How ’bout we just chat?

I sat last week in Panera with my friend and mentor in the faith.  Those few hours were like a deep, cleansing exhale.  Several years ago I was in a time of emotional struggle and I knew I was in need of discipleship.  I had sensed a call on my life to teach many years prior, but nonetheless there I was struggling deeply with insurmountable  fears and questions.  I was barely capable of processing my own faith, so the idea of walking with someone else, teaching and encouraging another person in God’s Word seemed comical.   Two years after I began asking God to give me a wise teacher in the faith, someone to walk close alongside of me, a precious woman entered my world and to paraphrase her words said,  I believe God wants me to disciple you.  And now I wonder what I ever did without her.  She is a gift.  Most of our time and focus grows from the inspired words of Paul in Titus 2:4,  “Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children.”panera insta

She is teaching me to stay focused there first, and that has been critical.  I mean freedom giving, life changing critical.  To see the blessings and joy that come when we choose to love and serve our families well is huge.  So obviously, she is my husband’s favorite person walking the planet.  You have never seen a man encourage his wife to participate in something as passionately as Kev encourages me to be mentored by my Denise.  God’s Word changes lives people, we are living proof.  Not perfect, but in process, and progress feels good.

All of that is backstory to my point.  Maybe I should consider posting videos here so I am freer to ramble and pretend we are face to face having a conversation?  My point is: though our discipleship time together is mainly focused on seeking God’s heart in our roles as wives and mothers, my ministry here on this blog comes up in discussion occasionally.  That is what I wanted to share with you today.

I can’t figure this blog out, which is ironic because it’s mine.  In many ways it has multiple personalities and sometimes that stresses me out.  I’m not ashamed to admit that here because I’m learning there’s a lesson in it.  I genuinely want this place to serve whoever is reading with sound encouragement, and I strongly believe I am called to help women understand, love, and live through the Scriptures.  But then there is other stuff too that’s fun to share, like chalk paint carpooling, and stories about Justin Timberlake, and before I know what’s happened I have written one day about the dead mouse we found in our car, and then lessons gleaned from God parting The Red Sea the next….multiple personalities.  I can’t tidy this place up, fit it in a box, and make it look like what I ‘perceive’ it should look like.

I was sharing these thoughts with my friend and hearing my words as they left my mouth, realizing there was an undertone of insecurity and pride that needed to be crucified already, not to mention a stench of comparison that is always deadly, but she listened and heard me out.  Somewhere mid-sentence, while I was grasping to find words to explain how I just don’t fit neatly in any one box, she reminded me that neither does God.

Oh.  Yeah.  I forgot that.

That was a humbling moment of freedom for me.  Maybe you need to hear that too?  Do you try to tidy your life up to make it fit the status quo, and something deep in you won’t rest because it just doesn’t fit that mold?  Do you worry what other people will think?  Are you afraid to simply be, because if you were to just be, there’s a chance a whole lot of people would think you were crazy?  I do.

I think people like us need to be reminded we have more freedom in Christ than we are currently believing we do.  Not free to live out any desire of the flesh the wind blows our way, but free to not worry about being authentically us, no matter how quirky it seems.

This post may translate as strange to some of you.  Maybe you don’t struggle with these insecurities, or maybe you think this should be kept in a private journal and a bit too insignificant to mention and spend time on here; but I wanted to share a bit of my wrestling.  The wrestling is real, and I always want to be real here.  It feels good to share the everyday, every girl kind of struggles, even when the conversation seems unpolished and a bit random.

But since we are just chatting, did you watch the Duggar Wedding?  We did.  My friend Cambre and my daughter Ella, the two most passionate Duggar lovers I know, planned a wedding reception.  Cambre provided the wedding cake, Ella brought the pink lemonade, and I brought the temporary tattoos…obviously.  duggar cakeThe muscle is weak, but the statement is true, and the commercial breaks in the Duggar Wedding seemed like a good time to apply them:Temporay Tat

Our friend Dawn walked over because she wanted to join any party that allowed her to wear her ‘Say Yes’ sweatshirt; but in hindsight, the Duggar Wedding spectacular was probably a bit too intimidating if you have never watched the regular Duggar show.  She knew very little about our Duggar friends, and probably needed a slower introduction before we threw her into the deep end of the Duggar gene pool.   Do you know what I’m saying?Duggar wedding

We loved all of it, but the real shock of the evening was the show which came on after The Duggar Wedding.  Do y’all know what I’m talking about?  It’s called, Home Sweet Bus, and it’s about a family who travels the country singing and all of them live full-time on a bus together.  I was able to mentally handle the idea of Mom, Dad, and kids living the dream on a RV, but now they have added a daughter-in-law and twin grand babies, and my mind is officially blown.  Their son and daughter-in-law’s bed doubles as kitchen seating by day, and their bed by night.

Ummmm…what?

Have a great weekend.  Thanks for visiting me here, even if you never know what you’re gonna get.

Why I need a yellow school bus in my life

The days already feel long at 6:30 each morning.  Do you know what I’m saying?  In some ways I blame school lunches.  Maybe in a lot of ways I blame school lunches.  If I didn’t have to be involved in the school lunch dilemma, every single live long day of the week, life would be simpler.  Do you know that funny little way people define insanity….doing the same thing everyday and expecting a different result?  Yeah, that’s how I feel about packing my kids’ school lunches.  It does not matter the food selection, or lack there of, someone usually finds a reason to complain about something, and I always end up sounding like Bill Cosby stating brilliant truth like, “Well you should be grateful, because it’s better than dirt!”

Someone out there wants to tell me to let them make their own lunches, i.e.: my husband.  But he has lost all credibility on such matters after the whole, “Let Thomas pick out his own clothes for school” ridiculousness I agreed to a few weeks ago.  I didn’t realize until that afternoon that Thomas chose to wear his sister’s jeans.  You know, the ones with hearts on the back pockets.  Whatever man.heart pockets

But nonetheless it’s true, they do need to take more responsibility, and we have experimented with this from time to time.  But inevitably my oldest takes over and starts writing notes to the other two kids and placing them in their lunch boxes, saying really endearing things like, “I miss you and love you and hope you are having a great day!” and then signs the notes, “Mommy”.  I’m not sure if she’s vying for my job, or if she’s trying to make me feel guilty, but either way it’s successful in making me uncomfortable.  So then I start making the lunches again and expecting attitudes to change, and we come full circle to what I have known for sometime now…that I’m insane.

But none of that is my point.

My point is, carpooling kids is hard and sometimes I resort to functioning on the same maturity level as my kindergartener.  Which isn’t a total depravity.  After all, he’s awesome.  Exhibit 5,892:Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

One of my wise girlfriends whose kids ride the bus to and from school, can’t understand how in the world us carpooling mothers do this twice a day.  She’s so right, I can’t understand it either.  Thankfully, the mornings are a nonissue.  Attitudes are kept in check, we listen to an audio dramatic version of the Bible, we talk, we pray, I sip coffee, it’s all picture perfect and I come home patting myself on the back at what a wonderful mother I am.

But then I pick them up in the afternoon, and it’s all exactly like the morning, except 100% the complete opposite.

Do you know what I’m saying?

On Friday, Caroline was the first to enter the vehicle by slingshotting her backpack off her shoulder into the front seat and proclaiming, “Well it’s official, I can’t do anything right!”  Lord have mercy.  In defense of my kindergarten maturity level which I will get to in a moment, when my children loose their minds and start with these ridiculous emotional temper tantrums, I do try and begin with my best Momma Duggar voice I can muster up.  I very gently responded in tender tone, “Now Caroline, that’s silly, tell me what’s going on.”  That lasted for about two more sentences, and before her hysteria exploded through the sunroof, I was forced to holler, “Would you please calm the heck down already and breathe before I have to freak out on you!

For the record, I have no idea what “freaking out on them” is going to look like, but they don’t either, and I’m pretty sure no one wants to find out.

About the time I am finally able to sedate Caroline with my words, her brother begins annoying her and everybody gets all riled up again.  And here’s the kicker, once those two get in the car, we must wait another 30 tortorous minutes in my tiny vehicle before big sister is released from middle school.  The car becomes a pressure cooker.  It’s all I can do to keep people alive inside, and when we are all just about at our limit, the third and most volatile of them all enters onto the scene.  This is just science people, a combustible reaction is going to occur despite my best efforts.  Science wins every time.

Ella climbs in and immediately begins complaining and bossing her siblings.  Though she doesn’t say it in plain words, most of my conversations on the way home with this child can be boiled down to one sentence, “Let me tell you all the ways you have failed me at homeschooling over the past two years.”  More or less, that seems to be the point she has for me at the end of each car ride home.  I’m only slightly exaggerating.  There are other things too though…Caroline won’t get out her seat, Thomas won’t stop talking, threats start being made, I’m talking like Momma Duggar but no one is listening to me, and finally this past Friday I blew and said the words I always said I would never say, “I am calling your Father and telling him on each one of you.”

And I did.

And he was in a meeting.

And he had me on speaker phone.

And after my ranting and tattling, after I heard a chuckle come from the background, my husband very calmly asked, “Could we talk about this when I get home tonight?”

Whatever man.

As I drove home in humilation, God thought it would be funny to place this car in front of me on the road.  bumper stickersAnd I am only a little bit ashamed to admit that I said to this vehicle’s rear side, “Why don’t you get a life already.”

It was a low moment.

But it was Friday, so there was mercy in that.  And by the time we pulled into the garage, the children were all repenting of their sins and begging forgiveness.  I told Ella about 5 times I forgave her and it was fine.  She relentlessly continued, “I can tell you don’t really mean it by your body language, and Jesus says you have to forgive.”  Lord have mercy, carpooling is exhausting and I need a yellow bus to do this for me.  But these girls of mine who claim they can do nothing right, both had straight A’s on their report cards and I feel vindicated for two years of mediocre homeschooling.  I may choose to pin their report cards to my clothing for the next week like it’s my own purple heart, and force these kids of mine to salute me and show their respect for the wounds they inflicted on me through those homeschooling years.

It seems only fair.

 

Why We Must Know His Heart: how it will change the world

handfulThis place is fractured.  No one can deny there is something wrong with this world.  The news spreads it’s fear propaganda to millions of wide-eyed panicked souls, I watch and it tries to lure me in, but mainly what I notice more than the news they are reporting is a pattern.  We think we have come a long way, after all we are so advanced in our knowledge and technology.  We are so much wiser now; but to me, I think we look the exact same as those embarrassed and naked people that day in the Garden.  We are still nothing more than formed dust in the Potter’s hands, breathing His breath, trading truth for a lie, scared to death and hiding in the bushes.  There is nothing knew under the sun.

But when judgement was just, here comes Mercy walking in the cool of the day.
one acornbright trail i I’m sitting outside with young women around a table I painted with chalk paint.  The wax surface is getting stickier with each year, and now my leather bible sticks when it rests there for too long.  I peel it up like it’s a sticker.  They talk, I listen.  They share their days and their experiences with a “there’s nothing I can do to change” kind of perspective.  I can feel my heart breaking a little on the inside, I press my lips closed tight and think to myself don’t cry, don’t cry Amy, they will think you’re crazy.  And they would, so I don’t, I save that for when they leave.

And these?  These are the church.  These are you and me who are walking around claiming the Name of Christ, and I am overwhelmed by that.  This world we walk around in is fractured, and we are still, even still in this day of all our advancements, believing a lie.  Maybe now more than ever.  I know the serpent’s head was crushed, but do I live like it?  Do we?  Or are we letting the lie get too close and take up residence next door?  Do we desperately cling to comfort and the stuff that makes us feel secure, instead of the Comforter, the only One who gives security?  Do we believe the lie that we are incapable, unworthy, unintelligent, hopeless, and at the mercy of fate?  Why are we satisfied to live defeated, when Christ’s life, death, and resurrection exists to offer the opposite?  Why are we sitting in church pews on Sunday, and then sitting near a Liar every other day of the week and allowing him to slither around our feet?

Do we even recognize that it’s happening?

That we can conform more into the likeness of this world and less into the Image of Christ and not even know the wrong transformation is taking place?

I listen and listen and listen and then listen a little longer, and all I can think is, this is not the heart of God.  Our lives are not declaring who He is.  He created us to give praise and thanks to Him, in all things, because He is so good and so worthy.  Every bit of creation declares it, and if we are silent then the rocks will give praise instead and we will miss our Christ given privilege.

side door glory iboots ip snakered leaves at feet i

When God revealed Himself to Isaiah in a vision, every being in heaven could speak nothing but “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord Almighty.” (v. 3)  Can you imagine that for just a moment?  No matter your background, no matter your circumstances, no matter if you believe Him or not, no matter your Christian discipline or lack there of, the only words due Him in His presence are “Holy, Holy, Holy!”  And the only words we can speak in response to Him?  “Woe to me!  I am ruined!” (v. 5)….and Isaiah was a prophet.

But here this time, when judgement was just, Mercy flies down in the form of a live coal.  A cleansing fire.

mosstrees up above i one pumkin i the white house 1His love and mercy is too overwhelming to comprehend, and after the Lord extends this undeserved grace to his prophet he asks, “Who shall I send? And who will go for us?”   In light of all that God had done, there was nothing to say before the Almighty but, “Here am I.  Send me!”  This quick response and eager enthusiasm, this passion to lie down in surrender, this begging plea to be sent to speak truth, all this because of a vision of God and atonement through a burning coal.

All this before the Word became Flesh and walked among us.  All this was before the cross.  All this before Perfection was tortured and murdered on our behalf.  All this before nails were driven in His hands and He had our names on His mind.  All this before the tomb was found empty, and death had been conquered.   All this before He sent His Spirit to literally seal us and guarantee victory.

How much greater should our response be?

red berries I one berry iBut how?

We can all agree there is something wrong with our ways.  We know it not in our nature to believe what is unseen, to deny events around us and press on toward a deeper truth.  We know it can be effortless to conform to this world, to blend in among the masses, to believe what the world believes, looking the way the world looks, speaking the way this world speaks, and fearing the way this world fears.

But there is a better way.  There is a determined purpose we can claim for our lives, that will supernaturally resist this fractured place and will instead transform us into the image of the One who overcame it.

[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]. Philippians 3:10 AMP

Oh how much better it can be.  Our hearts and lives can become sacred ground, a holy temple, a promised land of refuge and security because He fills it.  But we have to know Him.  We have to know His heart, or ours will never turn away from the patterns of this world.

We can’t just know of him, but we must know Him.

And when we know Him, there is nothing left to say in His presence but, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord Almighty.”  And then daughter in Christ, He no longer asks, “Who shall I send?  Who will go for us?”  He sends the ones who look like His Son.  And those everyday, ordinary, Christ-like girls, girls like you and me, will change the world.

Who You Are

See, I told you The Gospel is a love story.  Have a beautiful weekend….You. Are. Adored.

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