, so we don’t have to be.  If that’s not real love folks, I don’t know what is.

Dear friends, we need to know what we know for sure.  It’s worth the time and energy to write these things down in our hearts.  Because yes, few things in life are truly certain.   But it’s the precious few that make life worth living.

I’ve got an official AUTHOR WEBSITE!

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Hey All!
So exciting news!  My husband is awesome and made me an AUTHOR WEBSITE, which will basically be the hub for all my other social media stuff and my blog.  After talking to lots of professionals and authors regarding getting published, ALL of them said it is really important to build a community of people who would like to support me and stay connected as we journey forward towards whatever God has in store.  That’s mainly done through subscribing to the website because I will be sending out newsletters and other fun little things to keep everyone encouraged and in the loop.  It also opens up the avenue for praying for each other, which is fantastic.
Soooo… long story short, I’m officially letting the Facebook Universe know!  If you are interested, please CHECK OUT MY WEBSITE {still weird to say… ;)}.  And if you’d like to receive updates, just subscribe at the bottom of the Home page under “Let’s be email friends”…  it literally takes 10 seconds.
Thank you guys for being so kind and supportive during this crazy publishing process.  I’m still unsure how things are going to go down, but I know my God promises it will be good.  Appreciate you, friends. 💛
Love,
Becky

Dear Discontentment… Just Don’t.

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Okay, I had this whole other post ready to go.  Was about ready to get it up on the blog, but then Jesus stepped in and whispered a certain something into my ear and I JUST HAD TO WRITE ON IT (as is true of writer brain…)

A dear friend of mine is moving.  She is one of those people who make you feel so valued and important, like your situations matter and mean something.  She would always offer to buy me a drink at Starbucks or grab some donuts for my kids at DD.  She would listen and love and pray.  And because she is such an amazing human, the truth is inevitable.  She is going to be severely missed.  But during our last playdate we were chatting and crying and hugging, and her cute daughter kept coming up to her momma.  The park we were at was huge and full of anything an elementary school girl could want (except for maybe a couple more cute boys her age ;).  But just like clockwork, she would mosey her way on over to us and pretend to be totally casual.  She would stand just close enough to hear our conversation without looking like she was butting in.  My friend kept asking her if she wanted to play over there or there, but every time the answer was no.  We both smiled at her and then at each other.  We knew exactly what was going on.

Many years ago (no, I will not say how many… ;)) we were her.  We were the little ladies standing outside of the big girl crowd.  We wanted to be included and invited and wanted, feelings that have only transformed with age.  But it really was ironic.  When we were youngin’s we wanted to grow up as fast as we could.  And now that we were world-tackling women, we looked at the beautiful face of innocence and desperately wished we could be young once again.

Sure, we’d accept fewer wrinkles and gray hairs.  And we’d gladly welcome the ability to eat whatever the heck we wanted without gaining a stinking pound.  But in reality, the allure of youth has more to do with the freedom of mind it brings.  No worries about debt or bills or meeting that deadline for work.  No fear of sickness or disease or death of loved ones.  It’s a space in time where the hope for the future outweighs the realities of the everyday.  Where the biggest upset in your relationships is your fight with bestie Suzy and not the loss of a marriage.  It is a tender, more simple time in life that goes by way too fast.  And all the while, you wish it would go by even faster.

But sweet friend, isn’t that the human plight?  We want what we don’t have and when we have it we want something else…  When we are young we want to be older, and when we are older we want to be young.  From an early age we practice the hard art of discontentment, and it doesn’t take us long to master it.  I see it every day with my kids at home…

“Mommy, I don’t want milk.”

“You just asked for this…”

“Yeah, but I want apple juice so bad!”

“Ok, then I’ll give this to your brother.”

“NOOOOOO!  I want it!”

*stares blankly at confusing child, contemplating chugging milk herself*

As women, we feel this tension in a special way.  It hits a sacred part of our hearts, a place where we want to feel true wholeness in the midst of a widening hole.  We long to feel like we are complete, like we are enough, like we are at peace with what we have and who we are…  So we continue to pour the wrong things into our lives in order to fill the empty gap.  But this desire is planted so deeply within, it cannot be quenched with the temporary.  It continues to grow and yearn, and it is there for a single purpose.

It is a holy awakening.  It is a gift from heaven meant to draw us kindly back to His fullness and freedom.

As our souls reach for ‘the better’, our Creator refuses let our spirits rest until we’ve found the BEST… and honestly, THANK GOD FOR IT!  Because His Best doesn’t rely on things.  It doesn’t rely on looks or works or popularity.  Our gracious God wants all of His children to experience authentic freedom, and one of the most freeing things we can do for our souls is to rest in the glory of true contentment.  It is a precious state we will know forever in eternity, but we can capture glimpses of it in the here and now.  It is a place of LOVE.  A place where we know that no matter what happens or what we have, we are adored as Daughters and Sons of the Most High.  It is a place that cannot be shaken by circumstances or outcomes.  It is a place that reigns above grievances and the grave.  It is hallowed ground that is open for all to embrace, if we choose to lay down the good for the GREAT!

Because the seasons of life will come and go.  Highs and lows will ebb and flow, but the faithful care of Jesus will always remain the same.  Real contentment doesn’t have to do with what you have or where you are.  On the contrary, it has everything to do with Whose you are and Who He is.  Dear Reader, please know am there with you.  I experience the weight of feeling like I need something more in order to make my life a little more complete.  But at the end of the day, that just makes me temporarily happy.  It doesn’t make my joy complete.

We have a such sweet Savior, and He offers us independence from many things, but in this case, He delivers us from the case of the ‘less than’.  He opens His arms and invites us to come and experience life in all of its abundance.  The news channels make it painfully clear that money does not buy soul satisfaction.  We need the real deal.  We need the One who helps us live with open hands and hearts.  We need the One who pours His promises of into our minds and liberates our spirits so we can receive the beauty of NOW.  Right here.  Right as we are.

In a world addicted to more, let’s be the rare ones.  Let’s be the ones who trust the Giver of all good things, no matter how big or small.  Our stories cannot be compared to anyone else’s, so let’s stop wishing we were them.  God’s faithfulness is stamped into the fabric of our lives, and His cup of blessing will always overflow with love because He is an incredibly good Father.

Apple juice or milk, my friends…

Drink it in.  And drink it fully.

Semi-Trust Fall

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Please tell me I’m not alone when I say I think my youngest boy is crazy…

He’s the cutest thing with dimples that could make the world implode, but he’s also flat-out crazy.  He finds anything high up (counters, couches, tables, toilets…) and does the same insane routine.  He stands tall, puts on his proud two year old grin, looks at me and says, “I’m gonna jump!”  At that moment I have precisely 3 seconds to run and catch him before he launches himself off into space.  My success rate is relatively impressive since I’ve avoided many visits to the ER… thanks to the God-given superhero skills He’s bestowed to every mom.

But what I find to be fascinating is the fact that he WANTS me to catch him.  He purposefully grabs my gaze and makes sure I’m aware of his game plan.  He wants me to rush to his side and help him in his free fall.  But most of all, he knows I will be there for him.

It’s a complete trust fall.  He believes in me and knows I will be his faithful rescuer every time.  And as I look at his facial expression right before he jumps, I imagine what life would be like if I had real FAITH LIKE A CHILD.  No fear.  No second guesses.  No hesitation.  Just unabandoned freedom to go for it and trust that everything will be okay.  Because if I’m honest, my adult-ing with Jesus doesn’t look like a trust fall most days.  I’d be lucky if it looked like a semi-purposed tumble…  Don’t get me wrong, I want to trust God with my most precious things.  I want to give Him my dreams and desires and hopes.  But something inside makes me want to postpone my leap.  And I have to ask myself why?

We all want to be the brave ones.  We want to gage the situation and decide the beauty of the outcome is worth the risk.  But what happens to our hearts in the moments before we let go?  And more importantly… where are we looking before our feet cross the final threshhold?  Because so often I find I’m looking down.  Whether it’s at my shifting feet or the distance below, I have a hard time allowing myself to walk forward into the fall.  But God gently lifts my head and holds my gaze.  He has a future for me and for you that lies just beyond the brink.  And when we hold back, we are also choosing to hold back from experiencing His abundance in a brand new way… something no Father wants for His children.

Sweet friend, we may be afraid to fly, but God has made our hearts to soar.

He doesn’t want His children to live on the edge of their dreams.  He wants us to boldly step over our self-perceived limits and embrace the steadfast arms of our Father.  He is there.  He is with us and behind us and in us.  There is no place we can go that our God has not already been, and in His kindness, He has already made a way.

It’s so crucial that we remember the tender heart of our God when we face of daily jumps.  If our eyes are fixed on our circumstances or our fears, we may decide it’s too uncomfortable or unsafe.  But when we look at the One whose gentle character and good intentions precede Him, we will find He is worthy of our trust.  He is able to help us overcome any obstacle placed before us, including our own doubts.  Jesus has done everything in His power, moving heaven and earth, to show us the extent of His lavish love, and that LOVE won’t give up on us now.  Even if our falls become tumbles or we get wounded in flight, His faithfulness will continue to fill our minds with the truth.   And the truth is this:  Nobody is more qualified to catch you than your Creator.  

So I’m thankful.  I’m thankful for the process of learning how to fall into God’s goodness and grace.  I’m thankful for His patience when I stand on the edge and don’t know if I can do it.  I’m thankful for His mercies that are new every morning and His promise to love me through my fears.  And I’m thankful for the determined look of a two year old boy and the lesson he’s taught me.

I have some big things coming up this weekend.  Opportunities to leap and let go.  But my heart feels a little stronger now.  My eyes look towards the One who calls me His Daughter and friend.  I smile, knowing He’s gone before me with my future tightly knit into the palms of His love-scarred hands.  He tells me I am courageous, and this time I’m going to stand tall and believe it.  This time I’m going to do it.

Watch out world…

This girl’s gonna jump.

Risky Business

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Guys, I’m kinda freaking out.

In a little under 2 hours I will find out if I’ve won a coveted 1-on-1 appointment with a well-known publisher, in which case I’m pretty sure I will pee my pants.  A couple of weeks ago I took a “am-I-really-doing-this” risk.  Life was crazy with sick kids, travel plans, and the usual chaos that comes with raising three young boys.  It was pretty clear that submitting a piece for this radio writing contest was not in the cards, but still… I couldn’t get the competition out of my mind.

So with five days left in the voting process and one month behind all other contestants, I did it.  I prayed and asked Jesus to give me a story that lined up with the themed verses.  And in a matter of hours, my thoughts were flying faster than my fingers could transfer them to the computer.  I submitted my piece and handed the rest over to God because it would be a complete miracle if I got enough votes to make it to the second judging round.  Literally by the grace of Jesus, I made it!  Not only that, a huge community of support and love rallied behind me and brought me into second place all within the matter of days.  As I sat there watching the number of votes rise, I was completely humbled and shocked.  There were many reasons, but mostly I was awestruck that so many people had my back and actually believed in me…  even when I didn’t believe in myself.

To be honest, deciding to pursue writing was one of the best and worst decisions I’ve ever made.  Best: Because encouraging people and bringing them to Jesus is my passion.  Worst:  I would have to face my fear of rejection all the time, sometimes in public arenas.  It’s one thing to submit something and receive a “thanks but no thanks” email in private.  It’s a whole new level to showcase my rejection on the online stage.  So yes, I’m shaking my boots right now, but the fact that I’m not alone makes it doable as well as worth it.

Let’s be real, when we put ourselves out there it’s beyond scary.  I remember when I posted my first blog entry, wondering if anyone would even read it.  I didn’t know if it would make a difference, but I did know there was no turning back.  My words were displayed for all to see and for all to critique if they wished to do so.  I began to ask fellow authors to share their expertise with the publishing process.  Most told me to expect rejection, which was awesome news.  And so I took it up with God and asked Him if He really wanted me to do this… because I was cool skipping the hard “no’s.”  He never said rejection wouldn’t happen.  He never said I wouldn’t have to grow and learn and regrow.  And every time I continue to bring my doubts to Him He holds my hand in His and whispers I am with you even to the end of the age…

 

In each valley and on every mountaintop Jesus never fails to come through.  With steadfast grace and kindness, He guides me forward, even when it’s more comfortable to remain in the known places.  But chasing dreams was never meant to be safe.  It was never meant to be easy or smooth.  It takes an extreme amount of courage and the willingness to do whatever it takes to reach that God-given goal, including facing your insecurities and fears.  It’s really no coincidence that the themed verses for my story were all about FEAR and SHAME, my biggest foes.  I knew writing the story and submitting it would be a risk, one with a 75% chance of heartache.  But I knew there would be a 100% of regret if I didn’t take the chance.

All the great movies we rewatch over and over again involve the main character pushing through against all the odds.  They overcome and stand and prove to the world that we can walk in victory because our God has made us to shine!  I don’t know what the outcome is going to be in a few hours, but I know that this is part of the journey towards victory… victory over my people-pleasing.  Victory over my fear of rejection.  Victory over my doubts of self-worth.  Because God is in the business of making dreams come true, but He’s also in the business of transforming us in the process.  My stomach may be twisted in knots at the moment, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.  It’s the growing and the stretching and the trusting that helps us open our hearts more in confident expectation of God’s goodness.

I may not be a winner today, but I’m promised victory always.

So thank you for helping make this possible, Dear Reader.  I pray you choose to believe in yourself and in the power of Heaven’s Maker, the One who wants to make your desires come true too.  We can be the Dream Chasers and Life Changers.  We can be the ones who live with the “what now’s” instead of “what if’s.”  And we can always rely on the One who calls us towards our potential and passions because He’s made us for this moment, and He’s made us for His glory.

Even if we don’t believe we have what it takes, His faith in us never wavers.  He never doubts us, and trust me, my friend…  He never will.

Springtime Tease

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It’s actually here.

The last ice blizzard has passed, the birds are out singing their songs, and the temps are finally on the rise.  It’s over a month late according to the calendar, but Spring has officially arrived.  And my kids (and fellow parents!) couldn’t be more ecstatic.

Every year us Midwesterners get excited when March arrives.  We start hoping for green trees and bright flowers.  Some of us actually start to wear shorts when it gets close to 60 degrees (you would too if you were use to wearing parkas).  But just when we think Spring is here to stay, Winter steps right back in and says, “Sucker!”  It’s really quite rude, especially since Winter has already called dibs on half the year.  This annoying game goes on for a few months, until finally Winter takes a bow and allows Spring to take its rightful place in the seasons.  But I tell you, that journey… the path towards sunshine and roses is nothing less than a TEASE.

And sometimes I think life feels that way.  Things start looking up, pieces fall into place, you finally move forward and then BAM!  Roadblock.

You have to break into the savings account AGAIN.

You get the diagnosis.

You hear the news from a friend.

You lose the job.

You have another fight.

You get the note from the teacher…

You feel discouraged, like you’ll never get a break.  And sometimes you never do.  There’s always something pulling in the opposite direction of where you want to go, attempting to stop you from reaching your goal.  And in those moments it’s so easy to give up, admit you are stuck and believe that this will always be your reality.  It’s so very easy, my friend.  I know because I am there myself.

Let me give you a snapshot of the last 7 days.  There are occasions when I think my mommy-ing is on point.  I give all the hugs and tickle the tummies and play with my boys.  I keep them fed and alive and all is basically well.  But this was soooooo not one of those weeks.  I was a complete wreck.  Severely jet-lagged and sleep-deprived, I came home to a house full of sick people who needed me more than ever.  I had no time to recover or breathe, and the amount of crazy demands and constant noise just added to my overwhelm.  I lost my filter and soon became a yelling zombie.  I even heard my soon-to-be 2 year old imitating my exasperated sighs in the other room, which is awesome.  Up to this point I thought I was getting better at handling stress and the raw emotions that came with it.  But once again, my kids and husband got the brunt of my burn out and it made me mad at myself… which again was awesome.

I felt like I was doing some weird dance, with my shifting feet going in all directions.  It wasn’t even a two steps forward, one step backward kind of thing.  I was just trying to keep my balance, and my tango was one step forward, one step back.  I turned my gaze towards Jesus and asked Him honestly…  Where’s the progress and the process?  Where’s the victory and power?  Because looking around all I saw was the standstill and I wondered what He was doing and where He was.

Now that I’ve come out on the other side I can say I’ve survived the week, but I can also say hindsight is my friend.  And it may be yours too, Dear Reader.  Sometimes when we are in the thick of the chaos we forget to look up.  We forget to ask God to give us His eyes… eyes that see the whole picture instead of a small frame.  It’s so easy to do and I do it daily, but life lived from eternity’s perspective helps provide peace in the midst of the pandemonium.  You can have one heck of a week and still have a good life.  You can have a horrible day and still know you are beloved and blessed.  Both are possible.  You can have some Winter and some Spring.

Because even with the changing seasons and the changing emotions and circumstances we experience every day, our God remains faithfully the same.  He is the only thing in this world that will never let you down or fail to come through.  His love is steadfast and His grace is abundant, which means His future for you will be full of good intentions and fulfilled desires.  He doesn’t tease our hearts or send mixed signals.  God doesn’t dangle our dreams and wishes in front of our face and then turn His back on His children.  His character can’t allow Him to be anything other than who He is:  A great God with great passion for you!  His promises are always YES and AMEN, which means His Word is something that can be trusted.  And do you know what His Word says about you and the path you are on right now?

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”  (Isaiah 54:10)

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

“… being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

These are good words, but they are even better promises.  God’s love for you is infinitely deep, which means the idea of Him leaving you is out of the question.  It’s not possible, even with our shifting feet and shaky emotions, nothing can separate us from the adoration of a loving Father.  And even when it seems like we aren’t moving and things are stagnant, we can know that our hearts are changing as we encounter and experience His compassion and care… which just so happens to be the BEST kind of progress there is.  😉

Honestly, I would be shocked if we got another snow storm in the month of May.  I’m like 99% sure it won’t happen.  But as I continue to experience the kind heart of God, I become more certain of His dependability and His devotion to you and to me.

Even on the rough days when I’m not confident in me, I am confident in Him…

And of all the things in this life, He will always be my One Sure Thing.  100%.