I’m home

I have spent my time recently visiting a town in the state of Washington and living in the drama of two young adults who unexpectedly fall in love. I’ve traveled to London and New York City and felt the highs and lows that falling & fighting for their relationship took them on. In seven days, I have read not one, not two but five novels. Five.

As to my nature, more is better

I know what you must be thinking…”ummm, how did you?”, “why did you?”, “where did you get the time?” All really valid questions and believe me, my answers are anything but stable.

Once I started reading, I needed to finish. I needed to know how it ended and I went back & forth with guilt for not being able to put it down. My compulsion to finish eventually won out and I stayed up reading until 3am on more than one occasion. I absorbed as many lines as I could while I cooked dinner, over lunch breaks, or while sitting in my car before picking the kids up. Every moment I could squeeze it in, I was reading. I needed to know how this story would turn out.

With a book, I can know the ending

Without realizing it, the lack of control over my own life was being played out through the fictional story I escaped to. I picked up a book and found the extreme satisfaction in being able to know the ending. So once I started reading I continued until I finished, five novels later. My therapist smirked at me as I said it all out loud, I can still see it now. “Is there something else in your life that you wish you could know the ending to?” Oh, how I wish I could know or control the outcome in my life. It’s a constant ping pong match in my mind. The back and forth of wishing for control and then talking myself off the concept in order to surrender to the God who is good and who loves me more than I can comprehend.

I have been so busy escaping into fictional stories that I have forgotten the Author of creation is writing mine

I have always loved reading ever since I was a child. I have loved the freedom books offer to jump into different eras, cultures, and imaginations. These past few weeks though, if I’m being honest, have had nothing to do with reading itself. Reading has just been the thing I’ve used fill a longing in me. I’ve been down this road before. Past experience shows that I could remove “reading” and put in many other outlets in attempt to soothe an unsettled mind and heart with no avail. The moment my enjoyment crosses the line into compulsion, I have to look at what’s going on underneath. What am I running from? What need am I not allowing God to meet in me? When things get hard, my default is to run. Run from what is difficult so I don’t have to feel the discomfort anymore. Running always seems easier, always seems “right” so I can disengage emotionally. “Feeling all the feels” still makes this girl completely uncomfortable.

Running from the hard leaves all the meaningful things in the rear view

I think Ann Voskamp said it best in her book, The Broken Way:

 “Suffering is an act of surrender, to bear under that which is not under our control. … Is this why we avoid suffering at all costs? Is this why we desperately try to avoid pain, because suffering is a surrender to the uncontrollable? Suffering asks us to bear under that which is ultimately not under our control, which proves to us we have no control. And maybe that’s too much for us in our autonomous, do-it-yourself culture to bear. Maybe more than we can’t stand physical suffering, we can’t stand not feeling in control.” (Chapter 13 – The Inconvenient Truth No One Tells You, page 171)

Which proves to us we have no control – Those words ring in my mind. I fight it and yet I’m not so sure why. Gosh, I imagine I look like a child fighting the comfort of their parents’ embrace. Can you see it? Have you ever experienced it? Just the other day I held our one year old during a fit in a store while she was flailing her arms and legs. I swear, my trying to be convinced that I have an ounce of control must look like that. Guys, I’m tired. All this fighting has motivated my flight into fiction. I have had this felt-safety in knowing how stories play out, being able to go over them in my mind without any surprises. The thing about it being “felt” safety though is exactly that: it is felt. And my feelings do not have the greatest track record in leading me into truth. Thankfully, I’ve returned from my travels just in time to celebrate the good news, the ultimate gift that entered our world.

In His perfect timing, God brought me home for Christmas

His grace loved me back into communion with Him. Always. God hasn’t ever stopped calling me to lay perfectionism at His feet, to lay aside the effort so I can stop long enough to look at what love really is. This act of surrendering has been demonstrated most fully by Jesus Christ, who chose to bear the brokenness of the children He and the Father loves. In our surrender to Him, troubled hearts and minds are settled. The One who has complete authority and control chose surrender for us. He chose suffering to show us what love is and what love does.

“Love runs through us through veins of suffering. I turn over my wrist to see that cross there again. This is the way. There is no other. Sometimes it’s so clear: we can only love in this world if we’re willing to suffer with the world. ‘God so suffered for the world that he gave up his only Son to suffering,’ wrote Nicholas Wolterstorff. Suffering is at the burning core of everything because love is. We need not feel alone in suffering because God is a suffering God who pulls close at our call. We can receive it if we want – there is always more God. In tears is intimacy, God understands because He stands with us.” (The Broken Way, page 170)

So this Christmas eve, I am grateful for our compassionate and gracious God who stands with us, who stands for us. I’ve run so many times, too many times and He still brings be back. He says over me, time and time again, that He’s not finished with me yet. He extends a hand of love and asks me to trust. I am grateful that He is bigger than every uncomfortable feeling, every lie, and every hard thing life throws your way and my way.

I don’t know where you are today but if you’re running or avoiding like I have been…1. I’m surprised we didn’t run into each other and 2. You’re going to be okay. How do I know? Well, I think we both need the reminder that we have this “Good News that will cause great joy for all people”. (Luke 2:10) It’s good news that God is with us, that we’re never alone. It’s good news that we are loved beyond our understanding. The “how” of this surrender that I’ve feared has been shown by Jesus. It always comes back to Jesus and when it does…hope abounds, joy overflows in spite of all that whirls around you.

The next fictional trip I go on, it won’t be in an effort to avoid…it’ll be to enjoy the stories and imaginations of those created by God. So for today, I won’t be running away. I won’t be trying to avoid. I’ll be here, praying to be present for those around me like I was meant to be all along.

 

I’m so happy to be home.

Be a sweet potato.

I just want to get to the point. No cliff hanger or climax of a story to build up towards: patience is hard.

I wrestle with it – my lack, my desire to just be gifted with it, and the reality that its attainment rests on the action of waiting. You see, I don’t wait well. I ask a whole lot of “why’s” and “why not’s” and you can be sure there’s a lot of physical and spiritual eye-rolling and heavy stepping as I walk. (Did you like that, “heavy stepping”? I thought it sounded classier than “stomping”) I am half laughing, half shaking my head because…well, as a 28-year-old woman, it’s slightly embarrassing that my description is not an exaggeration.

I bring it up in the first place because I’m trying to live a transparent life, as I’ve said before. I want to continue to expose all of me to bring glory to my Father in heaven. I want every ounce of my being to point to Jesus. I’ve been wrestling with my desires and how they line up with God’s will. Most recently, the want I’m waiting for is one of having our own family. We’ve been praying and trying, and it just hasn’t happened. Listen, I know God is still good. I know He has a love for me and my husband that surpasses all understanding. That’s why I’m wrestling. I want to know that love more and more. I want more of Jesus and less of me. Ultimately, I want the waiting to bring me closer to Him. I do not want to be the girl who “heavy steps” her way through the waiting. I want to be the one who is looking to Jesus, with eyes focused on His faithfulness not rolling them at my unmet desires.

While I was at work the other day, we began to talk about dinner plans. A patient of mine said, “steak and…probably sweet potatoes”. “Ah”, I said “I love sweet potatoes but I can never get them right”. He looked at me and his response made my nose wrinkle. “You’re probably rushing it”, he said.

Excuse me, sir? What are we talking about again, sweet potatoes or my life?

What a silly comparison but man, it hit me.

Foster care and adoption have become more of a conversation this year. Ever since Troy and I talked about a future together, I’ve shared with him that adoption has always been on my heart. As a young girl, I remember telling my mother that I wanted to adopt. I have three cousins through adoption and without it, my extended family would not have been complete. What a beautiful option. And as I’ve gotten closer and closer to God, the more I know that’s what He asks of us. “to look after the orphans and widows…” (James 1:27). I actually wrote in my bible on 5/3/2017, “tell me when Lord”. What I should have written is, tell US when. You see, since the biological avenue hasn’t been working the way I want it to, I’ve turned towards foster care and adoption because it’s always been part of my plan. I’ll be honest and say it’s always been part of my back up plan. My attitude has been: “Okay God, if You choose not to give us biological children then I still have the other avenue to pursue.” The option in and of itself is beautiful, it’s life-giving, and with the gospel at the forefront, it is Kingdom building. I believe that. But…my motives and the way I’ve been operating lately have been to completely leave God (and my husband) out of the equation. I want it so let’s do it now.

What did he say about sweet potatoes again? Oh that’s right, “you’re probably rushing it.”

After having a conversation with my husband a few weeks ago, I immediately went to God – just crying, and calling out to Him. I had to look straight into the selfishness I was acting out of while pursuing my plan and the lack of regard for my husband’s feelings. Through my tears I felt God was speaking to my spirit. I believe He was saying to me –

Surrender this to me.
Foster care and adoption have been your back up plan.
Let go of it.
Let Me be your only plan.

Responding through my tears and sadness, I said – God, I want to want You more than I want children. I’m going to humble myself and say…lately it’s been quite the opposite. I believe it is good to want a family and children, I really do. But I have to look at the order of my wanting. You see, He is asking for all of me & He’s asking for all of you; all of your hopes, dreams, desires, all of your expectations, all of your hurts and sadness. In full surrender – with open hands to give to Jesus all of our own plans and receive all that God has intended for us. As I go further in my journey with Jesus, I’m seeing more and more areas of my life that I’m holding onto. I’m seeing more areas that need to be surrendered.

Here’s my reminder: your Father in Heaven is a good, good Father. He does NOT withhold goodness and love from you. No. His heart is for you. He gives in a way that the world cannot give (John 14:27). In surrendering all of you to all of Him, you will continue to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Don’t be closed-fisted towards our God of abundance. Open up those hands. Be protected by the boundaries of His will and His timing. Be encouraged by His faithfulness, that He is for you, not against you. Be reminded that the God who is love, gave Jesus for you. That is the weight of your meaning to Him. He is faithful in keeping His promises. That is just who He is.

“Fix your eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

Maybe as you are reading this, you’re struggling with patience in an area of your life as well. Maybe you’ve been waiting and hoping for something that has yet to come to pass. Please know, my heart is heavy for you. I have an idea of what that may feel like. My hope is that you read and reread that “reminder” written above. I’ll be reading it again and again right along with you.

I’m also hoping that one day I will be able to write an addendum or even a part 2 to this entry about what it looks like to have received but while I’m in this waiting I’ll end with this…my God loves me. And you know what…even if time passes and I don’t receive what I’m praying for, my God is still good. I’m just going to declare that today. He will and has always loved me. Jesus is still pursuing me and His Spirit is still working in me to fulfill His purposes. The same is true for you. So, maybe instead of focusing on receiving, we can change our focus to the unseen, to be fixed on the Giver.

Our God is faithful in keeping His promises. Lean into Him more and more…

Don’t rush it, my friend.

Be a sweet potato.

Who’s “their”?

 

I sit here with my fingers on the computer keys (not budging), realizing that perfectionism is keeping me from starting. Thoughts like: “how do I start?”, “I want to sound good”, “I want the best intro to grab their attention” ramble through my mind.
But wait…who’s “their”?

I am aware that probably no one will read those post within the next hour, day, month, or maybe year. Who am I trying to impress? Who am I trying to please? These are the questions I seem to have to ask myself frequently. If my answer is not God then I need to redirect my focus. I need more Jesus. So, in light having to ask those questions I’m going to direct this post – the very first OTMM blog post – to the One who ordained this calling and this ministry, to the One who transformed my life and the lives of my dear Tina and Michelle. It is only Him we are here for. I hope along this journey we are able to share our experience and the love that took us from where we were to where we are and ultimately to where we’re going.

To my Lord –

I call you mine because you are. But God, I am humbled and overwhelmed that the only reason I can call You and call on You is because You loved me first. You loved Your people first. Thank You for loving us and giving us Jesus to be our Way. I say that so lightly but I know in the depths of me there’s no way to voice that statement comparable to the weight it carries. Lord, I pray for On the Move Ministries and for the journey You have set before Michelle, Tina, and I. Thank you for Your Word, declaring truth over us and pouring life into us. We are thrilled to be a part of Your grand story and we desperately desire to live lives worthy of the call You have placed upon us. As I sit here and pray, faces and names sweep across my mind – women that are hurting, lost, burdened, and flat out exhausted. We are here for THEM Lord. We are here to be Your hands and feet, Your mouth and ears. Now more than ever we need more of You, more of Your Spirit to guide us, to convict us, to teach us, and to discern for us. We simply want to honor You, to glorify You God. I pray we daily return to our Truth, our Way, and our Life which is only found in Your Son, Jesus. I pray we trust in who You are, to continually be outside our comfort zones because it is there that our hearts will be longing for Jesus. We want to stay hungry for Him, for You. We want to be bold and courageous, boasting in our weakness, NOT insecure of it because it is there that Your strength will be shown to others. I pray for protection over this ministry, over our families and marriages, and over those who will be a part of On the Move. I pray women come to know how wide and long and high and deep Your love is. Thank you God for Your faithfulness, for Your grace, for Your mercy, and with our hearts wide open – for Your Son in whom we live and have our purpose.

Thank You God for who You are and who You’ve always been.
In Your precious Name we pray, Amen.