Posted in Anxiety, grace, loving God with your mind, rest

Turn me off…

Life is unbelievably noisy. We live in a constant state of anxiety and go.

This morning, as my brain and heart raced on the road to nowhere, I declared “I’ve had it.” Done. Ever feel that way? As a mom, wife, business owner, and responsible human being I cannot just declare “done,” but it signals I need a new way of being for the day.

So, I turned everything off.

TV background noise–off

music–off

podcasts–off

Social media scroll–off

I put the laundry away in silence. I started packing for spring break in silence. It felt weird, and then it felt glorious as I began to own my thoughts. They were less abrasive, less urgent, less threatening, and less out of control.

As an Enneagram 7, I am learning that my tendency is the seek the next thing to fill my thoughts and hands to distract me from the pain that bubbles up in my heart. I am realizing the most brave and holy thing is to create the silence, to calm the noise so I can fully respond to God in joy and pain. It feels counterintuitive to my flesh, and I begin the process like a toddler screaming in the middle of Target. However, if I don’t turn it off consistently, I destroy myself and others around me. With quiet, I remember that most things are not urgent, that I am not failing as badly as I think, and that there is great beauty in simplicity. It is here my soul detoxes, and I am reminded that my true source is God.

What about you? What do you to do to turn off the assault of life and information? What do you tend to do with your painful places?

I encourage you today to be brave enough to turn the noise down and listen to what is really there, and share it with a friend.

Posted in discipline, eternal things, God's sovereignty and goodness, infertility, prayer, rest, spiritual growth, suffering in joy, thankfulness, transformation by truth, trusting God

Hope In One Thing

We use the word “hope” often.  I hope my child grows to love Jesus.  I hope my husband experiences healing here with his rheumatoid arthritis.  I hope that you have a good day.  I hope you enjoy the holiday season.  I hope that I live fully to glorify Christ.

The only place to put my hope “IN” is God–Jesus–the Holy Spirit.  Where does my help come from?–from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and earth.  If my husband suffers the rest of this life from RA (and thus, I feel that suffering) and my child rebels and never knows Jesus and I see unspeakable tragedy–My hope is still to be found IN God.  He is the only stabliizer, the only True One.  “The grass withers and the flowers fade but the word of our God stands forever.”

It’s totally okay to hope for things…but our only hope “In” can be found in Christ.  Everything else fails and fades and disappoints.  He IS MY ROCK AND MY HOPE.

Posted in community, discipleship, rest, spiritual growth, The body of Christ

Layers

         It seems that everytime I post something I am learning or convicted with, the week following gives another chance to learn even more.  The last post was about need–and I have been driven to even more need this week.  Physically I have been in need from the way I feel on hormones.  Emotionally I have been in need as I see friends and family members grieving over loss.  Spiritually I have been in deep need as I pray for discernment in leadership with WDC.    The physical, emotional and spiritual needs have drained me mentally. 

        All of this to say, there are always deeper layers to our need.  We understand we are in need, and we feel that we then have that concept under control.  The Lord continues to show us that our need is eternal for Him. 

        We are made to need, and it is so good for us to need Him.  He is our source.  I do not think we grasp the beauty of Him being our source–that we never get to the bottom of Him.  When we need, we are always looking for the end.  For example, “when this is over…when I feel normal again…when the pain ends…when I have control again.”  He says, ” I Am–I am the it, Jennifer.  I am the answer–I am all you need.”  My flesh tells me what I need is resolution.  He tells me all I need is Him. 

         He even ordered our week and commanded our time to see this need and be refreshed in Him.  The Sabbath is time to be with Him, enjoy Him, rest in Him, be filled in Him.  The Sabbath need is continual–not something we get through to go on with our lives. 

        He tells us in His word that we need others who are filled in Him.  The picture we are given of a body that is one and connected yet each part serving different functions is a picture of our need for one another with Christ as the Head. 

       I get SO frustrated with the thought from others that they can do the Christian walk alone.  IT.  IS.  NOT.  POSSIBLE.  We were not created in that way.  We cannot function in that way.  We kill ourselves in trying to live that way. 

       For those of you who know me, you know I spend my time pouring into young women in disciple-making relationships.  I know this is an important aspect of their growth.  Do you know what is blaringly obvious to me?  If they do not have deep friendships with those who are in Christ calling out the places in them to follow Him deeper, it is practically pointless for them to be in relationship with me.  Why?  Because we NEED the body–we are fickle and weak and adulterous–and we need to be spurred on continually to truth and love and good deeds.  That doesn’t happen when those all around us are “conforming to the pattern of this world.”  We need others to spur us on to “renew our minds” in His presence and truth.  We need to be integrally  involved in a church that lifts the truth that we need Him.  We need to serve others and learn to be served as we carry one anothers burdens.  We cannot do marriage or family or singleness or business or pleasure alone.  We need Him and we need those who are in Him in order to make His name known and spread His love in the world. 

       What would I have done in the past several years without dear friends in Christ lifting me up in prayer, sharing scripture with me, calling out places in me?  I would not have survived and thrived in growth.  God gives those beautiful gifts of others to show a fuller picture to me of His love.  He uses me in the same way to show His love–not for my glory, but for His. 

       I am learning that in our need, it takes effort to follow Him.  It takes effort to create friendships and be vulnerable.  It takes effort to study His word and set aside time for prayer.  It takes effort to serve others in order that they might know Him more.  That effort is not in vain–the fruit of it is exponentially multiplied by the Spirit in the growth that occurs.  There is a sense of living in Him as we were created to live–functioning as a body as we were created to be.  It is good, but it is not easy.  We are not promised ease, but we are promised rest in Him.

Posted in God's sovereignty and goodness, infertility, rest, trusting God

Triple day

So, three posts in one day? You can tell I have not had internet access on my computer for awhile! I have run into people lately who have noticed that I have been infrequent with blogging.
Just a quick update on where I am…In the same place! We are taking a little break from the decision-making phase of fertility. I hit a wall of exhaustion where I could not process anymore, so Here I am–waiting.
I have tried to be more guarded with my time and give more grace to myself to rest. I have to remind myself of this every week, and I am not really whipping this goal like I would like to! However, I know waiting and resting in Him is what I am called to do for the moment.
My 35th birthday is a little over a month away, and I can say that I am NOT looking forward to this milestone with all the baggage I am carrying right now. There are many things that I would have imagined to come at 35, but life with no children and no direction on that front would not be one of them. I thought I might just skip it–ignore reality! However, I had a very gracious reminder from a dear friend the other day of all the fruit I had gained to this point. I would have NEVER learned to treasure Christ and look to Him as my all in all hope without this season of infertility. My prayer is that I CHOOSE to be thankful for this gift that He has given me. I would not have gotten to this growth in my heart to seek His kingdom first without His directive–I would never choose those depths on my own. I pray that whatever this next year or five may bring, that I may not lose sight of Him, my treasure.
I am painting more, cleaning more, encouraging young women more, and waiting some more–there be my life in a nutshell!

Posted in authenticity, healing, infertility, learning boundaries, rest

What do I entitle this?

It has been a while since I have written. There’s so much to tell yet so little. Part of me wants to pull back all the way from blogging because I have put a vulnerable part of myself out there, and I have found myself feeling responsible to walk this infertility journey out perfectly. Performance…it still plagues me. This year, I have learned so much more about the depths of the gospel and grace, and yet, in the most intimate area of my life, I still seek to perform for God and others. Wow. This again shows my need to rest in Christ’s righteousness.
Nothing has changed on the fertility front except for the shutdown of all emotions and then the eruption of anger. I long to grieve, yet I am afraid of it. I do not want to be a whiny person who talks about it all the time and feasts on her tears. But I need to cry with tears–lots of them that have not come. So, we are taking a break from even talking about the future of children. I cannot make one more decision right now about the whole process–period. So, after wise counsel, we are taking several months of reprieve. The whole process of infertility is exhausting and messy and uncontrollable. It is a beast that I have sought to respond in the best way to, but I am exhausted. After some more wise counsel, I have pulled back from some of my public responsibilities in order to create space to process and grieve (curbing the performance). This life is a marathon and infertility can cause you to run sprint after sprint after sprint to where all your reserves are gone. So, I am taking some time to regroup in training for the marathon.
On my pantry (which is covered in chalk board paint), I have a reminder for this season.

“He does not grow faint or weary; His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who WAIT for the LORD shall renew their strength…” Isaiah 40:28-31

I do not know what this journey will look like. Truthfully, I do not want to have to experience it. I would rather be numb and busy myself up! But, that is not the way of the Father. He has distinct purposes in this time…in this season. I do not necessarily understand them, but He is immortal invisible God only wise and I’m not. Margin has been created to experience the grief, and I am hopeful for restoration in Him. If I do not deal now, well, much more damage will be done. My father’s sickness and death, Greg’s rheumatoid arthritis and the change that has come with that, the ringer of infertility, starting and running a non-profit ministry–all of those within the last five years (mostly the last two). God is showing me I am not superhuman. I am in need, weak and His beloved daughter. May He be glorified in my weakness. I pray He be glorified in yours, too.

Posted in Anxiety, God's sovereignty and goodness, God's word, grace, rest, transformation by truth, trusting God

Give us this day…

These last few weeks and the coming one can qualify for some of the craziest I have experienced of late. All good things…just a lot of busyness in preparation for my niece’s wedding, welcoming my nephew home from semester at sea, running the business side of WDC, running the ministry side of WDC, celebrating the end of college careers for many close family members and those I have been in disciple-making relationships with, and then the regular responsibilities of life. I feel like the proverbial chicken with her head cut off…
Last week I got some time to “be with” God. I purposefully was not rushing off to the next appointment or writing my to do list. I actually took time to remember the gospel and what Jesus means to life. I remembered that he is there when I am weak and weary and heavy laden, and he promises rest and is humble and lowly in heart. I was reminded in scripture that we are to come as little children. The notes in my new ESV study Bible (which I love) said children show a childlike trust, a vulnerability, a dependency in everything knowing they cannot provide for themselves. Gulp. Oh the sweetness of being reminded that I am to be completely vulnerable and dependent upon him as a child. Oh the freedom of that. Oh the reminder that he gives us to not worry about tomorrow (a child does not), to ask for the needs of the day (a child does that in trust).
Another reminder was given to me yesterday as I read and studied in the hammock (a Sabbath tradition that I have not partaken of in a while).

Lamentations 3:22-24
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
The LORD is my portion, says my soul,
therefore I will hope in him.

He is faithful beyond belief (especially beyond my belief). He is even faithful to gently remind me in his word that every morning starts with new mercy, new strength from him. In verse 25 he says “The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” Matthew 6:33 says “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and these things will be added unto you as well.”
I stopped and recognized him instead of continuing to run around in my own self-absorption. I have to be reminded of that everyday. Life in Christ is much more simple than we try to make it…we let ourselves get engulfed by the noise of this world…internet, tv, social media outlets (facebook), busyness, task, productivity. Last week, I felt pulled in every direction…people asking me thousands of questions (it seemed), the more I checked email, facebook, blog, voicemail, texts, the more I had to respond. I was reminded of a Geoff Moore song from the early 90’s–

Simple heart beat in me until I can see a simple heart will set me free
to let extraordinary things flow through this heart of simplicity.

I took a break from Facebook. I knew I needed to simplify my schedule for this week. I cannot be all things to all people, but I know the one who is all that I need (all that we need). My prayer is to approach him as a little child in need, vulnerability, complete trust and with an eye for his glory. My prayer is to seek him first and wait upon him. He is my Daddy, my hope. May this week, even in craziness, glorify him, his purposes, his name. May I be with friends, family, strangers, new friends and have that childlike heart that loves and makes him known.

Posted in prayer, random thoughts, rest, Rheumatoid Arthritis, scripture memory, thankfulness, Uncategorized

An update

       I sit here on a rainy Saturday afternoon in my pajamas listening to the wonderful music of my dog, Bailey, playing “devil box” in the backyard.  The new wood fence is up, and I can enjoy an afternoon of Bailey playing and not escaping.  I cannot tell you the last time I have had that joy.

      The last few weeks have been particularly exhausting–not bad, but exhausting.  Greg had bursitis in his elbow that had a huge infection and made it necessary to not take his Humira (Rheumatoid Arthritis meds).  This past week has been really hard on him, and in consequence has been hard on me as I help to care for and encourage him.  He is not able to do as much to help physically.  This is just part of life for him, and, in turn, for me.  

      My usual schedule has been off (packed full), so my housekeeping, cooking, etc has been off.  Greg had the first 3 nights of this week away, and I had two of them away, so I had toast for dinner several nights:).  I also added several new young women to meet with weekly.  Greg’s good friends from college, Todd and Brian, are in town this weekend, and it has been great to hear him laugh and be silly with them in their banter.  Friends that stand the test of time are such a gift.  

     All of these things are a part of the life of which I am extremely grateful.  I am grateful for the beauty of pouring into others with the hope of the gospel.  I am grateful for the quality of relationships we have in our lives–the opportunity to be “with” people and give our lives away.  However, this afternoon, I am really grateful for my soft pajamas, the computer, warm blankets, my gracious husband, and my crazy dog.  It is time for some rest.

     The lack of blogging lately has come from the exhaustion of the mind.  I have been “present” with so many in the real world that I have not connected with the cyber one!  

      I got the opportunity to study for several hours yesterday on how Jesus and the new testament writers prayed for others.  It was such a blessing.  Reminders poured forth to remember my brothers and sisters in thanksgiving to God and to constantly pray for them.  The prayers about others were also steeped in the truth and the gospel for the strengthening and fruit in Christ.  I pray that today for you who follow this blog.  I am thankful for you–for the exact arenas God has placed you for his specific purposes.  I pray that God point you to Christ here and strengthen you to endure and serve in the hope of Christ.  I pray that your hope be in NOTHING other than his truth and the grace and love that come in Him–not your family or looks or job or finances or status or anything.  

‘But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish in order that I might gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes from faith, the righteousness of God that depends on faith.’  Phil 3:7-9

      It is no mistake that these are the verses we have been memorizing this week.  His word is so rich, and the Spirit teaches us faithfully as we cling to it.