January 27, 2014

I've Got This

I was scrolling through my Instagram feed this morning and came across a picture of a beautiful star-filled night sky, and stretched across it were these words...


"I made all of this out of nothing.
Trust me, I can take care of you."
~ God


They caught my attention and made me chuckle a bit. Yes, God did make the stars, the sky, the planets, the earth, the universe and everything else out of absolutely nothing, so, of course, he's completely capable of taking care of me.

I know this IS true. I know this to BE true. I've seen him work in my life time and time again, yet it's almost comical and sad how much I forget it. How much easier it is instead to try to figure out life on my own and make it happen, as if I need to take care of myself. I pull up my boot straps and stand up straight and plow through as gracefully as possible while attempting to dodge the daily bullets of stress and conflict and shield myself from suffering and pain. 




Without even realizing it, I can too easily live as if I'm on my own and it's all up to me. With surprisingly little effort, I find myself fixing, protecting, controlling, and pleasing, all in an effort to create a safe, manageable, and predictable life. But not only does it rarely work, it's a wrong and false and godless way to live.

Part of it is due to being human and living in a fallen world, and part of it is due to my own unique story, to the things I've experienced in life and the ways I've been hurt. But I am not defined by this world, or by my story, nor by my wounds. I am defined by God and God alone… his work on the cross for me, his love and heart for me. He never intended for me to live alone or on my own, he created me to find my life in him.




I love the scripture…


"In repentance and rest, you will be saved.
 In quietness and trust is your strength." 
~ Isaiah 30:15


I'm learning that it's in repenting of trying to live life on my own and in turning away from self sufficiency that I'm saved. It's in daily dying a thousand deaths to my own will and plans that I'm rescued. And it's in quieting and calming my heart and mind before God and trusting him to take care of me that I find my strength. 

I don't want to live life on my own. My deepest desire is to walk with God, dependent on him and trusting him solely and completely to take care of me. I'm so keenly aware of my need for him and more confident than ever in his love for me, his ability to care for and come through for me. 

When I catch myself responding to life out of fear or control or self-sufficiency, I'm reminded of this scripture and I make a conscious choice to turn from the fixing, protecting, controlling, and pleasing and turn instead towards Jesus… towards repentance and rest, quietness and trust. I lay down all of my cares and plans and pray out loud, "Jesus, I love you and I trust you. You will perfect what concerns me. My times are in your hands."

And, as I pray, I sense a smile on his face and in my heart I hear his comforting words...


"Yep. I've got this."





"Give up the illusion that you deserve a problem-free life. Part of you is still hindering for resolution of all difficulties. This is a false hope! As I told my disciples,"in the world you will have trouble." Link your hope not to problem solving in this life but to the promise of an eternity of a problem-free life in heaven. 
Instead of seeking perfection in this fallen world, 
pour your energy into seeking me: the perfect one."
~ from "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young




These photos were taken in the woods behind our home on a cold and  foggy winter morning.



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January 20, 2014

It's Too Big

When my girl was little, she would play for hours and hours in her room, pulling out every last toy she owned to bring to life all the dreamy ideas floating around in her cute little head, and as those ideas grew and ran wild and free, so also did the mess in her room.

Many times, I remember well standing at her door and looking in, stunned silent with my mouth hanging open. How could such a precious little creature make such a humonstrous and overwhelming mess? Honestly, it was dangerous to even step foot inside because trust me when I tell you how badly it hurts to step on tiny toys like Legos and plastic jewelry and Barbie accessories and so forth.

When she'd stop for a second to look up from her "work" and see me standing there, she'd greet me ever so cheerfully, without a care in the world, totally oblivious to the mess that had rendered me speechless. I'd tiptoe across her room, desperately trying to avoid injury and the horror of possibly stepping on her toys and breaking them. I'd look for a clear spot where I could sit and visit with her for a bit but those were hard to find. Typically, her creativity took up every square inch of her room including the floor, her bed, and her kiddie-sized table and chair set. There was very little free space, I assure you.




But once I'd find a place to sit, I would try hard not to mention the mess of gigantic proportions and instead praise her inventive mind. I'd ask her to tell me all about what she was playing and pretending and she'd go on and on, happily describing it all to me. It was really quite precious and I treasure those memories, especially now that she's almost seventeen years old. (How is that possible?? GASP and SOB)

But as the day would come to an end, so would the inevitable… cleaning up the mess. I'd peek my head in her room and say ever so kindly but clearly, "Sweetie, it's almost time for dinner and Daddy will be home soon. You need to start putting away your toys and cleaning up your room." And she'd say, "Okay, Momma," in her sweet happy voice. But when I'd come back to check on her progress, there would be the mess still overtaking her room and there would be her… still playing.

I don't think she meant to disobey me and not do what I'd asked, she just couldn't stop her mind from dreaming and creating. But eventually the time would come when I'd have to get really firm with her and tell her to stop playing, clean up her room, and do it now. It was then that she'd realize the magnitude of the mess she'd made and the work involved and the tears would start to flow. "I can't do it!" she'd cry, "IT'S TOO BIG!" and after much fussing and sobbing and very little cleaning, she'd perk up and say with a smile spreading across her tear-stained face, "It's TOO big… BUT Daddy will help me."




And both wonderfully and unfortunately, that was true. She knew he would help her because he almost always did. After dinner, the two of them would set to work picking up and putting away every little treasure. Though it drove me a bit nuts because I felt she needed to learn responsibility and how to clean up after herself, it really was the sweetest thing to see the two of them working together. And though I wished she'd do more of the work herself, I loved that she was so completely confident that her Daddy would help her. She knew he would come to her rescue. She knew she could trust him and count on him to help her clean up the mess she'd made.

What a perfect metaphor and beautiful picture of what Jesus does for us. In our humanness and woundedness and sin, we can make such a mess of our lives and sometimes those messes are so big we don't even know where to start or where to begin to clean them up. It's all just too big. We can't do it. It's overwhelming and heartbreaking and we know we can't go it alone. We need someone to sweep in and rescue us and help us clean up the mess we've made. 

God does that for us. 

Not only does he send his son to die on the cross, forgive us of our sins, and set us free, but daily he walks with us, guides us, and helps us. He even says, "I'm here. Sit back. I've got this. Rest and relax. I'll clean up the mess." And he does it for us. He wipes our tears, calms our hearts, cleans up the chaos, and restores order once again.

He says…


“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


Just like my girl trusted that her Daddy would come through for her and help her, we can be confident that Jesus will do the same for us. We can trust him. He is present and able and he loves us more than what is humanly possible. He longs to care for us, to rescue us, to clean up every mess we've ever made, and to bring us life in all its glory and fullness.



"Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you,
He waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.
O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. 
He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you."
~ Isaiah 30:18-21



The pictures above don't really do justice to the tremendous mess that sweet little girl could make. And even now, all these years later, she's still capable of making quite a terrific mess of her room. Sometimes, I still stand at her door with my mouth hanging open. However, her Daddy and I don't help her clean it up anymore and we've come to the realization that that's just our girl. Though we're here for her in many, many ways, she's on her own when it comes to her room. (smile)


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January 15, 2014

Do The Hard Work

I was putting off writing the other day, procrastinating something fierce. I don't know why it's so hard for me to get started sometimes, to find the words to put to paper, so to speak. I enjoy writing and by nature, am quite expressive. Typically, words come easily for me. But my goodness, sometimes putting my thoughts to the page just feels like WORK.

I sit down at my kitchen table or in my little writing corner and instead of writing, I catch myself checking Facebook, perusing my Instagram feed, and browsing through various blogs. I read a few articles on the craft of writing and make a mental note of all the tips I find that pertain to blogging and publishing and social networking and building platforms and so forth, while all the while, I'm putting off the very thing I'm reading about, the thing I need to be doing, and that is WRITING.

I've been praying and asking Jesus about this and what I'm hearing, what I'm learning, is this… 

I have to be willing to do the hard work. 



photo credit: 7mileredio.com

There's something about the craft of writing that makes it seem completely effortless, like somehow the words just magically put themselves on the page. I read other authors and bloggers and their words and sentences seem to flow so freely and beautifully that it leaves me wondering how they do it. But I know better than to believe it's a piece of cake for anyone, especially for those who share their hearts and lives so vulnerably and with great transparency. That kind of writing is an act of love, I tell you. It's like pulling teeth or giving birth, time and again. Not necessarily the prettiest metaphors, but true just the same.

And maybe that's why I find writing so incredibly hard at times. Not only am I searching for the perfect words to express my heart, but I'm also looking for the courage to do so, the strength to share my life once again… my story and journey, the day in and day out, where I'm struggling, what I'm learning, what I'm experiencing. It's hard work and yet it's work that I'm completely drawn to and committed to with all my heart.

In the year ahead, I sense God calling me to put forth more effort, to rise up in bigger ways, yet keep my head down and do the hard work. He's inviting me to stay small, to remove distractions, and to simply trust my heart and his voice there. More is being required of me, but the more is really good. It's deepening my character, forging a new and different strength in me, and a fresh wind of freedom is breezing in through the process. The words are flowing more easily and effortlessly than ever before. Grace upon grace. I'm incredibly grateful.

So, I don't need more writing tips and better techniques. I don't need to build a strong platform, network more and increase my followers. I just need to do the work that God is calling me to, the work I love, and I need to be willing to put in the extra effort and do it well.

I find Jesus in this place. Here on these pages as I type the keys and pour out my heart in the quiet of my home. And often, when I write, I pause to cry a few tears, or laugh and pray, and simply enjoy his presence. He's in these pages and they are an offering, a gift from my heart to him.



"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might."
~Ecclesiastes 9:10

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, and not for men."
~Colossians 3:23

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed."
~Ernest Hemingway

"Inspiration is for the amateurs-the rest of us just show up and get to work."
~Painter Chuck Close



Is God calling you as well to be willing to do the hard work this year? If so, in what areas do you sense the need to put forth more effort, to rise up in bigger ways? I would love to hear in the comments below.



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January 10, 2014

Weekend Words: Passion and Calling




It's ten days into the New Year and I'm still praying, thinking, planning, and dreaming about 2014. I love the fresh start of a new year… the chance to regroup and refocus and dream even bigger than the year before. I'm not a resolution kind of girl, just one who enjoys a clean slate, a blank page, and the beginning of another beautiful and mysterious chapter of life.

I've been praying and asking God what he has for me this year... What does he want to teach me and do in my life? What projects and plans would he have me invest my time and energy in? What people would he have me pursue and do life with? How would he have me offer my heart and the many ways he's written himself there? What would he have me do with the many passions and desires he's given me?

I have a pretty good understanding of what I'm passionate about, of what makes me come alive, and I know those things speak to my design, to what God made me to be and to do in this world. I do passion  really well. And I do desire equally well. But figuring out what those things physically and feasibly look like can trip me up and baffle me at times. I want to walk more and more in the things I'm passionate about and pursue and live them out with great intention because I know they're not random, they are my calling, as this quote says.

However, I don't want to get my hands in the thick of it… crafting and creating and orchestrating and controlling my course. I don't want to write my own story. I want it to come from the mind and heart and hand of God. I want to lean into him and partner with him as he slowly and carefully and gracefully guides my steps and uses those passions to draw me more deeply into my calling and ultimately, more deeply to him.

God is HUGE. Bigger than we could ever imagine. And he can do anything with our lives, both mine and yours. We cannot out dream or out plan our God. Like it says in Ephesians, he is able to do immeasurably more than anything we could ever ask, think, dream, or imagine. (3:20) 

I want those things this year. All those things I couldn't possibly think to ask, dream, or imagine and I want every single and little last bit of the "immeasurably more."

I'm leaning in and partnering with God as he writes my story. I'm ready and willing. Want to join me?

What are you passionate about? 

What makes you come alive? 

Whatever it is, it isn't random. 

It speaks to your design and your calling in this world.


What does this post stir in your heart? What comes to mind when you sit with this quote for a while? I'd love to hear in the comments below.


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January 2, 2014

Best of 2013: The Posts

I'm snuggled up with a blanket and staying warm near our little electric fireplace as "Winter Storm Hercules" begins his crawl into Northern Virginia. Snow is falling out my window… so beautiful and peaceful and lovely. My children went back to school today but not a one of us would mind if school gets cancelled tomorrow. Oh how we love a snow day! And a long three day weekend is always welcome too, even when we've just had almost two weeks off for Christmas vacation.

It's January 2nd and we're off with a bang into 2014… a new year full of promise and potential.  I'm curious and excited to see all that God has in store and I'm sensing good things… really good things.  I'm looking ahead with hope and prayer, but still taking time to reflect on the past year and savor all that I learned and experienced.

Several of the blogs I follow have been doing "Best Of 2013" posts and I thought it would be fun to join in.  It's always good for my heart to look back and remember.  So, without further ado, I give you a retrospective of my year in blogging…  my top ten most read posts.



This might be one of my most vulnerable posts this year.  It took me hours and hours to write… so hard to put to words what was on my heart. I almost hit delete on this one and yet it ended up being my most read post of 2013. Clearly, God was up to something. 





This post was inspired by a homeless man we met on the streets of Washington, DC on Thanksgiving Day. God used that poor, dear man to make me all the more aware of my own poverty 
and of how much I desperately need Jesus.





A post inspired by my girl… her cute, quirky ways and the funny things she says. It's astounding how often God uses my children to speak to me, to heal my heart, and teach me more about myself and him. He so gently and beautifully parents me as I parent them.





Oh how God continues to draw me up and call me out and challenge me to walk in the authority and strength he's given me. I found more courage in 2013 than I had in 2012 and I hope and pray
for the grace to be even braver in 2014.





This post was inspired by an adorable video I discovered on YouTube and an even cuter little girl. It's proof that out of the mouths of babes comes great wisdom.





Written just days before we moved into our new home, these were my thoughts on the then craziness of our lives. All these months later, I smile as I look back at that time,
glad that the move is behind us and grateful for how far we've come.






 My very first post in the series "What I'm Listening To" and one that's near to my heart since it's about our children… how they fill our home with song and put our lives to music. It's also about how God uses music to speak to my heart and draw me near to him.
  




I originally wrote this post in the summer of 2012 but sensed I should revisit it, linger in its words for a bit, and post it again. It's funny how God often takes me back to my own writing to teach me and remind me of what's true. I should probably read this post at least once a week.






A post about grace being the standard and not perfection… about going easy on myself and not demanding and insisting that I be everything. These have been encouraging and helpful words along the journey of becoming.




One of my favorite posts because it's brutally honest and real and a bit embarrassing as well. Oh that my words would be sweet like honey each and every moment of the day!
Jesus in me, help me with this...




Looking back, it's been a wonderful, heart-wrenching, life-stretching, enjoyable year of writing. I can hardly believe I'm entering my third year of blogging. I'm so grateful for this space to chronicle my journey, write my story, and spill out and process the many things God continues to teach me and craft in my heart. Thanks for taking the time to read, for hearing my heart, for your comments and encouragement. This can sometimes be a quiet place where I wonder if I'm making any sense and wonder what my voice truly sounds like to you, my readers. Your kind words inspire me and encourage me to keep at it. I'm grateful. I'm looking forward to another year of writing and I'm anxious to see what God continues to do with the words he gives me. This space, this blog, is all his and it's my deepest desire that he would use it for his glory and to touch the hearts of others.



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