1:30am and vulnerability.

21 Apr

Confession: I have been living in a rut that I’m just dying to get out of. I’m up late tonight (and so many nights), feeling like I need to put another stake in the ground. Like I need to declare this moment as a turning point…and it’s got to be. It just has. to. be.

I’m awake in the middle of my living room at this unholy hour, because I am fighting a battle that feels like it’s against flesh and blood when I know it’s so much more than that. My chest is heavy, as they’ve all been in this house for the past few days. Everyone has taken their turn with a nasty cold gone wrong, and thankfully (but miserably), I am trailing the pack. This means the kiddos are improving daily and Jason is on the upswing, but I’m still working my way through the worst parts. I’ve mentioned it before, but I am not a good patient. And I’ve had far more practice in the past few months than I ever imagined, which challenges me to my core. I am much better at being the nurse than the patient. So much better.

The reality I’m facing isn’t life or death, although we’ve worked through all of those fears and emotions for more than one of us in this house since December, which feels like more than enough. The truth is that I’ve been down or working hard to take care of someone who is down for nearly all of the days of 2015, and I am weary.

I am weary of trying so hard every day to find the silver lining in all of the mess. I am weary of carrying guilt for not just being grateful all of the time, in spite of life’s challenging imperfections. I am weary of asking more of our kiddos than should be asked of them at almost four and one and a half years old. I am weary of saying “no” to the little ones I love so much, simply because my emotional self or my physical self quite honestly can’t say “yes.” I am weary of feeling blurry and unsure around the edges instead of sharp and with it and pulled together. This is outside of my comfort zone…a place I never planned to be or to stay for very long at all. But God is up to something.

God is up to something and all I can surmise is that the enemy hates it. Life has thrown so many distractions at our little family in the past four months that sometimes I can hardly breath. Or I feel like I’m just treading water and getting nowhere, instead of making progress forward like (what feels like) everyone else around me.

I’m writing tonight, because after some time in prayer and hashing things out with both God and in warfare, I feel like all of these lies of inadequacy and stagnancy and suffocating need to be exposed. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m not the only mom (or woman or person) who has faced these lies since 2015 began, and feeling alone on top of everything else is like one big kick when you’re already down.

As best as I can remember, I haven’t had an ear infection since I was a kid. All day today, my ears and head have been ringing and pounding–reverberating with the awfulness that is this (springtime?) cold. So why of all nights, when I’m physically sick and dizzy and overtired, would God keep me awake at this hour? Because for all of these days that I’ve felt like I’m a battle ground for something, I am. And for the sake of what I feel called to do, I know that God is asking me to dig my heels in even deeper. Tonight, that means prayer and to be honest here in this space. Wherever that meets you, if it meets you, wherever you are. Or wherever that puts me, on the trajectory that God has for my life and journey as a wife, a mother, a child of the most extraordinary King.

There have been few moments in the last, very long string of days that I can recall not feeling dependent on God. I haven’t done a stellar job of reflecting that in my actions at all times, but I am truly, truly in a new and further abandoned place with the Lord. I don’t like this kind of vulnerability, and yet, I do. I’m safer here, more fully sold out for a God who knows all of my days and all of my needs, insecurities, misgivings and fears, long before I’m ever aware of them.

This is a crazy journey we’re on, and I am doing my best to be enthusiastic that it means beautiful things are on the horizon. I’m depending on that truth, because this life is so fleeting, and our troubles are light and momentary, even when they feel weighty and everlasting. We’re promised as much. Glory be to the God who is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask, dream or imagine. Infinitely more than our highest hopes…He calls us to ask Him, and we need to and should. I need Him every hour.

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called to wait: the hope of glory through the Lenten season.

27 Mar

Lent. The season of waiting. Winter to spring. Cold to warmth. Death to Resurrection. Can you imagine if, like Christ’s life, all of ours were written down for the world to read? Wouldn’t it be amazing to see the plot lines drawn out in front of us–God weaving timelines and plans to craft beautiful stories of how He has grown and changed us over time? What He has done with timing and sequence to draw out our lives like literary works of art?

I have no doubt that God has planned timing in my life in the same way that He has planned the seasons. There is rhythm and pattern, sameness and variation in all of the right places. Though I’m challenged at times to find the purpose in an experience while I’m having it, I can always look back and see where things makes better sense than I’d imagined they would. We are always evolving and learning through what God allows into our lives.

When I can’t see or make sense of what is in front of me, I take great comfort in trusting that I’ve heard God’s truth and seen His goodness, many times over. I know that He gives me just enough information to carry me through, which I consider grace. This keeps life feeling like an adventure, which is SO beautiful, even in the unknown.

I can’t see more than a few feet in front of me, and there is freedom in it. “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has troubles of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” I can live out this wisdom more and more as I trust more deeply that my plans pale in comparison to the Lord’s. What can I know that He has not already considered?

When my life correlates so directly with the timing of seasons, I can see most clearly that God is at work. I know that He knows my literary heart, and that I find peace–joy, even–in finding the patterns and making connections. As we wait for a true spring in the midst of a relentlessly lingering winter (at least here in the Midwest), as we prepare for the remembrance of Christ’s death and wait with expectation for His Resurrection, how fitting that we would also wait for our own?

“Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” -Psalm 51.6-12

Please let it be so, God, that I would be faithful to you in the waiting; that I would be worthy of your work in my life. At the foot of the cross, Lord, I find rest. At the heart of this Lenten season, Father, I find your Holy Son. Thank you for His story. And thank you for His humanity, that we can see ourselves in His struggle and rejoice in His Resurrection as we long for our own.

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weighty mountains will move.

20 Mar

I’ve faced new adversity this week and experienced both deep struggle and great peace. This contrast is significant to me, and the battle to strike a balance is so palpable and real. I have teetered on a tall, tall fence–fear and worry and hopelessness on one side, and God and grace, rest and joy on the other. Invited into our lives, God’s relentless pursuit and presence is unparalleled in power. I am amazed.

Last week, I went for my annual checkup. I am 32 and generally quite healthy. I never go to the doctor expecting for the sky to fall–I just head there, glad that my next wellness visit will be 365 days later. I have been so fortunate.

This visit did not meet my vision.

My doctor noted several areas of concern and ordered a few big (to me) tests. I trust his judgment almost implicitly, and I know that he doesn’t regularly jump the gun. We are always straightforward with one another–something I appreciate so highly about him. Because of this, he tells me things honestly and doesn’t mince words or thoughts, good or bad. I’m glad and I want it that way. But I’d heard words like mass and cancer and “healthy two years from now…” and I couldn’t get them out of my head. Despite his encouragement not to worry, fear welled up easily and quickly. I tried to look past myself and my thoughts, but I wasn’t able. I looked to my army instead.

I shared with a few close friends and our closest family and I asked for prayer. Ok, I begged for prayer. And I begged in prayer. My tests were scheduled for a whole week later, which seemed like a lifetime. I spent the weekend trying to be distracted and noticing every little thing about life….our kids, our relationships, the sunrise, the sunset, the sense that God was right here with me, in spite of my penchant for worry and all of the looming possibilities. In moments, I could block out all of the negative thoughts and what if’s, and in others, I was terrified. Still human over here.

I think my mind wandered to 1,000 places. Diligently fighting back the bad thoughts was hard, hard work, but I had so much help. And I have to say, even when I let myself slip into the very worst possibilities, I found God reminding me of the good. Quite gratefully, I tasted a new longing for the promises of eternity. I gained empathy in a new light. I found myself relishing moments I often look past. I wish it didn’t take such dramatic and traumatic experiences for me to pay this notice in the daily, always, but I am thankful for the practice. Grace showed up in the opportunity to exercise my pursuit and recognition of Christ.

I have been to the most desperate places of my heart this week, dear friends. I have begged on my knees. And I have rested in some of the greatest peace. It is WORTH it to pursue Christ. So, so worth it. He can meet us where we think there is only room for despair–and He WANTS to–isn’t that crazy?! All we have to say (and I did this a lot this week when I didn’t have words) is JESUS. With that, we’ve invited Him in. Weighty mountains will move.

My tests were Tuesday and Wednesday. I was so encouraged and blessed by all of the texts and loving “thinking of you” messages filling up those two days. I felt surrounded in lonely, isolating places. I am not a good patient, but we muddled through. And after the tests were over? Peace. So much peace. Even before the results came in. I’ve since heard from two doctors–one mine and one new, and mine had great news. A normal CT scan, ruling out every major abdominal issue or concern. You can imagine how much my heart danced at that news! The weight of that worry, lifted in an instant. The second bit of news wasn’t as simple, but what I’ll say is that God is busy at work answering prayers. Still, peace, despite the unknowns that we’ll sort through in the weeks to come.

A grateful heart doesn’t really cover where I am today. There is no way I could experience such rest or peace or joy outside of God. I am overwhelmed by His presence, truly. And I am waiting expectantly, hopeful as I get to sit back and watch what God will do. No matter the outcome, this is all a part of my story and I will praise Him in the waiting. He is the only one with enough grace to wash over me completely and to water down my biggest fears.

If you do not find rest in the arms of a loving God, where do you go for true peace? If you don’t know where to begin, but you need peace desperately, the ask is actually simple: Jesus? Jesus, I need you. Can you find me in this mess? I don’t want to do this on my own. Help.

He doesn’t even have to look for you–He knows right where you are. He knows right where we are. And He wants to be invited. Our messes and our failings don’t surprise Him, and He does not condemn. He just…loves. Where are your mountains today? What do you need God to move? Believe that He can do it, and He will. No one can know better what we need than the God who created us. I believe that with all my heart.

grace and peace beyond measure, dear ones.

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Psalm 91

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
    and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the Lord your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
    to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

 

spring and sanctification.

13 Mar

The last time I wrote, I closed feeling so hopeful, reminding myself and anyone reading that there was “life springing up under all that bitter cold, that tired ground.” That was only two weeks ago, but the sky was gray and there was snow piled up EVERYWHERE. Everyone I talked with was feeling a bit like winter would never end. Fifteen days later, the sun is shining and the piles of snow are losing their fight to gloriously warm temps. The drudges of winter are literally melting away in every corner.

In contrast to February’s gloomy gray, I’ve wandered today in bright orange boots, sans jacket, under a remarkable spring sky. There are signs of hope and good things coming, surely, but I’ve spent the past 48 hours battling truth and clinging to hope and mustering up joy, and honestly, my heart hasn’t felt like keeping up with the weather.

I’m writing today, not to pour out a great testimony or to shout from the rooftops how great a God we serve (although we do), but instead to say that I’m really battling right now, and that some days it’s hard, hard work to keep trusting God and walking a hopeful path. Sometimes life hands over the pile and it feels too heavy for our own arms to carry. We can cling to the truth that Christ will bear our yokes and shoulder our burdens, and it can still be hard. Knowing the truth doesn’t just make it all go away–we’re human.

I don’t know anyone who praises God perfectly in all circumstances (I’ve met one or two who come close, but I’m not yet one of them). Learning to give glory to God in all things is a lifelong exercise–one that I think comes along with sanctification, which we know is a lifelong process.

I won’t drone on today, even though there is plenty swirling in my head and heart. Maybe somewhere down the line more of it will be worth sharing, and I do hope that’s the case. I just wanted to say that there are going to be days (or weeks or entire seasons) when questioning God and having to work extra hard at choosing joy come with the territory of pursuing a life with Christ.

I’m having one of those weeks and begging God that it doesn’t last for seasons. Maybe you are, too, and if you are, we’re in it together. I wanted you to know that. The words feels a little harder this afternoon, but I think they still matter.

Please let me know if/how I can be praying for you, and if you feel so led, I would covet your prayers for peace and healing on this end, too.

grace to you,

mm

expect the Lord.

26 Feb

“Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.” Ps.27.14

We’re always waiting for something, aren’t we? At this time of year, in this part of the world, no matter what else we’re waiting for, we’re at least wondering when spring will finally arrive. If that’s the only thing, it can still feel like a lot, with this thick, heavy blanket of snow covering all signs of life and hope.

But it’s not very often the only thing. I think winter perfectly amplifies this sense in all of us that we’re supposed to be waiting on something. We are. In everything, we’re supposed to be waiting on God–and we’re even called to be hopeful and expectant in that waiting. This can be SO very hard. I know it. I know the feeling deeply, especially as of late, when it seems like I am leaning on God in all of the waiting for all of the things.

It’s a beautiful, vulnerable, trying place to be.

I’m feeling so stripped down right now. Like God is doing something waaaaay down deep, at the core of who I am, in the most cathartic, challenging, put-your-whole-trust-and-self-into-your-faith-in-me kind of ways. I honestly feel so bare that I keep turning to God as my default because nothing else even makes sense. Yikes. Nothing else even makes sense? No. Nothing else is an even remotely attractive option. Is it possible that this was the way things were supposed to be, for this reason, all along?

I need God so intensely that everything else pales…there’s no other good solution. No quick fix. No miracle bandaid. Nope. Just me and God, sifting through it all, and me, trying to be open enough to the process to be refined and formed and made more like Him, for His glory.

It’s all so very raw and incredible. God’s plan is perfect–in hardship and in suffering, in celebration and in joy. In joy in the midst of suffering. Perfect. And there is unspeakable peace when become people of invitation to God, trusting that we can wait for Him. Hope for Him. Expect Him to show up.

He is showing up, people. I’m putting all of my eggs in one basket on that one. I can’t even fathom why I ever thought there was a better place for those crazy, fragile, hopeful eggs to be. Except that I’m broken like the rest. Totally and completely broken without Christ, before Christ.

I have never needed Jesus more than I need Him right now. None of us have. We need Him every moment of every hour of every day. I’ve had moments when I thought I didn’t need Him. When I figured I could handle things on my own. Not a whole lot changed for me in those seasons. It was fairly hopeless, me trying to make a go of life in my know-it-all way. But things are changing mightily now. I believe it wholeheartedly, even when I can’t see it.

Once you tell the Lord you’re ready for Him to move, get ready. He’s gonna move. Wait for it. Hope for it. Expect it with all you have in you. And know that there is life springing up under all that bitter cold, that tired ground.

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when your heart is troubled.

17 Feb

Henry and Eloise,

Like so many grown ups around you, my heart is heavy with the news of things happening around the world over the past few days, weeks and months. You are still so small, and it brings me peace to know that, for now, your hearts and minds are shielded from the harsh realities of evil and hatred that the grown ups around you are grappling to process. Thank goodness for your innocence and naivety at this age–it is so hopeful to look at you both and see the way that you approach life with such freedom and enthusiasm. As your mama, it is so beautiful to get lost in your world with you and tuck away from the darkness that tries so hard to weigh down the days otherwise. You are reminders of our faithful God and His urging to us to have childlike faith.

I need a good dose of childlike faith when I read the news and see modern day persecution blasted all over its pages. I need to cling to the very basic Truths you are beginning to understand as children of God–His love and our ability to totally rest in His plans, His joy, His peace. I need to show you through my own life just how much I put my faith in Him and His sovereignty, and I hope I can set a great example of this for you, if even a little bit at a time.

You don’t need to know what’s happening in the world around you just yet. You will be plenty aware of it in time. Goodness knows, I wouldn’t do you any favors to teach you to fear the things of this world, and I pray that as much as is possible, you won’t. I also pray that you will grow mightily in your faith. Put your trust in God and CLING to His Word and His Truth. Dive into Psalm 91 and REST in his promise that you need not fear terror in the night, or flying arrows in the day. If you choose Him, God will remain your place of safety; His promises will arm you and protect you.

Be wise and vigilant, little ones. Put your energies into knowing God more and more. LIVE in his Word. Hide His Truth in your hearts. Do not be troubled when trouble comes, because Christ has overcome the world and all trouble in it!

I love you more than I can tell you, sweet babies. And as much as it’s my inclination to want to guard you and protect you fiercely when evil shows its face, I know that the safest place for you is in the care of our Mighty and Fearless and Trustworthy God. When your heart is troubled, run to me, absolutely. But run to Him as well. Claim His peace and His sovereignty as you make your way. And be fearless for the Kingdom. It is ever so much more clearly at hand, and the world needs you to arm yourselves with Truth as it makes its way.

Remember the Cross and what it means for your freedom. When you carry it’s beautiful weight with you, when you lift it up as Truth in a broken world, God will use you in ways you can only imagine. Your story has only just begun!

loving you fiercely and boldly today, Hanker and Ella-bee, and praying you up.

mama

co-travelers and bumpy roads.

31 Jan

I woke up at 10:20am today. First let me say, this is not normal. And (quite) thankfully, I’m not ill. A late start wasn’t exactly what I’d planned for today, but when you fall asleep on the couch in an awful position for six hours, you pour yourself into your actual bed in hopes that the kiddos will sleep one more precious hour in the morning. 10:20am with two young kiddos is basically a dream.

It’s also evidence of sacrifice–in this case, on the part of my husband, who has been through plenty in these past few weeks to justify needing the extra hours of rest. Instead though, he got up and tended to the kiddos’ needs for a long while before I ever came around. And when I did wake up? He asked whether he could make me breakfast or get me coffee. Not coffee out of the pot in the kitchen, but coffee from the sweet little shop down the street. I didn’t take him up on his offer, but I was blown away and filled with gratitude.

Because you know what?

We spent last night hashing out big life things. Hard things. We both fell asleep super late, mid-conversation, and we didn’t go to bed on great terms. We don’t like to make a habit of doing that, but our exhaustion got the best of us last night and it’s how things ended up.

And this morning?

Jason could have chosen anger or frustration, selfishness or justification, and our day would have gone an entirely different way. Instead, he woke up and chose service, love, forgiveness, and thoughtfulness. He chose Christ over sin and our marriage and family over himself. The result is a beautiful ripple effect that equals love and grace in our home today. A ripple that models what doing life together can look like. To our kiddos, to me, to whoever reads this humble blog. I’m SO thankful.

This afternoon, I’m sitting at that sweet little coffee shop down the road, spending a handful of hours writing, praying, dreaming, planning. Because Jason offered up this time, too, staying home with H and E and giving me space to rest and be. And the rewards are gigantic, let me tell you.

-Because my kiddos get to have their daddy to themselves this afternoon, which is beautiful.

-Because I will go home refreshed and ready to face the rest of the weekend, and the week ahead.

-Because I’m looking to forward dating my husband over cards or a movie or a conversation once the kiddos are in bed tonight.

-Because when we work as a team, we can accomplish far more than we’re able to on our own.

-Because choosing reconciliation and peace is always better than choosing unforgiveness.

-Because when men model the love of Christ in their homes, God honors their faithfulness.

-Because we are called to love each other more than ourselves, and Jason doing so today leads me to love him even more.

Marriage is hard work indeed. And at its finest, it is teamwork and Kingdom building work. The very closest example of God’s love and commitment to us. What a glorious gift! The road is not smooth, but bumpy and adventurous. And we are imperfect co-travelers, far better for the journey when we look down the path together, in the same direction.

mm

 

guilt is a five letter word.

24 Jan

I’m a stay at home mom. I’m a lot of other things, too, but when a new acquaintance asks, “So what do you do?” this is now my reply. It hasn’t always been. I used to work outside of our home, and even when I stepped back from outside job responsibilities, I felt some kind of need or desire to pad my answer. For a while, “stay at home mom” felt like it had to come with a preface. A “just” or an “I’m only.” Slowly but surely I’m learning not to cut myself short for this significant role, but it’s hard.

A stay at home mom. The guilt can start right there, can’t it? Even for moms who want to stay at home and love to stay at home, somehow guilt attaches itself to this title. If I stay at home full time and other moms can’t (but want to), there’s guilt in the freedom I have to be at home with my littles. If I stay at home full time and other moms don’t, and they have great peace about balancing two roles, there’s guilt in not contributing to the world in some other way outside of being a wife and mom. If I stay at home with two children I’ve carried in utero, and other moms with beautiful mama hearts are still waiting for answered prayers and babies of their own, there is guilt in knowing that I didn’t bear the same struggle. I’m telling you, in this comparison game we play as mamas, guilt seems to think it can sneak in all around.

Guilt isn’t just for the stay at home mom, though. It darkens days for the mama who wants so badly to stay at home but isn’t able for any number of reasons. It’s painfully tangible for the mama who desperately desires to carry her own babies, and for the one who waits with hope and expectation for the day that God makes her a mother through adoption. There’s guilt for the mama who has babies of her own, but who has also lost babies of her own. In motherhood, as in other areas of life, the good we do and the prayers we pray and the hopes we have still do not always drown out the voices in our heads that we aren’t good enough. We aren’t productive enough. Our bodies aren’t capable enough. We aren’t enough.

But here’s the thing.

This guilt and those voices and the feelings of not being enough–for any host of valid and challenging and very real reasons–each come from a place that is not of God, in an effort to thwart our passions and determination to do the very (important!) things that He has called us to do. God is not mean, and He is not poor. The deepest desires of our hearts come from the overflow of His heart into our lives…the outpouring of His spirit over us, so that we are drawn to the tasks and adventures He has planned for us here on earth. He doesn’t promise which way He will take us to get to the very things He has for us. He promises, if we trust Him and open our hands to what He has in mind, that He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. He promises that we are His, and that He calls us as His own.

My microscopic view of the call God has placed on my life is insignificant, compared to what He has for me…for my family, my marriage, my future. And it’s not likely to look exactly how I thought it would, or how I thought it should. It hasn’t already. I would never have invited pain into my own life the way that God has allowed it in. And I would never have imagined how He could use that pain for good in any way. Starting out marriage in a scary place, halfway around the world. Trying to gain traction in our marriage–at a cost, afterwards. Facing the death of someone incredibly close. Miscarriage. Five months of worry and sleepless nights and emotion after our second baby was born. Trying to rewrite the trajectory of our family and build a legacy of covenant and commitment for our children. Jason’s accident and our subsequent grappling with the brevity of life, the lasting impact of split second moments, and the sovereignty of God that creates perspective and wonder about the future and His plans for our lives.

This side of eternity, we just can’t see all of the things. It isn’t possible. And unless we allow ourselves to be brought to a place where we lean so hard on God that His peace and joy break through, we feel the weight of this world, no matter our position. We carry guilt that God never intended us to carry. We remain prisoners of our own circumstances, convinced we are the ones who have to find every answer, convinced we have to be miserable or lonely or without hope. I’m here to tell you that we don’t. We can’t possibly. And there is more peace than we could ever need or ask for when we seek God, who is generous and attentive and tangible and real.

I am a stay at home mom because this is the call that God has placed on my life for this moment, in this season. He has other things for me, too, and He’s revealing them all the more as I try to rest in His presence in my current role and circumstance. Life is not peaceful, and the world is certainly waiting to steal away our joy if we let it. So is guilt. LET’S NOT LET THEM. We are warriors, and whatever it is that we are called to in the here and now, it’s our job to do it and to do it well. God empowers us in our calling, and He gives us what we need for each day, offering a fresh start every single morning. We can’t feel guilty about any of that, and we sure can’t afford to waste it.

I will intentionally say NO to guilt in 2015. I will make the days count. I will own my stay-at-home motherhood and thank God for what He has called me to, even when it feels crazy-hard.

i’m praying peace over the contents of your day today, and asking God for joy on your behalf. i pray you find it in the greatest and smallest things as you say NO to guilt and YES to your highest calling.

mm

well hello, 2015.

3 Jan

I’m not much one for surprises, really, but I do like change. So I like that the new year comes, as expected, every 365 (or 366) days, and I also love that it brings about new beginnings and fresh starts and the sense for everyone that we’re on the cusp of possibility. Sitting around a dinner table for eight with a beautifully radiant group of women a few weeks back, I shared what I most looked forward to in 2015–the fact that we (our little family) didn’t really know what good was in store, and the fact that I’m committed to diving into book writing this year (whoa). It felt great to put myself out there to friends new and old, to actually SAY I’d be writing a book, and to think about the year to come in a glinty, sort of romanticized kind of way. 2015 was attractive to me at the dinner table that night, and it still is (and maybe more so). But the very next morning, my husband Jason got hit by a truck and lived to tell about it, and that phone call and these past few weeks have ushered in 2015 a bit differently than I’d imagined.

In the midst of J’s crazy (and miraculous) accident and recovery, we’ve had moments of immense gratitude, a magnificent array of emotions, a new and different kind of juggling with our house/days/kiddos/life, the holidays(!), lessons in grace and humility, and a fresh experience with the depth of love between two people in covenantal marriage. I am thankful for nearly all of these things, despite the fact that many have been harder than we could have imagined. I will hope to unpack more of the accident and our experience somewhere down the road, but for now (and hopefully to quell concern), J is home, walking on his own two feet, and improving daily. If you saw him out and about, you wouldn’t know his body faced a truck head on two weeks ago, but he is certainly still healing. It will be something, to look back together in a year, or ten years, and to see what has come of one split second moment on an icy December morning. For now we are just so grateful–that he is here, that God has more for J to do on this earth, that our littles still have their daddy, that I’m not trying to forage a path into the new year without him.

Today I was able to sneak away to a nearby coffee shop during nap time, and to soak in God’s word and spend time in prayer and reflection over the year ahead. I’ve been aching to define a word for 2015 as I’ve done previously in 2011, 2012 and 2014, and I’m confident I’ve landed on the perfect fit for these next twelve months: intention.

Intention: In Latin, intentio, defined as ‘stretching or purpose’. Derived from the Latin intendere, which, translated involves a host of definitions that sync beautifully with what I feel God has placed on my heart:

…to have a course of action as one’s purpose or objective…design for a particular purpose or end…to have in mind as something to be done or brought about…to direct the mind on…directed with strained or eager attention…concentrated…

As I prayed this afternoon, digging into one scripture verse I’d heard over and over since asking God to take charge of my 2015, I landed firmly on “intention” as the guide and filter for my steps in the coming year. I have such peace, settling on a focal point that I’m trusting God will honor in the days ahead.

Eph 4.1, 15-16: Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God…15 we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

These words will be my lamplight in 2015, in the midst of the good and the bad, the expected and unexpected, the scary and the crazy-beautiful. We forage a path with God or without God, but with Him, He gives us grace for the journey. He generously offers us boldness and courage in the smallness of the daily, in the magnitude of loss and love and life change, in the heart-stopping phone call on a random Thursday morning, in the book whose unwritten pages have a purpose yet unseen.

cheers to a year of living with intention in every way possible. and love.

mm

loud in here.

20 Nov

Every time I turn around lately I am reminded of one thing: God’s grace is sufficient. He is MORE than enough.

We don’t need to bridge the gap, because HE does. Every time we ask Him, and so many times when we’re too clouded by a given moment to make the request, He does. There is nothing–not any one thing, that is too big (or too small) for Him. And what we see, from our vantage point in any situation, is such a microscopic, limited view of a much, much, much bigger picture. This is such a hard truth, but a good one to tuck in our back pockets.

In these past few weeks (months?) I’ve worked diligently at getting quiet. If you know me, you know that I don’t have a history of being good at this. I am not a quiet person (what?!), and I’ve never been a “no” person. As a result of this dynamic duo, my life has rarely been quiet. For a long time, I’ve kept a schedule that is louder than loud. Too many directions and too many commitments at the expense of too many things. The heart behind it was never bad (at least intentionally), but conviction has merit, and in my case, the conviction to strip down my life has finally grown louder than the way I’ve been living. Imagine this: God can get louder than the lives we’re living, and if we ask Him for input and give Him a little room, He’s going to get right down to it. He’s going to call us to things, and call us out on things, and love us mercilessly through the hard and the stripped down and the brokenness of the process.

I have a love/hate relationship with this reality, but mostly love. Why? Because I’m not in control anyway, and when I’m not listening for God, I’m just pretending that I am in control and trying to figure out how to run my own life from my very limited point of view. It’s fairly exhausting.

In some seasons I’m better at remembering that I function better with God’s help. But I’m stubborn. I like to have the answers. I want to be able to make everything just right, and on top of it all, I’m human. I’m also learning. The more I make room for God in my life, the more He makes room in my life for the things that should have been there in the first place. It’s not always the type of room I expected, but it’s the best kind of room.

And sometimes the packaging is strange…

I wake up in the morning, and all I want to do is go back to sleep. I went to bed too late (again), but I know that if I don’t get up, I won’t get a shower in before all of the crazy begins (and I’m not a very nice person if I haven’t had a shower before all of the crazy begins). So I talk myself out of sleeping longer by weighing my options. And I ask God for help. Since I’ve started making more room for God again, I crave my time with Him. Akin to my need for a shower to make my day right, I need some time with God, too. And I’m not very productive in that time if I haven’t showered. You get the picture: I wake up in the morning and I ask God for the time I need to take a shower. Then I ask Him for more time to spend with Him, in the quiet. Before the kiddos wake up. On my part, I just have to get out of bed.

The packaging is strange, because the time I’m getting rarely looks like I expected. This morning, it was Henry and me, side by side on the couch, reading Psalms and 1 Corinthians together. Strange, because my three year old is obligingly listening to an NLT translation of the Bible aloud, and I’m finding time for God even after the littles have entered into the mix. Beautiful for the exact same reasons.

I don’t share this so anyone reading feels guilty about the time they did or didn’t spend with God today. I share this to say I wasn’t doing it, and now I am doing it, and it’s only by the grace of God that that’s happening. I play a very little part, truly.

This is apparent all over my life right now, and it’s catching and glorious and scary and wildly attractive. God is giving me space for the quiet. Not only that, but He is cultivating an even greater desire in me for solitude. I drove 30 minutes home tonight in the car by myself, and I didn’t once think to turn on the radio or call someone. I can’t remember the last time that happened. I say “no” to things all of the time these days, and that power isn’t my own–not at all. And it’s not to offend or isolate or exclude. It’s just the thing that God is calling me to right now, and He’s giving me the ability to do it.

In my life, in this season when things should otherwise seem quite loud and busy and maddening, I feel peace. It’s not my own. But God can use it. And I know He will.

Please be encouraged by this and not discouraged. We are reminded as Christ offers His peace, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” So many people I love are hurting right now, for reasons grand and small. When you’re in the trenches, it can all feel insurmountable, no matter the scale. I understand this deeply. I am getting quiet on your behalf, friends. Please let me know how I can pray for you. Email me, call me, drop a note in the mail. I really, really mean it.

take heart, dear ones.

mm

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