Discovering and playing and building in this little corner of the world to document my writing life. I'm glad you're here. {If you want to receive updates via email, sign up below.}

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

CELEBRATE This Week: LXII


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

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My celebration to come... 
Meanwhile, share your celebrations below!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Favorite Wedding

Instagram photo by melissa_jordan4 - This happened tonight at the #lakercole #wedding.  #melissajordanphotography #indianawedding #coppescommons #bride #groom #love #tiedtheknot #weddingphotographer
Image from Instagram #lakercole @melissa_jordan4
 Andy and I went to one of my favorite weddings ever. My friend Cathy Laker married Nate Cole and their wedding was perfect. Here's why:

It was a joyful celebration of love -- love here on earth and the mighty love of God.

I am reminded of the goodness of God. Cathy waited a long time to get married. She learned to live single. She learned to hold on to God in the hard. She learned to become the person she was created to be.

Her wedding was an outward expression of the overabundant blessing she's experienced. It was a celebration of the way God is dependable and gives exactly what we need and more.

Sometimes I wonder why we have to walk the hard of life. Celebrating with Cathy and Nate yesterday gave me a concrete understanding of the why. Cath was the most excited bride in the history of brides. Her energy was contagious and her joy filled and spilled out of her heart.

And I realized, without the hard, the celebration wouldn't have been nearly as sweet. Without the hard, the joy wouldn't have been as abundant. Without the hard, the goodness of God would have paled.

When we walk the hard, trusting in the goodness of God, the celebration is abundant -- absolutely over the top -- because God is mighty and loving and gives good and perfect gifts.

Always.

Friday, December 12, 2014

CELEBRATE This Week: LXI


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

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 I celebrate all things Christmas --

Love
Jesus
Laughing
Lights

Surprises
Decorations
Stars
Sparkles

Giving
Wrapping
Glitter
Giggles

Cookies
Fudge
Candy
Caramels

This is how we chose to live during Christmas. Merry & Bright.

Link-up your celebrations below!


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Impossible Friendship

This year I have been given the gift of friendship. I was caught in a trap of believing I wasn't a good friend, that I didn't really have friends, that I was fine without friends. Early in the year, the Lord released me from this ugly snare and has given me many good gifts of friendship.

I am so very thankful.
And a little sad. 
I missed some years of good friendship and I've realized it takes time to clean up the mess.

I hold fast to core of my faith --

God is good. Very good.

And in his abundant goodness, he has blessed me with more friends than I dared to imagine. They have permeated my life as a teacher and coach and writer and speaker and mom and community member and wife and church-goer.

My friends are genuine and real. The relationships go beyond the surface and into meaningful, faith-filled encouragement and support. I'm in awe at the number of friends who care about me. It doesn't seem possible.

They span generations and genders.
They spatter the globe.
The spin into my story and offer solace and goodness.


God reaches down, cups my face and whispers, You are not a friendship failure.

Then, as if he needs to punctuate his point, God does the friendship-impossible.

He restores a long lost friendship.

Being reconnected with Jodi is the over-the-top evidence I needed to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am not a friendship failure.

When I think about the way friendship is thriving in my life, I see the goodness of God. He's been wanting to give me good gifts of friendship, but I was stuck in a trap and unable to receive these gifts. It was scripture that positioned me to receive the gifts of God. Scripture provided clarity. Scripture set me free.

I have the friends to prove it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Straight from My Notebook


Sometimes life feels like it is too much. We feel BLAH. Overwhelmed. Tired. Tattered.

And it is. It is too much. I can't fix all of the things that go wrong.

I think this is right where Jesus wants us. He never promises that life won't be too much. Suffering happens.  When we are living for Him, we are guaranteed suffering.

So, when life gets overwhelming, what do we do?
  1. Rest
  2. Move
  3. Read Scripture
Instead of drowning in life, I drown in Scripture. God speaks while I read.

Instead of being restless, I rest. God heals while I sleep.

Instead of moving to keep up, I move to exercise. God restores while I move.

These things, coupled with prayer, make a difference. The give me resilience to trust Jesus. He has my best interest in mind. He will not withhold any good thing from me.

And I will not withhold any need from Him.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Habit of the Soul


I haven't ran for two weeks. A chest cold has grabbed a hold of me and even though I laced up my shoes and thought I could, a coughing spell hit before I reached the end of the driveway.

I long to move, to walk, to run, just a few miles  -- out and back. 

The only reason I long for this is because I'm used to it. I'm used to exercise being a regular part of my routine. Now that it's not happening, I miss it.

Soon, I'll stop wanting to exercise. The routine will be broken and my body won't crave it.


This is true for my soul too.



David's soul thirsts for God because he has a habit of seeking God. The more we seek God, the more we want to seek God. It's a habit our souls crave more and more. If I'm not wanting to seek God, then I know something is amiss in my soul. 


And it can only be solved by seeking God.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Test of Obedience

Rembrandt Abraham en Isaac, 1634
Rembrandt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I have a hard time reading Genesis 22. The part Rembrandt depicts here, I can handle that part of the story. It's the comforting part, the relief part, the it's-all-okay part. It's the whole story before the happy ending that's hard for me.

Genesis 22 is the story of God testing Abraham's obedience. God says, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you" (Genesis 22:2).

Even though I know the story well, I always reread this command. It makes me pause because of everything Abraham doesn't do. Abraham doesn't question the goodness of God. He doesn't argue with the command. He doesn't barter or beg.

He simply obeys

I know God is good...but I don't know it like Abraham does.


Abraham's faith makes my faith look like a speck of dust.

He trusted in the goodness of God so much that he was willing to sacrifice his own son.

Without hesitation.
Without apprehension.
Without confusion.

He simply obeys.

And Isaac follows. They travel for three days. Isaac carries the wood for the burnt offering while Abraham brings the fire and the knife.

In the text there is no indication of bitterness or fear. It is pure, radical, rapid obedience.

Isaac questions the lack of an animal for the burnt offering. Abraham replies, "God will provide" (Genesis 22: 7-8). They continue climbing the mountain.
When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. (Genesis 22:9-10)
No matter how many times I read this holy text, at this point, I still squeeze my eyes shut and think, He's really going to do it.

It's this resolve that landed Abraham a mention in Hebrews 11. There, it is revealed that Abraham believed God would bring Isaac back to life. Abraham never ceased to believe in the goodness of God.

He trusted God so much, that no matter the appointment, he would obey. God needed to know this. It is why he tested Abraham's obedience (v. 1).

And it is why this story is hard for me. God wants our unconditional obedience and he will test it by asking for the things we love most. If I live with a faith like Abraham's, then I know:
God will provide.
God is good.
God loves me.
It wasn't until Abraham raised the knife that God intervened. It wasn't enough for him to gather wood or to start the journey or to build the altar. God wanted to be sure of Abraham's obedience, positive of his heart.

It reminds me of a trust fall -- God style.

At the last moment, God catches Abraham. Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me. Abraham raises his eyes and in the brush is a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns (Genesis 22:12-13).

The Bible is intended to be read as a whole. This story is illuminated in Romans 8:32.
He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
It is about radical obedience and trusting God, knowing that God gave up his own son for me. If He is willing to do this, then He is willing to graciously give all things.
We know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
Abraham loved God so much that he simply obeyed. His courage and faith and trust in the goodness of God is inspiring.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Slowing Down: A Curated List

I've sat down to write several times today and instead I've been rereading a lot of past blog posts that have to do with slowing down. I decided to curate them here, organized by date, according to title, and a snippet of the post.

Celebrate This Week LII (11 October 2014): I celebrate slowing down. The world likes to tell me that I should do more. I'm learning this isn't always a Truth. The world likes to tell me if I'm not doing everything, then I'm not enough.

The Ketchup Incident (07 October 2014): You have enough time. I have to remind myself of this often. I constantly fight the lie of the world that says there is not enough time.


Slow Down for Fresh Strength (09 March 2014): What if we slow down and instead of lagging behind, we soar? Imagine a world filled with people soaring -- people filled with energy because they weren't exhausted from rushing. And it all begins with slowing down. 

Choose Happy (19 November 2013):  I think the world likes to tell us that we can find happiness by doing this thing or getting that thing. I don’t believe happiness has to do with anything I have or can get. Happiness is a choice. Or maybe it is a bunch of little choices that add up to being positioned to accept happiness.

Not Too Busy (07 November 2013): Too Busy. These words have a tendency to raise my hackles. I don't ever want to be too busy. I think too busy means I'm missing real life. Too busy means I'm swept up by the current panic or the flashy trend. Too busy means I'm surviving. Life should be more than survival.

Ordinary (11 October 2013): The ordinary events that make up this little life can seem so mundane. Yet, when I position myself to find the beauty and the joy, I am able to slow down and realize the ordinary moments lead to the best celebrations. It is here that I shine. And you do to. If we each celebrate our own ordinary, the world would be much lighter.

Be Not Do (25 September 2013): I don't have to do anything. I just have to be.

Real Life Now (17 September 2013): I don't want to be overwhelmed because we have a full schedule or because dinner dirtied a few pans or because the showers are lasting a little past bedtime. Instead, I want my joy to overflow with the giggles bursting and the arms tight around my waist hugging and Andy's eyes sparkling because we're in this together and even when they are grouchy and we are in passing vehicles, this family life is very good.

Do Less (16 July 2013):  So today I will do less in order to make room for more. It might just be about my state of mind, rather than the things I do. Instead of thinking about the next thing, wondering how I'll get it all done, I'll focus on more giggles and more stories and more tastes of cookie dough from not-so-stealthy little hands. Because this day is too precious to fill it up with stuff. Instead, doing less will preserve it more.

Lighthearted (23 March 2013): Mistakes are part of life. I'm learning to live in the midst of them and still shine. I can do this by choosing cheer. 

Enamored (04 March 2013):  I think this world could use more people being enamored with people. You know, to be completely taken, totally blown away by how remarkable someone is. Simply being enchanted by another person.


Cutting Back (20 November 2012): I know cutting back often results in stronger, more substantial, and deeper roots. I believe less is more. I'm confident this isn't giving up, but rather growing out of my old writer skin.

Stop (26 June 2012):  Instead I'm going to pause. Linger. Piddle. Be slow. Otherwise, I'm going to crash. Sometimes it gets to the point where we just have to stop.

Mission STORY (12 February 2012): Story is organic. Constantly living and changing and adapting. I like this. I like how we can collect snippets of our past and weave them into a tale. Then we continue living and telling our story and it weaves around, revealing more. Understanding more. Connecting more.

Tasting (10 January 2012): As I'm remembering how to taste my food, I'm also learning how to taste the words I put on the page. I will patiently wait for everything to come together in order to savor life.


Mission STORY (29 November 2011): Writing makes me slow down and soak in the moments I would otherwise forget. Writing makes me appreciate this perfectly ordinary little life of mine. Writing forces me to look life in the eyes and live it for real.

Summer Days (26 July 2011):  Living is more than doing, sometimes it's in the useless moments where the treasures lurk. 

Connect (21 June 2011): Connections are essential to humans. When I connect, my life is sweeter.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Answered Prayers = Awe

Whenever Andy and I make a major decision, we make sure we are in agreement. I wanted to pursue adoption long before Andy, but we didn't move forward on that journey until we both agreed. He knew it was an affirmative to adopt the girls before I did. We didn't say yes, though, until we both agreed. For Jay, we felt the call at the same time to pursue another adoption.

Our house is another example. We searched for more than two years for a home to buy. It wasn't until we decided to look in this town where we live now that we were in agreement. Looking for two years and then suddenly -- swirl and blink -- and we were homeowners within just a few days of seeing the house for the first time.

Three weeks ago I shared an idea with Andy about a major decision regarding one of our kids. He was totally against it. In fact, I was a little taken aback by how strongly he felt against the idea. I almost took the idea, folded it tiny, and shoved it into the closet in the back of my mind. Maybe I was wrong about this idea.

But it didn't feel right.

So I prayed. I prayed that Andy and I would have the same heart for the situation. I asked for our hearts to be changed, to be in agreement, to be together and aligned with the will of God. I asked two friends to pray also.

I expected my heart to be released, to realize I was being overly sensitive.

I wish I wasn't so surprised this morning when Andy told me he changed his mind. He wasn't against the idea, nor was he just going along because he thought that's what I wanted.

He wanted to think more about the same idea as me.

I don't want to be surprised when God answers a prayer. I pray in faith, expecting God to move. It's not so much that I'm shocked when prayers are answered, but I'm surprised by the way they are answered. In this case, I was sure it was my heart that needed to change.

Perhaps it is awe that I am experiencing.

The Creator of the universe cares about me. He cares about the decisions Andy and I are making for our kids. He cares enough to change hearts in order to lead us in the direction of His will.

Yes, we should stand in awe as prayers are answered and lives are altered.

And I can't help but wonder if perhaps we miss answered prayers because the answer doesn't come as we expect. Sometimes the answer can be a completely different package. God has a history of accomplishing His will in unexpected ways.

The Savior of the world spent his first night on earth in a manger.
David beat Goliath with a sling shot.
Saul went blind so he could see the truth.
Multitudes were fed with two fish and five loaves of bread.

I'm learning to pray continually and expectantly. It is my hope when prayers are answered my surprise with turn to awe. Surprise is an emotion that stems from unbelief.

Awe, however, awe comes from audaciously trusting Jesus and knowing he loves you back.




Friday, December 5, 2014

CELEBRATE This Week: LX


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

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 I celebrate home.

A place to create --
build,
draw,
write,
cook.
 
A place to relax --
read,
write,
sip,
laugh.
 
A place to be safe --
play,
cry,
sigh,
fail.
 
A place to love --
Andy,
Hannah,
Stephanie,
Jay,
Sam.

 I celebrate home.
 
I hope you carve out some time to celebrate this week! Link-up below.