Tuesday, December 16, 2014

twenty fourteen: waiting.

We are obviously nearing the end of 2014. My natural inclination for the last, however many years, has been to reflect on the year: the ups and downs, God’s faithfulness, and fun times that I don’t want to forget. 

This year feels different though. I’ve had the same desire to reflect, but am avoiding it with all that is within me. I think God, in his graciousness, has been peeling back these layers of realization that I don’t want to reflect on the end of the year because 2014 didn’t look the way I wanted. 

2014 has been hard. I know there have been so many other people who have experienced pain, heartache and disappointment in much worse and life-changing ways than I have. But I am so prone to disregard my own feelings sometimes because “I know others have had a much harder time.” 2014 has been a constant push for me to recognize pain and hurt in my own life and deal with it. Not just deal with it by announcing to maybe my husband or a close friend that I have been hurt (I’m pretty emotional so this tends to happen more often than not). But like, actually sitting in that hurt for a while. I don’t ever do this (maybe because I’m scared or it’s emotionally draining or whatever). I just don’t ever let myself feel the weight of how I am feeling or what I am experiencing.  I get hurt, I cry, I ask Jesus for help, and I guess I just keep telling myself, “Okay, now get over it. You’ll be fine.” And most of the time, because of God’s goodness, I am okay. But this year constantly revealed dark places of my heart that are hurt and God is relentlessly drawing me to himself to trust him with my feelings, trust Him by acknowledging hurt, and trusting Him to put me back together.

2014 felt a lot like a huge waiting game. Waiting for a possible job opportunity. Waiting for the possibility of a baby. Waiting to finally feel healthier, only to mess it up again. Having a job I’m totally not in to, only to fight to trust Jesus with my future. 

I am more and more aware of how much unrest has crept into my world this past year.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30) 

I am learning that this promise is for me too. Not just those who work hard and are tired. But for me, too. Jesus isn’t telling me here to “get it together” or “come to me when you are ready to trust me.” But even when my heart is so weary and so heavy and so pissed and frustrated, he still calls me to come to him. 

This Christmas season, by what I believe is the sure goodness of God, has been surprisingly relaxing. Every year I am praying for time to slow down and enjoy the advent season. To be honest, I don’t think I prayed for that this year. I’m pretty sure I just hopped right into this season under the pretense that it will be like every year prior; busy, stressful, fattening, yet fun. However, I was quickly reminded of the fact that the Holy Spirit is dwelling in me and God’s grace to me this season has been showing me that he is faithful even when I totally neglect to come to him for help. He is good to give us a season in which we can really reflect and meditate on the waiting of what we even celebrate at Christmas; the birth of the Savior of the world. 

Waiting sucks. But I believe God is faithful in the waiting. Think about all of those years people waited for God to fulfill his promise of his Son. Can you EVEN imagine that waiting game? The anticipation, the weary hearts, the frustrated souls, the faithful followers who passionately longed for God to break in and rip us apart with the grace that we find in Jesus.

On Sunday night, I found myself anxious and overwhelmed for the week to come. I am considering different job opportunities and I am a little stressed out and a lot not trusting Jesus. Then, Monday morning I woke to find out the kiddo I nanny was sick and his mom didn’t need me to come in. This maybe doesn’t seem like a big deal to anyone, but to me it was yet another example of God’s faithfulness. I am so quick to feel entitled to these moments where I get this unexpected break and get to just hang out and do whatever. But I was overwhelmed with the small details of my life that God cares about.

I wish I could say that upon realizing all of these things about God’s faithfulness and his goodness to me totally changed how I feel about 2014. But since I am doing this new thing where I allow myself to feel things that I would normally push aside, I can be honest and say that I’m praying for God to help me trust his faithfulness. As 2014 quickly comes to a close, I need more than ever for Jesus’ grace to rip me to shreds and continue to show me my need for him. If that looks like a crappy 2015, then so be it. There is nothing sweeter than my need for Jesus, the one who gives rest. The one who came to save our souls. The one who is coming again. 

Friday, May 2, 2014


we all know those people who are so nice. they speak and have a softness to their voice and a patient tone. even when they are “mad” you have trouble noticing because their state of “mad” is like your proudest moment of being nice to someone. i’m not mad at these people (however, if i am being honest i would love to hear them just really get angry). in fact, i find my heart inclined to be a little envious that they are so nice. i don’t understand how they are so patient and so sweet. i find myself racking my brain, tempted, wanting to know the 5 steps of sounding nicer to people, having the perfect tone when talking to people. 

the last few weeks i have been wrestling with my lack of gentleness or my increasing expertise in gentleness(less) towards people. my husband, my mom, my friends. i was discouraged. maybe in more ways as i reflect even now, i am discouraged. as a counselor, i find myself always talking with people. sometimes i probably don’t know how i sound. maybe i come off as harsh. especially when i talk to dustin and i hear him say, “okay. alright. okay.” in a tone that would sound as if i have just scolded or harshly instructed him. my heart aches in those moments because the last thing i want is to be heard in that way. my heart’s inclination is to get mad at him for responding to me in such a way, but these last few weeks i’ve been given grace to see things from a different perspective: maybe it’s me. maybe i sound harsh. how did that really sound?

as i was reading 2 timothy 2:22-26 this week, solely by coincidence (well, God’s sovereignty of course) i was encouraged by my need to ask God for help here…

[“And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth...” ]

even approaching others with gentleness is something i can’t muscle up on my own. i need the Lord’s help. fairly often i find myself in situations that i need to confront someone, comfort someone, or speak truth to someone -- which is really just living life in community with other people and having conversation. and oh, how often i am not gentle. i’m harsh. i’m impatient. i’m quick to assume something about the other person. oh, how the Lord is being gentle with me as he is making this aware to my soul. how transformative it has been to watch the spirit work even in the last several days.

instead of looking to those people who are nice and friendly and who i become easily envious of, i am free to ask God to help me be gentle. i don’t have to look to 5 steps for becoming a nicer person because at the core of who i am, i’m terrible. i am in need of redemption in the way i even talk to people. though, even in harsh words and hateful tones, my identity doesn’t change. i am still a daughter of the most high. i am still accepted and deeply loved by the Father. it’s because of Jesus’ perfect life, death and resurrection that i am even able to share in God’s grace while his spirit enables me to be gentle.

i’m thankful for moments that i see my sin, i see my inability to be gentle with others when left to myself. it’s there i see my deep need for dependence on a gracious, merciful, forgiving, patient, steadfast God.

Friday, March 7, 2014


It's funny how quickly I become dependent on things or people other than Jesus. I'm thankful for God's subtle and other times HUGE reminders of my need for Jesus and dependence of him.

Quitting sugar (it's kind of hard), buying a home (my heart easily becomes discontent with things I feel like we need to have for the home), my husband who travels for work (I don't know how military wives or families do it) and my inability to overcome my anxiousness in the midst of all these things reminds me of how frail and needy I am. 

We live in a culture that screams "INDEPENDENCE." As much as I love to be independent (mostly due to my selfish and prideful heart), it seems counterculture to be dependent on the Lord. Even in the name of Jesus, Christians look to themselves to be their own savior, they put their hope in things that fade and freak out when things don't go their way, me included (More often than not).

As I think about our dependence on something (SOMEONE) much greater than ourselves, I cling to John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

Today, I am thankful for this promise. In the hustle and bustle of life, God is good, and my dependence on Him brings me much joy and freedom knowing that I'm not left to myself to figure things out.

Friday, February 7, 2014

i'm quitting sugar.

It’s true. I’m quitting sugar. Today is day 5 of an 8-week program, that you can read about here. In December, one of my most cherished friends, Haley and I decided to start an 8-week program. It was easier to make that commitment when I had a friend that was going to do it with me. I would say she probably feels the same way. Mostly because she convinced me to do it.

So, why quit sugar? There are several reasons one may one would want to quit sugar. Maybe one has a sugar addiction. For me, it is a way for me to recalibrate my body. The first year of marriage just came up on me when I realized I had gained 20 pounds. 20 pounds? WHAT? In response I say, “but, I’m making homemade meals and we are trying not eat out” Well, whatever. We were excited to be married and probably used that as an excuse to run across the street to the grocery store and get a tub of ice cream. I wanted to do this program because it serves as a way for me to still make meals at home and to gain knowledge about what it looks like to cook meals with whole foods. When reading about whether or not I should quit sugar, I realized I was experiencing many of the questions Sarah was asking:

Do you get an energy slump in the afternoon? Uhm, yep. Always.
Do you need something sweet after lunch or dinner? Always. Mostly chocolate. Specifically dark chocolate with caramel and sea salt from Trader Joe’s
Does your stomach get bloated after eating? Uhmm...Yep.
Are you unable to eat just one piece of cake and walk away? Most of the time I can walk away. But I usually don’t deny a piece of cake.
Are you “podgy” around the middle, perhaps even slim everywhere else? Well, yes to the podgy around the middle.
Do you often feel unclear? That you’re not always sharp and on-form? Uhm yes. For the last few weeks leading up to IQS8wp, I went to the doctor because I was experiencing having a foggy head that really scared me.
Do you want to lose weight? Duh.
Do you have an autoimmune issue and wonder if quitting sugar might make a difference? Maybe. Probably not. 

So, is sugar my problem? Maybe. There is literally sugar in so much crap. Has this been my problem? Maybe. We will find out. I am 5 days in and I’m not completely starving and I haven’t had sugar. I don’t see any difference yet because I have also been sick for the last 4 days with a cold. 

Anyway, most programs consist of crappy food or not much food or lots of shakes and things. What I love so much about this program is the knowledge of all of the wonderful things I can eat and how delicious it has all been. Seriously. So good. Here are a couple of things I have eaten throughout this week. 

This Sausage & Beetroot hash was delicious. I used Scimeca's Italian Sausage, local to KC. I roasted some beets and added onion and spinach to complete the dish. So good.

I improvised this a little bit. Instead of pumpkin puree that the recipe called for, I just used sweet potatoes (which are like my favorite anyway). I coated the chicken nuggets with gluten free flour (I'm on a GF diet per my doctor for a month to test my sensitivity to it-except I totally failed during the Super Bowl. oops!), an egg and shredded unsweetened coconut. I steamed the broccoli and snow peas with coconut oil, lemon, & some salt and pepper.

THIS has got to be my favorite treat from this week. For breakfast on Tuesday and Friday, we made a Toastie aka Grilled Cheese (I guess Toastie is an Australian thing??). Anyway, so simple. Avocado, cheddar cheese and well, I added an egg. 

Oh, and Dustin has been incredible supportive and has enjoyed the food as well. Except he has also eaten all of our leftover pizza from the Super Bowl last Sunday. Whatever. He loves it and I am really encouraged that he is also on this journey with me! 

I am thankful to be doing this. I am excited to see what comes of the 8 weeks. The goal is to make this a lifestyle. Thank you Jesus, for sustaining me this week when all I wanted was that GIANT chocolate chip cookie my friend Rachel brought to Gospel Community last night. 

Oh, and I'm thankful for the grace of Jesus. So often I see people trying diets (although this is not a diet) and beat themselves up when they make one little mistake. I think if it wasn't for the grace of Jesus in my life is so many different areas, I would be tempted to beat myself up too. I am just thankful for the opportunity.

Friday, January 3, 2014

a new year; same Savior.

With just a few days into the new year, I’m sure hundreds of people have already broken resolutions they have made as a way of being “better” or whatever. I’m glad I didn’t make a resolution to be a “better” person, cause the truth is I think these last 3 days have only revealed to me how often I have a tendency to find comfort in things that are fleeting.

I spent the entire New Year's Day being grumpy and used my grumpiness to excuse how I responded to other people, particularly my husband. But he so graciously pointed out to me about 10 times my attitude, my excuses and called me repent.

Honestly, I think this day was a realization of all of the “resolutions” I wanted to make but knew that left to myself I couldn’t accomplish said “resolutions”. Instead I became bitter and angry. I see people on social media making resolutions to lose weight, be nicer, do this or that or whatever (and in my tendency to think the worst about people--I say, “Ha. Good luck.”) But I look at my own life and the goals or dreams that I desire and panic over how I could never attain these things in the amount of time I want (like 2 days because I’m so impatient).

So I ask myself, that in the midst of a new year and new resolutions, how does the Gospel of Jesus apply to this? I remember and rest in the truth that in the Gospel of Jesus, God lavishes us with his love, he liberates us by his grace, and he doesn’t stop transforming us and redeeming us. How could I want any thing else other than this? Because the Gospel is true I don’t have to respond to the demand I place on myself for New Year’s resolutions--promises of what I am going to do for you or for myself. I can abandon myself to everything that Jesus has done for me and for you. He is the promise keeper and has promised to make me new (1).

How freeing is that? I don’t have to look to myself to accomplish these things that I think would bring me “life” No, I can look to Jesus and trust that he is redeeming me even amongst the ways I desire to lose weight, read more, whatever. I am free to do these things I desire, yet not beat myself up when I don’t accomplish them.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”(Romans 8:1-2) I love preaching these verses to myself because it reminds me of my standing with the Lord. We all have the temptation to beat ourselves up over our sin, frustrations consistently resorting to doing the same thing over and over. It reminds me of how God sees me when he looks at me. He sees Jesus. 

Friends, I would say if you were honest you know that left to yourself you can’t “accomplish” all that you wish this new year as well. I don't say this to be a debbie downer. But think about it. It won't be long down the road: maybe tonight, tomorrow, next week, a month or two from now that you will find yourself doing or not doing that "resolution" you promised yourself you would do or not do. But there is hope for you and for me. What if you believed for the first time that Jesus is enough for you? What if you looked to Him to be for you all of those things you put on yourself to accomplish? I know that real hope for change and transformation with an eternal perspective comes from knowing Jesus. 

If I am going to long for one thing this year, I pray it is to linger longer in the presence of Jesus. He brings life. He sustains. In Him, we have everything we need. So I don’t need to lose this specific amount of weight, or read more or work harder or craft more or be a better wife. No, I need Jesus.