The One with a Mirror

My week began with a restless night and a heavy heart. In a season of life filled with so much joy, I remain haunted by the things that aren’t there. Instead of sleeping I replay the same questions over and over again in my mind.

Is grace enough?

Am I enough?

When the dust settles and light is shed over my heart, I’m reminded of my place in it all. At my truest core, I am a child of God, wholly loved and fully known. When I learn to rest in that, I find my fears demolished and my doubts destroyed. When I stop letting other people be my mirror (thank you, Amanda, a million times over for this post) and instead plant myself firmly at the feet of God, I find the space to breathe and to rest. When I finally come to terms with the fact that I cannot earn enough grace or love on my very own, that I’ll always fall short, I can demolish the system that I’m judged against and instead embrace all the things that I am.

Little by little, I am working my way towards freedom, towards knowing God, towards the truest love. Praise to the One who meets us where we are, but in His great love for us does not leave us there.

 

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The One with 100 Percent

IMG_2014IMG_2029IMG_2025It always goes that our babies teach us our biggest lessons – how to live and love (at least that’s what I’ve heard). Our sweet Luna teaches us a lot about patience and play, and this weekend was no exception. We drove her back to her first home and favorite spot on earth – the turf at Boys Latin. She ran wild and free, chasing down frisbees and lacrosse balls until she plumb worn out. She was in her element and was darn good at it. There’s something about seeing someone (even puppy people) firing on all cylinders that makes you realize when you’re not. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say I’m running at 90% capacity. I’m juggling this new season reasonably well, but there’s a fog some days that reminds me I’m not maxing out my potential or living my best.

In total honesty, operating at 100% sort of scares me. Most days I’m not sure I have the energy to be that on, and so I hold back a little for fear of burning out. That is, of course, when I try and do it all myself. I always thought that I should be a self-sufficient individual and that anything less than all-on-my-own would somehow be weak. And I used to live in the fear that someone would discover my secret – that I’m not actually that strong and instead I’m sort of terrified. I consistently fail at doing it myself and I need the help of a whole village. I need the support of family, encouragement of friends, and grace of a perfect Savior.

I’m learning the freedom in asking for help, in admitting my fears and weaknesses, and praying into them instead of running from them. When I give over my worry, I slowly make room for more – more people, more joy, and more hard and holy work. And when I shake off my own stubbornness I can be fueled by grace and love, which makes me less afraid. I’m shaking off the cobwebs and praying myself awake.

 

The One with the Wilderness

Whilst my writer friend/college roomie/shopping buddy extraordinare was visiting us at the new house, we talked long and hard about all of the big scary life things – our worst fears, our lofty dreams, the spiritual terrain of our lives. After a nourishing and honest sermon about what it looks like to walk through wilderness (listen to the podcast here), we shared wine flights and opened up about our very own desert places and what it looked and felt like and where we did or didn’t see God moving. The thing about having a friend who has seen you through a wilderness or two is that they just get it – they know what you look like in a joyous season of harvest and they’ve seen you in the lowest spaces, craving spiritual milk but coming up empty. Amanda has seen me everywhere and in between, and when she walked through the wilderness, I was there, too. She writes about it all beautifully on her blog (which you can find here), and she talks about it at coffee shops and Paneras across the east coast.

“Tell you story, dear sister.”

And so, here’s a little about my wilderness.

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If we’re going off of loose definitions here, let’s call the wilderness the area that we journey as our lives weave in and out of fertile valleys. The wilderness, for me, was a place of heartbreak and confusion and general frustration. It’s the time where I felt far from the Lord, not for lack of church attendance but because I was convinced He had stopped fighting for me. My wilderness spanned the greater space of a year, and it’s in that raw and tumultuous desert that we built our marriage. I’ve got a big soft spot for that arid space, and tears and prayers and hope for anyone currently dwelling there.

My extraordinarily high hopes fell flat in that wilderness, and our tiny apartment was filled with unmet expectations. We were newly married and heartbroken over everything our lives weren’t. What was surely a formula for happiness (young newlyweds + adorable mountain town + a paid-for education) was instead a dry landscape of disappointment. Living together wasn’t easy. We missed our college community terribly. Graduate school was not where I wanted to be.

When the arguments stopped and the silence remained, our fear whispered.

Had God forgotten us?

In a time where I imagined we would thrive, we instead merely survived. While we managed to find good friends and plenty of laughter in that wilderness, we both knew what it looked like to bear fruit and live joyfully, and we were so far from those fertile lands. Our first anniversary felt like the biggest finish line I’d ever run through. We set our sights on Baltimore and didn’t look back. And when we suddenly walked out of that wilderness and into the wilds of Charm City, we found more oxygen and stronger limbs than we had before. A sense of lightness and belonging enveloped us, along with an incredible community of people, and the silence was broken. We could see and hear and feel God moving in our lives. And of course, he was there all along. While the wilderness felt isolating and infuriating, God was there at every trial, quietly strengthening and refining us. We were never broken, not once. We remained, albeit at a distance, and He remained with us.

So, dear friend, rest assured that you are not alone in your wilderness. There is hope, and there will be beauty. Tell your story and let someone walk alongside you.

Some wandered in desert wastelands,
    finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty,
    and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
    to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
    and fills the hungry with good things.

Psalm 107

The One with a Puppy Christmas

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My super sweet puppy girl is a traveling queen this holiday season, but she remains unconcerned.  Her laser-like focus is reserved for playtime, snuggles, and pieces of food.  All the crazy scheduling and stress go unnoticed.  Instead, she carefully positions herself so that she’s in maximum contact with her people.  I could use a lesson from this smart pup.  Instead of worrying my head off about the house we just bought, the packing to be done, the ten thousand tiny things we’ll need to purchase; or the new family dynamics that I can’t quite figure, trying to split time fairly between families, or making sure I’m appropriate packed/dressed/prepared for every individual event; what if I just put the stress aside and instead refocused my priorities?

What if this season wasn’t about parties or planning or even presents?  What if instead, I soaked up every last round of rummy played at the kitchen table?  Every laugh, smile, or hug from the friends and family that surround us here in this season… those are the things that will hold me together when I realize, quite suddenly, that my darling dream home and dream job are three states away from my dearest loved ones, and that while God’s plan for us is more beautiful than I ever imagined, it’s just so far from where I pictured us.  And then there’s the purpose of everything – the reason for family and friends and loved ones and celebrations at all.  That a supremely perfect Savior was born into a world enslaved by sin, and instead of offering the judgement our sin had earned, he instead gave his life as a sacrifice so that we might live a full life.  And this full life of mine, torn between state lines and sweet friends, every corner of my story, every morning when I wake, every fresh start that I don’t deserve, all point back to the humble birth of Christ – fully human and fully God – who came into the world without pomp or circumstance, and in his death brought righteousness to the world.

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For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace

there will be no end,

on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

to establish it and to uphold it

with justice and with righteousness

from this time forth and forevermore.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.