A perfect fit

For 32 years,  over and over again I felt God tugging at my heart, desiring to fill the hole there that wasn’t shaped like any other thing I understood or knew.  And every single time I got enough nerve to walk into a church I felt like a fish out of water. I didn’t understand the “rules,” I didn’t know why we recited prayers or repeated certain words, or stood up, or sat down, or knelt on pews, or at the altar. I looked around and saw people who didn’t seem to struggle with drinking, cursing, doubts, jealousy, anger, sexuality, selfish ambition and 1000 other things I myself struggled with. I felt like an orphan looking in from the outside at a family laughing around a dinner table with a home cooked meal. I thought that if I kept going to whatever church that was, that it was just a matter of time that they would figure out I wasn’t really good enough and they’d maybe let me stay, but they’d never really accept me. . .
And then one day, I heard a woman teach on Paul. Paul who had been Saul. A man who spent his whole existence persecuting Christians himself and standing by watching Christians be murdered. A man who was redeemed and transformed into one of God’s most incredible warriors and teachers of the good news of Jesus. And I thought, if Paul was good enough, maybe, just maybe, I am too. Maybe it wasn’t too late for me. I started to understand grace and the gift it is because I don’t deserve it and no one does. I started to look around and see how so many people were sitting in those rows next to me who had no clue what was going on and who were massively flawed and struggling. I started to realize that it wasn’t about the church building or fitting in, it was about a God who loved so much that he gave his only Son.  I heard a Pastor talk about his temper and another talk about their doubts. I was taught the truth of God’s word from women who didn’t pretend to have it all together, but who openly shared their imperfections and innermost desires.
And I was scared, and unsure, but one day it clicked, that God wanted ME.  He wanted to fill that God shaped hole in my heart.  He wanted me with all my doubts and issues and flaws.  And it rocked my world. And it changed my life & my marriage & my kids lives & hopefully, their eternities. And I still struggle with 1000 different things, but each day I get to start fresh, to try to walk a little closer to God, because I know that the Grace that God extends me through Jesus covers it ALL.  And I want that for literally every person I know, every person I love, every person I call family, meet, see, pass by in a car, hear talking on the radio, disagree with about anything and everything, remember from elementary school, buy groceries from. Every. Single. One.  Because it’s theirs for the taking too.
“The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call” Acts 2:39




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Hope

While I love seeing God’s creativity throughout every season, Spring is absolutely, hands down, my favorite time of the year.  I love waking up every morning and seeing what new things are coming up from the ground and what buds are appearing on the trees.  I walk around our yard and dig around in the flower beds for the tops of perennials and bulbs popping up.  I check our birdhouses and trees for the new nests.  Marty and I strategize about what plants need to be split and where to move them or what new flower bed to start; about what annuals we should try this year and what didn’t work the year before.  I love being able to throw open the doors and pull up the windows and let the breeze blow through the house.  I love the smell of dirt in the air.  I love pulling up the weeds and spending whatever time I have pruning and trimming back bushes.  I even love the birds that have come north and start chirping way too early in the morning just as the sun is coming up.

I’m sure I lost about 85% of you at “dig around in flower beds” and many of you are probably thinking, “wow, I didn’t realize she was 115 years old,” but it’s more than just being a plant nerd, I think spring just represents for me the possibility of new life and fresh starts.  Yes, whatever we’ve accomplished this year, whatever we’ve conquered, whatever darkness we’ve left behind, those are to be celebrated and praised. God’s work in us, and through us.  However, I don’t believe we are designed to rest on what we have accomplished, but to keep our eyes fixed forward and up; to keep our ears and hearts open to where He wants to take us.  THIS year, THIS season, THIS phase.

I’ve struggled with contentment my entire life, and frequently held back from pursuing things because I felt like I should just be happy where I am. Yet lately, I’m starting to appreciate that a huge part of what I perceive as discontent actually comes from God.  I’m starting to appreciate that it’s not such a bad thing to be ready and excited for what comes next.  I’m not talking contentment with material things, things like clothes and houses and cars, I’m talking contentment with the things that truly mean something, like the state of my marriage and friendships, my children’s relationships with Jesus, what I DO with the gifts and skills that God gave me.

I want to climb that mountain, tame that lion, cross that finish line. Yes! Yes! Do those things. Celebrate those things!  But then I’m ready to keep going.   I’m ready to be done with beating myself up for being ready to tackle the next adventure.  The idea that there is a more beautiful version of myself, a more godly version, a more patient version, a BRAVER version out there just waiting to make its appearance; that is hope.  So yea, spring is dirt and flowers and baby birds and me digging around in flower beds.  And hope.  So, here’s to spring, to making all things new, to starting fresh, and to never settling for last year’s adventure.  Here’s to hope.