October 11, 2013

day 11 :: martha, martha.

As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. 

A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. 

But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. 

Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”

The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha...

you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. 

One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

October 10, 2013

day 10 :: comparison

Earlier this summer, I read the book So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore.  It was a fabulous, which spoke right to me in a season where I felt... well... insecure.  I was making huge life decisions, such as where we would live, and was struggling with feeling like my worth or value depended on something outside of me.

Which, in reality, it does.

It depends on God's adoption of me.  A daughter of the king.

That is where I hope and pray I find my value day in and day out.  I need to be honest, this is hard work for me.  I fall prey to comparison and the but they did this and they did that game when it comes to deciding what is best for me.  I am not quick to be quiet.  Not quick to wear the blinders to even Christian culture in order to hear of God's best for me.

But that is not where I intended to go here.  This book gave an example of mind over matter that I have found so freeing.  Now I understand that I might sound like a crazy person to those who don't struggle with comparison and insecurity (there must be someone in the world who doesn't, right?), but in the name of freedom, I'm going to share this.

In so many words, Beth described the woman who walks in a room and immediately sizes herself up to every other woman in there.  Physically.  Spiritually.  Emotionally.  I do this.  Beth did this.  You might.  You kind of quickly evaluate where you stand and you either feel good, or you feel down.  You  see that you may be dressed more stylish that some, and it elevates yourself a bit.  But there's that person who you really admire spiritually, and God, if I could be more like her (really?).

This is the straight-up-raw-honesty folks.  I do this.

The first problem, is this is pride at. it's. core.  Acting as if the world revolves around me.  The hierarchy of spirituality or attractiveness or something revolves around where I'm at.  And where I stand is all that matters.

You see how ridiculous this is when I say it out loud?

This hinders us so much from loving well.  From being confident in our identity in Christ.  From stepping out in faith and boldness to pursue relationship, encourage other women, or step alongside the outcast.

I now see this.

Beth's advice?  Just stop it.  

Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.

The very best thing about identifying these ridiculous habits of comparison and pride, our ability to see it in the moment and put an end to it.  Cut your mind off from going there, and ask for the Lord's eyes to see all of His children.  We all need him desperately.  Cute skinny jeans, boots, and sweater or sweatpants.  Eloquent speaker or not.  Confident and bold and captivating, or shy, reserved, and quiet.  We all need Him.

In comparison to His son, that is the only place we stand.

So stop the ridiculousness.  Let your mind be transformed by truth.  Make sure you are filling your mind with the things that are good and trustworthy and honorable.  Truth-reading.  Reject the comparison.  The self-deprecation.  Or the self-elevation.  Whatever it may be, we need Jesus.  End of story.

I find so so so much freedom here.

October 9, 2013

day 9 :: fear

Today was the day we swapped diapers for underwear for the big boy.  I had a lot of anxiety leading up to it for some reason.  I put it off and kept making excuses.  But when it came down to it, I did it like I do many things.  Just pull the plug one day and say, "okay, that's it!"

So, today was that day.

It went much better than I anticipated.  The day wasn't without accidents, but he had a cluster of about 4 accidents shortly after drinking a huge cup of juice, which they said to do to give them opportunity to go.  I guess he had to go TOO bad.  But other than that little cluster in the afternoon, he was dry.  That, and the time he did a #2 in his underwear.  How is that for mommy talk?  

Seriously, I don't know what I was afraid of.  It's potty training.  Accidents happen.  Life goes on.  I imagine the worst.  As if it is a slow-mo NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! every time he doesn't make it to the potty.  That's not how it goes.  It's always fine.  And he will learn.

But it kind of got me thinking about how I approach things that are different or new.  It is often with anxiety.  With imagining the worst.  I just pray that when it comes to being bold about my kids, I choose to be bold and not fear.  

Truth is, accidents will always happen in life.  Decisions will not always be the best ones, but they are the ones we make.  And God can use our mess to bring glory to Him, if we let him.

I want the kind of life that isn't afraid of taking risks.  That boldly steps out in faith into whatever he has next.  Trusting.  Instead of fearing the worst.  Because, even if the worst happens, there is still grace.  There is still hope.  There is still a God who stoops the lowest and he is found there.  

Don't let fear keep you captive.

October 8, 2013

day 8 :: where I'm at

One week down in this 31 days of finding freedom challenge!  I feel like I deserve something for blogging for 31 days in a row.  Can I say this is going to be MUCH MUCH harder than I expected?  In an ideal world I'd have my posts ready the day before, cute pictures edited and cropped, and it would be entering the blogosphere at 5am the next morning.

But really, that's just not where I'm at.

Today I have about 10 minutes before I get Jude up from his non-nap (oh, yeah, he's not napping anymore.  Fun, huh?).  Today, a 20 minute power nap myself trumped this blog post.  I guess I thought inspiration would come while I was sleeping.  Unfortunately, not the case.

Still, there is a lesson for me to learn here.  About my expectations.  Knowing myself, what I'm capable of, and what I need.  And adjusting accordingly.

I am a big advocate of the idea of giving up good to make space for what is best.  Sometimes, though, even my idea of best is what I find burdensome.

That means, I need to evaluate.  Just because I like what someone else is doing, and it is their best, that does not mean it has to be my best.  (I tend to fall into this trap.)

While I should give my best in what I do, there is grace.  Grace for the sloppy blog posts.  Grace for the one-or-two tv shows too many.  Grace for the lack of patience.

But nobody wants to live in a place where they constantly feel like they aren't measuring up.  We can embrace grace, but we can also change our expectations.  We can pray for a realistic perspective on what is best and what we are capable of.  And adjust our ideals accordingly.

So, instead of kicking myself for starting this blog series I'm not doing justice to (in my opinion), some new expectations.

Don't expect blog posts the night before.  If I'm lucky, you might get them.  But that probably won't happen this week.

Don't expect eloquent, captivating posts.  Or even clever stories.  Or even a recent photo.

What you can expect?

Truth.  Honesty.  Always.  And a heart that desires deeply to share life with other women, encourage my fellow Mamas, and love the Lord with all that I am.

That's just where I'm at.  And there's freedom here.

October 7, 2013

day 7 :: pushing through for freedom

After a busy weekend I almost completely spaced my commitment to write this post.  It is late, so I am going to keep this short and sweet.

This morning as once again time for my Beth Moore bible study.  We settled in on the story in Luke of the woman who was bleeding, carrying her burden for 12 years.

She saw her need.  Desperate.  And broke all of the social norms and laws to push through the crowd, reach out and grab hold of Jesus.

And she was healed.

My take-away?

You know the burden you carry.  The insecurity or anger or  depression or anxiety or pain.

Beth's message today, the one I'm passing on to you.

Don't let anything get in the way of you grabbing hold of Jesus to find healing.  To find truth.  Even if your decisions make you seem crazy to the world.  Well, that's more Christ-like, isn't it?

I know I need to take some time to pray about what exactly I need to bring to him.  To uncover more of these strongholds and find the root.  And find healing.

What do you need to push through to be freed today?

October 6, 2013

day 6 :: in a funk

Sunday's are just flat out rough.  Rushed mornings with breakfast in the car, tears at the nursery drop-off, and postponed naps.

Today was one of those days where I felt like, yep. I HAVE A TWO-YEAR-OLD.

He wants the blue spoon, not the green spoon.  And no, I don't want to sit in the booster, because I'm tall up-to-the-sky like Daddy.  And I don't like it, Mama!  I don't like pasghetti! 

The books say to ignore the tantrums.  And most days, I do.  I walk away and tell him to come find me when he is ready to speak kindly.  But today, we were simply in a funk.

The kind of funk that is there whether you ignore it or not.

The kind of funk that has my blood start to bubble because I can't. handle. the. screaming.

The kind of funk that, really, only one thing can fix.


I crank up the tunes (lately, this song by Brooke Fraser is my go-to funk-busting song), grab my screaming boy, and start spinning in circles.

The cries quickly turned into side-splitting laughter.  We twirled and bounced around the house and listened to the song three times in a row.  Funk forgotten.

Imperfect children.  Far from perfect motherhood.  And loud music.  I found freedom here.

This is day 6 of "31 days if finding freedom".  Click here for more posts in this series.

October 5, 2013

day 5 :: life-giving links

Happy weekend, friends!

Today I thought I would share some life-giving blogs and books that I've been reading lately.  Happy reading!

www.cassidyrobinson.com - she is blogging on 31 days of being content.  I love this girl anyway, but these posts are a breath of fresh air.  Finding freedom in choosing contentment over discontentment.  It is indeed a choice.

Desperate: hope for the mom who needs to breathe - the title says it all.  I've found so much encouragement from Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson through this book.  Being in the trenches with two toddlers is sometimes crazy and this book has encouraged me that I am not losing my mind (or at least I'm not the only one who is) and that a slight shift in my perspective can make all of the difference.

What Women Fear - this book by Angie Smith hit home for me.  I listened to it this summer as an audiobook while painting our house, getting ready to sell.  I was "amen"ing the whole way through.  I didn't realize how many things I lived in fear of until reading this.  This book was great in helping me identify areas I could pray through to break through binding strongholds.

http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2013/10/02/tullian-tchividjian/#sthash.3aI5Gpfl.gbpl - this blog post by Tullian Tchivdjian, Billy Graham's grandson, is a breath of fresh air.  This post quite accurately expresses what I have been experiencing all summer.  Needing to lean heavily into grace after living in a do-good, try-hard way for too long.

October 4, 2013

day 4 :: dear self

Dear self,

Today, find freedom in the fact that you aren't expected to fit into any molds.  Don't get caught up in the rules and expectations put on you by the world, your culture, your peers, and yourself.

If you give into your toddler's demands through tantrums now and then, for the pursuit of peace, that is okay.

If you haven't gotten up before the kids in weeks, and struggle to make this a habit, that's okay.

If your 2.5 year old still is addicted to a pacifier and you see no sign of that stopping, even though so-and-so says it should be long gone, that is okay.

If you feed your family frozen pizza instead of the real-food-eat-clean meal you had planned, that's okay, too.

If you feel like there is so much you should be doing because that is what they say, but you simply don't know how to do it all, you are not alone.

We weren't called to do it all.  To fit into any mold or style of motherhood, but rather to love the Lord and love others well.

If motherhood looks differently than you think it should, know that it doesn't need to hold you captive.  It doesn't need to be a reason you self-criticize or condemn.  You are doing hard kingdom work.  Don't let the lie that you are just a mom and you need to do more set root in your mind.

Be the you that Christ created you to be.  Praise Him in that.  And keep on your journey faithfully.  You will try different things and some will work and some will utterly fail.  What works for one will not work for another.  All of this is okay.  Your life is not supposed to mimic your friends' on facebook.  Because you were uniquely created as you were.  Uniquely you, because that is exactly who God needs you to be.  

Know that there is freedom to be found in loving yourself, because you were created by a loving God.

Love, me

October 3, 2013

day 3 :: free friendship

Tonight we sit on her couch, face to face for hours.  A friendship of nearly 10 years can easily be picked up where we last left off, even though it has been months since we've connected.

This is my favorite place to be.  Maybe add a cup of tea or a glass of wine to the mix, and this type of night is perfection to me.

There is no need for small talk, and we get right to the point.  Catching up on the events of the summer, we realize that we find ourselves in the same place, once again.  We're tempted by a try-hard life.  We're suffocating.

It would be easier for me to decide to move overseas and be a known and respected missionary at this point in my life, I say.  Or adopt.  Or do something big and drastic.  I might feel like I earned it then.

But simply accepting grace and serving my husband and my family in love.  Seeking Christ-likeness in the depths of my heart.  Abiding and loving well.  Right now, in the mundane of a stay-at-home-mom, that is my hard work.  It never feels like enough.

So, we sit and we work through our dirty hearts.  It's all on the table.  And it's beautiful.  I'm not exactly sure why, but there is hope found here.  We're not simply airing our dirty laundry for each other.  We're not complaining or comparing.  We want better.  We want more Jesus and we know that true friendship involves intercession.

Then in so many words, she says, freedom was never ever about rules.  Never about being good enough.  In Eden, the only rule was to not eat of the tree.  Yet somehow, today, we feel like grace isn't enough.

I sing the words, your grace is enough.  But my heart is too often not caught up in His love.  It's caught up in my works.

Why is it so hard for me to live in grace?  Why is it so hard for me to live based on what God has done for me, as opposed to what I can do for him?  There is a stark difference between the two.  One road leads to captivity, and the other to freedom.

But tonight, this friendship feels like freedom.  Because the love of Christ is all over it, and that is where freedom is found.

A free friend does not compare.  Does not criticize.  Does not condemn.  A free friend loves.  Hopes.  Prays.  A free friend will direct you back to Christ in the most kind way, because she knows that it is the Lord's kindness leads to repentance.  A free friend does not enable captivity.  They are a breath of fresh air.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we know, when two or more are gathered in the name of Christ, he is there.  Friendships built upon Christ should lead to freedom.

Am I a life-giving friend?  Or do I enable my friend's captivity?  I sure hope and pray that along with the love of Christ, my friends find such freedom with me.

This is day 3 of a 31 day series "Finding Freedom".  Check here for more posts in this series.

October 2, 2013

Day 2 :: uncovered

This is a dangerous journey to be on.  The journey of discovering the hidden areas of our heart that need a little (or a lot) loosening.  Areas that have weighed us down and kept us silent for so long, about to break free.  The enemy wants none of that to happen.  

In bible study this past week, a friend stated that she felt like she finally had some wisdom and insight into some strongholds in her life that she wasn't aware of before.  You would think that this revelation would bring some relief and freedom in and of itself, but instead she felt the opposite.  The enemy was livid and she felt spiritually drained and attacked rather than enlightened.  

I have felt the same way.  Ever since that late-night decision to blog my way through this, I've once again felt frozen.  Insecure.  Thoughts such as, I don't want people to think I think I know anything about this.  What if I say the wrong thing.  What if I share too much and people judge me.  Who am I to talk about freedom, you captive, you.  Who am I to say anything at all.  

But, freedom doesn't keep us silent.  So I am going to press on.

I'm praying that through this journey, the spirit would make me aware of the hidden areas in which I need freedom.  The areas where pride has snuck in, or insecurity has tainted.  This process of uncovering our strongholds is not easy, nor is it fun.  But it is so necessary.  Because remaining in captivity ruins us.  It strains our relationship with the Lord, and can devastate our life on earth.  It seeps into our marriages, our friendships, our ministries.  But the good news?  Freedom can shine even brighter in all of those areas.

I know this isn't going to be easy.  But I know that I am not alone in this.  This is the curse, this separation.  We can't help it, as this is our heritage.  A voice tells us that we don't need Him.  We can have it all.  Know it all.  Figure it out through worry or fear.  That this life is all there is.

I take that lie and eat of it. Time and time and time again.

Of course, not always consciously, but no one is beyond captivity. Especially not me.
As we begin to confess in Bible study areas in which we know we are held captive, there is a lot of head nodding and "amens" around the room.

I feel like nobody really likes me, they are just being nice. 

I size myself up to everyone else in the room.  

I'm angry all the time.

The success of my day is determined by the number on the scale.  

I just feel like a failure.

It comes down to the heart of the matter. And the heart is that, on our own, we are all prideful. We are not naturally humble. We all behave as if our world is all there is, whether by self-promoting or self-degrading.

But there is so much more.  Freedom is the fruit of Christ's saving work.  

In Beth Moore's book, “Breaking Free”, she highlights how the kings of Judah, even the most honorable, were not holy.  None were incapable of misleading or immune from pride.  We all need a supernatural savior to redeem us.

“We need more than a leader on our road to freedom. We need a Savior - One who keeps saving. Although we need to be saved from eternal separation from God only once, Christ continues His saving work in us for the rest of our lives.”
We are works in progress. We are not supposed to have arrived. We are not supposed to be perfect in this world, but God is continuing this work even still.  Praise the Lord, the secret of Christ has been revealed to us.  We know where our hope lies.

If you are like me, even this simple truth has a weightless air about it.

God is doing this work, it is not my works. And he cares enough to set me free. He cares more about my freedom than I do. This is a battle for my freedom, and I know how it ends. So, don't lose heart.

I am not alone in this battle for freedom from strongholds. Neither are you.

He is the reason we are on this journey in the first place. And he will see us to the end.

This is day 2 of a 31 day series on "Finding Freedom".  Check here for more posts in this series. 

October 1, 2013

31 days of finding freedom :: why freedom?

For the past couple of Octobers, I have loved following my favorite writers on this 31-days-of-blogging journey.  Last year I got serious about writing more about half-way through the month, so I missed it.  And I almost missed it this time.  If you haven't noticed, writing hasn't exactly been a priority in my life lately.  But that is about to change.  As of 11pm last night, I decided to jump on the band wagon.

For me, this is mostly about accountability.  Accountability to write, for one.  This is how I process.  My mind is a jumbled mess until I get it out in words, and then I finally feel free of my mind-chaos.  Writing every day will be challenging, but I am looking forward to putting my words out there again.

But more than accountability in writing, I am sharing to be held accountable to taking this journey of finding freedom seriously and deeply.  This is a journey I have been on for the better part of the last 6 or 7 months and I'm starting to feel a bit lighter.

Why 31 days of finding freedom?

Most simply put, the Lord desires us to be free.

He desired freedom for his Israelite children in Egypt and he desires for us today.  The purpose of Christ was to give us freedom from the captivity that sin puts us in.  We were slaves.  But we don't have to be any longer.

The problem is, even if we know Jesus, we are still human.  We are still prone to linger in captivity.  We still are tempted by the world, and from time to time, we give in.  We believe Jesus is real, but our spirits are still overwhelmed by the battle to give him all of ourselves.  And we need help.

This has been my journey for the past 6 or 7 months.  In all honesty, a large reason why I have been so quite here is because I felt captive to my own insecurities and strongholds.  By the grace of God, I feel much lighter in this part of my journey.  The strongholds, while still there, have loosened.  And at this point, I feel like it is time to share.

To let you know, I don't have a solid plan.  My posts are not planned out.  I have an idea of what I'd like to say, but it is going to depend on the day and what is on my heart.  Posts will include anything form freedom in motherhood, marriage, and friendship, or what we can learn about freedom from different people in the Bible, or the purpose of freedom, what freedom is and is not, and books and stories where I have grown in freedom.

This is my journey, and this is my month to share it.  So it might be messy, but Lord knows I do messy pretty well.

Join me, will you?

September 8, 2013

the battle with myself

It is true, everyone is fighting a hard battle.

The problem is, I think I often pick a fight with the wrong crowd.

I'm run-down, striving, irritable, and need someone to blame.  In all honesty, many times I choose to battle in my marriage.  Sometimes my kids.  Even sometimes my friends.  But most often, I battle myself.

The self talk.  I dwell on something that, in my mind, went wrong, or is inherently wrong with me.  And my mind spins and ruminates and dwells on how I must be a horrible friend.  I'm not a "good enough" Christian.  I'm lazy as a wife.  I don't have what it takes to raise these boys.  Whatever it may be.  My mind telling me to strive more.  Work more.  Be more.  Because what you are isn't enough.

When it comes down to it, that is the lie I believe far too often.  Day in and day out, it is far too often an attempt to "be enough" on my own.  Or at least an attempt to take steps toward whatever "enough" is in my mind.  

I rely on my own works.

But works doesn't save.  And I am not my own enemy.  

I'll say it again, I am not my own enemy.

Why, oh, why do I so often live believing I must be a failure.  I make idols of productivity.  Even of service.  Of being a great friend.  Of hospitality.  Those things become far too important to me.  And I'm never good enough in my own standards... so I strive and I strive.

If you remember, our battle is not against flesh and blood, but between what is unseen... between evil and the heavenly.  And my only battle is to choose Christ.  Truth.  Life.  Redemption.  Day after day.  

I need to choose truth for my mind, so I can speak it to my kids and my husband and bring life.  I need to choose life for my heart, so that I have confidence to act out of obedience even when fear seems to scream louder.  I need to choose redemption, so that I can own my heritage as a daughter of the king.

There is absolutely a time and a place to hold accountable thoughts and actions.  But when it comes right down to the beliefs we have about who we are, we are calling God a liar if we choose to believe that we must strive for more than he's offered through grace to be good enough.

I remember many years ago in pre-marital counseling they told us to remember,  your spouse is not your enemy.  This is a truth we have needed to repeat to one another time and time again.  I am not your enemy.

Most days, I need to be telling myself that too.  I am not the enemy.  I have been redeemed and am spotless... more than good enough.

Oh, how freeing that is.  My chest already feels lighter.  

Too often this has been paralyzing for me.  I dwell on my sinfulness as if I haven't accepted redemption.  I live in fear far too often.  The fear of being "found out" that I'm not as good as I pretend to be.  One of my favorite authors, Jennie Allen, wrote this blog post over a year ago.  But I stumbled upon it recently and it rang true.  She so truthfully says about our fear,

"Get over it. We are all about to be dust. Might as well live the stories God (the living, sovereign, lives forever, made us and the spinning planet we are sitting on….that God) wrote for us. Don’t miss your story because you are afraid of it not being great enough."

I'm ready to forget about being good, or great, by the world's standards.  Instead I will battle for truth in the smallest of ways.  Owning my least-ness, knowing that He will be made great.  Dwelling on truth.  Living out of thanksgiving.  And being an active participant in my own story, God's story, however good, great, or not-so-good, I am at times.


This is a on-going battle for me.  To choose to believe what God says about me as opposed to what the world, or my mind, tells me must be wrong with me.  I share, because I figure I must not be alone in this battle.  Another step in making this a place of honesty and vulnerability for me.

Lord, thank you for the gift of your heritage.  I choose to see myself as you do.  A valuable daughter, filled by the Spirit.  Redeemed.

August 25, 2013

this is my boy

I see him peeking through the crack in the door to his bedroom.  Looking for any signs of movement from me.
He's been a Mama boy lately.  Wanting me and only me.  “Mama do it” he says.  The washing, the bed-timing, the clipping in the car-seat.  He wants me.
I can't say I mind one bit.
In that moment where those sleepy eyes peek through the darkness at me, I flash back to a moment when I so desperately wanted him.
Months of not getting pregnant.  Charting, testing, clomid, and nothing.  Months turned over to a year.  Our dear friends gathered around us one evening to pray specifically over this area of our lives.  Hands on us.  Begging God on our behalf.  For peace... and if it was his will, a child.   
I will never forget it.  I don't know that I've ever felt so loved in friendship than in this moment.  They stepped into our waiting and suffering.  This is love.  This is the body.  
And less than a year later we were given this child.  I truly don't think this was any coincidence.
This child that now gazes sleepily through paci and blankie.  All along the Lord knew it was him who we were to parent.  The waiting was hard, but this is my boy.  
I have loved ones who are in that same desperate place that I once was.  Waiting.  Month after month.  Aching.  I know the ache.  It breaks my heart.  
But sometimes I forget.  When I'm all wrapped up in myself and my frustration and MY MY MY.  I forget the goodness of the Lord.  It's easy for me to focus on what I'm lacking.  My default is worry.  But he tells me not to worry... he says in ALL things... with thanksgiving... to make my requests known.  
He answers.  He does.  
Part of thanksgiving is remembering.  So today... I'm remembering the days when there was no one calling me "Mommy" at 5am and no dirty diapers to change.  I'm remembering the desperation.  But most of all, I'm remembering the goodness.  And just as my friends stepped into my suffering and my want, I'm praying for you.
I can only hope that I could be the kind of friend that is wise enough to know when prayer is needed and doesn't hesitate to hold tight to hands and speak to our creator.  I know I'm far from it.  I'm still a work in progress.
But tonight, all of you are on my heart.  So, I'm praying for you.  Begging for you.
For peace... and for a child, when the time comes for you to meet the one who will call you "Mommy".  
It is a hard wait, I know.
Much love. 

August 20, 2013



... we have sold our house, bought another, moved in, and we are finally starting to make new memories.  I won't lie, I have had moments of serious sadness over leaving our old tiny home.  All the memories made there have left me choked up many times.  We weren't quite ready to move in yet (a lot our stuff was still at my parents home), but this past Thursday we were feeling the need to make our house "home".  We loaded the kids up and spent our first night there.  It still feels somewhat like we are invading someone else's space, but it is slowly becoming "home".
... Jordan and I celebrated 7 years of marriage.  Yesterday.  And he took me to my favorite restaurant the night before and looked me in the eyes and thanked me for "putting up with him" these past seven years.  And all I could think of was that he is the one who has put up with me!  Despite both of our shortcomings, I would still choose this man to do life with a million times.  His servant heart.  His hard work ethic.  His humility.  The way he chooses to partner with me so that, together, we can share Christ.  He makes me a better person.  And this kind of iron against iron isn't all sunshine and roses.  We butt heads.  We nag and we snip and we often save our worst, instead of our best, for each other.  But then we have each other to be forgiven by, again.  Be encouraged by.  And be unconditionally loved by.  I think that's what it is about.  

... I've committed to do "hello mornings" and am two days in.  Waking up before the boys to get my Bible on.  This is a habit that I'm already seeing the fruit of.  Waking up for my boys and getting my heart in check is so much better than waking up to them, half asleep.  Groggy.  Crabby.  Nobody wants a crabby tired Mama first thing in the morning.  

... I got a new rug from HomeGoods for way cheaper than I was expecting.  It's soft and cute and I adore it and it makes this house feel more like home.  Thankful for that.

... Jude is still singing Happy Birthday Dear Isaac Lee two months later, and I hope it doesn't stop.
... I'm needing to minute by minute choose trust.  And joy.  And hope.  And promise.  Otherwise I fall into stress and insecurity.  I am thankful for Psalm 106 and 107 that I read this morning that reminds me of the importance of REMEMBERING the Lord's goodness.  Practicing thanksgiving so that we can return the goodness as an act of praise.  This simply isn't my default, which is stress, insecurity, anxiety.  I'd rather choose joy.  

... audiobooks are my new favorite thing.  Between paper and audio books I have read 6 books in the past two months.  This would have NEVER happened without the whole "listen while you work" (or drive, or get ready in the morning, or watch boys in the sandbox) mentality I've taken on.  I just rented my first audio novel.  Seriously, this is a game changer for me.

... I really really hope to feed my writing appetite.  Starting now.  Please hold me accountable.

... so, really, it's been too long.  What are you all up to lately?  

July 13, 2013

when you thirst

I've read this story a zillion times.

The Good Shepherd passes through Samaria when he meets her.  A woman, surely avoiding eye contact as the Jew joins her at the well.  Until He speaks.  He thirsts from his long trek, but not as she does.  He sees beyond appearance.  Beyond her Samaritan roots.  Beyond the hard exterior of a woman who has been wronged and done the wronging of a husband five times over, with yet another man in her bed.  Empty.  Insecure.  Guilt-ridden.  Parched.

A woman He should have nothing to do with for a million reasons or more.

Even in this familiar story, I read this and for the first time realized that I am that woman.  I am that woman who, time and time again, finds other loves to put above Jesus.  Looking for something to fill a void, but always coming up dry.

Once I found that common ground, I could relate with her shame.  Luckily, I don't turn to men, like this woman, and I only have eyes for one.  But when that void is once again attempting to be filled by worldly things, I feel empty.  Yet, I continue to drift toward anything but Him to fill it.

The battle of my flesh.  

But, when he could of condemned, He offers her life.  Living water He calls it.  The kind that quenches for eternity.  It fills every need.  Every thirst.  No emptiness.  No insecurity.  

We all need that water.  And it is free to all.  And oh, how I thirst.  I thirst for life, and the world lies and says they can fill with what they have to offer.

For me, it's things like approval.


But I deepen that thirst with things like comparison.

It breeds toxic thoughts and steals joy.

The sin that spins in my mind that says that I am not enough.  That everyone else must have it all together and that for some reason I am lacking.  

The sin that says that I am unloved.  Or judged.  Or boring.  

Oh, sweet friends.  Whenever we try to find significance and fill up with anything but living water, we will find ourselves toxic.  

I find myself there too often.

Even when we turn to our Christian friends for direction or approval or encouragement, unless we are drinking deeply from the well of life, we will still continue to find ourselves dissatisfied and parched to the core.  

And over and over and over, we'll go to the well.  And over and over and over, we'll look to other loves to satisfy.  Until we drink deep of the living water.  Embrace grace.  And let go of what the world is offering.  

Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

To drink of eternal life is to know the source.  Our creator.  Without Him, there will never be enough.

Lord, may I drink deeply of truth.  And be satisfied in You alone.  

June 25, 2013

when you long for home

"I want to go back to Jude's house", he says as we drive to the grocery store.

He wants to go home.  His sweet little heart longs for a home and stability and it breaks my heart.

It's not that he doesn't have a home. We're just in-between.  Our home is listing for sale tomorrow, and the boys had been staying at my parents as we finished painting and projects and detailed cleaning.

Truly.  I don't know how people get their home ready to sell while kids and pets are in the house.

This time of transition has left my spirit in turmoil.  Emotions I didn't expect rising up as I prepare myself to say goodbye to a house that holds 6 years of memories.  The home my babies were brought into and nursed in and grew in.  Yet, also the home where we complained and grumbled and grew frustrated over our lack of space to cook a meal together, have people for dinner, or host our house church.

The stress of it all makes me want to run.  To say, forget it.  But everything is lining up for now to be the time to move.  The funds are there.  The mortgage interest rates.  And the timing in our family.  But I'm having such a difficult time detaching form my home when I don't have a home to look forward to.

I feel like Jude.  I want to go home.

As he repeated that from the back seat, my mind drifted to home.  In the sense of our kingdom home.  This in-between stage has reminded me of how temporary and fleeting the things of this world are.  And my attachment and need for home has convicted me that I might be holding to tightly.  I might put too much on where we live and the building and the space we are in.  But really, when I'm run dry from exhaustion and stress, my longing for home is probably really longing for Jesus.

So, this morning, I have a to-do list a mile long, but I'm putting it on the back burner.  Me time.  Spending time reading and remembering that he cares for the birds of the air and I have no need to worry.  Remembering that the things of this world pass away, but he who abides remains forever.


Why is it, when things get crazy, the thing that I need most desperately is the thing that is the first to go?

I feel so weak these days.  Sometimes I'm overwhelmed with my need for Jesus and my lack of discipline to carve out the space I need.  And then I remember that he is here.  Now.  Even if my carved out time is 10 minutes before my feet hit the floor, he is still here with me now.  Always.  Regardless of if I feel crazy or feel shalom.  But Jesus, we need more Shalom.

I'm tempted to put too much weight into the worldly things I can touch.  Where should we live?  What house?  What part of the city?  What neighborhood will become our new mission field?

And I'm reminded of something I read at one time, although I can't remember where.  I read once that maybe God doesn't care as much about who you marry, as he does about your heart in the process (not talking about being unequally yolked, but rather the idea that you are waiting for "the one").  Surrendering to Him.  Wanting to serve.  Becoming the least, so that your spouse can be made greater (something I fail at daily).  I think the same is probably true about where we live.  I can spin and spin in my mind about where and how big and what's God's will.  Truth is, I know he is most concerned about my heart.  We will serve where we live.  We will choose a home that is intended to serve and have an open door to ministry and breaking bread and loving our neighbor near and far.

None of that has much to do with the house itself.  It's about us, being God's kingdom here on earth.  Loving our neighbors well, because we know that out of all the things, love is the greatest.

Lord, help me to not put too much worth into a house and to put all of myself into your kingdom.  Wherever you take us.  Whomever we come into contact with.  First Your kingdom.

May 15, 2013

when parenting feels a lot like football (and I need Jesus)

Hello again.

Hello from a season where I simply felt like I didn't have words to share.  Sometimes things are best kept to myself.  Pondered and wondered upon, before just opening my mouth.

I've been pondering how to share life, my heart, and spur and encourage and speak truth without making a big deal of me.  How do I write a blog with my words that makes very little of me and of who I am?  And makes much of Jesus in my life?  I started to believe that it was better to just not say anything at all.

But then I realized, that was more likely insecurity speaking than confidence in the Spirit.  Would Jesus want me to shut up about his goodness in my life?  No!  But Satan would.

So, I'm here.  I'm writing.  I'm continuing to seek Him in my words and what I bring to this space and have asked many for the accountability to let me know if this starts to make too much of me and not enough of Christ.

And also - if you haven't soaked in the Word of God yet today, shut your computer or your phone and read Jesus' words before mine.

So, that's been behind a lot of my writing break.  There's also the fact that I never ever want to write in a way that makes it seem like I'm complaining or I'm ungrateful.  But, let me just say it.  Two years old and 10 months old has shaken my parenting confidence.  And I've decided to write about it because I need camaraderie and encouragement.  And if I feel that way, chances are that you also need to know that you are not alone.

In all honesty, up until the past month or two, I thought I was handling this Mom-of-two deal fairly well.  I knew how to keep Isaac safe from a rampaging toddler.  Methods of choices and distraction worked about 90 percent of the time.  And I kept my cool.

I don't know what changed.  But two years old brings with it a whole new attitude.

Parenting feels a lot like a football field.

At least I imagine so. (don't hold me to it, I failed my football test in gym in 8th grade).  But surely, there are guys whose primary job is to protect the quarterback, right?  And the other team's goal, play by play, over and over, is to take the ball (his toy) and knock him to the ground.  In this game, Isaac is the quarterback.  Jude is the other team.  And I'm the defense - protecting Isaac, keeping him from getting knocked to the ground and his toys constantly stolen.

Only I don't knock Jude to the ground in the process.  Only via time-outs.

If it's not clear by now, I'm not a fan of this game much.

Grace came yesterday in the form of friends stating that they feel the exact. same. way. with their 2.5 year old and 8 month old.  Oh, so it's not just my toddler boy who thinks that tackling, kicking, hair-pulling, and head-butting is the best form of affection (or something).

In all honesty, I've never been one quick to anger until now.  I've been patient, responding in the way I've chosen most of the time.  But when one child is endangering the other?  It's made me snap my tongue more often than I care to admit.

I've never felt more inadequate as a parent than parenting a two-year-old.

And I don't blame him.  He's a boy and he's two.  He's still developing and learning boundaries and the whole bit.  But it is still my job to guide him and love him and teach him about love and grace.  The fact that this is normal and expected doesn't mean that this behavior should be overlooked.  And that job is exhausting.  I fail daily.

And when it comes down to it?  What better way to show him his need for a Savior than a mom who admits that she's so incredibly imperfect too?  If my imperfections mean that he sees his need for Jesus, I'll shout it from the rooftops.

Growing today feels a lot like my the dirty rags that my attempts at goodness are in comparison to God's glory.  Knowing God more means I become less.  It means I see more and more of my own sinfulness and how far I am from holy on my own.

It's tempting to dwell there.  It's tempting to dwell in inadequacy and insecurity and insignificance.  Instead, I know that I am made holy.  I am made clean and perfect.  And I am given God's word and his spirit to guide me.  To convict me and affirm me.  To speak of my value as a daughter of a King.  To bring forth grace when I am so clearly fallen.

Simply put, every day, I'm more stricken by my need for Jesus.  For forever life and for the day to day life.

May I stop trying to find confidence and identity in myself.  Me as a good mom.  Me with well-behaved kids.  Me with a perfect marriage.  Me with a clean house.  Me with early morning quiet times.  This identity will always fail.  My identity in grace, the daughter of the Most High King, will reign always.  So, once again, today I keep walking and seeking my creator for my daily bread.

April 13, 2013

isn't life still life?

The story is starting to come out of the woodwork.  The nauseating story of the abortionist "doctor" in West Philadelphia who performed hundreds of late-term abortions, resulting in the death of countless babies and at least two of their mothers.

It's completely sickening.  Gut-wrenching to read of what this heartless man did to ensure those breathing babies were "ensured fetal demise".  In talking about it to my husband, he said he had to turn off the radio when they started talking about it.  It's heard to wrap your mind around such evil.

Trust me, the stories are graphic.  Unless you are prepared to handle it, don't go reading about this story.

But I'm seeing it all over facebook.  How horrible this is.  How heartless.  And it's true.  When you hear of breathing babies whose lives are taken in a horrendous act, there is no other word for it.  Murder.

I can't keep quiet.  I still have this nagging feeling.

Why is this different than any of the other thousands of abortions that are performed every day?

Truly.  What is the difference of a few weeks?  6 weeks.  8 weeks.  10 weeks.  Why is this so horrendous to cause so much attention, when babies only a mere couple of weeks or months younger don't receive the same aghast reaction?

Please, let's think about it.

The least of these has been on my heart.  The Lord is near to them.  He identifies with the least.  And in all honesty, I can't imagine anyone more disadvantaged than a child who never has a chance to breathe.  Never given the opportunity.  I just can't be silent.

I don't know what to do.  I'm going to seek it out, all the while knowing that we serve a sovereign God with a Spirit that desires to guide and protect us.  Let's pray for heart change.  For the young girl who wasn't expecting to be a mother so soon.  Let's pray that she would choose to give the gift of a child to another family if she isn't fit.  Let's pray that the doctors who are performing these acts would begin to see the life that they are killing.  Let's pray that those who have a fire in their hearts for life would not fear being bold.

Our country seems to be all about rights.  As if we all have a right to something (which is a whole different issue altogether).  I'm sorry, but I can't understand the band wagon of a woman's right to an abortion.  Life is full of unexpecteds.  Sometimes horrible, life-altering unexpected things.  There is always a choice how to handle it.  In every other unexpected event, you can't go back and erase it as if it had never happened.  You must cope, work through it.  Somehow, we've come to the conclusion that life inside the womb is erasable.  It is simply not true.  Most people who have had an abortion will tell you that it wasn't something they were able to walk away from completely unscathed.  But that is the message we put out there.  That there don't have to be consequences.

Even under the darkest of circumstances, women have the ability to chose life for a child.  It may not be easy, but neither is life.  We live in a world of chaos, but God is the author of life and choosing life for a child over death can allow God's miracle in an otherwise dark time.

Please hear this friends.  I think it is out there that people who have opposing opinions must also hate the opposer.  I can promise that if you have a differing opinion from me, I still love you.  There is much that I hate.  I do hate abortion.  I hate evil.  I hate that there are 50 million lives unaccounted for at the hand of unknowing women and doctors.  I hate that this world has such a twisted view of sexuality.  But, I love you.  You who advocate for women's rights.  You who had an abortion.  You who just can't see from my perspective.  That's fine.  I still love you.  But I'm continuing to pray for hearts changed and lives saved.  There is hope and redemption.  I have not many, but a handful of friends who have such a history and their testimony is powerful as they have experienced God's grace.  I just love their bravery.

Now, let's get on our knees for all the lives lost.  Those that breathed a breath or two, and those that never did.

April 12, 2013

if he says stay :: 5 minute Friday

This week I've been working through faith and works.  Really trying to figure out, what are these "works" that are the fruit of our faith?  Starting to feel the beginnings of a heart broken for what grieves God.  And feeling helpless.

We've prayed, Lord, do what you will with us.  And we pray it again and again.  Giving it up and saying it is all fair game.  And we wait.

I've learned that God tends to move slowly, not hurried, like the world that I live in or my human tendencies.  But he guides us through the process, waiting on him.  Giving us time to grow in trust.  

But in the waiting I'm overwhelmed by what I see.  Orphans and human trafficking and abortion and injustice of all kinds.  With broken heart I'm wanting to do something.  Although I do do something.  I give my money and my prayers, but I start feeling like what if that's not good enough.

And I'm convicted.  Like the rich young ruler who wants to get into heaven by his works, I'm tempted with the same.  I'm tempted by the mentality that my works change my standing with Jesus.  I'm tempted by the mentality that how publicly I seek justice and do works changes my worth to Him.  This is simply not true.  

I remember Jesus' words... when the rich young ruler was overwhelmed at the task before him, and feeling defeated, walked away.  Jesus says, With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”  Jesus knew that what he would tell the rich young ruler would be the last straw of an overwhelming load to bear.  A load far too heavy for a human back.  He knew that we would need Jesus to bring true and final justice.

So I lean into Jesus.  Choosing to believe that he sees just as much beauty in laying down my life for my kids on a daily basis as those in huts in Africa.  He sees beauty in the discipleship of small hearts.  In serving lunches and giving baths and wiping tears.  In reading stories that show of God's goodness throughout the ages.  Stories that tell that we are all in the same boat and far from what is required to live with God.  But the story of a God who loved us too much to let it stay that way.  

I learn in the story of the talents that God cares not about how many talents I am given, but the fact that I am faithful with what is before me.  

I am here.  Now.  Tempted to look to the future and take a peek into God's plan.  But that is only my sinful need to control and have knowledge that is not mine to have.  

But I am here.  A mom on her knees, seeking to please God with what is before me.  Two sweet boys that exhaust me and show me how self-centered I truly am on a minutely basis.  A wife to a husband who has the same dreams and the same open hands, offering up all that we have and are.  Knowing that if we are called to go, and do something wildly different than we imagined, we will go.  But also knowing that if this simple life in Grand Rapids, working, sharing life, raising babies, serving our neighbors, and taking every opportunity to glorify God in the mundane, we will also stay.  And we will glorify God all the same.

Five Minute Friday

April 10, 2013

who is the least?

I have been so caught up in Matthew 25:31-46.  Needing to wrap my mind around what Jesus was saying here. And I was unable to understand in a way that fit in with the rest of what I knew to be true. Now finally... a bit of enlightenment.  I can breathe.

In this passage, Jesus identifies himself with the least.  Those that needed clothing and drink and food.  Jesus says that whoever gives clothing and food and drink to the least of these does so unto Him.  Okay, but what does this really mean?  What does he expect of me?  Does this mean that I have to spend every possible moment serving the poor?  Those "worse off" than me?  Because, let's face it, simply being a middle-class American puts me in the top 1% most wealthy in the world.  Regardless of how I feel, I am in a position to give a life-changing $5 to someone in need.

I started to feel weighed down, as if I weren't living well if I weren't pouring myself out for the disadvantaged.  And this thought exhausted me.  We have ministry that we are involved in both through our church and personally that keep us busy.  We also give money to a couple of different people or organizations that work with the third world countries, but our active involvement stops there.  There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus values this work, but I kept feeling like I was missing a HUGE piece here.

I was so focused on those who were seen as less than me.  Having less than me.  In doing so, I was making myself greater.  I'm putting myself on this pedestal as if I am something great.  When in reality, I don't feel that I have anything to offer.  I feel so inadequate to be an example to anyone, because I know that Jesus is the only true reason I have value.

So here I am, elevating myself and seeing how I can be "good" and serve the least.  Because it is commanded, right?

And again I read, he who is first shall be last, and the last shall be first.  And it hits me.  I am the least.

I am reading Jen Hatmaker's bible study, Interrupted.  And I must admit, I've been reading much of it through a critical eye.  Her writing style is difficult for me to follow (at least in this bible study format) and there are times I haven't agreed with what she has said, but this is mainly because I know it is about her journey and my place in my journey is simply different.  All that to say, it has sparked questions in me that I haven't addressed for quite some time.  It's challenged me to really understand what God is saying here and not assume that it is what I've been taught my whole life.  It's made me want to fully understand this text, even if it is just so I can figure out if I agree with Jen's opinion or not.  (I'm planning to do a review of her study when I'm finished.)

But through examining Matthew 25 and reading this Bible study and spending the past two weeks in mental turmoil and prayer over this passage, I fianlly realize that Jesus is identifying with me.  Compared to Him, I am the lowest of lows.  The chief of sinners, to quote Paul.  And suddenly I feel valued, knowing that when he cares deeply about the least, he is talking about me.  And his identification with me is what allows me to spend all eternity with Him.

I think as I was working through this I started to get this perspective that God cared more about the physically impoverished and poor than he did me.  This was completely wrong, which I know, which is why I felt such unrest about it.  But I feel like I now see that we are all the least.  And our command is to love the Lord first, and to love each other well second.  Because we are all valuable in God's eyes.  We all bear his image.  Nothing changes that.  Not race or nationality or wealth or education.

So when I am commanded to serve the least, yes, justice on this earth is important.  It is part of loving and being imitators of Christ.  I do think there is a level of responsibility to make right the things that grieve God.  It comes out of the overflow of my understanding that I, too, fall short but have received grace.  Just as important is the fact that I love and serve my neighbor well, regardless of their financial or social standing.  Because we all bear the image of God.  

Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind.  And love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Let's love well, friends.

April 9, 2013

faith and works and real life

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.  James 2:26

How is that for an opener?  

This is a concept I have been chewing on over the past many weeks.  Faith and works.  There's no easy or clear way to get into all that my brain has been churning, but I know two truths here.

I am saved because of my faith, by grace.  Jesus on the cross.  God reads His resume instead of mine when the day comes.  And I am clean.  White as snow.  This is truth.  I know get to be a part of the new earth, spending all eternity with God.  Not because of any work or deed that I did.

But, God still cares about what I do here on earth.  Jesus words have made this clear.  The great commission commands that we share this good news of redemption through Jesus to all the earth!  It is clear throughout watching Jesus lifestyle that he identifies with the least.  The poor, the orphan, the widow, the single mom, the mentally ill, the elderly, the disadvantaged.  He desires justice for these people.  He desires that we love our neighbor as ourself and that the church clothe, feed, and give drink to the least.  

I believe both of these things.  With all my heart I believe it.  

But here is where I am struggling with that second part.  What does this mean for me in real life?

For one, I think it means being counter-cultural.  Knowing that the things that our world seeks in attempt to satisfy never really do.  It means that I can hardly make a decision without considering the kingdom impact.  It means that when we sell our house this summer (hopefully) we can't simply make a decision to move to the best house in the best neighborhood with the best school district, absent-mindedly.  

I've found my mind spinning in circles trying to figure out where we should live.  And I know that is part of my problem, that simply I am trying to figure it out, and while I am in prayer over it, I've been unwilling to be patient.  I want knowledge and control.  Isn't that what caused the fall of man in the first place?  But ultimately, I am finding that because of faith... because I know Jesus is real and heaven is near, the simplest decisions such as where I live and who my neighbors are have kingdom impact.  

It's easy for me to feel the urgent need to move to the inner city and live missionally there, because that gets attention and seems radical.  But at the same time I know that ministry happens in the affluent neighborhoods as well.  The wealthy can be just as lost as the poor.  And ultimately, I must be willing to accept whatever God has for me, even if it looks different than I might have guessed.  Even if it doesn't get quite the same attention or turn the heads (because that isn't the point either).  I have to be willing to be called to the great task, but also know that faithfulness in the small ones is just as valuable.  

Faith without works is dead.  Because if we know and believe Jesus is who he says he is, we will devour the Word of God and depend on the guidance of the Spirit in the steps that we take.  Works is the overflow of faith.  It is not salvation, but the fruit of it.  It is the love that our neighbor receives when we love the Lord our God with all of our heart.  

Works can look like living in the inner city and spending my days with the homeless and abandoned and abused.  Works can look like being bold in a conversation with a co-worker to find out if he knows Jesus.  Works can look like bringing a meal to that family that just adopted three children.  Works can look like adopting or fostering.  Works can look like spending the next 18+ years pouring into and discipling your children.  Works can look like foregoing that new 52" TV and sending a check to that agency fighting human trafficking instead.  Works can look like moving to Africa or Jamaica or Morocco or China or Los Angeles or East Grand Rapids and sharing life and speaking truth.  

Seeking Jesus radically means we're open to whatever he has.  Anything.  It's me opening my hands and my life and saying Your kingdom come and Your will be done.  And being obedient to that call.  It is being faithful with what is before us while seeking His will in the steps that we take.  

We are commanded two things above all else.  Love the Lord and love your neighbor.  We will know how to do this by getting to know Jesus.  I can't figure this out on my own, as much as I try.  I can't control my kingdom impact, only through the Spirit.  My responsibility is two-fold.  Know the written word of God.  Devour it and eat it up and memorize it and speak it and eat it again.  Know the character of God.  See the story of God's kingdom and how we are in need of a perfect Savior who can not fail.  Feel the weight of what Jesus and his sacrifice meant.  This is God's word.  And press into the Spirit for guidance for applying that to life in the western culture of 2013.  

I'm praying through this more in this season than I ever have before.  It's a reason I've been quiet here, because my mind has been so overwhelmed, I am unsure how to even begin discussing what is so heavy on my heart.  But I can't tell you how much more clear I feel after spitting that out in writing.

I once used this blog as a space for me to process my thoughts, and share a little bit of life.  Somewhere along the way, I started becoming afraid to do that.  I started getting more followers and feeling more pressure to have something good for you.  I started feeling the need to water down my passion a bit.  

I just can't do that anymore.  Take it or leave it, I'm going to use this space to work out my faith, my life, and how that fits together.  The good, the bad, the ugly, the utterly confusing.  This is a place where I'm inviting open dialogue and sharing life on this journey.  

So while we are at it, what are your thoughts on this?  Read Matthew 25 and share your thoughts on this as well.  I can't get this passage out of my mind, but after some researching and prayer, I think I have a bit of peace and perspective regarding this passage (especially 31-46).  

And can I just say, I'm so so so thankful for those of you who are on this journey with me.