Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Choice To Rejoice (Join me over at The Better Mom this morning!)

(Hey there! You've found part 1 of 2 of the Romans 12:15 Mini Series.  This first part was a guest post over at The Better Mom, as you'll see below.... And here's a link to part 2: Mourn With Those Who Mourn.)

Rejoice with those who rejoice....” (Romans 12:15)

Five words, spoken in the context of loving one another well within the body of Christ. They seem like a no-brainer, don’t they?

But sometimes, there are heart-hurdles that make this simple concept quite complex:

  • In 2005, I experienced a very painful marriage-breakdown, separation, and divorce. I had never dreamed I’d be divorced at age 25. I was traumatized and devastated. During that season, I attended three weddings, and had a role in one of them.
  • In 2008, my sweet sis-in-law and I were pregnant together with our first babies, due within 4 days of each other. I miscarried my baby at 11 weeks. She went on to have my nephew the week I would have been due.
***I'm so excited to have the honor of posting over 
at The Better Mom today!***

I'd love for you to hop over and join me there to read the rest of this post. You'll love this crew of awesome, uplifting, Jesus-loving ladies! :)

post signature

Friday, September 28, 2012

Looking Beyond Behavior and Into the Heart

No comments:
Seemingly out of nowhere, he slams his cup off the highchair tray and onto the floor.

A calm, stern warning from me...followed by an attempt to help him finish his applesauce.

He angrily shoves my hand away.

Another stern word... and he cries.  Head hanging low over his tray, big tears dropping.

And I realize...he's grieving.

"Buddy, can you use your words and tell Mommy why you're sad?"

He mumbles through his tears, something about "Daddy."

He's sad and mad and confused about why Daddy was gone for a whole week and then we got to see him for a few days and now we're at home again, but again without Daddy. (Stan is away in Minneapolis for 2 weeks, training for his new job, and we got home last night from visiting him for a long weekend between weeks 1 & 2.)  Sad because talking on the phone is a poor substitute for Daddy-hugs and shoulder rides and wild games of chase and being thrown around laughing...

And my heart bleeds a little for him because no matter how many times I tell him we'll see Daddy in just 2 more days, he doesn't have a grid to understand that....and he definitely doesn't understand why Daddy's not here.

And anger and defiance can be a cloak that only thinly veils a grieving heart.

I comfort him, extend grace and kisses...and soon he's playing again with his firetruck... and I'm remembering the couple at that rest area on the road yesterday who angered me to the point that I completely avoided eye contact or speaking to them for 20 minutes while we ate lunch at picnic tables near each other... which is so very unlike me.

How often do I forget to look beyond the offensive behavior to see the brokenness?  The hurting heart behind the frustrating actions?  

Forgive me, Father.  Forgive me, and remind me to look at others... no, to look INTO others... with Your perspective.

And the times when people's brokenness manifests in being inconsiderate and I am inconvenienced, these are the hardest times to look through eyes of grace.  What about MY rights?

And yet so very much grace has been extended to me... and do I really have "rights" anymore if my life is hidden in Christ?

Doesn't HE promise to fight for me so that I no longer have to fight for myself?

Oh God, help me remember.

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded;
and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

"Freely you have received; freely give."

Father, in light of your grace which I've so freely me trust Your heart to fight for me, lay down my perceived rights, and extend grace... Give me your eyes, God...that I may see beyond actions and into hearts.

post signature

This Week's Splashes of Beauty: Our Minneapolis Trip (Part 1)... AND... A Quick Heads Up On Some Fun News

No comments:
Most of you probably already know that Stan recently accepted a new job and had to spend his first two weeks with his new company (called... The NERDERY. Ha...) in Minneapolis.  So...Isaac and I drove up to see him for a long weekend between those 2 weeks.  We had a blast!  Here are some of our highlights.  Wish I had time to write more about the trip.... but.... here's what I've got for now: 

Someone did absolutely GREAT on the road. :)

One word: FUN!!!!  

Isaac heaven! 

So we found this truck in the M. of A....

....and we stayed there a while...

...and played...

...and explored...

...and laughed...

...and climbed...


...and I LOVED it.

The view into the amusement park in the center of the M. of A. HUGE!!  and SO FUN!

They have tons of these huge lego statue-things.

Isaac and I went and re-explored the M. of A. while Stan was working on Monday.  There was hardly anyone there...and Isaac and I got to ride several little-kid rides together.  We had a blast!  This was a "big rig" (like Grandpa drives!!) ride.

Isaac ADORES hot air balloons so this ride ROCKED! :) He still talks about it.

This is an up-and-down-bouncy-fun ride (like the Detonator...?  Is that what it's called?) that the attendant let me ride for free (sshhh!) with Isaac so he wouldn't be scared.  Don't worry - there was a belt thing that came down over our laps to keep us from flying off when the ride started.  Mr. Attendant Man also was kind enough to take a pic for me...which includes half of his finger....and I think it's funny. :)

Playing at the Lego Store! (Okay, so his attention span for this only lasted about 2 minutes and I
had to put Legos in his hands and snap pictures really fast before he lost interest.  There.  I was honest. :) )

Moving on from the M. of A....

Does this even need an explanation?  AAAAAh-mazing. 

My friend Kelsey told me about this local pizza chain - DaVanni's. DeLISH!!!  We ate there twice! :)

 OKAY!  There ya have it!  I will do my best to post more pics in the next few days!





Annnnnnd that's all for now, friends.  Be richly blessed today to live tuned in to the nearness of Jesus to you... He so longs to reveal Himself to us in every piece of our day-to-day lives.  Love to y'all!!

post signature

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Truth of His Commitment to the Fatherless and Impoverished

No comments:
Hi friends,

You may remember that September is Compassion International's Blog Month... and today I'm posting my final writing assignment for the month.  Our assignment this week is to write a post from the perspective of a sponsored child.  They said to us:

"This assignment is about aligning with the heart of children in poverty..... You are a child living in extreme poverty.  What do you have to say?"

And as I began to write, I realized how profoundly my heart around matters like these is influenced by our situation with our sweet baby girl who we fostered from birth and had to let go in 2010 at almost 2 years old.

I realized how desperately I need to believe the truth that God really is committed to Fathering her....committed to holding her as she falls asleep on nights when she's afraid....committed to bringing His tangible peace and comfort to her heart....committed to supernaturally revealing Himself to her as her Daddy who fights for her, who protects her, who delights over her.  

Oh, how deeply I need to believe He's committed to her, and to the millions of other children living in fatherlessness and/or some level of poverty throughout the world.  

That said, here's what I ended up with when I sat down to write from the perspective of a child living in extreme poverty:
I lie awake tonight.  Starry sky above.  If I close my ears, I can stare up into those stars and almost forget my surroundings. 8 of us here in this tent, surrounded by thousands of other tent-homes, all of us desperately trying to find comfort, rest, the midst of a country that has been for years rocked by earthquakes, disease, famine.  This is it for us.  Nowhere else to go from here.  

And it seems there is never enough.  Enough food, enough medicine, enough clothes, enough water... enough comfort to begin to mend my broken heart.  I've watched them many of those I love...those who loved me.  An earthquake here... a bout of malaria there.  

I lie here tonight, paralyzed by this horrible fear that clenches cold around my heart.  Fear of still more loss... Fear of a future that is the same as my present...or worse.  Oh God... is there hope?  For me?  Do You really see me?

Suddenly, softly, this whispering knock at my heart... 

Child... my precious child.  

I know this Voice... I've heard it before.  

Child, when all hope is lost, I am your Hope.
Though it seems all love has died, I am the Love for your heart, and I am so very alive.
When you ache with loneliness, I am closer to you than your very breath.
When you are gripped with fear, I am your Shelter, holding you close.
I am REAL.  I am HERE.  I am holding your heart.  And I am so fiercely committed to your life.

And it's true....It's really true.... He really is here with me, and He sees me, this God who calls Himself the Father to the fatherless.  

He really does wrap my heart in His love and I feel this Peace creeping over me, covering me like a blanket.  I can feel it, almost physically.  And sleep is coming, finally.  

So I rest, held in the arms of the One who is all I need will never let me go.


Psalm 68:5
A Father to the fatherless, defender of the widows,
is God in His holy dwelling.

Isaiah 43:1-5a
But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
 When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
 For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in your stead.
 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
    and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
    nations in exchange for your life.
 Do not be afraid, for I am with you....

PS. Compassion's goal for Blog Month is to find sponsors for 3108 children in need.  As of this past Friday 2006 new children have been sponsored.   This is so great(!!), but there are still over a thousand kiddos who need sponsors if we (Compassion Bloggers) are to reach our goal for this month.  Would you prayerfully consider sponsoring a child if you don't already?  AND/OR would you jump over here, to Compassion's Child Sponsorship page, and pray over some of the children you see pictured there?  Ask God to reveal His heart to them in tangible ways, and to provide for their practical needs as well?  There is a unique intimacy with the Father that comes when we are willing to share in His heart for these precious ones.

Great blessings to you all today,
My other Compassion blogging assignments for this month:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Splashes of Beauty: What Happens In My Life When Stan Leaves Town (Week 1)


Howdy friends!

Comin' atcha tonight (actually, by the time you read this, it will be tomorrow morning)  from Bloomington, MN, a suburb of Minneapolis...where Isaac and I have rendezvoused with Stan for a long weekend.  Didn't think I'd have time to post this weekend, but since Isaac's currently asleep for the night in our hotel room, Stan and I are limited to sneaking about silently in the dark, chatting online on our laptops while sitting right next to each other (don't laugh - you know you've done it!), and...well... blogging about our life.

So Stan's been away in Minneapolis all week (week 1 of 2) training for his new job.  Our week has gone well, all things considered.  Isaac's missed his Daddy pretty hard core.... and I've missed my hubby.  Sleep has been rough.  But other than that, we've had a really sweet time together, this boy and I.  Here are some snapshots from our lives over the last early "Splashes of Beauty" post for this week.

Isaac has seriously enjoyed his birthday presents!

Been decorating for Autumn!  My FAVE!! 

Some swinging...

Made this wreath... still not quite finished... but pretty.

Just a bit of cuteness...and a new helicopter.

Sweet time with our housemate Jerusha for her birthday Friday morning!

More Fall decor... :)

Some more swinging....

And some rich fellowship with our awesome worship team-ites...
With the exception, of course, of Stan...who was greatly missed by all.

Life is so good... And God is so sweet and so much more than enough, even when my awesome, sweet, helpful Stan-in-shining-armor is out of town.  For now, enjoying this weekend with him before Isaac and I make the trek back down to KC and Stan works another week up here before coming home.  Will post pics from this weekend hopfully tomorrow.

Be blessed this weekend, friends, to slow down and savor each splash of beauty that the Father flings into your path...and in those moments, to let those gifts point you back to His extravagant heart toward you....

post signature

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Happy Autumn!!

No comments:
Image Credit:
Happy first day of Fall, friends!!

This is my absolute favorite time of the year.  Hands down.

Spending a long weekend with my sweet husband and son up in Minneapolis, so this corner of the internet will be quiet.

Enjoy this season!  May we embrace every moment and trace every good gift back to our good Father. :)

Blessings, friends!

post signature

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hope For the Tired and Weary (Linking to Today)

No comments:
Photo Credit: Darrell E. Spangler
Dear friends.... I woke up to this precious reminder from the Lord in my inbox yesterday morning... And it made me cry. I had been up with Isaac 8 or so times during the night and I woke up feeling completely, utterly exhausted and just totally at the end of myself.  So today, I'm wondering how many others are out there who are in the same boat and could use some encouragement and some supernatural GRACE from the Father.  To that end, I wanted to share this post with you today, from

Praying God uses this to bless and encourage your heart today as much as it did mine.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Starting Off By Leaning In {Tuning Into His Nearness and Encountering Grace}

No comments:
photo credit:
Beep beep beep beep.  Beep beep beep beep.  Beep beep beep beep.


Grab phone.  Check email.  Publish blog post for the day (which takes about 10 seconds because I wrote it the day - or evening - before.)  Jump in shower.  Mumble something to Stan about having a headache (I often wake up with migraines that go away at some point later in the morning. I've had this problem for years. Weird.)

Thus begin many of my mornings.  Well, some of them.  Fewer of them now, actually.  I am one of those moms who isn't likely to get focused, sit-down time with the Lord till after my kiddo is down for his afternoon nap.  BUT, this is something about which the Lord's been whispering reminders to my heart lately.

Whispering them louder than normal.

"Remember to begin your day by tuning in to Me.  Before you check your email or jump in the shower or even get out of bed, take 20 seconds (or a minute or two) and pull the priorities of your heart into order.  I'm here to meet you as you do.  Remember to acknowledge Me as your Source of strength and wisdom and peace and joy and life for this day."

So, I've been trying (and sometimes failing, but trying nonetheless) as He's been drawing me to obey Him in this over the last few weeks, and it's been incredible how much more "in-tune" I am with His nearness and His voice and His empowering grace throughout my days.

It makes all the difference in the world when Isaac and I are both sleep-deprived and he's high-maintenance and cranky and Stan's out of town for 2 weeks (Oh wait, that would be right now!), and when I would otherwise begin to feel this gradually growing desire to yell at my son or pull my hair out or something along those lines.

 In these moments, I am learning to stay "tuned in" to His voice, His nearness, His whispers of "Peace, be still" to my heart.  He draws me into that place of peace and shelter in His heart throughout my days as I remember to start off by intentionally leaning into Him.  

This is definitely NOT to say that I always pull this off perfectly, or even well.  Some days feel like a total wash.  But He's still faithful (Isn't that amazing?!).  And I'm His work in progress.

Just thought I'd share with you today this prayer that I pray (some version of) every morning.  Well, as often as I remember.


I turn my heart toward You this morning.  I tune into Your nearness to me.
Your whispers to my heart.

Thank You that You're waiting to encounter me today, in every moment
and every circumstance that this day brings. 

Help me to be aware.  Give me open eyes to see You all around me,
open ears to discern Your invitations to me, and a loud "YES"
of surrender in my heart as I respond to them. 

I confess my dependence on You today.  
I confess my need for Your grace, Your strength, Your empowerment for every moment.

I can do all things through You.  I believe it.  I receive Your grace for today.
You are more than enough for me.

Praise God - we have a Father who LOVES to give good gifts to His children and who LOVES to reveal His heart to us.  As we ask, He will answer.  As we confess our incompleteness and our inadequacy, as we intentionally lean into Him in our hearts, He will demonstrate His perfect completeness in us.  

This is where we cross the line from operating out of our own strength, to experiencing His strength operating in and through us.

I need Him like this so badly.  Every day.  Every hour.  Don't you?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What Do You Want Him To Do For You?

Our house church met tonight.  I don't even know how to express what happened except to say that hearts were open like I don't know if I've seen before with our group and I absolutely loved it.  And that I personally was pretty wrecked by the Lord tonight, in the best way imaginable.

We studied the story of the blind man, Bartimaeus, to whom Jesus restored sight in Mark 10:46-52.

We noted together how Bartimaeus cried out repeatedly, asking Jesus to have mercy on Him.  He was undignified.  He was not well-put-together.  He didn't care.  He knew he needed Jesus.

And how Jesus then stopped (as opposed to continuing on), called for Bartimaeus to come to him, asking him this question:

"What do you want me to do for you?"

I'd imagine Jesus already knew what Bart wanted.  He was obviously a beggar and obviously blind.  Still.... he ASKED.

Bart's obvious answer:  "I want to see."


Jesus said, "Go. Your faith has healed you."

Despite what this may look like, I'm not taking this in the direction of discussing healing and faith and all of that right now....or at least, not necessarily.  All I want to focus on is Jesus' question.... it was the bottom line for me today with the Lord, for all of us tonight in our house church community, and I think it's the bottom line for many of us.

"What do you want me to do for you?"

Jesus asked.  He asked even though He knew.  Why?  He wanted Bart to tell Him what He wanted.  He wanted to connect with Bart's heart.... to engage him.  

Jesus could have waved his hand and healed Bart and not looked twice... but I believe He was after relationship, the connectedness (if that's a word) of Bart's heart to His... just as much as, or even more than, He wanted Bart's eyes opened.

I believe this is what He's after in us... the journey... the process... the relationship... the persistent telling Him what we want from Him even though He already knows all our needs.  He wants to engage our hearts.

"What do you want me to do for you?"

I want freedom.  Freedom from fear of man, freedom from fear of my own heart and motives, freedom to worship and lead and love with a wide-open, extravagant, fully alive heart.  Freedom to just not care whether my expression of my heart before Him is messy or undignified or well-put-together.  That was my answer to His question to me tonight.

What about you?  What do you want Him to do for you?  He will meet us in our answers to that question.  

Can I encourage you today?  Don't let these just be more words on a web page.  

If you've read this far, take a minute and pray your heart to the Lord right now.  He's asking you:

"What do you want me to do for you?"

Respond to Him in this moment.  Close your eyes.  See Him standing before you, asking... and give Him your answer.  He wants to engage your heart.

Comment with your answer if you'd like. (Comment link is under this post's title.)  I'd love to stand with you, to agree with you before the Father today....

post signature

Monday, September 17, 2012

Let Go, Trust God, and Love {Wildly}

No comments:
I dropped Stan off at the airport this morning for a 2 week training trip with his new employer.  Given the fact that he's gone, I think I'm not likely to have time to edit and prep pics for yesterday's "Splashes of Beauty" post.... hopefully this Sunday I'll have a double batch. :)  So.... in the meantime....  Here's my heart for today:
******    ******    ******
I heard the sermon 12 or more years ago.  The pastor stood up front and spoke directly into my soul, and the message has never stopped being so CORE to who I am.  He said it over and over again:

He spoke of the grace of God mediated to us through one another.  How we're indwelt by the Spirit of God and we're vessels to channel His love to each other.  How when we have a "surge" of affection for someone, we should step out and share it with them instead of holding it inside....and how when we withhold our hearts in those moments, we're actually withholding an expression of the heart of God that was meant for our brother or sister.

Let love reach.  

Let it reach its intended destination.  From the Father's heart, to the heart of the one for whom we sense His affections.

We are privileged to be the vessel.

This message has become so deeply a part of me, and yet so often in recent years I find myself struggling to open myself up and freely, extravagantly let love reach.  Here's what I tend to forget:

In calling us to be these conduits of His love, the Father extends to us this invitation that will lead us into great freedom:   LET GO, TRUST GOD, AND LOVE.

Let go...

...of my need to have all the words just right.

...of my introspection and my double- and triple-checking of my heart motives.

...of my fear of man and my wondering what people will think if I really extravagantly express this love.

...of my insecurity that is afraid of how my heart might be hurt if I open it up and ooze affection all over the ones He's put before me.

...of all my comparing that keeps me cycling in insecurity, keeps me from confidently loving.

**What could you add to this list?**

Trust God...

...that He'll fill my mouth with the words that are needed if I'm willing to just open it and start speaking.

...that He'll show me clearly if/when I have impure motives... that He's committed enough to my heart to get my attention if necessary... and that even if there is mixture in my motives in loving others, if my heart is after Him, He will bring me back around.

...that my identity comes from what HE says about me, and not from the opinions of people.

...that He is the ultimate protector of my heart and even though people sometimes fail me, He is my faithful healer.  He holds my heart with perfect care even when others fail to do so.

...that as I pull my eyes off of myself and place them on Him, He will define me and be my confidence and my completeness and He fills in all of my gaps and there's no need to try to look or sound or be like anyone but myself.

**What specific things do you need to trust God with in order to love freely?**


Free.  Uninhibited.  Extravagant.  Genuine.  Openhearted.  Maybe even undignified.....    WILD.

Express the affection that God allows you to feel for a person to the degree He allows you to feel it.  Don't hold back.

Open wide the doors of your heart and let all the force of His love reach its intended destination.

This is my challenge to myself this week:  Love wildly.

A good friend gave me great wisdom a week or so ago.  "Stop trying so hard to get everything just right and just live from here," she said, pointing to her stomach.  Trust God.... and live from your gut.

Let love reach.

post signature

How else can we grow in our ability and confidence to step out and boldly
LOVE those God puts before us? To uninhibitedly share His heart with them?
(Comment form link is under the title.  Scroll up to comment. :) )

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Problem of Beauty (linking to Ann's blog today...)

No comments:
Since Isaac's party was yesterday, I haven't had a chance yet to put together my "Splashes of Beauty" post for this week.  Gonna try to have that one ready tomorrow... In the meantime.....

My heart nearly beat out of my chest when I read this post by Ann Voskamp about beauty, how it's all the voice of the Father whispering His love over us... how we can't deny the existence of a GOOD Father if we have our eyes open at all.  Today I just can't resist sending you over to Ann's blog, A Holy Experience, to read her heart which is so crazy-parallel to mine.

"The existence of loveliness everywhere, it begs explaining."
-Ann Voskamp

May we remember to trace every good gift back to our perfectly-loving Father today....

post signature
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...