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


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


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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