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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

To be lived in

The moment we first walked into the house we now live in, I was love struck.
I took myself up the stairs to explore while Billy talked with our agent in the kitchen, and every inch of the place enchanted me.  By the time I descended, I just knew.
There were other people looking to buy in the neighborhood, walking through houses just like we were, and Billy had to command me not to stand in the front yard telling them that no, they may not look inside this house because it was going to be ours.

Sometimes, I still can't believe that I live here.  It's not grand, but it offers all I could ask (and more) from a home.
It offers quiet comfort for a recovering momma's cold during nap time over a cup of coffee and leftover homemade honey wheat bread.

There's a corner of our downstairs that lends just enough space to let a little boy explore and make messes and drag a dancing sock monkey across the living room just to give me a quick hug before, well, making more messes.

Our kitchen table just last night sat between my little family and our friends while we shared a crock pot meal and chocolate chip cookies and other little/big things like hugs and stories and life.  This morning it still boasts of the people that came, as if we ever need any thanks for the blessing of our home being full of life-sharing.

This is my living room unedited, tissue box and comfy blanket ready for me to rest and recover, and pillow cover that still needs to be hand sewn shut. 
Morning light softly seeps in through the windows higher on the wall, and it's that sweet kind of silent while my baby rests.

There are moments of living in this house when I wish I could keep it perfectly polished and picked up, but those thoughts are quick and fleeting.  
This home, it's so very lived in.  There are scratches and bruises that are merely the markings of real life, and I love it all the more for them.

The house and the home and the stuff, it's all lovely.  But it's really the living that it offers that I'm proud of, that I'm thankful for.  It's the way God's shown Himself faithful, the way He's emptied us out and filled us up with the opportunity to just live life with each other that makes me over-full of pure gratitude.

This house was meant to be lived in, and it is, and that's all I could've asked of it.

Monday, December 3, 2012

That time I worked out my Abs.

I've never had a killer six-pack, but I used to have, ahem, less around the middle.
You know, when you grow to the size of an elephant while you're carrying a child, things change.

So the other night, in a fit of "Let's get that flat tummy back," I had Billy help me with some abdominal exercises.  Just a few.
I'm still suffering the repercussions.  I'm sore.

I've added another exercise to my life of late.

Each morning, I've been trying to spend the first few minutes just listening to the voice of my Maker.

These moments have been sweet, balm-to-my-soul, let's-start-the-day-right kind of moments.
I feel prepared, connected to the Creator of the Universe.
So far, every single morning, I've felt God asking one thing of me:

Let me tell you something.

I. am. sore.

I generally am aware of my need for contentment in Christ, and I usually can keep a steady handle on when I'm becoming discontent or frustrated.
This last week, however, as I've been making an effort to specifically choose joy throughout my day, I've had major difficulties.
I've been sick.
I've been extra tired.
I've been irritable.

So that's where I'm at.  Sore abs and sore brain/heart.
Because when you work at something, there's usually opposition.
And when God asks something of us, whether it's to move across the world, or adopt a child, or give something away, or just be joyful, there's always another choice that will make itself clear and appealing.

I'm thankful today for a God who gives me grace each time I'm grumpy, which, lately, has been more often than I would like to admit.
I'm thankful and amazed that He renews His love for me each moment.
I'm thankful for a daily reminder each morning that my joy is important to my God.

It's the start of another week, and I'll be working out my joy muscles again.  I'll probably get sore, again, too.

I make no such promises about working on that six-pack.  Don't judge.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Diaper Only Kind of Day

Our little family just can't seem to get over a little cold.
It's kind of frustrating, but it's also been good for us.
We are pausing, stopping, taking a moment to breathe.  And maybe to cough.

It's a messy bun, no-makeup, let-your-baby-not-wear-pants kind of day.

Happy Friday to you.  Here's to hoping you get some down time this weekend (sans coughing).

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lessons from a Futon

I've been sofa-shopping with my Mom a lot lately.  She's pretty excited, as well she should be.
For years and years and years, my parents have owned a futon.  They have repaired, recovered, and given lots of TLC to this one futon.  It's seen graduations, weddings, pets coming and going, and giggles and sobs.

My mom leaning up against the futon, watching Liam standing.  

As we're walking through large warehouses filled with furniture stuffed so close my stroller struggles to squeeze through, I wonder why she hasn't bought a new one years ago.

The impending holidays tend to ask the same question.  This season can push, prod, poke at your stuff, at your house, at your life.  Promises of new stuff, of life-changing resolutions, of greener grass on the other side implore us to take a critical look at our here-and-now.

What can often be forgotten at this time of year is the beauty of dwelling.
The word DWELL means:
to live or continue in a given condition or state.
...To keep a futon for fifteen years because it suffices and because other things take precedence.
...To be incredibly overwhelmed with thankfulness for the moment of screaming children, of dirty dishes paired with grungy floors, of soft, grimy hands wanting to just hold yours, of late night hugs when the house is finally quiet.
...To not look at that family or that woman with frustrated comparisons, and to not allow our hearts to get cluttered with the unhappy "if only."
...To be fully content right in the house you've been given, right in the stages your children are at, right in this moment God's placed you in.

I choose to dwell today, not because I don't have hope for tomorrow, but because I have infinite trust in the tender, loving plans of a Father who knows this moment, who created this process, and who cares about the journey, not just the destination.
And don't be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God's place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hugs On Demand

Liam is going to be TEN MONTHS old in December.
Sometimes, I glance over at him, and I see a little boy instead of a baby.
It's bittersweet, this mommy thing.

Things I'm loving about Liam right where he's at:

Hugs on demand.

Hugs not on demand.
A super cute new smile that involves squinting his whole face from top to bottom.
His awkward attempts at sign language and my awkward attempts at understanding them.
His preference for Billy and me over anyone else.
The way he bounces in my arms when we watch Billy drive up toward our house.
His new-found love of all of his books and the way he hugs them close to his face.
How he's just chubby enough to not yet own a neck.

Sweet, sweet trusting baby blues and that little mouth and those perfectly dirty chubby hands that reach for me...
What a precious, exhausting, overwhelming, glorious gift I've been given.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Creative Writing Class

I had a creative writing class in 7th grade.
I made friends with the girl who sat behind me.  We'll call her P.

P was different than me in almost every aspect.
She had gorgeous dark skin and the brown eyes that I so coveted.
She was a year older than me and way too wise in the ways of this world.
She'd been taken advantage of in more ways than I can recount on this blog.  Her self worth was in the red.  The people that should've cherished her ignored her, and they didn't care that this little girl was living a woman's life.
For some reason, P and I bonded.  Well, she bonded.  I had very little to share in comparison to her stories, so I just listened, absorbed, nodded as if I'd heard it all before.
I was only twelve years old.  A little more fascinated by the world she lived in than I should have been, I was eager to hear her stories.  I loved stories, and her world was so far from mine that it almost didn't seem real.

Suddenly, mid-year, she didn't come to class for a few weeks.  I had the sweetest teacher who deeply cared for us.  She and I had a special bond formed over a common love of writing, so she was gracious when I asked where P was, but she could only tell me that she was sick, and that she would be back.

P returned with scars everywhere, even on her neck.  I wanted to ask, but I didn't.  She eventually shared, little by little, that she'd had some crazy fight with her step-dad and that it involved broken glass.  And she had tried to hurt herself.

She didn't share as much with me from that point on.  Before the class was over, she did give me a picture of herself with a short note on the back.  I remember it because I was embarrassed my mom would be mad when she saw it (she wasn't, of course).  It said, "Sarah, thanks for being a bad a** friend."

Again, I was twelve.  I was caught up in my own little world.  I should've thought to invite her over to my house, to give her a chance to be loved on by my parents.  I just didn't.

I don't even know if she remembers me, but I remember so much about her.
I remember how her eyes were empty and framed by too much eyeliner under naturally long lashes.
I remember that she laughed sometimes and that it made her look young like me.
I remember how my heart truly broke for the very first time for my friend.

I still ache for her.
I hurt for her emptiness, her loneliness.

P was a small seed in my formative little heart.  She cracked it open to hurting for others, taught me to dwell beyond my small, small world.

I don't have anything to give you from this story, except for maybe a little part of my heart laid bare.
This is why I prayed to marry somebody in full time ministry.  This is why I want to write.  This is why I believe in MOPS or small groups or coffee dates or middle-of-the-night phone calls.

It's not just people that Jesus died for - it's persons.  Individuals.
Jesus did die for the whole world.  He died for all of Texas.  He died for the whole middle school I attended.
I knew that, but getting to know P taught me that Jesus died for her.  My heart didn't hurt for my school, it broke for this one girl.  Just one little teenager huddled in the back of a trailer classroom with huge brown eyes and a very real broken heart.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On Baking Bread.

I was just on the phone with my mom, talking about baking bread.
I was telling her about how I'm getting ready to attempt making some whole wheat honey bread for tomorrow, and she was talking about how she often makes sourdough.  So we discussed the different processes of the bread-making (I know, don't you wish you were us?).
We talked about how sourdough bread sometimes takes longer to rise than whole wheat bread. 
We brought up the fact that though the process is similar, it's also different.  
Some breads take more kneading, or less rising time, or a different kind of flour.  Some breads are more dense while others are lighter, fluffier.

Just minutes later, I'm sitting here confessing to Jesus my frustration with the my never-ending battle against comparison.  And I'm pouring my heart out to Him about a sweet friend of mine and the tough stuff she's been handed, wondering why it's so hard for her right now and so different for others.

Immediately, I think about the bread.  
I hear my mom's matter-of-fact-ness, "Some breads bake quicker than others."
And I remember telling her why I must use one type of flour to balance out another so that the bread turns out just right.

I don't understand why certain things are the way they are. 
But I know that the end product will be beautiful if we allow the process to take place.

I don't know why some people experience more or less moments of tightness or infertility or loneliness or exhaustion or whatever your something is.

The process is different for every. single. loaf.

And if we get caught up in looking at our process versus her process or our time in the heat or the darkness or the kneading versus hers, we'll get nothing but confusion and dissatisfaction.

Because it's more than likely the Baker is doing something different with you than He is with me.  And we're both going to be delicious and beautiful when we're finished; we'll both offer a sweet aroma if we just submit to the timing and the ingredients we're given.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I want to claim that I'm thankful for the moments of knuckling and kneading, of darkness and instability, of heat and change.  I mouth it, and then I voice it, and along the way, my soul cries it out to her Maker: thank you.  I thank Him for this process.  And I thank Him for her process, and your process, and for the glorious, wonderful work He is doing in you and for what you will become.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Cosmic Void

So, I've been trying to write myself here onto this blog.
It's been hard.

How to you share your story when it's not finished yet?
Will it ever feel finished enough to share?

At what point will I feel full enough of experience, of wisdom?

I don't really know.  I just throw these questions out into the "cosmic void" (name that quote and I'll give you a hug).

When will I stop saying that my "dream" is to write?

When will I feel comfortable in "writer" skin, not just "dreamer" skin?

How does a simple missionary-turned-preacher's daughter and worship-pastor's wife make a change?

How do you spend tears and prayers and hopes on a dream and not have the first inkling of how to step into it?

There are no answers, I know.  It's just where I'm at, where I've always been.

Recently: a photo post!

We went to the pumpkin patch.  And we found a huge red chair.

Some lovely, lovely friends were the best kind of company!
(Chelsie blogs!)

Spending time with my boys in the middle of fall... it's perfection.

Also, I got to photograph my brother and his beautiful fiance, Jackie.

Ah, sweet love.

I'll get back to my story soon.  I just couldn't resist sharing the latest fun!

Monday, November 12, 2012

An apology to all of my pre-Billy BFFs. Also, an explanation.

I found a note the other day from when I was eleven.
I tucked it away in some journal (an unfinished one) and promised to take it out when I found what I was looking for:
(My Most Sacred Wish: To have a very best friend to talk to and lean on when my days are sad.  Someone who won't let me down.  A Christian, and who lives close by.  I will pray and take this out when answered.)

Rereading it, my heart pounds a little harder and I feel that old familiar longing sitting, waiting, so so heavily on my chest.

All I wanted, all I asked for, was just one person.  Just one that would be mine.  Someone to be always for me.  One person that would pick me over and before any. other. person.  I was oh-so-willing to be this for somebody else, but I wanted it in return, too.

It sounds simple, but when you are a little more than awkward growing up because you carry your feelings and your dreams as if they're weighted in gold and then get mortally wounded when you share those heart-nuggets and the recipient doesn't treasure and cherish and love it like you do, you can feel pretty lonely.  (Please don't kill me for that run-on).

I remember one painful, gut-wrenchingly lonely day with my broken heart sitting on the kitchen table and my mom trying her best to sew it back up.

I remember begging her for an answer.  I wanted to know just why what I seemed to need from a friend was just so much more than what others required.  I had never asked to be this way.

Finally, with a smile in her eyes, she leaned back in her chair, looked at me in her straightforward manner, and she declared, "Sarah what you are looking for is a husband."
This is the part where I apologize to the pressure I may have put on my middle school and high school friends to be that ONE friend.  I may have missed out on some fun, lighthearted times wallowing in my loneliness.  Sorry, ya'll.

She was right, but I was only sixteen.  Thankfully, my parents also taught me how to rely on God for my everything, and He carried me through those painful, alone and having-everyone-but-no-one-to-call moments and years.  HE was my best friend, and still is.  He is for me, even when I feel alone in my current season...
Believe me, even though I have a true BFF in that sweet husband of mine, I still have those moments.  
I still need Jesus first and more than I need any friend of this world.

But, because He is good (so good), He gave me Billy as a salve to the wounds for all of those times of feeling so. by. myself.
I now have a person, and he is for me.  I know that it may not be normal need, and I know some women find that amazing friendship in other women, but for some reason, it was different for me.  There was a Billy-sized hole in that eleven-year-old heart of mine, and God knew all about it.  He put it there just so that He could prove Himself.

This is not a post that says being married is better than being single.
It's a post about how God provides for our deep-seeded, individual, God-crafted needs.  

It's about how He can bring relief to the parts of our heart and our pasts that are dry and cracked and weary (even if they reach all the way back to awkward eleven).

It's about how sometimes He withholds, and sometimes He gives.  He comforts us in the brokenness, and He celebrates with us when we recognize His gifts.

Because the gifts He gives... they're the uncontrollable goofy-grin kind of good.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Unfinished Business

In middle school, I joined the track team.
(If you know me personally, you may laugh.  ...Ok, that's enough.)

I wasn't popular, and there was a boy I liked and talked to next to never.  Or never.  He was on the track team.  It's not a very complicated story.
The first day, we had to run for practice (I was shocked and terrified).  This was torture, and I twisted my ankle.  The. first. day.
To this day, I can't remember if I actually physically twisted my ankle or if I "oh my goodness this is the worst thing ever" twisted my ankle.
This injury allowed me to go to one track meet and wear a very cute sweatshirt.  I was on the injured list.
And then it was over.  My track career... finished before it ever began.

Really though, it goes deeper than middle school track...

I have always loved journaling.  Wanting to be a writer since my seventh-grade creative writing class (which I will be writing about at some point), I've maintained an insatiable love of the blank page and the unmarked notebook.

I have a high stack of journals that are just half full.
They all start with such hopeful intentions of getting to that last page.
Years and years of the unfinished piled up in the spare bedroom closet.

Until this last year, I'm not sure I've ever finished out a journal to the last page.
This may seem silly, but it's always bothered me.  For years, I've carried a slight niggling dissatisfaction with the fact.  I even marked in one journal how far I'd gotten.

It was a little over half-way full.
Incidentally, this page was the last one I wrote on.  I think maybe I was 15.

I don't know if it's the love of pursuing something brand new or the fear of sticking it out that made me like this.  I think it was a little bit of both.

Mostly, though, my issue was probably (definitely) fear.
Many of these notebooks are riddled with unfulfilled promises to myself to be better, to be more committed.  Some have first paragraphs of stories I'd started with very high hopes.

Even now, typing this, I want to erase all that I've written here, throw away the pictures.
Frustration with myself at being this way, with having a difficult time telling you about it... All of it sits in my bones and I have to wage war to continue.  Slicing joint and marrow.  Pushing onward.

For an aspiring writer, you'd think I would've spent years staying up late, pouring my soul and sweat out over pages and pages with bruised, inked fingers to show for it (Oh, Jo March, how I envied you).
You'd think.

In Kevin Leman's book about Birth Order, he has a list of questions perfectionists should ask themselves.  One of them perfectly diagnoses my issue with finishes:
Do you tend to put things off because you feel you're not quite ready to do the job right?
 To which I can answer a resounding YES.

I guess that's why I'm starting here.
I don't want to put it off, telling you my story.  But you must know that it might be difficult for me to wrench it out.  My tendency is to hold my cards very close to the chest.

Here's my first card laid out on the green felt for you to see:
I can be so driven by fear that I don't take the risks I should take.
Also, perfectionism is not a strength (thanks again, Kevin Leman).

And now you have a little piece of my history and of my heart.  Please hold it carefully.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hi, I'm Sarah, and this is my blog.

I am easily and often distracted by attempting to find an identity for this blog.
For example, I've had my browser window open for two days trying to think of what to write, which direction to go.
This happens way too often, and I'm well aware.

So, tonight, I sat on my couch and let tears press themselves out of my closed lids, and I prayed.
I prayed because my heart is that Jesus would show up here in these words, on this blog.
I want to write for and to you, whomever you may be, and I want you to find rest and healing and maybe laughter and maybe a tear.

But I get stuck in the mud up to my rearview mirrors (if you're from the South, you know that's bad).
I can't move forward or backward or even open the door because I'm so unsure of what this blog should be.

Tonight, my fretful little heart was pouring out my concern to the God of the Universe.
And you know what He said?  
Your blog identity should flow directly from your identity.
He could've added duh, but He knows I'm not too great with sarcasm, so it felt more like a hug.

So I thought about it, and I realized that I'm not always as honest as I could be.
And I thought I'd introduce myself a little better than I've done before.

How, you ask?
I'm going to tell you some stuff and some stories about myself, starting pretty far back.
Aren't you excited?!?

I'm doing this because really, it's not my story.
It's His.  His fingerprints are everywhere, His weaving hopefully apparent.

It's about to get for real.
I'm going to get some dirt underneath my fingernails and unearth some of how I got to right here:

The other day, I was reading Ann Voskamp's blog (and crying... Does this happen a lot, you ask?  Possibly...).  I copied and pasted this onto a sticky note on my MacBook, because I needed to remember:
So tell me your story, not your sermons, tell me your thrashing, and not just your theology. Tell me about your questions – and not just your quest.
We start in the morning.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


My little boy is in one the sweetest stages yet.

I'm currently gushing over his smiles that he saves just for me, his giggles, his cuddles.

I really don't know if I will ever get over him.

He's been pushing boundaries, learning what "no" means, and melting my heart every other second.

What a balancing act it is between overwhelming insecurity that I'm not getting it right and overwhelming settledness that this is right where God has me.

This motherhood thing is all-consuming, all-exhausting, life changing.
At the end of most days, my hands and my heart are tired and weary, but full to the brim.

Today, I am letting the gift I've been given seep into my skin and settle into my bones.  This is good.  This is love.  
I give thanks.

And when my little person pulls on me and needs me and I find myself at the end of, well, all of me, I'll give thanks then, too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Chapel Song

I went to kindergarten in a small private school.  My teacher was sweet and squishy and I don't remember her name, except I think it started with a B because she had earrings that had the letter B on them.

I also had my first crush.  His name was Taylor.  We met at the pencil sharpener every once in awhile.

We learned cursive (which was pretty fun) and I made the best lowercase "h" out of all of the class.  My teacher told my mom so.  I'm still pretty proud of that "h."

We had chapel every week.
I don't remember what day it was on.  Hey, I was in kindergarten.

Every time we had chapel, we sang the same song.
I thought it was just the chapel song... that it was some kind of ritual.
I thought it only took place in my chapel.  (It didn't by the way.)

I love you, Lord, and I lift my voice
To worship you, Oh my soul rejoice!
Take joy, my King, in what you hear
May it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear
(This is all I remember from this song.  Evidently there are lots of other verses.  Who knew?!)

This morning I went to sit down during nap time, and I closed my eyes and tried to lift whatever lingers in your heart after you've been needed and pulled on and wanted and taken from.

And it rushed up out of somewhere, that chapel song.
My heart started to sing it ritually.
I got to the line with the "sweet, sweet sound part"...
And I sang out loud.
(Because my husband leads worship, I often get asked if I sing too.  I do sing, thank you.  
Um, no, I don't sing well.  But I do sing.)

Somehow, while looking around my messy house that I just. cleaned. yesterday. and singing the song that came every week for almost a year, over and over, it strikes me:
The repetition, it never ends.
Whether it be the cleaning or the singing or the choosing to praise or the petition that our lives make sweet sounds instead of discordant noises.
It's day by day, moment by moment, endless.

When it seems like whatever you just worked through comes back to haunt your heart, don't get weary.
When it seems like your pleas fall on deaf ears, don't stop singing.
When it seems like you're finally together, don't stop pressing forward into the exposing light.

The house, it gets messy again, even after deep cleaning.
My heart, it fails me.  Sometimes, the sound it makes is less-than-sweet.

But this morning, I will declare, ask, beg that somehow, by grace, I make a sweet sound to His ear.
And sometime today, I'll clean the house.  Again.

I'll do the same tomorrow.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Long Arms

My eyes squeezed shut and my hands palms-up on my knees, I whisper one question:
What if I have nothing else to give?

A dirty high chair,
A messy, falling out bun in my hair,
An aching need to just nap,
Cluttered toys and sticky floors...

It's all mocking me.

Again, what if I have nothing else?  What if it's all dried up?

What if it all crowds in on me... the everything that takes from me and the nothing I have to give... what if it overtakes me and I can't recover?

My eyes are still shut, and I wait for some command.
Some order to get on my knees and drive my forehead into the ground.
Some motivation to make sure to be more disciplined, more together.
All I can see is the time and the energy that I just don't have.

Even though I know them, the words touch me in a new way this time as they're whispered into my soul:

His arms can't be cut off, even by a mound of cluttered toys.
His ears can't be muffled by the noisy baby or the lists in my head.

When you feel like you can't reach through it all, whatever it is, remember.

It's not too much for Him to get through.
He's got really, really long arms.
He'll find you if you let Him.

Friday, October 19, 2012

31 days: Blurting

Make this your common practice:
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. 
I don't know where the notion came from, and I'm sure I was unaware of it until I'd unearthed it and held it in my lap:
If I don't say it out loud, if it doesn't seem like part of my character, whatever takes up residence in my thoughts is mine and mine alone.  If I judge, compare, or get frustrated only in my head, it's ok.

Long story short, I figured it out.
It's not ok.

Somehow, "figuring it out" didn't fix it all for me.
I still see something on Facebook that makes me feel left-out, less than, or just sad.
I still have moments when my skin gets uncomfortable on me, and I'd like to try on someone else's.

These moments, they can plague and taunt me.
The small frustration or bitterness or even self-loathing can bury itself somewhere deep and dark, and I carry it with me.

These thoughts can sneak up so quickly and bite so venomously that once I figured out they were hurting me, I had to make a game plan.

My solution: Blurt it out.
...to the closest person possible.
99.9% of the time, this happens to be my husband.

I tell him what's going on because I already know it's not ok.
No judgment, no shame.

It's become such a normal practice for us, he can just look at me and know when I'm comparing or feeling icky in my spirit.

It's not simple, it's not fun, it's not something I look forward to.
It's like throwing up... the acidic, bad-for-you stuff leaving the body... It's gross.
But the more I practice, the moment the words leave my mouth,
so does the guilt and shame, the frustration, the comparison, and the burden of the sin.

My shoulders feel lighter and I can sit up straighter and live in the light.
No hiding, no fear.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

31 days: Sidelines

That's why my cup is running over. This is the assigned moment for Him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.
John the Baptist had followers.  He was touching lives, people were committed to his calling, his vision, his teaching.
God ordained him from before he was born to play a part in the grand scheme of the great plan. 

That blood pumping through your veins, tear-jerking kind of calling and dreaming... 
He had to have experienced it.

For me, it's writing.
It's motherhood.
It's being the kind of wife that lays down her all to support the man God's given her.

These callings, they keep me awake at night.
They inhabit the knot in my throat when the tears spill over.
These are the things I don't even have to ask to know the answer - 
They're God-birthed dreams.
Just like John the Baptist's.

I tend to desperately grab ahold of these desires, work toward them, make my life about them.
It's easy to forget that I'm on the sidelines.
It's easy to forget that though these are not about me.

My children, my words, my husband, my ministry, I'm just a spectator of it all.
It's time to step aside, and watch my God at work.

Jesus, be the center.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

31 days: Anniversary

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
I woke up a couple of minutes before him the other day.
Trying not to rustle the sheets, I curled my knees into my stomach, pulled the covers under my chin, and I watched in fascination.
This man, he is mine.
And I am his.

He used to have a certain smell.  I'd swipe his sweatshirts to wear when he wasn't around just so that I could feel him there when I inhaled.  Comfort and love and the perfect amount of butterflies in my stomach all resulted from breathing in that scent.

It's gone now, his smell.
Whether it's his pillow or mine, it's the same scent.
We have a home, we have a baby, we are a family.
I walk into our sweet house, and I breathe us in.
We've created this feel.  The air, the smell, the comfort, it's ours.

I take a deep breath, and my lungs expand, and I know I'm home, and it's forever, and Jesus is in this.

Three years ago, I committed my life to this man.
I had no idea what that would mean.
I didn't know that submitting to him would make me stronger as a woman.

I didn't know that I would sob in the wee hours of the night and he would hold my puffy face and kiss it and then that we would worship and our tears would mingle and that I would learn more about Christ than I ever knew.

I didn't know that he would protect my heart with gentle guidance.
I didn't know I'd rely desperately on his arms upholding me.

I didn't know what a choice it is to lay your life at another's feet, trusting God that He'll use that action to further His will.

I had no idea.

You've changed my world, my husband.
My whole world.

My heart is yours forever.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

31 days: Celebrate

The whole city celebrates when the godly succeed.
Pretty soon, I'm going to gain a sister.

Yesterday, my little brother slid a gorgeous ring on the finger of a beautiful girl and she said yes to becoming a wife, his wife.

Little brother, we're more than proud.
It's been a long, dusty road and you have come through more polished, more grown-up, and you're very blessed.  So are we.  Very, very blessed.

Monday, October 15, 2012

31 days: Makeover

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
"Pick up the house, Jesus is coming over."
It's how I feel sometimes.

This running, scrambling of hiding the dust mites and the dirty dishes version of myself.  Really, desperately wanting to give my best to my Jesus.  Reaching into some hidden closet that I don't really have to muster up the goodness and strength and best-ness to present before Jesus comes over.

My inner woman is tired and her hands are calloused and sometimes getting through the day is a victory for her.

Sometimes, her mascara is smudged and her lips are cracked and she only has enough strength to put on yoga pants and an oversized t-shirt before she meets up with her Maker.

It's easy for me to get distracted with her disheveled state.
I'd rather be dressed up for a dinner with the King.  (Or a snack, or a breakfast, or a coffee date...)

That's just not the way it works.
I just can't muster, dress up, be or say or do enough to prepare myself adequately like He deserves.
Even if I tried, I'd break under the pressure of the impossible.

So I walk up, smudgy eyes and all, and He dusts me off, picks me up, and nourishes my bones.
He makes me over.  
He makes you over.
You will never have enough strength for the day or for the moment on your own.

It's in Him.

It's not about how you look when you approach the throne, it's about how He sends you back out.

Come empty, leave full.
Come filthy, leave sparkling.
Come with tear-streaks, leave burden-less.

He will, He will, He will make you over.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

31 days: Praise

I've not written for the past two days.
This 31 day thing has really kicked me in the teeth.

For some reason, I've had the most difficult time writing since I've committed to do it.
I've had a hard time finding time or maybe making time.
The words come out slowly, slowly.
It's not been effortless.

But today is a new day and so is tomorrow.

I'm ever thankful.

Source: etsy.com via Echo on Pinterest

Thursday, October 11, 2012

31 days: Decoded Grunts

My head feels heavy as I lean back, the front parts of my neck straining against the stretch.
I practice what I learned months ago, preparing for my birth, deep breaths from my stomach to my toes and relaxing.

My baby is waking up.  I hear his little noises seeping under his door all the way down to the living room and they sit in front of me, waiting.
And I wait, too.

My thoughts feel just as coherent as the grunts my son makes from his crib, alerting me.

I'm somehow trying to formulate a prayer, though my tongue and my grain are not up to the task.

I close my eyes, and I sit, and I thank Him from somewhere inside for moments.  For breath.  For His understanding my needs and decoding my grunts and my mumbles and for filling me up.

There's an emptiness that comes with being fully taken from, needed moment to moment.

And there's a fullness that you would never know if you didn't experience the emptiness.  It's a chance to be given to, to be fed and held and Fathered.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

31 days: Crabby

Today I finished lists, filled out and executed budgets, grocery shopping, and motherhood.
I snuggled and I cooked and I fulfilled my duties.

My head should feel light and happy and ready for bed.

But, for some reason, today felt like it was on autopilot.
The neurons in my brain somehow commanded my hands and feet to do, so I did.

Just minutes ago, I opened my eyes and let confessions fall of my tongue into the open ears and arms of my husband.
Today, words were not guarded, thoughts were let loose.
I didn't win today, up until moments ago.

Grace and peace and purifying blood make it a win.
Not my attitude, my wrinkled nose and my tired eyes and my thankless heart.

I want to weep with gratefulness that I'm not graded on today.
I have a new chance before I even get under the covers.  Grace lets me smile and be happy for the day I've been given, the chance to be molded and shaped and lovingly repositioned.

My grace is enough; it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

31 days: Rejoicing

My God is good.
He does good things.

When my dishes and laundry are piled up, when I keep intending to do my hair only to be interrupted by a needy little person, when money and time and patience just runs out...
My God gives.

And I rejoice.

Today, I sat in a room of moms, and in my heart I just knew.
Somebody's marriage was struggling.
Somebody's finances were past the point of stressful.
Somebody's life and direction looked as clear as murky water.

And I rejoiced.

Because we were all together, in one Name, in one Presence, and there was encouragement and love and prayer, and it was good.
He gives, and gives, and He does take away.
And then He gives again.

Source: etsy.com via Jill on Pinterest

Monday, October 8, 2012

31 days: Enough

It's day 8, and tomorrow I am starting MOPS.
I'm thrilled, ecstatic, and heartbroken.

As I've approached the start, God's been consistently breaking my heart for the women around me, for the need for community and comfort and realness.  Life is tough, and we're often really good at hiding it.

We all need a resting place.

Laying my burdens and those of others at the Cross tonight, praying for hearts to be encouraged.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

31 days: Roots

It's Day 7 of 31 Days of Submission

• • •

It's Sunday, and I can get over-stressed today.
Being in church ministry for us means that Sundays are busy, early mornings and full evenings.

It takes effort to stop, to let Sunday be Sunday and to absorb the life giving of community and the Word and the healing it all brings.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

31 Days: Weekender

It's Day 6 of 31 Days of Submission

• • •

I've decided that since I generally don't blog on the weekend, Saturday and Sunday will be a chance for lighter thoughts, something I've seen or something I'm working on or letting go of...

This is all for today, and it is enough.

Friday, October 5, 2012

31 days: Cheerleader

It's Day 5 of 31 Days of Submission

• • •
Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them.
I met today with some wonderful women about the startup of MOPS next week, and we touched base on our major goals of the ministry.

Toward the end of the lunch, one woman said, "So we stay away from those hot topics, right?  Because I've seen lots of parenting arguments between friends on Facebook."

Goodness gracious.

Motherhood is something that takes up all of you.  The moment you are thrust into the mom role, the unexplainable weight of another life is upon you.

You have to make decisions on how to parent, what path your family will take.
We did, and each decision was thought out, some labored and cried over.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that whether it's motherhood or something else, most people do life on purpose.  Everyone has moments of insecurity, of not being 100% sure that you are 100% together 100% of the time.

You know it, I know it.  Let's support, not tear down.

I need someone on my side, to be my cheerleader when I'm unsure.

I'm sure I'm not the only one, even if I forget it sometimes.

Goal: Remember that you or she or they need someone to work for them, to cheer, to remind them of awesomeness.  Be that cheerleader (note-to-self: you cannot fit into your highschool cheer outfit; you just have to find other ways to fill that role).

Thursday, October 4, 2012

31 days: Whatever

It's Day 4 of 31 Days of Submission
(I skipped yesterday, but started one day early, so I have a grace day...)

• • •
WHATEVER happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. 
My throat is all lumpy today, and I don't have very much to give.
Before the sun came up, my alarm went off, and I had a hard time holding off the kind of crying that makes my lips puffy.
In the next two hours, there was such a flurry of Starbucks and packing the car and feeding the babies and checking their luggage and then it was time.
And it wasn't enough, will never be enough time.

We shipped our friends off this morning to start their new life all the way across the country, without us.  And it was painful.

We hugged and whispered and then they walked away, and I've never been more thankful for assurance and peace and knowing.

The days ahead are just going to be full of weirdness.  Picking up the phone to realize they're not available to eat chocolate and watch funny videos and just sit and hug and be together.  Looking for faces in a crowd that we won't see.  Missing doing everything and nothing and all of those in-betweens.

But today, and tomorrow, and next week when it hits me afresh, God is good.
He holds us.  He holds them.  And somehow, we're all held together and it's going to be more than ok, and I REJOICE because I need to and because I can and because it's healing.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

31 days: One or the Other

It's Day 3 of 31 Days of Submission.

• • •
Do everything without complaining and arguing.
Billy walks in the door, and it's been a long day.
I'm pretty sure I smell funky mixes of spit up and drool and black beans and yogurt.
My eyes have a funny ache behind them that reminds me of how tired I am.
My big toe is sticking to the floor when I walk, and I'm not sure why it happened or when I'll get around to cleaning it off.

However, all day, I've chosen to be thankful.  I've looked into my baby's eyes and thought, This is just glorious work I'm doing.

But I'm still at the end of my rope, and my husband (poor, poor husband) only has to breathe the wrong way, and I'm just done.

I consider myself fairly peaceful... a people-pleaser too often.
Give me a long day of being pulled on, overflowed, and dried up, and I can show you one very argumentative momma.

It's either one or the other.
I'm looking to get them both right... Thankfulness in my heart and peace in my communication...
Even when my sticky toe stubs itself onto the hammer I didn't know was there.

No complaining and no arguing.
Strait-forward, easy, and not-so-much.
Eventually, though, it's a much lighter burden to bear when they're both under wraps.

Monday, October 1, 2012

31 days: Impressive

It's Day 2 of 31 Days of Submission.

• • •
Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other,
loving one another,
and working together with one mind and purpose.
It's been about 18 months now since that night.
Billy's at some sort of service or practice at church, and I'm home by myself.
Forehead against the granite countertop of our small kitchen island, Bible to one side, journal to the other.
I don't remember what night of the week it was, and I can't even remember what exactly triggered my heartache, but I know it was riddled with comparison and loneliness and the burden that I just couldn't seem to shake these things.
How does one feel so alone when surrounded by such great community, such unreal amounts of friends?
Sin, that's how.  Truly, I'm sitting here trying to explain it in a different way, and that's the only word that seems sufficient.  Insecurity, yes.  Comparison, yes.  But really, it is my very own choice to ignore the commands that are in place to keep me from these very things.
Sin, sin and worry.  Worry that somehow, I'll be less loved, less liked, less important than the next person, than the next woman, than the next couple.
Worry and comparison is what keeps us from agreeing wholeheartedly and having one mind and purpose.

I let go that night.  Moved from my seat at the island to my knees on the tile.  Hands raised, my face salted with rivers of tears.

I made the move from needing to have a place to needing to give others a place.
A desperate desire that the people God gifted me with, this community, these families, that they would connect, share life, feel supported and celebrated.  If that happened without me, then so be it.  I just wanted to play my part.

Somehow, little by little, the loneliness gets better with each repeated prayer.
God, give me a heart for them like you have.
And I am important.  I do have a place.  It's in the loving arms of One who created me, who made me this way, who wants me every day, no matter what.