a story for bedtime. and every time.

22 Jun

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6.25-26

I spotted it while washing a tomato at the kitchen sink before dinner. The fragile flit of wings against a rock below the hedge. I shouldn’t have noticed it, not really; not while the kids were clamoring for food and the bacon was sizzling right out of the pan, not while a new storm was rolling in and the sky was darkening corners of the house. But, instinct. Instinct rolled in, too, like a mother bird who knows to build a nest…who knows to warm the eggs…who knows to keep the nestlings safe, and then…

There she was, and she was calling out. That same sweet sound I’ve heard from the window over and over again, but desperate. That same sweet mama hopping anxiously from her baby to the tree above and back. I was sure of what had happened before I could clearly make it out through the panes. New life had fallen on her watch and she was panicked. Nothing to do but try to convince her babe to take flight, and it was much too soon.

Something moved in me to take action, and as I think on it, I know three reasons why:

1) I have loved these birds through the window for months on end and they bring me great joy. They belong. Here.

2) My mama heart imagined being her mama heart and in an instant, I ached.

3) I love a happy ending, and darkness doesn’t win in the end.

God drew my attention to this little life today–I’m convinced of it. Even if only to spare the life of a tiny bird, but more likely, to spare mine. To provide a glimpse into His heart, without question.

The details of what followed are important, and not. I set my babies up quickly with something to stay safely occupied indoors. I Googled how to save a baby bird. No, really. I called my neighbor for help, because I’m a little crazy and that’s just the kind of thing you do when you have amazing neighbors and you’re trying to save a baby bird. I prepped a box and ran all around for gloves (plastic bags), a shovel, foil to cover the bacon. I ran outside and prayed to beat the rain.

Overhead, a hawk flew circling. Looming like the gray clouds behind him. Looming as if to thicken the plot. Honestly. I really think God had a story to tell here in our side yard tonight, and God doesn’t miss the details. As my dear friend and I tried to figure out getting this sweet baby back to where he came from, Jason arrived home. Knight in shining armor in that moment. Between them and their enviable height, my willing recruits managed to pick up the tiny cardinal and separate the hedge just enough to set him back in his place. (I only managed to take pictures.) No matter. My heart was light. I nearly cried a few minutes later while I watched from the dinner table as both mama and dad returned to the nest. Such joy!

***

Tonight, as is often his request once tucked into bed, Henry asked me to tell him a “new” story. Something he’s never heard before. Something good, but off the top of my head. Hm. Thinking on my feet as best I could, I recounted the tale of a mama bird and a daddy bird who fell in love, got married, and flew everywhere in search of the perfect home. Without luck, they finally found a place to perch one night and offered up a prayer to God for the home that He intended for them–a place where they could raise a family and where He would keep them safe. Naturally, they found a home…in a lovely hedge in a sweet neighborhood in a smallish town. And naturally the mama soon laid an egg and the egg soon hatched and the daddy returned home to find a sweet baby boy bird in the nest that day.

And then I started to tell Henry that the wind blew a little and the baby bird wobbled and fell out of his nest. But before I could barely get the words out, he began crying and begged me not to let the bird fall out, “It’s too sad, Mom! It’s too scary! Don’t make the bird fall out of the nest! He can’t!!” He wouldn’t let it go until I changed the story altogether. Obviously then, the nestling never fell and the mommy and daddy and baby bird lived happily ever after in their cozy nest. The end.

As I finished, Henry thanked me. “You mixed up my feelings and made them all ok again,” he said. And this really gave me something to consider.

We never want the part where we fall and things are hard, and for a while they even seem dark and looming and impossible to overcome. Of course we don’t. We hate that part. It makes us want to cry and scream, “It’s too scary! I can’t!!” But here’s the thing:

There’s no great story without the fall, and there’s no amazing ending with out the Rescue.

In between, there’s no great plot without the great writer orchestrating all of the details and crafting a reality that none of us could dream up on our own. Without the noticing. Without the calls for help. Without the tugging at our hearts to choose what we know deep down to be the very truest bit of it all, that we have a Creator who made us and sees us and knows when we sit…when we stand…when we fall. And He has sent a great Rescuer on our behalf to scoop us up and put us back. Home. Where we belong. Right with our Father.

“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6.30-33

He cares for us. He cares for us. He cares for us.

Far more than the birds of the air or the flowers of the field, and yet He cares for them, too. Tonight is a perfect tidbit of proof.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6.34

We worry and we fret over the details…big and small…that we’re not sure He sees. But He sees them, I promise you. He covers them, I promise you. And He longs for us to tune in to an awareness and knowledge of Him that He can use for good. Nothing goes unnoticed by the Father. Even when it seems impossible. Even when we fall and fall hard. It’s really an incredible story.

humbly asking to be your hands and feet tonight, God, and to hear your voice even in a whisper. even in a helpless baby bird, a mother crying out, a boy who desperately seeks a happy ending to your great story.

mm

a “little” thing called Lyme.

20 Jun

It’s tick season here in Michigan, and this year, the little pests are out in full force. In years past, we’ve seen a few here and there…the dog comes in with a couple each summer, and I had one several years back while pregnant with Eloise. I’ve never liked the little things, but for the most part, I’ve not feared them either. That is, until this summer.

I’ve been more attuned to ticks this year because a dear friend of mine was recently diagnosed with advance stage Lyme Disease. She is one of the most beautiful people I know, and she is weathering the disease with grace and amazing faith. But she is suffering, and to witness her journey is both humbling and eye-opening. God has woven so many graces into my life through this woman and her family, but this week, her suffering–and her desire to spread awareness about Lyme, has blessed our family beyond measure. Without her story, I would not have been so vigilant with tick checks here at home. And without her story, we would likely have a very different tale to tell about Lyme here in the little blue house…

Our sweet, teensy Eloise was diagnosed with Lyme on Tuesday, after just a few days of watching a tiny bite on her leg go from unremarkable and skin-colored to red to the telltale bull’s eye rash. Friends, this is a God story if I could ever tell one, because a few months ago, I was convicted in my fear of ticks and Lyme and began praying that God would cover our children and family in this arena instead. I am SO unbelievably thankful for the prompting to pray over this area of our lives! Here’s the short version of our week and why I believe God showed up in a mighty way:

-Last weekend, we noticed a small, skin-colored bump just below Eloise’s knee. It had a hard little top, but nothing out of the ordinary. We’ve been doing tick checks on the kiddos regularly this summer, usually at bath time every other night or so, or when we’ve been in an area where we’d suspect a higher tick population (rare, because we’re usually playing in the back yard). We never noticed a tick on Eloise, and this bite seemed very minor. We made a mental note to keep an eye on it.

-On Monday, three days had passed and the bite was now reddish and looked more like a mosquito bite. Eloise complained about it a little, but didn’t seem to want to itch it much. By bedtime, it was red and spreading out to the left and right, with the slightest hint of a white ring around it. My radar was a bit heightened, but I was trying not to worry. ;)

-By Tuesday, the ring was more prominent, and a new red ring developed outside of the white. A friend confirmed my concern that it wasn’t your average mosquito bite, and I called the doctor “just to be safe.” They had an opening an hour later and we snagged it (that never happens!) Our regular doc was off for the day, but the Dr we saw was proactive and cautious. The presence of an erythema migrans (bull’s eye rash) was so fortunate as a tell tale sign of Lyme. Less than 50% of all Lyme cases present with this rash, and it can come and go quickly. Eloise was prescribed an antibiotic and should heal well with early treatment.

-By Wednesday, her leg was looking less remarkable again–the bull’s eye was already on its way out. Can I say how thankful I am that timing was what it was?! We might not have caught the very obvious symptom only 24 hours later.

Leaving the doctor’s office on Tuesday, I was admittedly questioning God a bit, “My little girl? Really?! She’s so tiny! Why not me, instead? I’ve been praying about this, so why the bite? And Lyme?!?! I asked you to protect her!”

I’m not proud of this course of thinking, but I am grateful for it. Over the past few days, and as I’ve read even more about Lyme, God has answered my questions, one by one. He did protect our sweet little girl–in a mighty way! Considering that we never even saw a tick on her (the nymphs that bite and primarily spread Lyme are about the size of a poppy seed), how amazing is it that both her bite and the rash were in an obvious and prominent place? How fortunate are we that Eloise had a rash at all?! How blessed to have health care and great doctors and medicine at our fingertips, that she could be treated early, and that we have access to the appropriate follow up to ensure her health and a full recovery!

And how incredible that God is always turning beauty out of ashes, using one person’s story to make waves and make a difference in the lives of others! I would not ever wish the pain and struggle that my friend is experiencing in her fight against Lyme right now…on anyone. But I know that her heart is to glorify God and to serve Him through her story, and just look! I am so humbled by the way God moves and weaves and protects and carries us.

I wanted to share about Eloise and the week we’ve had because I think awareness is super important. I don’t want anyone else to miss out on treatment at the earliest possible stage, and by nature of where we live, I do want others to know that Lyme is a very real thing. A little soap-boxy, perhaps, but bug spray and tick checks go a long way :)

To learn more about Lyme, symptoms of Lyme, and what to do if you suspect it (rash or no rash), I’ve found the following links helpful:

Children’s Lyme Disease Network (also linked above)

The CDC’s Lyme Disease Fact Sheet for Parents

Boston Children’s Hospital

In case you’re wondering, Eloise has exhibited just a few other symptoms, which I would describe as flu-like and mild in nature. She’s had a very low-grade fever here and there throughout the week, is low-energy with a reduced appetite, and has complained of her leg and knee hurting her, especially when there is any pressure applied to that area. Joint pain and swelling to the knee are also indications of Lyme in children, so something to consider if your child displays any of the above symptoms through these summer months.

Below are pictures of Elle’s rash as it looked on Monday night and in the doctor’s office Tuesday, as well as a new favorite photo of our girl drinking her “coppee!” this morning on a family outing. Thanks so much for your prayers and well wishes this week for our sweet Eloise!

be well!

mm

 

dear henry.

1 Jun

Do you know how magical you are? I mean, truly amazing and more than I could have ever imagined and just…incredible. So much so that I suddenly needed to share it, right in this very moment. I let so many good intentions go by, but this? This one I can’t miss, sweet boy, and I’ll tell you why.

The other day, your daddy was hugging me and your sister was panicking *just* a little. So you know what you did? You sidled right up to her on the steps and sat down at her level. And then in the sugariest, gentlest voice you could possibly manage, this is what you said to her: “It’s oooookaaaaay, Eloise. Don’t be sad. It’s a good thing! Do you know why Daddy hugs Mommy?! It’s because he loves her. They love each other, Eloise. Isn’t that great?! It’s ok for them to be hugging, see?”  And then you hugged her and she was suddenly calm because you had said it was ok. Do you have any idea what that does for your mama’s heart?!

Today I had a moment in the car when too many things welled up at once and I started crying as your dad was driving us down the road. And there you were, in the backseat, not skipping a beat: “I’m really sorry that you’re sad, Mommy…I care about you. I care about you so much, and I love you.”

Oh, Hank, there is no possible way for me to measure your sweetness in moments or memories. It’s been some time since I’ve written to you, and somewhere in the mix you’ve traded in your toddler status and become this ridiculously great BOY. You’re adventurous and daring. You explore every interest thoughtfully and thoroughly, until you’re completely satisfied with the information you’ve gleaned. You share your enthusiasm for things with everyone you know and love. You are not afraid. You are sensitive to people’s feelings, and bold in your determination and your appetite for what is good. Your mind is fascinating. You engage your sister with gentleness and patience and honest-to-goodness joy. You make her laugh every day. You share. You teach and show her things I’d never think of, and it’s so beautiful! Your care and concern for others and the world is contagious.

You turned four just over a month ago and I feel like I’m able to witness daily what God is doing in your young heart. You don’t have to be older or taller or busier or more successful than others to have an impact on the people and places around you–you’re already doing that. As you get older, please don’t forget that there’s something special built into the depths of who you are, and it’s been there from the very beginning. Your prayers and words and actions and deeds all matter, and you are doing an amazing job cultivating each of those areas as you navigate the world.

It’s a gift to imagine what God might do with your life and to watch it unfold right in front of me. I can’t believe I’ve been so fortunate all this time…

I’ve never been more grateful or proud to be your mama–I’ve never been more delighted to have this vantage point as you discover more and more of who you are. Praying that you will flourish in whatever you set your heart on, my love, and that the God of Angel Armies will watch over you as you chase every new adventure!

love forever and ever,

mama

for every mothering heart.

10 May

It’s quiet in the house this afternoon, and I am thankful. A part of this day feels like it’s for celebrating, and a larger part feels like it belongs to reverence. I’m never quite sure how to express that part best, but it’s weighty on my heart.

On a day when so many of us make a concerted effort to honor our mothers, we can’t help but reflect on the good parts and the hard parts that come alongside. As with most celebrations, there’s a bittersweetness that lingers with today as we recognize heartache, loss, mourning and longing in so many hearts around us–and perhaps in our own. I doubt that for any son or daughter, Mother’s Day is 100% about joy and completely void of sorrow or longing. I think of friends who have lost mothers and grandmothers in this past year, and of others who have lost children or longed for children…who are still waiting or working through deep, deep pain. There is no way to celebrate something so beautiful as motherhood without bringing up the hard parts of motherhood as well, which is why I sit here in the quiet, trying to flesh out what God would have for all of us on a day bearing such striking duality.

Mother’s Day is tricky, because it brings to light something so close to the human heart. God created us to desire the loving presence of a father and mother. He built us to long after Him, and while we most naturally think of God as a Father, He intends to fulfill the role of a mother in His love for us, too:

For this is what the Lord says: ‘I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees.

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.

When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass; the hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants…'” Isaiah 66.12-14

Gods promises are not limited to some of us, but rather extended to all of us. I have known some of the most beautiful mothering hearts, honoring their call to motherhood in ways they never expected or hoped for before God. And I know that God sees them and honors their steadfast commitment to His calling on their hearts, whether they are mothering biological children or adopted children, praying for someday children, or extending themselves as mothers to children not their own. Nothing that our God has done or called us to is ever casual or wasted.

When we experienced miscarriage (three years ago this past week), I had already given birth to Henry. While I mourned the loss of a baby we’d never know this side of Heaven, Mother’s Day came heavy that year. At the same time, I was afraid to allow myself room to grieve and feel pain, because I also felt guilty…How could I be sad when I had already had a child and other mothers did not? How could I justify feeling lonely or forgotten when I had a daily reminder of God’s faithfulness right in front of me? It took me a long while to understand that God saw my pain equally and grieved that pain with me, as the Comforter of all hurts and heartache:

“…Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the LordDo I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?” says your God.

Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her. For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance.” Isaiah 66.8-11

I am once again reminded that God is not mean, and He is not poor. He does not allow pain without a purpose for that pain. He does not carry us all the way through labor just to deny us delivery. Instead, He actually promises delivery for those of us who trust Him with our lives. With our hurts. With our infertility, our miscarriages, our tragedies, our deep, deep longings.

This Mother’s Day, I am convinced that the day leaves room for both celebration and mourning on purpose. God didn’t declare the holiday, but, as with all things, He has carved intention within it. Motherhood is beautiful. It should be celebrated, because it was designed in God’s image and is one of the most tangible ways we can reflect and experience God in our earthly lives. It is strong and delicate, and it will stretch those with motherly hearts just as far as we can possibly go. Today, I am thankful for all of the hearts of mothers that I have known, and I think especially of those who wait for God to define just how their motherly hearts will be used for His purposes. As I do with my own heart, I am trusting that God has designed yours with a deep purpose, and that He will continue to bring delivery as we experience the labor pains of His call to motherhood in our lives.

Happy Mother’s Day to every mama heart. I am so thankful for and humbled by each of you!

mm

 

 

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.

mm

 

 

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.

mm

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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.

mm

 

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.

mm

 

 

 

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

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