1.24.2014

My New Birthday Song

How do you feel about your birthday? Okay, for real. How do you feel about celebrating the day you were born? Is it a day of rejoicing? A day when you embrace how fearfully and wonderfully made you are? Is it a day of significance and importance? A day you allow yourself to be delighted in? A day you believe you are worthy of celebration and honor?

Or is it a hard day...maybe even a dreaded day? Are you afraid of being forgotten...or on the other extreme, the center of attention? Is it a day marked by fear and insecurity? A day of heightened sadness or loneliness? A day of high expectations and inevitable disappointment? A day that reinforces your belief that you aren't worthy of delight and celebration?

I've been all over the map on my birthday. You name it, I've felt it. But even on the best of birthdays, there's always this underlying feeling of fear. {I didn't realize that until recently, but it was always there.} In recent years, I've been trying to get to the bottom of that. And while I may still have some digging to do, I've discovered something: my fear of birthdays has everything to do with what I believe about myself.

Did you know you can believe an untrue thing about yourself deep down to your very core and not even know you're believing in it? SO many lies...the lie that you aren't wanted, you aren't enough, you aren't worth celebrating, you aren't beautiful, you aren't fearfully and wonderfully made, you aren't ___________ {fill in the blank}.

It pains me to type those lies, and pains me even more to have believed in them.

Back to birthdays. There's a story that surrounds the day of our birth. We're born into a story that began long before we entered the world. I hope the day of your birth was a joyful celebration. But I also know enough about life to know that it might not have been.

I don't know your story, or what you've learned to believe about yourself because of it, but here's what I know for sure: you are wanted, you are enough, you are worth celebrating, you are beautiful, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Even in the most broken story, this is what is true of you.

Today, on my 39th birthday, I'm singing a new song. And I'm inviting you to sing it with me. Turn it up and belt it out. Because THIS is what is true!

{Email subscribers, click here to listen. It's worth it!}

From the day you were born 
And took your first breath
You opened your eyes and in came the light
He was watching you
But all of your life you couldn't shake the lies in your head 
Saying you're a mistake
Oh but you were made
By a God who knows your name 
He doesn't make mistakes

CHORUS
You are wanted
To every broken heart, He stands with open arms
You are wanted 
To every searching soul, look to the rising sun
If you're lonely, hurting, gone too far
To the outcast you come as you are
For you, you are wanted, you, you are wanted
You, you are wanted, you, you are wanted

Let this be the day that joy takes the place
Of all of the years that shame tried to steal away

He is calling you
Lift your eyes to see His face 
Come run into the arms of grace

CHORUS

You, you have been marked 
You're set apart
And He calls you His

So you don't have to search
Don't have to look for where you belong

You are wanted

Awesome! Let's sing it again...and again! Ready?
For YOU are the one the Lord has made! There is no one like you!
You are wanted...and absolutely needed.

With joy on my birthday, 

1.18.2014

Rescued by Beauty

When several of your pipes burst in zero degree weather
and waterfalls are flowing inside your house...


BEAUTY RESCUES.

When the little girl places in your heart are all
stirred up by counseling and you're feeling like a mess...


BEAUTY RESCUES.


Beauty does something for us we can't do for ourselves...
even in the most unlikely moments.

If you're in need of a rescue from your circumstances, your emotions, your to-do list, your lack of a to-do list, the crazy mess in your home or the beautiful mess in your heart...HUNT FOR BEAUTY. And let it have its way with you. 

Happy weekend,

1.07.2014

Zero Degree Ramblings


When I woke up this morning, it was zero degrees on the farm.


Surely that was some kind of record...at least it was for us, so it seems worthy of a headline. It's five or six degrees now, but it's all the same to me. I'm only a cold weather girl if I'm inside, by the fire, with a warm beverage!


It's a great day to sort through photos and ease my way into this chilly morning. If that sounds fun to you, grab a cup of something warm and sit down with me. {I wish you were here in person!}

*   *   *

Would you believe it took me almost an hour to complete just that much of a post? Because I've got this cute little guy who's chewing everything in sight...everything except his bone that I keep tossing him!


The bench, the rug, the stool at my little kitchen desk...all his favorite chew toys right now. And with my moments of inattentiveness, I have a feeling I'll be replacing a few things down the road. Poor little guy, I'm not much of a playmate. He's whimpering over the loss of his best buddies, who went back to school and work this morning.





I've never been much of a playmate. I'm a gentle, loving, nurturing mama, but not the one you turn to for fun and excitement. I've never been that mama. My girls always went to daddy for that. But poor little Aslan doesn't know where the fun daddy went!

This is the best I can do: let him run around outside...

...until he wears himself out!
{I'll be repeating that trick all day long.}

Now that I've totally lost my train of thought...what was I saying? That it's cold. And my fire is pretty lame since my farmboy is back in business as a doctor this morning. {Thankful for patients!}

How about a few photos from our recent dusting of snow...

Yesterday morning.

Yesterday evening.
{A nearly frozen pond with ducks still in it.}

Oh, and I almost forgot! {Puppy brain!} We introduced Aslan to Buddy and Bella the other day! They've been watching him through the fence as we let him out to go potty or burn off energy, but this was their first official meeting. {The sweetness was well documented!}


Buddy.

Bella.


When they get too curious,
JD lets them know who's boss, and they respect him.

Letting Aslan put his paws all over their faces.

Buddy and Bella are gentle giants...
only fierce when they need to be.

Aslan is too tiny for an unchaperoned visit,
but I have a feeling they'll all be great friends.

One more thing before I return to puppy duty: thank you for your genuine and encouraging responses to my marriage post. {My husband said it was his favorite post ever. Didn't see that coming!} It's risky to be so honest about hard and hidden things, but powerful things happen when we shine light into the darkness. Freedom, hope and healing all become visible in the light.

I hesitated before unleashing that post into the public realm...then uttered a quick, out loud prayer that every word would be used for good. And wouldn't you know that after putting myself out there, we had one of our hardest struggles yet? Of course we did. That's how it works. And then I was sick for three straight days. In bed kind of sick. Missed our anniversary date and everything. But I'm back up again. 

Yes, marriage is hard. But it's a worthy work. Many readers who've been married much longer than I have said the same in their emails. Keep at it, sweet friends. Keep fighting the good fight. And when you can't do it on your own, reach out for help. We're off to counseling tomorrow, healing prayer in February, and a marriage retreat in March. There was a time when I might not have admitted all that, but those were the days when I tried to be strong and perfect on my own. Now I know that acknowledging my weakness is a strength. And that a certain kind of power is made perfect in my weakness. {2 Corinthians 12:9} Amen to that!

And now back to this little guy:

He's full time!

Wishing you a warm and cozy day!

1.03.2014

Marriage: A Whole Lot of Hard...and Hope!



Today marks 16 years of marriage for JD and me. And while that's only a drop in the bucket compared to the years we hope to be married {the rest of our lives!}, here's what I know for sure after 16 years: marriage is HARD. But it's some of the worthiest hard work you'll ever do. And if you feel stuck in the hard right now, there's HOPE.

Let me see if I can unpack that a little bit.

First, marriage is HARD. Who knew? Did you know that going into marriage? I sure didn't! You're talking to a girl who thought she was going to snuggle with her husband all through the night for the rest of her life...just like I did with my teddy bear growing up. Little did I know that we'd get too hot, too uncomfortable, too agitated, and {gasp!} too offended to even say goodnight at times.

Why on earth is marriage so hard? Well, we all have our different reasons. One is that we're all hard to live with, no matter how great we think we are. My husband? He's an amazing man. {If you knew his story, you'd agree that he's a walking miracle!} But he has his ways. I've cussed him out in my head a thousand times. Hard Ass! {My secret is out. Good thing he knows it already.} And me? I'd like to think I'm all sweet, supportive and easy, but who am I kidding? A long-time perfectionist who doesn't admit fault easily and struggles to ask for forgiveness? My poor husband.


But there's a much bigger story than husband vs. wife...your ways vs. his.

There's a story as old as creation itself. The story of a God who creates something good...and an enemy who opposes and attempts to destroy whatever God creates. So if you have even the smallest belief that God intended marriage to be good, you can bet there's been some kind of opposition to your marriage from day one.

I didn't know that when I got married, but boy do I sense it now. Big time. And knowing this makes a huge difference in the way we fight this battle. Instead of seeing each other as the enemy, we're learning to fight the real enemy together. We're learning to fight for our marriage instead of fight against each other.


And there's more. As if that larger story weren't enough!

You see, we each bring our own stories to the table. I won't even be able to scratch the surface in a single post, but the short story is this: no matter how seemingly perfect or how obviously broken your childhood was, you bring baggage from your past into your present. When you show up on your wedding day, it's not just as a brand new bride, but as a little girl with all kinds of hurts and hopes and dreams.


The truth is, most of us don't really know what we're bringing into a marriage. We want to bring our best...to start all fresh and new. But we bring all that we are...the good and the broken. And the broken isn't bad. It just needs healing.

It's rare that two people enter into marriage whole and healed. Because most of us don't even know what needs healing until we see our brokenness laid out all raw and messy in front of another...which rarely happens outside of the most intimate of relationships. Who else but our spouse sees us in every single state...from beautiful to broken and back again?

Most of us enter in quite broken, messy and unaware. And we look to the other, often unconsciously, to mend or at least soothe the broken places.

There's nothing wrong with starting a marriage this way. It's really quite normal. But staying in that place of brokenness and looking to the other to fix or soothe won't strengthen a marriage. It will quietly erode the strong tower you tried to build together. Until one day...

...you have no idea how you got here. Or how to get out. You just feel stuck in a hard place.

But there's HOPE. Because whatever God starts, He will finish well. {Philippians 1:6} When I don't know where this story is going, I trust that He does. When things don't look so good, I remember His commitment to work everything out for good. {Romans 8:28}

On the hard days, I go back to how we met and fell and love. It's a story only God could write. There's no other way I could meet him over Thanksgiving, know he's "the one" by Christmas, and be engaged by Valentine's. Talk about a whirlwind love story way outside of my perfectionistic, planned, predictable comfort zone! {More on that story here.}


Without a doubt, the last 18 months have been the hardest ones in our marriage. A major life change has a way of exposing what we tend to ignore, shove down or hide in a more predictable, controlled, fast-moving environment. Part of what makes the transition so hard is that we learned a way of relating to one another out of our broken places, and now that we're on the path to healing and growth, we have to learn new ways.

When we started the counseling process {mostly my husband, a brave-hearted man}, it was if someone changed the music in our marriage. But we were still trying to do the old dance. And because I'm not the best at adapting to change, I'm probably the one trying to use old dance moves while his quick-learning, change-loving self has picked up the new ones in record time. No wonder we're stepping all over each other's toes!

Surely there will be a day when I'll have a wiser perspective on how to struggle well in marriage, but for now, just know I can absolutely relate to those of you who feel stuck in a hard place. We won't always be in this place. I promise. Even better, God promises. He won't leave us where we are...or how we are. He's in the transformation business!

This is the visual that God has given me as I wait on Him to move us through this hard place: we're mining for gold. It may look like a coal mine at times, all black and sooty. {Gold looks a lot like coal until the dross is burned away.} But what looks like coal right now will be our treasure in the end. I'm convinced that when we come out of this place, we'll be more deeply connected and rooted than ever before. {We're already experiencing moments like that, and they are sweet!} And on the hardest of days, I remind myself that I'm not leaving this coal mine until I come out with my treasure!


On this day of our 16th wedding anniversary, I know two things: marriage is HARD. But there is HOPE. Look for the little glimmers of gold beneath the outer layer of struggle. In the end, we're coming out of these hard places with treasure!

Wherever you find yourself in your story today, stuck in the hard or basking in hope, you are not alone. If you're stuck in the hard and can't see your way out, ask someone to pray for you today. I'll do it if you don't have another. Truly. Send me an email. And if you're basking in hope, surely you remember the days when you weren't. Look for those who are stuck. Love on them. Pray with them. Listen to them. Let them cry, let them hurt, let them struggle. Don't try to fix them or take away their pain. But remind them there is hope. Get down in the dark place with them and be a light.

As we enter a new year, I'm hopeful. Instead of dreading newness as I have in the past, I'm actually looking forward to it. I'm daring to believe that this is the year that God will make all things new...and that I will actually perceive it instead of being blind to it.


Happy New Year to you, sweet friends.
Here's to the new thing God is doing!

With a heart wide open,
P.S. 
To my husband: HAPPY ANNIVERSARY.
There's no one else in the world I'd rather do this life with than you.
You are brave. You are strong. You are MINE!

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