d19641f54b52ee1ace5c968d93f2e183

Purpose Amidst Imperfection 

Nestled amidst the sunrise of a fresh week and all the promise it holds is an ever faithful reminder of my inadequacy. I am presently, but peacefully aware that I got more wrong than right last week, and that will surely be my truth this week as well.

My keen sense of insufficiency poses a different purpose for me now, though. Growing in grace teaches me that it is no longer about striving for perfection only to be frustrated, but seeking purpose amidst my imperfection only to be furthered.

 It is an incongruent truth that on the other side of our failures is an intention designed for our prosperity. 

Understanding that falling down is not a shameful thing, but a sacred tool is the genesis of praise. Praise opens the door and welcomes gratitude right into our hearts.

When gratitude is our guest, we see through all the heavy right into the heart of the holy, and joy becomes a source of our strength. 

This week, friend, I pray you have eyes to see and ears to hear all the beauty that your brokenness beholds, and your heart will sing, it is good and it is well with my soul.
You are loved.❤️

d19641f54b52ee1ace5c968d93f2e183

Show Us Your Glory, Lord

As I was walking to the beach in hopes of catching a beautiful sunrise about an hour ago, I was singing these words from a song, show us, show us your glory, Lord. God showed off for me as He often does! This photograph, (totally raw and unedited), is evidence that every new ending and every new beginning, although sometimes painful, beholds great beauty. Be encouraged, dear friend. If you are confronting a difficult transition from old to new, there are better days ahead. Forgetting is often impossible, but choosing where to focus our attention and perspective is not. Tim Keller says everything given was necessary and everything withheld was not. The former things, realized and unrealized, have fashioned a wide portion of the person you are. Purpose is a predecessor of praise. Pursue the purpose in every ending and beginning knowing that grief and gratitude co-mingle in this life and peace, joy and hope within you will reside. Lord, help us remember your work never needs editing, even when we think it does! You are loved, friend! ❤️

img_0398

Temporarily Stalled Stories

Seemingly open doors that fold on seasons of prayer are difficult. Sometimes it feels like we are marching to the beat of a stagnant song forever in waiting.

I am so grateful to be at a place in my life where I can confidently rejoice in the folding of opportunities because I know that each canceled plan is leading me closer to the perfect time and place engraved in the palm of my Savior’s hand.

What are you waiting for today, friend? Pauses hold great purpose in The Painter’s picture.

Futility and faith do not dance in The Teacher’s plan. 

Hold on to the hope that you are being honed for a time that is perfect and predestined by a Soverign God who wants your temporarily stalled story to be used for His glory.

d19641f54b52ee1ace5c968d93f2e183

Are You Running a Marathon or a Sprint

Psalm 66:16 says, come and listen all you who fear God, and I will tell you all He did for me.
We need to be encouraging one another with our experiences with The Lord and with His word.  The beauty of God’s word is how it imprints our hearts and ministers to us in our times of need. 
The truth is, whether we are running life as a marathon, renewing and committing ourselves to God daily or running as a sprint under our authority and sufficiency; both are challenging.    What the first gives us that the latter does not is perseverance and the ability to reflect the character of our Savior not the chaos of our situations.  We can fall in all the pot holes along the race, only to rise, dust ourselves off and keep running. 

When we are right with God, the circumstances and conditions of our race do not define us, but they depict Who lives inside of us.  I would much rather be eternally equipped for the marathon of life, than dependent on myself or someone other than Jesus, to run this race with me. 

When I fail to present myself consistently before The Father, renewing my mind daily, life gets messier than usual.  

Are you pacing yourself for the marathon or sprinting towards the next check off the list?  I often need to remembered , repent and rest.

d19641f54b52ee1ace5c968d93f2e183

Yesterday I Put Myself Down

1cb4c5290e3e370b1cb822cd5ec03122Yesterday I put myself down.

I put myself down to a friend; a new friend that I had not even known five minutes.  She was kind enough to speak truth back to me.  You see the thing about light is; I am really good at speaking it into other people’s lives but not always my own!

I put myself down yesterday, not even an hour after I wrote these words; ‘To believe we are anything less than His beloved is to deny the work Jesus finished on the cross. I do not want to do that, but I do every day when I feel or say I am not enough.’

Yesterday with my new friend my flawed theology confronted me.  I walked to my car, and my head was hanging.  The mind missiles started to fly to the roar of something like this; “What kind of person tells everyone else to believe they are enough but cannot believe it about herself?”  “You should be ashamed!”  And I was, ashamed.

By the time I got to my car, I knew I had to go to The Lord and repent.  I didn’t need just to repent for what I said, but also for my unbelief.  I am very grateful I put myself down yesterday because The Holy Spirit used the circumstance to convict my heart, and it was a successful conviction.

Many times I have to go through an experience to have a conversion.

It is in the midst of deep exposure that I evolve.  Praise God He does not leave me where I am.  His instruction usually stings, but purpose is always a product of pain if I have the proper perspective.

So, today, as I have been meeting the demands set before me, I have been intentionally practicing my status as a beloved daughter of The King.  I repented there in my car yesterday for my unbelief, now the battle is in the fight to believe and rest in my identity as His.

Thank you, Jesus, for loving a ragamuffin like me!  Where are you not believing you are enough, friends?  Will you ask The Lord to show you if it is not already clear?  Lets fight to believe together!  Proverbs 27:17~ As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

d19641f54b52ee1ace5c968d93f2e183

From Our Struggles We Find Our Strength

It was June, the summer of 2005.  We were preparing to move from Hoover, Alabama to Vestavia Hills, Alabama.  Carter, my son,  was six and Macey, my daughter,  four.  This particular week, the kids and I were participating in Vacation Bible School.  I made a deal with them that if they learned our new address and phone number by the end of the week, on Friday after VBS we would get ice cream.  Every morning on the way to church and every afternoon on the way home we practiced in the car over and over again.

Friday morning came and along our drive I asked Macey, “what is our new phone number going to be?”  She answered with ease and efficiency.  Then I asked Carter, “what is our new address going to be?”  He too answered correctly and promptly.  A silence fell over the car until a little voice piped up from the backseat.  In the most curious of tones, Carter asked, “Hey mom, I was just wondering, what our new last name is going to be?”  After I caught my breath from laughing so hard, I explained that there are some things we are born into, and they never change because they were given to us.  I am not sure my answer made sense to him, but it seemed to satisfy his curiosity at the moment.

We have had to ponder a similar question a lot together over the past two years.  His life was changed forever two years ago today, July 28, 2014 due to a traumatic brain injury.  All of our lives were changed.  Despite all the redirections, again I can tell Carter, some things will never change because they were given to us.  The One we did not earn that was given to us for free will never change.  Although our physical locations may change, and we change, our identity as a child of God will never change.

The moment we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are adopted into the family of God.  Our identity, as his beloved son, or beloved daughter can not be altered by circumstances.  He delights in us on our best days, and just as much on our worst days.  No amount of good works or model behavior can earn us His love.  They were imparted to us when we chose to believe.

Ephesians 2:8-10 ~God saved you by his grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

What a gift we have in Jesus.  I cannot even fully comprehend the depth of His sacrifice. He has been a faithful friend to us through the hardest of times.

It is not because we have Him that our lives are easy. It is because we have Him that our lives are changed for the better.  He brings purpose to our pain and consistency to circumstances that continually change.

Last night I was replaying the last two years in my head.  I never knew looking back on my past tears would bring so much abundance to my present years. Situations that seemed like the hardest of times were in many ways the sweetest of times in retrospect.

Suffering is the soil most fertile for growth and change is often God’s conduit for the cultivation of hearts. We can joyfully and fully embrace our struggles because we later find we have walked out of them having found our greatest strengths.  

We are all still works in progress in our family.  It is a cradle to the grave process, but we can rest in the assurance that it is as it should be.  Thank you Jesus for loving us in all our brokenness.  Remind us everyday to rest in what was given to us and will never change-You.  We love You Lord Jesus.

d19641f54b52ee1ace5c968d93f2e183

A Beautiful Story

Her successes humbled her; she softly accepted them with gratitude.  Her wounds filled her heart with compassion, and she knew though painful, they would mature into wisdom that she would rely on to comfort others.  Both together wrote her story; the story she drew from to minister to others with gentleness and grace.  You, my dear, are a beautiful story with pages full of pleasure and pain that have formed your unique and eternal purpose.

d19641f54b52ee1ace5c968d93f2e183

A Love to 2015

fade45bbf4ee8609280341b91f41775d

As the hours of another year fade, I am thinking about the things, the hard ones, that I would have never chosen in 2015, but they chose me.   They brought much grief but were always accompanied by gratitude.

Our years are made of days, some ordinary and some extraordinary.   Those days, the ordinary and the extraordinary, occasionally conquer but also create us.   They sometimes shatter us but subsequently sharpen us.   We experience triumphs, and we endure tragedies.   Some days break us only to build us. Days can be messy but NOT without meaning.   Refinement and restoration marry well with an available heart.

The self-reliant use tallies of good and bad days to calculate the success of their year.   It is perspective and the pursuit of meaning and quality of growth amidst days, broken and beautiful, that the surrendered use to measure theirs.   May I always evaluate my years from a position of obedience to the word, not obtainments of the world.

This year has felt like another year of wandering in the Psalms for me.   I have been desperate, and I have been dependent.   I have lamented, and I have praised.   The year cultivated both difficult and defining memories. It was pretty, and it was painful.   I have learned that all years are as long as we are living under the sun.

2015 was a reminder that the goal of life is not happiness because it is not happiness that brokers comfortable homes; but joy outside of circumstances found in a Savior that breeds content hearts.
I am reflecting on all the fragments of the past year, the brutal and the beautiful, and placing them within the context of Romans 8:28 today. ~And we know that God causes everything to work for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

I can find meaning in much of the messiness, but there are other situations; however, I am still waiting.   I am aware as Deuteronomy 29:29 tells me, I may never understand.   Some things are only to be known by The Lord.   Many circumstances are unfair. I am tempted to wonder how God could be working right from something seemingly so wrong?   It is here that I must exercise unreasonable faith, not in circumstances I see but in a creator, I trust.   I am slow to submit daily my exclusory perspective to God’s eternal plan.   It is here, in the stuck places, I have to put away all the “whys” and rest in Who.   I do not say this lightly because this is a difficult assignment, but we are not called to an assurance of facts, but an acceptance of our Father.

We can view life through skeptical-glasses or Savior-glasses.   It is a choice and a very crucial one. 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011… They all had obstacles that shook and shaped me; not to my final destination but towards my desired direction.   It has been those dreaded moments, the broken ones, that have rendered the sweetest fruit. So while some are saying so long 2015, I cannot wait to forget you; I am saying may I always remember you.

Meaning is often disguised within the parameters of messy.   Jesus was born in the most unclean of environments.   Isn’t it beautiful how the sloppiest of circumstances can become sacred.   Jesus was crucified and suffered a painful death with the intent to secure the salvation of a sinner like me.   It is no wonder that pain is piercing, but priceless because our eternity was founded on that principal.

Thank you 2015 for all the opportunities you provided God to prune and protect me.   Thank you for all the sorrow that stretched me.   Growth is most fertile when planted in the soil of grief.   Thank you for the tears of pain and the tears of joy.   Thank you for the portraits of beauty and the scribbles of brokenness. Mostly 2015, thank you for transporting me deeper into a relationship with my Savior.

Welcome, 2016.   I know your terrain will be one indigenous of peaks and valleys.   I also know it is my triumphs over your tribulations that are for my growth and God’s glory.   May I be a good steward of all you behold, the pleasant and the unpleasant.   This year, nor any ahead, as I have finally learned, will I evaluate by happiness or success, but holiness and stewardship of the shattered and the shiny moments that meet me down roads I do not yet know I will travel.   What a blessing to enter a new year given the grace to understand that!

Happy New Year to all. May you be rich enough to embrace prosperity and rattled enough to experience your Savior.   Holiest of New Years, friends.

359519a96fcbb0dc74d1186c3f6fe9c1

Broken Places are Where The Light Shines Through

359519a96fcbb0dc74d1186c3f6fe9c1

The truth is in one way or another, everyone is defined by their wounds, but not everyone is dictated by them.   The importance is, do they refine you or undermine you?  Pain can be poised for abundant goodness, by the avenue we choose to unpack, process and purpose it.   No dirt road was ever singularly traveled.   Don’t be shackled by your story.  Define the fruit of its fire and set it free to sacredly chisel you, and sweetly comfort a friend.   It is from that which we cannot control or wrestle in our sturdiness that we find the true Source of our strength.   2 Corinthians 1:4~ He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.  When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.   2 Corinthians 12:9~ Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”   Be encouraged friends.   Broken places are where the light shines through.