Friday, December 20, 2013

God of the humble

On Sunday we sang a very familiar song (to me at least) to close our service.  It goes like this:

Oh kneel me down again here at your feet
Show me how much you love humility
Oh Spirit be the star that leads me to
The humble heart of love I see in you

You are the God of the broken
Friend of the weak
You wash the feet of the weary
Refresh the ones in need
I want to be like you Jesus
To have this heart in me
You are the God of the humble
You are the humble king

(Here's a recording of the song.)

Now, every other time I've sang this song I've thought of it as a statement of God's nearness, of His willingness to come down from the glory of heaven and live here on this Earth.  To dive into our messes and walk through life with us.  But on Sunday it was different.  All of a sudden, deep in my soul, I realized that what the song was also saying...perhaps the most important thing it was saying...was that Jesus is the God of broken people.  Tired people.  Not the ruler over the wealthy, the powerful or those who have it all together. It was as if in an instant the Holy Spirit whispered to my soul, "Stop striving.  Stop trying so hard to be perfect. It's ok to be broken."

Today one of my favorite bloggers, Addie Zierman, posted this: "And the most important thing that I learned about prayer this year is that I’m meant to come weary. To come distracted and messy and imperfect. I learned that it’s not failure to offer my piecemeal prayers up, punctuated by life’s interruptions. It’s faithfulness."

(Check out the whole post here.  And while you're there read everything she's every written because it's amazing.)

I'm taking it all as a reminder that brokenness and messiness and imperfection are not only acceptable to God, they are embraced.  I'm praying for the grace to remember this and to walk it out every day.  Join me?

Friday, September 13, 2013

My people

I spent some time with my baby sister today.  I don't think I've introduced her to you yet.  Well, here she is holding my youngest. A'int she purdy?

Anywho, we hung out today and it did my heart good. She visits me at my office sometimes and we chat, catch up on life. Although we currently live in the same town and even go to the same church, we still miss things, events, happenings in each other's lives. So, I cherish these times. Today, we even had lunch together. We joked and laughed - mainly at ourselves. We talked a little about the past and a little about the future. All this over a couple of sandwiches, a bag of salt & vinegar potato chips and a chocolate chip cookie. Amid the uproar of the dozens and dozens of others sharing meals and lives and moments together.

You know what I realize after this time with my sis? That we all need people. You know what I mean. People. The ones that remind you where you came from. The ones that accept you just as you are. The ones that want and hope the best for you but never make you feel bad about yourself when you're not quite measuring up. People.

I'm blessed to have several such people. Time with these folks makes me feel centered and certainly inspired. I'm inspired because of their love and acceptance. Because of their perspective on me and my life that's never as harsh as my own.

There are so many times when I'm in a "mode" (work mode, mom mode, etc). Times when I feel like the expectations are so daunting. When I'm with my people though, I don't feel that way. I feel like me. Like I'm ok in my own skin. That's something to treasure. And I do.

Happy Friday to you all!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I've been on an accidental hiatus from blogging recently.  With the start of a new school year, I just got busy and neglected to make the time to write.  Things have slowed now though.  At home, we're pretty well adjusted to a new weekly schedule and the back-to-school frenzy has subsided at work too.  So here I sit with a few moments to myself thinking about how long it's been since I've written anything.

I love to write.  Have I told you that?  Well, I do.  Writing is therapeutic for me.  It makes me think.  It forces me to string together all the random thoughts bouncing around in my head to form some sort of coherence.

Here are my thoughts for today:  Why do I feel the need to be busy all the time?  Why do I equate busyness with importance?  I mean, not all busy people are important people. And there are lots of very important people who aren't busy. Maybe it's a societal thing. The stereotypical American woman who can "do it all." I'm not sure when I bought into that.

I like to be busy, productive, efficient.  Too much downtime is frustrating and even depressing for me.  But, I want my busyness to be worth something.  I guess what I'm saying is I want to be busy with things that  matter. I want to be able to look past the frustrations of my job and just do my job well.  When I get home, I want to be able to ignore the laundry and dirty floors and just sit and play with my kids.  I want to be able to see myself as more than a completer of tasks.  Although completing things does satisfy me, I want to be able to find satisfaction amid chaos too.

So tonight maybe I won't wipe down the countertops or balance the budget or talk about the upcoming weekend's events.  Maybe I'll read or play Power Rangers or cuddle with my hubby.  Maybe I'll be more than a machine powered by the expectations of others.  Maybe...

Friday, August 2, 2013

An epiphany (sort of) about the future

Do you all read The Pioneer Woman? Who am I kidding...of course you do. She's like the most popular blogger on the planet. Anyway...I was perusing her site today for new recipes like I often do and I came across this post on freezer meals. As I scanned her tips and suggestions for hearty, homecooked meals (I always want to do Suzy Homemaker-type things like freeze meals) I thought, "These look scrumptious, but we don't need that much food." As soon as the thought unrolled from my brain I stopped and realized, as if for the first time, that someday I will.

Today I seriously considered for maybe the first time ever that my two boys (ages 3 and 5 months) will someday be teenagers and eventually full-grown men (gasp). After I finished laughing at myself for being so caught off guard by this very obvious truth, my heart swelled with anticipation.

I can't wait until there are hungry, growing boys sitting around my dinner table.  I can't wait to cook them chicken and noodles, and big pots of chili and lasagnas. I can't wait for them to have a favorite meal that only I can prepare just right.

I can't wait for them to arrive home "starving" after school. I can't wait to have their favorite snacks ready.

I can't wait until they outgrow me. I can't wait until they wow me with their courtesy and respect for women.

Now I know these may seem like simple, obvious things, but we're up to our elbows in baby formula and PB&Js right now. These thoughts about the future remind me that these days are numbered and that I should both cherish this present and look forward to the future.

No doubt about it, I'm raising men. They'll be good ones too, if I have anything to say about it!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


My hubby and I have been in a sort of evaluation mode for the past several weeks. Well, to be honest, it's probably more me than him since I'm slightly obsessive (read sarcasm) and an over-the-top perfectionist. I'm always looking for places we can improve.

Adding a second child has put some additional strain on our family. Pudgy, blue-eyed adorable strain, but strain nonetheless. So, of course, I knew it was time to evaluate!

I started with our monthly budget. We'd been using a free online service called Mint for tracking our expenses. It is wonderful and I highly recommend it to anyone. It gave us a real look at how much we spend each month on variable expenses like eating out, groceries and gas. It also helped us track recurring expenses like that pesky mortgage and cell phone bill. Mint also churns out some neat graphs and charts that just made me feel totally legit. Seriously, check it out.

Despite it's versatility, however, we still weren't sticking to our budget and were always coming up short at the end of every month. Now, for the first couple of months I gave us a big ole out that went something like this: "We just had a baby. We're still getting our bearings. Things will shake out eventually."

Can you hear my denial? Yeah, me too.

So, I started looking for alternatives. Our church recently spent a few weeks discussing wisdom from Proverbs. We spent a whole service on budgeting. Exciting, right? It really was! Money is a big deal to God, in case you didn't know.

During his sermon, our pastor mentioned budgeting resources available through Crown Financial Ministries. Eureka! I'd found my alternative! (Ok, I didn't actually say eureka.)

Crown's resources were different than any others I'd seen because they worked with percentages. They provide recommendations on what percentage of your bring-home pay (after tithe) should be spent on things like food, recreation and housing. Their recommendations are based on how much money you make so they're not the same across the board. A family that makes $60K a year, for example, can spend a slightly greater percentage on housing than a family that makes $100K. However, both families should be saving the same percentage of their income every month.

After using Crown's resources to evaluate our budget, I made a not too surprising discovery. We were spending 105% of our bring-home pay every month. No wonder we felt broke! I knew we were spending too much, but I hadn't ever thought of it in percentages. It really helped me.

It also got me thinking about other areas of my life where I consistently over spend. Even if it's just by 5%.

Just a few extra calories every day. Just a little less sleep every night. Just a little less quality time with my hubby.

We think those little bits don't matter, but over time they really add up.

My little evaluation has reminded me that living within limits is important.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Things that inspire me #1

This is my first in what I hope will be regular installments of sharing with you things that inspire me.  As I mentioned before, inspiration is what I'm after in life. Inspiration, to me, is that spark that motivates me to try something new or different. It's that ooey, gooey peaceful feeling that washes over me when I see something beautiful or share an amazing moment with a friend. Inspiration is what drives me to a life "outside the box." To a life and a calling beyond just the regular routines and expectations.  Inspiration points me to God and reminds me that He's at work on me and in this big world. Inspiration prompts me to just exhale and take in what's around me. To stop striving and to just rest in the goodness and serenity that exist in lots of things, moments and people.

So, here goes...

Have you guys seen this video?  It's well worth the 10 or so minutes you'll spend watching.

I know the themes of the video were political, but that wasn't what inspired me.  As I watched, my heart was absolutely moved for this group of people. They way they are searching to reconnect to their identity. The way they have lost hope, but not completely. Can't you sense their hunger? Can't you literally feel their desire to be understood and accepted just as they are?

You wanna know why that inspires me?

Because I can relate. If we're honest with ourselves, I think we all can.

You see, I may have been born into the "majority," but I've felt misunderstood.  I've struggled with anger and felt the sting of betrayal.  I've wished and prayed that my circumstances could be different, but they never really changed.  I've been hopeless.

I'm inspired because even though there are lots and lots of things that make me different than this group of people, there are also lots and lots of things that make us alike.  That, to me, is God's handiwork.  It's a reminder to me that God made us all alike (in His image) so that we could relate to one another.  So that we could help one another. That's amazing to me.

I hate it when we emphasize the things that make us different.  She's skinny, I'm fat.  He's smart, I'm dumb. They're loved, I'm forgotten.

Or the worst ones: I'm right, you're wrong.  I'm better, you're worse.

My prayer is that we would show God's love to people by putting aside the things that make us different and focus on the things that unite us.  We're not poor people and rich people, white people and black people, sick people and healthy people. This video inspires me to remember that we're all just people.  People with lots in common, the first of which is the longing in our hearts to be loved and accepted.  I think if we offer that love and acceptance in Jesus name our world will change dramatically.

Friday, July 19, 2013


I feel as if I'm in the process of an awakening. Since the birth of my second son (just over 5 months ago) I feel like I've been on a journey to "find myself."

I had no idea I was lost, of course. I thought I had been living life exactly as I wished. That I was exactly who I wanted to be. That things were going along just fine. But something happened when that son was about two weeks old. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, "Holy crap, I'm done."

I'm done with everything I thought I'd ever do in my life. I graduated from college, got married, got a good job, bought a house and had two kids.

Now what?

I suddenly felt lost, confused, overwhelmed. I felt like I didn't have anything else to look forward to. Like I was quickly becoming the stereotypical stressed out working mother who longs for the passion and zeal of her youth.

"Not me," I thought. But what's the next step?

I'm still figuring that out, of course, but what I can say I've learned is this: My identity is not determined by the job I have, the person I marry or the number of children I deliver. My identity is not determined by how much I weigh, how clean my house is or my debt-to-income ratio. My identity is not even determined by the gifts and abilities I possess.

My identity is determined by Christ and Christ alone.

When I pray to God to show me who I am, to help me figure out what He wants me to do with my life, He reminds me that I am created in His image. He calmly reassures me that the only way I'll know who I'm supposed to be is by knowing who He is.

It's such a simple truth, but it packs such a huge punch! (For me, at least.)

God is reminding me that there's so much more to be done in this life. He's awakening in me a passion to live life not for myself but for others. It's sparked a joy and an excitement in me that is tough to articulate. I feel like He's pulled back the curtain I thought was at the back of a room to reveal that the room actually goes on and on forever. I'm wowed.

I don't know what you may be thinking as you read this. Maybe you're in the same exciting place as me and are smiling and nodding in agreement. Maybe you think I'm crazy, that my impending 30th birthday has caused me to create an alternate reality to cope with the fact that I'm no longer young, hip or cool. Maybe you are down in the dumps feeling like there's nothing left for you.

Wherever you are, whatever you're thinking, I encourage you, implore you to reach out to Christ. Don't look to your circumstances for hope. Look to the One who is Hope. He knows you. He gave you an identity and a purpose before the foundations of the Earth were laid. He has a plan for you! Be encouraged, friends. Life is good!