Friday, August 25, 2017

Dear Future Husband,

I write a lot. I like to write, I express myself well in writing, and I've been thinking about you recently. So I hope you like to read letters, because I decided to write you one. I can't talk to you, but I can write you.

As I am establishing myself more and more in adulthood, on the cusp of 23, and being more and more decided in my convictions, I am praying more and more that my heart and life is one that is going to fit with yours. I'm not exactly chasing my dreams right now, so I hope that when the Father finally brings us together, there are dreams we share, and if not, that we develop dreams together. Oh how I love to dream!

I want to sit and talk with you, in the early morning when there's still dew on the ground, over a cup of coffee. I hope you like coffee.

I want to be your biggest fan. I promise you right now, I will not understand all the time, but I will always be team you.

I want to have health goals, and work out with you. I want to spend Sunday nights meal prepping with you, and making good choices together!

But I also want to sit down with a pint of Ben & Jerry's and watch Netflix.

I hope you like to go on adventures. I want to go to so many places in my city alone that would be better with you. I hope your up for that.

I also hope you like to do things that I've never done before. Like hiking, I hope you like to hike. I've never been, but I want you to take me. Maybe it's something we'll do together!

I want to fight with you. Not the "I'm right, you're wrong" kind of fight, but the kind of fight that pushes me to be a better person, that forces me to see things someone else's way. The kind of fighting that makes our marriage tough, because we know how to fight well, and we know what's worth fighting for.

I want to grow our home. I want to decorate our walls with pictures of our family, I want to have babies, and I want to raise them with you.

I want to be not just your bride, but your best friend. I want to be your person.

I can't wait for the first time you take me home to mom and dad. I can't wait to meet your family. I can't wait to learn the quirks you grew up with, and discover those you have taken into adulthood.

I can't wait to learn your favorite song, Christmas tradition, color, way you take your coffee, greatest memory, favorite vacation spot, salvation story, biggest fear, bucket list, and favorite pastime.

I don't care if we have all the same passions or not; it's ok if you don't love coffee and 50's music the way I do.

Just be loving Jesus, and find me soon, ok? <3

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Loving Different Abilities

It was Thanksgiving night, and eight year old me was sorely uncomfortable, standing in the basement of someone's house that I didn't know very well. We were visiting old friends of mom and dad, and I was dragged along, because where else was the eight year old supposed to go? My older sisters were all socializing with the other kids, friends of theirs as well. And since drama has been a strong trait my whole life, I began feeling very sorry for myself. Where I was probably being a brat, and pouting about being in a stranger's home, for whatever reason he took pity on me. The family's youngest son, almost five years my senior, was one of the kids who had a bad reaction to a vaccination shot, and it left him severely mentally handicapped. He has a gift of tenderness, and is forever hugging people from whom he gets a sad feeling. So there I was, pouting and carrying on, and he comes over, big as a teenager but awkward and fumbling, and hugs me. He stood there hugging me, until he felt like I was ready to be let go. What was probably only five or so minutes felt like an eternity, being hugged not just by someone I didn't know, but by someone who was distinctly different from myself. The memory is burned into my mind, etched forever into my memory- the smells, the movements. I can clearly see over his shoulder, watching his older sister decorate their Christmas tree. I can see the table of food to our left. There is hardly a detail from that moment that I don't remember. I will be eternally grateful for him, because even at so young an age, he was a tool used by the Father to instill in me a love for those with different abilities.
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Fast forward 8 years, I'm now a sixteen year old, sitting on a plane headed for Purdy, Missouri. (In fact, it was on this day six years ago I got home!) The destination was a camp that tells kids who are typically told "you can't", "here, you can". The whole of the camp is designed to be wheelchair accessible, with the needed equipment at every normal camp activity to make it possible for kids to participate. Each camper is paired with a camp volunteer, and they are cared for almost exclusively by their volunteer. My camper got to ride a horse, canoe, swim, do archery. She had the whole "camp" experience for an entire week, even though she was non-verbal, legally blind, bound to a wheelchair, and essentially only about 6 months old mentally.
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Yesterday I went to a beloved local park with the youth from my church. Roughly twenty or so 6-12 graders meandered through the park, enjoying the wildlife and gardens and probably being generally too loud. One 6th grader, however, tugged at my heart. He carried a little stuffed animal, which I found odd for his age. But as the day wore on, it became increasingly evident there was perhaps autism or other special abilities at play in his personality. I found myself drawn to asking him questions and trying to be his friend as he was fairly overlooked by the other students. I wanted him to feel loved, safe, and welcome. His imagination was beautifully vivid as he described in detail how his stuffed pig and he would fight giant shrimp with lasers. (yes, shrimp)
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I'm not a parent of children with different abilities, but I truly believe the Lord has given me a heart for kids who are different from others. My heart aches to love the kids who require someone to show interest in their unique day dreams, or will feed them through a G-tube, or will let them hug you for five minutes straight, because it's how they can express themselves. I will forever be thankful for the day when the Father began opening a tender spot in my heart, standing in the basement of that house that Thanksgiving night. I don't know how He will use it, but I have no doubt there is something more to be done with this love.

How have you seen the Father instill a love into your heart, and then see it come to fruition? Search your heart, its there ;-)

Xo,
M

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Not Enough

Shocker, but I have an inability to find a balance between too honest and not honest enough on social media. This is more thank likely one of the "slightly too honest posts" so please, bear with me.

The last few weeks have sent me spiraling through a mired of emotions. I have teetered the tightrope of this tension, and truthfully I have fallen off of it several times. I have never in my life felt more sorry for myself than I have the last few weeks. With the height of emotion passed, the last few days have been full of quiet introspection and scrupulous self examination. I have replayed things in my mind countless times. Not just the events of that moment, but of all the moments that led us there. Every thought, moment, word and memory I can conjure up, I have, and then examined it. Was I crazy? Was I wrong?

After playing through everything in my mind and going over it, I don't think I was wrong or crazy, and I have come to the conclusion that for whatever reason, something else was better. I was left as second best, and the question that has plagued me is why. What made the "something else" better? why wasn't I enough?

The question and I daresay even the realization it brought with it has been a final blow. On more to the lower gut, reminding me every day for the last week, someone in my life thought someone else was better and it has been painful.

So today, while sweeping the floor, I was feeling the weight of it and wallowing in self pity. The shop was quiet, and then I felt the Father's loving words pour into my heart: you were never meant to be enough.

Friends, this grieved me to my core- because it revealed to me that I have allowed this passing hurt to consume me, and I have lost my Gospel focus. These words, this beautiful reminder, has almost nothing to do with failed human relationships, insufficient capabilities for a job, or the opinion of myself from others; it has everything to do with the cross of Christ. I have taken my eyes off of Jesus, His sacrifice, and the reality that I was never meant to be enough, but He is.

I was asking myself why I couldn't be enough to meet this need in another person, but it was never my job. I was never meant to be "enough" for them, no more than my good deeds will be "enough" for Heaven. And perhaps that is the very reason that all of this happened at all: because I have such a works based look on life, and it's wrong. Maybe, just maybe, the Father is using this to teach my stubborn heart that no matter how much I "do", it will never be enough. All of my "good" will never be enough. So maybe I was asking a wrong question about a temporary circumstance, but it was a poignant reminder that there has already been an I AM Enough.

I'm so thankful for the refocus on the Gospel in my heart, because I lost sight of it. I lost sight of how important it is to constantly see Jesus as my everything. I don't have to be enough for Heaven or humans or anything in between, because it's Jesus who fills every need, nook and cranny. To think I can fulfill that need in myself or others is flawed and arrogant.

I'm not enough, I never was, I never will be.

But Sweet Jesus is, and that's everything.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Word Vomit

I'm struggling this morning, friends.

This week has been full of ~stuff~ I was wholly unprepared to face. Sometimes I'm ok, and sometimes I'm sitting there and my heart squeezes and I gasp, and cry a little. Sometimes the reality that everything has changed is just too much for me to handle; the reality that things I had hoped for are now no longer viable in my life is just too harsh a reality to deal with.

I'm teetering almost moment by moment between "embrace the pain of this time and grow", "I just want it to all be over" and "I wish it had never happened at all".

My Pop has always wisely said that "people are messy" and loving them is messy, and painful, sometimes excruciating. But I have learned that it is always, always, always worth it. So I scratch that last bit. I wish it had never happened at all. I am inexplicably thankful it did. But I look forward to the day when I can see many reasons to be thankful, because right now I am having to go on faith that the Father had a divine reason for it all. Right now, it just doesn't make sense. I am struggling to see how everything will ever be as good as it was.

I reposted a blog piece I wrote several months back about struggling to see His goodness in my own life, and I confess I am failing yet again to see it. There are details about this whole situation that I am immensely thankful for, and I can see how His goodness is gently laced in this painful thing, but I am struggling to see this painful thing at large as a part of His goodness.

I am trying not to ask the wrong questions of Him, but I'm also not sure what the right ones are. Is there sin in my life that caused this to happen? What do I need to learn from all of this? Have I misplaced priorities and allowed people and other relationships to become idols? Did I begin worshipping His gifts instead of Him?

I confess that it has all caused me to be acutely aware of my own shortcomings. My flaws have danced in my head, lying to me, telling me all these things are why it happened. That if I didn't have these flaws, I wouldn't be in the situation I now find myself.

I know that that's not true, but it feels so severely true. That if I was different, my personality, my character, my looks, my interests, my views, if everything was just a little different, I would still be happy right now.  Please know, I know this is not true, but it feels so incredibly true right now.

I told my sister today that I am looking forward to the one days, when I can see all of the reasons to be thankful for this time, but right now, I'm just thankful for everyone who is here with me during this time. <3

Xo,
M

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Hey Christians, we're doing it wrong

**DISCLAIMER** This post is not in about tearing others to shreds. But these are things I have on a regular basis seen first hand. It has caused me to change the way that I tip when I eat out, and they way I listen when a friend or customer is talking to me. I simply wanted to call it back to the attention of others, that we have some work to do.
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MercyMe droned on in the background as the sweet, modestly dressed young woman slid two $1 bills towards me for her $1.90 coffee. She shifted awkwardly, waiting for me to finish my side of the transaction, and rotated her leather bound Bible so I could clearly see that it was in fact, a Bible. I gave her her $0.10, and she hurried it into her pocket and then over to the corner with her nose in her Bible, coffee cooling on the table. Nothing about this interaction particularly bothered me at the moment, I'm used to people feeling awkward and/or not tipping. It kind of just rolled off my back until a second customer followed soon after who I know for a fact is a professing believer. This time it was a $3.something coffee and a $5 bill. Again they left, again no tip. At this point it bothered me.
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A week ago, the shop experienced inexplicable generosity and "loving on" by a local restaurant we've connected with when they allowed us to use their deep freeze when ours crashed (which in case you didn't know, that's bad for an ice cream shop) They then supplied dinner to my family who had worked tirelessly that day to clean up the melted ice cream from the freezer and then transfer the salvageable ice cream to their freezer. We're still in awe that they so willingly allowed us access to their freezer, and gave so much of their time.
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I have a customer-turned-friend who is forever offering to pick up lunch for me, just because she knows that she gets out more than I do, and I might enjoy something. Although I haven't taken her up on it yet, she heard me say I couldn't afford a new restaurant I wanted to try, so she popped a $20 in my hand, specifically for this place whenever I get the chance to go. She's heard more than one meltdown rant, shared some shady side eye over really irritation customers, been a comic relief, and we've definitely filled a need in each other for companionship in the shopping strip.
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I'm going to guess that someone who preaches karma isn't in an particularly active relationship with Jesus. But if I'm wrong, I apologize. However, the mom sporting her coexist tshirt insisted that her daughter give their change to me as a pay-it-forward to the next customer. It was humbling as the one behind the counter, and humbling for the little girl, and humbling for the young lady that was receiver of the gift.
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I've had a lady pay for a $4.74 purchase with a $10 and say keep the change, and a man pay for the same priced drink with a  $20 and again say keep the change, because he just wants to see us succeed.
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This is not about the money- the money just happens to be the example. If you look deeper into each example I gave, you'll see that these people have given me so much more than just their money. Some gave time, an encouraging word, or the gift of their friendship.

Why are we as believers so stingy and busy? Why do I see more Jesus style coming from people who do not actively walk with him? Why are believers pocketing their time and money, and keeping their heads down? In case you didn't realize, we're the ones who are supposed to be doing this sort of thing. We shouldn't eat somewhere if we can't afford to tip there- it's not about the money, but believe me, a generous tip is humbling. And your monetary gift my put enough gas in her car for her to get home tonight. If you're too busy, stop it. No one has to be so absolutely busy that they can't just be there for people. We say "oh call any time you need anything" but I'll wager that most of us don't mean it if we think through the implications of what its going to take to actually be there for someone. What if it means using a personal day on someone else? Or getting up at 3am to take someone to the ER, or even just giving up your afternoon to go to that appointment with them.
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Jesus had incredible moments of grand gesture love, when what he did was loud, observable, and applauded. But He also loved quietly, practically, and generously. He ate meals with those who's class or reputation was far beneath Him. He talked to and hung out with the outcasts, dirty ones, and lowlifes. When did tangible love become beneath us? When did we stop loving from the overflow of love in our hearts?

We have been so hugely loved, it only seems logical that we would love right back.

To the believers who have "pocketed their change", I love you. And I genuinely hope that you were and are able to bless someone else with your time, because that's what we ought to be doing! I don't have to be nor do I expect to be the receiver of your blessings, but make sure someone is. Let the love Christ has for you burst out of every pore in your being, and love on others. Love freely, love until it hurts. Love until you feel the drain of energy that it takes to truly love someone else. Love completely, love unhindered. I don't care how you do it, just make sure you do. Love, love, love.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

To the Friend Who Gets There First

To the Friend Who Gets There First,

Congratulations on your ______(new relationship, engagement/marriage, new house, new car, new job, new baby, new dog, new experience; life goal/milestone)! I mean it when I say I am truly and genuinely happy for you! As Solomon talks about in Ecclesiastes 3, I am going to be and am happy for and with you during this time! If you and I are long time friends, there's a real chance we dreamed about this as young girls, together. I hope your dreams came true, or are better than you imagined. Because I love you, I hope it all exceeds your expectations. I hope you are choosing to see these things as divine blessings from the Father. And I hope during this time, you are worshiping Him, and praising Him for giving you these desires of your heart! How He loves to bless us! I will be praying for you as this new chapter in your life begins!

I know you're there first. And I know it's exciting and overwhelming and maybe even exhausting, but please, please, please, do one thing for me:

Don't leave me behind.

No, you certainly can't change my circumstances to match yours, and I am not asking you to in the least! But don't leave me out of your life. No I may not understand by experience what its like to be planning a wedding, or nurse an infant in the middle of the night, or running a house, or working as a _____(new profession here). But that doesn't mean I don't want to still be involved in your life!

If you are not allowing me to be apart of things in your life because you feel sorry for me, please believe me that the introspective pity party I have when you don't allow me into your life is actually what sucks. Don't dismiss me from your life because you feel sorry for me, don't think I will get it, or don't feel like we can "relate" anymore. I may not have a husband, but I will still talk about relationship stuff, like we always have, with you. I may not have a baby, but I will still come over and to hang out. Maybe our "hanging out" will be me helping you clean out a closet, or scrubbing all your bathroom floors, but if we're friends, like actual friends, you better believe that's something I will do in a heartbeat. I'm single, no kids, flexible job & schedule. So if your concerned that your schedule is to rigid, let me fit into it- but please, whatever your reason for keeping me out of this season of your life, don't.

Don't feel bad for me, don't pity me, and please please please, don't shut me out. Allow me take part in the joy of this season with you! Because it is joyful!

I love you friend! Please allow me to keep doing just that! <3

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Moonless Seas

Where I have decided to forego the most popular form of social media (ahem, facebook) I have not altogether walked away from it. And today, I am thankful for that. I have a wise friend who posts an impeccably well balanced amount of humor and nuggets of truth. Most days her Hallmark hastags make me laugh, but today, she shared an Elisabeth Elliot quote, and it caused me to ponder greatly the words she shared:

"He is not all we would ask for (if we were honest), but it is precisely when we do not have what we would ask for, and only then, that we can clearly perceive His all-sufficiency. It is when the sea is moonless that the Lord has become my Light!"

Wow. The words gripped my heart and squeezed until I was tender enough to gasp at my arrogance, my insufficient "self sufficiency", my total disregard for how truly sufficient He is.

I think I *know* He is sufficient, but as she said, it seems to be only when He has denied, taken away, or temporarily withheld something or somethings from me, that I begin to see just how sufficient He is.

But I have a confession: sometimes He says no, He takes away, and He withholds, and I still think something else is the ticket. I still deny that He is sufficient enough for me. Sometimes my world is completely dark, and I still deny His help.

May this be a caution we take to heart dear sisters, that we not make our hearts go that far before we lean into Him for His sufficiency.