turn on my light

“Hey Alexa, turn on my light.”

I said this morning. And then quickly, I felt it in my gut.
How often do I treat my relationship with the Lord like that of Alexa?
I tell Him what I want & He does it.
And when He doesn’t, I’m a complete brat.
I act out. I tell Him again – a little louder this time.

“Lord!” desperately now, “turn.my.light.on”
As if pleading with Him will allow me the glory and strength of His peace and joy and grace without the transformation of the heart.
As if I can somehow skip the growing and grinding and pruning part.
As if I could be the boss instead of surrendering my heart and taking up my cross. 

Oof. 

Instead of using abusing the Lord as I do Alexa-
What if I allowed His work within me?
Instead of demanding my way, right now –
What if I asked him to show me His will, His how?
It’s silly to think what I’ve let this relationship become – so today it stops.
I’m done.
I’m done demanding my way & my now.
Today and tomorrow are surrendered to His will and how.

 

It won’t be easy, I’ll be tempted to control, but isn’t it good that it’s all in his hold.
Whether I walk in the dark some more, or I embrace the light-
He is there and he holds me in the midst of my fight.
Whether I can feel His presence, or I lay awake, afraid at night
He is constant and He is my light.

 

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I love learning

I have always loved learning.

From a young age I loved everything about school: the supplies, the friends, the challenge, the books, the tests, the papers – I could go on and on. But my absolute favorite thing about school, about growing up, has always been the opportunity to learn more. I never hold the same knowledge within me as the day before, because I am always given opportunity to learn.
A childhood season of learning could be measured by grades or school achievements. An adolescent season of learning could be measured by choices made. However, I feel as though the young adult season of learning could not possibly be measured. As I reflect specifically on the last four years – the college years – the best years – I find that I have learned so much academically as well as spiritually and emotionally and personally.
I once told a friend during one particular growing stage in the recent past that I felt as though I had spiritual/emotional/mental stretch marks from all that God was doing within me: teaching and growing me. Hear me in that all metaphors break down at some point, analogies fail to perfectly describe intent, but I feel the sentiment of stretch marks to be the best connotation for the growth I am getting at.

It happened fast. So fast I did not completely notice it happening until I looked back and was suddenly so much further along. It hurt. These stretch marks did not come without suffering or distress, but I value them deeply. I do not wish to ever miss the evidence of these stretch marks because they have made me who I am today: they have grown with me.
I have always loved learning, and I pray my heart continues to yearn to learn.

I could write forever about the lessons I have learned, just in the last four years, but as I reflect the largest lesson is this: peace is not accomplished by me.

I value control.
I want to know what exactly is happening and when.
I crave plans like an addict craves a fix.
I physically become unable to function when I feel out of control, overwhelmed, or unsure.
I do whatever I can to set my world right: I make lists, I double-triple-check details, I write assignments and dates on multiple calendars, I color-coordinate, I clean, I sort, I plan anything & everything.

I had not even realized how high a value I placed on control until more recently. It’s absurd, friends. (Seriously, laughable!)
In some place deeply seated within me, I feel as though I can be worthy if I simply organize enough, know enough, accomplish enough. I frantically search for peace through my own perfection.

Honestly, just today was my first full day at home since travelling for three weeks. Yesterday I cleaned the living areas of the house. Today I cleaned my bedroom, my laundry, and my closet. I was feeling so anxious – so restless and I knew if things were tidy I would feel better.
Then as I sat in my rocking chair, admiring my accomplishment of the day I did feel calm, but I also felt conviction. And in my conviction I looked up: directly across from my chair is a banner I made for a creative project in a class on the book of Romans. It has Romans chapter 5 verses 1-11 written in script with the main point of the pericope: peace through grace in bold font – and the conviction hit even harder. Here I was frantically trying to create my own “perfect peace,” when I have the most perfect peace in Christ because His grace has completely covered me: even at my worst His grace is greater and His peace is perfect.

It is little moments like these that serve as a gentle reminder that my place is in His grace, that peace is not accomplished by me and I am oh-so very thankful! For in moments like these I am reminded that I am still learning, still growing, still being transformed.

I look forward to how I continue to learn about peace (& all things) in the seasons to come, but today I wanted to share a little of what I have learned, because maybe you, like me, have always loved learning.

21 things…

21 brought a lot, but rather than writing something long about it, can I share with you 21 highlights of things I learned this year?

  1. God’s love is steadfast: it never fails, it never runs out, it never gives up on me.
  2. Loving people is messy (& totally worth it)
  3. Being vulnerable takes courage and builds strength.
  4. Community is a place to put into practice what God is teaching us.
  5. It’s okay to not be okay.
  6. Broken trust is not easily healed, but there is no regret in choosing to give grace.
  7. Even my best, most-detailed plans pale in comparison to God’s plan.
  8. His perfect,complete, love casts out all fear.
  9. Never underestimate the power of words.
  10. Most of being an “adult” is pretending you know what to do, but actually just making it up.
  11. Parenthood is by far and away one of the best television series out there.
  12. Always keep chocolate chip cookies in the freezer.
  13. Air travel is not my favorite form of transportation.
  14. Cleaning is incredible stress relief.
  15. Puns and cat videos make every day better.
  16. Cooking is easier than baking.
  17. Community becomes the tangible hands (& hugs) of God when we are hurting most.
  18. “Brokenness is the catalyst through which we see God working in our lives” -Peter Buckland
  19. “Why do you try to stand in your own strength and fail? Cast yourself upon God and have no fear. He will not shrink away and let you fall.” -St. Augustine
  20. There is no need to be anxious; God cares for me.
  21. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He will never leave. He is near. He is here. Amen.

I’m thankful for all that year 21 brought, for all the memories & the lessons taught
but now it’s time for year 22 & I can’t wait to see what God is going to do!

7.11.17

(SCENE: Starbucks in South West Missouri)

They walk in –bold, and confident.
They order – frilly, and expensive.
All the while giggling and talking faster than the speed of light.
It’s constant chatter.

That boy, this… this girl, that…. yadda, yadda, yadda…
So much is being said (and yet, nothing.)
The phone’s come out. The poses happen. The selfies are taken. The posts are made. #blessed Life is good.
(END SCENE)

 

But is it really?

Underneath the chatter and the phones… behind the posts and giggles is the question: is this enough?
The answer is no, sweet darling. It is not.

And I people-watch on in pity for the girls our culture is raising. And in my comfortable pity a knot begins to form in my stomach. Because I am them.
I may not feel the need to post my perfect Starbucks Frappe on social media, but I do have a longing to “measure up.”  I stand in front of the mirror and ask if I’m enough. I sit behind a screen and hope my words are enough. I wish for my posts to be funny enough, relatable enough, like-able enough. I may not be exactly like these girls, but you see, we are still the same.
Because our lives revolve around one question: “Am I enough?”
And we live as though we don’t know the answer!

The world we live in says we are not – we are not tall enough, skinny enough, pretty enough, smart enough, accomplished enough, successful enough, experienced enough, wise enough, worth enough. The world we live in tells us we cannot and will not ever be enough.

But the Truth is -the Truth is, sweet darling, you are Created by the One who made the Heavens and He says you are enough. You are tall enough, skinny enough, pretty enough, smart enough, accomplished enough, successful enough, experienced enough, wise enough, and worth enough. You are deeply precious to Him (so precious He gave His Son’s life for you!) In fact, my darling, you are enough because He is enough. His grace is completely sufficient –His grace is enough –which means, my friend, that as one covered in grace you are enough.

This is a message I needed to hear today, and maybe you did too. Even if you know you are enough, some days are just tough. It’s easy to believe the lies of the enemy. He loves to question our ‘enough-ness.’ But darling, today, let the Truth win: the Truth that you are enough because He is!

embrace the grace

I have been learning a lot about grace this year, not only how to give it (which is important!), but also how to receive it (which I find to be even more difficult than giving it).
Here’s the wild thing about grace – it’s totally, completely, no-strings-attached, free, and it does not waver. Here’s the wild thing about grace – it is so beyond anything we have ever experienced. Here’s the wild thing about grace – it is for everyone.

Grace is not just some ‘cute’ word for forgiveness, or another word for ‘kindness’ or ‘love,’ but it encompasses all these aspects. Grace is a such a deeply fierce agape love that it forgives the deepest wound and offense. Grace does not keep score, but gives freely in order to bless.

Grace is big! Bigger than I can wrap my mind around. It can cover anything. Grace is beautiful! The most beautiful thing I have ever known is this freeing forgiveness that God gives because He loves us so. Grace is crazy! I have lived in His grace long enough to understand this – that to my judging/logical mind it just does not make sense. But I am learning that that’s the point. Grace is not meant to be easily understood. Grace is not meant to be wrapped in a small box with a perfect bow. It is not an ordinary gift. It is beyond anything we could ever imagine, and satisfies our soul’s longing for ‘right-ness.’ Grace is meant to be big. Grace is meant to be beautiful. Grace is meant to be crazy.

I am a recovering “good girl” as one might call it (inspired by the book, Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman – check it out!).
I’ve spent life striving to be good, to be responsible, to be right. And this striving for goodness has only left me empty. The only thing that fills my heart’s desire to be “right” is the only One who is Himself righteous, so I dwell in Him-in His grace.

I’m learning to embrace the grace. Amidst my messy, chaotic life, I’m learning that His grace is completely sufficient.

 

two thousand sixteen

to two thousand sixteen-
you turned out to be everything I did not expect you to be.
I came in to the year a little blind, and naïve,
now I come out understanding the weakness of me.

on my own I am nothing –
my skills are no good.
but He is my everything
& my soul is renewed.

on my own I am weak –
fragile as can be.
but with Him I am stronger
& I find strength on my knees.

on my own I am hole-y –
imperfect and falling apart
but with Him I am holy
& it is because He has purified my heart

two thousand sixteen, you have taught me –
that no matter the effort, I am broken and incomplete.
(sounds like this year was no fun, and at times it was not.
but man, oh man, how many lessons He taught!)

I came in to the year a little blind and naïve,
and I come out now ready to leave,
but I am no longer blind, and not quite as broken,
because I listened to the Lord and what He has spoken.
I’m definitely not perfect,
on my own, still hole-y as can be,
but because of His mercy, He’s re-making me
& because of His grace, I am holy.

 

 

 

& be

these two little words can make such a difference in life. to sum it up in one word- abide.

 

I cannot even begin to describe for you the journey I have been on to abide since I last wrote about my entire experience this summer, and looked ahead to where it was taking me. In the months since then I have been up and I have been down, I have been over and I have been under, and in all the places I have been – He has been there with me, alongside me, within me.

Every morning I wake up to the word on my wrist that holds so much in it. It reminds me who I am, that I am the branch, not the vine itself. It reminds me that I am the servant, not the master. It reminds me that I am not.

Perhaps that is a discouraging motto, to be ‘not,’ but for me, dear friends, it is the sweetest of encouragements. To know that I am not, means that the One who holds my life is I AM. It is so sweet to be His, to be loved, to be known, to be given strength, peace, comfort and joy in everything.

 

However, let me be honest and raw with you for a moment. not every day is sunshine and lovelies. each day, and passing moment, brings its own struggles, and fight for Truth to win in my heart. And sometimes, friend, do you know how He reminds me who I am?

(I know it sounds crazy…)
but at some of my weakest moments, when the lies are so pressing and believable, the very spot on my wrist I have marked as a reminder for myself begins to ache: it stings and throbs relentlessly, and as my attention is directed from the lies in my head to the pain in my wrist, I am washed over with the peace of His steadfast love.
He reminds me who I am. I am not all the lies that were running through my head just moments before, but I am His- beloved, holy, chosen, and worthy.

And when I pause enough to just be and remain and abide in Him, He will come and abide in me, and no longer will I be a slave chained in fears and lies, but I will be free- His child, loved, holy, and dear.

We are not called to do; we are called to simply be.
And in our being, He will do immeasurably more.

 

so go forth today & just be….