Wednesday, October 24, 2012

In Colorado... A Little Quieter Here

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Hi my friends,

Greetings from the insanely beautiful state of Colorado.  Some dear friends who pastor a church out here in Littleton (the church Stan and I were a part of when we lived here) have invited me out to lead worship for their awesome ladies at their women's retreat this coming weekend.  Can I just say... I AM SO BLESSED TO BE HERE.

All of that to say... I will likely not be blogging a whole lot this week as I'm spending time catching up with sweet friends who I rarely see and showing Isaac the mountains and spending time just hanging out with Jesus, listening to His heart as I prepare and pray into this upcoming retreat.

For now... I'll leave you with a couple of sunset shots from Isaac's and my drive across Kansas... a reminder that all this beauty speaks of who He is...and the way He loves.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

To The Perfectionist Inside Of Me (and All Of Us)

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Look upward before you look inward.  And look upward MORE than you look inward.

I recently wrote this post about excellence and perfectionism - the dramatic differences between the two, but how they can look so similar.

Since I wrote it, the Lord seems to have ramped up this process of revealing to me more of the areas of my heart where I still wear that "perfectionism shoe."  It's been kind of a difficult week or so.

I've caught myself gazing inward more often than upward.  Double and triple examining my own heart and motives more than drawing near to His heart.  Living in fear over the propensity of my own heart toward sin.  Unwittingly entertaining accusations from the enemy that come disguised as my own thoughts... that I'm not good enough... as a wife, a mom, a leader, a friend... as a lover of Jesus.  

I might've even been a little depressed, subtly.  I, and possibly Stan, are the only ones who would've known.

But then a couple days ago, I was standing in the bathroom, and mid-makeup-application, the Lord suddenly ripped a veil off of my eyes, and out of nowhere, I saw all of this self-criticism for what it was: agreement with the voice of the enemy.  Buying into the lie of perfectionism: that it is within my control and ability to be perfect, or at least nearly so, and I'd better get my act together somehow.

Oh, how I've gotta let it all go.

And how often I need to be reminded that I'm not enough... and it's okay.  It's not my job to be.

So... in light of the truth that all of my broken places and inadequacy are simply signposts to point me back toward awareness of my need for Him.....

To the Perfectionist Inside of Me (and all of us, I think):

All your trying, striving, performing, all this cross-examining of your heart... I want you to pick it all up, run into the presence of Jesus, and fall, however ungraceful it may look, at the foot of the cross.  Confess your weakness.  All your gaps.  All your failure.  
Confess the depth of your need for Him.
And hear His voice... let it wash over your heart like healing balm:
You are precious.  You are beloved of My heart.  You are more than enough for me if you never succeed at anything, ever, EVER again.  My love for you and desire for you are completely separate from your performance.  The blood of My Son has spoken identity over you.  This is where your value to ME is found: in His sacrifice to purchase your life... and not in your ability to perform.  Remember, daughter.  Remember how precious you are to My heart.  How the mere turning of your heart and eyes toward Me overwhelms My heart with delight.
Now, leaving all of the heavy, draining self-consciousness at the foot of the cross... stand up... and lean in.
Lean into the One who carries and resources and supplies all your needs.  The One whose strength is made perfect in your weakness.  The One whose beauty is revealed as He fills in your gaps.  The One who is ENOUGH in all of the places where you'll never achieve that status. 
Trust Him to gently lead your heart into more and more purity and peace... this is not something you are asked to accomplish on your own.   
Keep your eyes on Him and all that HE IS instead of all that YOU'RE NOT.  Worship.  Fix your gaze on His beauty, your heart on His faithfulness. 
His leadership is perfect and trustworthy... and if your heart is after Him and your eyes are turned toward Him, He will gently reveal areas in your life, in His perfect timing, where He wants to bring change.  (See this post on differentiating between conviction - from the Holy Spirit - and condemnation - from the enemy.)
It is not your job to continually dig around in your own heart and discover these places on your own.  It is your job to surrender to His work within your heart when He reveals these things.
Introspection apart from His grace-filled conviction and leadership is destructive.  But as you focus on all that He is, He will convict and reveal and transform and draw you more and more into surrender to His Lordship. 
He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.  It's His job. 
 Allow Him to have His way in Your heart... and rest in the knowledge that He is committed to the process!  He is committed to partnering with you, to holding your hand as you continually walk toward holiness in the deep places.  Don't fear the dark corners.  He knows them intimately and holds you with grace.  Again, He's committed to the process... you can trust His perfect leadership.  And His heart bursts with affection for you NOW, dark corners and all.   
This is not sloppy grace.  His invitation is to wholeheartedly abandoning yourself to this journey of becoming more like Him ~~ doing it out of a place of trusting His leadership and resting in His commitment to you; not out of a place of fear over what's really in those deep places of your heart and whether you're "enough" or not.
You are His beloved.  Look upward before looking inward.  And look upward MORE than you look inward.  You can trust His process inside of you.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Guest Posting Over At (In)Courage Today! (God's Invitation In the Midst Of the Storm)

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Hi My Dear Friends,

When I wrote this post a couple of months ago, I was deeply feeling the pain of a particular loss, the details of which I'm not really at liberty to share here in this space.  Suffice it to say, I was grieving fairly intensely.  Since this post was written, the ache of this loss has ebbed and flowed and I've mostly not felt the grief as deeply.

Ironically though, today as my post goes live over at (In)Courage, I am again in a season where the pain around this loss is at the surface. The ache feels like an elephant sitting on my chest.  And I'm finding that the timing of the Lord in this post being published today is no coincidence... it is fresh truth and life to me all over again today.

Praying you are blessed as you read, that God encounters you through it in whatever way your heart is in need of Him today.

God's Invitation In the Midst Of the Storm

Dear Friends,

I find myself lately in one of “those” seasons.  You know…when your heart is heavy over circumstances beyond your control… Maybe a relationship is failing; maybe your job is ending; maybe your child is not walking with the Lord….  And to be honest, it feels a little strange to be writing in order to encourage, while my own heart feels this grief so deeply.  

Yet, deeper than the aching, this truth echoes loud:  That when we do share, real, raw, and honest in the midst of all the messiness of life and relationships and hearts… the Father comes then and fills our hurting places… these chasms in our hearts… with His glory, His strength that’s perfected in our weakness… and His beauty pours forth out of pain.

And so… even with this heaviness of heart that feels so real and so acute lately, I want to share with you these things that I know…these truths that I hold onto, which are even MORE REAL than my earthly reality.....

To finish reading, click here ~~ hop over and join me at (In)Courage where I have the honor of guest posting today!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Core Motives: Excellence or Perfectionism?

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As moms, "doing" seems to be our full time job, doesn't it?  We cook for our families, feed our little ones, clean up messes, run errands, do laundry, clean up MORE messes, teach our children, discipline, clean up still MORE messes, mediate an argument, give baths, discipline some more, instruct little hearts, clean up again, read bedtime stories, pray for our kids, tuck them in.  And then we clean up again.  Go to sleep.  Wake up.  Repeat.

A year or so ago, a dear friend called me one day and spoke something into my heart that has changed my heart and perspective in all of these tasks that are continually before me.

The illustration was this: Me, wearing 2 different shoes.  One was labeled "perfectionism," and the other, "excellence."  He said he felt that the Lord wanted to remove my "perfectionism" shoe and replace it with another "excellence" shoe.

My friend shared with me these essential truths:  that perfectionism is motivated by fear... whereas excellence is motivated by love.

Isn't it interesting how similar these 2 shoes can look at first glance? But from God's perspective, they are as different as night and day.  

Perfectionism is our attempt to earn favor: other people's, or God's.  Excellence is operating out of a sureness that we already HAVE God's favor...and that's all that matters.  

And the RIGHT-NOW-ness of this truth FOR ME crashed in on my heart in that moment.  I knew the Lord and I were about to embark on a journey.

Ever since my friend's phone call that day, God and I have been in process together, Him often revealing to me areas of my heart where I've been operating ("doing") out of perfectionism instead of excellence.

What I Know Now...

In all of our "doing," what matters to the Father so much more than all our accomplishments... is the condition of our hearts before Him in the midst of our doing.  Are we motivated by love?  Or by fear?

Here are some symptoms that clue me in to places in my heart where my motive in doing has been perfectionism/performance/striving:
  • I'm motivated by a subtle (or not so subtle?) fear.  Fear of failure, of not meeting people's expectations, of disappointing myself...fear of disappointing God.  Fear of people's opinions of all my running around and doing.
  • I compare myself to other moms, rating myself as either inferior or superior in my performance.
  • Feverishly working to achieve goals; being afraid to slow down and rest.
  • OR... Being almost paralyzed by fear of failure, so much so that I almost can't get up and get ANYthing done.
  • Possibly swinging back and forth between the 2 previous extremes... maybe even several times per day.
  • I'm easily stressed out if I don't accomplish all that I had set out to do on a particular day... I don't trust God with what I'm unable to get done and let it go.
  • After finishing a project or a conversation, I hash and re-hash what I could have or should have done or said differently... I have a hard time leaving the results to the Lord.
  • I sometimes frantically grasp for control of my environment... Everything must be perfectly in order.  If it's not, it speaks negatively of me.
These are the warning signs.

And when the Father highlights one of these symptoms in my heart, instead of seeing it and allowing my thinking to move toward condemning myself for my failure, God asks me to see it as a gentle invitation from Him to once again allow Him to remove my "perfectionism shoe" and allow excellence to become my core motivation in yet another arena of my heart.

"Child," He says, "I long for your obedience and all of your "doing" to flow out of a confidence and a rest in Your heart, a deep knowledge that your status of 'beloved one' is not dependent upon what you do... or don't do."

And I want to live before Him as a daughter, confident in her Father's affections... so much so that the opinions of anyone else (including myself!) pale in comparison... don't you?

Here are some signs that I'm operating out of Love-empowered excellence:
  • I'm relaxed as I go about completing the tasks before me.  I'm not stressed if I'm unable to accomplish everything on my to-do list for a particular day.
  • I am secure.  I don't need to perform perfectly in order to prove my worth.  My value has already been determined by Jesus' sacrifice for me...His blood that "speaks a better word" over me. To the Father, I am worth the blood of His Son...and nothing I can do (or fail at doing) can increase or decrease my value to Him.
  • My identity is in the Father, His heart toward me, and who He says I am....and NOT in how clean my house is, how obedient my son is, or how much I can "git 'er done."
  • I can give genuine effort to a project or conversation (or blog post!) out of a place of resting in the Lord, do my best while abiding in Him, trust Him with the results, and then let it go.
  • I am motivated and encouraged and empowered by my Father's "well done!" as He whispers it to my heart throughout my days... as opposed to being motivated by the desire to earn God's favor, or to impress people... or the fear of how their opinions of me might change if I fail to perform.
God... more and more, let me be found with 2 "excellence" shoes on my feet.  Would you let perfectionism and all my striving to perform in my own strength fall off of me as I am more and more deeply rooted and grounded in Your love...Your perfect love that casts out fear?  I choose right now to rest in Your commitment to completing this work that you've begun in my heart.  You will finish what You've started.  Come and have Your way in me, Father.  I trust You....

Be blessed today, friends... and could I encourage you to courageously allow Him to examine your heart today, to begin to remove your "perfectionism shoe" and replace it with excellence that flows out of your identity in Him?  He is so committed to the fully-alive-ness (if that's a word) of your heart...
...And you are so loved,

PS - Linking up over here this morning, at Join me if you have a sec?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

One Step At a Time... LEANING

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The other day, I was in a "funk" for most of the day.  Know the feeling?

Here's my [officially unofficial] definition - - 

FUNK (n):  The vague feeling that something's "off" in one's heart... very rarely connected to a specific event or cause... and almost always resulting in irritability and general bummed-out-ness.

Yup.... I definitely was in that place most of that day...  and it took me till evening to finally sit down with the Lord and figure out the root cause: that I was overwhelmed by everything that I'm NOT and all that I need/want to get done in the next week and all of the places where I feel inadequate.  

Bottom line: I'd had my eyes on my own weakness and weariness and inadequacy and all of the limitations on what I can accomplish within the realm of my own strength... instead of fixing my gaze on God's more-than-adequacy and the fact that I can do all things because HE is my strength. (Phil. 4:13)

And why is it sometimes so much easier to just STAY in that "funky" place than it is to get intentionally before the Lord and let Him sort out all of this ridiculousness in my heart?  Why did it take me all day to finally sit down and ask Him for insight into what was wrong?

Sometimes I think I'm just more comfortable being... uncomfortable... when God is sitting, waiting, holding out this perfect peace and rest to me, if I'm just willing to take hold of it. 

Anyway... so that night I finally sat with the Lord for a few minutes and realized I needed to re-read some things that He's spoken to my heart in the past.  

So I RE-reminded myself (or rather, stilled my heart so HE could RE-remind me) that:
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And these truths of who He is, and how He pursues my heart ESPECIALLY when I'm so keenly aware of everything I'm not, and how He glorifies Himself when I lean into Him in my weakness... They're enough for me today.

HE is enough for me all of the places where I'm so far from enough.

Bye-bye, funky funk!  Hello again, Peace and Joy and Rest!

Father, help me to rest in Your more-than-enough-ness today.  You are my completeness and everything I need for this moment... and the next... and the next... I find it all in You.  Let my roots grow down deeper today into You, my Everything.

Friends, today, may we take one step at a time... LEANING... and may we encounter Your heart deeply in the process... and see Your beauty displayed as You fill in our gaps.

Blessings to you today, dear ones... You are so precious to your Father.

Monday, October 15, 2012

How To Live a First-Hand Kind of Life (Pointing You Toward Some (IN)Couragement Today!)

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Good Monday morning, dear friends!

Today I want to share with you an article that really blew me away the other day with its insight and TRUTH.  It's Sarah Mae's Post: How To Live a First-Hand Kind of Life and it appeared the other day at (In)Courage, which is a pretty big site for women that's run by Dayspring.

(Incidentally, they are publishing an article I wrote in their "Guests" section later this week!  So excited about that!)

So... the article at (In)Courage by Sarah Mae (check her blog out if you have a minute... she's really great.  Lots of depth and honesty there.) reminded me of this quote by Marrianne Williamson.  There are a few things about this that I don't quite agree with the way she worded... but the point is that God created us to be FULLY, WILDLY ALIVE... like I wrote about the other day a little bit.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Anyway, check out Sarah Mae's Post today if you will.  And let God challenge you and draw you and strengthen you to be freely YOURSELF... the way He created you to be.

Be blessed today to encounter Him deeply as you do the things He puts before you today.  May we live our lives radically today, as extravagant worship before our extravagant God.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Splashes of Beauty: Fall Beauty in the Hood, Sky Safari, a Mommy/IsaacPhoto Shoot, and More

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Life in the hood has been a little intense lately.

If you're new-ish around here, you may or may not have discovered yet that my family and I live in "the hood."  A.K.A. inner city Kansas City, MO.  A.K.A. the Historic Northeast Neighborhood.

Seems like there's been a little more crime than usual lately.  Definitely a lot more praying going on among those of us who love Jesus and live around here... praying for God to bring His Kingdom... to bring peace... to reveal Himself to these people who need Him so desperately.

And yet in the midst of all of the intensity of this precious neighborhood... there is beauty here.  And God continually makes us aware of His nearness here.... Here, where everything seems dark, and hope is hard to make out against the backdrop of crime and poverty and oppression.  But hope is here.  

Hope is here in our 16 year old neighbor boy who out of nowhere asked us to pray for his family last week... and then allowed us to pray with him right there in his driveway... and then shook our hands and thanked us sincerely, totally dropping his guard and his need to be "cool."

Hope is present here in a million other ways too... if we're just willing to keep our eyes open.

All of this beauty, glimpses of hope against this backdrop of hopelessness and fear.  They speak of who He is and the way He loves. 

And of His presence... even here.  

We just have to keep our eyes open a little wider for Him.

Question to ponder:  Where does God fling "splashes of beauty" into your life? How does He display His splendor and whisper His nearness even in the midst of dark or difficult moments or seasons?

Here are a few more splashes of beauty from my life this week.  I've been acutely aware lately of His whispers to slow down and notice Him, all around me... His pursuit of my heart, evidenced by these good and perfect gifts.

Okay... um... I know I said good and perfect gitfs. Who knew
hippo bottoms could fall into that category?! But this was
actually a really cool moment.  You see, we were at the zoo
in the late afternoon and we're usually never there at that
time of day, so we rarely see the hippos move out of the water. So
this was a maybe once or twice a year experience for us!
So yes... I felt loved by the Lord in this moment. :)  God cares
about the little things, like the fact that my son passionately
loves the hippos, right?!  DEFINITELY.

At the KC Zoo they have this "Sky Safari" thing that takes you over the
Africa portion of the zoo.  It's a really fun view.  Isaac and I had never
ridden it before, but it's only 2 bucks each way for both of us to ride, so
I decided to go for it this time.  It was so beyond worth the $4!
Taking pics was difficult with me trying to keep one arm tight around
him... but I managed to get a few. Isaac loved being "way up high!"

This one was taken on the train at the zoo.  Isaac absolutely ADORES the
train. It goes through tunnels (his FAVE!!) and everything!
Like I said... trains and tunnels... There is nothing in the
world more amazing to him. 

A good friend had his birthday party at a bowling alley and it was Isaac's
first time bowling.  Annnnnnd.... he got a STRIKE on his FIRST bowl!!!
Okay, so I helped him a little. It was cool though. :)

FINALLY... (If you're still reading, please pardon all the pictures!  Definitely have a ton this week!) I'll leave you with this set of pics from a random Mommy/Isaac photo shoot from one day this week.  We were just having fun goofing off with my iPhone camera.... and this was what happened.  (This is the real me.  Yup.  And the real Isaac.  In all of our weirdness glory.)

Whew!  There ya have it!  All of our goofiness right here, just for you.  If you're still here, thanks for caring about our life!  

God is so good to us in the midst of all of these mundane and messy and beautiful moments...even in the moments when the waiting for promises to be fulfilled feels endless.  He is here.  He is faithful.  He is extravagant.  He is WORTH IT ALL.

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
    You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
 They feast on the abundance of your house;
    you give them drink from your river of delights.
 For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light.
~Psalm 36:5-9

Be blessed today, my sweet friends, to have open eyes to see and discern the Father's extravagant heart toward you, all around you.  And may your worship flow out of that place this morning.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Moments and Invitations: The Heart Behind the Changes

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Hola, My Friends!

If you're reading this blog post from your inbox, may I invite you to click on the title and hop on over to my blog today? This post will make a lot more sense if you do. :)

So things have changed a lot around here in the last 24 hours.  This redesign has actually been in the works for the last week or so and was in "dream phase" for about a month before that.  I'll try and explain briefly.

When I started blogging more regularly about 2 months ago, all of these... things...these passions... began to be awakened inside of me.  I found myself writing more than I ever dreamed I would, or could... and I began to discover things that the Lord had put inside of me that I'm not sure if I even knew were there. 

So I embarked on this journey of writing these things out, and in it my heart has been really, deeply moved, I believe by the Holy Spirit, to reach out to the hearts of other women.  

Prior to this experience, I had this vague feeling that the Lord had deposited things in me that were meant to be shared with many others...possibly via writing... but I also struggled with false humility: these voices that whispered, "Who do you think you are? Why is what God's put inside of YOU so important? What makes you think it's worth spending the time and energy to write it all out? There are so many GREAT Christian writers and bloggers out there - - what makes your voice significant in that vast ocean?"

Know what I mean?  I'm quite positive I'm not the only one who's struggled with that train of thought.

I think what happened a couple of months ago was that I finally came to the conclusion that I needed to DO what I felt God had given me to do... to lift up my head and raise my voice above those little lying voices and freely, confidently, fully BE who God's created me to be and EXPRESS myself in the ways He's asking me to... and trust that He will develop a loving, supportive community (at whatever level He chooses) here in this space, made up of those to whom He'll speak and bring healing through my writing... whether that's 20 people or 2,000.

So... in recent weeks, as my mission and purpose for blogging have become so much more clearly defined in my mind and heart, I've had the desire to redesign my blog to clearly reflect this purpose and heart:

Moments and Invitations

Learning to discern and respond to God's tender pursuit of our hearts... in every moment, and every season.

These things are my heart and my reason for existence, and they're the things that have completely changed [and are still changing!] my life and my walk with Jesus.

And my passion is to share these moments and invitations and this radical journey with other women... to see them made whole and unleashed to live with wild joy and crazy freedom and vibrant, fully alive hearts... as they learn to encounter and be resourced by Jesus in the midst of day-to-day life... whatever the season.

Hence this blog.  And hence all of the changes.  This is my heart, and a piece of my calling, I believe.

Thank you so much to all of you who have read and engaged and commented and allowed the Father to work in your hearts through the pieces of my journey that you've encountered here.  You all encourage and bless my heart more than I can tell you.

Father, take these poured out offerings and use them for Your glory... whatever it looks like.  Really... whatEVER.  Let me hold it all with open hands, step back, and trust You to have Your way in this place.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Redesign: "A Time To Laugh" Is Now "Moments and Invitations!"

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Hi friends!  Please pardon my mess while A Time To Laugh is transformed into Moments and Invitations!

And stay tuned for a post tomorrow morning on the heart behind all the changes you see around here.

And.... be assured - It's still me!! :)
Thanks for grace! :)

Oh, How Uniquely You Move God's Heart

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Dear friend... I just wanted to remind you today....
  • That you were known intimately by God before you were woven together in your mother's womb
  • That you were uniquely created to satisfy and fulfill parts of God's heart that no one else can. 
  • That one glance from your eye overwhelms His heart.
  • That He knows you deeply, through and through... and yet He adores you.
  • That He fights on your behalf.
  • That He delights and sings and dances with joy...over you.
  • That His thoughts toward you are more numerous than the sand on the shore.
  • That no other human being on Earth can move His heart the way that you do.  
Yes, YOU.

Just felt like I should tell you today that your heart matters to Him, so much... more than you could possibly know. 

Please don't forget.  Ever.  And don't let the enemy tell you otherwise.  He's a liar.

Be blessed today to deeply know Your Father's fierce, wild delight over your heart....

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

On Not Feeling A Need To Process And Produce So Quickly

Sometimes I think about life through a "bloggy" filter.  You writers know what I'm talking about... The days when before something is even done happening, I'm writing about it in my head.

Sometimes this happens to my relationship with the Lord too.  It's something I constantly have to keep in check.

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Sarah Markley recently wrote a post entitled "The Pressure of Living Publicly."  Here's a quote: "Instead of pondering everything, I feel the need to process everything quickly and then regurgitate it immediately for the public sphere."

If you haven't noticed, I've cut back some lately on the amount that I'm writing.  The Lord has reworked and refined and reordered some things in my heart around the what's and why's and how's of maintaining this blog.  I'm super thankful for His commitment to continually help me realign my priorities, and I love how often He checks my heart on things like where I'm deriving my identity and whether or not HIS affirmation and approval are really all I need to feel valuable.

But I still struggle sometimes... on the days when my thoughts go something like this:  I didn't post anything new yesterday or today and so I really should get SOMEthing out there for tomorrow and hmmm...what might the Lord be saying to me today that I can quickly process and write about and post tomorrow morning?  


Wow... reading that train of thought, actually having written it out, it makes my heart sink to the floor.  Thankfully I usually catch myself... or rather, the FATHER usually catches me... quickly when this thought process occurs.

And it's a good thing... because the LAST thing I want, and one of the greatest dangers of having any kind of a blogging "ministry," is for my relationship with Jesus to become sometimes a means to the end of creating content for my blog.  

These are the same dangers inherent in being a song writer or a worship leader or a small group leader or a teacher/pastor or being in any form of public or semi-public ministry at all: 

  • Our secret place with the Lord can quickly become not really that secret at all.
  • Our times with Him become a means to the end of "producing" or "ministering" instead of the end of simply, purely KNOWING JESUS.
  • The things He whispers to our hearts in that place can all-too-easily end up not taking root as deeply in our hearts as they would if we simply PONDERED them for a time instead of so quickly PRODUCING and PUBLICIZING them.
Don't misunderstand me - I believe much of what the Lord gives us in our times with Him is meant to be shared in time... but there is clearly value inherent in "treasuring and pondering these things in our hearts" like Mary did.

Bill Johnson said something like, "Develop an intimacy with the Lord that's separate from Him using you in ministry."

And isn't that intimacy with Him the deepest desire of my heart?  To be satisfied in nothing and no one BUT Him?  To allow Him to have His way in the deepest places of my heart no matter who's watching... OR NOT WATCHING?  And if I'm really not deriving my identity illegally from my ability to articulate my heart, or His heart, or from the ways God uses me to minister to others, then shouldn't I be okay with allowing some bold


in this space

now and then?

Just some thoughts I've been pondering for a while... that I'm now sharing.  

Be blessed today, friends, to deeply ponder... and to let His sweet whispers take root in your heart and grow....  

Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday Morning Meditation (A Reset Button For Your Day)

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Good Monday Morning, Friends!

I don't know about you, but my Monday mornings often entail a sweet kiddo who's sad and frustrated because his daddy had to go back to work after being available for hugs and play all weekend, a big ol' pile of laundry demanding my attention, and a big ol' pile of to-do lists rolling around in my brain.  Today is no exception...and it actually may be more extreme than normal in the "laundry piles" and "to-do" categories.

Sometimes on mornings like these I struggle.  I struggle to live and move out of a place of rest and peace.  I struggle to demonstrate grace and joy to my family.  Pressure can easily translate to STRESS for me on days like this.  Know the feeling?

And yet, today, with 2 to-do lists written out and a load of laundry already rockin' and rollin' down in our dungeon basement/laundry room (old house = scary basement = usually no laundry hookups on main floor.), I find myself with a surprising amount of peace and an even greater amount of joy and anticipation for today.... and I just wanted to take a minute to quickly share with you my Source of peace and joy and LIFE for hopes that you'll be encouraged and strengthened and empowered for today as well!
His divine power has [already] given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.  2 Peter 1:3
It's ours.  He's already put within us, through our knowledge of His Son, everything we need for life AND GODLINESS in the midst of life.

Inner peace.  Righteousness.  Joy.  Love.  Grace for those around us.  In whatever circumstances in which we find ourselves.  ALL WE NEED is ours.

Our responsibility is to choose, by faith, to step into those things... in HIS strength.  We step out and obey in faith... He meets us and empowers our obedience.  Beautiful.

Take a deep breath right now. If your day's already off to a rough start (Believe me, I know how that goes!!), hit the "reset" button in your heart right now by allowing this truth to sink in for a few minutes.

Your Father is right there waiting to meet you.

Grace to you all today, my friends.  May you experience His empowering of your faith-filled obedience today...and may your hearts be tuned in to hear His "well done, precious child!" in the midst of it.  May all that you do today flow out of a place of rest and trust in His heart toward you, His commitment to Your life.

You are so loved....

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Why Longing and Trusting Are Not Mutually Exclusive

"All my longings lie open before You..."
 Psalm 38:9 NIV (Click for other versions.)

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Yesterday we had a potential match.  A birth mom with a precious African American baby boy who's just a few weeks old.  She didn't choose us.  She chose a couple who are unable to have children biologically.  I'm so happy for them... really, genuinely rejoicing with those who're rejoicing right now.... and yet, at the same time, this is the most difficult "falling through" of a possible match up to this point.

Seems like it gets a little harder each time: the suspense while we know our profile's being presented to a birth mom, the waiting, the longing, the praying of these 2 prayers simultaneously:

Father, please, my desire is for this to be our baby...for this time of waiting and aching to be hold our baby in our arms.  Please let it be...


Not our will, but Yours.  And we trust You to place this baby in the perfect home for him/her...and to bring us the perfect baby for our family in Your perfect time. We trust Your plan and Your ways, Father.

There's this tension that the Lord asks us to hold in our hearts in seasons like these: the ache of a longing yet unfulfilled...and the peace of complete trust in His perfect plan and His heart to give us good gifts.

These two sometimes seem mutually exclusive.  How can I really trust God and keep my heart in a position of surrender to His will while praying prayers like "Please bring us our baby soon... Please let this be the one..." Don't I have to shut down these desires, at least partially?  To silence them in order to fully rest in God's sovereignty? To numb myself somehow to the intensity of the ache?

And yet I sense this invitation from the Father:

"Allow your truest, deepest longings to lie open before Me...WHILE you trust Me.

The reality here is that He asks us to do anything BUT shut down our heart and silence our desires.  He asks us to willingly ache before Him... because it's in this ache of longing that He desires to deeply encounter our hearts.

He is asking for our honesty.  With ourselves, before others, and before Him.

In light of that, here are my honest desires:

I long to hold my new little one.  My arms ache for him/her more each day.  I long to teach Isaac to be a big brother.  Isaac is 2 years old now and the disappointment of having my children spaced a little further apart than I was hoping they would be sometimes weighs heavy on my heart.  Sometimes it's hard to trust God's heart to give us His best, to trust that His plan for our family really is perfect.  The truth is, I sometimes really, really wish I could hurry Him along.


He also asks for my trust.  And there are these other desires also, to which I hold tight...and this is where there is tension:

I long to hold my new little one... But even more, I desire His perfect plan, His perfect timing.

I have to continually remind myself to trust His plan and His heart... and yet I cling to the truth...
  • That He is faithful.
  • That His plan is to give our family His absolute best.
  • That He has the perfect baby and the right birth mom situation picked out just for our family.
  • That He works all things, even [and especially] the aching and longing and waiting, together for our ultimate good and for His greatest glory.
And so... His invitation is simultaneously into trust...and longing.  
Peace...while aching.  
Joy in the midst of the waiting.  
Willingness to hold this tension~ deep desires waiting to be met... along with a sweet rest of faith in His perfect faithfulness.   

"My times are in Your hands...." (Psalm 31:15)

There is intimacy here... deeper trust, deeper leaning into Him, more pressing into His heart... and HE makes it worth it.  All of it.

Oh Father, let me continue to respond well to your invitations even while I wait.

A question to ponder:  Where in your heart do you have God-given longings that are still unfulfilled?  In what places of your life is God asking you to hold this tension also, of aching and trusting?

Be blessed today, friend, to discern His invitation to you, and to hold this tension in your heart with grace... encountering Him deeply as you do.

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