Posted in Inspired, Jesus Chats

Thanksgiving Family Worship Ideas

Hey! I made a family worship guide to prepare our hearts for Thanksgiving. It requires little to no prep and can be done on the go, at home, or waiting for an appointment. All of the songs are available for free on Youtube. There is also a bonus sheet of the verse so that you can hang it on the refrigerator or mirror to help with verse memory if you choose. At the end, I made smaller verse cards if you’d like to use those as well.

Here is a quick preview of the guide:

This guide is formatted to be printed DOUBLE SIDED please 🙂

If you do end up using the guide, I’d love to see pictures or to hear about how it’s going! Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any issues with the format/printing either!

<3,

Kelsey

Posted in Inspired, Random Thoughts

Parenting: Downton Abbey Gif Edition

About a year ago, I had a Facebook post with The Office gifs describing parenting. In that post, I said I would do Downton Abbey next. IT’S TIME.

Parenting as told by Downton Abbey Gifs starts now:

“Everybody’s workin’ for the weekend.” What’s that? The Dowager asks from a place of privilege, we ask from a place of desperation.

“Mom, I’m simply EXPLAINING why I’m not going to do what you asked…”

A valid response to, “YOU’RE THE WORST MOM EVER!”

“My tummy isn’t hungry for dinner. It’s only hungry for candy, ice cream, and cookies.”

A thought I have every single day. I continue to be proven wrong.

“Who’s gonna win the battle of wills?” asks the innocent bystander.

“LOOK WITH YOUR EYES, NOT YOUR HANDS.”

My kid:

“I’m BORED.”

Two different definitions.

Me: “Let’s get this house sparkly clean!”

My kid: “Sparkly? I can surely do that. GLITTER TIME.”

My face when my child disobeys in the most hilarious way.

“EW, this dinner tastes DISGUSTING. (even though I asked for it and ate seconds last week).”

Me, after taking a peek at the state of my child’s room:

My child, coming in after her eighth outfit change of the day:

“I HAVE AN IDEA…”

“Motherhood is so hard sometimes.”

Other moms on the internet: Soak up EVERY MINUTE (thanks, by the way 🙄)

“PLEASE? PLEASE? PLEASE? PLEASE? PLEASE?????????”

Wait, so we’re supposed to take all of the opinions in the mom group seriously?

When someone says, “you’re a good mom.”

When you ask your child to be polite…

“Please say you’re sorry.”

“I don’t like this. Or this. Or that. Or this.”

When my husband and child start playing together (this applies to both of them):

Me, at various points of the day, “you’re acting a little grumpy”:

My husband, as soon as I finally get the kids to bed and a moment by myself:

Me, reclaiming my power as the parent back from my child!

How I feel at the end of any given day:

Never, ever.

Posted in Random Thoughts

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Today is my dad’s birthday. There is no age too old to lose a parent and no span of time too long to grieve that loss.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the things we leave behind when our souls leave our earthly bodies. What do I hope to leave behind for my children? What significance do these things bear?

The other day, Eleanor and I were sitting on a chair under a blanket and chatting about the random thoughts that come into my four year old’s mind. I turned her attention to the blanket.

“Eleanor, this blanket is extra special, do you know why?”

“Ummmm because it has beautiful flowers on one side?”

“Nope. It’s special because its a quilt of all of my daddy’s favorite shirts. Look at this one, I bought him that for Christmas, and look at this green one, I gave that to him for his birthday many years ago! My aunt made it for me after he died.”

“Oh, wow. I love the pink shirts!” (Real men wear pink, after all :))

Another reason this quilt is significant is because it is one of the last remaining earthly possessions I have to remember him. Things break, like the camera he gifted me before I went to China. Most things don’t last.

I think it is funny that the things that do last are the same things we need.

Clothing preserved as a blanket.

Memories of meals enjoyed together.

The feeling of peace and love I have when I remember the home he and my mom built and established together.

Clothing. Food. Shelter. Legacies built on our needs and nothing more. These are the legacies I hope to leave as well.

As I remember and celebrate my dad today, I want to remember and celebrate the invaluable gifts I received through his life.

Clothing. Hugging that blanket is like hugging him. I picture him in each of the shirts that have now been cut to squares. I think about how little he actually cared about outward appearance, but how grateful he was anytime he received a new piece of clothing. I think about the pride I felt every time he chose the shirt I gave him for a gift. How it was a gift given from the product of hard work-clocking hours at a minimum wage job to finally be able to give my dad a gift spent with my own money. How he held on to clothes for decades (!) because spending money on himself wasn’t a priority.

Food. Anytime my mom would make a meal and ask how it tasted, my dad would respond, “It was alright.” It was alright. Never anything more or less. He was not one to rave nor was he a huge complainer about the food put in front of him. The same man who needed a thesaurus to describe his feelings for a meal still prioritized our enjoyment of food. My dad never had a Facebook account. Ironically, he was weirded out about what happens to the accounts after someone dies. “It’s just there…forever?” Still, he would occasionally log on to my mom’s account to check in on me while I was in college. I went through a pretty big bagel and cream cheese phase–it was obviously one of those things I dubbed important enough to post a status about once or twice. What was readily available for me next time I went home? Bagels and cream cheese. After I graduated, I lived at home for a while. After I got my first “big girl job,” there were many nights I’d come home and he’d ask, “what can I make you for dinner?” If only I understood what a gift it was to have someone else cook for you after a long day (he ALSO had long days at work…). You know what was more than “alright”? Ice cream. We ate ice cream pretty frequently in our house and we all developed a love for it. It is why we celebrate my dad’s birthday every year with some. I will be going with my family tonight.

Shelter. Home was safe. Home was where unconditional love lived. Home was laughter on the saddest days. Home was where boundary testing was safe and corrected. Home was comfort and peace and rest. Home was where hugs were healing. Thirty year old me sees what a huge blessing this is. How rare it can be. Memories of a safe home are one of the greatest gifts.

As I think about the various ways my needs for clothing, food, and shelter were provided to me throughout my life, I can’t help but be grateful. The Lord has been generous with me. As I think about the legacy I hope to leave (experiencing the death of a loved one will do that to you), I have a few things in mind.

Clothing. Food. Shelter. Clothing that can endure snot and tears. Dresses that symbolize love and enjoying special evenings together. (Wedding + Military Balls). Food that is tasty, experimental, or brings back memories of an evening of fellowship and togetherness. Recipes that are passed down so that certain scents or tastes take you back and propel you forward to serve and love others with a meal. A home that may be messy at times, but where questions and frustrations can be voiced. Where boundaries are respected. Where the person is always more important than the thing. Where there is always a safe place to land.

These are, after all, among the gifts we look forward to.

God clothes Adam and Eve. He rains down bread to feed the Israelites. Jesus feeds thousands with bread and fish. God leading his people throughout Scripture. Providing land and shelter for them…and then…

14-15 Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.

16-20 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

21 How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.”

-2 Corinthians 5:14-21 MSG

20-21 But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.”

-Philippians 3:20-21 MSG

Posted in Inspired, Jesus Chats, Random Thoughts

A Back to School Guide (For Parents!)

I made a back to school guide for parents! My prayer is that you would see your formation and sanctification as just as important as your child’s school readiness.

The full document is about 12 pages and covers a variation of topics from the night before to the first day of school and beyond :).

Here’s a little preview: (the full document can be downloaded below)

1

2

4

Click on this to download the PDF!—> A Back to School Guide (For Parents!)

Posted in Jesus Chats, Random Thoughts

Covid-19 and the Church

The church is seeing some interesting debate during Covid-19.

Pastors are making difficult decisions based on ever changing data about whether and how and when the church should open for services.

Pastors are having to think and pray through what, how, and when to communicate with the congregation.

Some pastors are choosing to stir unrest and encourage disobedience to the government orders, others are choosing to obey, constantly praying for the wisdom to discern the difference between honorable submission to government and disobedience to God.

These choices weigh heavy. We’ve seen stories from all over the world of churches meeting and soon after, dozens or hundreds or more showing symptoms of coronavirus. These choices carry significant risk.

I’ve seen a lot of excellent articles, blogs, and resources published for pastors as they navigate this time. I’m thankful that there is a community of leaders who seek to encourage and to help each other process these difficult decisions.

However; this has also highlighted some significant opportunities for the church members to process and prepare during this time.

I’d like to highlight some observations and things to think/pray about as we encourage our pastors and church leaders.

I want to offer the perspective of a church member, a part time ministry director, and a sister in Christ to any believer who chooses to click and read. (Thank you).

Is Church Essential?

Pre-covid, there were plenty of Christians who would confidently proclaim, “I do not go to church because going to church does not make me a Christian. I can follow Jesus without it. Jesus over religion.”

This, coupled with the fact that fewer Americans regularly attend church shows that it’s a pretty popular view that church is not essential.

With this in mind, pastors have had the difficult task of defining the church to the committed members who are grieving this time of not meeting.

“The church is not a building, it’s the people.” We’ve seen the slippery slope of that statement before the pandemic, but how do we, the people who eagerly anticipate meeting together again in a building, process this?

In the song Brick After Brick by Sovereign Grace, it says,

God used to dwell in a house among His people
But now He has a home that’s better than the first
It doesn’t look like a building with a steeple
Now, He’s living in the people of the Church
Brick after brick, God is building His temple
Brick after brick, He is making it strong
With Christ the sure foundation and His people as the stones
He is building a place He can live

He is building a church by the grace found in Jesus. He is building a church locally and globally as others come to know and love him. We, as believers, are the church. The song doesn’t end there.

All His people gather ’round, singing out with joyful sound
Giving glory to their Maker
And they build each other up as they share the bread and cup
To remember their Savior

Gather. Worship. Communion.

The individual bricks of his church join together, in the unity of Christ, to worship, build up, and remember our Savior with the bread and cup.

Scripture is filled with commands and encouragement to meet with one another. To encourage, teach, and grow together in the truth of God’s word. To serve one another in love and sacrifice. To give generously. To pray for and with those in suffering or hardship. To praise the One who makes it all possible through his love and grace.

“And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.”
Hebrews 10:24‭-‬25 CSB

May we pray for hearts that see our membership, participation, and service to the church as essential.

May we pray for hearts that trust that there is absolutely nothing that can destroy the church, Christ’s beautiful bride, who eagerly awaits the ceremony that unites us wholly, perfectly, and eternally with him.

The church is essential because God calls his image bearers to himself, giving us value and worth impossible to find anywhere else. Our cause was essential and urgent enough that God came to earth, died, and rose again to deliver us from our worthless pursuits leading to death.

Movie Theatres vs. Home Theaters

One thing I love to do is pay way too much money for tickets, soda, and popcorn and watch a movie in the theater. We watch movies at home, but there is something about the experience of watching it on a huge screen with other people.

Has this absence from meeting in the church building felt like that in some ways? Has your way on consuming church felt unsatisfying? Is our main objective to consume church in a more comfortable and preferred way?

Our culture of entertainment has infiltrated the church.

We want a place to casually attend, to observe, and to enjoy. We like the music. We like the preaching. We like the break the nursery provides.

A band we did not have to practice with, schedule, or audition performs for us while we sing along. A pastor we are unaccountable to with our deepest, darkest sins shares an inspirational (and hopefully gospel focused) message we may or may not process, pray through, or discuss with others. Various other ministries are available that miraculously “just happen” without any effort or sacrifice on our part provide a break from our children or bathrooms that are clean and stocked or food that is prepared and enjoyed in fellowship with others.

Going to the movies or a sporting event or a concert is not the same as going to church.

Is the church essential? I’ve already given my thoughts on that.

What’s essential for the church to open back up?

An audience? No. Participants. If we think the church (in terms of meeting together) is essential, then it is essential we start considering and praying through how we can help make that happen on the timeline our pastors and elders lay out for us.

May we pray for hearts that are willing to partner with and serve in and alongside our churches.

May we value what we label essential by being discontent with casually observing what we are called to join in meaningful, embodied ways.

A Flourishing Church

Ultimately, if our goal is to meet again, then our goal is to do so in ways that enable flourishing in our church body, homes, and communities.

Opening back up is not a “gotcha” moment to the government, the CDC, or to those who disagree.

If we arrogantly bust open the doors and shout the praises of American rights, we are not contributing to the flourishing of the church (meanwhile, churches around the world pray for literal protection from the governments quick to arrest and imprison them for meeting together).

The reopening of churches may result in some disturbances of our preferences.

If you are triggered by these words:

-Face masks

-Social distancing

– Limited and reduced capacities,

it may be a good idea to start praying about the posture you will assume when churches lay out their requirements to meet inside the building again.

Will it shock and anger you if masks are required in the building? What if they simply make it a recommendation and some choose not to wear them?

Will you be angry if your kid runs to play with another family’s kid and an elder/deacon/staff member interrupts and says that all fellowship not adhering to a six foot distance must occur off of the church property?

How will you feel if the morning is hectic and you are running late only to find out the church is already full and you cannot come in? “There’s only fifty people in there for goodness sakes!”

Why do you attend church? Why do you view it as essential?

How do we enable the flourishing of the church in such a hostile, confusing, and scary time?

Slandering our church leadership online or to fellow church members? Connecting our tithes, attendance, or service with our desired outcomes?

How do we enable the flourishing of our churches, homes, and community? Isn’t that question a good place to start? Doesn’t it shift our focus to God’s glory AND the love of neighbor?

How do we enable flourishing?

Here’s how I picture it:

Members of the church enable flourishing by respecting and submitting to the leadership of the church. Humbly asking questions or offering input IS NOT disrespectful or unsubmissive, but how we handle the answers or the response to our input can be. Are we known to be argumentative? Arrogant? Skeptical and difficult to please?

Members of the church enable flourishing by valuing people over opinions. Are you willing to lay down your preferences in love for your neighbor?

Members of the church enable flourishing by seeking and providing accountability, fellowship, and community to other members of the church. The preaching pastor may not always know what burdens you carry, but there are brothers and sisters who do, and they encourage and love you in truth. This also enables flourishing in times like these. We remain connected and known in meaningful ways in times of physical distance.

Members of the church enable flourishing by serving the church. Sunday morning cannot happen without service. Meal trains cannot happen without service. We need to shift our focus from, “here’s WHY and WHEN the church should open,” to “here’s HOW I will partner with my church when the time comes (and long after!).” If you don’t know the specific needs of your church, asking is always a great place to start.

Members of the church enable flourishing by prioritizing spending time in prayer and God’s word in their personal lives. The church needs good students of scripture. This enables the flourishing of different ministries: teaching children, youth, and other adults. It enriches conversation. It vets what’s being taught. Churches filled with people committed to prayer and Biblical literacy make beautiful and helpful mentors, leaders, and teachers.

Members of the church enable flourishing by confronting sin and idols in our midst. First and foremost, we must constantly repent of our own sin. I am truly the worst sinner I know. When we see and confront sin and idols in others, we must do so in a way that points to grace, maintains their dignity, and is said in love.

There are a lot of other ways members of the church enable flourishing, and I’m sure the Lord has gifted you in more ways than you can count to contribute to it, but I hope you see that true flourishing occurs in the midst of grace, humility, submission, service, and love.

Fellow church members, let’s evaluate the cost of our desires: are they bent on selfishness and preference or on the flourishing of God’s people? Let’s model why the church is truly essential.

“My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like someone looking at his own face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of person he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works — this person will be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, his religion is useless and he deceives himself. Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
James 1:19‭-‬27 CSB

Posted in Random Thoughts

Seven Years of Marriage

Seven years of marriage.

I love this person in ways I did not know I was capable of loving a person.

I want him to flourish in all areas of his life- I want him to grow in wisdom, sanctification, and love.

I will not shy away from confrontation. I see what no one else sees. I feel the effects of his decisions in real and meaningful ways.

His success comes at a cost. His success brings flourishing. His success brings tears. His success brings risk. His success brings opportunities. His success is never a neutral or easy happenstance.

His failures point to hope. His failures illuminate the brokenness we always knew was there. Brokenness in him, in systems, or in the world. His failures weigh heavy on his shoulders. His failures make him human.

His sin is a sin against God, but it ripples into our whole family. His sin has consequences. His sin is not surprising. He is not ruled by his sin.

His words matter. His words bring life. His words bring truth. His words bring insight and things to consider. His words bear heavy on the decisions of our family. Our finances. Our parenting. Our next assignment. Our outlook. His words are important to me. His words, and how he says them, signify the kind of leader he is.

His sanctification matters more to me than anything else. I will encourage him in truth. I will approach him with concerns. I will question where he places his hope in various circumstances. I will love him despite any disagreement. I will always look and pray for HIS best, even if that means enduring hardship and clinging to each other and to God.

Marriage is not easy work. These priorities to not always point to easy things to implement.

As I grow older, I recognize that I have way more questions than answers. The crazy thing about questions is that they can be answered to suit different contexts, but the best questions point to answers of bringing life to a situation.

I am an imperfect spouse. There are many times I complain when I should be content, I disregard his opinion when I should be listening and asking questions, I disengage when I should be pressing in with intentionality. I do not answer the questions of “how?” perfectly, but by God’s grace, I keep asking the questions, and by his grace, I fumble through and find any way I can to rely on him to answer with truth and to love in a sacrificial way.

In seven years of marriage, I don’t have any marketable advice, but I’ve learned some questions that help me to love Alex on the good and bad days. These questions help me to reorient my motivations toward his flourishing as opposed to my desired results. These questions help me to value Alex as an image bearer of God. As a leader. As a father. As my husband.

How do I honor my husband?

How do I speak about him to others?

Am I careful or reckless with who I entrust with our struggles?

Does this person I am speaking to know and love us in a secure community? Does this person long for our flourishing as a married couple?

Is this a struggle worthy of outside care, prayer, and encouragement? Is this simply venting of minor inconveniences and annoyances about him?

Am I praying for/with him? Am I trusting the Lord with our issues?

How do I respect my husband?

Do I recognize the unique abilities and qualities he brings to our family?

How do I respond to confrontation?

How do I respond to disagreement?

In what ways do I belittle his advice, opinions, or decisions?

Do I put him in endless and impossible positions to have to try to earn my respect?

What tone do I use most often in our discussions?

Do I use all of my kindness reserves on other people or do I leave room to be kind and patient with him?

Do I think about what I want to say before I say it? (In confrontation)

Do I give a reason for my concern/frustration or do I resort to accusations and defensiveness?

Am I content or demanding of more, better, or new?

How do I delight in my husband?

Do we laugh together?

Do I pursue ways to encourage him?

Do I rejoice in his accomplishments? Am I regularly happy for him?

Is there a special dessert/meal/sporting event/etc. that I can enable him to enjoy today?

Do I give him opportunities to delight in things I may not find delightful? (Ex: Do I complain about football everytime it’s on?)

I think we all know some other very practical things that I do not need to name here, because, well, that’s private and I have family who reads this.

These questions are very general, but I apply them specifically in various situations.

Is there something fun and light hearted we can implement into our day today?

I feel angry that he just said _____, I will pray and ask myself, “how can I talk to him about this in a loving and respectful tone? How can I communicate this in a way that also contributes to HIS flourishing and a better way to move forward? ”

He’s suggesting a budget change and I want to roll my eyes or disregard, that would prompt the question, “how do I take a posture of listening to understand and to VALUE his decision regarding our finances?”

Do I act impulsively at times? YES.

Do I get angry about things that are minor offenses I need to let go? YES.

Focusing on areas I can show him honor, respect, and delight is not so much about me figuring out all the right answers, it’s more about spending time praying, pondering, and inviting time to do the work of calming my nerves, offering perspective, and allowing what’s truly important to lead the way. I don’t ask every question in every situation, but you better bet I am always questioning my own motives, heart, and desires. I am a wife who needs to repent regularly. I am selfish in too many situations. I am easily angered at times.

I don’t have many answers as to what marriage is supposed to look like, but I do know asking questions is a good place to start.

*I would like to point out that I do not think many of these questions would be helpful in situations of abuse. I do not assume the position that any issue is caused/fixed by MY behavior alone, but this is simply a posture I take in my martial context. An entirely different set of questions applies to that situation, primarily questions of safety, so please do not think I’m being prescriptive!

Seven Years Ago

Posted in Jesus Chats, Links

Christian Parenting Resources

I have benefited from parenting books about sleep, discipline, and a variety of other topics. I can close the book and walk away with tips and tricks to try to achieve longer sleep, or a calmer way to discuss some of the negative behaviors in my home.

Another book that is beneficial in not only parenting, but in ALL aspects of life is the Bible. While it has some direct applications and commands, we still struggle to implement them or figure out what they look like in our day to day life. Ensuring the crib is free of blankets? Easy. Teaching our children the word of God? Intimidating!

Just as we become good students to sleep or discipline methods to achieve some parenting priorities, we must also be good students of the word of God. We want to ensure that our instruction and conversations with our children about the Bible are true, grace filled, and loving.

There are a lot of really great children’s resources out there to guide you in reading stories and explaining tough topics, but I thought I’d share some resources that have been helpful to me as I try to study and communicate the word of God. I read story Bibles to my children, but discussion about God is not restricted to story time. As parents, one of the greatest gifts we can give our children, spouses, churches, and communities is prioritizing our study of God’s word.

Below you will find a few books that have helped me in my studies. (A few of the kindle books are currently on sale- The Bible Story Handbook is $2.99 and Women of the Word is $5.20)

If you click on an image, it will take you to the Amazon link for the book. (Not an affiliate link).

I recommend all of these books as we disciple children in our homes, in our churches, or in our community.

Posted in Inspired, Jesus Chats, Random Thoughts

Who I Am Inside (Thanks Mulan)

Mulan is one of my favorite Disney movies.

In one very moving scene, she sings a song about her inability to conform to society’s expectations of her…”Be quiet, woman!” “Smile and look pretty!”

In the song she sings after royally screwing up her “test” with the matchmaker, she sings a line that says, “when will my reflection show who I am inside?”

I thought of this line today because I took a picture of my door and saw my reflection.

My reflection mirrors my daily life, holding a baby with my curious and talkative four year old never too far behind.

I didn’t think of this song in a longing way of “ugh, this is not who I truly am.” Nor did I see it and think, “THIS is the time my reflection shows who I am inside.”

I saw it and thought, “Wow, Mulan asked a very profound question.”

Did motherhood awaken some deeper purpose that defines my identity and reveals my true self? Maybe in some ways, yes, but I can also think of other times I have looked at my reflection and felt happy and self assured, full of purpose and contentment.

I remember looking at my shadow on my bike as a kid. I would stand up and sit down, so amused by the way it grew and shrank. I’d sit and put my hands in the air and beam with pride that I could ride and steer with NO HANDS!

I remember glancing in the reflective windows at my university’s school of business while walking to a different building, noticing my backpack on, and feeling a sense of accomplishment and freedom in my studies. Away from home. Navigating relationships (imperfectly), responsibilities, and life as a pseudo adult. (Joke was on anyone who stood long enough to actually check themselves out. They were reflective windows, but the people sitting inside could still see EVERYTHING!)

I remember taking engagement pictures with Alex (ironically on the same day of our wedding). Months before our pictures were scheduled, I worked it out with a local ice cream shop to have our shoot there. I remember sitting at the table and looking down at the laminated menu, catching a tiny reflection of my face in that moment. The joy was undeniable. I just married the most fun person on the planet.

There have also been plenty of days I don’t love what I see.

I remember looking in my reflection after long days of pretending. I have done a lot of that in my life. I remember feeling like a fool, a fake, and feeling a loneliness that ached in ways I can’t figure out how to describe.

I remember spending hours at the mirror, just hoping I’d finally figure out the hair and make up style that would actually make me feel pretty. (Having a couple of guys tell you you’re ugly has a profound effect in those formative years).

I remember looking in the mirror as tears streamed down my face (on numerous occasions), and wondering, “Where can I find comfort? What on Earth am I doing with my life? Why are my efforts so fruitless?”

Free spirited. Self assured. Loved. Full of love for others. Joyful. Hurt. Ashamed. Alone.

My reflection has never hidden who I am inside. It’s not some thing to discover or some journey to embark. It’s in our responses to each day. It’s in our posture as we tackle the circumstances, struggles, or triumphs of each season. It’s a complexity we experience as we recognize and embody celebration, grief, or doubt throughout our lives.

Perhaps this is why I struggle with throwing the weight of my credibility, passion, or advocacy toward the reflection I see today.

Perhaps the message of Jesus: Christ came, Christ died, Christ has risen, and Christ will come again, is the only message worthy of my advocacy and full endorsement (as if God NEEDS my support ;)).

Perhaps this focus helps me to see a reflection greater than myself: a reflection of others enduring hurt and pain. A reflection of others in joy and celebration. A reflection of a God who looks back on me and sees even more than the sum of my failures, successes, and circumstances.

Perhaps it helps us to see that our reflections are not the full story, but are small snippets in a bigger redemption story.

Our pain. Our marriage. Our singleness. Our rejection. Our parenting. Our childlessness. Our celebration. Our grief. Our loneliness. What we see in our mirrors, windows, or shadows today point us to an unchanging image of hope. Peace. Rest. Grace. Love.

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known. Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love — but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:12‭-‬13 CSB

“As water reflects the face, so the heart reflects the person.”
Proverbs 27:19 CSB

“My heart says this about you: “Seek his face.” Lord , I will seek your face.”
Psalms 27:8 CSB

“Those who look to him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed.”
Psalms 34:5 CSB

“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call to him while he is near. Let the wicked one abandon his way and the sinful one his thoughts; let him return to the Lord , so he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will freely forgive. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.” This is the Lord ’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return there without saturating the earth and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so my word that comes from my mouth will not return to me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.””
Isaiah 55:6‭-‬11 CSB

“My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like someone looking at his own face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of person he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works — this person will be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, his religion is useless and he deceives himself. Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
James 1:19‭-‬27 CSB

Posted in Random Thoughts

Growing as a Writer

“As you grow as a writer, you’ll figure out what needs to be said and what doesn’t, and you’ll know when to let it breathe. Some plants need pruning. Others are meant to grow wild.”

-Andrew Peterson, Adorning the Dark

Writing is funny that way.

Everything I write comes from thoughts I’ve had for a day, week, or month. I process those thoughts on walks, while making dinner, or at random moments during the day. Then, I sit down and write.

There are a lot of thoughts that don’t translate well to paper. And then there are even more thoughts that just simply do not need to be said.

My favorite thoughts are those that unravel as I write, inspiring deeper thought.

Writing is funny because it’s often about expression, but even more than that, it’s about growth. Not all expression is beneficial or even necessary. Not all words bloom.

It’s humbling to have a thought, write it out, read it back, and absolutely hate every word of it.

Backspace.

Discard draft.

I currently have about sixteen unfinished drafts on this blog alone.

Perhaps a better way to articulate this point will come to me.

Perhaps this prompt will inspire me in the future.

Perhaps it’s something that does not need to be said, at all, ever.

Perhaps it’s breathing, waiting for the right season and context to emerge.

Perhaps this waiting is the growth. This discerning.

The old written out thoughts wait to know their final fate while new thoughts are born daily, yearning to be written. Or deleted. Or drafted.

It’s a beautiful process.

Posted in Inspired, Jesus Chats, Random Thoughts

“I Want to Help!”

Today, quiet time came to an abrupt end when my daughter heard the harsh tapping of water against her bedroom window.

Isn’t it funny how water can take on the peaceful sounds of waves from the ocean or a spring trickling down a bed of rocks OR it can sound like a powerful rage as it crashes down a waterfall or slaps against the window of a house from a hose? Water is more than the three states it can inhabit, water, ice, or steam. It also has the power to transform what you see, feel, and hear under different contexts. I feel relaxed observing a stream, trying to make rocks skip as many times as I can (unfortunately, a singular “plop” is typically my experience.) Apparently, my daughter felt excitement at the prospect of a hose aimed at her window, attempting to clean off years of dirt and debris.

She immediately runs down, “I need to put shoes on RIGHT NOW and help daddy outside!”

Oh, if only the eagerness to help and work at home could be a permanent fixture.

Very rarely do we tell her she cannot help us, so shoes went on, and she rushed out the door.

Does she realize that her help often requires ample instruction (repeating the same directions over and over and over again?) Does she realize that her help means the time it takes to complete a project typically doubles?

Surely, if she did, and her true motive were to help, she would think, “wow, I add a lot more time and setbacks to completing this, the most helpful thing I can do is sit this one out.”

Thank goodness she doesn’t think that way.

I think, in a lot of ways, this is how our help looks to God. We stumble through, with willing hearts, calling out repeatedly, “help, God! I don’t know what I’m doing!” We definitely take more time to accomplish one miniscule task than it takes him to create the whole universe.

We can reach the lower level windows pretty easily, but we need his strength and height to help us the harder and higher work. He will probably have to go over what we did finish, to make it just right.

“I want to help, God!”

A willing heart. A loving God. A patient Father, willing to instruct and help us as we offer what we can to him.

At the end of a job, when we can finally sit down and enjoy the fruit of out labors, we praise Eleanor, “thank you for helping us today. More than anything, it means a lot that you WANT to help daddy and mommy. It is important that you try and that you willingly learn and handle correction in the process.”

We don’t delight in what she accomplished, we delight in her and how she engaged in the process. We know that we can accomplish all tasks with or without her help, but it is such a joy to see her learn, grow, and experience new things in our home, through her work.

What a blessing to know that God doesn’t receive our willing hearts because all the stakes are on us and the labors we pursue! What a blessing to know that when we do ask, “can I help?” He doesn’t just pass the task along, but he labors alongside us, encouraging, teaching, and disciplining us along the way. What a joy to serve a God who gives us delight and a sense of purpose through our work, but ultimately allows us to rest in HIS delight over us, His image bearers.

To God be the glory, for he redeems our work. He has done glorious things. Let his works, his greater works, be known to all of the nations. Let us always remember that our works, while valuable, pale in comparison to His greatness.

“Indeed, God is my salvation; I will trust him and not be afraid, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation.” You will joyfully draw water from the springs of salvation, and on that day you will say, “Give thanks to the Lord ; proclaim his name! Make his works known among the peoples. Declare that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord , for he has done glorious things. Let this be known throughout the earth.”
Isaiah 12:2‭-‬5 CSB