February 28, 2014

What I Love Most About Life

The afternoon sun shone warmly through the windows as we stood in the kitchen and chatted while I started to make supper. We talked about her day at school and just generally about life… laughing, sharing, and confiding. I listened and offered, loving and affirming her as she talked, and she so beautifully did the same for me. What a gift to my heart this girl is.

"Momma, what's the one thing you love most about life?" she asked with a big smile on her face, her blue eyes dancing with curiosity. I stopped for a minute and thought. Hmmm…

I don't usually like those sorts of questions, though my kids love to ask me them. What's your favorite food? What's your favorite movie? If you were stranded on an island, what one thing would you want to take with you?… and so forth. I'm terrible at answering those questions because I can never pick just one thing. I have lots of favorites, lots of things I enjoy, and if I were stranded on an island, there's just way too many things I would want to take with me to limit it to just one.

But this time and with this particular question, I knew the answer. I knew right away that the one thing I love most about life is HOPE.

No matter how horribly life may unfold… no matter the struggle, the loss, the heartache, the tension or conflict we may know, there is always hope. ALWAYS. And that hope doesn't come from people, from this world, from any material thing, or any other source, that hope can only be found in Jesus and in him alone.

Nothing is impossible for him. NOTHING. He's all-knowing and all-powerful and all-wise, and he rules and reigns sovereignly over everything. He's constantly working and moving in our lives and on our behalf to bring about good, to bring forth his purposes. Whether or not we can see or feel it, it's true. There's always more that he has in store for us… more healing and life and love to be found. Things are never finished, over and done, bleak and useless. There is always hope.

In Proverbs 43:5 it says... 

"Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God."
~ The Message

Whatever your story is and wherever life may have you, put your hope in God. He sees you, my friend. He sees your pain and struggle. He knows every little detail of your life and he's working them all together for good. You can trust him. He loves you more than you can possibly imagine. And he is good. Oh, how he is good. Fall back into his arms and rest in the hope he so freely gives… a hope that cannot be shaken, stolen, or destroyed. Stand firm. Fix your eyes on Jesus. He has you. He wants to be your very hope. 


From our trip to the beach last summer… a rainbow, the promise of hope on the horizon.


"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer."
~ Romans 12:12

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."
~ Romans 15:13

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, 
to give you a future and a hope."
~ Jeremiah 29:11

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you."
~ Psalm 39:7 

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February 22, 2014

Getting It Right

One morning this week, as I drove my son to school in my usual jammies and slippers and big heavy coat, we chatted about the day ahead and how much he loves sports.

He was telling me all about a game he once played and this one particular play where he felt really alive and strong and proud, and I listened and smiled and nodded as he talked. I was totally engaged and present, or so I thought, but unfortunately I got it all wrong.

When he finished telling me about his clever punts and passes, I said something like, "Ahhh… That's awesome, Dude. You're such a great athlete and I'm really looking forward to watching you play soccer this spring." 

And then he turned and looked at me with a blank stare, and being somewhat annoyed said, "Mom, I was talking about football."

Oops.

I quickly apologized and before I made the whole thing worse by defending myself, I thankfully chose humility over pride as he wondered if I was even listening to him in the first place. 

I don't know where my mind goes sometimes. Maybe some of you moms can relate. I'm listening to my kids, engaged, wanting to offer and be present, and yet I get all the details wrong, or sometimes never even hear them in the first place.

I'm sure some part of this is due to multi-tasking as if my life depends on it, and to thinking of a thousand different things at once, but still I hate it. I want to not only listen when they speak, but I want to really hear them, and I want them to KNOW I really hear them.

Michael and I are very blessed that our kids actually talk to us. I know that can be rare with teenagers. Both Jane Anne and Gray confide in us in ways that show their respect and trust, and I want to honor that and honor them, but still I don't always get it right.

And this is where grace and mercy comes in. Where I'm the one needing and asking for both, not my children. And this is where I trust that my children know my heart towards them, regardless of how I respond in the moment, and where I hope they know not only how much I love them, but how much I'm interested in every detail of their lives. And this would also be where I need to give myself huge amounts of grace and mercy for not being the perfect mom and not always getting it right. I'm not superwoman and I'm not God. I'm only human and I can very easily be a little crazy and scatter-brained at times. That, I KNOW, I'm getting right. (smile)


Jesus, thank you for your grace that covers me… my children, my relationship with them, our very hearts and lives. Thank you that you love and accept us, whether we get it right or not. May we offer that same unlimited grace to each other, and to ourselves. 




Of all the pictures we have of Gray playing sports over the years, I think this one may be my favorite. He looks like an angel about to take flight and I love the look of determination on his face. Oh how I love this boy and love being his momma.



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February 21, 2014

Hi There...

Hi there Friends,

I hope this note finds you happy and well, enduring this long winter season with much grace and joy. Maybe it's warm and sunny where you live, or maybe it's cold and icy and snowy like where I live. Either way, I hope you are finding more of Jesus in it all. I certainly I am. There are so many beautiful metaphors to life to be found in this season. Though I want to rush to the balmy, green days of spring, there's much for me to learn yet in these still, quiet days of winter. I'll probably write more about that soon.


This is a first for my blog… a post in the form of a letter, but God is breathing some new life into this place and so I imagine this is just the beginning of many more firsts to come. Change is in the air and I feel it in my heart. God continues to call me up and out, drawing me from the shadows, asking me to offer more of my heart and life. I want nothing more than to walk with him in that so I'm excited to see what's ahead.

I've changed a few things on my site… updated my profile, what this blog's about, added Twitter, and I'm working on a few other changes as well. I'm writing to ask if you'd be willing to offer some feedback and suggestions. I would love to hear from you! Things such as...

What do you enjoy about this blog?

What inspires and encourages you here?

What would you like to see more of?

What would you like to see less of?

And more…

You choose the more. I'm all ears!

You're welcome to leave your responses in the comments section by clicking where it says "comments." If you don't have one of the accounts offered, you can leave your comment anonymously but please sign your name so I know who you are. It's my hope to respond to every comment so check back for my response, or you can also check the "notify me" box and it will be emailed to you.

You can also Tweet me, or message me on Twitter or Instagram if you follow me there. We have a private family Facebook account, but I hope to soon have one of my own so I can interact with you there as well.

Thank you, in advance, for offering your thoughts and suggestions. I really appreciate and value your feedback. And, as always, I'm very grateful for the time you take to read and share in my journey.

With love and grace,

Jenny



Scenes from the frozen tundra that has been my backyard. 
Spring is yet to be found, but it's coming. It will come. Hope upon hope.




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February 5, 2014

Perfectly Imperfect

Last May, I read this post, "Why You Should Show Off Your Imperfections" on Storyline blog, and was encouraged by the author's thoughts on perfectionism. I wrote a post in response to his thoughts but only left it up for a day or so. It was far from perfect and needed some good, strong editing that I didn't have the time to give it. So, almost a year later, here it is again, edited, but still imperfect, which is really what I'm after anyway. (smile)

This post got me thinking about how fast I want to run from perfectionism and throw it off like a thick, bulky coat on a hot summer day. I don't want to be perfect, or need to be perfect, and I definitely don't want the toxic fear and control perfectionism creates and breeds. I don't want it anywhere near me, or near those I love, and I certainly don't want to be the one carrying it around and throwing it on others.

But…  I'm not quite there yet. I have all the makings of a perfectionist and I dabble in the craft much more often than I would like or care to admit. Somehow, I wrongly assume that if everything is in order and seemingly perfect… my schedule, my house, my children, my husband, and me… well, then life will be in order and seemingly perfect, too. Plus, it will feel somewhat safer, more predictable and manageable, and that's the way I like it. False security is probably a good name for it.




When life feels scattered and nuts, when my inner world is rocked and I'm scrambling for solid ground, I find myself making lots of lists, organizing drawers and closets, and fluffing the pillows till they're just so. I straighten the pictures on the wall, arrange the books on the coffee table till they're fully aligned, and I wipe down the counters until there isn't a crumb or smudge to be found. And I do all of this like I breathe… without even thinking about it. I somehow figure that if my outer world is perfect and in order, then my inner world will be too, and all the arranging and straightening and wiping just makes me feel better.

It's RIDICULOUS.

Life is not perfect. We all know that. Just a look at the day's news proves that true. Life is messy and organic and raw, far from pretty, and often quite ugly. We live in a fallen world. Good exists, but evil does too, and this is neither Eden or Heaven. Not only do difficulties and messes and accidents and conflicts happen each and every day, but so do horrible tragedies. It's both futile and impossible to try and prevent them and create and manage a perfect life. It can't be done and to live trying to do so only brings bondage and strife. We'd be so much better off if we recognized that and turned from our perfecting, controlling ways.




There's great beauty and freedom that comes from living perfectly imperfect, real, and honest lives... lives that rely on and rest in God, in his ability to bring good from evil, to turn messes into masterpieces, and to take what is terribly flawed and make it perfect. He never intended for us to hold the world or ourselves together. We are not and will never be in control. He is.

Gratefully, as I become ever more a woman who's free and alive and resting in Jesus, I dabble in perfectionism less and less. But when I do catch myself going there, I purposely mess up the stack of books on the coffee table and leave dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. I don't take a shower and put on makeup, and I stay in my yoga pants, or better yet, my jammies, all day long. I don't make my bed, I let the dust collect on the furniture, and I tell myself to get a grip, lay it down and let it go.




Thank goodness, I don't take myself as seriously as I used to. I know I'm far from perfect and I'm more grateful than ever for God's grace. I really don't need or strive to have it all together anymore, which is such a wonderful thing, because not only am I much more fun to be around, Lord knows I'm terrible at faking it. (smile)


 Am I speaking your language here? Does any of this sound familiar? Do you also have all the makings of a perfectionist? Feel free to share in the comments below, if you'd like. I won't judge you. I'm right there with you and so grateful for a God who doles out endless amounts of grace and patience.


These are perfectly imperfect photos from my home on a random weekday. Though my bathroom and laundry room were a mess, my kitchen sink was looking pretty good, I must say. (winks)



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