December 31, 2013

2013: Looking Back

I can hardly believe another year is coming to a close.  Though it seems like most of the year went by relatively slow and steady, somewhere along the way the last few months caught speed and now here we are so quickly at the end.

Over the past few days, I've been looking back on the year and reflecting on all that's transpired in our journey and in the life of our family…  All the ground we've covered.  Where we were.  Where we are.  It's been a really good year but also one marked by great change and transition.

Our girl turned sixteen in January which called for a fabulous and memorable mother-daughter trip to New York City to celebrate.  She got her driver's permit, her first real job, her very own bank account, and she started her junior year of high school and began looking at colleges.  Our son grew at least twelve inches it seems and went from looking like a little boy to a rapidly-maturing young man.  He started his eighth and final year of middle school and gave everything he had and then some on the football field this fall.  This summer, we spent a week basking in the sun on the beach in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and enjoyed time with family at a reunion in South Georgia.  We also took in a few awesome concerts and sporting events and went on several fun day trips throughout the year… kayaking, snow skiing, hiking and more  And we reconnected with many dear old friends, and began to find our little niche in the social media and blogging world.

But the biggest event of our year by far and the one that stretched us the most was our move.  This time last year, as we prepared to ring in the new year, we had no idea of what was to come… no clue that we'd be buying a new home and moving in 2013.  Just a few days after the start of the year, we learned that our landlord wanted to move back into our rental when our lease expired in June.  This unexpected news immediately sent us down a very long and winding road of praying, searching, dreaming, asking, and big-decision-making. Those of you who have followed my blog over the course of the year, know the anguish we felt over this move… how it was, once again, another giant leap of faith and trust in our God.


photo credit: Pinterest


And now, here at the end of the year, as I look back, I'm amazed at all the months have held and feel such a sense of peace about where we are.  I feel rescued and relieved and some sort of whew-I'm-so-glad-that's-behind-us.  Though it was hard and it took some time to find our way, we're completely in love with where we've landed.  Our new home suits us perfectly and has so quickly become "home" that it's hard to believe we ever lived anywhere else.  God has been incredibly kind and faithful.  He knew what we needed, knew how this home would bring us rest, how it would be a shelter from the storm, a place of life and love. The tides seemed to turn with this new house.  Heaviness lifted.  Light came in.  Our story grew larger.  We've tasted fresh hope and joy and ease since we moved.  We've found more courage and strength.  We're all so deeply grateful.

Near the end of every year, as a family, we pray and ask God what the year ahead will look like, what he has in store for our hearts.  We look and listen for a word or two to give us perspective and guide us in the decisions we make throughout the year.  The word this year couldn't have been more appropriate or fitting. Like a compass, God used it to lead us and give us hope and direction as we looked for and found our way.

The word was freedom.



Happy New Year, dear friends!
May 2014 be marked by the freedom that comes from knowing Jesus and resting in his love. 
Blessings on your year ahead… 
I can hardly wait to see what God has in store!



"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to
me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me 
when you search for me with all your heart."
~Jeremiah 29:11-13


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December 28, 2013

This Wonderful Middle

The warm winter sun shines through my window and casts the most beautiful light across our bedroom.  It's mid-afternoon, three days after Christmas, and I've yet to get officially dressed… still in my jammies and wearing my fuzzy red and green Christmas socks.  I'm snuggled up all cozy with a blanket on our bed reading and perusing a few new books, while I listen out for the clothes to finish drying in the laundry room across the hall.

We had a wonderful Christmas.  It was lavish and rich and meaningful.  Quiet and peaceful.  Full of love and laughter and fun.  The life and joy of our family of four bubbling up to overflowing and spilling out over the edge.  Perfect in all its imperfection.  I'm humbled and grateful and in awe, once again.  Every Christmas does my heart in more than the one the year before… the beauty of the coming of Christ, his love for me, his rescue of me, the grace and mercy and hope he so freely gives.  I could hardly sing a word of "O Holy Night" at church on Christmas Eve.  The lyrics touched my heart so deeply that all I could do was stand in worship and listen to the voices sing while tears pushed from my eyes to spill down my cheeks.  I was undone.  Loved.  Rescued.  Grateful.

And now, these three days later, the festivities have come to an end… the gifts have been opened and put away, the cookies and desserts eaten and enjoyed, and the kitchen has been cleaned one last time, at least for now.  I'm rested, but tired.  Content, but longing.  Full, but still hungry.  It's the mix of emotions, the halfway point of the holidays, where I'm almost ready to move beyond Christmas and begin to pack it away, yet I'm still wanting to hang on for just a while longer and linger a bit more.  I'm thinking of the new year that's quickly approaching and beginning to hope and pray and dream about all it may hold, but I'm still savoring this year and reflecting on all that's unfolded over the course of its many days and months.  I'm marveling at how God has worked in our lives and worked in my heart and marveling even more at how he keeps writing our story, so carefully and beautifully, page after page, chapter upon chapter.

No, I'm not quite ready to move on just yet.  I think I'll stay at this halfway point, this wonderful middle, for just a bit longer.  Savoring.  Reflecting.  Resting.  Marveling.  Dreaming.  Hoping.

There's always more to come.




How about you?  Are you ready to move on beyond Christmas, or are you also wanting to linger a bit in the middle… savoring and reflecting for just a bit longer? 


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December 21, 2013

Him Brought a Sword

Our boy sat in the back seat sandwiched between his sister and the car salesman who quickly became known to our children as "Mr. Bill."  He was a little over three at the time, full of life and energy and manliness. Adorable in every way, but also a real handful who kept us on our toes since we never knew what he might say or do next.  He had quite a large vocabulary for such a little guy and could carry on a conversation with anyone no matter their age.  Some called him an old soul and I think the title was probably quite fitting. What a cutie he was.

It was January and we were shopping for a new family car.  It was time to trade in the mini-van and move up to a SUV.  (Something I was quite happy about because though our mini-van was practical and convenient with two little ones, it wasn't the most attractive mode of transportation.)  Our lively little boy had just gotten a toy sword for Christmas and it wasn't just any sword... it was Frodo's sword from "The Lord of the Rings".  Sting was its name and it was cool.  It was motion sensitive and lit up with flashing lights and made a woosh-clink-clank sound every time it moved.  To say that the boy loved that sword would be an understatement.  He was crazy about it, which in turn, made us a bit crazy because it was always in motion and therefore, always wooshing and clinking and clanking.



Our little guy at three with his fierce face, blanket cape, and one of his many dangerous swords.  
Oh what I would give to hold and squeeze that little rascal again!  That is, if I could catch him…


He had his sword with him that day as we test drove the SUV that would soon become ours and affectionately known by our family as "Trooper."  As always, the boy was ready for a good conversation and he didn't hold back when he bluntly asked the car salesman, "Mr. Bill, do you know Jesus?"  Of course, Mr. Bill was a bit taken back by his bold question and it took him a few seconds to answer.  "Well... Yes...  Yes, I do know Jesus," Mr. Bill cautiously replied to which our boy then immediately asked with passion and excitement, "Well, did you know that him didn't come to bring peace??  HIM BROUGHT A SWORD!!" and he waved his beloved sword in the air as it wooshed and clinked and clanked.  Everyone in the car burst out in laughter and once we composed ourselves, Mr. Bill explained that yes, he did know that Jesus didn't come just to bring peace, but he indeed brought a sword as well.

My heart smiles as I think back on that day and here at Christmastime I wonder if we hold on to that truth and remember why Jesus really came.  We sing about a silent night, a holy night, where all was calm and all was bright, but maybe we forget that the birth of Jesus was actually a brutal attack, a fierce invasion, on the kingdom of darkness.  Revelation 12 speaks of a woman, a dragon, a baby and a great war in heaven and on earth at his birth.  The coming of Jesus was just the beginning of what would in the end be his victory and our rescue.  That sweet baby, sent from God above, would grow to be a man who would lead us to the heart of the Father, destroy the powers of hell, and give his very life to set us free from the chains of sin and death.  Yes, Jesus did come to bring peace and we can have that peace through him, but he also came with a sword to deliver us from evil and set us free.  He came that we would have life and have it to the full.

My heart swells and my eyes fill with tears as I think about the beauty and mystery and power of his birth, his coming to this world.  But my heart also rejoices and waits and longs and hopes because I know he will return.  He will come again just as he said and that is just the most glorious news, the greatest gift of all.

The weary world rejoices.  

And watches and waits.  

For a new and glorious morn is still coming…

Jesus is coming again.


"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me 
that you also may be where I am."
~John 14:3

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  
I did not come to bring peace but a sword." 
~Matthew 10:34

"Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." 
~Philippians 4:7

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
~John 10:10



Merry Christmas from the Barker Family

May your Christmas season be filled with love, joy, and laughter, and most of all, hope.


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December 3, 2013

I Am The Poor

It was a beautiful yet chilly Thanksgiving day in Washington, DC.  We had just left a somewhat upscale restaurant in the district where we lingered over a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, savoring each delicious bite.  As we sat at an intersection waiting for the light to turn, he approached our car all disheveled and dirty wearing mismatched and torn clothes, layer upon layer, to keep himself warm.  He carried a tattered and torn cardboard sign asking for help and he held close an old cup in which to collect any spare change he might be given.

I don't normally roll down my window and give money to the homeless since I wonder if they might use it for drugs and alcohol instead of for food or other things they may truly need.  Though I know this may not always be the case, it does concern me.  But this day, this time, was different and we all felt the tug on our hearts to give to the man.  As he walked past, I rolled down my window and put three dollars in his cup.  Maybe that would be enough to buy a small burger or a hot cup of coffee, but not near enough to get him into any trouble.  I smiled at him and wished him a Happy Thanksgiving and told him to stay warm.  He smiled back and with what seemed like genuine gratitude said, "Oh I will.  Thank you, ma'am.  God bless you."

Photo source: Etsy

Many times throughout the scriptures, Jesus tells us that we will always have the poor with us and how very right he was.  Every time we drive into the city and sometimes even in the suburbs where we live, I see them all around.  The homeless and destitute.  I feel compassion for them and wonder at their story.  How did they become so impoverished?  What chain of events brought them to this place?   Where do they live or stay?  How do they survive?  I wonder at their journey and at what life must be like for them.

By the sheer grace of God, I have never been penniless or homeless and I can't, even for a moment, understand that plight.  I've never lived on the streets or been without a home, or slept on a park bench and wondered where my next meal would come from.  I've never had to dig through trashcans to look for tossed scraps of food, or hold out a cup to beg for spare change.  But in some ways, I am not completely unlike them.  I, too, am the poor.

Photo source: www.123rf.com

Though I've been incredibly blessed materially and I have everything I need and then some, spiritually, I am hungry and thirsty and impoverished without God.  My cup runs empty and bone dry and I know that only the life of Jesus can fill it.  I am poor in spirit, desperate and needy, and in recognizing my great poverty, I am all the more aware of my even greater need for Jesus.  Jesus said, "I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35)  He satisfies my hunger and quenches my thirst and provides for me time and time again.  He gives strength and joy and hope and healing.  Love and mercy, forgiveness and power.  Over and over.  Grace upon grace.

May I never stop falling on my knees and holding out my cup.  

May I always be the poor.


“The deeper we grow in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the poorer we become - the more we realize that everything in life is a gift. The tenor of our lives becomes one of humble and joyful thanksgiving. Awareness of our poverty and ineptitude causes us to rejoice in the gift of being called out of darkness into wondrous light and translated into the kingdom of God's beloved Son.”
 ~Brennan Manning


“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
 ~Matthew 5:3



"For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things."
~Psalm 107:9


"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."
~Matthew 5:6




(I'm linking up today with Emily at chattingatthesky.com for Tuesdays Unwrapped… choosing a gift from an ordinary day and finding the miracle secret it holds.)


*My apologies for the blurry images.   Quality pictures were hard to find.


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November 21, 2013

Burn Bright

I'm not feeling very well this morning… a raging headache and that sluggish flu-like feeling are competing mercilessly to take me out and spoil my day and keep me from doing all the things I want and need to do.  But there's more...  There's more that's attempting to take me out and hold me down and keep me sluggish and small.  This post is my response, a battle cry of sorts, to the more.

If we lingered over coffee this morning and honestly shared our hearts, I would tell you how mine was once deeply broken, betrayed, abandoned, and voted out.  I would share with you how that came to be… a long and tragic and truly unbelievable story from my life.  But once I shared the pain and loss and heartache I've known, I would tell you with a smile on my face and a sparkle in my eyes another story from my life, a stunningly redemptive story… the story of what God did for me in the midst of such great tragedy.

I would tell you how he came for my heart and drew a sword on my behalf and fought against the many forces of evil that have desperately tried to destroy me and hold me down and keep me small.  I would tell you how he set me free from toxic people and relationships, and how he took the false and hurtful and horrible words spoken of me and crushed them with the truth… the truth of who I am and who he's made me to be.  And I would tell you how he held me up when I could stand no longer and how he carefully pieced together my broken heart when I was certain it was irrevocably shattered.  I would tell you how my life has been beautifully transformed and forever changed by a God who has loved me more fiercely and faithfully than I have ever known.

And with tears spilling down my cheeks, I'd share with you how he said to me, "You were made to shine. You were made for life. And even though you've lost your way, turn and you will hear me say… You were made for more, so much more, child of everlasting light, made to blaze away the night. So, burn bright...  Burn bright."


And then I'd tell you the beautiful truth that those words are meant for you, too.  No matter how your story has played out, or what its chapters have held.  No matter the pain and loss and heartache you've known, or the choices you've made, or the current mess of your life. You, too, were made to shine.  You were made for life. And even if you've lost your way, you can turn and hear Jesus say… "You were made for more, so much more, child of everlasting light, made to blaze away the night. So, burn bright… Burn bright."

And then I imagine, we'd cry tears of joy as we'd marvel together at the fabulous, life-saving and life-giving love of Jesus. We'd wonder at his incredible mercy, his favor and kindness, and his unyielding power on our behalf. And with full and grateful hearts, we'd run with abandon to his safe, comforting arms where we'd find strength and joy and hope over-flowing. And in response, we couldn't help but to rise up from the ashes and make something beautiful from all the broken pieces.

You were made to shine.

You were made for life.

So, burn bright…

Burn bright.


This post was inspired by the beautiful song, "Burn Bright," by Natalie Grant.  Listen here


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
~Marianne Williamson


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November 20, 2013

On Tight Jeans and Truth

Yesterday afternoon I made a quick run to the grocery store to pick up a prescription for my girl and grab a few groceries.  As I was making my way through the aisles, trying to remember what was on the list I'd left at home, I became very aware of how uncomfortable my jeans were.

I found myself tugging at the legs, adjusting the waist, and pulling them down a bit while I filled my cart with all the things we needed and some we didn't need as well.  (Maybe you know how this goes… you go to the store for three items but leave with thirty.)  In my mind, as I tugged and adjusted and pulled and shopped, I tried to figure out why my jeans were so tight...  "Have I gained weight?  Have I been eating too many cookies?  Too much bread?  Too much salt?  Am I bloated?  Have I not been working out enough?  Why are my jeans so tight?"

I felt as if I weighed five hundred pounds and as I stayed with that feeling, I began to feel down and frustrated and started thinking of how I should cut back a little, eat less, work out more, lose a few pounds, and so forth.  And the more I thought about those things, the more depressed and disillusioned I became.

But then… it hit me.  I remembered.  I had just washed these jeans and instead of hanging them to dry like I normally do, I put them in the dryer to shrink because they had actually gotten too big for me.  They weren't too small.  They were too big.  The truth was not that I had been eating too much or had gained weight or needed to work out more, the truth was simply that my jeans had shrunk.


So, in light of that truth, I made myself physically stop in the snack and chip aisle and look down at what felt like my five hundred pound body.  In spite of what I felt or thought, I knew I needed to see and believe what was true.  And what I saw was the healthy body of a forty-three year old woman who once gave birth to two children, not necessarily skinny, but relatively slim and most definitely NOT five hundred pounds.

Without even realizing it, how easy it is for us to be swept up and carried away by all of our many thoughts and feelings.  Yet, most of the time, our thoughts and feelings can't be trusted because they come and go and fluctuate depending on our moods and experiences.  Not to mention that every day we're bombarded by the voices of the world, our flesh, and the enemy.  It's a slippery and dangerous slope when we embrace every thought and feeling we have as truth.  I wonder just how much freedom and life we'd experience if we learned to discern what was true and turn from what was false.  How would our days play out differently if we brought our many thoughts and feelings before God and asked him to show us the truth?  And what joy and peace and rest would we know if we aligned ourselves with that truth, his truth?

Philippians 4:8 says, "Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about."  

As I walk with God, I'm learning there's great value to the practice of checking in with my thoughts throughout my day and to paying close attention to what I'm thinking and feeling and believing.  As I pray for wisdom and discernment, if I find that my thoughts and feelings don't fall in line with what's true, what God says is true, or they don't bring life, then I reject them.  I release them and give them over to Jesus and carry on.  Though it's a practice I'm continually growing in, it's saving me much stress and heartache and wasted time and energy.  It helps me live free and stay free.  Jesus said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free," (John 8:32) and I so deeply want truth and the freedom it brings.


"I know that you want truth to be in my heart.
    You teach me wisdom deep down inside me."
~Psalm 51:6


"I think; therefore I am."
~Rene Descartes


"Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth."
~Colossians 3:2


"We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."
~2 Corinthians 10:5


"The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace."
~Romans 8:6



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November 10, 2013

Weekend Words: Relief and Rest




Really?  Could this really and possibly be true?  That God doesn't want a single thing from me, he just simply wants me?  Because if that's true and I believe it deep, deep down in the core of who I am, then the thousands of things I carry and juggle and try to understand in this life, the things I try to work out in this life, just lifted from my shoulders and fell away.  Or, better yet, they fell at his feet, because that's where I ran, right to the very feet of God to drop the heavy bags that weigh down my heart and life.

Knowing I am wanted and pursued and loved beyond imagination by the God of the Universe doesn't push me away, it draws me near… very, very near.  When I know that God is not looking for me to do better, be better, live better, work better, love better, forgive better... and on and on and on the list goes… but he simply wants me, just as I am, then how could I not race to his feet, drop my heavy load, fall into his arms, and let his warm, comforting, safe embrace engulf me?  Why would I stay away and continue to carry a weight he never intended me to carry, a weight he wants to bear and even came to bear?

That's the mystery and beauty of the gospel… that God isn't waiting for us to get our act together before he can love us, save us, use us and enjoy us.  He wants us now.  Just as we are.  And he loves us now, just as we are.  Not as we should be, could be, or will be.  Just as we are.

So go.

Run there now.

Straight to his feet.

Drop your heavy burden, fall into his arms, and find the rest you so desperately need.

He loves you and doesn't want a thing from you, he just wants you.

Just as you are.

It's all true, my friends… so unbelievably and wonderfully and life-savingly true.


“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness."
~ Jeremiah 31:3


"Yet the Lord still waits for you to come to him so he can show you his love; he will conquer you to bless you, just as he said. For the Lord is faithful to his promises. 
Blessed are all those who wait for him to help them."
~ Isaiah 30:18


"Oh, I’m running to Your arms 
I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign."
~ lyrics to "Forever Reign" by Hillsong LIVE: watch below











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November 8, 2013

Thankful

It's the beginning of November, the month where we slow down and say thanks, maybe in ways we haven't throughout the year.  We pause and look around at all we've been blessed with and we see and remember and we're grateful. 

I was putting gas in my car one day this week and looked up to notice the beautiful sky above me.  It was blue as the sea with cool little cotton ball clouds scattered all about it.  I grabbed my phone, took a picture, wrote a caption, and quickly posted it to Instagram and as I jumped back in my car and drove away, I thought to myself how much I love what I do.  This creating-and-writing-and-sharing-and-connecting-and-offering-my-life-and-heart thing I do.

My life's work and the work I prize more than anything is being a wife to my husband and a mother to my two children.  That is what I do each and every day and that is where my heart lies most tenderly and deeply… with my three very precious people.  But these things that God keeps calling me to, these things he's continually working out in my life… creating, writing, sharing, connecting and offering, they are capturing my heart as well and I am falling in love.

Photo credits to my sweet girl who took these lovely photos on our apple-picking adventure.

I've kind of always known that God made me to live my life out loud, to share my heart, and live openly. And I've known for some time that he gave me writer-teacher-leader-lover gifts, but I haven't ever quite settled into them like I have until over the past year or so.  I truly love what I'm doing, love the work God is giving me, and I especially love all he's crafting in me in the process.  He's stretching my circle and stretching me and growing it all bit by bit and it feels really good, natural, right, and true.

And so, for all of this, I am thankful.  Truly thankful.  Thankful for this place God has given me to share my heart and offer what I've come to know and love and experience of him.  And I'm thankful for you, my readers and friends and followers, for honoring me with the time you take to read, to listen, and to follow along on my journey.  I'm thankful for your encouragement, for the ways you cheer me on, and for how you share from your own life and heart through your comments.


I'm deeply enjoying this season and I'm thankful for the dear hearts I've grown to know and love in the midst of it.  And most of all, I'm so very thankful for Jesus, for his kindness, his incredible love, and the endless ways he's blessing me and showing me his favor.

In closing, I share with you some words from the prologue to, "The Red Tent," by Anita Diamant.  They capture some of the essence of my heart in this time and place...

"I am so grateful that you have come. I will pour out everything inside me so that you may leave this table satisfied and fortified. Blessings on your eyes. Blessings on your children. Blessings on the ground beneath you. My heart is a ladle of sweet water, brimming over." 

If we haven't yet connected on Instagram, you can find me by my username: lifefullandfree.  I love taking photos and documenting our journey, both the highlights and the random events of our days.  You're welcome to follow along.  And, as always, if you'd like to subscribe to my blog and receive my posts via email, you can sign up to the right of my page, just follow the steps.

"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud."
~ Emile Zola

"The only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven't found it yet, keep looking.  Don't settle.  As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it."
~ Steve Jobs

"Don't ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
 ~ Howard Thurman


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October 29, 2013

What I Don't Yet Know

When my sixteen-year-old daughter feels very strongly about something but can't quite fully express how she feels in a way that you would understand her passion, she shakes her head a little and looks at you with her big, blue, beautiful eyes and says, "You don't even know."

For example:

Justin Timberlake and how dreamy and talented he is?

"You don't even know."

Chipotle burritos and how delicious and addictive they are?

"You don't even know."

That adorable, polka-dot, vintage dress that she saw on sale and has fallen in love with?

"You don't even know."

I love this about her.  I love this thing she says.  It's just so cute and teenager-y and HER.  But not only is it charming and cute, it's a great statement too, and it makes me think.  Yes.  Yes… there is a lot, an awful lot, I don't even know, especially when it comes to my faith and my walk with God.

The full length and width and depth of his incredible, unfailing love for me?

I don't even know.

The boundless grace and mercy and forgiveness he freely offers, regardless of what I say or do, and with absolutely no expectations?

I don't even know.

What he has waiting in store for my future… his plans, hopes, and dreams for me?

I don't even know.

And the list goes on and on and it's all so humbling and beautiful, those things I don't yet know.  I love that God always has more for us.  Always.  We never get to a place in our journey where we've arrived, where we know it all, and there's nothing more to learn or experience.  Never.  There's always something fresh and new that he wants to teach us, to show us.  There's always more healing and growth to be found, and always more life and joy and love to experience.

Every single day is a mystery and an adventure when we walk with God.  Hearing his voice.  Receiving his guidance.  Experiencing his love.  And I want it all… each and every glorious bit.  I want all those things that I don't even know, that I have yet to know, and I can hardly wait to see what they are.

How much fun our family had apple-picking this past weekend? 
"You don't even know."


"Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story no one on earth has ever read, which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before."
~ C. S. Lewis

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived 
what God has prepared for those who love him."
~ 1 Corinthians 2:9

 "Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, 
which you do not know."
~ Jeremiah 33:3

"I am still learning."
~ Michelangelo


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October 18, 2013

On Being Brave

A friend recently discovered my blog and after reading a few posts commented, "You are brave to be so open and vulnerable."  I chuckled a bit at her response and wondered if she really meant to say crazy instead of brave.  Sometimes I feel crazy, and other times, I feel brave.  The truth is, I'm maybe a bit of both.



I've been praying for strength, asking God to make me brave and bold and to give me the courage to keep offering my heart and life.  You can't make a difference in this world, or truly walk in the gifts God has given you, if you close your door and hide in your home and stay quiet and small.  I've been that woman and I don't want to be her anymore.  In fact, I refuse to be her anymore.  I want to be the woman God made me to be in every way he imagined.

But being brave isn't easy and it calls up a strength in us that we often don't even know we have.  Several years ago, a friend said to me, "Jenny, you are stronger than you think you are, but you are not as strong as you will be," and I know now how very right he was.  Over the years, God has brought forth a strength in my spirit I didn't know I had.  It's been the most wonderful surprise and it's changed the way I live.  My husband even tells me I have the balls most men would envy (forgive the expression) and that always makes me smile.  Living from a place of strength brings such freedom and life.



But strength and bravery isn't something we can fake or put on like stylish clothes and sparkly jewelry.  It comes from within.  From a heart that is free and alive and at rest.  When you know that you know that you know, deep in the core of your being, that you are safe and loved and seen and held by the God of the universe, you can throw yourself off cliffs, stand up to fear and doubt, and boldly offer the weight of your life.  You can be brave.  Being open and vulnerable isn't careless or crazy, it's an act of love and worship.  It's a way of saying, "Jesus, I trust you completely and I offer you my life."

If you know Jesus and you've given him your heart, then you have every reason to lean fully and confidently into his arms and trust him to provide for you in the ways you need to be brave.  He will give you the strength and courage needed and he'll reveal himself to you in ways you never dreamed.  He has big plans for your life and he's calling you up to walk boldly in your glory.  Be strong.  Be brave.  Be courageous.  He will honor your obedience.  Lean into him and trust him.

And for you, my dear friends, who don't yet know Jesus, who haven't trusted your hearts to him, he wants nothing more than to make himself known to you.  Ask him to show you his love, his forgiveness, his mercy and grace, and he will.  He will.  He has big plans for your life and he's calling you up to walk boldly in your glory.  Be strong.  Be brave.  Be courageous.  Throw yourself off the cliff of faith.  He will catch you and change your life forever.  Lean into him and trust him.


"I can do all things through Christ who gives me the strength."
~ Philippians 4:13

"He gives power and strength to his people."
~ Psalm 68:35

“We have to be braver than we think we can be, 
because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are.”
~ Madeleine L'Engle

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."
~ Proverbs 31:25



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October 9, 2013

On Rough Mornings and Finding God

It was a rough, hard-to-wake-up, slow-moving morning.  I hadn't slept very well and wasn't feeling the best... girl stuff, if you can relate.  There were sandwiches to make but no bread to make them with, the coffee wasn't strong enough, the Naproxen I took wasn't kicking in fast enough, and my girl had to be at school early which meant I needed to change into something more presentable than the shortie pajamas and red, fuzzy robe I was wearing in order to drive her there.



I love when our mornings run smoothly... smooth like the butter I spread on my toast.  Where everyone wakes up on time with time to spare before we rush out the door.  Where we eat a hot-cooked breakfast and linger at the kitchen table and laugh and read a devotion and pray together.  And though our mornings look like that on some days, that's not a reality most days, and that's okay.  I know better than to expect more from this life and world than it can offer.  Even with the greatest intentions and best-laid plans, life still happens and some mornings are just rough.

Gratefully though, we don't have to get stuck in rough mornings and cramps and the fact that there's no bread to make sandwiches with.  We have Jesus to fall back on, to draw our very life and breath from because when we are weak, he is strong.  He knows our every move and every detail of our lives.  He knows when we're not feeling well and when we're tired and moving slow and he wants nothing more than to come through for us.  No need is too small or too great that he can't meet it.  He is gracious and loving and merciful and he will strengthen and refresh us as we lean into him.

"My grace is enough; it’s all you need.  My strength comes into its own in your weakness.  Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift.  It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness.  Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks.  I just let Christ take over!  And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become."  ~2 Corinthians 12:9

I came across this scripture from 2 Corinthians several times that morning in various different places and within a matter of minutes.  It warmed my heart and made me smile.  I knew, of course, that it wasn't a coincidence.  God was speaking... into my rough morning, into my weakness... inviting me to rest and let him be all that I need.

He invites you, too.


"But God's not finished.  He's waiting around to be gracious to you.  He's gathering strength to show mercy to you.  God takes the time to do everything right - everything.  
Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones."  
~ Isaiah 30:18


"Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so,
little ones to him belong, they are weak, but he is strong..."
~ from the hymn "Jesus Loves Me"


"I'll refresh tired bodies.  I'll restore tired souls."
~ Jeremiah 31:25



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September 18, 2013

Sweet Like Honey


photo credit: tamutimes.tamu.edu


"Kind words are like honey...
sweet to the soul and healthy to the body."
~ Proverbs 16:24


My words didn't flow like honey last night.  Oh they flowed alright, but definitely not in a kind and sweet and healthy-to-the-body sort of way like this scripture talks about.

It had been a long day.  No doubt a good day, but also one filled with lots of activity and projects and housework and by 8:30pm, when I got home from taking my son to team pictures for football, I was spent.  Or, as our family would say it, I was completely "shwagger-washeded".

If I could have crawled in bed at that very moment and called it a day, I would have.  But my husband had just gotten home from work and my daughter from a choir performance and I wanted to catch up with them.  The kitchen was a mess and needed to be cleaned from all the baking and cooking I'd done earlier and from the four of us eating in shifts over a period of several hours.  There was still much to be done before the day was over... many more miles to go before I could sleep.

While my husband and I sat down to chat and spend a few minutes together, the kids cleaned up the kitchen.  I don't remember what the issue was, but the two of them began arguing about something.  I could feel the weariness and tension and irritation rising up in my heart and getting the better of me.  I gave/barked a few directions/orders, raised my voice, and told the kids to stop fighting and be nice, while all the while knowing that I was the one who needed to be nice.  My tone was horrible and my attitude was worse and only growing worser by the moment.

Eventually, the kitchen was clean and everyone headed upstairs to get ready for bed, everyone but me.  I lingered on the sofa for a bit finishing up some reading, but when I went to turn out the lights and head upstairs myself, I realized that the garbage needed to be taken out, the doors needed to be locked, and all the lights in the house needed to be turned off and I was not happy.  Not happy in the least that everyone had abandoned me and left me to wrap things up for the night.

I said a quick prayer like "HELP!" as I slammed the garbage bags into the bins and for much too long, I entertained feelings of irritation, frustration and self-pity.  I knew I needed Jesus to help me, but honestly, I don't think I really wanted his help.  I just wanted to be mad and tired and feel sorry for myself.

I marched and sulked upstairs and as I was getting ready for bed, I made it all worse by saying some choice and catty remarks to my husband about how everyone needs to help out a bit more at night.  And, as you might guess, he didn't take those words too well.  Not too well at all.

It wasn't the best night around the Barker house.  No, not one of our finest for sure.  And sadly, I had a LOT to do with that.  As I write this, I'm ashamed and disgusted at my selfishness and immaturity, my poor and careless choices and yet, I'm equally and all the more thankful for grace and forgiveness... that God loves me as I am and not as I should be.

I was convicted of my words and attitude before my head ever hit the pillow and I could fall fast asleep.  I prayed and asked Jesus to forgive me and I thanked him for his never-ending grace and patience and love.  And the next morning, before the sun even came up, I sent a text to my husband telling him I was sorry for being cranky and complain-y and told him I was crazy about him.  And over breakfast, I apologized to my kids for being bossy and mean.

I want my words to be sweet like honey, good for the soul, gracious and kind.  I want them to bring life.  I don't want to parent my children or offer to my husband out of weariness and exhaustion.  Yes, we're human and we do get tired, but even then, God is enough.  His love and life can flow through me to this precious family of mine, even when I'm completely worn out, as I lean into him and draw my strength from his life.  I am not enough, but he is, and I'm so utterly grateful for that truth.


"Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, 
so that you will know how you should respond to each person."
~ Colossians 4:6

"But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint."
~ Isaiah 40:31

"Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
~Plato


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September 12, 2013

Rising Up

I have a full day ahead of me so this post will be brief, but a few thoughts are swirling around in my mind that I want to get down before the day slips by and the time to write is lost.

My alarm went off at six this morning and as I lingered in bed for a bit, hitting the snooze button a time or two, I thought about how every morning, before my feet ever hit the ground, I'm faced with a choice.  A choice to rise up.  Physically, of course, but also spiritually and mentally.

Though it might be tempting and easy to do, I don't want to pull myself out of bed each morning with an already tired and heavy heart as I think about all the day ahead will hold... schedules and tasks and errands, as well as the many other random, unglamorous and ordinary, but necessary things of life that need my attention.

Though I may be moving slow and in desperate need of a good, strong cup of coffee, I want to seize the day in front of me.  I want to rise up with hope and strength and great intention.  I want to live well and claim what is true... that God's mercies are new EVERY morning and I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.  

Many mornings, as I push off the covers and crawl out of bed, I say a few words out loud.  Words that flow more like prayers... "Jesus.  Come.  Come into this day.  Every moment.  Come for my heart.  Guide me.  Lead me.  Love me.  Teach me.  Use me."  

And as I make my bed, or head to the kitchen for that greatly-needed cup or two of coffee, I'm rising up.  

I'm choosing to seize the day.  

I'm choosing Jesus.  

And it's amazing the difference it makes... how it centers me, draws me back to what is true, and girds me up for the day ahead.  No matter how I feel or what the day may bring, by faith and with trust...

I'm rising up.

Want to join me?

A beautiful sunrise during our summer vacation to Hilton Head Island, SC this past June

"Wake up, o sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
~Ephesians 5:14

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

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
~Philippians 4:13


How are you "rising up" today?  How are you choosing to seize the day, live with great intention, and live well?


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September 7, 2013

And They're Off!

My children started back to school this week and though they'll only be gone a short eight hours or so, I know the years are fast approaching when they'll be gone for much longer... as in off living their own lives, chasing their own dreams, and writing their own stories.

My son is in eighth grade this year and my daughter is a junior, who's already looking at colleges and pondering her future.  How it is that we have just two to five years left with these two, before they go off to college, is beyond my comprehension.  Where has the time gone?

The years have flown past at record speed, and the years we have left to love them well, to invest deeply in their lives, to prepare them for the future and teach and instill in them the values we know will carry them far, are quickly coming to a close.

Though I know we'll always be a voice in their lives, our voice will change in the years to come, and though that may take some getting used to, it will be both healthy and good.




With complete abandon, we're throwing ourselves into the last few years we have left to raise these two.  Time is short and our work is great.  With sheer faith and trust, we're choosing to embrace and enjoy all the moments of change and growth, whether good or bad, and we're asking God to prepare us even now for the time to come when we'll need to let them go.

I read in a book this week, in regards to raising children, "When we loosen our grip, God tightens his."  How comforting and true that is.  Though I know God has always held my children tightly in the palm of his hand, I know he'll hold them all the more tightly as I let go.  I know he has them and I trust him.  And I trust they'll know and feel his strong, firm grip on their lives, and I pray, in return, they'll reach back to hold tightly to him.

I believe the greatest gift we can give our children is to teach them how to walk with God, to point them to Jesus.  Not to ourselves, not to others, not to material gain, or power and position, but simply and solely to Christ.  That has been our focus, our goal in raising our two... to point them to the One who made them, who's always present and good, who loves them more than we ever could, and has a plan so incredible and vast for each of them that if they could see it now, they would't believe it.

They need Jesus more than they need us, more than they need anything, and I see that truth taking root deeply in their hearts as they continue to grow into the man and woman God created them to be.

Throughout the years and since they were small, I've prayed this blessing over Jane Anne and Gray… before bed, on the way to school, or just because.  And I'll pray it over them this morning as they head out the door to start a new school year… another year of growth and change.

They are words that fall like a warm, cozy blanket on a cold, winter's day.  Words that are comforting and encouraging and have grown familiar to them.  Words that say, "All is well and all will be well."

And this is true.

This is true.


"May the Lord bless you and keep you.  May he cause his face to shine on you.  
May he be gracious to you and turn his face towards you and give you peace." 

~ Numbers 6:22-27


Are you in a similar season of wondering where the years have gone as you watch your children grow up fast?  Or have your children already left home to live their own lives and chase their own dreams?  May Jesus come with grace for all of us... whatever season we're in.


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August 31, 2013

Weekend Words: Grace

One more week has passed and here I am writing another "Weekend Words" post with no other posts to fill the space between.

I feel like I'm always apologizing to my blog for neglecting it and setting it aside to focus on other things.  I certainly have much to learn about the hard work and discipline that comes along with being a writer.  It's a process and I am in process.

Though I had every intention of posting this week... one, two, or maybe even three posts, the days got away from me, the last week of summer break stole my heart and attention and other things took precedence, much more important things, as in people... my children and family.

Each day is filled with thousands of choices of how I'll spend and invest my time and during this last week of summer vacation, it was much more important for me to spend time with my kids and enjoy the moments I have left with them before school starts back than to spend precious, valuable time writing.

The writing can wait.  Time with them cannot.  They are growing up so fast!


So I'm learning to hold myself to a standard of grace and not perfection.  Grace to set the writing aside and instead get ice cream with my kids or take them shopping one last time for back-to-school clothes.

Grace to find a balance in my days in the midst of all my responsibilities and the many things I juggle.

And grace to go easy on myself... to just be and keep being without demanding and insisting that I be everything.

Grace is the standard.

Perfection is not.

And next week?  When my kids are back in school and my days are quiet and the time to write, to focus on my thoughts and heart is abundant?  Grace will still be the standard.

In what areas of your life are you needing to be gracious to yourself?  In what ways are you expecting perfection?  I'd love to hear...

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August 24, 2013

Weekend Words: See and Hear



I sometimes forget that God is always and only just a short breath away.

Inhale...  

Exhale...

To call on him... to simply speak his name aloud... centers me and keeps me grounded and rooted in him.

It brings peace in the midst of struggle, joy in the middle of the mundane, and it reminds me of the larger story... his story... that is playing out all around me.

Perspective is everything.

He is present and listening and watching and waiting to show us great and mighty things that we have yet to know.

May we lean in to hear him answer.

Enjoy your weekend, friends...


How is God speaking to you?  What do you hear when you quietly lean in to listen?  I'd love for you to share in the comments below...

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August 22, 2013

Let Your Light Shine

I was just cleaning up the kitchen... rinsing off the breakfast dishes, loading the dishwasher, and wiping the crumbs out of the toaster oven while simultaneously singing and dancing to "Roar" by Katy Perry, when I heard Jesus say with a kind and gently-coaxing smile on his face, "Put down the sponge, stop cleaning and get back to that writing."

He's after me... after this heart that has much to say and share of her life and journey and what she's come to know and love of her God.

He's calling me out, drawing me from the shadows, inviting me to "Let your light shine"...

It's time.

After many quiet years spent laying low and recovering from some very deep and life-altering wounds, God is calling me to come forward in ways I never have before.

I wouldn't necessarily say that I'm ready and I would wonder if we ever really think we're ready for the things God calls us to, but I do know that God says I'm ready and that's all that really matters.  With the most perfect and greatest of care, he has healed and trained this heart of mine, loved me in extravagant and generous ways, and set me free for such a time as this. (Esther 4:14)  And though I'm not really certain what "this" looks like, I do want to lean into whatever God has for me, whatever he may bring, with all my heart.

the view from my kitchen window at dusk

In Matthew 5:16 it says...

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."  

I especially love how The Message translates this verse...

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven." (verses 14-16)

What a powerful and inspiring invitation to life… to live life and to bring it.

So, to that end, I think I'll be getting back to "that writing"... to this "going public" and "light-bearing" thing and I would love for you to follow along on the journey.  If you'd like to subscribe to my blog and receive my posts via email, just follow the link on the right to sign up.  Also, I always welcome your response to my words and heart and would love to hear from you!  It's easy to leave a comment, so please don't hesitate.  I'd love to create more of a conversation in this place.  I look forward to hearing from you!

And in the meantime, shine on, my friends…

Shine on!

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August 6, 2013

Fresh and New

God is always up to something fresh and new in my heart and journey... that I am fully confident of.

Without fail, whenever I think I've reached an impasse or a pause along the way, or whenever I'm beginning to grow comfortable and probably a bit complacent, God peels back another layer of my heart, breathes his beautiful life there, and reveals more of himself to me.  

And, in turn, I become more of myself.

As I continue to "be... and keep being," God continues to make me more and more of the woman he dreamed me to be.  Though I'm well into my forties now, I'm still discovering on a regular basis what it means and looks like to be me... to be "Jenny Barker"...and it feels really good and really right.

wildflowers I spotted while on an early morning run

Sometimes that looks like a new haircut and highlights (After a few years of being a blonde, I'm back to being a strong brunette) or a change in my clothing style (What I may have worn years ago just isn't me anymore, like that cute watermelon t-shirt I used to own), or how I furnish and decorate my home (Though they're lovely, I'm really not into teacups and doilies any longer. They're just not me.) 

And sometimes that looks like being quiet when before I would have spoken, or being strong where I would have been weak, or being naturally confident when in years past I would have falsely shrunk back.  

God continues to call me to be who I am, where I am, to be all there, and to be nothing else.  

It's really quite simple and how incredibly liberating it is to JUST BE.  

"Sometimes people are beautiful, not in looks, not in what they say, just in what they are."
~Marcus Zusak

"Wherever you are, be all there."
~Jim Elliott

"Be you... bravely."
~Unknown

"Know who you are and know it's enough."
~Unknown

"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."
~2 Corinthians 3:18


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July 26, 2013

Being With Jesus: Part Two

This post that I wrote last summer has been playing around in my head this week and reminding me of what is true... of how I want and need to live in order to find and experience the freedom and life I so desire.  I hope it has the same effect on you... 

My last post was a difficult one.  It wasn't the writing of it that was hard, it was the living out of it that got me.  I wrote the post in the quiet morning hours before my children got up and my day had yet to really begin.  The coffee was hot, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I was enjoying some quiet, reflective time with Jesus.  But once I hit publish and closed my computer, I realized what time it was and my day exploded and the frantic pace of life set in.  I had places to go and people to see and time was running short.

I was leaving my kids at home for a bit while I went to a hair appointment and the grocery store.  I had "hired" them to do a few jobs around the house while I was gone and I needed to go over those with them before I left.  I also really wanted to squeeze in a work out, but there wasn't enough time for that.  And I had hoped to go over my grocery list, thumb through my coupons, and scan the pantry and fridge to see what else we might need, but there wasn't time for that either.  Instead, I raced around the house like a crazy woman, took a quick shower, reminded my children not to fight, to have fun, get their jobs done and eat healthy, all of which I'm sure they didn't appreciate or need to hear, and I left the house in a hurry hoping not to be late for my appointment.

As I drove to the salon, my mind going in a thousand different directions, I thought back on my post and felt false and phony.  Nothing I had written just a few hours before felt true of my day or of me.  My words just seemed pretty and flowery and nice but so completely insincere and impractical that it was almost humorous.  Relaxed?  At rest?  Not needing to come through?  Not needing to be anything more than what I already am?  Enjoying the peaceful presence of Christ?  Really???  I said a little prayer out loud, "Jesus.  Help.  Be here now.  Help me to hang on to all I wrote this morning.  Make it true in my life."

I arrived late for my appointment, sat in the chair and chatted with my stylist while she worked her magic and later, while I sat under the dryer with a head full of foils, I pulled myself away from the latest issue of People magazine to pick up my phone, pull up my post, and read it again.  Another prayer... "Jesus, help me get this back.  Help me stay in this."

Jesus warned us in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy but I have come to bring you life in all its fullness."  I think it's safe to say that any movement towards life, towards freedom and rest, is opposed.  We live in a fallen world, a world of clashing kingdoms.  There is light and there is darkness.  There is heaven and there is hell.  If we want to truly and freely live, if we want life in all its fullness as Christ intended, then we have to live like we have an enemy and we have to fight for the life we prize.  Though Jesus certainly comes and fights for us, we too have to take a stand and use the authority he's given us through his work on the cross.  Freedom doesn't come easy.  It isn't just handed to us.  James 4:7 says, "Humble yourselves before God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you."  The enemy will flee but we must resist and that can sometimes feel immensely difficult.  It's worth every ounce of effort though.  It's very much worth it.

Looking back, I honestly felt opposition most of my day.  There were moments I fought well and hung on to what I had written, to what was true, and there were moments I failed miserably.  So much so, that at the end of the day, I even contemplated deleting the post because it felt terribly inauthentic and authenticity is hugely important to me.  But through the kind and encouraging words of my husband, I realized that though my day had not gone as I had hoped, nor had it looked a whole lot like my post, I had fought for it.  I didn't throw in the towel.  I had stayed with it and in it and had fought hard.  I had lived well.

As I grow older, I'm discovering there's a real strength and scrappiness to my heart.  Maybe it was there all along but laid deep, buried in wounds and the healing and growth I've come to know has brought it the surface.  Either way, it serves me well and is helping me to continue to be and become all God intends me to be.


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July 10, 2013

Let Go and Let God

I have to be honest, I'm not really a huge fan of this saying.

Don't get me wrong, it's good advice, true to how we should live as christians, and it has a perfect little rhythm to it when you say it out loud that makes it easy to remember.  But I think it also comes close to sounding a bit churchy, religious, and somewhat cliche' and I usually run from things like that.

Recently though, these five small words have been running through my mind a lot and packing a good strong punch with them.

As life typically would have it, there are a few situations/people/things currently going on in my life and causing me stress that I would love to lasso to the ground, crawl on top of, and tie up for good.  The temptation to control and fix is great.  I'm so aware of my tendency to hang on tight and attempt to play God, not just in my own life, but also in the lives of others.

photo credit: creepypasta.wikia.com

I forget sometimes that I'm not responsible for everything and everyone.  God is.  I'm not the CEO of the universe (THANK GOODNESS!) and I don't have to hold everyone and everything together.

God can and he will.

I easily and often make the mistake of thinking life, both its success and failure, is up to me when that couldn't be farther from the truth.  God is in control.  There's no need for me to hang on tight for dear life and make life happen and work.  He has the rope.  I can let go and let God.

Sure, my choices matter.  How I handle and respond to a situation or person... my words and heart towards it or them... it all matters.  But I'm learning to respond and then let go, releasing the outcome to Jesus and in turn, finding freedom and rest and peace.

Let go and let God.

Five good and powerful words.


“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  
~Matthew 11: 28-30

"Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in him, and HE will do it."  
~Psalm 37:5

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July 8, 2013

What Should I Write About?

One of the difficult things about writing a blog is continually coming up with topics to write about.  Keeping my writing fresh is important and necessary, just as writing on a consistent basis is.  Though I aim for posting three to four days a week, it rarely happens.  That's not how I want it, but unfortunately that's the way it typically is.  I have the best intentions but because life is crazy-full and my to-do list is long, my blog often gets pushed to the side.

I was up in the wee hours of the morning last night, staring at a blank screen and hoping to write a post while I searched my mind for a topic.  Though topics come to me often, they don't usually come at the most ideal times.  Dreaming up posts and scribbling them out in my thoughts doesn't work too well when I'm driving down the street, cooking dinner, or taking a shower.  But often when I do have the time to write, my mind goes blank and the creative juices run dry and that's not too effective either.

As I sat with my laptop at 3am, ready to write, waiting for the words to come, I prayed, "What should I write about Jesus? So many topics but none that feel right at this moment," and I heard Jesus say, "Write about me."

Yes.

Of course.

Though my writing takes many different forms and I write on a variety of topics, the core of it is always my heart for Jesus.  I can't write about anything without also, in some way, writing about my faith.  It's central to who I am and all of life flows from that place.  It's the undercurrent of my everyday life, of everything I say, do, and ultimately, everything I write.

I often tend to make the writing process much more difficult than it is or than it's meant to be when really it's quite simple.  I'm called to write from my heart, from that place where God abides... to simply write about him in whatever way that comes forth.

I'm reminded of the lyrics to the song, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul"...

"It's all about you, Jesus, and all this is for you, for your glory and your fame.  It's not about me, as if you should do things my way.  You alone are God and I surrender to your ways." Listen here.




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