Fünf Jahre!

John,

Five years. Fünf jahre! Fünf! Can you believe it? (I just like saying “Fünf” because it’s such a funny German word.)

Five years I have run alongside of you. Five years of inside jokes, and late night drives and sabbath day pancakes. As with every passing year, I’ve learned more about you — appreciating new things and enduring others (gotta keep it real, right?– nobody’s perfect) Speaking of not being perfect, remember how I lost my job in October? Yeah. That was great. Our first taste of the “for worse” part of our wedding vows. We didn’t exactly do it perfectly but by God’s grace, we came out of it clinging to God and cheering each other on.

I’ll tell you what I remember most about this past year: you were there. Always. You didn’t give up on me, even when you didn’t understand my emotional rants or reclusive silences at the dinner table. You need to know that you are stronger than you realize. You aren’t perfect and neither am I and this past year has been our banner year for reminding us of that. But this year has only strengthened my resolve to encourage, support, push, and enjoy you more.

When I came home for three months straight, reeking of coffee shops and unemployment, you always came home later after working 13 hour days. I watched you work day after day after day and sometimes I would just cry in the car thinking about it. You worked SO hard. I felt SO ashamed. Life had become some cruel disappointment. This past year I watched you put your head down and work yourself almost to death. Then I saw you collapse at Jesus’s feet in surrender and say, “I can’t do it.” You sought help, and recovered hope. Your humility in the middle of this storm gave me strength and perspective. Without knowing it, you brought me back to the God I had been secretly hating for weeks. Thank you. Thank you for bringing me back.

Yet through all the hectic months of our life, you still managed to find time for date night. You still picked up flowers at the store. The bouquets were always so unique and I thought I might never let go of you when you told me you had them specially arranged by the lady behind the counter. I just pictured you stooped over all the flowers with your brows furrowed as you picked out just the right ones. And I hugged you tighter because I don’t understand your care for me sometimes.

The new calendar year brought me a new job, by God’s gracious hand. It wasn’t what either of us expected but after a chorus of “We’ve chosen another candidate” and a resounding reprise of absolute silence, we were thankful. So I pranced around the house in a swimsuit, preparing to teach kids an activity I could barely do myself and we laughed at the new shade of ridiculous our lives just adopted. The paycheck was such a blessing, the schedule was a bear. We were like ships in the night for awhile. Still painfully, blessedly aware that we couldn’t do it apart from God. We still needed Him to keep us together, working as a team, learning as a family. We shared some hard words and sat in heavy silences. We missed seeing each other and stupidly blamed each other for it. Our logic was flawless, “I miss you. But I’m too exhausted to connect with you. But you haven’t connected with ME in a while either. Therefore, you must not miss me. Therefore, you’re a jerk.” Brilliant, eh? You live and learn in married life I guess.  Sorry for being such a shmuck sometimes.

I’ve been thinking about our marriage over the past few weeks leading up to our 5 year anniversary. And I’ve decided that I like the sound of being married for 5 years. It seems like such a magnanimous accomplishment. Like we should get some kind of award for being such a mature and wise couple. Being married for 5 years gives us the right to look down our noses at those rascally “newlyweds” and tut-tut over all the things we learned “back in the day”… right? Because I’m all over that. But what I like more than just the sound of being married for 5 years is the reality that I’ve shared it with you. Somehow, in the midst of the chaos and shattered plans and long days… we’ve made a life together. And I treasure it.

I love you. I love the way you have taken care of me by taking care of your walk with God. I love sharing this life with you while offering my own snarky and completely useless commentary on it. I love laughing at with you. I love catching your eye and making you smile over a moment that nobody else could understand or appreciate. I love hearing you pray. Unless I’m really hungry… then I kind of struggle. I love hearing you dream out loud and chiming in with my own happy versions of our future and heaven and how great God is. I love being your bride. What a year we’ve had! What a privilege to have lived it alongside of you.

Here’s to the adventures we shared and the mistakes we made and the grace that makes it all possible.

And here’s to you, babe.

Happy Anniversary!

My happy place. :)

We clean up pretty nice 😉

To the beacons of hope

Girl Holding Plant

DISCLAIMER: I am not pregnant. This is just a bundle of thoughts that have been stewing in my brain.

I’m terrified of having kids. I’m terrified that he/she will have a piece of me indwelling them — the piece(s) that’s insecure, unsure of their steps, chained to the demands of the people around them. I’m scared of the world they’ll enter into — the world that says love is a feeling, and it’s ok to let people go and move onto something else that “feels good” if you’re done with whatever else you “thought you loved.” The world that says it’s all about them and gives kudos for buying a homeless man a sandwich or dropping some quarters in the salvation army bucket but discourages them from really living beyond their comfort zone. I’m terrified because I don’t believe I’m ready to live beyond mine.

Then I remember the families I know who are making it work, by God’s grace. Their kids can tell me with confidence that Jesus loves them and that God is good. Their marriages are still genuinely in tact, if not thriving. Even after four kids and dirty diapers and whiny teenagers. The husband prays with his wife, the wife watches the game with her husband. They’re the ones who make sacrifices on a daily basis – giving and loving and disciplining and praying and praying and praying. Many people smirk and laugh, “Look how ridiculous that is! Those stupid Christians. Brainwashing their kids to believe in a God who created them and actually cares about them.” But these families press on and press in and I am so thankful for their example.

So much of this world is cracking under the weight of its own expectations and disappointed in its self-inflicted rat race for pleasure and power and MORE. I get swept up in that race a lot, until grace tackles me to the ground and stubbornly reminds me that I am loved and valued and OK.

These families are living proof to me that where cynicism may be slicing homes, relationships, and dreams apart — the Gospel is in the business of mending and strengthening them. So, thank you. If you are a mom or dad or grandma or uncle or godfather who is faithfully raising children to know and love their Maker — please be encouraged. Your commitment to grace and Truth are evidenced in how God is using your home to be a beacon of hope in a world that can’t seem to stop fighting it. When I play with your kids or watch them grow up via Facebook (sorry for the one million “likes” on all those photos btw), my heart is renewed by the goodness of our great God. I remember I have the same hope in Him and that my home is also a beacon.

You and I both know we don’t get it right all the time but, because of Jesus, we know we don’t have to.

I have to keep reminding myself that God knows (if children are in my future), what kind of world they will grow up in. He knows the friends they will make, the places they will explore, the hurts they will endure, and the very last day of their lives. He knows all of it and he calls me to step out in faith and “GO.”

Make disciples.

GO

Be fruitful and multiply.

GO

Love your neighbor as yourself.

GO

And do not be afraid,

Because I have gone before you.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden… let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Jesus

My Favorite Men Month (Part 2): Husband

This is the second of the three-part shout-out to my favorite men, feel free to check out part 1 if you wanna read about my fantabulous father.

Today, it’s all about the hubster. I never call him the hubster, it just sounded cool so I’m going with it.

Last week I posted about our four year wedding anniversary (yay!) but that post was more a recap of married life than a smooshy-googly wuvvy-dovey post about how much I love my super machismo studmuffin. Don’t worry though, this post will deliver enough happy feelings to make the Care Bears squirm. Get excited!

Man #2: Husband

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We’re different, you and I. That may be one of the greatest understatements in the history of mankind. You see the future as something to approach cautiously, with a plan in hand while I tend to barrel into the future, tossing up prayers and making it up as I go. My categories of cars are still: super-fancy, fancy, normal and boring and they still have everything to do with how a car looks and absolutely nothing to do with how it drives. You’re still holding onto the idea that there’s such a thing as “too much dessert” and it still makes me chuckle and shake my head. Yet the longer we’ve been together, the more I realize how very good it is that I married you.

This post is a tiny snapshot into how much I appreciate you. I know how much you love it (read:awkwardly smile and wish I didn’t have a Facebook account) when I make a big deal about you so I’ll try and keep this relatively bearable.

I’ll also add this disclaimer: I DID NOT MARRY A PERFECT MAN. HIS FARTS STILL SMELL AND HE HAS JUST AS MANY ISSUES AS THE NEXT GUY. (Did you just read that like I was shouting at you? Because I kinda did.)

That being said:

Thank you for holding my hand in church, and for giving me great big hugs when I come home every day. Thank you for getting me the most precocious and ridiculous cat to have ever existed as a Christmas present, and for not rubbing it in that she likes you best (most of the time). Thank you for eating the food I somehow managed to fling together, for FOUR years running! I think that ranks you among the most profoundly courageous of men. Thank you for treating me with care and consideration when I’m hurting. Thank you for being a safe place. Thank you for telling me how much you like my squawking, hooting whistle-snort of a laugh. And thanks for telling me that you think I’m funny. 🙂

Thank you for praying for me. Thank you for praying with me. Thank you for looking at my scrapbooks and taking the time to re-live sweet moments with me. Thank you for caring enough to listen to my dreams and challenging me to walk in them. Thank you for believing that I can change the world and for showing me the Scriptures and spreadsheets to prove it. 😉

You are one of the most odd, passionate, gentle, sincere and purposeful individuals I have ever met.

I am so very honored to be your one and only.

Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made.

Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made.

Chapters 1 – 4

If our marriage was a book, it’d be four chapters long today. 🙂

Here are excerpts from the ever-expanding epic (that I’m not actually writing):

“Married Life: Lessons Learned by the Lavoies”

Chapter One: Community – Get some.

Our first year of marriage was pretty darn awesome. I laughed at John’s fastidious quirks and habits and provided ample entertainment by running into door frames and waking myself up with my own snores. It was evident we were embarking on the adventure of a lifetime and we soaked in every minute.

The difference-maker in this year was the people around us. We had an incredible community of friends and family who were cheering for us and loved us both. Many couples make the mistake of adopting an isolationist mindset when they first get married — “It’s all about US now.” Which is an easy trap to fall into because you’re trying to figure out how to set your own boundaries, make your own decisions as a couple etc. But it’s marital suicide. The people who made our first year of marriage great were the ones who asked us how we were doing as a couple or how they could pray for us. The ones who took us out on girls nights or guys nights, who weren’t weirded out when we admitted we had problems to work through and pushed (sometimes shoved) us closer to Jesus.

Find friends who know and love both of you and can speak into your lives when you need direction, encouragement, and prayer.

My beloved Bible Study while I was learning how to be a wife. They are such amazing people. <3

My beloved Bible Study while I was a newlywed. A constant source of encouragement and prayer. ❤

Chapter Two: Change – Expect it. Better yet, embrace it.

Our second year of marriage brought change. A LOT of it. I graduated from college, two weeks later we moved from VA to TX, one week later we traveled to Haiti for a 3 week mission trip, returned to an apartment full of unpacked boxes and I began my job hunt while he began learning the Greek alphabet in preparation for his first on-campus seminary semester. Also, we had two friends in TX. Wonderful people! But not exactly the equivalent of a church home or network of community that we desperately needed (see Chapter 1).

As you can imagine, we communicated perfectly, met each others expectations flawlessly and practically skipped into the bedroom every night!

NOT.

Year two for us was the proverbial “Year One” crash-course that we had missed out on earlier. It was hard.

In my zeal (read:panic) to dive head-first into this new normal of working while John went to seminary, I burned John to the ground. I just wore. him. out. I didn’t want him to get a job because it was MY job to bring home the bacon while he focused solely on and ALWAYS on school. Without realizing it, I not only let him drown in syllabi, flashcards, and commentaries, I was holding his head under the water.

He sunk into depression. I became angry and scared that he wasn’t charging into seminary and tackling every assignment with gusto. “That’s why we’re here in the first place, right?!” But he’s not a scholar, he’s a shepherd. And shepherds need to be shepherding even when especially when they’re surrounded by a lot of scholars.

After a few weeks of counseling, John was aptly diagnosed with “spiritual constipation.” In short, he had gone from a hands-on life of campus ministry that was full of discipleship, evangelism, and staff meetings … to a life of exegesis papers and deadlines. He desperately needed an outlet to be a shepherd again. Once he got a part-time job tutoring college students and began discipling some guys he slowly rose above the tidal wave of our unrealistic expectations. We both began to settle down and take our new life one day at a time – finding a church home, meeting new friends, and making new memories together.

Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing, just give yourself (and your spouse) the grace and the space to adapt to it.

Ol' faithful Penskepants that moved our life half-way across the country.

The faithful Penskepants that moved our life half-way across the country.

Chapter Three: Common interest – find it, keep it, cultivate it.

When John and I were dating/engaged we went on tons of fun dates and enjoyed looking googly-eyed at each other and admiring how awesome we were. It was fabulous. Unfortunately, we didn’t prioritize finding some mutual hobby that we could do together as a couple. Once we got married, we quickly realized I was far from becoming a car enthusiast and John’s idea of scrapbooking was dropping jpegs into a folder on his computer and occasionally clicking through them (UNacceptable).

We dutifully started trying each other’s hobbies to see if we could find some common interest but it usually just led to frustration and disappointment. We enjoyed watching TV shows on Netflix for a time but felt like we were getting to know the characters on Frasier better than each other. Finally, after much prayer we landed on something: running*.

Running had never been a favorite pastime of mine because, as the license plate frame on my old car quipped “I’d rather be dancing!” But I was not about to slap a leotard on my black-belt husband and tell him to catch me as my tutu’ed self leapt into his arms. Not happening. (But great visual, right?)

Instead, we both embraced this new hobby and all that came with it: icing our knees with bags of frozen veggies, sharing a huge smoothie after long runs, instagramming our running dates (exclusively Rachel), researching how we could do it better (exclusively John), and ultimately running in races together.

Running with John has been one of the key contributing factors to the deepening of our friendship. It reminds me that he and I are on the same team. Not only while we run but while tackling the day-in, day-out crazy of life.

*John has already hinted that our knees may not be able to keep up this hobby indefinitely and that we should try bike-riding instead. But I’m banking on our next mutual interest to be something I’m actually good at — like ice cream eating competitions or bargain shopping. *fingers crossed*

A common interest or hobby is worth having  so be intentional about finding it and once you’ve got it — run with it! (Pun is 100% intended)

Finishers of the 2012 Dallas Half-Marathon!

Finishers of the 2012 Dallas Half-Marathon!

Year Four: Conflict happens! LET IT.

I despise conflict and am an expert at avoiding it. The moment I see it coming, I run in the other direction which almost always leads to more conflict. John doesn’t like conflict either but he sees the very real danger in leaving it unresolved. When left unresolved, conflict festers in the heart and leads to increasing feelings of bitterness and anger. It’s not pretty.

But, it happens. Conflict happens because there is no way two people will always agree on every little thing, and certainly not on every BIG thing. John and I have said hurtful words and kept hurtful silence more times than I can number. We have both left the room in frustration, slammed doors, cried into pillows… the works.

Earlier on it was primarily John who would say, “Rachel, what’s wrong?” But in this last year of marriage I have realized how selfish I’ve been in leaving it up to him to always approach me when there’s an issue. When I bury my emotions I’m not helping either of us. It’s been tough for me to say “I’m angry. I’m hurt. You’re making me feel X-Y-Z” because the people – pleaser in me is always saying, “Really, Rachel? Do you really want to turn this into a problem? Can’t you just let it go?” But when I “let it go” it doesn’t disappear. It just buries itself deeper into my already seething mind and heart and then eventually erupts into this hot, roiling, mess of emotions that takes twice as long to work through and often cuts twice as deep.

The greatest aspect I’ve discovered about conflict is that you can actually get on the other side of it and still be friends! In fact, you can be better friends! It’s amazing. Despite my ridiculous fears that conflict will destroy our relationship, the exact opposite has happened. It builds, unites (eventually…), and strengthens us as a couple.

When you encounter conflict, work through it rather than around it.

OK. Clearly we aren't legitimately angry in this picture. Just some good ol'-fashioned Christmas party photobooth drama ;)

OK. Clearly we aren’t legitimately angry in this picture… but you get the idea 😉

Four years later and what I can say about our marriage is that it’s different than it was. It requires harder work and produces sweeter dividends than I had ever anticipated. Each chapter has it’s own unique flavor of lessons learned and we are most definitely in a better place than where we started.

Happy Anniversary, John! I love you times a million. :)

Happy Anniversary, John! I love you. 🙂

My Favorite Men Month (part 1): Dad

Four out of the thirty days on my June calendar are: Father’s Day (the 16th), Wedding Anniversary (the 20th), Dad’s birthday (the 23rd), and Brother’s birthday (the 30th). Which makes it an unofficial “Celebrate My Favorite Men” Month.

And, since I have a knack for buying greeting cards and letting them collect on my shelf into one big pile of good intentions, I’m gonna cover my bases with a blog post for each of ’em this year. You can consider it my first attempt at a three-part “mini series.”

The Line up:

(in chronological order, more or less)

1) Dad – The one who has loved me unconditionally from day one.

2) John (Husband) – The one who likes me so much he has voluntarily chosen to live with me and love me til I die.

3) Matt (Brother) – The one who loves me because he “has to” but secretly, deep down, actually likes me too.

Man #1: Dad

TRADITION. Thanks for hoisting me (and all the other siblings!) on your back Christmas after Christmas after Christmas so we could put the angel on the top... Even when we probably could have reached it ourselves. You're the best. :)

TRADITION! It’s funny how the little things carry such huge significance (and back pain). Thanks for being so long-suffering. 🙂

There is so much about my childhood that I don’t remember but I consider it such a blessing to know that you were there for all of it. I remember dancing down the hallway as you played the “Linus and Lucy” theme song from Charlie Brown on the piano,  or barreling straight for your shins, plopping my bottom firmly on top of your foot and saying “Go!” and never being disappointed with the “foot ride” that followed. I remember the smell of coffee and peanut butter toast in the morning and the goodbye hugs before heading off to school with the words “Learn lots and become wise!” echoing in my ears. I remember feeling safe whenever you were around and getting really mad at Sarah when I told her I thought you were the most handsome guy in the world and she said, “No he isn’t, Rachel. You just love him so much that you think he is.” (I’ll let you talk to her about that 😉 ) I remember my heart bursting with joy whenever you told me how proud you are of me and how much you love to watch me dance on the stage. I remember thinking boys were so silly for trying to give me valentines because my heart was so clearly taken by the man who left me a HUGE  “I Love You” balloon tied to my chair at the kitchen table that morning.

I remember the countless conversations we had that would last way past my bedtime and whose effect on my life has lasted way past the eventual “Goodnight Rachel, I love you, sleep tight!” The times when you told me I was special, gifted, and created for a purpose. The times when I asked hard questions about faith and life and you answered them. And one particular conversation we had at the kitchen table a few years ago that was really difficult but really really good. I remember that too.

As I grow up and stretch out my wings and discover the world and my place in it, I know there is a man who believes I could go anywhere and be anybody. I know our relationship has changed because I have changed, and so have you. But the unique and powerful impact you have had on my life will never change, and I am so grateful for it. I love you, Dad. Thanks for always taking care of me.

Thanks for always offering me your arm, and your support. <3

You’ll always be the first guy I gave my heart to. 🙂

Remembering my Raindrops and Whiskers

Lately, in the midst of so many graduations and birth announcements and job changes and conversations about all of those things, I’ve been feeling restless.  I keep looking over the horizon of tomorrow and thinking, “What’s next?” and meanwhile about 35,000 blessings are passing under my nose, unnoticed or forgotten. That’s unacceptable.

I need to document “a few of my favorite things” so that I can re-read and re-live and reJOICE in all I have in the here and now. Unlike Julie Andrews, I’m not putting them to a song but feel free to imagine you’re frolicking on the set of Sound of Music while you read. 😉

My Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens

Stealing kisses from my adorable godson in plain sight of my smiling, eyebrows-raised husband.

When I feel John’s arm around my shoulders or his hand on my knee.

Running with the wind pushing me to go faster.

Laughing in disbelief (or maybe delirium?) when I crossed the finish line at my first half marathon.

Giving and receiving hugs that are unapologetically long and (literally) heart-warming.

Crying like a blubbering idiot in front of my seminary wife group when I found out (moments before they arrived at my house) that my beautiful nephew Cade was born.

Screaming out a chorus to a heavy metal song with John while he drove, windows down, hair flying, and grinning like mad men.

Memorizing Romans 12.

Hearing John pray over our future and crying because I do such a terrible job of appreciating the present (hence this post). Which in turn reminded me of how marvelously indebted to and thankful I am for the grace of Jesus. So I cried even harder with happy tears.

Listening to my cat snore on my lap while I scrapbook.

Being told I was used by God to bring hope or encouragement in someone’s life. I can’t wrap my head around this enough.

Holding a newborn baby. May that NEVER get old.

Talking with my college roommate as if the conversation had never ended.

Saturday morning pancakes.

Adding another crockpot recipe to our “regular” meals  (a pretty big deal for yours truly).

Sitting down to read my Bible for a few minutes, and reading it for hours instead because I got lost in the beautiful story-telling.

Combatting my road rage by singing worship songs at the top of my lungs, and laughing at the reactions in my rearview mirror.

Watching the cat chase flies around our house. Or, even better — watching John AND the cat chase flies around our house.

Breaking into a sweat just from dancing around my 750sq ft apartment because it unleashes a passion I don’t express as much as I probably should.

BOOM.

And that’s not even all of ’em!

Well, what are you waiting for? Get grateful and get busy writing your own list!

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. ~ James 1:17

I AM Emmanuel.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ woos the broken to repentance because they finally see God for who He is, not who they thought He was, and the Truth is so much sweeter than their previous misconceptions.

Opinions about God may change, even within the hearts and minds of His people, but God never changes. He is not manufactured from people’s opinions or expectations, He does not live in a lamp to be rubbed at our leisure, or sit on an altar of stone taking up space in someone’s living room. He is never threatened, never compromised, never surprised. He is all-knowing, all-powerful. The only One capable of utter destruction and complete restoration.

I AM that I AM.

And yet…

He grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not… Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous and he shall bear their iniquities. – Isaiah 53:2-3; 10-11

He is Emmanuel. Tangible. Flesh and blood. God with us. God instead of us.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free

Thine own from Satan’s tyranny.

From depths of Hell Thy people save

And give them victory o’er the grave

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

Crockpots and Clorox Wipes: Confessions of a Newb Homemaker

Half the battle is letting it out, so here goes:

If you looked in my kitchen cabinets you would find an immaculate (read:unused) food processor, and some beat up (read:VERY used) cookie pans. I have no problem eating Rice Krispies for dinner if it means I don’t have to be standing in the kitchen for more than 5 minutes. I have served my husband undercooked chicken and overcooked pasta. Most meals are served with good intentions but they are often burnt, soggy, or chewy. And sometimes smothered in bitterness.

I don’t have a stud-finder for hanging pictures or a sewing machine for making my own curtains or pillowcases. I don’t actually measure the laundry detergent when I do loads and sometimes I forget the dryer sheet. I have dozens of “Better Homes & Gardens” magazines in my home and use them mainly for decoration because I’m intimidated by their color schemes and overwhelmed by their “Dinner in 30 minutes” recipes.

I have a gaping hole in the bottom of one of my couches (currently taped over with duct tape) thanks to a freaked out cat who found it to be a worthy hiding place as we packed and moved. I painted an accent wall in our new place (and LOVE it!) but can openly admit that the spots that bled into the adjacent walls are not intentional “contemporary flairs” they’re mistakes. That I made. I’ve colored in several picture frame scratches with sharpie markers as they get banged up from each of our moves. My hand-me-down FREE.99 wicker dining room chairs may give you splinters in all the wrong places but at least 3 of the 4 are still standing! I broke the 4th one.

John owns shirts with missing buttons and holes in some of his dress pants because I’ve never mended anything before and am terrified to try.

Sometimes I nap when I could be doing something more constructive like organizing the pantry or washing the sheets. Sometimes I watch Monsters Inc instead of Schindler’s List because I don’t feel like thinking about the brokenness of the world. Or thinking in general. Sometimes I sit on the couch with every intention to read my Bible, and then wake up 30 minutes later.

Sometimes I smile when inwardly I’m cursing. Sometimes I intentionally avoid people when the Lord is telling me to invite them into my life. Sometimes I laugh loudly to drown out my screaming heart. Sometimes I kneel on the floor in desperation because I make the same mistake over and over and over and see no end in sight. Sometimes I want to tear down my husband, and sometimes I do. Sometimes I cater to myself even if it hurts others.

My home is a little rough around the edges, and my heart is an absolute mess.

Sometimes I just need to say that out loud.

Lord Jesus, I need you. Really I do. Thank you for coming, both the first time and when you return. Thank you for a grace that not only covers my aching heart, but fills it and renews it. Thank you for redeeming me in spite of myself and encouraging me and teaching me when I’m at my lowest. You are the only hope for the lost or wandering human heart. And thank you for crockpots and clorox wipes, this girl needs all the help she can get.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

– 1 Thessalonians 5:23 –

Uncommon Grace

Uncommon Grace

For God so loved the world…

Once I walked in common grace, oblivious to His presence,

Relishing a big bear hug or a cool breeze through my hair.

I thought myself a lucky girl, yet my soul lived as a peasant.

Never seeing beyond the apparent, I didn’t think to care.

I sang the song a hundred times, “how sweet the sound” indeed!

Until at last my soul awoke, “This grace will set me free.”

For while the lost and found alike can soak up rays of sun,

Only souls who accept His grace will find unending love.

Oh that you would know the God who thought you into being!

I’m not promising the end of pain but is your purpose not worth seeing?

We are common, you and I, surrounded by the normal,

But this grace speaks to worn-out souls, and sets free the eternal.

The laughter of a child and the understanding of a friend

are not the end of knowing grace, they point us straight to Him.

Dying for a world that hope seemed to have forsaken,

he bled and breathed his last so that the penalty was taken.

What a dismal story if it ended at the tomb,

But take heart for He has risen and is preparing many rooms!

Rooms for each who call on Jesus, hallowed be His name,

For wretches who ran past the common and found the grace that saves.

Once I walked in common grace unknowing, unaware.

Now I live in saving grace, uncommon and unfair.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:16-17



Free to Obey

Tell a toddler to share and they’ll scream in your face. Tell a teenager that midnight is not an acceptable curfew and they’ll… well… probably scream in your face. From day one of our lives we convince ourselves that rules and boundaries are essentially “fun-suckers.”

Our greedy toddler hearts find little joy in sharing and great satisfaction in taking. Teenage drama unfolds because egos are surfacing more forcefully and demand to be pampered while universally hating anyone who doesn’t oblige.

Eventually we reach a place of adulthood where we’re supposedly “mature”. Having learned to share (marginally well) and toughened the exterior of our egos (to an extent) we are now OK with obeying the rules and can acknowledge some merit to their existence.

For example, red light means stop, green light means go. Granted, we (read: I) may still throw temper tantrums when stuck behind a “puttzer” who brakes at yellow lights (who DOES that?!)… but we (I) don’t actually run over them and through the orange light. (Yes. I said orange light and don’t pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about.)

Christians are not immune to this aversion to obedience and Jesus (knowing our stubbornness) addresses it:

“If you love me you will keep my commandments.” – (John 14:15)

Plain and simple. If I love Jesus I will keep his commandments.

But let’s not forget, lest we get lost in a world of legalism or bemoan our inability to love perfectly as He loves perfectly:

  1. The first step to obeying Jesus, is accepting his grace. This means, as Christians, while we walk with Jesus and strive to be obedient vessels of His kingdom, we are covered, trapped, and all around stuck in his unending, unfathomable grace.
  2. We have also been equipped to obey. Our obedience is empowered by the Holy Spirit and leads us deeper into the heart of God. So, we are being sanctified (made holy) by the Holy Spirit while simultaneously exhorted to follow Jesus of our own volition. This is complicated to dive into (maybe another post) but for now know this:

If you are a Christian you are being shaped into the image of Christ by the Holy Spirit and your obedience to Him is a testament to the world of your love for Him.

Our relationship with Christ begins on the premise that we are not able to obey perfectly but his perfect obedience led to the salvation of mankind. And what did Christ find on the other side of obedience? Glory.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name. – Philippians 2:9

What have I found when I am obedient to Christ?

  • A mind that is free from the worries of the world (casting all your cares on him because he cares for you – 1 Peter 5:7)
  • A heart that is free from the clutch of materialism, comparison, and discontentment (Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” – Hebrews 13:5)
  • And a tongue that is free from complaint, gossip, and bitterness. (Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

I find freedom.

So, to the tiny toddler and tumultous teenager – listen and obey. You may find that sharing your toys means you have twice as many to play with and a 10PM curfew may not be the end of the world if it means someone is genuinely concerned for your safety. Honor your father and mother.

For all of you hot-headed drivers out there (finger pointed in my face) try using those 30 seconds at the stoplight to be still and give thanks. We both know that inching closer and closer to the puttzer’s bumper  IS! isn’t going to make the light change any faster.

And for you, reader – if you do not know this freedom, know that you can today.

Jesus Christ is the son of God who came into the world, lived a perfect life and died a sinner’s death. He bore every sin committed by mankind, past, present, and future and he defeated all of it by rising from death three days later. He loves you deeply, died for you willingly, and longs for you to know him personally. Ask him to come into your wounded sinner’s heart, transform your life, and bring you into his family. There is no staged prayer to pray, he is not impressed by your eloquence, but can recognize your sincerity.

He already knows you, and I urge you to reciprocate.