August 24, 2016

A Life of Faith : Revisited

I sat around the living room with my children this morning lazily enjoying one of our last slow summer mornings before school starts next week.  We marveled at what an interesting year it's been thus far, surreal even, and honestly, quite hard for so many reasons.  We talked about the sheer mystery of walking with God, how we never quite know what's around the bend, what He may have in store, but that we always know it will be for our good.  Somehow.  Someway.  And we always, always know that He is good, inherently good, and we can trust Him completely. 

My thoughts went back to this post that I wrote in October of 2012.  Though so much has changed and transpired in our journey since then, one thing still remains.  And that is our great desire to know and love more deeply than ever the One who calls us to go.  And all these years later, to go even still.  


I hope these words will be an encouragement to you as you too walk in the mystery of His ever-loving ways.  He is so faithful, so good and true, and more than worthy of our trust and faith.


My son pulled out our old photo albums this morning during breakfast.  Amongst scattered dishes, scrambled eggs, and lunches being packed, we looked through pictures of years gone past and laughed at photos of a little boy being silly and a little girl dressing up like a princess.  We played the game of remember when and we marveled at all the years have held for our family.

After the dishes were cleared, the last lunch was packed, and my children were off to school, I sat in our very quiet house and thumbed through the albums by myself.  I smiled.  I laughed.  I cried a few tears.  And as I opened an album from ten years ago, I read a quote I had written on the very first page...

"Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led.  
But, it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading.  
It is literally a life of faith, not of understanding and reason... 
a life of knowing Him who calls us to go." 
~ Oswald Chambers

Ten years ago, God called our family to go.  What that really meant at the time was a mystery to us, but we knew we were being led and more than anything, we wanted to love and know more deeply the One who was leading us, so we went.

In the time since, our journey has been full of twists and turns, highs and lows, and in looking back, I'm amazed and in awe of all we've experienced.  We moved three times in three years and they were big moves, not just-around-the-corner moves.  Our children have been in seven different schools in ten years time.  We left a company, started a company, lost that company, and started with a new company.  We've said good-bye to many friends, made some new ones, and lost a few as well.  We've had financial issues to work through, marital struggles to heal from, and we've known more heartache, betrayal, and loss than we ever thought we could possibly endure.

We have certainly not lived a journey of understanding and reason.  Far, far from it.  But we have lived a life of faith and we have come to know and love, more deeply than ever, the One... the only One, who called us to go and who calls us even still.

And that has made the journey worth every single moment.


"I will lead the blind by a way they do not know.  In paths they do not know, I will guide them.  I will make darkness into light before them and rugged places into plains.  
These are the things I will do and I will not leave them undone."
 ~ Isaiah 42:16


"I will teach you and guide you in the way you should go.  I will counsel you and watch over you."
~ Psalm 32:8

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April 10, 2016

Signs of Life

I'm sharing a post today in honor of "National Siblings Day" and my two precious babes. It's been in my draft box for a while now but funny how its words are still relevant and true all these months later. I hope you enjoy these "Signs of Life"...


I was puttering around the house this morning gathering dirty towels, starting a few loads of laundry, loading dishes in the dishwasher and just generally tidying up, when I peeked inside my kid's rooms and my mouth dropped open wide.

GOODNESS GRACIOUS.

I think it is very safe to say that my children's idea of clean and my idea of clean are two completely different things!

I like a neat and tidy home. It just feels good and right. It doesn't have to be perfect, spotless and sanitized, but if it is picked up and relatively clean our home just feels more peaceful to me. Cozy and comforting. Refreshing and restful.

But these two teens of mine don't necessarily enjoy or understand the benefits of a neat and tidy space. At least, not like I do. And I'm learning to be okay with that. Perfectly okay, in fact.


Though I think it's important to instill in my children the need to value and care for the things they've been blessed with and to teach them basic life skills such as cleaning, I'm not crazy, I know that I know that those aren't the most important things in life. Far, far from it!

So instead of seeing their mess and their ransacked rooms with stuff strung everywhere, I'm learning to see the signs of their sweet, vibrant lives. Every misplaced trinket and gadget, every bit of clothing that lays on the floor longing for its home, and every little pile of treasured junk really just represents a bit of them, who they are now and who they are becoming. One day, they won't live in our house anymore and their rooms will be perfectly clean and orderly, quiet and still, and I will miss the chaos and the mess and most of all, them.

 I will miss them TERRIBLY. 


So I'm learning to embrace the mess, the sweet signs of life, and I'm savoring it all in its own unique and wonderful way. It's actually kind of cute and honestly entertaining how messy their rooms can get. Sometimes I just walk past and peer in and marvel at all their stuff in wonder… What is that for? Where did they get it? What were they up to? What were they thinking? How do they find anything? How do they even move around in here? Is that a sock? 

And from time to time, I even take a few pictures just so I can remember, just for posterity's sake. Because one day, they'll give me a good chuckle and warm my heart and help me remember the signs of their dear and precious lives.

Here and now, but then.



"The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep."

Ruth Hamilton


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January 25, 2016

Beauty Beckons


"Let my love enfold you in the radiance of my glory. 
Sit still in the light of my presence, and receive my peace. 
These quiet moments with me transcend time, 
accomplishing far more than you can imagine. 
Bring me the sacrifice of your time, and watch to see how abundantly I bless you."

"Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young




I paused at the window early this morning to gaze at the bright full moon, aware that in a matter of moments it would soon be gone when the sun began its climb.  The world outside was frozen, quiet and still, lit up only by street lamps and the light of the glistening moon.  A snow globe of sorts, it captured me, and I stood there a bit just taking in its magic.

I love how God uses beauty to slow me down and stop me in my tracks, to lift my heart towards Him.  He knows how it speaks to me, how it captures my attention and refreshes me, how it brings me such joy.

And most of the time beauty beckons, I heed its alluring call and its magic works wonders on my soul.  But sometimes I'm just too busy, too distracted, or in far too big of a hurry to notice, and I miss it all together and that makes me sad.

I want to always be captured by beauty, to let it stun and silence me, wash over and refresh me.  God alone, in and of Himself, is beauty and I want to live continuously aware of Him... His movements, His presence, His heart.  I want to live willing to stop whatever I'm doing and simply sit still with Him.  To take in His beauty all around me, to heed his alluring call, whenever and however it may come.

And I think He's probably always calling to me.  I think He's always wanting to catch my eye and draw me in, to linger with me and pour His life into mine.

His beauty beckons, and I don't want to miss a single thing He has for my heart.

I don't want to miss Him.


How has God been wooing you lately? How has he been calling your heart to his? What beauty stirs you? I would love to hear. 


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September 27, 2015

Sunday Soul Rest: Silence


"In the silence
You are speaking
In the quiet I can feel the fire
And it's burning, burning deeply
Burning all that it is that you desire to be silent, in me."

"In the Silence" by Jason Upton


It's Sunday morning and after heading to the kitchen for coffee, I'm back under the warm covers of our bed, snuggled in with the quiet and my laptop.  Some thoughts have been stirring in my heart this week on my need for silence, so before I start getting ready for church, before the day really gets off and running, I don't want to miss the chance to put them to paper so to speak.


It's peaceful here in our room, and the only sounds I hear are the birds singing their morning song out my window, and the plane that's passing over our home.  One of the many things I'm learning about myself, is how much my heart needs these still restful moments each day.  


"Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our lives are in danger. Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure. Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our actions quickly become empty gestures. The careful balance between silence and words, withdrawal and involvement, distance and closeness, solitude and community forms the basis of the Christian life and should therefore be the subject of our most personal attention." 

 ~ Henri Nouwen 


Jesus himself withdrew from the crowds, he went to the hills to pray, to be alone with his father, and to hear and receive from him.  And he didn't live in the world we live in today with cell phones and the Internet and the constant bombardment of noise.  If he needed silence and solitude then, how much more we must need it now.




And so I'm making time, time to sit in the stillness without a phone in my hand, the television on, and the computer in front of me.  Time to be alone and just be present in the quiet, to listen for the stirrings in my heart, to pray as God guides and leads me, and to simply linger with him and enjoy his presence.

Five minutes turns to ten, and ten minutes turns to twenty, and I don't want to leave that peaceful, life-giving place.  But the day calls to me and I'm much more able to take it on, to stay calm in the midst of activity and noise, and to hold on to the quiet in my heart because I've made space for silence.

Whether it's in the morning, the afternoon, or even the early evening.  Whether it's once a day, or twice, or even more, I'm choosing with intention to make space for silence and solitude and I love the effect it's having on me.

Try it and see if it blesses and fills you too.  I promise God will show up just as he always does and you'll be refreshed and changed because you've spent time in the silence with him.


"And Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush, be still." 
And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm."  
~ Mark 4:39


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September 24, 2015

In Season and Out


"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven."
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1


The glorious season of fall arrived this week and a cute, round, perfectly orange pumpkin joined the host of colorful happy mums on our back deck.  Oh how I adore this season!  Though I'm not very good at picking favorites since there are so many things I love, this season comes pretty close to taking the prize for being my favorite of all.

I'm not sure what it is exactly that captures me... the crisp cool air, the changing leaves, the holidays around the corner.  Maybe it's the coziness... the coats and scarves and blankets and extra snuggles to keep warm.  Maybe it's the shorter days and longer nights that bring more sleep and rest.  Or it's the hot coffee and spiced cider that warms in the mug in my hands, and the pumpkin muffins and pumpkin bread and how when I bake them the house smells divine.  I'm not sure what it is exactly, but every year this season wins me, heart and soul.




Digging a little deeper, I think what draws me in is the hope and promise of unforeseen days and the wonder of what God has coming for me.  I don't mind packing away the long, lazy days of summer when I know there's more life ahead for me in the fall, and that's true of every season.  Change is good and it's nothing to fear when we set our hearts on Jesus and put our trust in him.


"For I am confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you 
will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."
~ Philippians 1:6



God is always up to fresh new things in our lives, in season and out.  His beautiful work continues whether the leaves on the trees are bright green and full, or they're red and orange and fading fast.  He lovingly takes us from glory to glory and strength to strength as he brings more healing, growth and maturity to our lives.  And just as he expertly paints a fall tapestry of beautiful vibrant colors, he paints himself upon our lives with ever increasing beauty.  I don't want to look anything like I look now at the end of this gorgeous, ever-changing season.  When winter comes, I want to be stronger and braver and more myself, and I want to know Jesus more deeply and intimately than I do even now.  



"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."
~ 2 Corinthians 3:18


Though the seasons may change, God never does.  He is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever, and he promises his presence and love to carry us through all of our days.  He is faithful and sovereign and we can trust our hearts to him.  In season and out, he is a good father and he is good to us.

So welcome fall, and welcome change, and most importantly, welcome Jesus.  Have your beautiful way in my life and heart in this my favorite season.  I can't wait to see what you have in store!



What do you love about this stunning season of fall and what are you looking forward to as you walk with God in it?  I would love to hear.


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September 20, 2015

Sunday Soul Rest: Entering In


"Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you."

~ Psalm 116:7

I'm wrapped up in a big fluffy throw all cozy on the sofa listening to George Winston's Autumn as I breathe in the sweetness of an apple scented candle that's burning in the kitchen.  Outside, the wind bends the trees, the sun is shining bright, it's cooler and crisper than it was yesterday, and the promise of fall came with the morning.




Not every day begins like this, with this kind of quiet peaceful ambiance.  There's work and school and laundry and we ran out of coffee and there's chores to be done and raising kids can be hard sometimes and I woke up with a headache and all I can write is run on sentences and so forth.  Many mornings I wake to a glass that appears half empty and I'm faced with the choice to instead see it as half full.

God is after rest in my heart, a deep soulful rest that's not based on my circumstances but that comes from within.  The kind that simmers and grows and wells up and bubbles over, even on days that are painful and stressful and feel absent of hope. 

He invites me to rest, to enter into HIS rest, even as I go about my day.  It's not necessarily a rest FROM activity, but a rest that comes IN THE MIDST OF activity.  It's a condition of the heart that carries me through whatever may come.  It's the act of leaning in and letting go and trusting my heart to Jesus.  

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  
For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

~ Matthew 11:28-30


And so I pray...

"Jesus, what do you have for my heart today?   
How would you have me rest?  
What does that look like?  
What do I need?
What are you inviting me to?"  




And then I wait, and I listen for his answer, and I walk with him in it.  Today, it looks a little like this...

staying home from church
lingering in my jammies
quiet reflective prayer
joy, peace, hope
a walk around the pond
caring for my people
writing a few words
practicing gratitude
a bit of laundry
a quick grocery run
being creative in the kitchen
and so on...


I wonder, what does rest look like for you today?  How is God inviting you to lean in and let go and trust your heart to him?  I'm starting a new series here each week... "Sunday Soul Rest" and I would love for you to join me in finding rest for our souls, of taking Jesus up on his offer to come and find our rest in him. I think it will be really good for our hearts.

Blessings on your rest today, friends... 

May it be sweet and satisfying and just what your heart needs.



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May 13, 2015

A Lost Egg, a Lost Heart, and an Ever Caring Father


I took our dog for a walk the other day around the pond near our home.  It's one of his favorite things to do, most likely because of the dozen or so geese that make their home there.  Being true to his nature as a lab and bird dog, he's quite taken with those feathery, flying creatures.

On this particular day, it would probably be more fitting to say that he took me for a walk around the pond, even though he's old and not nearly as fast as me.  I wasn't the feeling the best with the pollen and the change of season getting the best of me, but there was more I was struggling with than just the pesky yellow dust.  My heart was in a bit of a slump and sadness, discouragement, and disillusionment clouded my day.  I'd spent a good bit of the morning bringing my heart before Jesus in prayer, and standing against the lies and the negative emotions coming my way.  I was doing well, but I was weary and just in need of a good, strong, comforting hug from my God.

He never ceases to disappoint me. 

He always comes through.

As I turned a bend with Glory in the lead, I stepped back quickly and stopped to avoid stepping on a goose egg that lay in the middle of the path.  Somehow, the little egg had been taken from its home and its momma and had been left all alone.  I leaned over to take a peek at it thinking maybe I could help, but then I realized the shell was cracked and the baby goose inside had died.




I felt such sadness and compassion for the little one, its life cut short before it could even hatch, but right on the heels of those feelings, Jesus reminded me of this scripture...


"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 
So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

~ Matthew 10: 29-31


Yes...

Yes.

There was the hug I so needed and craved, and following that warm, wonderful embrace were these words from Jesus...

"Jenny, just as I see this little lost goose, I see you.  Even more so.  Your days are in my hand and your heart is forever in my care.  You are worth more to me than you can possibly imagine.  You are precious.  Chosen and deeply loved." 

I smiled and my heart brightened as his words lifted a weight off my mind and spirit.  Of course.  Of course, Jesus sees me and calls me worthy and precious and holds my heart forever in his care.  I know, that I know, that I know, that that is true.  But just like the little egg got taken from its home, the truth of what I know deep in my heart had been taken from me.  Forgotten and lost and needing to be recovered.

God is so kind and so unbelievably personal with us.  He speaks in the most unique and intimate ways, just as we need to hear and as only he can say.  I'm so grateful for his touch on my life, his breath on my face, his words to my heart, and his good, strong, comforting hugs are unlike any other.

He is a good father, and he is good to me.





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