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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[...]

On Getting Some Soul Rest

Each of us walks around each day, with quite a bit going on inside our chests. We relentlessly criticize ourselves for the things we haven't managed well. (Our home, our marriage, our kids, our relationships, our work, our spiritual life, our's exhausting.) We have these pestering fears that go everywhere with us, and these regrets that linger long after the lights are out. We feel the daily demands of life pressing in, and the steady expectations of others. We wake up with maybe a smidgen of hope and open up the blinds to let the light in, but before we've gotten too far along in the day, we're already worn out. Somewhere, we have to find some peace and rest. We go looking for this in food and sports and sex and tv shows, in beverages and the beach--there [...]

On Jesus and Marriage and Hard Things

I have to tell you something about Jesus and marriage. There will be nights when you will go to bed and you will think that your spouse is your enemy. They'll do something stupid (or you'll do something stupid) and man, it'll be hard and one of you will want to scratch the other's eyes out. You'll feel your heart callous up and fortify itself in some kind of concrete barricade. You will think that change is not even possible. Even if you're a Christian, you'll start to question if there's enough power in Jesus to really help you, or them, overcome this particular sin and selfishness. Listen, my loves. Jesus is a very present Help in time of trouble. It's true. I know because I felt Him last night and this morning after Brent and I had a massively hard time working through some[...]

It's Hard To Be A Human--Why You Can Reach Out For Help

I'm gonna say something to us, because it's sort of important. And it doesn't get said often enough, especially in Christian circles. If you're a human being, then at some point, you're most likely gonna need some counseling. Some of you have been fed this notion and you've believed it. (I used to believe it, too.) Goes like this: "You have Jesus. He's enough. You don't need counseling. You don't need meds, ever. Pretty much, you can't possibly need anything because HELLO. You've got JESUS! Now, just be a good enough Christian and it'll all work out." My friends. This just isn't at all good or true. Life is ridiculously hard. Sometimes we get these sore hearts that don't seem to heal. That's why God made people. Lots of people. We need each other. It doesn't mean you're[...]

Cheetahs, Laser beams, And Jesus (A Bed-time Theology)

Gideon, (my seven year old) asked if I'd lay by him tonight. I'm always super tired at the end of the day and I just want to go to my own bed, but humans need a lot of comfort, so I curled up next to him and pat his back. He still had lots of words left, and I found myself being ministered to by his little boy thoughts and the way he processes life, "Momma, Jesus didn't want to hurt people. I've probably hurt people about 5,000 times, but there wasn't anything in Jesus that wanted to ever hurt someone. Even when mean bad guys were hurting Him, He STILL didn't hurt them back. I mean, He could have called all the cheetahs to come and attack the bad guys but He didn't. He could even have made laser beams come out of His eyes or turned His eyes so bright that people would just pass[...]

On A Summery Day In June

On a summery day in June, we found a toad. This momma taught her boy how to hold it--not upside down, not too squeezy around the tummy--but just like this so as not to traumatize the critter. And the momma taught the boy that you have to let the toad go if you want it to live. Toads are not so happy in your pocket or in a bucket for a week, though it's hard for you to let them go. You might tell your momma afterwards, "I miss that toad." On a summery night in June, we all looked for fireflies. We smelled the honeysuckle. We found a nest of baby bunnies. This momma prayed and she asked God lots of things like, "Please help us. How are we supposed to live this hard life?" On a brand new morning in June, this momma looked up at the sky. She caught a glimpse of God-glory, shouti[...]

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