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The Girl Who Knew Best

Somewhere along the way, I become a Martha. Do you know what I mean? There's this story in the Bible. It's the story about how Jesus speaks into the lives of two women who are desperate for meaning and peace. It goes like this: Jesus is traveling around town, preaching and teaching and healing folks and Martha, (whose family is already good friends with Jesus and greatly loved by Him) invites Him over to her house. Which amazes me because I rarely invite anyone over to my house unless I'm good and prepared. She must have been good and prepared. The dishes were probably washed and the floor was swept and the windows were wiped down and the toilet was scrubbed. When I do finally have someone over to the house, I'm usually scrubbing the toilet RIGHT as they are walking in the door. [...]

Thoughts on Eight Years of Motherhood

One day, I had this baby. He was just a little thing with a whole lot of hair and a round face. I was nervous. I was scared to death in the middle of the night at that hospital, while my baby slept in the bassinet beside me because I had never been a momma. And now here I was, completely responsible for this intricately formed, tiny human being. But the music played on the CD that I had brought and in the night I cried through my fears and into God's comfort, "God of all I am, You are the Great I AM, holding all the world inside Your hands. Maker of all I see, Your love has captured me, More than all the grains of sand that fill the sea, You think of me."  (from the Praise Baby Collection) Deep down, I had mostly always wanted to be a momma. I had played it a thousand time[...]

When I Look Into Her Eyes

When I look into her eyes, I feel at home. My soul and all my inner angst calms down. I feel at peace. And I wonder for a little while, like, I just sit there on the couch holding her in front of me, gazing into her bright eyes, and I wonder, quietly, what it must be like to peer into the eyes of Jesus. Because when I look into my baby's eyes, I am looking into the eyes of someone who has never done anything wrong. And Jesus never did anything wrong. He was absolutely pure, through and through. Innocent. Good, in the most perfect sense of the word. Delightful. Like, my baby. I ponder that for a while and I let it settle in. Innocence. Purity. Goodness. Beauty. And when I'm thinking about these things, I tell you, my soul calms and I breathe slower and deeper[...]

On How I'm Learning to Be Steady in an Unsteady World

When I was in college, I remember sitting alone in the old A-frame "BSU" building. (BSU stood for Baptist Student Union. I don't know that any of us were consciously baptists. That's just what they called it.) Anyhoo. I was sitting there waiting to meet with the BSU director because, if I remember correctly, I was on a worship team, and so the director thought it would be a good idea to meet with the ones in positions of leadership, to make sure our souls were doing well. And I must clarify--I wasn't a worship leader, myself. I mostly just played guitar and sang a bit out of tune, but they were desperate for help, so I thought it would be "cool" to join in. By the way, I think that was the last time I actually felt cool, when I was carrying my guitar around campus. Now, I occasio[...]

An Unsappy Post about Love

Love is good. My friend (who happens to be the most loving person I know) told me once, “No one ever runs away from arms open wide. They run toward them.” This particular friend’s love has healed me on more than one occasion.  This is my life’s journey—to be the most loving person I can become. I want to be an unconditional love that heals like that. But, love is hard. It’s not what you thought it was going to be. You thought it was going to be like the movies. You thought it was going to be passionate. And romantic, always. You thought there would always be ardent desire. You didn’t know there would be morning breath. Or jeans left on the floor after you just picked up. Or dishes left in the sink, when they could have just as easily been stacked in the dishwasher. You didn’t[...]

Bubby and the Pickle

Back when I was a new momma, I used to blog funny little stories of my kids.  "Bubby" is nearly eight years old now, and he informed us a few years ago that we can stop calling him "Bubby" already. Sheesh. But anyways, here's an adventure from back when he was just a little punk. Enjoy! Hey Momma! What's that you got up there? Smells kinda funny. But, it must be good the way you're gnawin' on that thing. I could use a snack. It's been a whole ten minutes since I ate last and I'm famished. Hand that thing over. Wait! What the wing-nut is THIS? (Thump, thump) And why is it the consistency of fermented rubber? (Smack, smack.) What'd you do? Leave it out on the counter for weeks? This reminds of the time I got lost in Dad's shoe pile. I'd r[...]

A Prayer for My Friends

Hi, my friends. I was thinking about you today. And I was thinking about how I want this space to be a shepherding place. A place where you can come and have your heart tended to. I figure the world has knocked you around a bit. I know it has me. And so I just wanted to nourish you the way Jesus (and my community of friends) have nourished me. So, I'm praying this prayer for you today. Just rest and let me pray this over you, okay? And if there's ever anything you'd want me to write about, or a place in your heart where you feel stuck and need tending to, let me know and I'll ask God for some words for you to put here. You can always email me here: surprisedbyhope@yahoo.com A Prayer at the Beginning of the Week (For My Friends) God, Maker of afternoon light, Thank You for [...]

A Sunday Contemplation: How Church is Healing Me

I love my church. It's like medicine for my soul. I get bruised up a lot during the week. I go to church to heal. Maybe you wouldn't know I was healing if you looked over at me. Because usually I'm crying. But, crying is the way I heal. It's this great, frustratingly necessary release. It's funny though because it's really hard for us to get to church. At least, it's hard for us to get to church at a reasonable time. Brent and I had a spat about this on the way to church. Which means that we got to church but we arrived there frowning and ready to cuss. We've learned by now just to go there anyways. And we're learning that we don't have to pretend like everything is okay once we get there. But usually just seeing our other struggling-along friends that somehow managed to make it the[...]

How to Navigate through a Hard World, or a Hurting Day

It's hard to know how to navigate through a world pocked full of hurts and fears. There is so much light and goodness here, but it isn't long, as we stumble through the day, before we rub up against the edges of sharp pain or press through a curtain of what feels like such thick darkness. We read the news. We get a startling phone call from a friend. Someone close to us deeply disappoints or is diagnosed. We despair. Meanwhile God dares to be alive and close by in a world that clambers with terrible situations. But, sometimes it's hard to see Him. It's hard to find Him. We grope around in the dark. We reach out for His hand. We call out His Name. And then we have to practice our faith. Child-like belief that a good God really is here. Emmanuel. With us. SomeOne really is r[...]

When You Want To Enter the New Year With a Quiet, Peaceful Heart

It matters what we do with a year. Let me back up. It matters what we do with our days. With our hours, our little ordinary moments here and there. It matters how we spend them. What we fill them up with. And I don't mean to instill any frantic feelings in us. I've had enough of those. I don't want us to scramble around and try so hard to impact the world and succeed at life, with a frenetic, worried, angsty kind of energy. I know that all too well. It doesn't bring a lick of peace. Just like that ancient prayer writer once wrote in a song up to God, "Teach us to number our days, (to realize the brevity of life) that we may gain a heart of wisdom," (from Psalm 90:12), I want us to be aware that time does move forward and we don't get any of these moments back. So, it matters. [...]

A Kind Letter to My Postpartum Self

Dear Self, Yes, you, my love. You, who just carried a baby for nine months and grunted and groaned a lot and tried to be thankful that there was this new little life growing inside. I want to tell you some things. I know how hard it was for you, there at the end. Because you were sick of those pants with the wide, elastic-y middle, that had to be stretched out over your big ol belly, just so they would stay up. I know how much they itched, but aren't you glad for pants? I know your friends are glad that you had them.   : ) And I know how much you worried along the way, even though you tried to trust Jesus as much as you could. How much you wondered if you would make it to the end and if your baby would make it into the world and if she'd be okay once she got here. I saw[...]

The Thing That You Can Whisper Into Your Darkest Doubt

There's this one love story I know. It has some tragedy in it. Well, a lot of tragedy. The kind that makes you feel cold inside and has you wondering if there's any point going on. But, thankfully, there's a whole heap of triumph in the story, too. It ends in triumph, which is where each of us aches for all the love stories to end. It's the sort of love story that helps you when you're in the middle of your hard things, be able to whisper to yourself, "All will be well." Even if you have to repeat that a few times to yourself and practice believing it when you mostly want to doubt. This particular story starts way back in the beginning. Like, back in the Garden-beginning. Back when everything was pure and good and as it ought to be. There were people involved. And a Maker. And t[...]

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