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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[...]

When You Want to Help The World (But You Don't Know How)

I told Jesus a while back that I wanted to help the world. I want to be like a shepherdess for souls. Someone who could come alongside some hurting, struggling-along people and take their hand and help them get to God's heart, where the healing and love is. I told Him this when I was feeling very loving and sentimental. When I wasn't drowning in the all the mundane duties of life. And then someone came knocking at my door. (Not my real actual door to my house, but at my email door. And someone came knocking at my facebook door. And someone came knocking on the telephone.) They were asking for help. That's when I remembered my prayer, "Send me Your broken, Lord, and I'll take them in! I'll be a safe place. I'll get them to the haven of Your heart." But, when God did send me Hi[...]

10 Ways I Plan To Thrive As A Homeschoolin' Momma This Year

I entered into this year of homeschooling, knowing that I wanted to enjoy every ounce that I could. (I've got a second grader and a first grader and a rascally three year old and one more kiddo on the way, come this winter.) I want to enjoy my life and my children and grow and learn and explore and thrive along with them. I knew this would mean that I would need a plan. I consider myself a writer and an artist, so making plans is new to me. But, these days, if I'm going to have any time to create, then I have to make plans so I don't squander all my energy on all the other harder, more mundane things in life, that are necessary, but don't exactly fill me up. This semester, I knew that I would need to be thoughtful about the whole process. I also knew that it would mean I would fl[...]

When You Want To Start Over New Again

The week is new again. There's clothes strewn all over our bedroom floor, clean ones at least, because we were too tired to unpack from our "vacation." Brent and I took the kids to family camp for a week and so we camped in an RV. A really nice one, so there was no suffering involved. Running water. Soft covers. Comfy beds. Three square meals a day. I'm a wimp, I admit it. This is my kind of camping. Then we stayed an extra week, because we had meetings every morning out at the camp and Brent and I were the emcee's. We figured there was no way we could emcee the event and arrive there punctually with three kids and my pregnant self,  so when Brent offered to sign us up for another week of lodging and meals, I thought that sounded pretty nice. But, now we're back. We're bac[...]

On Marriage and the Love that Holds Us Together

Matt Maher sings this song, “Love will hold us together, build us a shelter to weather the storm. And I'll be my brother's keeper, so the whole world will see that we're not alone.” So, what does this mean, that love has the ability to hold us together? Do we really believe that love can keep us reaching out and finding one another’s hand in the dark? Can love hold keep us in proximity to each other, even through storms? Storms like uncertainty and loss, disappointment, frustration, and just the everyday plodding along that we have to do, to get through the grueling and mundane parts of life? How is that kind of love possible? This week, a friend called me. She’s got a daughter who’s only been married a few months and turns out, this newly married couple doesn't get along al[...]

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