The call to (en)Courage…

what we do with our love

“It’s not my job to encourage…”

I can’t tell you just how many times I have heard this phrase uttered in the work place, churches, circles of friends, doctor’s office waiting rooms, in the everywheres of our everyday lives…  Our hearts should break for the broken.  Wide open.   We don’t have to have walked their journey, we don’t have to understand, we don’t even have to agree.  These are not prerequisites for encouragement or empathy.  Our hearts should break with the broken.  And with that breaking comes the responsibility to reach out a hand, smile, and love.

And so, oh sweetest sister and brother, it very much is our job.  In fact, it’s one of the many reasons why — why we’re all here…  to courageously encourage one another.  Because it is an act of courage.  To not judge and just give love and spread light — in all of this darkness… ❤

Because there’s a battle raging.  Don’t know if you’ve noticed.  But it’s out there.  And the causality is our souls.  I’m not talking brimstone or pearly gates.  I’m talking hope.  And some souls are throwing in the towel.  Giving up too soon.  Finding no home, no resting place, no validation, no welcome, no receiving handshake or warm hug.  Not even being able to muster of the vaguest memory of one that can carry them over with some sort of perseverance until that next time.  It’s getting pretty bleak out there.  And our surmounting apathy for one another is one of the fastest growing and darkest of evils.  “It’s not my problem…”  until.it.is.  I’m tired of losing souls to hopelessness.

It is very much our jobs — all of us being a part of this human race — and we should just generally give a damn about each other — and a job because it does take time and thoughtfulness, effort, persistence and work.  We have to look past ourselves, our noses, our ideology, our theology, our own comfort.  We have to think past ‘selfie’.  We have to think humanity.

And yes, I’m talking an every waking day conscious undertaking — to get up in each other’s faces and remind one another of just exactly who we are.  To help one another focus on the all of us — so that we can see that we are more than just our toil, blood, skin and our bones.  To turn us towards our divine.  To help us remember that we are precious, we are sacred, we are eternal and holy.  What miracles we are!

And in all of that amazing is this rather huge bit of humility — that every single breath we take is a gift.  A blessed gift that can be taken from our lungs at any moment.  So in these moments that are really ours only in the most arbitrary of senses, we can choose to give love, and hope, and to spread the kind of joy that doesn’t depend on circumstance — but on an ever-present and sustainable spirit that says ‘you are enough simply because you are you — and in that you is purpose.’  And we can choose not to waste it, simply by sharing it, and by encouraging that purpose in others.

And that purpose doesn’t have to be deemed as something superstar lofty to be legitimate.  It doesn’t have to be ridiculously grand.  It simply has to be.  You can go ahead and settle into who you were created to be and get good and comfortable with the authenticity of that.  No manufactured or contrived outcome required.  Just you.  Showing up and being you.  Man that’s brave.  Seriously brave.  Owning the all of who your are and your story.  Serving.  Giving.  Shining you.  Beautiful you.  And no one gets to judge that — I’m not saying no one will — but you continue on in your purpose.  Because you can.  Because you get to.  And because no one gets to diminish or determine your value.  We’re all just people.  And all the big and small that is.  You are here.  You exist.  You are breathing.  And you are always enough.  Now.go.be.that.  Wow.  THAT is freaking radiant.  And only YOU can do that.  That’s right.  Sounds cliché, I know.  But really, only you have the power to add your fingerprint, your light…

So in all of this forsaken darkness, go and be that light.  And please don’t stop shining.  Some times that light of ours may be a little dimmer than others — I mean, we’re human in all of our bones, toil, blood and skin and divine as well (and hiding under blankets just sounds better than being all brave and super woman or mannish on some days — I so get it — but just keep it lit, okay?  Keep it burning.  Keep it glowing.)  And try again tomorrow… ❤

Yes, dearest ones, it very much IS our job.  To help one another keep that light burning.  One of our most sacred — this encouraging one another business.  This building up of one another.  In this battle where darkness seeks to relentlessly rage on and make all of us feel so helpless and hopeless — we are called to shine like stars in the universe.  We must courageously encourage.  We must be one another’s hope keepers.

It is the resistance.  

It is also brave.  It is also strong.  It also just may take all you have.  Because there are so many broken hearts and spirits out there.  There are so many people hurting.  And if you can’t see it, you’re simply not looking hard enough…  There is so much that is pushing us all down — fighting to take out our light.  So many light snuffers.  But we can.  We SO very much CAN.  It is who we are courageously called to be.

To make sure that every single being on this planet understands that there’s a seat for all of us at this ginormous table.  Where everyone is welcome.  Humanity is an inclusive gig — this blood, bones, and divinity ensemble.  Pull up a chair.  Take a load off.  I see you. And I am reminded when I look at you,  that I get a glimpse at the face of God.  And what a treasured and holy miracle that is.  You may call him something else — but I see him in you…

Please don’t give up.  Dark looks so powerful sometimes, doesn’t it?  But it only takes a tiny spark.  Just one seemingly insignificant ember to glow in all that black stuff.  Courage, love.  Such miniscule specks, so they appear, those radient stars in they sky.  But you can’t count them all now, can you?  It’s not our size, it’s not our strength in the world’s eyes, it’s not anything darkness likes to throw in our faces and measure.  It’s that little light inside… ❤

And that light is divine.  There is no greater power.  And the love, hope, and all things amazing and albeit magical that come from that?  Well, we know that love always wins.  Always.  Even when it doesn’t look like it.  Because love is never, ever given in vain.  Never lost.  And always worth it.  Because it’s not in the getting of it, it’s in the giving of it.  The putting out there.  Just.keep.shining.

I see you.  I love you.  And why don’t you take a minute to encourage that person next to you?  We could all use a little bit more — the fanning of our own sparks, yes?

And with that kind of love and thoughtfulness for one another?  Man, we can light up this whole world. ❤ ❤ ❤

Yes.we.can.

Namaste, loves… (yeah, I see that gorgeous light in you)

what are you going to do

 

 

 

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Who we are…

adult

I have lately found myself being something I am usually not.  Vague.  Hidden.  Keeping big things suppressed and to myself (I KNOW, what is THAT? 😉 ).  Obsessively talking about things that don’t matter to cover up the all the noise that is in my heart and head (‘oh so THAT’S why you won’t SHUT UP!!!’, says the husband… 😉 ).  Joking about packing up the boys, buying a yurt, and moving to Colorado.

So.dead.serious.  If the opportunity presented itself, I would do this.  In a heartbeat.  Opportunity, go ahead and knock.  I freaking dare you…

Because despite my best intentions of being a together and all feeling yet present and in touch and deeply connected and breathing in and out with my Lord sort of person, I’m kind of suffocating.  Not like ‘panic attack’, whoa is me, the end is near sort of suffocating — because that was SO last year 😉 …

But that ‘had enough’, ready to close the chapters — all of them — and move on to an entirely different book sort of suffocating.

My husband simply thinks it’s a nervous breakdown.  A midlife crisis of sorts.  I know myself better.  I’ve had lots of those 😉 .  Those are freaking nothing.  We INFJ’s have those for breakfast.  This is more.  This is awakening.  This is not wanting to sleep through my life anymore.  This is so far from being tired.  So far from being exhausted.  So far from being used up.  This is so far from being aware of the bullshit.  This is just being done.  Plate’s full and I’ve had so much more than enough, thank you.  Here it is — you can have it back — washed, sparkly clean, because this sister is moving on without taking anything else you have to dish out in this perimeter of my existence, life.

A few weeks ago, who’s counting?  Time has been one giant cluster of no sleep and that cry praying where you’re talking to God and listening and breathing him in so close that you feel held but yet he’s still just too damn far away.  Sometimes I long for home so much it viscerally hurts.  I went to look for a few books and papers and binders full of information I had saved concerning autism and other things from education and behavioral psychology classes at Simpson and some journaling I had done while working at Westminster House and teaching a few preschool kiddos at Methodist as this new preschool year began — to brush up on a few things.  All of this was in a gigantic tote of my personal stuff I didn’t quite know where to put or what to do with but felt I should keep.  So, I dug it out of the basement and opened it up.  Part of me wishes I hadn’t…

Also in it were all of my diaries and journals.  I started keeping one when I was a tiny seven — so close to Griffyn’s age (the connection gripped me and held me and the same grip squeezed when I hit ‘my age’ at Max’s age for the entire time I read).  I named my journals at the beginning — they were “friends.”  Feels sad just writing that.  About ten to fifteen bound books — all various pieces of me.  Also sheets and sheets of poetry–some typed some scribbled, and books I had written when I was little through high school (really quite terrible — not being humble — they are awful).  And magazines I had created with mock interviews with created people, fashion editorials, complete with ads.  I thought I was a designer too? Not really, I just loved to draw and write and pretend to be a journalist 🙂 . And letters.  So many letters.  And everything from graduation –both high school and college — and all the letters from teachers that wrote in to scholarship committees for me (I applied to at least 100 or more 😉 — paying for college yourself is tough, friends 🙂 , when you pay for the everything else of life for yourself too 🙂 ).  These letters from teachers were the first thing I read.  And it was all downhill from there, I guess you could say.  I just lost it.  I couldn’t take the beautiful words.  Why did they hurt so freaking bad?  And why didn’t I know this about myself or remember ANY of this?

“If I had had daughters instead of sons, I would be quite fortunate to have a daughter with all of the attributes that Angela possesses…”  what the hell?

The letters from previous bosses, friends from all.of.the.places from which we had moved, teachers I had kept in contact with (I had such an incredibly close relationship with my teachers), and the friends I still call my sisters today.  Dammit.  They were all such gorgeous words.  I was not this person they all said I was!!!  I was not this person… (Summer, Kari, love you…)

I looked at the stacks of journals looming in front of me.  Part of me felt like vomiting.  I had never actually sat down and went through them all–consciously, present, on purpose, for real.   Seven years old. That’s so little.  I was literally shaking.

I think, no, I’m lying with that ‘think’ word — I KNOW — that a huge part of me hopes  that everything in that “then” box I keep in my brain was actually better than I remember.  That my mother was right, that I cast a darker shadow on that past place than actually was — because that’s human nature, right?  And that’s what little kids and adolescents and people in their twenties do…  And who can trust therapists that ‘help’ you dig up your memories, right?  Hypnosis and REM (rapid eye movement) therapy is just weird and probably does strange stuff to your brain that isn’t right or trust worthy at all.  I mean, all of those highly trained professionals probably even “suggested” some stuff to you and then you just “remembered it that way, Ang”.  It really wasn’t THAT bad at all.  It’s just you.  It’s always been just you.  In fact, it’s just you period.

And it would make sense — because everyone else seems to be just fine.  I’m clearly the one that’s the most fucked up.  Still struggling.  Still quite awful and has so.many.issues (get over them already, would you?) and has to be told how it “really was” despite having lived it and been there–you know,  for all of my actual living of it.

And my mother would often tell me when I was so confused by the chemistry and connection of this mother and daughter relationship that is so difficult for me to grasp, but I will forever in relentless faith forge ahead — trying, always trying — to maintain, to carve in the love that I have learned and know how to give in my own way from an eternal Father– that when I was younger she and I had an “understanding”.  And I must have.  Because I don’t know how a person could let a monster do what a monster does and just stand there.  Just watch it.  Just be present and do so little to stop it — or at the very least, weaken its course.  But we were all doing the best we could, alright?  I swallow that — choke on it sometimes — but I swallow that and I let it burn all the way down until my insides consume it.  Because I want to believe it.  I want to believe it so badly.  But some of us were children, and some of us were grown ups…

And I open, page one of me — it’s my birthday, I am seven, and I just ‘got my ears pirced’ and bought this little lavender unicorn and rainbow diary with money I got from Grandma Sundsvold.  The rest my parents kept.  And I was in the basement with all of these memories for the rest of the day.  Losing my ever loving mind. I came up for tea.  Only for tea. And it sucked more than my worst nightmares.  Because not only was it just as bad as I remember, loves, it was freaking worse.  Dammit.  Dammit all to hell.

And it wasn’t just my family that bled in those pages, in those books.  It was Marty’s too.  His mom.  My marriage.  All.of.that.shit.too.  Because I walked from one inferno of crap, and was just finally finding the recourse to heal from through therapy — so.much.therapy –that I didn’t need to set myself on fire to save my family — but was still simmering — and just learning the everythings of all of that (I can’t even tell you what all of that is like — there aren’t words — your world isn’t even turned upside down, so much — it’s more like you just constantly wake up in a completely different version of hell and acclimate as best you can to who you thought you were and what you thought was real) — and I walked into a family where someone had a gallon of gasoline and yet another set of matches –ready to take full advantage of someone she saw was broken — yet she plays the savior AND the victim both at the same time.  And while I’ve forgiven her, I’m still wracked by the betrayal of the person who let it happen, who KNEW her — who was supposed to protect me — who was supposed to respect, love, honor, and cherish me.  Who I was supposed to be good enough for (God, would I ever be good enough for anybody?).  And I’m so freaking over blaming myself when I was the only voice for so long who would stand up to the truth of that situation–which incited a secret family meeting all about me (in which I wasn’t invited and Marty wasn’t privy to the agenda–and the agenda was full of bullshit).

And yet I still apologized for my part.  Conceded to the very few things that were actually true that were said.  She admitted to nothing.  She hoped I would lay down and die, I think, feel completely over powered by her and accept all of her crap as fact — be the target and move on.  But I still believed in God and what was right.  I always had.  She forgot that.  She didn’t really know me.  Just the version she wanted me to be.  The doormat.  And I wouldn’t take her saying things that weren’t true about me.  I wouldn’t agree to that.  I couldn’t believe that she was basically laying out everything that SHE was on to me.  It was so insane.  I had loved her so much.  I had called this woman Mom.  I had started to question some things and I had started to question her and had asked if she could stop being so negative (mentioned in several journal entries) about several family members (including her son).  And this is what happened.  This meeting.  All about me.  She even blindsided and was dishonest about what the meeting was about to my husband.  It was so surreal.  If I would have been a different person then, I would have walked away from her and all of the insanity then.  But in the grand scheme of how I had been treated my entire life, this was actually kind of “normal”…

Marty and I decided not to lay all of her garbage out for everyone (she talked about it all to him too — it wasn’t just to me), instead we simply asked her to stop lying.  We gave her a huge second chance.  I don’t know that she necessarily thought of it in that regard.  And we continued to go to family functions — but paired it down a bit.  This was an eye-opening experience of the very biggest kind.  Yet the bs continued.  Really crazy shit happened.  Things that made me go into the bathroom and vomit crazy shit happened  — then she would cry, and it would always be my fault and something I did and would need to apologize for because she was just trying to be a good mother and grandma.  And I fought on.  An army of one.  For so many years.  Till I got stronger.  And then I finally said enough.  I realized I was worth more than this, even if I wasn’t to my husband or to this family — I was to me and to what I was teaching my children what family was.  I was for two boys who were watching all of this.  And I had been through this all before.  And I deserved respect.  I deserved honesty.  And I could not live my life without those things ever again.  And asking for those things was never, ever asking for too much. Not because I was an amazing person — but because I was a child of God.  And so was she.  So she claimed to be.  So she was able to do those very things she claimed she was.  And I would hold her accountable.

And it was so incredibly important to me what my children were seeing and hearing in all of this.  We are love.  And love is action.  A person doesn’t get to abuse you because they are family.  They don’t get to lie about you and crap all over you because they are a certain word in your apparent circle of blood ties — it doesn’t give them a free pass to degrade you.  We stand up for one another.  We say, no, this isn’t okay — and we honor and we respect one another.  All of us.  So, even though I was solo once again, I wasn’t afraid.  It didn’t matter to me what anyone else thought or what anyone else said.  And I really wasn’t alone.  Because I was NEVER alone.  I had learned that much in my life. God would be my strength.  And he is bigger than any narcissist — however many tears they shed, however many lies they spread, and however altruistic and wonderful they appear to be to others.   No one really knows what we’re going through in this.  And there that all was.  Incident after freaking incident, letters, all that crap, staring back at me.  Journal after journal. That was, and is, so very real too.

And it all came crashing in.  This.

That I am so tired of surviving people.  I am so tired of surviving my life.

(I don’t mean to sound ungrateful or unthankful.  My life is FULL of beautiful and amazingly gorgeous relationships!  I am innately blessed.  I am.  Please understand this.  This was my initial overwhelming feeling after all.of.this.)

Usually when someone says they feel they have lived a full life, it is full of adventure, travel, incredible and fantastical things, yes?  The oddity and absurdity of me is that I feel that I have lived so.many.lives.  It has been so full.  I feel it has been TOO full.  It’s not so much all of the moving or all of the incredible amount of people I have met and places — nothing so extravagant as oceans away — but the complexity of survival that has completely worn me.  It’s the before and after of who you are.  The contrast of who that person was, yet all the people you carry with you (the you’s of you — and the people you have to say goodbye to, the real ones 🙂 ).  Because I loved all of those people so hard.  I did. All of them.

Reading through teacher cards and notes, I was struck by the fact that in so many respects I was kind of raised by my teachers.  I know this is why I wanted to be one so badly.  Their impact on my life was not missed.  I loved them so much and I truly felt their love for me.  Out of all of the things I have forgotten or suppressed in my life, I remember so many of their names.  This is telling to me. They were the ones who actually told me they were proud of me, they cared about me, and often — so very often — they were the ones that told me they loved me.  From kindergarten all the way up to graduating from Simpson.  And I may have forgotten it sometimes, but looking over all of this paper mess strewn everywhere — it was God’s way of telling me and reminding me through the people he created and graciously placed in my life journey that maybe I was okay, maybe I was something — when his voice was muffled by who my father told me was god.  How absolutely AWESOME is our God?!?!??!?!?!??!?!??!?!? None of that had to happen.  None.of.it.

And my teachers tried to help. They did.  I was reminded of this in a diary of the fifth grade me.  I was so scared because Mrs. Love — seriously her name was Mrs. Love ❤ — called my parents to let them know she was concerned about me.  It all came rushing back.  I remembered all of it (this.kept.happening — dear heaven, it was exhausting! the voices, the smells, the images!!!!). I was deeply anxious, seemed depressed and agitated and jumpy all the time.  I was a perfectionist child and although she appreciated my hard work and eagerness to please, she wanted me to be able to relax and enjoy life too.  She got me a little button (remember jean jackets and buttons? 😉 ) that said “take time to stop and smell the roses” — wrote my fifth grade self.  My parents were furious and completely offended.  My mother was exasperated and explained that I was “always just that kind of kid”.  I even got sores on the inside of my mouth and had stomach aches all the time just because of stress, for goodness sakes.  I was annoying, at best.  And my father told her that “‘maybe she gave out too much homework and should stick to teaching and leave them to the parenting.’ (Non believers.  They think they know everything.  She’s going to hell.)”

And then there was that…  Being told I was “just that kid” — the anxious kid, the kid that worried, the messed up kid, the kid that was sick all the time, the weird kid — and all the other traits and adjectives they would use when teachers wondered if I was okay.  And it would progress to other things when I got older as I was reminded later on in different additions of me.  My father and mother would tell family I had turned my back on God, was an ungrateful daughter (for all the things they had done for me — I was lucky to have such great parents!), I stole from them (my father was so convinced I had stolen the vacuum cleaner and taken it with me to college that he came banging on my door screaming for it and calling me all kinds of lovely names — great memories — thankfully I had an awesome RA right across the hall at Hamilton), was an alcoholic and a slut and other defaming words.  Nothing that was true.  Nothing that was remotely true.  Anything to shame me and make me out to be this awful and crazy person.  ‘Sometimes I wish I had the exciting life they said I led’ — that was actually a line in my journal… They never knew me.  They never tried to get to know me.  That would involve loving someone.  I was fully aware of that and just how awful of a me I must have been for that transaction not to take place…  They wanted to blot all of the me out of me.

So because of all of these pages that are me, I tend to see red when a kid consistently comes into our room with marks that he or she cannot explain.  Or a kid is completely withdrawn and sad and guarded most of the time — or on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, often angry and defiant.  And the parent(s) immediately have excuses or label the kids as this or that.  It’s all neatly wrapped up in a box and tied with a bow.  I may be over sensitive.  I will completely and totally give you that.  I will also give you that I get anxious in these scenarios.  Because I was that kid.  I.was.that.kid.  I’m not bitter because no one tried to help me or be my voice.  That’s not why at all.  I get frustrated because some parents are so very good at silencing the voices who try to help.  And we believe them.  Because maybe we want to.  Because maybe it’s just a little easier for us.

And the kids?  Dear God I love them! ❤ Because despite what we tell them — that this is a safe place — that this is a place where you can tell us anything?  What you can’t possibly know unless YOU HAVE BEEN THERE is that the wrath of home is a bazillion times worse than any “help” they’re going to get from us.  And that’s their normal.  Because it’s our normal.  It’s our crew.  It’s our family.  And it’s betrayal to even wonder if it’s anything but what Susie or George have going on in their home, alright?  It’s GOT to be what’s happening across the apartment hall.  And I deserve it.  I deserve all of it. Because if my own Mom and Dad don’t love me, who the hell does…  Because what YOU don’t get is that you can’t just say the words “trust me” and it magically happens.  You HAVE to grow it — you HAVE to SHOW me.  And that takes time.  That takes LOVE.  It really does.  It REALLY takes that LOVE word, okay?  And for some of these kids?  Well, they’re just not going to let you love them.  They are going to be the most unlovable kids in the history of ever.  And you’re just going to have to show them what love is — because what really, really sucks is when the people who are supposed to love you show you everything about what love ISN’T…  So, stay there anyway.  Please. Don’t give up on them. ❤

And that understanding my mother was talking about?

Over and over within all of those pages I questioned if my mother loved me.  From the age of seven all the way till — if I’m being so completely and achingly honest, even sometimes now (I innately know she is truly doing the best she can and my ‘lack of’ is not her doing — she is giving all she can from her best place of giving).  But I consistently wrote those words.  I always thought I got something then that I didn’t now.  Because I also knew and  remembered that I stuck up for her.  That’s all in there too.  I didn’t like how he talked to her and made her feel less.  And I wanted her to feel strong and smart and brave.  I wrote those things too.  So I couldn’t understand that when I wiped off the kitchen table and accidentally got crumbs on the floor and got the crap smacked out of me when I was just seven — for something I didn’t mean to do and wasn’t done with malicious ill intent — how getting a lecture on my sins and hell and physically “punished” was okay?  Because that aggressive physical punishment came with putting myself in his way for her too — all the way through my twenties.  And I kept doing it.  Because she was my mom.  At what point would it be enough that I was her daughter?

I was hoping to find that “understanding” that we had — that she had told me we had.  I didn’t.  I never did.  Every single journal, over and over again — through all of the hell that was my father, I asked and I wondered if my mom loved me.  And the interesting thing to me is that I never wondered if my father did.  I knew he didn’t.  He wasn’t capable.  He just wasn’t.  So why was I holding on to some shred of hope that my mother was?  Was that the understanding?

And I prayed.  And I did church.  And I saw all the fallacy.  Funny.  Kids are so good at seeing dishonesty and bullshit, aren’t they?  I think we are almost born knowing Jesus.  We look at creation as tinies and we know something bigger and mightier and far more magnificent than us had to create all of this.  THIS, this heaven and all the stars and all the butterflies and all things that make a tiny wonder don’t just happen.  I think you have to work really, really hard to disparage faith in a kid.  They know something, SOMETHING amazing is out there to whisper their hopes and dreams too — SOMETHING is holding the magic and miracles — there is SOMETHING MORE.  I knew this.  And I knew my father’s God and much of the church’s God wasn’t my God.  I knew this because my father was the good guy at church — he was the BEST Christian.  Because all that mattered was what you presented.  Not what you actually lived.  But the blessing that came from that, loves?  Dear Jesus, I vowed every single day of my life to never be one of those people — and to rage, to rage against the Pharisees — to flip some freaking tables — and to try my very best to be love to people.  Not fancy, ‘we’re better than everyone else’ love.  But the tough as nails love that held Jesus to the cross.  I would try.  I would FAIL, but I would try.  And that, all of THAT is very, very good…

And I lived in my bubble of books.  And I wrote on pages in journals and named them and called them my friends.  And I tried to take care of my sisters and I abandoned my Molly and Tim for college — at least that’s what I felt like.  And I was going to run away as far as I could from this place.  And yet I stayed.  So close. Everyone else ran away.

And here I am.  Wanting to run away again.  Is this what they call coming full circle?  For some reason, I don’t think this applies…

And in the midst of all this head stuff — the dark head stuff — life marches on.  And sickness came (I think this dark head stuff makes me sick…).  Who has time to heal physically, emotionally or spiritually these days?  Life marches on.  I’ve never been one to find comfort in that statement — it just seems to trample all over us.

And work is just hard this year.  But I know there is so much hard in education right now.  And I used to love a challenge.  It meant purpose to me — never something I couldn’t do or wasn’t up for.  But I find myself being more spent than purpose filled or purpose full.  And wondering if I’m even doing the right thing by being where I am.  I find myself full of questions.  And crying out to God.  And wanting things I shouldn’t and possibly couldn’t have — but knowing he is SO mighty so having the insanity and selfishness to ask for it anyway.  Because he can and he could, so why not — not making any bargains with him THIS time — just asking ‘if it is your will’…

Yet fully understanding that his will for me isn’t necessarily mine.  It may never be mine.  And getting in a really good place with that.  Because I have to.  I really have to.  Because I find myself getting really selfish lately in all of this tired.  I want an easy button.  Like that big red Staples button.  Yes, I.want.that.  Just once.  I want to push it and whisk my boys and I away to the life “I” design.  That’s pretty disgusting.  This thought makes me want to puke.  This is not how I think.  So I know what this means.  It’s time to read Jeremiah again.  All of it.

Because Jeremiah reminds me that it’s not my beliefs that make me a different person or a new creation in Christ (the devil is pretty freaking fantastic at theology too, y’all — just sayin’ 🙂 ) — it’s KNOWING my God — it’s my personal relationship with him.

“‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this:  that he understands and KNOWS me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.'” Jeremiah 9:23-24

Now, I’m not a boasting type of person — I’m too much of a mess and make WAY too many mistakes for that route (let’s just say, people would laugh — hard 😉 ) — but this verse is one I hold tight.  I get wrapped up in my personal quest with  “autonomous have it togetherness”.  I think I must have it — I think I have to push through and be tough and be strong and take care of everyone and everything and fix it all and save the entire planet from drowning in calamity!  Truly.  I do.  That’s how insanely I suck.  And then I plummet into this black hole of things like having my doctor find bad moles on my back out of absolutely nowhere that need to be hacked out, lingering bronchitis proceeded by the flu for my G and I — all in the matter of a month or so and I try to kick all of it — and I fail — and I don’t feel strong or mighty and I feel like I’ve failed the Philippians verse of ‘I can do all things’ and so I’ve failed God too and I’ve failed those I care about who need me to DO those “all things”– but, dammit Ang, it’s not all about me.  And here’s where I get so lost.  It’s never about me. None of it.

It’s not about my past.  It’s not even about my questions now.  It’s about my God.  It’s about understanding him.  Loving him.  It’s about how he loves me.  And, it’s about his will for me.  And what does that verse say above?  What’s that?  There’s a promise of sorts?  Yes — yes, there is.  God has SO MANY promises for us, doesn’t he?  In fact, we ARE a promise!  It says that he exercises kindness and justice and righteousness here.on.earth.  What does that mean?  It means a great many things.  But in short and sweet terms for this girl it means, he is good.  In all of life’s crap and agony, our God is good.  There is a constant.  There is one thing we can always understand and KNOW about our Father.  Our heavenly father is always good.  And the relationship, this understanding I have of him?  That RADICALLY changes ME…

God speaks so often to Jeremiah about knowing him.  Knowing him before he was formed in the womb.  Setting him apart.  Creating him for a purpose.  Now, Jeremiah’s purpose wasn’t roses and rainbows and sunshine.  It was pretty brutal.  It was tough.  And he wasn’t treated fairly or kindly and he went though some pretty heinous things.  He was one heroic prophet.  Did he sail through all of this smoothly without any human frailty?  Nope.  Of course not.  And that is also what is so endearing to me about this man.

Now, I’m a crier.  Tears seep out of me for absolutely everything.  They just build up and my heart often speaks in tears.  I can’t help it.  Sometimes they stream down my face and I’m unaware until I feel wet stuff.  It’s part of how I talk.  And I love Jeremiah for his vulnerability .  He cries.  He laments.  He even complains and wails from time to time.  But does he give up?  No.  He remains faithful and steady to a God who gave him a purpose that he may not necessarily love — but it was given to him by a God he so fervently does.  And he knows there will be building and planting after the uprooting and tearing down (Jeremiah 1:10).  Hey, it’s another promise!

Working my way through Jeremiah, I cry too.

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

I’ll keep calling, God.  And even if I don’t have all the answers, I’ll keep walking with you.  Because I know that knowing you and trying to understand you better everyday is what I’m here for.  It’s what I’m breathing for.  The rest you’ll lead me to.  And you’ve gotten me through quite a bit so far.  You must be holding me for a reason…

And maybe this surviving business is to help others see that they can too.  That a rock and a hard place is somewhere you can hang for quite a while with faith.  That words like “comfort” and “happiness” are kind of silly things when you have words like “faith, hope, and love”.  You don’t need the other two.  That joy CAN be found void of circumstance.  Because you have a Father that created your soul — and it can sing and cry out to him.  And that’s reason enough for joy, isn’t it.  That answer is yes.  It is a confident yes. ❤ And maybe it is to be a stronger siren and voice for littles that get lost in the shuffle of voices that say “oh, they’re fine” or “kids are resilient” or “he’s just a weird or bratty kid”.  And maybe it’s to be the best mom I can be to two of the most amazing miracles a girl could ever dream a breath was possible to take for. Maybe it’s to help them understand the miracles and promises that THEY are in a world that desperately needs them to shine THEIR light, to help them struggle, to help them know and understand their God, to help them fail and succeed and be all the mess that God created them to be.  To help them understand that they are forever and ever loved and held by a God that they will see one day after walking and knowing him here, in a kingdom we will all praise him in forever, and that their “this little light of mine” will get to shine forever with a Jesus that bought them with his blood and knew just how much their momma would need them someday (and that’s why she still cries sometimes when she kisses them goodnight and tells them that they are her hallelujah). 

Maybe it is all of these things.  Maybe it is none of these.  Maybe it’s just living day by day in your grace, Lord, as the messiest mess that I am and giving you all of that glory.

Because as unworthy as I am to be called your daughter, you don’t mind that I’m crazy, that I am both too much of so many things and yet so very not enough of others.  God, you love me anyway.  And of all of the things I don’t understand — the trinity, sovereignty, salvation, and a giant host of others — this is one I don’t mind being lost in.  I don’t mind swimming in its vastness, being covered in its mercy, being cloaked in its warmth.  I’ll settle here forever, if you don’t mind.  Till I stop breathing, and even after. ❤

And thank you.  Thank you for teaching me about love.  And I’m so grateful I get to learn about it from you everyday.  And try to show the world what your love means.  I know I won’t do it right or maybe even well, but Father, dear Father — by heaven , I will try.  Thanks for letting me try.  Because I know me, and I know YOU know me — and so that’s kind of huge.

But you’re also so very you (and that’s even huger) ❤ …

“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and out stretched arm.  NOTHING is too hard for you.”  Jeremiah 32:17

Nothing.  Even big messes like me.

Love you and thank you (even for nervous breakdowns, or what ever this is…),

This girl you created ❤

 

 

So Loved and SO VERY Wanted…

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“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love:  not that WE loved God, but that HE loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if WE love one another, God lives in us and his love is MADE COMPLETE in us.

We know that WE LIVE IN HIM AND HE IN US, because he has GIVEN US OF HIS SPIRIT.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, GOD LIVES IN HIM AND HE IN GOD.  And so we know and RELY on the LOVE GOD HAS FOR US.  

GOD IS LOVE.  Whoever lives in love LIVES in God, AND GOD IN HIM.  In this way, love is MADE COMPLETE AMONG US so that we will have CONFIDENCE on the day of judgement, because in this world we are LIKE him.  There is NO FEAR in love. But perfect love DRIVES OUT FEAR, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

WE LOVE because HE FIRST LOVED US.”

1 John 4: 7-19 

(emphasis mine)

Dear Friends.  I love it when this phrase occurs in the Bible.  It just physically draws me closer to my Bible, y’all.  Here I am, just sitting with a ‘dear friend’ and a cup of tea and the Lord.  It’s holy space.  Me, God, and the millions of other people who have read this letter.  Goosebumps, this legacy of love…

And John, he’s my favorite brother — besides you, Tim 🙂 — (and I wish it was because I felt I was like him in temperament and spirit).  Truthfully I’m probably more like Peter –ever the reactionary, always getting himself into trouble, swiping off a guard’s ear here and there. That.would.be.me.  But John was such a passionate, all about the love man, wasn’t he?  When my heart is all beat up and broken, when I feel like I’ve failed  for the “that umpteenth” time in just today,  when I have to beg forgiveness from my husband and friends, when I need patience, when I need my heart aggressively opened, when I crave understanding, when I’m feeling all of my “whys” and “hows” and “tomorrow is coming and I’m not certain I can” — I go to John.  Not necessarily Revelation (smile), but the books of John.  So, we converse most days… (smile again…).  I hope he doesn’t freak out too bad when I give him a super big hug in heaven.  I’m usually a very timid “I need to get to know you” kind of person first when it comes to men and these things — but John is getting super squeezed 🙂 .

I often get asked what I believe the ‘main idea’ of the Bible is (y’all remember basic English class, right? heh, heh) — what are the guts of it for me?  That’s a hard question to answer, isn’t it?  If you had to direct a non believer to the essential — where would you turn their eyes?  For me, it’s all of those verses above.  And my goodness yes — all the ones before and after are solid words as well — but these for me are the basis of it all.  Love is all of it.  It’s the reason any of us are breathing.  It’s the reason any of us get a chance at anything.  It’s the reason any of us receive this thing called grace.  It’s all because of that bigger than life action word called love.

So as I’m fighting, what I’m assuming is allergies, stress, and not enough sleep lately and reaching for a Sudafed in the middle of church this morning, SO completely ecstatic we sang “How Great Though Art!” (I LOVE and ardently miss real hymns!!!!!) I had lots of heart tugs along with my head that was locked in a vice grip….  Questions are good.  It means we’re listening, right?  We’re listening and connecting…

And now I am listening to the boys bang around upstairs, which I’m assuming is basketball.  And I ask for your patience as I attempt to tie together some thoughts.

None of us come from places of same in our walks, and that’s what makes life entirely beautiful and yet utterly complex.  So I ask that you meet me here, just for a moment, in my place of different.  And if you’ve camped somewhere similar in your background — or live in somewhat familiar digs currently — I want to sit with you for just a minute and let you know that even if I don’t know you, I pray for you every night from a very holy place in my heart. You are held.  ❤ 

And the basketballs bang against the walls just in time to stop the tears…  My sanctuary of home — I never imagined it would be so noisy with boys…  I believe that testosterone must be the loudest hormone…  Hmmmmm, someone might be bleeding as that was a very boisterous “ow!!!!”, but there’s no screaming — they’re laughing — it’s all good… (although there might be a hole in the wall — it’ll just be another place to store dirty laundry…)

God does not need us.  I heard this message today.  This is so very true.  Being in very nature, God, this would completely negate his deity.  He is omniscient, all powerful, majestic, and bigger than we can ever imagine — he defies all human logic.  Him NEEDING us would no longer make him God.  He created the entire world, including us, out of nothing.  He, himself, just is and always was.  He is the great I Am.  That kind of God doesn’t need his creation, clearly.

I grew up never misunderstanding this.  In certain evangelical circles, this is pretty soundly hammered home.  Especially to women.  And my father took this to extents that were abusive in just about every context you can imagine.  I served and worshiped in churches that exerted control with this being their ultimate zeal and focus.  We are worthless.  We are nothing.  God is everything.  (negating power from a people is the best way to harness control, isn’t it?)

And while, theologically, this is actually and inherently true — a very huge, and a very MIRACULOUS piece of this ‘we’re not needed’ relationship with our God is egregiously missing.  Maybe it’s just assumed, but I’m just going to go ahead and say it so it doesn’t get lost or misunderstood for those of us who haven’t heard it enough — because it is so incredibly AWESOME and is worth repeating (smile)…

True, God most certainly doesn’t need us.  But the awe-inspiring miracle, the fantastic and incredible and awesome and blow my mind and move me to tears and drop me to my knees every single time AMAZING is that — he WANTS us!  He TRULY WANTS US!!!  He who always was created us and a perfect world — and we messed up.  Let me clarify — we messed up big time.  We had it all and we wanted MORE.  We threw it all away for a measly forbidden apple, for goodness sake (so I’m over simplifying — but still, you get the idea — the garden was PARADISE — Adam and Eve had it pretty darn good!!!).  And there was nothing we could do, nothing.  I mean, there were a BAZILLION rules — but no one could keep all of those perfectly (have you read Leviticus or any part of the Old Testament — good gracious, how did anyone keep up with that?!?!?!).  So he sent his son into this world to be a sacrifice for us — TO DIE FOR US — that’s how badly he WANTED US (I mean, that’s kind of HUGE, isn’t it?????).  That’s a pretty intense rescue plan!  That is the most amazing love story of all time!  A blameless Messiah — Emanuel — a GOD WITH US — to take on all of OUR sins!  And to top it off,  it’s OUR CHOICE — our choice — whether or not we believe.  He doesn’t even get a GUARANTEE that he gets all of his children back with this most loving sacrifice!  We get to choose…

And he WANTS us, not NEEDS us — but WANTS us — to choose love.

And it’s really the ultimate kind of love now, isn’t it? There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING we can give him that will complete HIS being — yet everything in him completes us.  I think that’s why they call it ‘amazing grace’.

We ARE nothing.  He IS everything.  And yet — and a very BIG yet, we are worth his greatest sacrifice.  All parts humbling and all parts holy.  I’m pretty sure that’s what it means to be human and of the spirit.  It’s a line of knowing your worth in Christ’s ultimate sacrifice made for you, understanding where you would be without him, knowing it is all by grace — and ONLY by grace — and pondering that you began as dust — but that grace makes you forever his soul, his new creation, his precious daughter — and that makes you wanted by a King that really didn’t HAVE to do any of this…  But he did.  For a creation that failed him miserably.  For a creation that continues to fail him miserably.  For a daughter named Angie that fails him daily, hour by hour — not because he NEEDS me, but because he WANTS me.  And I refuse to let that go.  I was bought by his blood.  I am his girl.  And no person, no principalities of heaven or hell can EVER take that away from me…

We are divinely his.  So loved and so wanted. And that is no small thing.  In fact, that is the very biggest of things.  It is everything…

I will confess to all of you something else of which I immensely struggle (I am so massively flawed, y’all)… which most of you know.  My aversion and attrition to memberships and rules — the man-made ones.  I pray about this continuously (at least I’m consistent — ha!).  God breaks me open often.  We’ll just say that.  It’s painful.  Being broken often.  I ask for it.  I want it — because I don’t want my pride to get in the way or anything that is of me.  I want my walk to be authentic, of him and for him — and my rebellion to these things to be real and of the spirit, NOT from a heart that is laced with bitterness.  So I search it and pray about it and wrestle — oh dear ones it often times feels so physically REAL, this wrestling — with this giant thing we call organized religion.

I’ve never, ever understood the need to compartmentalize people–to group them and label them. Maybe it’s because I have never neatly fit into one tidy little box involving Christianity — or anything for that matter. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen so many people misjudged and hurt and ostracized by silly labels.  We don’t as readily get to know individual people — but we sure get to know absolutely “everything” about their labels now, don’t we?  In fact, we get pretty smart and educated concerning their stereotyped ideology to the point where we feel pretty good about just how much we ‘know’ about those ‘other people’.  It’s just easier.  And it’s certainly safer than loving our real neighbors — named Susan and Allison with two kids named Ben and Karen who look just like — wait a freaking minute — US.

And I get that we feel some need to find comfort in sameness.  We all so desperately want to be KNOWN, don’t we?  I SO understand that.  We want to find OUR tribe, don’t we.  So much so that we often find a certain sense of comfort or “togetherness” in making jokes about other labels, other religions and other groups of people.  It’s polarizing and maybe makes us feel “better” and “more justified” in our walks of faith to laugh at “those people”. Maybe it’s because I’ve so often felt the ostracized outcast, or just in general been more connected to the struggling underdog — but I outright bristle at the Baptist, Catholic, Anglican, Unitarian, (insert any religion here) or “don’t get me started on those Mormons!” jokes — as if this puts us on some higher theological ground somehow.  And my heart breaks as I always wonder — what if one of those said denominations just so happened to walk into our little church today and is sitting here right this very moment among us?  What if they came seeking some comfort and solace?  What if they came seeking a deeper connection with Jesus? What if they came seeking him period?  What would they think of all of us and our Jesus we speak of? What if we just missed an opportunity? And just as passionate as WE are about what WE believe?  So is most everyone else (and wouldn’t we hope that they WOULD be?!?!?!?!?  My goodness, YES!) — and I never forget that — because I came from every single church of the zealot evangelical that thought that THEIRS was the only one true way to worship and believe in Jesus.  And those were some of the darkest and most Jesus free churches I have ever been a part of.

Because Jesus isn’t in our dogma, our sermons, our theology, he isn’t in our buildings, our traditions, in our programs, our songs, in all of our Bible studies or give aways or lunches or retreats or this or that or ten billion other things — he isn’t in ANY of it unless he is LIVING in our hearts and our EVERY SINGLE DAYS.  If his presence isn’t in our hearts and reflected in our lives, loves — he isn’t present at all.

And there in lies my issue.  I can NOT separate my spiritual life (what some people call their ‘church life’) from secular life. There is no such thing!  It’s just all life to me, honey — (which does get me into trouble a few times).  And so Sunday is just a day I’m taking my church (my body of Christ) to a building and meeting with other people taking their church to a building where God is because WE are. But God IS every other day of my life too.  And he IS in everything I do and he IS everywhere.  In fact, spirituality is the MOST real part of life.  What we can’t touch and see is the very realist of our reality.  He’s everywhere — unlike Santa who only SEES everything (smile–you can thank my eight year old for THAT analogy 🙂 ) — God actually IS all of the places with us — tap tap on your heart — hello Holy Spirit. So it’s a little more mysterious than that — but you get it — God is everywhere all of the time.  Not just in a building on Sunday.  Doesn’t really matter if you feel him or not.  He’s still there.  Doesn’t even matter if you praise him or not.  He’s still there.  Doesn’t even matter if you love him or not.  He still loves and wants you.  And when we get a handle on that–well, we can’t ever really, but in our limited capacity…  Life blows wide open…  ❤ No fear.  He’s there.  And tomorrow?  Yup.  He’s there too.  As I’m typing hoping for his glory and love to be understood — right here… ❤

And I don’t have to stop and think about the last thing I did for God or JUST for God, because he is the reason I get up in the morning.  He is the reason I do anything.  My ENTIRE life’s purpose is FOR HIM.  There is no separation.  He is, I am…  Pretty simple.  I like simple. ❤

My profession?  Yep.  Felt that calling for the Lord (and you guys, it was so NOT MY PLAN — I would have not so intensely studied for and taken the GRE’s in IC 😉 ).  Motherhood.  Yes and yes (again, so NOT MY PLAN 🙂 ).  Even a very simple thing like how I try to always smile at people — yes (this is actually a difficult one for me because nine times out of ten — just going to let you in on ALL of my secrets — smile — I really DON’T FEEL LIKE smiling — but GOD MADE EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING and THAT IS PRECIOUS REASON ENOUGH to smile at someone whether I FEEL LIKE IT our not — I’m actually insanely shy). What I put into my body, how I exercise (check out ‘fit for his glory’ if you need some inspiration–amazing resource), what I wear, how I feed my family, take care of my children, appropriate my energy, how we spend our money, decorate my home, the books I read, music I listen to, ALL OF IT.  There is no separation.  (and do I mess up?  um yes — like lots of times…) But it doesn’t mean we give up!  God is forever tries — thanks, Glennon! 🙂

So I get really confused about this “what do you do for God?” question.  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…” Colossians 3:23 

We are his, everyday.  We walk with him, everyday. We are church, everyday.  He gives us breath and life, everyday.  We are saved by grace, everyday.  It’s not a pick and chose when and what goes to God kind of life when you become a believer.  You’re all in and you are ALL HIS.  And how I spend my money actively being church?  That’s also led by God–and not by anyone else.  Help One, A21, Hope Now, and women’s shelters in our very own county carrying out these same goals of keeping children and women safe from sex trafficking and violence (rape, sex trafficking and violence against women and children is an EPIDEMIC in this nation of ours — I’d like to scream, where is church?!?!?!? where is church!?!?!??! and thank you Sarah, thank you Rachel, thank you Glennon, and thank you to every sister and every single Momma and woman and daughter and brother and father and human being in these trenches so few people ever talk about — I love you, so very, very much — and I thank God for you every day and pray for every single one of you giving of yourselves every day and all of you so bravely surviving — warrior on!!!!  warrior on!!!!!! ❤ ) – — yes these organizations ARE church to this girl.  Incredible organizations being the hands and feet of Jesus in our communities and around the world for causes that are so often lost in our church buildings today. This is what love looks like. ❤ This is what church looks like ❤ .  This is what grace looks like. ❤ This is where Jesus moves my heart. ❤

The other message that often fails to get relayed is that our ministry, our testimony — besides actually being simple — how we live and give of our lives and give of his love every.single.day — (hey, I’m not going to force Jesus on you brother and sister, but I sure would LOVE for you to know him and see him by how imperfectly I try to live my life in love 🙂 ) — is that GIVING and being GENEROUS for God does not always involve money.

And again, I’m asking you for a moment to please sit in my difference… 

My childhood might have been a little different from yours.  Or maybe not so different.  I grew up poor.  Food stamp and government milk and cheese poor.  Five kids living in a slum house poor.  Like walk around that huge gaping hole in the floor or you’ll fall through to the next level of the house, poor.  And please don’t get me started on Dave Ramsey and the prosperity principles.  I.just.can’t.  I grew up watching poor people who couldn’t even buy groceries and feed their families give and give and give some more.  Couldn’t even pay their bills and give.  Have no electricity or water and give.  Because if they just had ENOUGH faith, God would miraculously provide.  And when he didn’t?  Well, your faith just wasn’t strong enough, Christian.  Did the church help these families?  With stern admonishment to pray harder and be more faithful —  I guess if that’s what you call help, then yes.  But here’s the GIANT thing that’s missing.  Giving and generosity in God’s eyes isn’t strictly confined to the old white dead guys on green backs…

There’s this thing called servant-hood and our God-given gifts — both of which can be given generously (and often on a daily basis — praise God and hallelujah!).  And really, he just wants our heart, y’all.  And what moves from those hearts is our servant-hood to him and all the gifts that flow from it.  It’s pretty amazing — they synchronicity of it.  ❤

My husband is a teacher and a coach (one of the MOST dedicated and hard-working of BOTH that I know and love).  He coaches two sports because he loves coaching AND, let’s be real, his teaching salary doesn’t quite pay enough to take care of the bills and the expense of raising two very active boys.  I am a preschool para-educator.  That is like volunteer work with a little bit of cash on the side–smile (let’s just say I do not even own a credit card 😉 ).  But we both insanely love and have a sincere passion for what we do and feel called and led by God to do it (you’d kind of have to for what we do, right? 😉 ).  That pull is quite an intense one.  When God says do, you don’t say — um, I’ll think about it… 😉 It’s kind of like Jonah — he finds a way to keep drawing you back to his purpose 🙂 .  And so we make it work.  Some months more than others–smile.

My husband often gets teased for being thrifty and is known for hunting down some of the best deals (he’s REALLY good at it 🙂 ) — we also hit up Goodwill for clothes and clip lots coupons (smile) — but it’s the frugal life.  And it’s one we are quite thankful for.  We are supremely blessed on all counts.  And although our professions are filled with numerous stresses, we know that this is what God has called us to do and where he wants us to be — and we are in fields were we are necessary, where we make a positive impact, and where we wake up every day filled with purpose and ready to make a difference (most days we feel ready — smile — the other days we just feel called — ha! ).  And this means everything to both of us. Again — blessed.  We understand how fortunate we are.  We also wake up and go to bed each night grateful.  Our kids may not ever go on exotic vacations or have the most expensive or “it” brands of anything — but they don’t care about any of that stuff either — yet, smile.  And no, my husband does not get his summer’s off.  Just in case any one was under THAT illusion (wink).  He works just as hard during the summer months.  I truly do not know how he does it and I constantly pray for him — I can do all things… Philippians comes to our minds quite often in this house… 🙂

What I’m trying to get across here is that what we do every day can also be of service and a gift to our Lord and to everyone around us (and we shouldn’t trivialize that).  What you do at your place of work if done for God can also be your generous gift to him.  How you encourage and uplift your co-workers.  Small and big things you do for them are blessings.  Think about small and big things you can do for the kids you work with if you work with children.  There are so many ways we can give generously of ourselves to others in our work environments that are testimonies to his love.  ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING you give for God is service.  EVERYTHING done in love.  Nothing is too small or too insignificant to God when it’s done for him.  Example after example is found of this in the Bible.  Live your life in everything you do for the Lord — I believe that’s what this family calls walking with him (smile).  It may not be showy or get tons of praise or get attention drawn to it at the alter, but that’s NOT why we do it anyway, is it?  We do it for the glory and love of our God.  So don’t worry or beat yourself up or think you are less of a Christian because you aren’t often able to give money or tithe.  God doesn’t count you as less.  He really doesn’t.  He’s not solely counting your Benjamins as faithfulness, generosity, or servant-hood.  In fact, if they’re not given in love — they’re nothing.  Giving generously of our menial every day lives may not be as sexy or as flashy or as showy as the green stuff (or easily calculable), but it is just as important to God.  He counts it all as good.

And we are all given different gifts. We are all creative — yes, even me sometimes (smile).  Because we come from a very creative God!   I have friends who are amazing crafters in all mediums.  They bless me, amaze and encourage me and this world time and time again all for God’s glory.  There are also gifts of patience, time, just LISTENING when someone is hurt or lonely is such a beautiful gift isn’t it?  There are so MANY things we can DO in servant-hood, in generosity — so many things we can GIVE (some that aren’t even things 🙂 ).  Other examples: meals, little treats,  if you’re into oils there are some lovely relaxing scrubs and roller recipes to give sick or stressed out moms, teachers, friends going through hard times, babysit a friend’s children, clean her house, plant some flowers for her, weed her garden, get some one groceries when they are ill or strapped for time, read to someone, send a care package, cards of encouragement — really the possibilities are only limited by your imagination (or Pinterest if your imagination is as good as mine — heh, heh…).  Be open, get creative — and see how God can work in you!!!

What I’m getting at is God made you, and he made you for purposes to praise and glorify him and give of yourself and be generous with your gifts.  Don’t be afraid to use those!!!  Use them as often as you can.  Use them to glorify him, to turn people’s eyes to him, and to lift others up, and to bless those in your life and community.  Money may not be something you can consistently give or something you have extra of on a regular ‘laying aside’ giving basis.  And when you do, you will give when you can and where the Lord leads you.  But when you don’t?  It doesn’t mean you aren’t being a good Christian..  It means you’re taking care of your family.  And you’ll be generous in some other way that God has designed for you to be.  And God will love and bless you just the same.  

You may not be needed by our mighty God, but you are surely wanted and you are so innately loved.  Give someone the gift of your time to let them know that too.  Love you.  So much.  You are an amazing creation, a beautiful temple, a home to the Holy Spirit.  Let him shine! I can’t wait to see the amazing way you light up the world with his love!!!! ❤

And remember, sweet friend, you will forever and always be loved by a creator who thought sending his son to die for you was worth changing the story line of eternal damnation to eternal life.  You are living that forever story of love and salvation every day!  I happen to think it’s worth everything.  Worth sharing with others too. Our mighty hope.  And although only God can truly save, we can most certainly share his love.  Give and be generous with his love.  You see where I’m going with all this again 😉 .  It really always comes back to love, doesn’t it? ❤ He’ll make sure you always have enough… ❤ ❤

You are treasured, you are sacred, and you are his beloved, dear friend.  And no amount of money is ever necessary to prove that to him.  Just live your life in love for him.  Walk in love.  Every single day.  It’s just that hard and just that easy.  And he’ll be with you, every breath and every step of the way. ❤ You don’t need a mediator.  Just fold your hands and close your eyes, open your heart and pray.  He’s always listening. Even when you don’t have the words to say. ❤

Forever yours in his love. Ang ❤

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

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The Power Of Ordinary…

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The school year has ended.  And Marty and I are being hit with the repeated question, “So, are you enjoying your summer?”

And the line from Toby Mac’s song, “Love Feels Like” often goes round and round in my head — “but empty’s never felt so full”.  Smile.  (ps — get “This Is Not A Test” — it is absolutely AWESOME — it’s G and I’s rock out album of the summer — “Mom, can you turn it up?!?!?!??!” YES!  I can’t dance, but when the Spirit moves you, you MOVE — smile)…

I don’t think either one of us have truly been able to digest that this school year has come to a close as our schedules are still running us — Marty is daily working in his classroom with cross country stuff, running to Fourth of July meetings, and baseball is every day — multiple games — along with practices and all the other tasks we’ve taken on that we signed up for and had forgotten — I do that — really well (smile).  However, we are not contending with homework (middle school math is over for an entire summer, y’all — woot woot!!!!!!), reading minutes, and getting to bed on time mixed in with all this crazy — so that — THAT is awesome.  We are truly blessed and THANKFUL!!! We fully acknowledge just how fortunate we are!

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Garage sale time!

Marty ran his 18th or 19th or something-‘th’ Dam to Dam this weekend also.  Proud of him.  Bless his heart.  He’s amazing.  And persistent.  We also decided to take on our first garage sale.  Remind me to do that NEVER again.  Not only are they a giant and colossal expenditure of time, but introverts just should not participate in such events.  My husband is a wonderful people person.  He delights in small chit chat and banter and is so graciously good at it.  To me, it is the.most.painful.  And I’m awkward and awful at it.  Abysmally.  A garage sale is two entire days of the.most.painful.  I opted for sidewalk chalk and bubbles with my eight year old and any other child who wanted to join in with us so that I was present when it got really crazy, but could avoid being in the thick of things when I wasn’t needed.  I know my strengths.  I’m also very keenly aware of my weaknesses.  Talking about the weather or that one game or politics with strangers whilst going through our collection of home goods is not one of my strong suits.  Chalk and bubbles.  I freaking ROCK those!

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We managed.  Late nights and a tad bit stressful, but we did it.  Now we know.  My husband actually kind of loved it.  Being around a constant ebb and flow of different people is rather energizing to him.  I enjoyed getting rid of some things as I really can’t stand all the clutter we’ve amassed through the years.  But it still seems a tad simpler to just drop it all off at Goodwill.  Marty is already planning next year’s garage sale.  It’s going to be epic, ya’ll.  Perhaps we’ll grill hot dogs and have pony rides and Hawkeye tattoos and face painting?  We’ll make it a venue of sorts.  I’m trying to think of an excuse to be gone that weekend — whenever it is…  Sara, Summer, Karen — I think we need to have a girl’s weekend in Wisconsin?

And Griffyn decided to spilt his head open to start our summer off with a bang — literally.  Like, blood everywhere.  Like three dishcloths full and I almost fainted.  He was constantly begging me for yet another freezie pop before we were headed off to Norwalk for yet another day of baseball with Max, and I was telling him ‘for the love of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, NO — you can not have ANOTHER one!’ and he comes running up to me gushing red stuff out of his head because he had turned a corner too sharply and hit the molding on our wall with his head…  It was just.so.other.worldy.  G said I kept using my “super soft, sweet voice”.  I honestly don’t remember.  I do remember asking him if we could please sit down because I was going to fall and opening the door to the garage to rather firmly ask Marty to come inside to help me.

Plus side, our doctor is phenomenal.  Andrea got us in right away, our nurse, Sonja took amazing care of us — we couldn’t LOVE you more.  G got all cleaned up, I was reassured that “heads bleed a lot” and we were off to the ball fields in Norwalk (which I was not too happy about, but we survived).  No stitches necessary.  And Sonja called a few times to check on G and see how we all were doing — because they are just that amazing.  G missed a baseball game because he couldn’t have any pressure on his head.  He couldn’t have it split open again or he would need stitches.  Who wants those to start your summer?  Ibuprofen for a few days and he’s good to go.  Still looks a little rough, but he’s one tough kid.  Still is begging for freezie pops.  Hasn’t deterred him one single bit…

G has also been begging to start Bible journaling with his Momma.  We haven’t had a second of free time, and now that we don’t have to worry so much about bedtime — we can!  My girlfriend, Daphne, made both of these beautiful journals for me — check her out on Facebook at Papercake Creations.  There are lovely lined pockets inside and a few pages of the books in the front and back of the journals.  She is so talented.  They are treasures (as is she)!

I’ve also begun re-reading more of the obscure books of the Bible.  Time with God has been more than calling out to me lately — it’s been more of a scream to my heart.  I can’t put the Bible down and it’s a craving — not just a routine or ritual in my day.  It’s been such a huge blessing to have the extra time to linger in His presence.

The New Testament gets a lot of wear in my Bible, but lately I’ve been drawn to the books of Esther, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Obadiah, Micah (my third baby boy’s name — smile), Nahum, Hosea, you get the idea…  tiny books with names we really don’t hear mention of all that often in sermons or anywhere else — but they pack quite a punch.  I found myself writing, praying, crying, and having fervent conversations with my husband — whether he really was all that into them or not — about these books as they shook up my heart so vehemently these past few weeks.  We hear bits and pieces of their messages in pithy little Pinterest quotes here and there or etched on our Christian calendars or planners, but to grasp them in their entirety, view them in their historical context, and hold them up to our here and nows — it was just so much for this girl…  I was overwhelmed by the awesomeness of God — and that, well, that is just so many things, isn’t it?  #nowords (I don’t know how to use hashtags — but this seems legit…).

What I found especially striking about every single one of these books, was God’s use of the every day man — in some cases, what we would think is even lowlier than that — the commoner, the country boy, the shepherd, the farmer, the fig picker (which was about as menial as you could get in those days–and the evidence was stained all over your hands). And yet, he called these every day Joes and Josephines,  to be prophets — often of not so pleasant news — to stand up to great kings and leaders, to walk right into their kingdoms, courts and castles and to preach the word of God.  It’s all rather mind blowing when you stop to think about it for two seconds.  It goes against everything the world looks at in terms of qualifications and greatness, doesn’t it?  It reminded me, once again, so resolutely, that God looks solely at our hearts. He doesn’t see us as the world sees us.  The world may see us as weird, unimportant, and maybe even as completely insignificant — just as it saw some of these people — but God, our infinite creator, had great plans in store for all of these men and women.  He saw straight into their heart space.  And what He saw there sent them on journeys they could never have fathomed…

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One of the greatest promises of all hope, I believe, is found in the Old Testament in the book of Joel —  his name just happens to mean “The Lord is God.”  And maybe that’s the point of the entire book.  That the Lord is God.  And that we must repent  — to a God that desperately wants our hearts.  All of this in the midst of a locust plague.  And the verse that enveloped me, held me, froze me and stuck in my head and heart for days was Joel, Chapter 2:13 in which the Lord declares, “Rend your heart and not your garments.  Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” 

Rend.your.heart.  Rend.  What does that mean?  It’s actually quite aggressive.  To tear apart violently, to split.  God wants our all.  He wants ALL of our hearts.  Not just a piece of it or the part we think we don’t need or want — all of it, and all of us.  And the equally awesome and amazing thing is, He just happens to love the all of us too. 

In talking about this verse and journaling with G (Max just wanted to write about it), we also talked about how God doesn’t want us to dress, or just ‘look’ the part of a Christian.  Our transformation is from the inside out, and not the outside in.  Rend your heart, not your garments.  And the GREATEST HOPE in this verse?  Yes, I had tears.  It is SO beautiful — if we return to Him, He is gracious, He is compassionate, He is slow to anger, He is abounding in love — and He relents from sending calamity.  I know that these promises were made for the people of Israel who had turned from God — but they are oh so true for us as well.  Transformation, restoration, healing, new beginnings, in fact — all things new — are possible because of grace.  And what a tremendous hope that is!  What a tremendous hope we HAVE — if only we will rend our hearts…

Obadiah is about the shortest little book that ever was but it also spoke to my heart in a way it hadn’t before — okay, so when I read Obadiah in the past it was more of a segway to Jonah then an actual preponderance…  But if ever one needs a lesson in pride, this is about the biggest admonishing one can get.  It also rocked me.  In all of my “openness” to others, I can get very judgey — I can get easily hurt — I can read all kinds of meaning into things that are said that were not intended to be — and I can create so many things out of nothing due to this one feeling — pride.  It doesn’t matter if it’s something I feel behind the scenes or in the quietness of my heart — the fact is that it exists and that it is there and that it’s quite ugly.  And Obadiah doesn’t mince words — “The day of the Lord is near for all nations.  As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.” 1:15  If I sit and sincerely think about coming before the throne of my Father tomorrow, five minutes from now — let’s just say soon — will I be comfortable with what I’ve given of myself, the thoughts I’ve processed, all that I’ve done for others — or will pride have gotten in my way?  Will I have gotten in my own way of being everything God has intended for me to be?  Have I given myself completely over to my God?  It’s a little sobering.  Again, rend your heart, Ang.

I won’t go through each book as some of you may be falling asleep by now, and I love you for bearing with me — but I can’t not mention my Micah.  This book has my heart.  Micah means, “Who is like the Lord?”  Micah was a country boy — but he wasn’t afraid of people that had great power or wealth.  He wasn’t afraid of much when it came to the opinions of man.  He also had a very soft place in his heart for the poor people of his land and he called those people out that took advantage of the poor.  I also love this Old Testament book as it prophesies the coming of our Savior in Bethlehem!  It is so exciting to read this in Micah and be able to nod our heads and say, “I know EXACTLY what he’s talking about!,” right?  Okay, just me (smile).  And in the heart of a chaotic world, where life and religion and theories and philosophies and rhetoric can make things all blurry and confusing — Micah breaks it down for us so simply — “And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8  There it is.  And that should keep us busy enough.

In the midst of all of this, I am reading a few of Dr. Schaeffer’s books (old school evangelical for you).  Having lived in the heart of L’Abri growing up and knowing the history of this man and his family and his work, it’s like a little trip back to family that wasn’t blood, but that was family none the less.  These books of the Bible remind me of many philosophical discussions held by Dr. Schaeffer who vehemently held that there were “no little people” in the eyes of God.  This was a man who invited children into his discussions concerning metaphysical, moral, and epistemological necessity–because children were just as significant as adults.  I’m having flashbacks of knickers, goatees, and turtle necks with tea — there was always tea.

I also came across this quote by Madeleine L’Engle (she was such a gorgeous writer–I have a notebook full of her quotes) that brought it all together somehow…

“In a very real sense not one of us is qualified, but it seems that God continually chooses the most unqualified to do his work, to bear his glory.  If we are qualified, we tend to think that we have done the job ourselves.  If we are forced to accept our evident lack of qualification, then there’s no danger that we confuse God’s work with our own, or God’s glory with our own.” 

He takes our brokenness, our weirdness, our crazy, our hurt, our lacking — our everything the world sees as wrong or not good enough or messy or just not cool — and guess what?  He makes it beautiful.  All in his time, he makes it beautiful.  And the miracle, for this girl, wasn’t that he made it beautiful to other people — because I stopped caring about that when he took hold of my heart — but was that he made it beautiful to me.  To a very messy girl who has always felt broken, weird, strange and wrong and needing to be fixed.  Yeah…. He made all of that beautiful.  Because He made that girl.

And He made that girl to do some pretty amazing things.  And they may be small things.  But they’re HIS small things.  And that is just pretty awesome to me, that I would be even considered for such a task–any task at all.  It’s all for His glory, loves.  For Him I shine.

And you shine too, child of God–magnificent, beautiful and fabulous child.of.God.  And it’s really okay if you’re weird or quirky or not a cookie cutter Christian.  In fact, it’s quite perfect.  People thought those prophets and disciples in the Bible were pretty weird and crazy too.  We’re not of this world.  Why should we so desperately seek to be so like it?  To fit in…  To act or look a certain way so we don’t stand out or freak people out or make them uncomfortable? Maybe we can shake their world all the way to Christ! (psssst — spoiler alert — THIS reality?  it isn’t IT! smile!)

Here’s the thing…  we’re all made the way we are for a purpose, for a reason — and it’s His.  I can’t do what you do, and you can’t do me.  And damn — that’s awesome!  It really and truly is!  That’s God given uniqueness, people — not something man made or fabricated — and there’s a dignity in that too.  He’s got a place, a purpose, a walk for all of us.  My steps may not be yours, because my gifts, my talents, my calling — well, it’s not going to be exactly the same as yours now is it?  How precious, how amazing, how infinite, how divine…  And PRAISE God for that!  We all have to find our own hallelujah with the help and breadth of the Holy Spirit…  Man doesn’t dictate that for us…  That’s encouraging!  And we can encourage one another IN this — to shine and shine some more in the way God intended for each of us to shine…

And when we place a little less importance on ourselves in this “saving people” business — when we look at the mighty hand of God in all of this and give Him the praise while we take on the prayer — I think we can be a little gentler in our definition of ‘how we should appear to others’ as well.  “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.  Rather we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God.  On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (7)  We speak the truth to an unbelieving world because it IS the truth, and then we pray earnestly for the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts.  Only God can truly bring a person to Him.  This is not our doing.  We bring the word, He brings the life changing power of the Holy Spirit — so let’s just take a step back for a minute and remember our place in all of this.  He is greater.  Always greater.

And then maybe we can pause and remember our authenticity to our calling and to who He made us to be and the voice that He created with that human being is vital to His message.  It all becomes so much simpler, doesn’t it?  “And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Thanks for bringing it home, Micah.  Much love to all of you lights.  Keep shining, keep loving, and keep being exactly who you are called to be.  That takes brave in a world, and often in a church, that wants us all to look and be the same!  And we were called to be courageous!

And if you get a chance, check out those lesser known prophets in the Old Testament.  Those country boys and a Jewish girl who lived in Persia, just might speak to your heart.  An ordinary life can become so extraordinary when God takes hold of it, can’t it?  Rend your heart, loves, and find your hallelujah… ❤

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will rise from another place, but you and your family will perish.  And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 3:14 

All things new…

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Happy Sunday!

Aside from a few bugs, the internal kind, the sun is shining and God is always, ALWAYS good. And we warrior on. Because every day is a battle.

“…this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Take off the turban, remove the crown. It will not be as it was: The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low.” Ezekiel 21:10

As my seven year old likes to preach and so often remind me, our God is a new kind of God — He makes the old new — He makes all things new — in our hearts, in our souls, and if we have the radical vision to see and embrace it — in our world as well. There is no fear in this new love, in our submission to Him which is akin to Jesus’s care and love for the church, straight up NO fear. We can talk about the fear of God — yes, we sure can. We can talk about His wrath, His might and how we ought to fear him — we can talk about it all we want. But the fact of the matter is — there is no fear in His love. Absolutely none. And for those of us that have grown up with the model of love being that of fear?  Well now, that is all the miracle we could ever need or imagine…

And what freedom then there is in blazing ahead, shouting out His glory and praise with.no.fear, being the ever open and giving hands and feet of Jesus! We’ve simply gotta get over ourselves. We just do. Take off our self imposed turbans! Remove our crowns! It will not be as it was. This is a new kind of God! One that let women sit at his feet. At.the.feet.of.Jesus, y’all! That was straight up revolutionary. Who preached and loved children and saw them as the.most.important. For real. If there was a pecking order, kids were FIRST (the disciples asked, he just answered the question)! A God who thought we were ALL worth dying for. Every single one of us. Amazing, humbling, incredibly real and raw stuff.

Our Jesus wasn’t afraid to get dirty, gritty, talk about the hard stuff. In fact, his life WAS all the hard stuff (and being the son of God, he could have chosen easy, well, easily). That’s the kind of love I’ll get behind.  That’s the kind of love I will choose time after time after blessed time.  That’s the kind of love that I’ll give — and that never comes up short or empty.  My love may be imperfect, but pointing people to God’s love?  Yes, the answer is always yes.

I’m saying this as a pep talk to my spirit. Because choosing to live differently is hard. And sometimes we don’t admit that. We think if we’re doing this grace thing right, it should be easy. We shouldn’t get tired or overwhelmed or both.  But, friends, that spiritual battle we fight every single day is just that – a battle – and we have a real enemy. And he shows up in the sneakiest of ways. And sometimes those ways are even churchy ones – like bickering about theology, or judging who is “fit” to be loved, or making our churches special clubs instead of straight up places for worship and God work—all time sucks from the real love work we need to be doing, right?

It IS hard – in our places of work, in our families, even in our churches. But we have a God who does hard things so expertly – because He is God and He’s kind of bigger than all of it. SO much bigger!  And if we really and TRULY believe that, well then, we never have to be afraid. EVER. And again, in that we are so free. To soldier on, to do the hard, to be his hands and feet – to walk so closely with him and receive that peace from him – that transcends any hard – any circumstance we may face. “When they were but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it, they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another. He allowed no man to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings: ‘Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.’” 1 Chronicles 16:19

We are not of this world.  I often think of one of my childhood favorites in literature when I read this Bible verse — The Chronicles of Narnia.  Every day we wake up and we make a choice — to live with it, or to live against it.  To live for Jesus, or to live as one with the status quo that engulfs us.  It isn’t meant to be easy.  But it will be fulfilling, it will be rewarding, it will be validating, peace keeping, heart breaking along with heart building — and moreover — it will be who you are meant to be.  I know that when there are situations that arise at work, with family, with friends were it is hard and often tiresome to be that one voice that has to over and over seek truth it often grows down right depressing, yes, and it stretches you, often to your limit — but when you ignore it and go for easy?  That hurts even more.  Because it is not authentic, it is not truth, it is not YOU — and when you live by the spirit — you can not ignore truth.  God will hold you accountable.  Your life will change.  And in a world that values truth so little (about as much as a stick of gum), you will be tested time and time again when you solely call for it.

But there is no freer way to live.  And when I meet my Jesus, I want to make HIM proud, I want him to say, “well done, good and faithful servant.”  And everyday, I must make the conscious effort to make THAT choice.  The call to love, the call to honesty, the call to truth, the call to humility, the call to the fruit of the spirit, the call to be his hands and feet, the call to every single day get.over.me.  All of this, every single piece of this — living on this earth in the midst of this without our Father — is hard.  But we have a mighty Savior.  We have each other.  So let’s keep encouraging one another.  Yes, that actually is part of our walk too as brothers and sisters — to encourage one another. “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13.  Not ‘every so often’, ‘during the  holidays’, or even ‘once a week on Sundays’.  Encourage one another daily.   How encouraging are we to each other as Christians?  How encouraging are we to non believers?  It’s a dark, dark world out there.  We are called to be the light.  We are called to shine like stars in the universe.  I will mess this up.  Most likely every day.  But I will also wake up and try my best at this.  Every day.  I know I need this encouragement everyday.  So when I need it, I give it.  My need is my reminder.  Praise God.

“Pure Christianity lives between two dangers ever present; the danger that it will evaporate into a philosophy… and the danger that it will freeze into a form.” C.I. Scotfield

But neither of these dangers can happen when we are actively living our Jesus.  And that’s a conscious decision.  A conscious choice.  A conscious breath.  Every day of our lives.  Not an afterthought.  Not something we save for a few hours on Sundays.  It’s everyday.  It’s how we meet everyone’s eyes, hearts, and hands.  It’s in how we greet humanity.  It’s in how we give up ourselves.  And this humbleness isn’t passive, it doesn’t come with a low self esteem, it isn’t indecisive.  Far from it.  Our Jesus died for us.  He rose again.  We have the divine living.inside.of.us.  Seriously.  That should blow our minds!  Really.  That should make us the MOST courageous warriors for his name!  We are all miracles bought by his blood.  And every single creation living and breathing on this planet is therefore worth the fight of salvation.  And we’ve got some work to do.  Some great love to give.  And every day we GET to do that.  Praise God!

Happy Sunday.  Happy every day.  And what ever you may be facing, know it will be okay.  Our battle ends in victory.  Much love to all of you. ❤

“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. ” Colossians 1:17

hope knows no fear

 

 

A little bit of this and a little bit of that…

spread love

I should be in bed…

Tomorrow is Monday…

Again..

Already…

And our weekends are seldom restful with baseball and this monster called laundry and my poor husband is always swamped with meetings and this other monster called coaching (track season) and this thing called his profession of teaching which is a never ending monsoon of things — let’s just say he’s always “punched in”.  He’s at school right now — after attending a track and 4th of July meeting — after braving Costco and Scheels with the boys and I (why do my children keep insisting on growing???).  I really do not know how he does it.  I know he loves us all and all of his other kids a whole lot.  And I know that more than half of his job, his parent emails to his classroom kids and the kids he coaches, his caring and his heart is not just dealing with the bare bones of what is considered “education”.  He cares about the everythings of their lives.  I know why every kid’s face lights up when you say the name Mr. Mitchell.  I know his passion makes him creative, makes him amazing, makes him brilliant — but that it also creates stress.  But in this family’s eyes?  Well, he’s a freaking super hero…

And in all the busy, my brain never shuts off — trying to find solutions — trying to find better.  Because “this is just the way we do things” has NEVER cut it with this girl, this family — ever.  So I read a lot, write a lot, and possibly think WAY too much.  But that’s me.  It’s how my silly brain works.  Honestly, I think it’s why we’re here.  Not to figure it all out, but definitely to attempt to make it better. And we all can.  We really can.  The least we can do is try.  Trying is something.  Every day we can get up and try.  And that’s kind of exciting, isn’t it?  That’s actually pretty awesome — that we have that sense of possibility open to us?  Hell yes.  It most certainly is.  It’s not easy, but it sure is exciting.  And as the old adage goes, nothing worth anything is ever easy.  It’s often messy–and often so very, very hard.  But hard is doable.  And nothing is impossible.  Absolutely nothing — well, except for fantastically tasting gluten free soft and squishy white bread.  Seriously.  That has yet to happen (wink).

we can do hard thigns

And this took over me in the car while everything was hitting me and I was going to that place in my brain I take refuge when everything is beating me up (where “Windmills” from Toad The Wet Sprocket goes on repeat a zillion times and I revert to passages of “Don Quixote”) — that while sometimes it feels so VITAL for someone to GET me and to understand me — really all that truly matters is that I finally do — and there’s immense peace in that.  And after that thought blanketed all the others that were bouncing around, I could breathe again.  And it was all okay.

Because, really, no matter how much I cry or scream or long for that connection with some of the people that mean the very, very most to me — it might just never happen.  And that’s truly okay.  I don’t need to be “gotten”.  I don’t even need to get them.  And the change I think I so desperately need from them?  Hey, that may never happen here — on this spinning globular thing.  And although that kind of ultimately sucks, this isn’t IT.  This isn’t my everything — this isn’t all of my real.  This isn’t even the realest of my real.  So even though those awfully achy holes may never be filled or patched up down here?  Well, some day, yes, some day they will be.  I don’t need to assign that burden to someone else.  I don’t need to give that “if only they’d” list to any one.  Nah, I got me.  He’s got me.  I understand where I’m coming from.  I get me.  It’s not quite so imperative to me that anyone else really does.  And the people that do?  Holy halleluiahI’m pretty freaking thankful for that tribe.  I should probably get each and every one of their names tattooed onto my body (smile).  I feel like they’ve somehow earned that. I know my kind of simple is often complicated…

And although my arthritis seems to feel the need to kick into high gear as I reach this forty thing with such mental clarity and grace (dripping sarcasm–everything is falling apart) — this yogi girl soldiers on.  My body simply cracks to a new rhythm and I’m finding a sense of humor helps with all of it.  And I’m also finding that I’m simply reaffirming everything I’ve already learned to be true about yoga with every passing year of practice.  And I’ll be doing it till Jesus comes for me (I’m hoping mats are still legit in heaven…).

yoga love

One of the truly great things I love about yoga is that it teaches our minds to get over themselves — to push everything we think we can’t do because it looks weird, we think or feel we’re too old, it’s too hard, and all the other “too’s” we can imagine and we’ve conditioned our minds to believe — and we come to find that with just the right amount of balance and just the right amount of strength, and just the right amount of courage — ANYTHING is truly possible. And if we fall?  Damn, we just get back up all the more brave and determined, don’t we?  All of these were reflections in firefly.  It’s amazing all the thoughts that freely flow in yoga sequences.  Standing on our heads, twisting, building our muscles and seeing the world from different angles all while challenging our breathing and sense of balance.  It grows our hearts and our muscles.   Yoga is magic.  Spirit and body magic.  And the days I really don’t want to do it are the days I need to most.  Arthritis be damned.

And another week comes.  And this family is never ready.  Baseball practices, track practices, meets, sports pictures, meetings (always the meetings — our meetings have meetings), and then the boys somehow have homework and have to eat and sleep in all of that too — and our jobs and this parenting gig — and it’s all blessings, right?  It really is.  Exhausting, but really and truly blessings.  As all of this busy is just a blip on our radar of what is really and truly real — and so often distracts us from that.  So we have to reign it in — take a deep breath, grab those Bibles, practice yoga, repeat several mantras, get over our freaking selves — and say, “what can I do to shake things up and make this day, this hour, this minute, just a little bit better?”.  And sometimes?  Well, that’s just giving your kid, your husband, your sibling, your friend a smile, a hug (if you’re into those sorts of things) and telling them you love them.  Forever.  Because we GET that.  And if they don’t get that, being brave enough to share that with them.  Because THAT’S what’s real.  Really real.  More real than all of this crazy busy.

Sleep.  Getting some.  Much love to all of you.  Who probably know what your pillow looks like about as little as I do.  Take care.  And know how much you matter.  The world may keep on spinning, yes — but there’s only ONE of you spinning on it.  So take a minute to breathe.  Take a minute to stop and look.  Take a minute to think about how small and big it all really is.  And make some coffee for tomorrow.  Preferably set on auto.  Just makes it all that much easier.    Cause sometimes changing and shaking things up for the better takes a lot of coffee (smile).  A lot of coffee and a whole lotta Jesus. Thankfully he never gets tired and is never too busy…

Peace and love ❤

Angie

what if I can

 

 

Sanctuary…

“May we have communion with God in the secret of our hearts, and find Him to be to us a little sanctuary.”

Charles Spurgeon

This little family is in the throws of togetherness…  Otherwise also known to many of you as “spring break”.  Carrying the professions of teacher, paraprofessional, and coach in this family —  and having littles who have practice and every other blessed busy thing — we don’t have the means or so much the time to jet set anywhere exotic.  Omaha was in the plans, but this momma is still healing from sinus and ear infections — and honestly, being home is just sometimes quite lovely — as we always seem to be running away from it most of the time.

This probably doesn’t come as a big surprise to most of you, but I’m a home body (smile).  The outside world can be so overwhelming and obtrusive to this girl.  Many adventures are to be had within my own thoughts, books, and just a jaunt away on our beautiful bike trail (dude, it’s a snake fest and wild animal kingdom — serious Narnia amidst gorgeous foliage — new with every season — it’s even lovely in the winter). And I work with preschoolers.  Come on — top notch entertainment and non stop action.  I truly do not need anything else.  My life is  complete.  I just keep blooming my best where planted.  And that proves to be enough (smile).

And I am a person that craves peace, a sense of order, calm, my space, and sanctuary.  Less is always more.  I drown in things.  I drown in busy.  I just can’t think, get motivated, and often become paralyzed.  I want to take up space in this world with my thoughts, ideas, creativity — with BIG love — not with stuff, nor with obligatory events or “have to’s” that don’t really do anything in the grand scheme of things but stress me out — I crave the intimate, the authentic, the intense real — and I have come to totally accept this about myself (smile).  It only took a good 40 years (and some amazing friends who are my sisters and sisters who are my sisters — we’re all in this together).  Not everyone is an extravert and that is okay.  Really and truly okay.  Repeat 100 times…

So I want to be a procreator of what will last, what will stay, what will grow, change and transform this space around us–instead of suffocating it.  And for me, this is what has endearingly become known to this heart as keeping my sanctuary…

For there are very few things I NEED in this life, I’m pretty simple — but I am a person that straight up requires sanctuary — quiet, space, peace, intimacy, love — this is an urgent passion, not a flippant desire — and I have come to see this in my children as well.  They crave their quiet space, their place to be truly seen, their safe haven, their cocoons of home where their souls are read as perfectly complete and whole — however broken or ‘messy’ the world deems them to be.  How do I create this for them in a world that is so everything but safe, so everything but a guardian of the precious and sacred?  Is it even mine to create?  How do I guide them to something inside of them that only needs to be found?

“Remember the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you.”

Rumi

As a person who has spent a large portion of her life living in fear and anxiety, I would like my boys to generously skip over this state of being… And yet, I want them to understand HOW to deal with these feelings when they do surface–as an occasion and not a norm (smile).  For me, when all these old friends come to visit — my entire being craves God (this was not always the case–He’s graciously brought me through so much).  Like, face in the Bible, on my knees, hands up to heaven — crave my GOD.  Although He is my everything all.of.the.times — when I have questions, when I am feeling less than safe, when my heart gets all wonky and I feel it getting sick, the pull is ten billion times more intense.  It’s something I can’t really even describe.  It’s like needing air.  He IS my sanctuary.  I want my boys to understand this to their core. I want them to see his open arms.  I want them to feel his enveloping presence.  I want them to realize his vastness, his strength, his omniscience, his might.  I want them to appreciate, without a shadow of a doubt, that God is our refuge.  “You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah” Psalm 32:7

And it’s been a couple of those weeks for me, face in the Bible weeks.  Ezekiel and Hebrews have been my focus — and it surprised me how often the word “sanctuary” appears in Hebrews — and even a few times in Ezekiel. And if anyone needed sanctuary, it was the people being addressed in these books of the Bible — Ezekiel a hostage in Babylon, and the Jewish Christians who were experiencing terrible times of suffering for their faith in Hebrews.  Ezekiel 37:26 “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant.  I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever.”  Forever peace.  Forever sanctuary.  Forever with God.

In Hebrews the word “sanctuary” is mentioned often.  Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.”  Hope that enters our sanctuary.  Hope that anchors.  Hope that secures.  These happenstances caused me to search other places in the Bible for this word that has been on my mind and heart.  It appears several times in the Psalms.  In Leviticus as well.  And in Exodus 25:8 where the Lord speaks to Moses and requests that Moses tell the Israelites to “Then have them make a sanctuary for me and I will dwell among them.”  A divine relationship becomes personal.  It becomes intimate.  From heaven to earth.  From God to man.  Sanctuary becomes a dwelling place.

Sanctuary. What an incredibly powerful word.  Often when it is mentioned in the Bible, it is referred to as a place in the temple where God resided.  Where the presence of a majestic and powerful God dwells.  It’s a place inside a church, a synagogue, a place of worship.  It is holy.  It is sacred.  It is divine. 

Webster defines sanctuary as a place where someone or something is protected or given shelter — the protection that is provided by a safe place.  Also as the room inside a church where religious services are held.  It dates back to the 1300-50’s and is Middle English, late Latin — derived from sanctuarium.  It’s original meaning was a sacred place or shrine–but the term expanded to mean a safe haven or refuge.  Thank you, Webster.  Can’t remember the last time I used a dictionary.

I digress.  As a brain with ADD does.  I guess what this all means to me is the awesomeness and compilation of many thoughts crashing around–that may make sense to only me (smile).  The ultimate being this — that our most authentic and real sanctuary is truly within us.  What began in the Old Testament as a physical structure, a place where high priests could enter, a room where sins were ceremoniously required to be washed clean with the sacrifice and blood of animals, is now an intimate, metaphysical place filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is a place that exists within US!  And that verse in Exodus rings with clarity and truth still to this day — and is just so incredibly beautiful“Then have them make a sanctuary for me and I will dwell among them.” Our souls are a sanctuary for our Lord.  The power of the divine dwells in us.  How awesome.  How literally, mind blowingly, awesome…

He truly is my sanctuary.  We are so deeply interconnected and interwoven, my creator and I.  We can not be separated — ever — by anything.  I’m walking, breathing, living, with my forever sanctuary — bought by the sacrifice of his great love for me.  That is powerful stuff right there.  Shake you up powerful stuff.  My safe place, my holy place, my sacred place, my God — all encapsulated in the soul of  His creation.  Boom.  This girl is shaking.  That we could see each other with these eyes!  Wow.  Just wow.  That we could know, truly KNOW, we have nothing to fear!  Wow.  Just wow.  That we can live our lives in such a way to be worthy of this sanctuary.  Incredibly moving and powerful and inspiring — if not slightly daunting…  And that’s when it’s time to put my face back in the Bible…  (smile).

And, as always, the issues the Christians were facing in the Bible make my head and heart deals seem so small.  I mean really.  When Paul, chained to a Roman guard every waking minute of every day, pens the frequently quoted verse in Philippians 4:13 “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” — I have to often give myself a reality check and give praise to God instead of going to this verse for the proverbial “strength” I need to get through my “troubles” as Paul also extols us in this same book to “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!”  While he is in chains – praising God and finding sanctuary in his Jesus.

For a girl that has a hard time finding a sense of sanctuary in things, in places, in structures, or in organizations, events, or societal constructs in general — it is so not you, it is so me – it is so very, very me (smile) — I get this sanctuary.  All the way to my soul.  And God gets me.  He created this crazy mess, after all.  And He loves his daughter.  Face in the Bible and all.  Whether I’m struggling to hear His voice in the noise that so often immobilizes me or it falls easily and gently on my ears like a sweet spring breeze after the rain.  The important thing is that I keep trying.  I keep pressing onward.  I continue to be faithful. Even with the smallest of steps.  And as Rachel Held Evans writes so gorgeously, “No step taken in faith is wasted, not by a God who makes all things new.” (Searching For Sunday) He is always making us new.  He never gives up on us, loves.  Never.  I know this.  In such humility and by His ever flowing grace and mercy, I know this…

And in this walk of faith I will always and forever find sanctuary in my Savior.  He’s always there.  Right there.  With every single breath.  With every single beat of my heart.  With every mistake I make (and there are so many — and yet he loves me anyway — over and over again as I try to get this whole service and love and life thing..).

And He loves you too.  The all of you.  The every.single.part.of.you.  The parts that you don’t let anyone see.  The parts you don’t like so much.  The parts you wish weren’t there.  He loves those too.  And all the parts of you that make you smile.  They make Him smile too.  He knows you better than you know yourself.  He loves you more than anyone could ever love you.  You have never known such a love.  You will never know such a love — until you begin a relationship with Him.  Until you come to rest in this place of sanctuary with Him.

❤ And it is my prayer for you — dearest friend — that you can find sanctuary in Him, and that He may find sanctuary in you. ❤

Bless you, loves, and shine on. ❤

forest