3 Questions Amidst the Chaos

In my magical world of perfectness, I could be content with my house was stunningly decorated for Christmas. It would be traditional but quirky; a little bit like me. Picture Anne of Green Gables meets Munchkin Land. Cookies (calorie free of course) would always be coming out of the oven. Christmas music would be playing softly in the background. No crooners. Only songs that offered a sense of calm and delight.

Pine needles never fell to the floor, tinsel knew it’s place, and the tape never disappeared under the wrapping paper. Family and friends would come and go as they pleased. Crackling would come from our non-existent fireplace and hot mochas with whipped cream and peppermint would be forever accessible. Oh yea, and it would 50 degrees and snowing out side.

Ok, now that we’ve gone to la la land, let’s come back to reality.

I haven’t decorated the house yet mostly because it feels like a chore. Actually, we are in disarray mode presently. We bought our tree, set it up, and realized we have no lights for it. Ba hum bug! You think I would have remembered throwing them away last year. Instead of a tidy and festive living room, we have 4 bins of Christmas decor, musty stockings, gift bags and outside lights strewn all over our carpet. A window display sits half-finished and there are scraps from that project all over the kitchen table. Sheesh!

I’ve traded my apples for pine cones, and the dog can’t seem to decide which one she enjoys chewing on more. I’m fairly confident there won’t be any outside decor happening. Except of course for my pumpkins that have yet to rot away.

My favorite holiday cookie, if I could only have one, just went into the freezer; the place I put things I have no self control over.  My house smells like nothing because I’ve baked nothing. Most of the time when I hear Christmas music it’s All I want for Christmas and Santa Baby. There’s nothing like a Christmas song that makes you feel dirty.

So, I’m not saying all of this to complain, actually just the opposite. I’m saying this because we don’t live in a magazine. I’ve embraced the crazy and can be content in it. Good things do come from this season. Sometimes they are packaged and sometimes we have to seek them.

Instead of stressing ourselves out, chasing the joy that is supposed to be so prevalent this season, ask yourself these questions as I recently have. There’s a lot of freedom to be found in them.

How can I best honor Jesus in this holiday?

What truth can I hold on to that will change the way I celebrate?

Wouldn’t it be incredible if I actually got to know Jesus a bit better this Christmas?

Maybe you’ve all done that, but for me, it is a new thing. I invite you to join me in clinging to Jesus as we go into the next few weeks. What if we actually spent time, quieted our hearts, and created enough margin to hear the Spirit, and draw closer to our Savior? What will he teach us if we simply ask? What will we be shown to us if we chase Jesus instead of a holiday?

Wouldn’t this freedom be a truly an incredible gift?

Seek him. Seek him. Seek Jesus above all else. 

 

Ask, and it will be given to you. 

Seek, and you will find.

Knock, and the door[a]will be opened to you.

Matthew 7:7

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Overwhelmed and Under Done

It was this magazine that got me thinking. I knew what awaited me in those pages. I picked up the collection of ideas, how tos, and immaculate pictures. As I flipped through the pages, I felt the lead in my gut and immediately put it down. I was right, my shoulders slumped as the weight set in.

Several weeks later, I came across the Magnolia magazine again. I pointed to it, I said to my guy, “Please don’t buy me this. I don’t want it.” He looked at me in question, but shrugged in obedience.

A while later that I had to explain my odd request.

“I love Chip and Jo, you know I do. I think they are adorable together, and watching #FixerUpper makes me feel good you know? It makes me want to be a better person. But, I can’t get the magazine, I can’t have it in the house.”

Silence in response.

“It makes me feel like I’m failing at life.”

My husband was thoughtful for a moment, “I think I’ve underestimated your low self-worth. You have some serious doubts; and you’re totally off target.”

He got me thinking.

Weeks later, I stood in the book store, face to face with the latest edition.

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There it was. There she was. Jo, standing against a breath taking snowy background, her floor length floral skirt was effortless. “Well, let’s try it again.”

I took the magazine to a nearby table.

As I flipped through the pages, I was inspired by all the wonderful traditions that I hope to someday create with our girls. I thought about the hours we’ve spent together in the kitchen already. They are some of my most cherished memories.

I thought about peppermint cocoa, classic Christmas movies, and what our tree would look like. I thought about finding an opportunity to give this season, because I already have everything I need. I thought about searching for wonder, and finding it in every day miracles.

I thought about a lot.

To my surprise and delight, I didn’t feel less than, or failure, or imperfect. There was no heaviness or weight that came as I browsed the pages. I had let the truth that was spoken to me weeks ago sink in.

I had been allowing myself to be threatened by a magazine. If I had to guess, I would say threatened is the LAST emotion Joanna Gaines wants to infuse into her readers. So dumb. I had somehow made a decision to question these negative doubts and feelings and see if they were legitimate.

I came to realize quickly, they weren’t legit at all.

So, if you’ve been threatened by a magazine, a TV show, a neighbor or even a friend, just know this; you’re not alone. Think it’s ridiculous I felt threatened by a magazine? Valid point. It’s ridiculous that YOU feel this way. So, stop.

Valuing ourselves for who we are, in our raw human state frees us from anyone’s expectations; especially our own.

Savor what you excel at instead of being defeated by all you have yet to perfect.

Value yourself enough to give your soul what it truly needs. Don’t be defeated, threatened, or overwhelmed by all that you could do, or think you should do. Don’t be intimidated by all that this Holiday season might expect. Choose grace for your own soul.

Love people well. Including yourself.

You are worthy of that.

 

So don’t be afraid: you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:31

 

@magnoliamarket @joannagaines #Worthy #Grace #SpeakTruth #Christmasstress #Overwhelmed

Nothingness

Trust the Fog (1)

Some days I just get overwhelmed with nothingness.

I’m a nurse, but it’s not a secret I miss patients that are awake. A place where I feel I make a true impact. I love my husband’s ministry, but I’ve needed to take time away.  We’re adopting, but not really, because it’s been three years and we have yet to bring a child home for good. I’m trying to write a blog and get some traction, ugh. Website up? No, not really. Really hopeful to speak in your Sunday school. Crickets. I’m not even able to keep my house 100% clean 100% of the time. Fail.

Am I alone here? I don’t think I am.

Sometimes the nothingness with which we live our lives in is overwhelming. It can feel like nothing has been completed, successful or easy. Where’s the legacy? Or skip that, where’s the basic everyday accomplishment? Is the key to completion just perseverance? What if perseverance isn’t enough? What then?

This ache bruised my heart as I read through Luke chapter 12. Somehow, in this low moment I read the scripture differently than I have before.

Consider the ravens. Consider the lilies.

But seek ye first the kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 

For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.

  • We need to remember the ravens. We need to consider the lilies.  Their very purpose it to bring glory to God, yet it is only through him that they can accomplish their purpose. We need to remember our purpose and WHO we are dependent on to accomplish that purpose.
  • Seek ye first the kingdom.  A new perspective. A resent in direction. It’s never been about us, so the less we make It about us, the more “on track” we are. Reset our sights.                                                                                                                                                   
  • Do not be afraid, little flock. I love that we are called “little flock” here. Because most of the time that’s what I feel like. A small fish in the big pond of God’s plan. We are afraid. We are afraid that we will go this week, this month, this year or this life without accomplishing our dreams.
  • For where your treasure is then you heart will be also. Maybe we will never get anything done. Maybe your kids will never be president. Maybe they won’t even make the varsity team. Maybe your always loose the battle of dishes in your kitchen sink. Maybe you’ll never finish reading that book, or organizing the closet. Maybe it, whatever it is, just won’t happen. But maybe we’ve all put too much “value” on things that aren’t actually treasure.

There is freedom to be found in being the lilies of the valley and the ravens of the air. Work hard, keep going, persevere, but know that our true purpose is found in, and accomplished by, bringing glory to God. Even in the nothingness.

Our true treasure is eternity. Remembering that changes everything.

 

 

 

Trust the Fog

A few days ago, my husband and I had a three-hour trip home. I was driving; which I have to admit always takes a few years off his life. He wears is Captain Safety badge proudly.

I quickly realized that this was going to be a strenuous drive home. I couldn’t see anything. The fog was so thick and prevalent, that most of the ride home I nothing ahead of me except the red glow of brakes.

It was painful. It was painful for me who was driving, and for my husband who wished I wasn’t driving.

At one point the grey overcame everything. I knew there was a truck in front of me; a semi. The rainwater he threw on my windshield was proof enough of his existence. Other than that, I saw nothing. My wipers were overpowered by the weather. I couldn’t see the other side of the highway, had no view behind me, couldn’t acknowledge exit signs until we were right on top of them, and felt completely at a loss for knowing what laid ahead.

“Am I not supposed to be able to see anything?”

“No you’re not.”

I’ll admit, it isn’t what I wanted to hear.

Something we do all the time; plow full speed ahead. Step on the gas. Lean into it. It’s going to be difficult, so we might as just plow right through it. No one likes things when they hurt so let’s get it over with. Right?

But I think I realized something we could all use from time to time.

During this part of the journey, this is the speed we are supposed to be going. And we’re not supposed to be able to see out in front. Instead we need to follow the lines that have been drawn out for us. Stay on this highway until we are told to get off. Trust the fog. It’s there for a reason.

During the times in our lives where we are all hopeful for a break in the weather, sometimes we just need to tap on the breaks, take a deep breath, relax in the pace, and enjoy the ride. Give our anxiety ridden passengers some relief.

Give ourselves some relief.

Maybe the trucks are paving the way. Warning signs that we always need to be alerted to. They go before us and let us know, if we pay careful attention, when the road bends, the need for caution ahead and the need to slow down.

Maybe the destination is closer then we think. Maybe we are still getting ready to be ready. Maybe we will one day understand why the fog was so dense, but maybe we won’t.

Maybe we shouldn’t be living full speed ahead.

Maybe we need to learn to be content. Not always yearning for the next thing. Maybe this is a time in life to tap the breaks, learn a lesson, enjoy the music, and settle in the moment. Maybe we need to slow down so we don’t end up accordion style on the highway.

Pile ups can be avoided when the drivers are aware of their surroundings.

We are entering a season of chaos. Whether that is the holiday season for you, stuff at work, health complications, crazy behavior from your kids, or intense family expectations. Maybe there is something in your life that requires patience you simply don’t want to give.

What are missing out on because you’re stepping on the gas? What are you risking because you are driving full speed ahead? The unknowns are there for a reason. Maybe they are telling you to slow down, and take some direction.

Trust the Creator of the fog. Trust the one whispering to your heart. Listen closely; and maybe, tap on the breaks.

 

 

 

Spring

Winter is my least favorite season, second only to Spring. Hear me out. At least in the Winter you know it’s going to be cold, snowy, dark, dismal. I know I know, many of you love cracked skin and a constant chill in your bones. I am not one of you.

Winter has it pluses; Christmas, warm drinks, cozy blankets, the beauty of a snowfall, and of course snowmen, snow angels, sledding and all that goes with it.

But Spring, Spring is another story
Spring is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It promises bunnies, and tulips and daffodils. It whispers new green life and warm rays of sun. But it slaps you I the face with harsh winds, cold rain, thick mud, and a false hope of warm days. Yes, there’s an occasional flower or two, but can that really make up for the tease that Spring actually is?

Plus here in Lancaster County all you can smell is manure. Yesterday it was so potent that it literally caused my husband and I to stop talking. We couldn’t take another breath until we drove down the road. Even then it was painful.

Thanks Spring.

So for all my venting I do actually have something pretty awesome to say about this season. In the past few days the weather has been so glorious, (I don’t trust it, but that doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy it) I spent a lot of time outside on our deck. It’s beautiful to sit under the spotty shade of our Maple tree. Because of that, I’ve taken a closer look at something I’ve never noticed before.

The buds.

I mean, I know that’s what happens this time of year; things bud. But in just 3 days, our tree went from Winter bare, to bunches of blossoms blooming, to tiny leaves spurting out all over. It’s almost like our tree is just as happy for the warmer weather as we are. It couldn’t wait to make it’s debut this year.

I was thrilled to witness this change and shocked by how rapidly it happened. For things to happen so swiftly, and for the change to be so drastic, major things must have been happening during those harsh weather days. Things I wasn’t paying attention to. Things I didn’t know about. Things that were happening right under my nose but I couldn’t see. Our little tree was working hard. Even thought I was totally unaware, it was accomplishing its purpose.

What a gift.

In the same way, our little family is waiting to blossom.

This process is moving, and God is at work.

I know things are being accomplished. Practical things like paperwork and signatures and meetings; spiritual things as well. I know God is drawing closer to us, because we are drawing closer to him, and in that, we are drawing closer to each other. I know my girls miss us.  I know our faith is growing. Patience is being built and perseverance is finishing it’s work so that we may be mature and complete not lacking in anything. (James 1:4)

I know Spring time in our family is coming.

For all my complaining about the Winter months and the artic chill, the bitter winds, and the overcast days, I know God is redeeming the season.

In fact, I think I see a few buds.

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Together

It’s 8am in my girl’s country right now, Monday morning. Everyone is just now waking up, except for those who went to bed hungry. For 5 more days, our caseworker is there. She is hopeful to have something significant happen. 5 more days for people I have never met to work on behalf of my family; 5 more days. The count-down begins.

*Spoiler alert* Transparent moment

It’s exhausting to be hopeful and let down so often. I’m not sure if just today was defeating, or the week in general. Not sure if it’s the weather (dear vacation, I miss you) the situation, or the fact that we can’t defend ourselves. I have no good answers.

Earlier this week I came to the realization that I had a pretty tight grip on this date. So, I let it go. It wasn’t a great night. Living in flux is something I’m a professional at. It seems our lives have been in flux more than the typical family. But this flux is a bit more challenging. There are no absolutes, there are no timelines, there are no complete answers.I love my girls so much; living without them seems pointless.

But I know it’s not. It’s not pointless.

I’m know there are many things I can learn during this time.

Correction; adoptive moms, there are a ton of things we can learn from this time.

The thing I am going to salvage from this time is my purpose right here right now. I’m searching for it. I’m working at it. I’m trying. I stepping out of my fear, social expectations, and stretching my strengths. I mean isn’t that what everyone does when they are emotionally drained?

Come on adoptive mamas, join me.

Count to ten.

Step out of the despair with me. Let’s wipe the muck off each other. Let’s embrace the pain and move forward. Let’s pray each other through.

We’ve got stuff to do. God’s got stuff to do. People we’ve never met have stuff to do, papers to sign. Let’s not be the ones holding up the process. Let’s believe in his timing. For real. Let’s run from jealousy. Let’s embrace each other with joy and grace. Let us be the hands and feet of Christ, to each other.

Because no one understands how we feel better than we do.

In the meantime, as we seek to encourage each other, let’s accomplish some dreams, realize some goals. Let’s deepen our knowledge and broaden our achievements.

Our families need us to. They need us to be dependent on the Lord, not on them. They need us to have quiet strength to exude grace. They need us to be patient. They need us to work hard. They need us to develop the gifts and strengths we’ve been given.

They need us to be better for them, whenever it is that they come home.

So, let’s stop trying to control the situation and trust our maker. Let’s be controlled by our principles not our emotions. Let’s pray. Let’s work. Let’s grow. Together.

What are you going to work on? What are you going to complete? Who are you going to be when your kids finally come home?

 

Set My Heart on You

All my life I’ve wanted to be wise.

Wise and in love with Jesus; fully dependent on him and him alone. I’ve made strides to be that person, but I never felt like I made substantial progress. I wasn’t using this time on Earth well. I have been inefficient with the days God had given me. I had so much to learn, I still have so much to learn. The more I learn, the more I don’t know.

About 2 years ago, when we filed paperwork for our first adoption, when made a commitment, told our families, and fronted thousands of dollars, I knew I was in for it. I knew that I would be a different person at the end of this journey then I was at the beginning.

I was ok with it.

Over the past 2 years the lessons I have learned have been tremendous and good. I have watched as God provided strength, wisdom, people, encouragement, joy, love, laughter, perseverance, energy, and family. Did I mention support?

God has made himself known in so many ways that feel good. Everything I mentioned above – feels good, is life giving; uplifting.

But God makes himself known in hard ways as well.

Here, in the waiting, I have never felt a more constant ache; almost a gnawing. It’s like I am always hungry for my girls, hungry for their affection and laughter, hungry to have them home, hungry to love them, hungry to be complete. I am always hungry and never satisfied.

Yet I have never been closer to Jesus.

Hungry for his Word, aching to understand it; striving to hide it in my heart; turning to it for comfort, singing it for peace, holding onto its promises. Not that he will grant me my desires, but that He will be with all of us no matter what.

I know that there are reasons for the wait that I may never know or understand. I know there are excuses presented that I will never believe or accept. But I also know that

Dependency on my father, is more important than delivery of my children.       

This is hard to type, and harder to voice. I want Jesus close to me more then I want my girls close to me. If we have to wait, so I can draw nearer to God, then please let us wait. This waiting is bitter, but I have never found such sweetness in the Lord than right now.

No matter when and even if you bring them home, I am thankful for this time. It’s been you and me. Actually, it’s been you carrying me. You uphold me with joy, peace, and kindness. I will be satisfied in your love and trusting in your knowledge, your power and your grace. I have set my heart on you. I have set my heart on all that you are. Thank you for carrying me. I will cling to the promise that you will never let me go.

Set My Heart – Vertical Church Band https://youtu.be/A8pMqbDAEP0 @verticalchband