Freedom

rain.jpgScattered heavy raindrops began to fall from the sky as I played in a nearby tennis court with my friends during our brothers baseball game. Slowly, the sporadic rain turned into a steady rainfall. My friends and I lifted our arms high and tilted our heads back as we allowed the rain to land in our open mouths. I remember the laughter that flowed from us and the glances that bonded us in that moment. Time slowed and we were nothing else but free.

Sitting here thinking of that moment, I can almost feel the same freedom I felt that day. I believe if it were to start raining right now I would want to run outside and try to relive it. I wouldn’t actually do it though. Well, unless my kids were with me. I would feel like an idiot standing in the rain by myself.

We all yearn for freedom. Look at the world around you. People are always seeking and fighting for it. Or, they’re in pain because they can’t find it or simply don’t have the strength to fight for it. What I see are people clinging to the the wrong kind of freedom or things that are not freedom at all. They just think or hope it is. Because those freedoms are always in exchange for something else. I wonder if deep down they feel a void knowing it isn’t what they really need to be seeking. Those freedoms are only temporary, they are shallow puddles that will soon dry.

Like me standing in the rain. That free feeling ceased. My friends and I became bored and cold. I remember having no towel in the car and I couldn’t wait to get home to change into dry clothes. Dry socks never felt so good. The rain was a fleeting childhood freedom. Some of my best memories surround such freedoms. Childhood freedoms, although innocent and pure, will never give us what we need.

There is only one real freedom in this life and that is freedom in Christ. Many of us “adult” christians know this already. Yet, we hesitate like I do when the thought of playing in the rain crosses my mind. Why can’t we fully embrace this freedom? We’re all sinners, duh. I wonder though…what would happen if we started running and clinging to Him like a child, regardless of what sin was standing in the way? Childlike faith, I believe it’s called (wink wink).

Would we better sway people away from the false freedoms they are rooted in if they saw us clinging more to the truth our hearts hold so dear? I think about my kids and the type of faith I want them to carry throughout their lives. I picture them standing in the rain with their arms up high and heads tilted back because they know freedom, real freedom, never will cease.

What exactly is the good?

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As I sat waiting for Luke’s game to begin, I played with blades of grass at my feet. My mind was as calm as a glassy lake; there was not a wave nor a ripple in sight. But then my phone rang. It was my dad. He never calls me on the weekend, I thought as I answered my phone.

In one second my frame of mind shifted. The pain of this world, oh the pain. I wasn’t surprised by the news, yet each word stung. Sometimes it is the unsurprising news that hurts the most. I always hope people will respond or do differently than what I see coming. I much rather the stories of people overcoming life. The bad in life, that is. I love when people prevail.

It is a strength and a weakness that I strive to find the good in all things. The problem arises when the pain of this world is deeper than the seemingly good it can bring. I hate to see people give up on life. They throw in the towel and don’t look back, and they don’t look forward either. They remain stuck unable to move. Maybe that is why I need Romans 8:28, we all need Romans 8:28.

Wait.

What exactly does that even mean? I just talked about pain and giving up on life. Now I am encouraging a bible verse that talks about “in all things God works for the good”? Yes, I just said that and that.

Yesterday, after I wrote my blog post about this verse, I walked into my kitchen and there on my table were mason jars full of carnations. They’ve been sitting there for almost a week, but I saw them as if they just magically appeared.image I focused in on the pink ones. Romans 8:28 reminds me of my grandparents, it reminds me of my grandma’s death. Since the verse keeps popping up I have been thinking of her. Pink carnations were her favorite. They’ve been here in my house and yet it slipped my mind until that moment. As if that were not enough, I went to sit on my couch. My phone was in my hand because I was getting ready to clean and was going to put music on. (Who likes to clean without music?) I sat, thought about my grandma, pulled myself together, and then put Pandora on. I began to stand up when the song Homesick came on. It was the song they played at her funeral.

The tears flowed, I pictured my grandma’s face, and then peace came. My grandma was touched by the pain of this world, just like us all. Her pain is no more, though. She’s home. It got me thinking. That’s it, I’m homesick. We are all homesick. That is why it hurts so bad. We know we don’t belong here.

We are touched by our bad choices, other people’s bad choices, unexpected news, disease, death, and etc. We must remember our hope and truth lie in the fact that sin or anything that happens as a result cannot ruin God’s plan. His mind is set on our eternal salvation. His mind is set on bringing us home. That is why He sent His son Jesus to die for our sins. Stop and brew on that for a minute. That is powerful stuff. Nothing can stop His plan and nothing can stop His purpose of eternity.

The challenge lies not in my knowing this. It lies in my sharing this. It lies in you sharing this. How can we show people the good in God’s purpose? How can we show them that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not prevail?

The Whisper From Within

I pulled my hair back into my usual low messy bun, removed my sunglasses, and peered into the opening of the cave. My hands tightly held my treasured designer sunglasses that hid tired eyes on my busiest days. I remembered the day I bought them and the false sense of accomplishment I felt wearing them. I wanted to rid myself of all of that and so I quickly tossed them into the tall grass behind me.

I stood staring into the never-ending darkness. I took a deep breath and stepped inside. A light sweeping breeze tickled my skin. I heard the whisper, the whisper from within, calling me to continue. It was the same whisper telling me to leave behind my fierce independent ways. It assured me perfection is a weak and fragile state. It reminded me real strength lies in the mess. It lies in being content with your mess and with your limitations.

I was frightened, yet determined. I thought of the steps that led me there. I was in my early twenties. The noise of busyness, the layers of self-made sludge, the wounds of days past had drowned out the whisper. I wanted nothing more than to listen and embrace it once again. I was never meant to live that life. I was meant to live my life. So, one day I stopped. I just stopped, pretty much dropped, and couldn’t move any further into the life I created. A life I worked so hard at maintaining the image of perfection and self-sufficiency. It was then I saw brave was not nonstop trying and doing and living the “good” life. Brave was standing where I was that moment. Brave was stepping inside my own cave.

I took another deep breath and didn’t look back. It felt like the first few moments after jumping into a pool. There was a shocking cold that quickly transformed into a refreshment for my weary soul. My eyes adapted and light appeared. The outside noises soon diminished. I began shoveling through the sludge. I came across my wounds, some I healed and some I simply acknowledged. There was nothing else between me and the whisper from within. It was like a long lost friend I hadn’t seen in years. We embraced and cried and fell right back into the old rhythm of things. I fell back inline and freed myself from the pressures of this world.

There are times, will always be times, I wander outside the bounds of my life. I find my way back to my cave, I do the work all over again. I know that life isn’t real, it isn’t sincere, it isn’t mine. It is built on pressure and duty and pushing past limitations I was never meant to push past. No one is made to do it all, to try it all, to go and go and go until you drown out the voice from within. So just stop and go inside your cave. You won’t regret it. I haven’t.

Death

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I’m dying.

The air doesn’t fill my lungs…

as it did in the past.

My body aches.

Every step I take is slower.

I hear a voice.

I reach out.

All I feel is empty space.

Empty promises.

I close my eyes and pray.

His Word fills the emptiness.

I let out my last breath.

I am free.

New air fills my lungs.

The pain is gone.

My path is clear.

My steps are boundless.

This truth is where…

my peace is found.

I no longer live,

it is He who lives in me.

Through the power,

through His endless love.

I am brought back to life,

time and time again.

Unwrapped Present

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Have you ever had an idea, a great idea, maybe even a brilliant idea that just sits there?  You think about it and you may talk about it.  It feels right.  It feels straight from God.  It lines up with scripture. You know you have the spiritual gifts and passion for it, but it sits there on your shelf in a neatly wrapped package, untouched. Well I have. I actually do right now. When I think about reaching out to unwrap and use it something stops me.

I used to daydream about it. Then I would get impatient and disappointed in myself for not doing something. I was almost convinced it was fear stopping me, but when I would reach out to grab it that something that stopped me felt right too. Makes sense, right? It was like I knew this was something I truly need to do, but also I knew it something I was not ready to do.

I prayed, prayed, and prayed some more. I was reminded of God’s timing. God does not live through the restraints of time like we do. A day, a month, a year doesn’t mean much as far as eternity goes. He is patient, he properly prepares us, he knows the plan we need to follow. Trust Him and His timing…know there is a time for urgency and there is a time to wait. Waiting is not a bad thing.

Someone once told me something I really need to remember every day of my life. It was something like this: God first, then your family, then your ministry (or God’s work), then everything else. When you get these out of order you will see it in every aspect of your life. So, maybe the reason why I haven’t been able to unwrap my present is because I had these a little mixed up. And I didn’t fully realize it. You probably don’t fully realize it. You are doing the best you think you can, you are doing good things, and you are a good person. You are just doing things out of order.

Through the busyness of life, we get swept away and Satan loves it. It is his best attack against us faithful God-fearing ones. He knows we aren’t going to stop believing in God and trying to do His work, so he tries messing with the order in which we should follow. Next time you have that great idea and it seems to just sit there, try looking at the order in which you are following. Maybe all you need to do is move things around a bit and God will help unwrap your present when the time is right.

These Two Faces

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If you ask why I do certain things, then just look at these two faces. If you ask why I don’t do certain things, then just look at these two faces. Becoming a parent has made me more selfless than ever before. It has brought out a side of me I never knew existed. Parts of me that had lain dormant since my own childhood have reemerged. These two have brought me more life and joy than I can ever describe.

When either of them tell me I am the best mom ever, I know without a doubt they actually believe it. That is why I will never stop trying to live up to those words. Yes, I forgive myself when I mess up. I use those as teachable moments to let them know to forgive themselves as well when they mess up. I brush off my mistake and try try again. It is all a part of the deep love I have for them.

If anything, I pray my kids will look back on their childhood and know I never gave up on them…

As of late, we have gotten swept up in the busyness of life. It shows it every detail of our family life. I think we all realized it last week, even my four-year-old. This past Friday, Matt took Oliver up to his family’s cabin for the night. I decided to have a date night with Luke. It seriously could not have come at a better time. We all needed it. It was a reminder of how much we need to do that more often.

So it is with life. We must stop and take breaks before life gets the best of us. I tell my kids that all the time. They don’t totally get it yet, but hopefully they will one day.

Anyway, these two faces are why I have more peace in life. God gave me them to open my eyes to what life is suppose to be about. Guess what? Life is not about me. It isn’t about you, either. It is not about winning an argument. It is not about outwitting someone. It is definitely not about competing or one-upping anyone.

Life is about loving God. It is about the love you hold for others. It is about what happens as a result of the love you hold. Ain’t nobody got time for anything else…at least I know I don’t. (Yes, I know ain’t is not a word.)

The Narrow Road

Every morning as I rise, I am reminded of the two roads. One road is vast. So vast, there are times I forget where it ends.

It is appealing. It is easy. It is whatever I want it to be. It is always changing. It is the road traveled on by most.

The other road is narrow. I know where it leads. It never changes. It is hard at times, as there is a pulling in all directions from the vast road trying to snatch me away.

The vast road is selfish and doesn’t really love me. It gives me not what I need, only what I think I want. And what I think is usually wrong.

Even though I stumble the narrow road never forsakes me. It never holds a grudge as the vast road does. It carries me when I am weak.

I know, oh how I know by grace alone, through faith alone the narrow road widens. It gives me all I need. It gives me the only real peace I will ever know.

It is the ultimate gift I truly don’t deserve. By His sacrifice, I get to walk along this narrow road because it leads me home. It is my blessed assurance.

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Best Delivery Ever!

I have just had a rough day today.  I can’t or don’t even want to explain it. There is so much on my mind and just too much going on that has worn me down.  (Insert crazy face.)  I don’t even know.  I hate complaining and I hate talking about these things.  Sometimes I feel I don’t have the right person to talk to.  I have people that I trust…but sometimes I don’t want to burden them.

I went to bible study this morning and usually that gives me peace.  Not today.  No, all I wanted to do is leave.  I never feel that way.

Then, there’s the kid who is having a rough time adjusting to summer.  I truly think I need to make a schedule for him.  Maybe that would give him the sense of order he needs. He gets himself in trouble.  He doesn’t act like himself when there is any change.  I guess that is something I will always struggle with when it comes to him because I am the complete opposite.  I can adapt to change like a champ.  Maybe I need to start meeting him in the middle more.

I feel like lately I have been saying, “Ugh life!” way too often.  You know, this happened to this person and that is happening to that person is all I keep hearing.  I know it will all pass.  It is just it feels like it all happens at the same time!

So, I ordered new shoe racks and they arrived today. Exciting isn’t it? The boys always love playing with boxes like all kids do.  Today they played delivery man.  First up was Luke hiding in the box, then Oliver, and then crayons.  When they told me I had one last delivery, I figured it would be something like dirty socks or something.  They assured me it would be the best delivery ever.  It really was the best delivery ever––my bible.  Needless to say, my mood changed instantly.

Life is going to be life.  Things get rough, busy, overwhelming, sad, irritating, and so on. But then we get these little moments that remind us of the best delivery ever. We don’t even need to pay for this delivery, well maybe you do need to pay for a bible…it isn’t ok to steal. But what is free is his love. He is always there for us and His word is always there to turn to.

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Clean, not tidy. Balance, not perfection.

IMG_6541I’m a bit behind on laundry.  Well, actually I am more than a bit behind.  I’m more like four loads behind.  But, we have clean towels.  Matt has clean work clothes and the rest of our closets have plenty to choose from as well.  Maybe it means we just have too many clothes.  Or it means…and it means (?) I have better things to do.

Yesterday the boys and I picked up the house.  It was clean, not super tidy, just clean. Then we went to the park.  I watched them play at the playground and then we went exploring in the woods.  Luke wanted to find something unusual. We ended up getting a little lost (because I’m me). On our adventure we found a creaky tree.  Like literally it was creaky.  I was waiting for it to fall over or something.  We also heard another very unusual noise further down the trail.  I still cannot figure out what it was.  The boys got scared and clung to me and it took all I had to keep my giggles contained.

Today, Luke was a bit under the weather.  I set Oliver up with a movie and I sat with Luke because he didn’t want to be alone.  My house is clean, not super tidy, just clean.  Maybe since I am a stay at home mom, I should keep things cleaner than I do.  But then, I cannot. Tidiness makes me anxious.

I like balance, not perfection.  

I like to go to bed at night knowing I chose to spend time with my family. I love to make memories.  I believe you can raise responsible kids and show them there are more important things than having everything in order all the time.  I don’t want my kids to get anxious when life is out of order. To me, that is no way to live.

My kids do chores.  They see our house clean and they see our house not so clean.  They help me make dinner and they have a dance party with me in the kitchen at the same time. Our neighbors may look through the windows thinking were nuts, but I don’t care.  Because we also read, do homework, pray together, talk, clean, build, do yard work, run, make messes, and then clean up all over again. I know my way of life is not for everyone, but it’s definitely for me!

 

The Things That Make Us Weird

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Some may think I’m weird for caring so much about trees. It is just that––I see them as part of God’s artwork.  I see how God intricately wove them, just as he did with you and I. Each tree has its own unique beauty.

Uniqueness has a way of calming me.  

One never knows by looking at a seed, how it will turn out.  We plant and we wait.  We can guess and we can try to manipulate a bit.  The thing is, nature has a way of following God’s plan better than us human’s do.

It is funny and weird, but I like the way the leaves sound on a windy day.  I like looking at the shoots and branches and how they grow and have little control. It somehow pulls me into the moment.  It reminds me to stop thinking and just be. It reminds me of who is really in control.

Yesterday, we had our trees trimmed.  I was devastated when I found they completely cut one of the shoots.  I actually almost cried.  They destroyed the most unique part of this tree.  The shoot shot out in a curve and covered part of the driveway like a canopy and now it is gone.  I’m no idiot, I understand the reasoning.  Still, it makes me sad.

Maybe it goes to show and reinforce the type of person I am.  I used the example of plastic surgery to my husband.  What if I went under the knife and changed what made me unique?  My husband listened (really listened) to my rambling and I love him for that. I love he cares about and accepts my weirdness. I don’t want to look or be like everyone else. I know you are probably laughing at me right now.  It is a stinking tree, for goodness sake.

I like the things that make us weird.  

I will get used to the tree once again.  I will see the benefits eventually. It will darken and blend in with the tree, just as we change and blend in with the world.  I hope I never fully forget what used to set this tree apart.  Just as, I hope you never forget what sets you apart…

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