Why God Whispers

You know that weight? When your world squeezes tight and leaves you gasping for air. In and out. In and out. When you feel like you can take one more single step.

You’re not in the depths of depression. You’ve been there. This isn’t it.

Yet? You’re in the middle of life. And it’s cracking you up with its wearing-down force.

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Your children argue and bicker. All. day. long. The news plays death and destruction and beheadings and rocket blasts and selling saints as sex-slaves. Work piles up at work and dust bunnies multiply themselves at home. Frozen pizza rears its ugly-time-saving-everyone’s-happy-with-dinner head.

And then?

Your fat jeans don’t fit.

So you stand in the shower where salty tears mix in. You wish you could stay there all day. But the cold comes too soon.

Confusion tightens its grip.

Because you know there are mothers who will never hold their babies again rocking themselves back and forth while you look for ways to escape your own two children for a few blessed minutes.

Because you know some walk miles and miles for clean drinking water and you complain when your local Starbucks can’t serve coffee because a water main breaks. Boil water alert for a day? Try boil water alert for life.

And you know you should be grateful for the beautiful home you have because you’ve walked across the sewage filled alleys of a slum.

And there are so many without good jobs or who scrounge in dumps for their living, yet I complain about files and grading and planning and teaching.

Guilt and confusion. Because I know I’m in desperate need of perspective, but the stress doesn’t end. My kids keep fighting. The silence between Prince Charming and I can get so, so thick. And those jeans…

There are lives harder than mine. So. much. harder.

Perspective is needed. An awareness of the hurting hearts walking by us each day, reminds me sometimes I blow my pain out of proportion—out of the big blue sky. Sometimes I don’t. Because the pain is real.

Each struggle is an opportunity to grow. A chance to learn how to deal. One learned experience built on the foundation of another and another and another. I can look back and realize I’m stronger than I used to be. What breaks me today would have killed me a few years ago.

This helps me pull the log out of my judgmental eye. The one that mutters I can’t believe she’s whining about that… Because we all are on this walk but no one goes at the same pace.

No one goes at the same pace.

So. When the weight of your own world? When it falls heavy on your shoulders? When one more step would put you under?

Lean in. Press into Him.

Because when someone whispers next to you, and you want to hear what they say? Your only option in this world-weary moment is to get close, to lean in to the voice so quiet.

Why does our Jesus whisper? Why is His voice so still? So small?

Because He wants us to lean in. To draw close. To sink into the safety of His embrace. When we enter the space of the Holy One, His voice becomes clear. His words understood. His love felt. We worship a Jesus who wants us to know who He is and how he loves us. And Oh. How He loves us.

The more we sit close to the One who loves us without restraint, the more we see. We see with fresh perspective the hard days will plague our lives, but the God who sees is there too. And when we choose to draw near to Him? The struggles don’t go away. Wish they did. So much.

But when we lean into the Jesus-love standing right there, He is magnified. Better than our bad days. Stronger than our weak moments. Calmer than our chaotic schedules.

Why does He whisper? Because He knows we need Him. The only way to survive this life is to snuggle up into the arms of the One who loves no matter what. And if you find His voice drowned out by life’s clamor, press further in.

Press in. Lean in. Don’t stop until you hear His whisper. Do you hear it yet?

His voice, His message for your weary heart will always glow with…Beloved. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Posted in Beautiful Life, Relationship with God, Struggles | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Letting My Kids Fail

Spring of my eighth grade year. Cheerleading tryouts. I wasn’t athletic. My hand-eye coordination was iffy. And learning steps to a routine? Forget about it.

But I tried out anyway.

Looking back, I marvel at my confidence. I mean my rhythm has always been questionable. I’ll never forget performing the dance routine for the judges wondering why the girls in my group weren’t keeping time with the music like me.

I knew my name was going to show up on the roster. But it didn’t. I was cut. I tried. I failed.

I’m beyond blessed and super stoked to be named a new contributor for the Orlando Mom’s Blog. I’d love for you to click on over here to read the rest of today’s post. I feel it in my heart and down to my tippy toes…

 

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Because Motherhood isn’t Glamorous

Hey Momma.

I know. I know those tired eyes and that sleepy soul. I see the dirt smudges on your knees from crawling through the playground tunnel. I hear the sigh you didn’t heave after changing your second diaper in five minutes.My Newborn Son

I listen as you say, “No. Spiderman can’t bathe in the toilet” for the ten thousandth time. I watch the way your shoulders sag in the grocery store when the baby screams from her car seat, and the toddler wants to practice his diving skills off the back of the cart, and you just want to go home. But you can’t live on frozen pizza alone. Or can you?

I see you.

You bind imaginary wounds with superhero Band-Aids. You jam out to the Fresh Beat Band in the car on a late night errand—forgetting no kids are riding with you. You scrape sticky sweet syrup off the floor ten times this week, even though you can’t remember the last time you actually mopped. What’s the use?

You throw shoes across the kitchen when the scary preschooler screamed for 45 minutes about the sneakers he wasn’t going to wear and you threaten to take every last blessed one of his stinkin’ shoes to the dump. (Then you remember yourself and say you’ll take them to a little boy whose feet were bare…)

Because that’s what good moms do. Right?

You drive the same carpool route every day and you may or may not remember to brush your teeth before leaving the house. You forget to buckle up your toddler but that’s okay. She reminds you halfway out the driveway. You now all have whiplash.

You prevented a million potential trips to the ER today, yet your pinky toe will never be the same after catching it on the chair leg. Neither will your 5th grader after she hears a real ‘s’ word, that no longer resembles stupid, come out of your mouth.

Your The 5th grader’s homework is finally finished. The preschooler’s face is smashed nose-close to the tablet screen. Dinner that wasn’t mac-n-cheese hit the table. Baths are done. And the house is finally quiet.

You could read a book. Catch up on some shows. Take a hot bath. Or?

Sleep. You could just sleep.

And as you lay your head against the cool pillowcase, you wonder in the heavy silence, What am I even doing here? This is not what I imagined motherhood to be.

Because there’s no glamor in mothering. It’s not shiny and polished. It’s gritty and dirty. Selfless acts go unnoticed. Loneliness often seems your only friend.

You stare at the cover model moms in the checkout lane remembering your stained t-shirt, sweat pants and chipped toenails. The last shower you took? A distant memory. Yet that model…You forget she’s just glamor airbrushed in.

The sigh sinks into the depths of your mothering soul.

And you know.

There’s no award for still breathing and nursing and burping and diapering with only four hours of sleep in a 48-hour period. Medals of honor aren’t handed to those who’ve prayed through every test, sporting event, speech, recital, and every friend lost. Trophies don’t come for those who run the race of motherhood.

But Momma? That’s okay.

It’s important work, raising young souls. It’s our most important work.

Because…

Because we don’t know the future of the children we raise.

Billy Graham’s momma didn’t know she was raising the greatest evangelist our world has ever known. Nelson Mandela’s momma didn’t know she was bringing up peace for a nation. Mother Teresa’s momma didn’t know she was raising mercy with skin on.

My third grade teacher’s momma didn’t know she was loving a daughter that would teach me I was worthy. The mommas of my dearest friends didn’t know they were rearing children that understand what it means to carry a burden.

Motherhood is noble.

It doesn’t need glamour or glitz. Because it’s real. Because you are pouring into the cup of a child who will one day affect the lives of others. And when done well, when we scrape our knees bloody against the floor from our prayers, Mothering can change the world.

You, momma? You make a difference. You are changing this world one sleepless night at a time.

Do not be discouraged.

Do not be dismayed.

Your children need you.

They need you to teach them to be humans of compassion, of love, of empathy. They need you to teach them who Jesus is, not because you tell them, but because you show them. They need you.

This is the most important work you will ever do.

This mothering? This is your sacred calling.

Posted in Motherhood | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Because You Matter

It was ages ago. I was in the throws of a hellish middle school experience. A brushed-out perm, pink 80s glasses, and extra fluff around the middle don’t get a kid far at 13. It should also be said that being the no-filter-ADHD-please-like-me girl ushered me into the that kid status.

I spent afternoons laying on my bed, listening to Sinead O’Conner (probably not the smartest move for a depressed soul), staring up at the window above my headboard, watching the light dance through the blinds.

No one would miss me if I just ran away.

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That was the dialogue my head repeated over and over again as I trudged through the taunts and jeers of bullies in middle school. My mother’s horrified as she’s reading this. But she would also tell you a mother’s love can only go so far to ease the hurt of her children.

For years I’ve watched students on the outskirts. Students who walk into my classroom without ever looking in my eyes because they believe they’re not worth being truly seen—known. They believe they don’t matter.

And the classroom is only a microcosm of society. Because she walks into church dragging the weight of her mistakes with her shoulders hunched low, scraping against the backs of pews and sinners.

On the street corner he crouches, head bent against the scorching sun and grime-filled fingers hold a sign—Brother can you spare a dime?

Her children fight and fuss and scream down the grocery aisle while she clings to the cart by a thread wondering if there’s more to life than showerless days and adultless conversations.

In the office where gray walls bleed into reality, he tap, tap, taps the keyboard, staring into spreadsheet oblivion hoping he may just get to see the kids this weekend.

All of them with the same three words echoing through their thoughts.

I don’t matter.

It’s the cry of the human condition.

Painful words for someone who once believed them. Painful words for the one who believes them now.

We want to believe we are important—more than a simple number in time. We’re desperate to know our lives have purpose and meaning. When we realize there’s a reason for our birth, we can see reason for our days.

Insignificance. No bigger lie dwells in our souls. No bigger lie threatens the goodness of God more. Because we matter.

We. Matter.

We have value, not because of what we accomplish, but because we exist. We’re significant because we have breath. We have worth because our heart beats within our chest.

You’re important because on a planet with billions of people walking through their days, there is not a single one like you. Or like me. The master artist created His finest work when He created you.

The one thing that kept me home? The one reason I never ran away? The one reason my life found the light of Hope?

I knew Jesus.

If I never mattered to a single person on this planet, I mattered to Him.

That became enough.

And now? Because I have a purpose, because I matter? I have work to do. How can we heal the wounds of the outcasts? How can we bring healing to a culture that only allows a few to have a chance at significance?

By being brave. By being bold. By wrapping our arms around those only a few dare to love. By teaching our children to do the same.

Friends, we must look into the eyes of humanity and see people—really see them.

Every soul matters. Every. single. one. Christ proved it when he so loved the whole wide world from the splintered wood of the cross.

I want to stop seeing black and white, gay and straight, affluent and marginalized, Muslim and Christian, college educated and high school dropout. Instead? I want to open my eyes and see humans and love them. God’s finest artwork.

I want to stop seeing labels and start seeing souls.

Because every soul matters.

I’m in love with the God who sees us for who we really are—not for the names we’ve been called. I’m in love with the God who sees me. Who sees you. I’m in love with the God who adores His creation.

And if He were to write on walls today? Words He might want you to see?

People matter.

You matter.

Posted in Beautiful Life, Relationship with God, Struggles | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

When We Need to be Ready to Fight Giants

Do you ever wish you were someone else? The phrase I wish I was more like… floats through my thoughts. I pick at it. Hold it. Some days I clutch at the words, grasping to be someone I’m not.

I wish I could write like her. Or I looked like so-and-so. Or my house had an open floor plan like theirs. Or my kids were more compliant. So much time spent wishing. Wishing I was more. Wishing I was less. You fill in the blank. I do. All. the. time.

I’m not alone.

Over the last few days my students have colored on paper masks. One reason? High-schoolers still need the restoration only a crayon can bring. But their masks were also symbols. Symbols of the person they often try to hide.

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I instructed them to color and draw images that represented parts of their lives they were afraid to show. In essence? Their masks became who they really are.

Because we try to hide who we are.

Because we’d rather be someone we’re not.

Because comparison is a bitter pill we all try to swallow.

But can the sun compare itself to the moon? A flower to a steady stream? Day to night? Spring to Fall? A bird to a fish? We can never be someone we’re not.

Why do we try? In this life the flowers of humanity often try to be streams. And chaos ensues. Can you imagine if the sun decided to be the moon? Ridiculous. Yet, at times, we all attempt to be someone else.

When really? We should be ourselves. Right?

These are words we hear, but they aren’t words we know deep—where peace dwells.

There’s this story. In the Bible. You may have heard it a time or two. A scrawny teenage kid named David defeats a giant of a man named Goliath. One sling shot, five stones, and Goliath loses his last battle.

There may be a part of the story you don’t know. A few lines that cut my heart quick and deep. Words that have sunk in and are swirling around. These are the words I want to grab with white-tight knuckles, so I can rip the mask off forever.

Before David went in to battle the giant, Saul dressed the tiny shepherd boy in the king’s tunic and armor. David was under the weight of Saul’s clothing—Saul’s armor. The young, wiser-than-me David says this: “I can’t walk in these…I’m not used to them.”

Then he took off Saul’s armor.

Wait. What? Why would David want to take off Saul’s protective armor? It seems reasonable to me if I were facing a giant, I would want the heaviest suit of armor I could find. That way, not a single spear could penetrate.

David knew better.

David refused to be someone else. He faced the giant as only he could—he was himself. And if he hadn’t chosen to shed Saul’s heavy armor? Goliath would’ve quickly killed the weighed-down-with-armor shepherd boy.

His unwavering faith in God and unswerving choice to be who God created him to be brought sweet victory to David.

He defeated the giant.

When we try to cover ourselves with the weight of comparison? When we attempt to fight our giants as someone else? When we attempt to be someone other than who we are created to be? We will fail. And the giants in our lives will win.

The only way I will ever beat the Goliaths and the bullies in my life is when I am truly who my Creator fashioned me to be. I’ve been shaped and molded for my battles throughout life. I lose that shape when I compare and strive to be someone else.

But it’s so hard.

I still wear the masks and armor I think the world wants to see. Because if you don’t accept the mask, well, you aren’t really rejecting—me. But when I show you who I really am? I open myself up to the possible devastation of rejection.

But when I show you who I really am?

I get the chance to fulfill my purpose. My God-sized dreams. And those dreams? They can only be realized when I am truly myself. I get the chance to lose the striving and the stress that comes from trying to fit my diamond-shaped peg into an earthly round hole.

We are all diamonds with sparkles and slants that catch the light just right. When we attempt to change those different shaped edges we lose the ability to reflect the brilliant Light, leaving us dull and lifeless.

I’m the only me that will ever be.

You’re the only you.

Posted in Beautiful Life, Joy, Relationship with God | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

How to Love on Our Schools

The bell is poised to ring. The teacher breathes deep. Pencils sharpened to a perfect point and stacks of brilliant colored paper arranged in neat bins. Bulletin boards fresh and bottles of glue in tight little rows. Everything in just the right place.

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Waiting.

Waiting for eager voices to enter with nervous laughter. A new school year stands ready to begin. Be it public, charter, or private, our nation’s schools will open their doors to millions of this year.

Millions of hurting students. And millions of exhausted teachers.

The church has an opportunity.

Blessed to be over at LifeWay today. I’d love to have you click on over there to read more about the opportunity we have in our schools.

Posted in Teaching | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Lessons for the First Year Teacher

Dear New Teacher and Nervous Soul,

I know how you feel. Those butterflies turned evil in your stomach, tying knots? I’ve had them. Wondering if you’ve made the right decision. If you’re ready to face the responsibility. If you’ve got what it takes. I know those questions well.

But there’s excitement too. In there somewhere?

Clamoring voices will soon enter through your doors and a new life will begin. In so many ways your life will not be your own. Ever again. That’s the reality—and the beauty—of teaching.

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In coming days new colleagues will either encourage you or horrify you with their battlefield stories. You must choose the voices you ponder.

May I add my voice? I’m not the best teacher you will meet, and I’ve never been teacher of the year. But there are still words I want to whisper. Words I was desperate to hear. Do you mind if I lean in?

I’m excited you’ve chosen this profession. I know you’ve heard the snide remarks and seen the looks of pity cast your way. The warnings of hazards and pay and kids these days. But I’m thrilled you’ve ignored those voices.

Welcome. I’m so glad to have you.

College can never fully prepare you for the work of teaching—nothing could. But that’s okay. Experience can be life’s greatest professor if you’re willing to learn. Because mistakes will be made. The only redemption in a mistake is to learn from it.

Your school friends? They must always include your custodian and the school secretaries. Your degree doesn’t make you better than them—my favorite custodian for the last three years held a masters in teaching from his home country. You can’t do your job if the custodians and secretaries aren’t doing theirs. It takes a village. Be grateful for yours.

Don’t be afraid to break some rules. Bureaucracy will always exist, but you don’t have to bow to it. The best teacher is the one who does what’s best for the student. Just because your lesson plans and your government have an agenda, don’t miss the teachable moments. They don’t happen every day.

Be open to old ideas from teachers who’ve honed their craft. Wise educators that have paved rough roads will surround you. A great teacher is never dependent upon age. Seek out those teachers. Learn from them. I promise, they’re not hard to find.

Avoid bitterness—like the plague. Avoid where it harbors. Not every workroom is filled with its poison, but you will feel it quickly if it is. And then run. Don’t look back.

Your students will break your heart. There will be some you can’t reach. You will ache to touch their hurting places but their walls will be just too high. You will toss and turn in the night carrying their pain with you. It will sometimes seem too much to bear. But you will bear it because you may be the only one, for some students, that even tries.

Perfect your craft. Never stop learning how to be a better teacher. I’ve been doing this a while but there are days I feel like a novice, like a new babe only breathing her first gulp of air. The best teacher is also the best student.

Choose when you discipline wisely. There are battles worth fighting. But sometimes the cost is just too high. Your battle may be won while the relationship with your student is forever severed. Sometimes you don’t have a choice. Sometimes you do.

Though you may want to, you can’t demand respect. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not right. But if you ever want to reach your students, you must show them respect day after day after day. Even when they disrespect you. Only then will they trust. And the relationship you get in return? Beautiful.

You will never win a yelling match with a student. Ever. Screaming at any young heart always shreds—always leaves scars. Don’t leave scars. Your words can wound. Deeply. Forever.

You hold more power than you think.

Take time to listen to what your students aren’t saying. Their eyes tell stories. So do their actions. Do you have a student that needs to sleep in your class every day? Ask them why they’re so tired. The answer may surprise you—and haunt you.

You can make a difference. But if, and only if, you love your students. Look every one of your students in the eye, every day. Let them know you care. Tell them they are worth your time. Love them. Love them.

Love them.

This job? This profession? This calling? It’s worth it. Worth the time. Worth the cost. Worth the toil. Worth the heartache. Because there is joy in teaching. Joy in changing lives and witnessing a life reach toward a dream for the first time.

You are the champion of dreams. The compass leading confusion through the wilderness. The voice of today helping mold the voice of tomorrow. Yes. It’s worth it.

You’re ready. You’ve got what it takes.
Students need your guidance.
They’re waiting.
For you.

And for me. Because while I wrote this letter to you, it’s words need to ring in my head too. A reminder. Of all the things that matter in teaching.

Posted in Beautiful Life, Joy, Teaching | Tagged , | 31 Comments

Loving Real In Our Mess

It was slimy. Shallow water mixed with humid air. Tadpoles and minnows filled the tiny almost-creek that was more muck and yuck than clear water. Perfect for a four year old boy. For me too.

The Court Jester and I laughed and explored the small stream, stepping over rocks and picking up big sticks. Really, it was so narrow in most parts we could just leap across.

In no time at all, my Caleb-boy was ankle deep in water smiling big in my direction.

Soaked sneakers. Sopping socks. These were my first two thoughts. The car ride home was my third. But I realized—damage done. And nothing died. The water was gross, but he was unafraid of the mess.

That’s the thing about children. They unabashedly share their messy lives with the world. The littles of humanity smile at us with food-lined faces and mud-caked hands. They rush to our sides with paint-stained fingers, wiping rainbow colors on our sleeves.

Children share their mess with the world—fully allowing us to be in their world.

We were all children once. Sharing our mud pies and drippy-glue pictures with anyone who would look at them.

But then we grew up.

We grew up and someone told us our mess wasn’t good enough. We’re told don’t get dirty. Wipe your face. Fix your hair. Suck in your stomach. Cover those blemishes. Show only your beauty marks. Don’t share those sins.

Hide your mess.

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Be perfect. And love perfect. That is the message we hear.

With those voices shouting loudest, we’re left striving toward perfection. Pushing.  Struggling. Attempting to attain an ideal as a wife, a mother, a human. An ideal that only ever becomes whitewashed walls. Walls that can’t cover oily fingerprints and greasy smudges forever.

When we only allow others to see our cleanest, most kept-up parts, we alienate ourselves.  We close our hearts off. The mirror we hold up to the world is a reflection that bares no likeness to the truth.

We walk around looking into the perfect reflections of a world that doesn’t exist.

When we present perfection, humanity will believe Jesus can only love the perfect. But my Jesus came because we each are imperfect. We each have stains on our dusty souls.

When we keep the world from seeing our own mud-flung lives, we are distant reflections of Christ, failing to allow the dirt of the world touch the hems of our garments—failing to love the world He loves.

But it’s so hard to be real.

So I hide. Refusing to allow others into my mess. My dust and dirt. I close the door of my home and keep you out because you might see my failings, my flaws—my mess. Afraid to let my real life seep into the life I want you to see. Afraid trust you. Afraid you won’t love me.

We are made for more. More than fear.

The truth really can set us free.

We want to be loved for who we are. For people to love our true selves—our messy, dirt-ridden selves—we must be willing to share our mess. No one can love our mess if they don’t know our mess.

I spent the afternoon with two beautiful women who have embraced my mess. I sat across the table, warm coffee in my hands, sharing my struggles, my haunting thoughts. I revealed the most diseased parts of my life right now.

These two treasures didn’t try to clean me up.  While wisdom was shared, I felt the warm embrace of two friends who love me—dirt and all.  With them I am safe.

I want others to know they are safe with me. When I step forward, exposing my ugliness, others may discover their grime can be safe with me.

We must meet each other in the middle of our slimy, gross streams. We can’t fix the brokenness—only our Jesus can mend and heal and wash our dirt-stained lives.  But we can love. And what really matters in this life? That we love one another.

And I want to love you—the real you. Because you are beautiful. Your mess is part of the thread sewn into your beautiful life. To love me, to love you, is to love the messiness of our lives. Please don’t hide from me. I won’t hide from you.

Can we go play in the mud together?

Posted in Beautiful Life, Friendship, Relationship with God | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Grace for the Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed.

This word. I know it well.

Staring at the blank canvas of a computer screen, day after day. No words.

Dust bunnies dance under tables and in corners—taunting me.

Relationships I’m failing to invest in the way I should.

Wanting to do so much for others and doing nothing instead.

Insignificance trying to root into my soul.

A new school in August requiring work all summer to prepare.

Wondering if I’m enough for my children. Ever. I know the answer, yet I keep asking.

Feeling I’m never the wife my husband needs. He wouldn’t agree. But still…

And while this glimpse into my struggles is nothing compared to trials faced by other dear friends, I still feel overwhelmed.

But.

I’ve also been overwhelmed by grace. Not because life has been easy in these last months. No. But because life has been hard. Because life has overwhelmed.

And yet? Grace and blessings have been uncovered in unexpected places. Gifts given in poignant moments. Positions offered just as insignificance surfaces. My sweet, too-big baby boy falling asleep in my arms.

We only witness God’s grace when we thank, when we stop to breathe in the swirling and fragrant goodness of our days. There is always good—somewhere. We may have to scratch and dig and claw to find the beauty hidden deep, but it’s there.

Even if the only good is the good that comes from being in the hands of God. Tucked into His wide-enough grasp with His fingers touching our hurting places.

His grace is sufficient.

I know this is true. And I find this truth in the hands of the Potter.

I used to teach pottery wheel classes—connecting deep to the ideas of the molding and shaping of earth, mixed with water, mixed with stretching and pulling, mixed with the fire hardening. Ultimately creating art.

A dear friend reminded me today of the most important step in pottery. This friend who has known more pain than I dare to imagine. This friend who understands grace. This friend who reminded me of the kneading.DSC_0244DSC_0267DSC_0264DSC_1342DSC_1323DSC_1321

Before a lump of clay can be thrown on the potter’s wheel, the clay must be kneaded. The kneading requires strength and determination to work it again and again, pressing, pushing, forcing every little pocket of air out.

All other steps in pottery are useless if the kneading isn’t done with the proper care because when the vessel is put through the heat of the kiln, air pockets left will expand and destroy the piece—useless shards worth nothing.

I am grateful for the grace of kneading. While kneading, the lump of clay never leaves the potter’s hands. Ever.

In the kneading of my life, in the times I’m overwhelmed, in the struggles, I’m safe in the Potter’s hands. Drinking in the grace and knowledge that the destructive air pockets don’t stand a chance.

I never leave His hands. Ever. And that is enough. Enough to bring rest, to bring peace and comfort. Because knowing I am tucked securely into the strong hands of God leaves me needing nothing else.

In His hands I breathe.

God’s goodnesses and His graces are everywhere. In the small grateful moments of tenderness or in the deep kneading. In all the places we are overwhelmed.

I’m overwhelmed by grace because I’m overwhelmed.

Posted in Joy, Relationship with God, Struggles | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

The Importance of Meandering

Last summer I had a list. It was hand-written on scrap paper. Prince Charming and I took stock of the need-to’s and want-to’s around our home and then posted the list on that illustrious place of honor relegated to family masterpieces—the refrigerator.

It nagged me. All. Summer. Long.

By August I was guilt-ridden. Little had been done to complete the tasks I deemed must-do’s. I ended the summer feeling unaccomplished.

So these hot months? This year? I refuse to list. Period. Instead?

I choose to meander. To stroll through the summer and breathe in the moments, holding them tight in my chest. To ramble. To roam. To wander. To close my eyes and listen to crickets in the dark. To let go and run through the puddles after the rain.

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I don’t want to waste my summer.

Friends, I have files in piles around my house that have needed organization for over ten years. If our family has managed without that organization for this long? Well. I’m not wasting days of summer with my children to do it now. Nope.

Sure my grout in my tile hasn’t been cleaned since Ella was two. But in the last eight years the new color has kinda grown on me. So this summer? Using the latest Pinterest hack to accomplish grout cleaning? Not a chance. Instead?

I choose to meander.

Don’t worry. I haven’t left all responsibility behind. Clothes will be washed and meals, which may include a frozen pizza or two, will be prepared. Floors will be mopped and shelves dusted. But I want to live this summer feeling free to determine there are more important things in life than clean baseboards.

In recent weeks I have found myself attached to an excerpt from Tolken’s Lord of the Rings, “Not all those who wander are lost.” I’m allowing it to resonate. Simmer. While journeys across Middle Earth are not what I have in mind for my summer, walks with my children are.

To become the wanderer who lives in my soul, I’ve had to make choices. Hard choices. Like the one where I removed several apps from my phone that monopolize my time. Not because they’re evil. But because I have often chosen the apps over meandering, over my family, over my responsibilities.

Strangely, I don’t miss them.

I realized this summer I wanted to read. Not newsfeeds but books. Books which would challenge me—change me. I want to stop long enough to look into my husband’s eyes—deep and knowing.

With my children? I want to create random art projects. Play outside until after bedtime in the evenings. Eat Fro-yo dinners. Stay in our PJs all day. Watch movies late into the night.

I’m attempting to live unplanned and in-the-moment. I’ll be honest. It’s anything but easy. Guilt creeps in, pointing out all the things in my house that need care. When that happens? I’m learning to look past the things and see the humans in my home.

Prince Charming. My Princess and Court Jester. Me. We’re more important than spit-shined windows and never-ending lists.

To-do lists will never end. Summers with my children will.

Meandering restores something deep within my spirit. When I take the time to notice the small beauties of life, the significant nuances in a petal’s color, I am witnessing the very breath of God. Communing with Him.

In Him I find restoration.
In Him creativity is renewed.
In Him joy is profound.

I realize many people do not have the luxury of summers off, or any time off for that matter. But I’m learning there is always space in our lives for the meandering. Sometimes it simply happens. Other times we have to carve it into our days and the carving is always a removing of something.

I am learning to intentionally wander. If I’m not purposeful, I won’t stroll. If I don’t choose it, I’ll rush.  If I never try, I’ll miss beautiful opportunities this summer to make memories.

And the best memories are found in the slow meandering.

So this summer? I choose to meander.

Dear friends, I simply must tell you the super-fun, nature canvas art was inspired by the blogger Flower Patch Farmgirl. She’s amazing and if you haven’t ever, you should check her out! I. just. love. her.

Posted in Beautiful Life, Joy | Tagged , , | 4 Comments