Thursday’s Thread

As we are driving down the road headed to take our youngest son to college, knowing the drive home will be the first time in 27 years that we’ve not had to go home to a schedule jam packed with two a day football practices, gathering endless school supplies while attending meet the teachers and ‘experience’ life as a High School student again. The battle of constantly choosing between which event was ‘more’ important than the other will be gone as well as scurrying to make lunches the night before. Joe and I will now fill our time getting to know one another better, learning a new rhythm and finding new interests we can share together. 

Twenty-seven years is a long time to spend investing and shaping young lives and although we will miss their footsteps running down the stairs every morning, the empty jugs of milk left in the refrigerator and even the mounds of laundry
-we are confident the best is yet to come!
Last night on the eve of taking our youngest to college Joe looked at me and tenderly said, ‘it’s just the two of us babe!’.
We know this road will take some getting used to yet we also know it’s not the end of our family, merely a time for some adjusting and recalibrating…God has a way of shaping hearts in times like this. 

Change has been visiting us all along,  this one just came quicker than we thought and seems to be shaking us up a bit more than expected. 

Children have a way of becoming a gauge for our heart. 

We see our truest self staring back at us in some of the ugliest and most beautiful ways. 
A child has a way of drawing us out…the good and not so good too. 
I once read they are a way to holiness. 
I get it, somewhere in between the sleepless nights and the frustating quarrels we find grace.
On this road we can often carry a load of regrets
-too much said and others of not enough.
And yet through it all if we keep our eyes fixed on what really matters when we come to this bend in the road we’re able to trust God a little bit more.

Sweet Mommas know….
The same God who has loved us through our hard and holy days is traveling with our sons & daughters. 

My fingers recently traveled through the pages of Deuteronomy 11.18-21 where I found a place to rest my soul during these days of transition.  

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds;
Teach them to your children,
talking about them when you sit at home
when you walk along the road,
when you lie down
when you get up.
Write them
on the door frames of your houses
and on your gates,

so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.’

These words may stir within your chest a holy place of resolve, perhaps a place of beginning for new parents to set their hearts as it was for us so many years ago. 
And now within these days as we prepare to hug our son’s neck and as he begins his many steps towards adulthood I am feeling sweetly held in the whispers of my Heavenly Father.
You see all those years even while some felt quite unproductive they were actually tender moments of investment in the hearts of our sons. 
The many nights I lingered longer on the edge of their beds lying beside them listening to their hearts and working through things with them or sometimes just cuddling, investment was still incurring.
All of the times we’ve sown seeds of God’s words into their little and big hearts, it was happening…as we etched Gods words on the walls of our home it was happening too.

You see this scripture tells us to spend our days ‘teaching, talking and writing’ about the things of God. It tells us us to fix these words upon our hearts sweet Momma’s. So whether you’re in the thick of it or just beginning in parenting, seize these moments!
As I read these verses the other day rather than having a heart full of regrets I rested. Not because I’ve done it all perfectly or even half perfect, but because throughout the last 27 years this was our desire….the days something shook the heart of our child and busted them up and we had to reset our schedule to hear the brokenness of their hearts or the nights it felt like a struggle to get everyone in the same place all at once it was in all of these moments God was doing His miracle work in the lives of our sons and our family.

So as we launch this last arrow of ours, I’m choosing to rest my heart upon this truth, what we sow will eventually take root and flourish into a beautiful display of God’s working.
And in no way are we finished, our children will still lean into us and ask us for guidance, they’ll still want us actively in their lives but the days of washing their faces and tucking them in bed are behind us.    

But its inside these days where grace extended becomes forgiveness given and our relationship shifts and becomes what God intended all along. 
And within the years we’ve spent making memories there’s some mistakes that’ll need some redeeming too. So name them when needed and turn them in for some wisdom to guide you in the days ahead. 

I’m never going to stop releasing these arrows from my grip because arrows were designed to fly and sons were created to leave as well….love always experiences loss.

I once left my parent’s house to make a home with my ‘One for a lifetime’ and now its time for the passing on of a new generation to be birthed. 

So, my Son as you venture into this adventure of your life, know we couldn’t be more excited for you! And tomorrow as we unpack all the treasures you’ve collected for a lifetime remember the ones that really matter are the souls you collect in heaven. The ones you pour yourself into, loving them beyond your own capacity and as you dip into what God provides remember nothing is really yours anyway. 

I pass on these 9 words handed straight out of your own Grandpa’s hands….if he were here with us he would tell you these simple truths.

God is Real-even when you hurt so bad and you can’t feel Him, He is still as real as when He created you. 
(The) Bible is True-no matter what other’s might tell you, truth is only found in Him.
Jesus is Alive-and because of this we have the opportunity to live forever with Him. 

So Son, be strong and courageous in the Lord-He is with you!

Love, your one & only Momma….

Thursday’s Thread

Ironically as I’m writing this today my heart is being held together by a strand of twine as I’m just days away from packing up our last son to head to college.

I’ve learned the deepest message of our own heart has a way of ministering in its’ rawest state…
So, if you’d give me the honor of talking openly with you for a few minutes pull up a comfy chair and scoot in for an open conversation with me about the transition so many of us are in the middle of right now.  

It’s been 27 years of raising these boys, knowing far ahead in the distance one day I would release them into their own lives. But so many times when this reality crossed my path somehow the truth of it got lost in the gathering of school supplies and pulling wads of cash out, emptying jars of change to pay for all of their activities. I may have been choosing denial or was truly in a state of feeling overwhelmed when it slipped my mind and was pushed aside to process at a later date. Each time we let go of one of our three older sons there was always another one at home that needed my attention, so my grief  would often get distracted and swallowed up in our busyness.
And forget the trying task of keeping close to the ones who were far away living out the call placed upon them.
And here we are now just days away from packing up the last one and driving him to college, hugging his neck and telling him all the last reminders we have a way of passing out hoping we’ve said and done it all. 

If we’re honest so much of parenting can be fueled by fear….It’s what has us hanging on tight and not wanting to let go of the reins at times. 
We spend so many days protecting our kids that we can forget to prepare them for their departure. 

I remember the years of having young sons and their infatuation with weapons particularly a couple of them who loved bows and arrows. They felt powerful and like a courageous warrior gripping their bows and launching their arrows at targets. Their love for this grew into an even greater love for other weapons in particularly nerf guns. Nerf wars were one of my favorite memories. The boys could launch those bullets into every corner of our house. The one rule I had was they had to pick them all up at the end of their wars. The funny thing was no matter how hard they worked to do that, there were always bullets I’d find for months. It’s still this way in my house even though my youngest is getting ready to begin his first year at college. Please forgive me as I  was thinking about this illustration my mind got sidetracked to the overflowing tubs of nerf guns that we will soon be loading up with all of our youngest son’s college stuff. I’m not sure how they will assist him in the weeks and months ahead in fact dorm parents I’m sorry for any trouble this causes in your dorm! I’m awaiting my first call….No but in all seriousness just as there were days even though they’re quite faint in my memory when I had to cock their guns for them, load their bows so they could use them. Whereas now they’re the ones cocking my guns for me and pulling back the string on the bow so I can launch an arrow. 

In Psalm 127.4 it tells us our children are like arrows, what a beautiful metaphor this is for us as parents.

                                                  ‘Children born to a young man, 
                                             are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.’

A warrior never holds on to their arrows but rather when the right time arrives they must release them,  for arrows were created to fly!
Everything about them down to their intricate design was fashioned to soar. 

As is, with our children they were given to us to send out.

Sisters believe me I know this is hard stuff!
It’s not an easy process as we love our kids and we naturally want to keep them inside the rooms of our homes. 

But just as arrows were not designed to remain in a quiver neither were our sons & daughters created to stay home forever. 

Missional Parenting speaks a different language than the message of our hearts.

Although many of us want to raise our kids to ‘need’ us because it somehow communicates our importance in their lives.
We look at their need for us as an expression of their ‘love’ but this isn’t what God intended for them. 

When we choose to raise our kids knowing one day we will send them out for God we prepare and raise them to carry out their callings and the furthering of the gospel. 
This doesn’t mean we won’t have tears and sadness in the process as we grieve through our losses but it gives our tears purpose as we’re able to see firsthand the beauty of our labor. 

                ‘Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.’ Psalm 126.5

We will have tears sweet Mommas but God will redeem them into songs of joy as we watch Him ever so faithfully work in the lives of our children.

Maybe you’ve been experiencing the days and weeks leading up to the release of your sons and daughters involving some strain and tension in your homes, I know I have.
For a time I wondered if this was something that was unique to our family yet as I spoke with several friends I learned it was happening in their homes too. 

It can be a hurtful season if you let your heart get too involved in their process of leaving and transitioning into independence. 

You see they’re needing to peel away from some of their dependency on us to survive the days ahead. Us Momma’s can sometimes wonder how they’ll ever survive without us but I can assure you after releasing three other sons and leading many college students through this process they find their dependency deeper on God in these days.

What I’ve found at the heart of this process for myself is
do I trust God with the life of my child?’.
Having the pleasure of watching God navigate each of my sons along the way has reminded me inside these days to lean upon Him more and more and it teaches my son to lean on Him as well….In these sacred moments our kiddos see God is more than enough for us as they witness evidences of our faith being real and tangible!

Gregg Harris says it like this as he likens this process to arrows:

‘When you aim the arrow and release the arrow, beware–the greatest tension in your
relationship with your children will often be just before you release them.
Because it
 feels to the arrow like it’s going backwards when it wants to go forward.
The tension is 
building in the bow, the warrior is aiming, and then there’s the   release.
From that point
 on, the guidance system that is in the arrow itself is what keeps it on track.’

Did you read that last part?
The ‘guidance system that is in the arrow’ keeps it on track,  not us!
As our children leave we’re released as God becomes their primary guidance system. We can’t choose this for our children, it’s now their choice…yes, this can be a scary place to leave our children it’s here in this holy crevace where we must entrust them solely to God!

A good reminder to hold onto:
God will never call us to something that He won’t give us what we need to accomplish it and He never sends us, nor our children out without going with us!

Perhaps we feel there’s more work to do within our child’s heart or feel as if we’re sending them out a bit undone.
that God will finish what He first began through us in the lives of our children, He will complete what He first began. 

This beautiful blessing that we have been tasked with is a road that He will continue to travel with us on and with our children. We aren’t finished as parents our role just transitions into a new phase and finding beauty in this season is the beginning of our releasing of them. 

The conclusion of this season for us of having our beds full of boys is ending but I’m holding onto the beautiful beginning it is for our son, whose life is aimed toward the exciting future God prepared long ago in advance for Him to do.
His heart’s steadiness is greatly affected by where I place my trust, my hope and my identity these days… sisters I’m choosing to place them in God alone.

When we see our parenting as a gift from God to live out, a mission of our own sort we see our children’s lives not as ones we hoard for the feeding of our own identity but as lives God created and graciously gifted us to share with the furthering of His kingdom. 
It’s our natural selves that want to hold onto them but when we love them like God loved His son we are able to offer them as a sacrifice for His glory and have the greatest pleasure of watching them live out their God-given purpose!

So brave Mommas let’s get our bows ready for the days ahead and allow God to give us the strength and courage to pull back and release our children to soar into what God has prepared for them out there.
They truly fly when we let go of them and allow them to take off as they were made to do!

Thursday’s Thread

I’ve been spending a lot of moments reflecting lately
Looking back, searching over times in the past.
Not wishing to buy days back just ‘remembering’…..
God called the children of Israel to ‘remember’ and He calls us to do the same.
To look behind us at His faithfulness, to look back at when He’s brought us through some devastating things and see His provision, to see His goodness.
As I have shuffled through the years full of amazing memories and some hard & holy moments too I am continually strengthened from seeing God’s constant presence through it all.

Past suffering has a powerful & useful role in our lives.

Even though they’re not enjoyable in the moment, its crazy how productive they prove over a lifetime. In fact many times when we are first called to something difficult we begin looking for an exit plan, a way out of our struggle. I know I do!
Sometimes even our busyness or filling of our time is a way of escape from what God is calling us through….running is sometimes our way of escaping.

Many years ago I remember studying about the life of David and the struggles he had to endure ever before he became King. I remember the phrase being pulled off the pages of his life that God called David to go ‘further still’ through his suffering.
You know those days you wish would end with a release or some kind of relief but instead God calls you to go a little ‘further still’ through the trial?

These are the seasons our spiritual muscles move from mush to muscle. Our worn out and tired state gets strengthened as God uses our perseverance through our suffering as the very thing He delivers us with.
Friend, our heavenly Father never calls us through something He hasn’t first prepared us to be able to endure. Sure we may feel weak and ill-prepared but we can be certain if we skim back over the days that have led us to here, we will see His tender prepping of our hearts from way back….
This is where we must draw our strength from. 

Eight years ago, Joe and I were comfortably serving college students in Oklahoma when we received a call to move to Dallas. We’d always lived in the country enjoying the simplicity of its benefits and I wasn’t sure about leaving it for the city. We had four boys we were raising and our oldest had just graduated and would soon be leaving for college, it all felt a bit overwhelming. But for some reason God was calling us to move.

The hard and holy things that came through that move both ministerially and personally have led us to some rough but blessed days. The friendships God swept up from the ashes of the church’s past are some of our most treasured blessings along with the DNA God has given our church. I never realized the joy that exists in diversity and everyone not looking like me. Oh what an awesome creator God we have!
Our church has become a reflection of God’s heavenly design, even in its continual need of healing. When we see church as a gathering of broken people, a place our hurting world can feel welcome to step into no matter their ethnicity or circumstances, where love and grace meet all….it is here we taste the goodness of what God is preparing for us. 

I am reminded of the fact that God’s ways always have a purpose for good even when they might feel really bad.

Our sufferings although momentarily hard is doing a good work inside of us. 

The space between what is hard and what is used for holiness can be a struggle to walk through…and yet the time between our rescue and redemption is where God does His mightiest work. 

The days we see God working things out, the day the miracles arrive are the easier days to trust in Him but the moments we are crying out for those days to arrive, are the ones when our heart is drawn into His courts and we are able to remember His faithfulness. 

What has you down on your knees trusting God today? 

For me it’s believing that what He’s gotten me through before He will take me faithfully through again. The impending loss that will be coming in the next couple of weeks with our youngest son heading to college will be filled with His mercy and grace ever so beautifully again.
When we can recognize these moments have so much less to do with the shifting occurring within the rooms of our homes and much more to do with the stirring of our heart we can receive them better.

It’s trusting God to finish the work He’s begun in our church to continue healing and restoring it as He continues to nurture and grow us into the church He intends for us to be.

It’s trusting God to heal broken relationships, to restore lives and breathe life into them again as He has done so many times before.
It’s trusting God that what He’s called me to He will carry me through….
All of this brokenness is where He does His masterful work,  where His creativity shines…it is what causes our world to stop and take notice of Him….it’s what He uses to draw our hurting world to Him…our suffering becomes an offering to our broken and hurting world.

So, friend when life seems overwhelming and you’re wondering why it has to be full of so much heartache and pain…remember God’s faithfulness, site His working throughout the years and trust He will do it again & again, for as long as we surrender the broken spaces of our lives He will heal them and use them for His work. 

Rise up from your grave of despair sweet soul and choose to site the times God has proven His trustworthiness.
For the hope that gets unwrapped when we choose to look inside our past is what carries us through the days ahead.…and every struggle now leads us to a new season of becoming strengthened. 

Thursday’s Thread

We can get so busy doing life we overlook what is really needing our attention….

As I was recently studying Psalm 51 the familiar lament of King David after his affair with Bathsheba I was struck by something new. Right in between David pouring out his heart before God he begins singing a new song. A song filled with hope…a song asking God to do something powerful inside his damaged heart.

I wonder how many of us allow ourselves the space to get past our sin enough to ask God to recreate our brokenness within us?

How many times instead do we get knee high stuck in mud recounting our failure filled with shame…feeling unworthy of God’s restoration?

Yet past our struggles and sin lies a sacred place where brave songs get penned.

It was here in this space that David knew there was hope beyond his pain.

What hard thing are you walking through right now that keeps tripping you up day after day, week after week?

I know what it was for me – it was unmet hurt.

In the summer of 1987, I was a northern girl who found herself in the Inner City of Philadelphia when I first met him. He was a Youth Minister from the Midwest who brought his students to the Inner City to serve. We were from completely different parts of the country and upbringings yet something drew us together.

How has it been 31 years already?

I was so young and shattered in the secret places, where do I even begin?

It is in beauty-filled moments like these that grace alone is responsible for what happened.

When love brought us together I thought it alone would be enough…..I thought marriage would somehow soothe my aching heart.

But there were nights when pain had its raid on my fractured heart and I let it make a mess of things.

Pain is a marker that brokenness exists. 

We promised to love and to like one another forever but my struggle was turning my stomach and causing him hurt. My love was evident but my twisted pain was a miscommunication of dislike. My hurt morphed into a defective shell I hid behind. We have a broken way of being critical when we’re aching deep within.

A critical Spirit is an indicator of a broken heart.

In the earlier days of marriage Joe often told me divorce wasn’t an option for us. He’s had to tell me that more than once, because sometimes all I wanted to do was run and hide.

I remember the day I drew a line in the sand and stood beside him in this commitment…I had to decide I wanted my husband beside me more than I wanted to hold onto my brokenness alone….

I don’t know if you’ve ever had one of those moments that stops you in your tracks and causes you to look over your life and wonder how you’re still struggling with the same ol’ junk almost 30 plus years later.
I’ve struggled with what to do with my pain so many times.
I always thought my problem had more to do with anger or the anxiety that would grip my chest but as I chiseled down deep within my soul, I found it was my wounded spirit that needed healing.
You see when I looked in the mirror I saw my anger left to itself was leading me into sin and was harming our relationship.
I deeply desired to heal and find a better way of dealing but it seemed no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t figure it out.
Unbridled words seemed to fling carelessly from my lips when all I wanted to do was cry and show someone the pain my heart was holding. I prayed and begged God to help me reel in some self-control while my heart ached quietly within. Never putting the two things together and realizing both were linked together keeping me bound in unhealthiness.
And even though I’d grown in many ways throughout the years, I still felt quite stuck in my struggle.

One year ago this week I decided to explore what was really at the root of my brokenness….I wanted healing on the other side where I could grow. Pain became my invitation to find healing.

So I sat down with my Bible, a note book and a work book on resolving conflict and began journaling about my feelings of hurt that seemed to be continually encircling my heart.
Doing inventory on the shelves of our hearts always exposes what we’re needing.
And as I began uncovering my hurts I found feelings of being pushed aside and overlooked were at the root of my pain.
These feelings were twisted with years where I told myself lies, messages that I was unwanted and unloved, even forgetting what it felt like to be chosen. These lies settled themselves within the hidden crevices of my chest walls convincing me to the core that I was unwanted.

Even as much as Joe would tell me and show me his love for me I struggled to receive it. My broken heart was too shattered to be able to receive love in its fullest…the hurt had created a vast emptiness within me.
I knew God’s love was the only thing that could heal my unmet needs.

I resonated with the woman at the well who Jesus met and breathed life into her lungs and gave her life value, the only one out of a whole town He chose to speak to that day.
I too needed Jesus to breathe His truth telling love into me.
When I quit wishing Joe would fill my emptiness and let God heal my brokenness something happened…I was able to receive his kind words for what he spoke them to be… less distance found its way between us at night and love seemed to have a way with me…when I stopped wishing he’d be more I found he wasn’t made to fill my vacant spaces.

I chose to pursue permanent relief for my pain rather than a temporary quick fix. 

A year full of reading 8 verses a day (1 Cor.13.1-8) was the prescription my broken heart needed all these years.

For better and for worse my man had swept me up and loved-me-all-the-same. In the ugly & unlovable state he had a way of reminding me of my beauty.

What I thought was wrong within him, was really brokenness within me.

The times he could have wounded me more instead he chose to love me more….
Love is a powerful healer!

….Night comes now with me able to feel his loving arms around me as my brokenness is healing. 29 years of bringing our stuff to God every night and He’s never once turned us away-what a gracious and loving Father He is!
No burden nor pain too small to offer.

His heart meets mine as we lie down at night both weary from the day’s burdens.
He shares his long days of doing God’s work while he patiently listens as I retell the small and big details of my day, both sharing until the moon tucks us in.

Living love together isn’t always pretty in-fact so much of it can be hard & holy moments, but as long as we are fighting in the same fight, God’s got us!

When what seems impossible gets traded in for God’s grace, it finds healing.

Two lives become whole when they go to the same place to lay their stuff down…there’s something sacred about laying it down together. Somehow you quit keeping track and just help the other person carry their stuff to the altar too.

Last night as I scrummaged through a forgotten drawer tucked inside it was a card that said…’I love the life we have together….I love you more every day!’

It’s funny how God can let someone get so close to us that even what should be seen as ugly is seen as beautiful when the Father’s holding our hearts.

The same God who likes and loves us to death is the One who can heal our hearts so they can hold enough love for another.

As life brings us changes one after another these days it’s comforting to know I have someone who loves me like God does….someone who sees past my broken heart and finds wholeness and healing inside it.

As the pain has subsided I’m finding life is beating within it again. And by the grace of God I’ve been able to encircle and give my heart over to God for Him to gently mend its’ holes. It’s been beautiful to gain some distance between my wounds and to freely be able to love and be loved as God intended for me to be.

When our brokenness gets embraced by the loving kindness of God we begin to heal and find our shelter to run away to when hurt and pain come our way…

This verse has really been comforting me these days may it bring you peace too.

Thursday’s Thread

One day I started typing words to find myself in the pages of my story and what I discovered was someone very different than who I was when God started writing my story.

You see growing up I thought a girl’s beauty was in the numbers around her waist...I was deceived into thinking that numbers somehow measure our worth, yet the deeper I fell into this trap the more I felt suffocated by the lie that I wasn’t enough.
I starved myself thin hoping it would somehow define me more….there’s a downward spiral one falls into when we strive to be more.

…We women are good at wading in these toxic waters, striving to be more. 
We are full of regrets, comparing ourselves always selling ourselves short.

The broken part of me somehow believed I could make others love me more. 

The day I began learning I was more than the markings on a measuring stick I discovered the writings of our heavenly father were written for me too. I began etching His sayings upon my heart and found the more I filled my thoughts with His words, the quieter my destructive thoughts grew. His words were what truly began healing and rescuing my broken heart…there’s a time in our lives we can all use this kind of saving. I found embracing my pain within the pages of God’s word brought sweet relief.
There’s power in knowing we are worth living and dying for.
When our brokenness meets truth there’s something exponential that happens, even the most broken of people need this kind of rescue!
A rescue that finds us in the hurt of our wounds and tells us there’s more to live for. 

I found when God drew a boundary around my heart I could live more freely with those He was calling me to.
God began showing me my wounds were not the entirety of who I was.
That He holds together who we are with His truth, hemming us in with His love and grace. 

Our worth is never measured by our ability to manipulate what others believe about us but is only measured by our Father’s love for us!

If we put our identity in what we do not have rather than in what our heavenly Father says of us; our identity shifts with the numbers on the scale which never seem to be what we are aiming for.
It’s a game with death that doesn’t care if we live or die-our life has no value in its entanglement. 

Its funny how that happens…we all feel a bit lost in this thing called life, sometimes we’re just stepping into the footprints in front of us hoping they lead us to where we want to go.

And yet God designed us for so much more than this.
Not to play another person’s role but to embrace the life He’s given us, with us in mind.

Have you ever noticed how different we all are?

My wise father in love used to say,
everyone’s odd but God
…He had that right, look around and you’ll see a world full of people so unique and different in every way-no two of us exactly alike- not even twins.
Each one designed to to be set apart to live out their own unique purpose.

But we don’t get that most of the time.
We’re constantly mimicking and imitating one another somehow trying to blend in.
We look to trends to mandate the styles we wear and the steps we take.
And yet at the very same time we long to stand out and make our mark in this world.

God designed us to find rest in the skin He laid upon these bones of ours….every curve that delicately outlines our bodies down to the wrinkled lines growing upon our faces…they all give us distinction.

He even chose our hearts and placed them into the depths of our chest to make us who we are!

So unique are our organs that Drs have found our specific qualities being transferred from donors to recipients….people who’ve discovered with their new organs comes new cravings and passions they’ve never had before….
friends this shouts the work of a creative designer with the intention of our uniqueness…

Because truth is:
God has a plan and a purpose for every single one of us in His -story.

Take my friend Alyssa who’s making a God-sized ripple with her  #sowkind movement, calling people to write down their words of encouragement and share them in brave and beautiful ways…or Brice and Amanda who are cultivating & growing leaders across the Islands of our world…and you my friend the way you loved that person the other day who’s overlooked most of their life, or when you wrote and mailed that card this week, or the beautiful way you opened your home up and even that simple prayer you whispered for the brokenness surrounding you: all of these are beautiful acts of love which God designed you for!

These tiny acts are where God does His mightiest work because we never know the impact we are making in another’s life.

The ordinary becomes extra-ordinary when God meets someone through the humility of their hands.

Every small little ripple here can create a Tsunami on the other side of the world. Love given in big sized proportions cause a catalyst in people’s lives.

The way we really make a mark on our world is by leaving fingerprints of our Heavenly Father all over the places God sends us.

What part of our vast universe has God called you to love to death?

Jesus made His mark on us when He loved us like that!
His love was so big that He submitted Himself to death, SO THAT we might live….
this is where Jesus’ mark has made more of an imprint on humanity than any name we will ever make for ourselves.

That’s what my son recently taught me when he preached the biggest boldest sermon my ears needed to hear. He reminded me life is not about making a name for myself but rather making Jesus’ name known.

So when you feel forgotten or overlooked remind yourself this one life you’ve been given is not for you to be remembered by but for God to be seen through!

Friends, may we let this be what bounces us out of bed every morning and breaks us to our knees, until our world hears and knows He’s come to love them through every brokenness and pain they bear. Because God wants to write every person into the lines of His story and has created each one of us to play a role in His master plan.

And when life seems to keep messing you up making you feel like a loser remember you were made and you matter deeply.
Your life matters!

Our lives find purpose when we extend them to others.

Take my friend Jason who decided the forgotten and overlooked kids of Louisville needed purpose too. So he got together with some of his friends who had made it to the big leagues and asked them to go back to their neighborhoods to tell these kids there’s more to life then stealing , selling and surviving. Purpme goes into schools and passes out hope, helping young people find their way and find their purpose in life. You see we all have a part to play….each given a role and chosen with us in mind.

So start today friend outlive and outlove the ones God has placed beside you and you’ll find your burdens lessening and your hope being restored.
There’s healing found here…

My journals bind the pages of my broken journey finding healing through my heavenly Father’s words…writings exhaling my unspoken thoughts.

God saw, God heard and God came to my need and He hears, He sees and He meets you here too.
Discover the writings of God which were written with you in mind, specifically to minister to the secret places of your soul….one day you may find too that the person you first began your journey as has become the person God intended all along for you to become!

Thursday’s Thread: To Mommas: How to live ‘fully known & loved by God’

Many of us would cringe if others knew what lies beneath in the hidden spaces of our hearts.

My son just returned from camp this past weekend and I always look forward to the ‘after camp talks’ that come where they unpack for you all of the exciting details as well as the sharing of their souls with no hindrances. It’s in these moments I love being Mom. For in this space I get to listen as my child takes his heart out of his chest and open it up wide for me to see. I press pause on life in these moments, no rushing to what’s next or glancing at my phone, just listening intently to the pulsing within his chest…the struggles he’s forging to overcome as well as his dreams that are beginning to take shape.

We all need these moments

Yet breathing becomes a struggle when we spend our hours rushing here and there, hiding and covering up what’s beating us down. 

Sometimes running and striving is a way we hide. 

To be fully known and fully loved seems impossible.

So as we’re raising our kids there’s a temptation to choose one or the other…to be fully known or to strive to be fully loved, but in reality it’s not one or the other it is within the bundle of both we’re able to find the peace that comes in this beauty.

As parents when we choose to live a life uncovered and real our children find freedom too. We breathe life into their lungs when we show them its good to be fully known and loved by God.

I once thought mothering was a race to win rather than taking a thousand breaks to breathe. The days I’ve spent bent half over trying to catch my breath wondering how to keep on going, wondering if they could hear me sobbing in the shower drowning out the hard.

I wanted to be more for them…more patient, more loving and more understanding than I was mustering up. I wanted to never lose my cool and always have my anger under control, to keep it all together rather than blowing out words of frustration. To live through their struggles as mountains to run up one side and down the other instead of feeling like giving up when I needed to give in. It felt like there would be more than enough time to get this thing right and more than enough kids to try it out on.  Enough moments to do this thing over and try again to do it better. 

And then as I was in the midst of it all I smacked right into a truckload of Grace my soul was really needing to find. Enough Grace to cover all of our messes and hidden hurts, the closets and spaces crammed full underneath every empty space needing to find enough Grace to embrace to hold us  when our world seemed to be falling apart.

Grace has a way of telling us we don’t have to spin a new twist on our broken stories or try and find someone to measure our success. Grace writes a new story to our lives. It shows us the peace we can have when we are fully known and loved by God. 

And it’s here we Mommas can serve our children from our tables of Grace as we sit and listen to their stories, unfolding our grace covered lives before them. This is where true heart healing is found in us all….where brave souls erect from brokenness and life lines become generations of heroes….right here in the surrendering of striving we find enough Grace for us all…more than enough for it all! 

So keep steady your Momma heart pursuing God’s mother size gift of Grace every day so that you can set your tables full of the helpings of Grace needed for your precious families today and on & on…walk through this God blessed day knowing you are truly fully known & loved by God….(special thanks to word crafter and songwriter Tauren Wells for preaching this message…’fully known & loved by God’)

Thursday’s Thread: ‘the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God’ and how it continues to redeem my life.

Has God ever knocked down a door or a wall trying to get to you?

Last night I was wrecked in worship…
Has that ever happened to you….where pieces of your past resurface as you’re singing out to God?

That was me just last night as a few of us gathered in the high school room at church to spend some time talking and worshipping together…I’m sure God’s been having some knock down fights in that room lately as He pursues students to abandon the things of this world and follow after Him.

I was taken back to a hard yet holy night when I was a young person as we sung the words of Cory Asbury’s song:
Reckless Love‘. 

It was the fall of 1984 my parents were much younger in their faith and I was still trying to figure it all out. They had been transitioning from a faith handed down to them from their parents to a faith of their own. And although I was being introduced to a new view of God it was still quite difficult for me to dismantle the one I had held in high regards for years. The one the church I had grown up in had taught me… that He was a God who peered at me through spectacles and quite honestly the one I seemed to be failing desperately.
I was lost in an endless cycle of displeasure with Him and I really didn’t know what to do with Him in my life!
Every time I confessed my failings He seemed to be keeping an eye on me from a distance and I seemed to be trying to desperately run from His sight.
His piercing eyes of judgment were too much for me!
I needed a place I could run and hide from all the shame and guilt of never being enough!

This was my sorry view of God when I tried to escape His convictions that seemed to be chasing me around in circles.
A friend of mine, not a good friend really it was just a friend from school who I seemed to hang out with whenever I needed to get lost which was happening more often than not these days. She had asked me to spend the night at her house where she was planning to throw a party. Her parents were leaving her alone for the weekend and she thought it was a good way to spend the time alone. So I asked permission from my parents to stay with her for the night of course not mentioning her plans to throw a party. Not very late into the night I heard a door knock and I answered it to find my parents standing on the other side…my worst night mare came to life. My two world’s were colliding. In my intoxicated state I immediately left my friend’s house and got into the back seat of my parent’s car and shamefully rode home. At our house I fell into the arms of my Mom and told her how sorry I was and asked her why they came looking for me that night. My parents told me they went for a ride and felt a leading to stop my friend’s house as they felt like something was wrong…

Last night…34 years later as we sung the words of ‘reckless love’ I recalled God’s love for me that night….

And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it…There’s no wall You won’t kick down…Coming after me’.

The reality was that night God knew He had to send my parents chasing after me…He knew I needed Him to kick down the front door to our party for Him to rescue me from danger. I needed His reckless love to pull me away from the enemy’s plans for me….this is the ‘reckless love’ of God that taught me He loves me so much. 

That night was a pivotal moment in my faith…life was bruising and beating me up as I willfully allowed it to. I was chasing after something to stop the bleeding of my broken heart. I hadn’t found what would heal me so I just kept going to what numbed the pain and allowed me to forget for a moment the hurt that I felt inside…these are the places we can get lost in the cyclical spin of hopelessness…and that’s where God fought for me.

Sometimes we just want someone to come & find us because we’re lost in a game of hide & seek and we feel forgotten and unseen.
That’s where I was that night.
God knocking on the door that night was what my soul longed for, to be chased down in my brokenness…the place I was in was a hard place stuck in pain.
Yet God in His courageously and gracious love knew just what I needed.

Sometimes we can all feel like we are laying wide open exposed and ugly for the world to see but God has a way of bringing his white sheet of soft protection to us wrapping us up in His unending love and carrying us home. 

As I laid in the arms of my Mom that night, my Dad and her did what they knew was best. They told me that they wanted to pay for my brother, sister and I to go to a small Christian school they’d heard about in another town. Where we lived in Maine these kinds of schools were far and few and yet they wanted to give us this opportunity…
I felt God’s love encircling me that night as they planned a rescue for me.

‘When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me’

But walking away when the school year had just begun and my junior year of basketball had just started, was huge. The newspaper had just interviewed my coach that day and was already printing her predictions for the season; one of them being me. She had not only named me as an upcoming player to keep an eye on but as one of the team captains. I would be walking away from a piece of myself that gave me my identity.
As I laid there in bed that night though I knew it was the path I needed to break away from the destructive lifestyle I was living. I agreed to go to the school. I told my coach my plans and surprisingly she agreed it was just what my life needed….

‘When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me…’

Courage came into my life that night because Christ entered it!
You see when Christ came in for me it didn’t matter what school yard He found me in, it only mattered that I let myself be found!
He became the open door and open arms I so desperately needed…my safe place in His embrace. 

When our life is stuck in a hard place, God can come in and restore us.
And when life gets really hard and really stuck it’s His presence that transforms that place for us.

‘When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me’

For wherever God is…it is here where life begins.
Without Him our lives seem to be dying away but in His presence our lives get reborn. Because God is with us, in us and FOR us!

We find our lungs fill with air, our bodies get strengthened and our broken hearts find healing when Christ’s love finds us…God is a story-chaser and chases down every single one of us!

‘And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah…’
My story goes on…although I went to that small Christian school for my Junior year of High School. God gave me the courage to return my Senior year of school and go back to those I had allowed to lead me for far too long and become a leader for Him. Though my Senior year was a redeeming year and one that had many moments of triumph it wasn’t without hardship and difficulty too yet it was the one I lived for Christ more than I had ever lived any other years. And it was all because God came in that night to kick down a door that was keeping me imprisoned. And because He did that I am able to live a life knowing His reckless and undying love for me!

Maybe today you are like I was that night years ago… in a hard place of suffering of your own…wondering if you’re seen by any one at all…
going to great lengths to get yourself seen….posting pictures of yourself hoping for the ‘likes’ to put you on a chart of their own….
know sweet sister-
He sees you and is pursuing you!

Let yourself be found, dear one.
I can speak from experience until you let yourself be split wide open you’ll never really be found and find the healing you’re needing. 

There’s nothing He won’t tear down to get to us and there’s nothing that can keep you from His amazing love.

Believe me if I’ve not lived it I’ve seen it all…I’ve watched God take a broken heart busted up by murder get redeemed, I’ve seen arms so cut up in hope of disappearing find healing, I’ve watched women who took the life of their firstborn be given children to love again and I’ve seen marriages destroyed by one night stands find love again. Women who have sold their bodies find their true worth in Him and I’ve seen men so enraged with anger find a softening of their hearts by Him…There is nothing His love doesn’t have the power to restore and that includes you & me!


Go ahead sweet one, go toward His pleading pursuit and let Him show you the never-ending reckless love that He has for you!

Story trading is my passion…if you’d like to tell me a little bit about yourself and how God has/is pursuing you, share your story in the comments.
Or if you think my story will help someone you know share it with them and let’s change lives one story at a time!

Thursday’s Thread: How brokenness leads to healing

This past weekend as I was running my last few errands for my son’s graduation party. I went into a store to return a package of balloons I had decided I didn’t really need. I was going to exchange them for a single balloon. As the cashier explained to me I couldn’t return them I felt frustration rising in me. It was strange as I normally wouldn’t have thought a thing about it. But as I stood there with the plan I had walked in with suddenly falling apart I felt myself becoming angry.
In my mind I was telling myself….
Ruthann it’s $5 really?’.

As the conversation continued and I spoke to the manager trying to plead my case that I was unaware of their policy and couldn’t they grace me just this once. The manager responded short with me and as I stood dumbfounded at the register I didn’t know what to do….I know this probably sounds strange to most of you.
After all it was a package of balloons I didn’t really need but I wasn’t able to think past my dilemma. As I walked out of the store bothered….both at my response and with the store’s policy I glanced down at the shirt I was wearing,
it read ‘Love Dallas‘.
It’s one of our church’s key initiatives to love our city and community.
I knew I had terribly failed to show love as I voiced my irritation with the clerk and manager. I got into my car knowing I should go back into the store and apologize for my thoughtless words but I needed a plan. I was hoping my husband would talk me through it but as I opened the car door I realized he was on the phone and wasn’t available to help me process this.

You see grief shows up in all sorts of ways…
prior to dealing with my Mom’s death 3 years ago I had no idea grief can manifest itself as irritation. Differently than expected it doesn’t always surface in sadness and tears. This was true for me on that day. I had been grieving the days leading up to graduation. I was missing my parents and our sons who wouldn’t be with us. As I sat there a few minutes breathing and leaning into God I asked Him to help me. I headed back into the store and immediately apologized to the clerk who was both surprised at my response and gracious. I then asked to speak to her manager who met me up front. I also apologized to him and explained in greater detail how my grief was surfacing with my son’s graduation. I knew it was a big explanation but felt led to share it with him and  what happened next was amazing…

Sometimes our mistakes can overwhelm us with shame because we lose sight that God has greater work to do through our mistakes than our strengths!

As soon as I asked the manager for forgiveness and apologized for my insensitivity that he was probably tending to a lot more than my $5 return that morning, he softened and opened up that his good friend had just hung himself the night before. He shared his shock from it and how he was processing it all. He then offered to fill all of my balloons with helium for me…he wanted to make things right. He didn’t appear to be a believer through our conversation but I was assured deep within my soul that there was a greater thing happening than my frustrations surfacing. As I exited the store with the balloons in hand I walked out with a humbled heart. Yes although I didn’t do the right thing the first time God generously gave me another chance..a redeeming redo!

He gives broken marriages….splintered families….hurting people redo’s all the time and even gives grieving Mommas who lose it over balloons another chance to make things right!

We all need these opportunities of restoration and redemption….
Grace has a way of taking us back!
After all how can love leave us so busted up?
God takes all our messy sin and removes it from within us & redeems every part of it, leaving us washed clean.
My sin didn’t cease with that event that day either. No truth is I was tripping over myself all weekend, but God’s grace gives us the ability to walk back to Him every time for cleansing and a renewing of our hearts. God loves the process of restoring souls and mine’s been in a bit of a busted up mess lately.
I keep thinking I’ll wake up and be out of it all in the morning but it seems He has me walking through it these days to be able to sit with those who are feeling a bit broken themselves.
I keep thinking I’m supposed to find my way out but God keeps showing me the deeper way through it and how He’s using it.

Our suffering is often what ministers to others…from brokenness to brokenness there’s power in His healing care.
What seems to be unraveling us can actually heal…compassion is more than sharing a cup of tea with someone its meeting them in their pain and brokenness…. and who is better to do that but someone who is broken themselves.
Brokenness has a way of drawing us to brokenness doesn’t it?
We pause a little longer,
look deeper into hurting eyes caught in pain
and search further for those in need.
It’s when life is working well that we tend to skip over our hurting world and look past the needy hands outstretched around us.

This grief my heart’s been living through has been teaching me not to fear pain, to know there’s hope beyond it and to allow God to absorb what sometimes seems too great for my heart to bear.

Oh Dad,
sometimes I wonder how we will all go on without you….
how my life will run without kids underfoot asking me to pause and look at their creations…this Momma who’s known for more years than not what it means to give up and give past is finding a new way to walk and serve…
it’s not the who God is calling me to right now it’s the blessing He’s calling me to be.
When our life ceases here on earth,
it won’t be the people with titles and fame who fill our funeral pews
but the ones we’ve stopped and shared moments of togetherness with, those we’ve cared enough to break bread with.

So rather than concentrating on losses that seem to be stinging lately God is shifting my gaze and calling me to look into the faces of those living and breathing around me….He’s beckoning me to look around rather than looking toward the past.
Oh the ache is still there but there’s a day when that will all fade away,  a day when my life will see again those I’ve longed to see.
So for now my hope must live bravely loving to the end.

Our life is not about finding more peace to ease our pain I believe its found in the inconveniences of our days.
Our life is about being broken enough that grace can seep in and change us.
And as we go through this life-altering process God’s grace spills out all over those we get close enough to experience God’s all consuming love with.

Life hurts…because love does, but there’s nothing more beautiful than love shared.

And it’s in these seasons of brokenness that we allow to keep coming along that we will fall to our knees with our palms wide open and surrender ourselves to God’s healing…Oh if we could just live like this.always.and forever.
Never afraid of pain or loss again.
But we don’t get that not for now. Its on this side of heaven that people like me fall over and over again into the arms of God. And it’s inside His embrace for moments of time we escape the pain of the world, we are close enough to hear Him tell us He believes in us! It’s in His grasp we find hope….after the diagnosis seeps in and we absorb the reality of life without those we love…its in the seconds of these moments we feel all that we can and surrender our hurts to the One who can heal and carry us along.

Friends, our kids find Jesus in moments like this, in the brokenness of life.
Yet so many of us keep protecting them from pain. But if a heart can’t be cracked open Jesus isn’t welcomed inside. So it is with us too. If we cover over rather than opening up we miss Him…vulnerability cracks hearts wide open and leads us to healing. Life is hard so that we may need God who can heal and save us. Without pain and suffering in life we skip over a need for Him in our lives. And so it also is with sin…it’s in our brokenness of sin God is able to save us. So although we’d rather look clean from the outside in God knows what we need more than a freshly polished exterior, He knows we need our hearts re-membered by Him….

For God is the greatest of all Physicians and He’s the One that’s been healing hearts since the beginning of time…..
We can live with our heart broken wide open before God and not fear the idea of falling apart because the One who first put our hearts together is able to restore it again and again…the pain gets better but in the process we must offer our brokenness as our humble sacrifice…a way in which others find Jesus within brokenness and experience wholeness & restoration.

Our busted up world is longing to know they’re not abandoned in their brokenness and friends this is how we get to live out what we believe.
To show our hurting world
that Christ enters brokenness inside of us so that He can be inside of us!

Thursday’s Thread: Finding joy in the ‘THEN’ & ‘NOW’ of our lives

As I’ve mentioned I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting….
between weddings, graduations and funerals my mind has plenty of memories it’s been resurrecting.
My thoughts have been leaping between
THEN‘ and ‘NOW‘….
it’s from the past to the present God has a way
of  bringing healing to our hurting heart.
What we envisioned our lives becoming years ago
is often so different than the days we live in and yet if we allow ourselves the time to collect the beautiful moments we will find true peace and resolve for these days.

If you told me years ago my sons would one day still be young and yet leading in such brave and courageous ways for the Lord I don’t think I could have wrapped my mind around it…you see not every day in their childhood and teen years were easy.
There were a lot of hard moments…ones of brokenness, pain and even sin.
Because Life is Hard even when it is good!
And as truth has it not every day of parenting feels good…
within my own life I was struggling with disappointment, hurt and even betrayal.
There were many seasons of our lives I spent sprawled out begging God to seize the trials and bring relief to each of us…
times when Coaches and even Christian leaders in our midst were yelling profanity at us, when peers were spewing mockery and where even sin pitched its roots in wounded hearts. I often cried out to God in disbelief for I thought if we lived a life following and serving Him that He would protect our family at best from the pain of the world. Yet this was a broken expectation that I had no idea I was continuing to hold over God. I wanted God to protect my family from pain and sin. I thought if I parented hard enough and well enough our sons would come through life unscathed of its ugliness.
But friends
it was in these moments
THEN‘ God prepared each of our boys for their mission ‘NOW‘ and it was also in my moments of full surrender ‘THEN‘ that God upholds me ‘NOW‘.
Do you see it?
God really does prepare us in advance.
Yet, we often miss these beautiful things He’s preparing in advance for us because we are trying to look ahead to what we want…

Who our child or teen is right now is who they are becoming…the beautiful yet also the ugly that keeps us up at night. The shaping of a life happens in these arenas.  

Yet because so many of us are searching for something bigger we often miss the small yet beautiful moments happening right in front of us.

I remember it like it was yesterday but it’s really been 8 yrs since our oldest son Justin was speaking at a preaching competition. I remember it very well it was in the Spring of his Senior year and my husband and I were right in the thick of praying about moving from Oklahoma to Texas. Justin spoke with such passion in his sermon. I knew he had fully been living his life through his message…. for our suffering is often the most powerful sermon we have. Justin had just come through a very difficult and hard season and his message was piercing my heart. Not only because he was my son and I was reliving his stories with him but it was as if God was standing before me gently speaking into my own aching heart. You see God was calling my husband and I to move our family but I was honestly digging my heels into the ground in resistance. Our oldest son would soon be heading to college and moving our family felt like it was too many changes at once.
(It’s funny what hindsight does with moments like this)

As Justin taught on Paul’s words he eloquently penned the phrase,
suffering for the sake of gospel to be advanced’
over and over again it was scattered throughout his message.
Every time the words left his tongue they left a stamp on my heart, each time imprinting deeper into my soul.
I found myself thinking…
suffering for the sake of the gospel to be advanced.’
These words have led me through many hardships since then and they also transitioned my heart to Dallas just a couple months after he spoke this sermon and we’ve now been here for 8 years. 

I love how God writes words upon our lives that carry us through the hard & holy days and uses our children to speak them to us. Although Justin had no idea how badly I needed those words, God knew I needed them and he etched them upon my son’s heart to speak them to me. There’s something about how closely we listen to the voice of God when He speaks through our children!

Fast forward 8 years and a lot has happened since then…we’ve had multiple graduations, weddings and even funerals and His words still guide my thoughts…
suffering for the sake of the gospel to be advanced‘.

You see, when we were raising our young kids my greatest desire was for them to love the Lord their God with their heart, soul and mind…this was my daily target in growing them. Yet back ‘THEN‘ I never considered what that might look like ‘NOW‘….I did in their spiritual lives but not lived out in their daily lives, like how that would impact where they lived and what all they were going to have to encounter.

Yet these past years as meaningful days have sometimes strolled by with an empty house and my longing to be together passes sometimes unmet I am reminded throughout the years of raising our family how I often felt very far away from my birth family in Maine yet I repeatedly found comfort remembering it was the cost of serving in ministry….it was my (suffering) for the sake of the gospel to be advanced. I got through many of these hard days knowing God’s word was being spread and thanking Him for the family I had right beside me. It wasn’t until recently as I’ve been watching our house get emptier by the years that I realized there is a greater cost happening right under my own roof….my children have been sent out by God to live out their mission that will require a greater cost. You see we have four boys in four states and we may not always get to be together for the meaningful days that come through our lives, but they will be living out ‘NOW‘ what God prepared for them ‘THEN‘ to do. My heart is slowly catching up with His plan for our lives as He daily reminds me of this and calls me to join Him in advancing the gospel, not only through our ministry but also through each of theirs….the cost expended in each one’s service is counted in heaven.  

Today our house is preparing for our youngest son’s graduation…and here we are in the week of it only days away and although my heart would love to have each one of our kids in our home celebrating with us, I know they can’t. You see they are living out the call God has placed on them….One son is in India given an opportunity by God to preach to a people group whose country is preparing to close their borders soon to Christians while his precious wife is back home leading children to follow Jesus in their church, another of my sons is continually serving, meeting with and leading crowds of College students who are searching for their own meaning and purpose in Christ…He and his sweet wife are impacting lives in both the big and small details as they live out each of their God-graced purposes and yet another son who is defending our country and providing us with our freedom with his lovely & brave wife in Alaska….each prepared long ago for today!
Doing what God called them to do.
So as we walk through the celebrations of this week distanced by states and even countries I am reminded there is suffering for the sake of the gospel to be advanced happening. Maybe our suffering looks different but God counts it all…He sees it and is with us in it!
When we settle into this peace we are able to receive what He truly prepared for us these moments in advance to walk through. 

Whatever it is that is happening right now….we need to be present for it. Not wishing it  looked different, but it’s these moments friends that only by the grace of God we’re able to be a part of something greater than ourselves.

Thanking God for our
‘THEN’ & ‘NOW’
is what steadies our restless souls
and roots us in what
He prepared LONG AGO for us!

And above all else friends remember our suffering ‘NOW’ will bring peace ‘THEN’ to a broken world.

Thursday’s Thread: A letter to my younger self…

This past week a letter came in the mail to my youngest son who is about to graduate. The sender is what caught my attention. It was addressed both to and from himself. He told me his 7th grade English teacher had his class write a letter to themselves when they were in her class and here it was 6 yrs later and he was receiving it in the mail. It was fun for us to read both to see his transformation and also the distinct call God has had on his life all along. It was a great exercise for him to do then and an encouragement to receive and read it this many years later…boy does time seem to go by so fast!
After experiencing the significant impact of this letter I decided to write myself a letter but rather than addressing it to the future me… I decided to write to the younger me.

To my younger self,

There’s so many things I’ve wished I could tell you… we sure have come a long way by the Grace of God!

I write this as our youngest son is preparing to graduate High School.
Crazy as it may seem we’ve now spent 27 years raising boys and maybe what’s even more wild than this is….I’d choose it all over again!
Motherhood has been a gift and so worth the years we’ve given to them.
When it comes time for you to make this decision or if it falls unexpectedly upon you…don’t look at what you’ll be giving up by this seemingly overwhelming interruption instead what you’ll gain from it. For the gift of these little but mighty humans will far outweigh anything you expect. Sure there will be a lot of hard days, in fact seasons when you’ll wonder what you did. But those moments will strengthen the minor muscles of your heart.
The lessons you’ll learn and the love you’ll experience is like none other.  

Parent from YOUR place of creativity and passion.

Don’t try to be someone else….Be you!
You’re an amazing Mom and will rock this thing by the grace of God!
Please don’t make the mistake of getting lost in the boys’ lives, it’s so easy to slowly drift your identity inside of theirs but these boys of ours need you to be the woman God created you to be so they will seek out woman of character and strength as their wives to walk through life beside.
Tell them you love them a whole lot and linger longer in their beds tucking them to sleep each night, you’ll hold onto those memories in the years to come. Show them God through and through and even when you mess up show them Jesus…let your hard shine through the broken glass of life for through its’ rays they will see Jesus even more clearly. These up close encounters with Him will turn their hearts towards Him in their own hard & holy moments. 

Let God be your first…

A lot of things will fight for this spot but make Him your focus and everything else will fall in its rightful place. This doesn’t mean you won’t experience a lot of pain and heartache it just means God will be with you through it all.

Hold on tightly to the beautiful moments….Cherish, respect and honor your husband. And love him with all of you, he loves you dearly. He will be a living demonstration to you of Christ’s love for the Church. Although great storms will threaten your unity and love, cling to what you know is true. 
Fight hard for your marriage and not against it. 
Pride will threaten it from all sorts of places. 
The brokenness you’ll carry into marriage will be what God uses to grow you the most. Don’t fear these splintered messes for God will meet you within the secret spaces of your heart and do some amazing healing here. And this my sweet one is what He will use to heal and minister to others. 

You know all the times you thought you were too fat and not enough look past your criticisms when you’re older you’ll find your curves and the unique shape of who you were created to be is where your beauty really lies.
Those fears that keep rising telling you ‘you’ll never be good enough’ or ‘you’ll probably fail so don’t try’…don’t believe those lies you’re going to do things and go places you’ll never believe.
Those kids you’re so afraid of messing up well that doesn’t happen either because  grace wins in the end and covers all of your mistakes and misgivings.
Yep and even all the times you mess up and say the wrong things well somehow those get redeemed too!

Younger self, your faith is what will hold you together. 
Nothing else will fill you, guide you or bring you greater purpose. 
The world will dangle its attempts but you’ll do yourself a huge favor to resist their offerings and only give yourself to things of God. The world will offer to numb and satisfy you but their empty offers will only create a greater need within you and a whole lot more of mess you’d have to clean up. 
You’ll find the satisfaction for your soul lies within the pages of His Word…it has the power to transform your life and allow you to live free. 
So, before you do anything every day no matter the importance of your day saturate yourself in Him!
Implant yourself deeply inside His word. 
The wisdom of His Spirit will guide your household through all of its storms.  

God’s word never gets broken down even when our lives are in the middle of its own brokenness. 

The Church is full of brokenness and broken people including us.
Dismiss unrealistic and unbiblical expectations of God the Church and people this will guide you well. I fell into this trap far too many times early in our ministry years and  when I finally found freedom from this thinking I was able to love the messines of Christ’s bride as God does.  

Don’t be disillusioned into believing you are as valuable as your titles or the numbers on any measuring stick-
your identity comes from the Creator of our world.

Stay true to your desire to do Kingdom work, it will be full of some of your most rewarding and hardest work. But when you surrender your Kingdom work to God it will be less about what you will do for Him and more about all you’ll do with and through Him!
And young one, don’t get caught up in the bigness of ministry look for the small and unseen spaces of ministry…most of real life happens within these places. 
Get forgotten for the Kingdom for it’s here God is seen. 

There will come days when life is going to take your breath away and you’ll experience pain that runs deep…rest in the assurance that God is going to get you through it all!
He will never leave or abandon you.
For brokenness resides on this side of Heaven but one day when we join God in His heavenly realms all of our brokenness will find its once intended wholeness and healing.
Until then… we have the remembrance of all the times He’s brought us through the hard and holy moments of our life and will do it ever-so-faithfully again!

Words matter…they carry with them a reckoning force..ones that have the power to destroy or to revive lives.
Don’t waste your words on uselessness.
You have a tendency to get stuck on words, instead reserve your energy for the rebuilding and restoring of people to God.
The rest is only our missed opportunities that are wasted on pride. 

Remember when you hid your young self underneath the dining room table from the embarrassing shame of not knowing your ABC’s?

Well, it all turns out good.
Letters and words actually become what God uses in your life  to tell others about Himself. 

Let your love for words fall upon the pages of your heart. God’s going to use them to speak into places you’ll never travel. 
Our story is a bigger part of His story…you’ll find ‘story trading’ is a precious gift He’s entrusting you with as you share and collect stories all throughout life. 

On the matter of relationships.
Loneliness is a choice…

reach out and invest in others.
Don’t expect others to fill the emptiness that only God can fill.

People are worth it and community is a valuable commodity that is often exchanged for busyness.
Every hard is made easier inside of community!
Friends will be God’s hands and feet through your life to reach inside your heart and bring the healing it needs. 

The abuse you suffered when you were four will find its healing too.
Don’t let its pain drive you into all sorts of corners striving for attention, instead cling to the healing God has for you! 
It will blow you away what it feels like to be healed and healthy again. 
Share your story again & again for it’s a driving force in your journey to find healing. 

And as you walk into this new season of empty rooms fill them with the things and people of God. Let their emptiness become a vacuum for others to come and find rest in Him. Your heart will find healing as it has every time before. Our purpose never changes even in the midst of our circumstances changing…it’s here where God allows His purpose and our passions to collide, never becoming too settled for they’ll continually be changing!

Lastly, pray hard & never stop!

Prayer will sustain you, lead you and give you the grace to forgive. 
Prayer will carry you further than any thing else! 
Lean in deep to God in the quiet places of your soul, He can handle all you’re carrying and will lead you through your dependency upon Him. 
Sweet girl, pray with a recklessness and vulnerability before God you’ll be amazed at His response to your transparency.
His grace wins every time!
I love you younger self even all the jagged edges that God’s grace will soften and use along the way!

…….Ruthann, another version of you!

P.S. Here’s the beautiful family we’ve been given!