Saturday, May 31, 2014

Hope Spoken // friend's voices

We experience different pains and losses but our hope and comfort is the Same.


"In regards to relationships,
A few years ago, I did everything 'right'
There was nothing necessarily self seeking or blatantly Biblically adverse about my heart towards this person.
Time passed, it ran its course.
All the while, I was diligent in prayer and requesting guidance.
When the chips fell into place and it proved dead-ended,
I wrestled over many questions concerning the ways of God, and on a practical level I wondered:

Would we not have served God well together?
Did I make a mistake?
Did I interfere too much or not enough?
Did he have some sort of character flaw outside my vision?

Honestly, I was very discouraged at my failed ‘work,’
My failed prayers and all I had dedicated to personal and spiritual growth.

No fruit… or at least not the expected fruit…

And I am so incredibly glad for this event in my life
And I am so incredibly glad that it failed.

Let me be clear, it is not because I have found some reason to disrespect him, or realized some blatant incompatibility.
It is not that I see him now and suddenly find him unattractive or off-putting.

It is because I realized I don’t have to work for a blessing.

Now I realize something beautiful about the Lord,
That He desires to bless me.
And thankfully, He is not controlled by my desires or my prayers

He did not owe it to me to cause this situation to play out just because I had prayed that it would.

He wants to bless me, and as My Father, He will.
But He wants me to know its not because of me or what I do, or sacrifice, or pray for, work for, or improve for.

It is just because of Him."
|| Michelle Tolomeo << read more here

///

"'...the beauty of knowing Jesus is that a woman in labor will never be on her own. No matter what the outcome is, no matter how naturally we are able to give birth or which interventions may happen, no matter the amounts of intense agony and pain and complications, no matter the walls I come up against physically and emotionally... God, I believe You are enough. I believe You will be my Rock, my Helper, my Strong Deliverer. I believe You will be working for my good. I believe You will not, for one second, leave or forsake me. I believe You will use this experience, not to glorify my strength or exploit my weakness, but to honor Yourself.'
>> Journal entry on February 21, one month and one day before our precious little man's birth day. The outcome was so different than we thought and the pain so achingly real but the above is still true. Our God is enough, He is working for our good, and we are clinging to His mighty, steadfast love with every breath."
|| Ervina Yoder

///

"It was my colleague on the other end of the telephone that said it sure tonight, how the life we live in that land, it's one of 'consistent sorrow, yet always rejoicing.' And I nod my head, yes and amen. 

The past year birthed consistent sorrow.
I bear the laboring pains.

But, as I bid farewell to the land that mid-night, my heart swelled to overflowing. In my tears, He spoke: I am the sustainer. These tears? The welling inside? They're evidences of my love. They're the expression of my heart in You. Your heart and your flesh fails. You've been hurt by the very people I've called you to love. You've been tested by the very place I've called you to live. You've been oppressed, but not crushed. Yet, these tears and this sorrow? That ache you feel, leaving these people, this place? It's unnatural because it's Mine. I sustain this love. I sustain You. Hope in Me. 

And, oh, how He loves us.

In the place that tests me most, He is loving me most. Never let me leave. 

'I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because He is at my right hand, 
I shall not be shaken.'
Psalm 16:7-8

And so as the heart aches and swells, I rest.
In all this distance,
In all the confusion,
In all the waiting,
He is actively sustaining."
|| Meg Murkli << read more here

///

"amidst the trials.
the strain.
the weariness. 
the sifting. 
amidst the unknowns. 
the waiting. 
the silence. 
amidst the longings. 
the unfulfilled words and dreams.
the "not yets".
and the "soons". 
amidst the perseverance.
the patience.
the pressing on.
and pressing in. 

there is a banner hung high. 
and it covers me. 

because the Upholder of my life, 
His name is Jehovah Nissi--  [the Lord is my Banner]. 

and i soak in Exodus 17. 
because when all looked like fail. 
like loss. 
like impossible. 
God shattered the doubt, the fear, the dismay. 
He promised. 
He -- [[promised]].
He promised >>this will not end in defeat<< and Moses believed. 
and God came through.
and the people prevailed. 
'And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi' 

and i hoist it up high. 
never to be lowered. 
because when the Lord is your banner. 
victory is always certain.

and so, 
as you're bending and breaking. 
brought low. 
let your praise lift your Banner high. 
and "may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Romans 15:13). 
because our victory is certain. 
and He's ushering a new thing forth.
taking our weak, broken, empty places 
and birthing life through them.
beautiful, new, abundant life."
|| Kelsey Jonas << read more here

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Way I Loved You // all the way through

WRITTEN A YEAR AGO //

Two years of being a home-school "mom" (read: sister). Every time a season wraps up, I can't help but reflect on it...
We've all grown a lot, haven't we? You guys learned to stick to a schedule and check in with me, to work together and to ask questions, to be corrected and to earn privileges.
It's been hard. You didn't like getting your independence reigned in, and I didn't like the fits that came as a result of reigning it in. You didn't like having to do school five days a week, and I didn't like hearing all the grumbles.
It's been good. We've all learned to communicate better, to say I'm Sorry, to hug it out, to take a breather, to have mercy, to do what's right, to think of others first. We've grown to trust each other enough to make mistakes and learn from them and move on together, and never stop loving -- even when we're arguing.
It's been messy. Arguments, bad attitudes, frustration, piles of dishes, stacks of laundry, cat food and dog food and caked on-to the stove food, giving up easily and getting feelings hurt.
It's been wonderful. Snuggled up, laughing, sharing things we're learning, having adventures and backwards days and movie marathons, racing for the mail, talking and taking long walks.
Here we are. We made it through. We've gained wisdom and knowledge and life experience together and that can't be taken away. I'm moving out and you two are moving on, onto freshman year and junior year, and all that your futures hold. I'm ready for a new adventure, but I sure don't regret a moment I've spent at home with you two. The preparation and experience has been invaluable. Learning that motherhood will truly be the hardest and most rewarding job of my life, that I won't get it perfect, and that the relationships and trust and love that is developed as you muddle through it, learning from mistakes and showing mercy and always speaking love, is what matters in the end. Gaining those deep relationships with you, my baby brother and little sister, are more special to me than you will ever know. Someday I'm sure you'll look back and recognize what I have sacrificed to do this for you -- and, believe me, it has felt like sacrifice -- but I want you to know that it was worth it to me. Because loving people means sacrificing for them. And I love you.
When you look back on these two years with me as your teacher, I hope you will see that...
...that's the way I loved you.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Freedom // week 19

"The Gospel sets you free from you."

The freedom to draw near the Lord, unhindered.

The freedom to hear from the Lord.

The freedom of faith to journey with Him.

The freedom that comes from sacrificing myself in order to love another well.

The freedom from earthly things that death and troubles work in us, the freedom of everlasting Life that far exceeds death and troubles and is more than enough right here, right now.

The freedom from fear. Walking free in a spirit of love, power and a sound mind.

The freedom to be offended and not take offense.

The freedom of true comfort, of inconceivable peace, of fresh mercy.

The freedom of a jealous Lover's unrelenting love.

///

My spirit is relishing freedom. My mind is wrapping around the concept of freedom. My life is taking on a visible pattern of freedom. It's a beautiful, incredible thing. In this season of life I am young, unentangled, full of dreams. There is a lot of freedom in that. Most people recognize this to be true. So I have the benefit of few expenses, few responsibilities, few ties. Oh, but it is so easy to entangle yourself. In fact it feels more natural to be tied up by much busyness, by comfort zones, by success. Freedom + faith is a road less traveled and it is not a cookie-cutter pattern you can follow, but this is what it is looking like for me.

A season of rest and refreshment at this time of my life, practically, looks like me living back at home with my family, no rent and no grocery bill, driving the same car I've always driven that is fully paid off and has an ever decreasing insurance bill. All kinds of little passions and pursuits are fitting together like a puzzle, in due time, after four years of working and waiting and wanting. The Lord is providing opportunity to launch a dream job of mine. The very day that He brought clarity to me of this dream and my heart was longing to work at it, He gave me the first gig within an hour. I went from being unemployed to being self-employed in my dream job. It's a lot of hard work and it does take time but I have the freedom of making my own schedule, of getting to travel, to create, to have my gas covered, to sit in coffee shops working and speaking life with a dear friend every week. As these gigs continue I don't have to have a full-time job so I have the freedom to take a part-time job instead, weeding at a local berry farm all summer. Two dream jobs. The first, my passion. The second, a blessing of some simple desires I had for this summer -- to work outside, to work with my hands, to dig in the dirt and see things grow.


This is my living right now and I make just enough to pay off credit card debt and set a bit aside for my next, less restful, season of life. I could get different jobs, I could seek after financial security purely, I could consume all my days with work and busyness and earnings, but I don't have to. I'm choosing not to. Why? Because having my needs met at the cost of a few hours of my week, frees me to give the rest of my time to others. I get to eat with my family, I get to see friends around their work schedules, I get to volunteer anytime, anywhere. The Lord wants to touch lives through mine and He is going to take care of my every need so I have the freedom of time and mobility to do that. And He always will. He is limitless. Let's not limit Him. As responsibilities and expenses increase, there will still be freedom because that freedom is not produced by me, its from Jesus and He desires to and delights to give it.

Meanwhile freedom is shooting fresh roots deep in the soil of my open and vulnerable heart. It's intricate and intimate work done by a Hand that knows me. I am being freed from the fear of being abandoned while traveling through the valley of the shadow, of being forsaken when death comes in life. Not physical death, just seasons of death, of loss. Life is stirring. There's a horizon in sight, though there's a long road ahead to get to it. But in the deepest, saddest, most confusing, most hurtful places He was there with me. He never left my side. We journeyed through together from the first step into the valley all the way to this point. He. Never. Left. Me. I CANNOT LOSE HIM. I'm not out of the sad and confusing and ouch, but His Love has driven out the fear. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Not Understanding // week 18

I play it over and over again, analyzing everything I can remember from all imaginable angles. It doesn't help. I don't understand what happened. Way more questions than answers come out of the process. Rest and peace prevail because I'm overshadowed by Love but there are overwhelmingly sad moments, there is heart-breaking confusion, and pain that feels bigger than truth at times.


I don't know where "we" are at. "You and I both like to have 'for sure' answers and solutions, but I don't have any for this right now." -- Zachary, the last time we skyped when he leveled with me. I've had a month's worth of time to process and he's had a month's worth of undistracted time to finish school. He hasn't had time to process. Even now he doesn't have time to. He has graduated but he's taking one final two-week class. From there he's going wherever he is going to do whatever he has decided to do. I have no clue what or where that is. Months of doing life together and going through all the mess and joy and dreams and stresses of each other's lives together, offering wisdom to help make choices and encouraging each other toward where they're feeling led, it's very unnatural to be so out of the loop. I miss sharing excitement and understanding tiredness, praying for pain and asking for forgiveness. I miss well-wishes for the work day ahead and just the simple greeting of a best friend's words in the morning.


I want to know, want to understand, but for now I just get to feel and be present. Answers will come,  life will come, purpose + promise is being worked out even now. It's not time to move on. Moving forward with every fresh morning, facing all the fears + hurts + wants that come with them, that's what this time is for. I'm covered, I'm carried. The story isn't finished. "Part One" began with a van pulling up to a curb in Denver and ended with a "bye for now" text and a wink. Life doesn't play out in black and white, its far more grey. Time unfolds the story in bits and pieces, steps and stages. We grow and change and journey on. Zachary and I traveled the road side-by-side though separate for months. I feel like we are still journeying together though silence stays between us. I just wish I could know the story happening on his side. Hoping that in time I'll get to hear it. We are following a God who reconciles, restores, redeems, rebuilds, and resurrects after all. He turns mourning into dancing. #gloriousunfolding

I don't understand, 
but one day I will.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Flashlight

I get lost sometimes, like everybody else,
Lose track of my lifelines, lose track of myself
And there's all kinds of reasons to be scared and run away
It's a good time for sad times 
Like heaven couldn't be farther from the places that heaven always finds me,
but if nobody cares, tell me how is it I keep getting saved this way

CHORUS
It's a sunrise from a lonely night
Like a smile in a stranger's eyes
It's the moments that save my life, nobody knows about
Like flashlights
There's just enough hope when it shines, to go one scared step at a time
When the world's too dark I'll find, your flashlight



I'm glad nobody's counting, and Lord I'm glad you don't keep score
My prayers are all the same as the ones I prayed before it
Thank you, forgive me, my rough around the edges heart is Yours
And the moments where you swear I'm just screaming at the sky,
It's the strangest conversation or a friend just stopping by
and it's funny when I realize all the places that Your miracles can hide

CHORUS

Oh, who am I?
Dust and water
Touched by the Divine
Tell me who, who am I?
You keep shining on me, shining on me, yeah
Shining on me

Joy comes // week 17

In less than twelve hours my best friend is graduating from college. I've been celebrating it all week, celebrating through the tears and the laughter, the rain and the art, the lazy mornings and late nights, the work outs and the music of my day-to-day. I'm so proud of him. I only knew him for one of his four years in school so it may seem like I'm not even entitled to say I'm proud of his accomplishment, but I am. So, here's to you. Congratulations, Mister!


I was falling asleep with such sweet dreams when a very vivid memory of my phone lighting up with a goodnight text from Zachary every night for nine months flashed across my vision and my heart broke + I lost him all over again. My sleepy, peaceful smile faded into heart-racking sobs, the kind that leave you wheezing, eyes puffed up and head throbbing. A whole month of unbroken silence between us and it's no more natural to not talk to him now than it was on the first day. I rest in the promise that my Jesus sees, He knows, and not one tear or moment of this season will be wasted. Not a single one. Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Of growth //

"Turbulence doesn't scare me."

"You trust the plane."

///

The turbulence of life doesn't scare me like it once did. I used to dread the unknown so much that I hated it. Dragged through the twists and turns of life kicking and screaming and trying like mad to make the ducks line up in a straight, type-A row. I needed to know, I needed a say, I needed some control of this ride.

The story of my life is Perfect Love driving out fear, jealously + relentlessly. The story of my life is awakening to the freedom for which I was set free. The story of my life is how discovering my true identity released me from being an alphabetizing, organizing, controlling, neat-freak. Messy-haired, risk-taking, challenge-embracing, life-living, deep-feeling, over-analyzing me is marked by illogical peace, unconditional love, strength through vulnerability and foolish grace.

I used to be driven to desperation apart from my temporal + fleeting security. Then the One my soul loves showed me Who, not what, holds me secure. freedom. He draws me and I come as close as my trust will allow me to. I take another glimpse of Him and the resistance falls. He draws me again and I draw nearer still. Perfect Love driving out fear day after day, year after year. This has been happening for 21 years.


His timing is perfect. How the unfolding glory of Jesus living in me finds me perfectly weak + dependent but also exactly as strong as I need to be for each season He brings me to is beyond me. I know stress. I know pain. I know loneliness. I know sadness. There is trouble in this world. My heart is breakable. My body is too. Yet I am beyond despair. Death is a tool of mercy in the hand of my God. Fruitful branches are cut back, pruned, that they might become even more bountiful.
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; // 2 corinthians 4:16-17
 "Heart-break changes us," my Mom said. Pain, loss, death -- changes us. Sifted through His loving hands it changes us for the good though. It's tests, tries, refines. It doesn't unsettle Him. He is sure and in Him I am secure. So trouble has it's way and my faith stands unshaken and a little more of my weakness is changed into strength and how I'm unarguably carried through the fires testifies life and truth to on-lookers. My heart knows His heart better through each passing season and the witnesses see it.

See, the story of our life isn't success + failure, it's growth.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Find Joy >> right here

"I hope the sun shines and it's a beautiful day
+ something reminds you you wish you had stayed.






You can plan for a change in the weather and time
but I never planned on you changing your mind."
|| taylor swift

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Fresh Vision // week 16

Getting fresh vision and purpose. There are bright things ahead, good things. I'm hopeful and excited. A new place to go, new dreams to pursue and new horizons to move toward.
Just today I'm getting a fresh vision of my season here though and my heart is breaking apart all over again. The past few weeks have just been mourning the loss of the near future I anticipated and the loss of my day-in and day-out very best friend. Just now I'm realizing that the "bye til graduation" break in communication may actually have meant just plain-old "goodbye". He may never be back. That doesn't make sense to me and we didn't get a real goodbye so there's no closure. It's just a wide open wound and I re-lose him all the time. It seems he can live without me though... If that's true, when I can manage to let go, I'll have to learn to live without him too.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. — Winston Churchill




I know you all want to see me heal but it's going to be a long, long road and trying to rush the process won't work. I'm very tender right now and will pull back to protect my hurting heart if it feels unsafe. If you can just trust the process and just journey the road with me without answers or solutions that's all the help I need. Thank you for your prayers. I'm not afraid of this pain. I'm not camping out in it. I am moving forward, even if I'm not quite ready to move on. This is developing me and I don't want to rush through it.
We felt we had received the sentence of death. That was to make us rely not on us but on God who raises the dead.               || 2 Corinthians 1:9

Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday Favorites!

JOIN the community // 
I hope one day you get to meet Jami Nato. I'm so glad she exists. Seriously love Jesus in this sweet, spunky, short woman. Her words slay me and fill me up. That's what truth does. But truth mingled with the glorious mess of the Lord's redemption in the human experience does it in a community kind of way, a heart-to-heart-living-room-talk-with-the-kids-running-through-the-house-shrieking kind of way. You'll be brought face to face with your crap through her fearless writing, but you'll be faced squarely with the power at work to save too. Here, have a little taste of her and Nato's story. You're welcome!



Meanwhile, on the other side of reconciliation, the journey of life continues. Right now they're at a new "mountain"...

"i find 2 things compelling:
1) in God's kindness he let us know it was about to get nuts. why does he even care about us in this way?
2) in that same kindness, he has let the storm completely overwhelm us.

there is no way to get to where we need to be but to climb a giant mountain, in a storm, and only see the few inches in front of us. his mercy is full here, on this arduous climb.
each step, has been planned. and He has always made a way for weary travelers, hasn't he? i know i won't even climb this whole mountain or even a small part of it, there will be a lot of him carrying me. and not in the cheesy footprints in the sand kind of way, but in the blood falling from his brow for me kind of way.

in light of his goodness on the cross for me thousands of years ago, i know i can trust in his goodness now. he laid down his life for me in the greatest act of generosity, trustworthy-ness, and kindness in all of history, so he'll do this too. he carried the cross up the hill and now he'll carry me up this mountain. and when i look into his face, i remember who i am. because without the storms, i had forgotten.

if ever it was said that there are situations which make us feel small, it is now. there's no question of who is doing the work on this mountain." read more here.

///

Y'all, Shannan Martin's heart beats in sync with mine for adoption + impoverished neighbors. She is straight up real about brokenness, the beauty and the pain of it, and her mess is full of hope. She is my soul sister. You will love her! Here are her and Cory's kids.


"But my child gave me the gift of ripping the mask off my ugly, making me face it every single day, no where to turn, no where to hide. Loving him has set me free from the stunning arrogance that I could fix him, or anyone. It's not within my skill set. It was never meant to be.

Loving imperfectly, and unconditionally, has struck my soul like a bell - This doesn't even come close to the way God loves us. I sort the laundry and stir the soup and hold my tired, scrappy little boy to the echo of its reverb.

Loving Silas, and watching him start to love us back, prepared us to welcome another hurting boy into our life, arms-out, heart-bare, pride and expectations and all the world-wise conventions smashed to bits back at the curb." read more here.

///

I feel like Jessi Connolly of Naptime Diaries, co-founder of the Influence Network, has a bit of a superstar status in the blogging world. She inspires me, no doubt, but maybe for different reasons than the general audience. What I love hearing her talk about most is her real example as a church-planting Pastor's wife. Her support and love for her hubby in this huge, hard calling bears the overpowering aroma of surrender and it is a sweet, sweet smell to the Lord. The strength she has gained from laying down her life is a raw and beautiful picture of the Gospel rooted in a soul. It humbles and sharpens me. Following along with their church-plant, Gospel Community, on Instagram is one of the most invigorating things to me.


I keep going back to this vulnerable post of hers lately:

"It wasn't just that were were poor, we were absolutely poor in spirit. Nick would come home from those days of looking for jobs and sit beside me on the couch. When he looked to his left, I know he didn't see the bride of his youth or anything near to the woman he married a few years back. I was fifty (sixty?) pounds heavier, I'd lost any resemblance to the confidence young gal that I used to be. Groups and crowds made me nervous, I cried all the time. Our babies overwhelmed me and I just had literally no vision or hope out of the season we were in. I was broken and poor, poor in spirit.


But we found the gospel on that couch. Because we sure didn't have cable or money to distract us. We didn't have the expectations of what we could be for one another to rely on. We only had the truth that on our own we were broken and together, we had the tiniest shred of belief that Jesus would be more. We'd spend hours upon hours on that couch, curled up together or fingers barely brushing one another, discussing the Good News and what it really meant for us. That though we were broken, God cared for the broken. That though we were poor, we were rich in Him. All on that modern sofa that represented all we had hoped in ourselves, our Father gave us hope in Him. 

We eventually sold the sofa, for money we desperately needed, but we kept the gospel. And now, on great nights or awful nights or the ones in between - it means the world to me that I can look to the left and know - we've got Good News." read more here.

LISTEN //
gimmie that girl - joe nichols
glorious unfolding - steven curtis chapman
ulysses - josh garrels

GOOD READS //
I'm a story teller and my story is one I want to tell in full someday. Some seasons are for soaking up and some are for sharing though. I'm an avid journaler and process a lot on paper but in the soaking-up seasons its more like cataloging pieces that resonate with where I'm at, that'll stir up rich, raw memories in the sharing seasons. Lately I've been stumbling upon quotes and, wanting to save them but not wanting to blow up Facebook feeds with them, I've been setting them as captions to pins. Enjoy a smattering of them!