Category Archives: Life

Tired

10th December 2016

As I sit here, I’m lost for where to begin. But I know the words need to come – for myself, for others who are going through something similar, for anyone who cares for our family.

I’m so tired.

A year ago kicked off the most horrific, painful, tiresome months of my life – of watching my 5 month old son, covered in weeping, red, itching eczema, fluctuate from not being able to move from the pain to writhing in agony. There wasn’t a day I didn’t cry. I couldn’t even kiss his face he was so covered with open skin. We didn’t sleep. We had no answers and listened to doctor after doctor swear that it wasn’t related to food, strip our pocketbooks even barer as we filled prescription after prescription that didn’t help, and fought the instinct that the issue was much deeper than anyone let on. Finally, after a friend led me to the Autoimmune Paleo diet, we dove into holistic healing, quickly seeing that it was the only thing that would work. My son’s food sensitivities are too many to list. As a breastfeeding mother, he and I were both eating about 15 foods total. I, a 5’5″ woman, got down to 104 pounds, I cried all the time, I was hungry. But I knew without a doubt this was the road we needed to take. Out of naivety, even though I had been diagnosed with an Autoimmune Disease that year (although I now know every single AI disease and chronic illness has several food sensitivities that contribute greatly to symptoms) thought I would not have to take the hard path we took with my son. I counted down the breastfeeding-days until I could eat whatever I wanted again, and then slowly started realizing this change was going to be life-long for me.

Truly, I started feeling SO much better. No more migraines, no more anxiety, no more insomnia. No more unexplained shakiness, tingling, stomach-aches, depression, hypochondria. I lead a completely different life than I used to. But things can get worse before they better. When your body is chronically inflamed, you may not notice every little response your body has – there may be no clear pattern between food and symptoms – but when you start to heal your body, it calms down enough to notice every little thing. It’s a good thing, really. But as I sit here, able to eat 20 foods that I’m so sick of I could die, I have to wonder if it was worth it. What would it have been like to ignore my food issues like so many people do? And I have to be confident that I did the right thing. That I’m trying to take care of the temple the Lord gave me. Ignorance is not an excuse for me anymore and I’m too far in to go back. But it’s hard. It’s frustrating to not be able to eat at a single function, to have to overly coordinate every meal prepared by someone else and then be ready for it to go wrongly and physically suffer, to have people constantly question what you’re doing because they can’t begin to understand the pain that a mere bite of the wrong food can cause.

Here’s where we’re at, just to give you a picture. We can’t eat gluten, dairy, grains, soy, eggs, legumes, processed food, refined sugar, corn, alcohol, peppers, tomatoes, white potatoes, nuts, seeds, most green vegetables, most fruits, pork, most starches, food additives, and I’m sure more that I’m leaving out.

Do you know what that leaves? Not very much. We still eat about 20-30 foods. And as I creep into borderline complaining here, both of my sons are in this same, crappy boat. My youngest, we knew for a while, but my oldest has been having ongoing stomach issues (among others that we probably didn’t realize) for a long time. After further testing, he is also restricted to this same diet. Forced into the same life of inconvenience, pain, and uncertainty. The same life of being afraid of eating because of what it could do. I watched the other day as patches of eczema began to pop op on his face and I’m terrified of the potential suffering we’ve already experienced too much of.

And I’m so tired.

I’m so tired of explaining myself to people and feeling like they don’t understand why we chose this route. Tired of not being able to eat out on a hard day. Tired of every meeting, gathering, function, and party being centered around food that we can’t have. Tired of being so limited in my diet that I can’t even take most of the supplements I’m prescribed because my body is so in shambles that I can’t process basic vitamins and minerals. Tired of pouring money into new tests and appointments to get more answers that I desperately need. Tired of seeing my children suffer. Tired of thinking about all the ways my kids are currently deprived and will be deprived, made fun of, or left out in the future. Tired of hearing another story of someone who was healed easily through the steps we’ve already taken, as most people are. Tired of the things we’ve been doing for so long working quickly for everyone else.

Even as I sit and type, I know that it all seems so silly. But it’s not just food. The symptoms can be killer. The lack of control is debilitating. The feelings of hopelessness and confusion are hard to fight off. And with that said, I still know we’re doing the right thing. I truly do. And the Lord has been so generous to show that to me. Most of the women in my current circle have some sort of autoimmune disfunction, without seeking that out. My doctor has now started implementing the Autoimmune Paleo diet in her practice because of my dedication to it. Some of my health posts have taken off completely without my trying. And most importantly, the Lord is drawing us to himself through this – reminding me that I am never in control, and that I don’t want to be, because he is gracious, loving, and merciful in his sovereignty.

I get frustrated sometimes, that I’m pouring so much energy into my own health and my own family that I’m missing out on greater kingdom work. I want energy to serve others more. I want the time and physical capability to be more present in my community. I want to be able to go to a camp or on a mission trip without having to somehow coordinate food for the whole trip. I want to have an excess in my bank account to give to others, instead of pouring it into our health expenses. But that’s not where the Lord has put us, and I have to trust that this is the best thing. That he will be faithful to let us see the fruit of our labors, even when the labor seems so irrelevant. I pray that more than leading people to healing, our story draws people to Jesus. I don’t know how that plays out, but I have to trust that the Lord will not waste the energy, time, and resources we’ve put into getting better.

And I ask you, dear reader, to pray for that on our behalf. Pray for healing, yes, but pray that the Lord’s glory would spread – that we would be gracious for the suffering God allows in order to make us more like Him. I don’t have all the answers, but the author of my story does. My final prayer is that if you’re reading this and have any inkling of pre-autoimmunity or full blown AI disease, please, do not wait to tackle it. This road less travelled is fruitful, even if it’s winding and long. If you know us, you know that our son’s eczema is nothing like it was a year ago, that he is almost completely clear most days. You know that my symptoms are nothing like what they used to be. It’s tiring, but it is rewarding. My family is an extreme – most people do not have to go to the lengths we have to see healing, but I’m confident the Lord is using it. So I will push forward in my weariness, cling to the promises of Jesus, and proclaim truth however I know how.

 

Jeremiah 31:25 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

Romans 8:26-28  “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.”

The Daily Devotional Age

12th September 2016

whitebibleI’m sure you’ve been there – your quiet time hasn’t been very consistent, you’re not sure which book of the Bible to turn to next, and you keep thinking, “If I could just find a good daily devotional book, I would be a lot more disciplined.” If you’re like me, you may look around a bit, download a few apps, subscribe to some blogs, attempt to find a nice devotional book, and maybe even read it most days. But there’s a really big problem here I’m afraid we are missing.

Why is the pure word of God not enough for us?

I get it. I’m right there. Sometimes I don’t feel my brain has the capacity to wade through scripture I often don’t understand. I’d rather read a great devotional with two or three verses I can really cling to, followed by a solid word from a speaker or author I trust. Are these studies inherently wrong? I definitely don’t think so. There are a lot of men and women I trust who produce great devotional material; the problem lies when we are completely forsaking our Bibles in place of another study. Here are the real reasons we like devotionals so much: we live in a culture that boths caters to and feeds our desire to be merely entertained, and someone else has already done the work for us. Not only do we not have to narrow down a book of the Bible to go through, but we don’t even have to read an entire book of the Bible. We’re drawn to devotionals that include feel-good, encouraging verses, that hardly require us to exercise any deep thought. They’re short, they’re nicely worded, they’re maybe even funny, and we’d rather hear someone else’s thoughts on the Scriptures than put in the work to hear from the Lord ourselves. Truthfully, we’ve become so incredibly lazy that not only do we struggle deciding where to read, but we don’t really want to form our own thoughts on the subject, either. We are stuck in a day and age marked by a Christian cultural that does not truly know their Bibles, and we try instead to be filled by worship songs, fluffy devotionals, journaling, and if you’re like me, anything that can at least momentarily nourish the need for truth.

Trust me, I fully understand how difficult it can seem to decide where to read next, and then to actually follow through with that plan. I was the girl, who for the first several years of her faith, literally opened the Bible and read wherever it fell. I constructed my faith around verses that uplifted me and made me feel rejuvenated, and at the end of the day, I did not know the Word of God. I knew the pieces of an enormous puzzle that happened to strike me as pretty, because they said something about me as a person. I was reading Scripture not to learn more about an awe-inspiring, unmatched Creator, but to validate some sort of misplaced longing for identity – which was more in myself than Jesus. And this is, sadly, how we’re taught to interact with scripture – “how does this passage apply to my life?” is the question we’re told to ask, instead of, “what does the passage teach me about God’s character?” I’m going to be a bit cliche and use my personal favorite example, but here’s a common verse we use to pamper ourselves instead of being moved by the power of our Savior: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13. Tell me friend, do you know what Philippians 4:12 says? Do you know why Paul said these words? Believe it or not, he was not competing in an athletic event (forgive my snarkiness – I have to joke somewhere). While Paul wrote these words, he sat in prison for his faithfulness to Jesus. Prior to the ever-famous words in verse 13, he penned these: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” This is incredibly important. This passage is a prime example of how we pick and choose scripture to fit our ever-changing whims. Here, Paul is professing the source of his joy to be Christ, regardless of whether he is starving, naked, impoverished, or abundantly blessed, while we are slapping this mantra (often being as irreverent and selfish as simply quoting “I can do all things”) onto any task we feel we need some extra self-produced “oomph” to overcome. And we don’t just do it with this verse. We’re doing it all over Scripture because we have no comprehension of the overarching biblical narrative or the profound glory of God, because we’re too busy trying to make the scriptures “apply to us.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m ashamed of this. We wonder why the non-Christian world often sees us as silly, ignorant, passionless fools, and the answer lies in our embarrassing lack of Biblical knowledge. There is hope though, dear reader, because the same loving author who provided these words also beckons us to come learn about His majesty through them. Scripture reading is truly a discipline. There are simply passages that are easier to process, and it is a fight to possess the diligence to spend time in books that aren’t quite so catchy to us. It a worthy fight though, friends. Your favorite pastor is not your salvation. You most beloved author is not your glory and sanctification. Your journaling and coloring are not the source of your grace and mercy. There can be immense learning and conviction through avenues like podcasts, daily readings, worship through song and art, and online articles, and they can certainly have their place alongside a well-established Bible reading plan, but they should not serve as our main source of spiritual nourishment. We have been avoiding this topic too long in Christian circles and are becoming increasingly more blind to who Jesus is. What a sad thing it would be to stand before our Savior on the day of His return and feel as is you’d never learned anything about him.

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If you’re coming from a place of virtually never spending time in the Word, receive grace, friend. Start with something more palatable like one of Paul’s letters, and soak up their rich truth, but be aware of their context. Search first for what the words reveal about the character of the Father, then secondarily understand what that means for your daily life – we have too often completely avoided the former in search of the latter, but we cannot understand who we are without first seeking to understand who made us. Salvation is much too serious for us to keep neglecting our Bibles in search of something that is easier and makes us feel better. When the Holy Spirit is working in your heart during your time of reading, you may not end your time feeling more uplifted than you do convicted, and that’s a good thing. Never should you end your Bible study time feeling guilty and hopeless, for that is not the work of the Spirit, but we are too hungry for shallow encouragement and not longing deeply enough for the revelation of our own sin.

I want you to walk away from this feeling empowered to spend time with Jesus, not shamed because you haven’t been doing so. But we have to fall reverently, hopelessly in love with the Word of God if we want to be molded and used by Him. Jen Wilkin says it this way, “the heart cannot love what the mind does not know” (from Women of the Word, pg 31 – a MUST read book, by the way). Better yet, the scriptures themselves say it this way, “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). We cannot worship a God we don’t know, and we cannot know God apart from his Word. Yes, the Lord can reveal himself through other people, through songs, through nature, through dreams, and frankly however he chooses, but the view we have of God must always be in line with who He says He is in His Word, or it is not true. I love the way my pastor often puts it – if I tell my spouse I am enamored with his gorgeous blonde hair and blue eyes, that would seem like a lovely compliment, but here’s the issue: my husband has dark hair and hazel eyes. We have to stop doing this to Jesus. He will not be reduced to mindless, false worship of a god we’d like him to be, rather than who He really is.

Get in the Word today, friends. Start with 5 minutes a day if you need. Busyness is not a valid excuse – there are Bible apps, and reading a passage of scripture will take you the same amount of time as reading a daily devotional chapter. Work up to spending lengthy times studying the Word if you have to, but begin practicing a reverent, purposeful time of Bible-meditating. I cannot express the difference in my own faith from making this switch, and while I have to rely on Jesus to pull me back to Himself daily, He does, and usually through Scripture. I heard a testimony recently, of a woman with a painful past and recently lost her husband, who professed that her time with Jesus was not optional. And it isn’t, friends. We cannot wait for tragedy to strike before we deem it necessary to pursue the Lord. What a beautiful thing it is to serve a Savior who longs for us. Rejoice in that love and abide in it, reader.

 

 

fallondanae

May 13, 2016

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“There are few things more damning to the Christian life than wanting to be perceived as more than we are.”

This is from my pastor several months ago now, but it hasn’t left my mind. I could probably dedicate an entire post on the ways we try to appear “better” and more put together than we truly are, but one my pastor dove into is having no deep friendships. Think about it – if you have surface-level relationships with enough people, you can allow them to see your pretty, all-in-order top layer while still making yourself feel as if you’re fulfilling your need for community, even though no one is allowed to see your messy, struggling soul.

I’m bad about this. Ok, really bad. I’m often guilty of wanting to search for new friendships instead of investing in the people I already know. I think we often trick ourselves into believing every relationship will magically, immediately bloom, and that the only friendships worth pursuing are when you basically meet yourself in another form. Or, we’ve somehow convinced ourselves we don’t really need friendships that go any deeper than small talk, so we’re not forced to expose our ugly to the world. It’s leaving us pitifully lonely.

The biggest common denominator for an amazing friendship is simply this: you both LOVE JESUS. And it helps to live close to each other. That’s really it. Would I love for every friendship of mine to be a young mom with two kids close in age who has all the same interests and hobbies as I do? In all honesty, kinda! But, I think the Lord knows that would not grow me the same way as having a diverse group of friends. I believe the Lord has given me people to confide in who have a lot to offer, regardless of their life stage. It is undoubtedly beneficial to have the counsel of those who relate to what you’re walking through, but be careful about disregarding a friendship just because someone’s life doesn’t look exactly like yours.

Few people know the depth of my loneliness the past couple of years, but Jesus has finally pulled me out of that pit, so I want to share it in more detail. For the first year and a half to two years of being an at-home mom, I felt completely isolated and alone. I would often cry to my husband about not feeling truly loved or known by anyone but him, and I was genuinely convinced every other mom or woman my age had her friend group lined up and set in stone, with no room for me. I would meet women I admired, but never really go out of my way to hang out with them, OR, I would meet someone who wasn’t my spitting image, so I wouldn’t pursue that relationship very fervently. I was digging myself further into my lonely hole. We were not consistent or intentional with community, and I was not pouring my sins, my victories, or my convictions out to anyone other than my husband, and it was not a good place to be. While stay-at-home-moms have a tendency to be a bit more isolated, I don’t want to rule out the rest of you. Human interaction at work, etc. can be fulfilling, but that’s not always a given. Being around people is not the same as being known by those around you, and we finally came to terms with that. A little over a year ago, we joined a new community group through our church. My husband and I have always had trouble being consistent in groups like these, but the Lord was good to give us a deep desire and connection to this one. That group has morphed into one of my absolute favorite things. I love to be around these people. Do I know every detail of their lives? No… (I’m not a stalker…well, maybe on Facebook just a little bit..). Do we sit around and paint each other’s nails every weekend while we have pillow talk? Maybe someday..? (I apologize if you don’t know my personality. Please don’t take me seriously very often.) The thing that draws me to this community is their love for Jesus. People who are genuinely, deeply in love with Jesus are my favorite to be around, and it’s made me sad to realize the fullness that I missed out on in years passed. Internet community – there is nothing like having real-life community. It’s so easy to slip into an online-only mentality when our culture is so centered around it. Connecting with people on social media can be great, but don’t let that be the end of your relationships. It can’t fill your deep need for loving people like a friend up the road can. It took me too long to learn that.

It seems painfully obvious in retrospect, but our pastor made a great point during the sermon the above quote is from – Jesus had 3 men he was extremely close with, and 12 he was pretty close with. That’s not very many. Fewer and deeper. If Christ did it, shouldn’t Christians probably consider it? We are so busy trying to make everyone know and love us that we often don’t have anyone that knows or loves us. Sure, people may like a skin-deep misconception of you, but loving someone is when you’ve seen their dirt and their shame and you still seek to know them. Loving someone is sharing hard truths, asking difficult questions, and knowing your own sin is not less than theirs; I would trade that for lackluster friendships any day! I spent too much time seeking social media approval and blasting every moment of my waking life onto Instagram instead of praying for the women that I know.

This is a challenge to myself. To pursue and love people better. To never wallow in loneliness and assume that nobody else is right there, too. To stop trying to be a one-woman-faith-act and love my community. Jesus never intended for this life to be lived alone! Let me blunty say, if you are only going to a church service on the weekends and don’t have a community that truly knows you, that is not enough. Jesus has so much more in store for you! If you sometimes feel an odd emptiness in the midst of an otherwise full and beautiful life, you probably need deeper relationships. Contrary to what we might hope and think, they don’t just happen. You have to intentionally find them (and by the way, your spouse is wonderful if you have one, but they should not be the only person that knows your struggles).

To myself, and to my readers: Pour your heart out to someone. Stop avoiding the people you already know in hopes that someone more like you will come along. Be bold enough to initiate a conversation that actually matters. Stop making excuses for not pursuing people – they may need a friendship more than you think.

Our Recent Good News

17th March 2016

We got some good news the other day. Like, really good news. I’ve been telling just about anyone who will listen. So, here it goes:

My husband travels for work occasionally, and he was recently asked by a church in Virginia Beach to do a Sunday night presentation. He told the pastor that he typically does not travel on weekends, as it is reserved for family time, and that was that. The next time they spoke, the pastor asked if the church could pay for our family of four to fly out AND for our (oceanfront) hotel for the weekend so that Landry could give his presentation.

…..

Let’s recap: a FREE vacation to Virginia Beach. As in, no paying. At all. I think my mouth is still on the floor from a few days ago. (We said heck yes, by the way..we’d have been crazy not to!)

I still have moments of disbelief. We have never met a single person from this church – I feel completely undeserving and utterly humbled, and if you are familiar with the stress that’s plagued our family lately, you know that this timing is inexplicably sweet. I have no idea why this church decided to offer such a costly gift to complete strangers, but I am beyond excited and thankful. Seriously – I can’t count the number of people I’ve told, because it’s just so amazing!

This got me thinking, I have some other really great news that I haven’t told quite as many people. It’s not new news per se, but I’m reminded daily of how good it is. This good news is much more substantial and life-altering, so why have I not shared it with anyone who will listen? Maybe I’m afraid they’ve heard it before and didn’t think it was that great. Maybe I’m scared they have preconceived notions about it or it will change the way the view me. Maybe I forget how good it truly is. So, what’s this news?

It’s that I used to be an enemy of God because of how dirty my heart is (in ways that society may not notice, too. Have I killed someone? Have I stolen? Well, not technically. But do I gossip? Am I prideful? Am I often uncaring? Do I wish I had what other people own? Do I try to be my own god and control everything?),

But a man named Jesus, the son of the God I was an enemy of, came to earth and lived a completely sinless life (let that sink in for a minute..like, I don’t know if I could go 3 hours without doing something stupid), was brutally tortured and murdered, and then rose from the dead so that I could live forever with Him. I can’t comprehend why the ruler of the universe would give something so costly as His life for ME – a mess of a girl who for most of her life has sought to appear perfect to everyone around her while secretly being a hypocrite, a judger, an egotist.

There is not a single ounce of me that deserves such deep love and kindness.

Let’s recap THIS good news, now: Jesus, who owes me nothing, who created the entire universe alongside his father, who did not remotely deserve to suffer a horrible death, suffered it for me. He doesn’t tell me to work harder to get to heaven, he doesn’t tell me that I have to be more religious, a better mom, a better wife, a more talented blogger, a more faithful friend. He tells me, “You will never measure up to perfection. And you don’t have to. I have wiped away every flaw, every sin, and you are spending all of your eternity with me. I will pursue you every day of your life, because I am deeply in love with you. I created you exactly as you are. I gave my life for you so that you could be with me. You are my beloved and nothing will ever change that. Come, follow Me.

I have never heard more beautiful news.

Not only does Jesus offer me a marvelous eternity, but an abundant earthly life. Not through having it all or never suffering, but through his constant nearness – through his working all things together for the good of those who love Him. He tells us that He came so that our lives may be FULL, and I am wholly convinced He spoke truth. Life in Jesus is so sweet – I have a Savior who desperately loves me and desires to spend time with me.

What’s even more beautiful – this good news is not just my news. God says he wishes that all people would spend eternity with Him.

That’s you, friend. He’s wildly in love with YOU. He wants to take the guilt, emptiness, confusion, hurt, and loneliness from you and trade it for freedom, fullness, peace, joy, and community. He longs to rescue you from a purposeless, empty, self-serving life and replace it with a joy that I cannot explain.

I ask that you forgive me for not sharing my news sooner. Sometimes my selfishness gets in the way and I get caught up in silly things of life, but THIS is all that matters. Jesus is all that matters. He is so different from other religions. He does not wait until the end of our lives to measure whether we’ve done enough, achieved enough, or been good enough, he looks at us in our messy lives and says, “I choose you, in your darkness and in your rebellion to be mine. I love you.”

If you’re a Christian and reading this, I pray that you join me in remembering how awe-inspiring Jesus is. When’s the last time the beauty of salvation moved you? To tears? To worship? To TELL someone? Ask yourself, is the truth of the gospel really good news to you, or is it a cliche Christian catch-phrase that you’ve become tired of hearing?

If you wouldn’t call yourself a Christian and are reading this, please, consider this amazing news. Reach out to me if you have questions. Know that I pride myself on being honest and I am sharing with you the greatest truth ever told. If you don’t take anything else away from my blog, let this stick – You are loved by the God of all things. You are treasured, valued, and thought of.

“But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom…
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you.”
Isaiah 43: 1-5 (ESV)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Comfort in Sin and Suffering

21st February 2016

Our home group gals had a discussion about suffering a couple of weeks ago, and one of my friends brought up an idea that I have always been consumed with – if I haven’t really experienced much suffering, when will it hit? While I don’t think it’s healthy for Jesus’ followers to anxiously and fearfully await trials (which I have always had a tendency to do), I think we should have a realistic and godly mindset about them; if we are truly seeking Christ, they will come. Since most of my life has been relatively easy – although not without hardships and definitely not perfect – I’ve always wondered when and how my “real” suffering would come. And then it hit me – I’m in it.

If you’re not familiar with out situation, here’s a quick(ish) version: my youngest son Archer, who is 7 months old, has had eczema for most of his life, but about 3 months ago it started spiraling out of control. About the same time, my own health started giving me some red flags, and after several tests and doctor’s visits I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that brought tiredness, headaches, foggy brain, major mood swings, a drop in milk supply, and overall pain and weakness. Throw in thousands of dollars in medical bills, unfruitful doctor’s visits, more broken appliances than I thought possible, taking care of an active, teething, early-waking 2 year old, getting up 4-10 times a night with an itching, miserable, often inconsolable baby who is allergic to just about everything under the sun, and you have a decent picture of our lives as of late. I have never been so weary, so worn out, so broken, so helpless. I have never felt so exposed, pitiful, and often embarrassed.

My diet is limited – I’m hungry. I need to gain weight but have about 10 foods I know for sure won’t give my sweet baby a rash or bother my own disease. My milk supply is struggling. I need to eat more, sleep more, and stress less, none of which are easily attainable right now. My baby needs to gain weight. He hasn’t taken a formula without experiencing a big reaction, and I can’t have most of the conventional supplements or foods that boost milk supply.

We are stuck.

Please hear me – I don’t mean to complain, but to give you a good picture of where the Lord has put us, because in all things, he is sovereign and glorious, and I am fully convinced that we are exactly in the right place.
My biggest fear is not our circumstance, but that I will walk out of this trial no closer to Jesus than I began.

I have a tendency to waste times like these. I’m all about honesty, so here’s a big dose: I have been so mad at God. I have let the Lord hear a lot of choice words from me. Want a good reality check? Give a nice, theological answer when people ask why God allows suffering and then find yourself frantically grasping for an explanation when you’re in the thick of it.

I do not know why my baby is hurting. I don’t understand why he’s months behind in development because his body often hurts too bad to even move. I can’t explain all of the tears and frustration I’ve had. But I do know that God is using my sin, my anger, and my disbelief to show me more about how forgiving, patient, and loving He is.

I would have never said it out loud, but do you know what I’ve expected of God for most of my life? To give me a nice, cozy, easy life, to answer my prayers, and to protect me from dark sin, and when I found myself experiencing the exact opposite, I completely crumbled. My theological view of God and of myself didn’t align with what my heart truly thought. Sure, I can throw out Sunday School answers with the best of them! God is all-powerful and loving. He works all things together for our good and His glory. I am depraved and helpless without Him. Life will not always be easy and I should find joy in my suffering because it produces steadfastness. Jesus. Bible. Moses. Blah blah blah. Done. And then I find myself lashing out like a presumptuous, entitled 8-year-old when life gets really tough.

How is it that Jesus uses my sin, that is often too despicable for me to even admit out loud, to teach me more about His character and love? THIS is the the God I’m dealing with! Not a God who sits unmoved as His children suffer, but a God who is not limited by my constant screw-ups and somehow not only forgives them for all eternity but uses them to my advantage! I am totally blown away and undeserving.

I recently heard a story of a mother whose baby girl was born without the ability to feel pain and begged God to give pain to her daughter. Here I am, in the midst of pain, begging God to take it away, because my narrow and selfish mind cannot fathom the ways it is being used to tell the story of God’s deep redemption and mercy. Pain is not the enemy. Suffering is not the enemy. My sin and my pride are the enemy. Attempting to fumble through life without a reverent regard for the glory of Jesus is the enemy. Every time I weep over my son, Jesus does the same for me. He is not shocked by my dirty heart as I am. He is not emotionally dependent on the smoothness of circumstances like I am. He is a good Father. He is a protector. He is a healer and a friend and a Savior.

Leave it to my sweet husband to say something wise and convicting – as we were praying last night, he asked God to forgive us for seeking comfort in earthly good in the midst of God cultivating our eternal good. Archer will not be in pain forever and neither will I, but the work and person of Jesus is never-ending. I am so moved and thankful for His nature when mine is so frail. Thank you Jesus, for your sweetness during my sin and suffering.

I will never stop petitioning for my son’s healing, and I pray as fervently as I seek his health, I seek my own sanctification and reliance on Christ. I have never quite understood the forgiveness and peace of Jesus like I do now, nor have I grasped the depth of my own rebellion. I pray I will not waste the suffering Jesus has granted me and that I will emerge more reliant on His bountiful provisions than ever before.

“He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase,
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men,
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half-done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.”

Annie Flint 

Delivery for Fallon?

14th February 2016

I’ve gotta stop asking the Lord to refine me. It’s like..He actually answers..?

This is an excerpt from a post I wrote less about a month ago:

“One of the things I long for this holiday season is to become more aware of my privileges and be willing to let them go if God asks me to. If it’s coffee, so be it. If it’s anything but 7 foods, so be it. If it’s time, money, space, so be it. I want to stop clumping Jesus in with my selfish comforts and see Him for who he really is.”

Let’s laugh out loud while I tell you what sort of diet I’m on right now. It’s called the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), and there is no coffee allowed (or chocolate, or grains, or gluten, or soy, or corn, or nightshades – think tomatoes, peppers, white potatoes – or chocolate, or dairy, or eggs, or nuts, or chocolate or coffee – did I mention that? – or fun, or legumes, or alcohol. Or chocolate. Or life. Or eating out ever.

Food-based comfort has been something that’s bothered me lately. Ever since I read Jen Hatmaker’s “7” (referenced above – she ate 7 foods for a month, long story short), I’ve really been unsettled about how big of a crutch food is. Bad day? I need something sweet. Celebrating? Cake! Candy! All the cheese! ‘Merica.

I’ve also been mesmerized by an Audrey Assad song called “I shall not want,” so much that I asked a sweet friend to use her ridiculously beautiful lettering skills to pen it for me. Her print arrived, and it could not have been more timely.

Lovely Kambly blessed me with this out of the kindness of her heart. Is this not the prettiest gift in all of ever?!

The first bit says:

“from the love of my own comfort, from the fear of having nothing, from a life of worldly passions, deliver me, O God.”

Let me go over this scenario with you, to really prove my ongoing food addictions and frustrations. I recently discovered some really game-changing items that will make the food I can eat a lot more exciting. My shipment arrived with all of my goodies, and I was convinced those new items would translate to a really good day for poor, starved me. My shipment included 2 packages of “Vegan Carob Chips”a, which, lo and behold, had milk in them, some Collagen powder (an AIP version of protein powder that promotes gut health and lots of other great things), it was DISgusting in the smoothie I attempted, some Avocado Oil, which I can’t really use anymore because my breastfed baby is allergic to avocados, and some Carob powder that I used to ruin a large mug of what was supposed to be knock-off hot chocolate and was actually thick, grainy not-hot-chocolate. I was a wee bit flustered.

OVER FOOD.

What is wrong with me? I will be the first to thank the dear Lord that He thought to give His people good food, but we’ve (I’ve) turned it into a safety blanket. We don’t often seek to nourish our body through wholesome foods, but look to ease our pain, lift our spirits, and complement our happiness through junk. Let’s not be so ignorant as to think gluttony means a high scale number. This is gluttony. This is an example of man taking comfort in the created instead of the creator, and it is a very poor god. And while this is about food, it isn’t just about food. Our church and homegroup has spent the month of January fervently praying for racial reconciliation, for the unborn and the sanctity of life, for people to be treated as image-bearers of the Father, for the Syrian crisis, for refugees and for the marginalized and for the hurt that is in the world – I have never been so aware of my extreme comfort and the ridiculous ends I will take to keep it. I’m so spoiled to think that giving up a few foods is disturbing to my happiness and well-being. If I can’t keep from bitterness and complaining in something so small, how will I ever serve the Lord where it really matters? With the outcast and the poor and the uncomfortable?

I’m so glad sweet Kambly at Beloved Lettering wrote these words for me. It gives me a constant reminder that my comfort is not ultimate – Jesus and his deep love are ultimate and I want to go to any extreme to see those spread.

Now, go show lovely Kambly some love! Here are a few other of her GORGEOUS pieces:
You can “like” her Facebook page here,
and follow her Instagram here.

darkest1 holyspirit peace

The Marks of a Christian…well, Kind of

8th January 2016

Don't be like me and scroll past the Scripture to get to the "easier to read" part - read this!

From Romans 12. Don’t be like me and scroll past the Scripture to get to the “easier to read” part – read this!

Sometimes I think we strive to find our purpose in Jesus without ever turning to his Word. Sounds ridiculous, right? The lifelong Christian struggle seems to be how we should live – how do we glorify God? How do we represent Jesus? – and the answers have already been handed to us. Let’s interpret what we act like these verses say, though (please note I’m going to use “you” and “your” throughout to parallel the text, but this is definitely FOR ME):

Marks of the “Pretty Good” Christian

Let love be genuine only if it is beneficial to you and currently making you happy. Abhor other people’s evil. Yours is really not a huge deal. Keep watching that show. Keep gossiping. Keep buying too much stuff. Those terrorists are what’s evil..not you! Hold fast to whatever makes you the most comfortable! Love one another when the other person is loving you well. Outdo others with how amazingly awesome and accomplished (but also busy) you are, but also try to maintain a humility facade so people don’t think you’re too big-headed. Don’t be a sloth…but definitely relax how you see fit and arrange all schedules and priorities to make sure you do so. Be fervent in figuring out what satisfies you most right this second. Serve yourself. Rejoice when things are smooth, complain as much as possible when things aren’t, and only pray when you are really at your wit’s end and need a serious intervention. Contribute to your own savings account, wardrobe, and hobbies, and seek to keep everyone out of your home so you can have some dang peace and quiet and not clean up after other people.

If someone persecutes you, persecute them back. Don’t bless them. Those evil people. So unlike Alexus (this is the autocorrected version of whatever I typed for “Jesus” and I’m just gonna leave it). Pretend to rejoice when others rejoice but secretly be jealous and bitter over their accomplishments and joy. Feel sorry for those who weep, but let them sort out their mess away from you. Live in harmony when it’s convenient and no one has offended you. You? Haughty? You’re basically the most humble person alive! Pride ain’t no thang. Associate with the lowly when it’s like, someone you know…but if they’re noticeably different from you or it requires any extra effort and time then definitely avoid it. Be wise in your own sight – you’re the smartest person alive and know all the things! Repay evil with…evil, duh! Don’t care about what is honorable to all. You do you. Fly your opinion flag because by golly people need to know you’re right. Especially on Facebook!  If possible, live peaceably with all, but don’t really go out of your way too much. Beloved, be sure to avenge yourself. You go ahead and turn into the Hulk if someone wrongs you. If your enemy is hungry, let him starve; if he’s thirsty, too bad, so sad. You’re Hulk. You hang out with Iron Man for pete’s sake. You have cooler things to worry about. Don’t be overcome by evil, but don’t really do anything to fight evil per se, just sort of live your life as comfy and convenient as possible.
(I am terrified that someone will now take these words out of context…please be my friend and don’t do that to me)

So obviously (er, I hope), this is meant to be a bit of a comical exaggeration, but isn’t it sad that some of it isn’t too far-off? In all seriousness, how much time am I going to waste speculating about how to live as a Christian while ignorantly doing exactly the opposite of what God calls me to in His word that’s easily accessible and right in front of my confused face? There are too many deep needs and hurting hearts to continue this lifestyle. I want to stand before the Lord, fully covered in His grace and mercy, and know that I did not waste His words or my life. That my actions pointed to the abundant joy and love He poured out. This personal agenda crap we keep pulling has got to stop. Hard-headed opinions, Netflix binges, judgement, and selfishness don’t bring anyone nearer to the Lord, but genuine love, servant-heartedness, prayer, and selflessness do. My prayer is that I will go and do, love and serve, and read God’s word and obey it this year. Now, I want to encourage you to read the verses above again and really evaluate what aligns with your life. What can we truly say we are doing faithfully? Don’t be discouraged, friend. Be empowered that Jesus is your strength to live this way, and go live it.

Too Much Hurt

27th December 2015

 

I stood in my shower this morning and wept. I pleaded with God to return for his people – to put an end to the intense suffering found on earth. Here I sit, in my home that’s still standing, with my family still alive, less than 20 miles from the towns of Rowlett and Garland, TX, where such destruction hit last night – destruction that my mind cannot comprehend. Even though we’re physically close to the disasters, it’s easy to let my heart feel far and cold. It’s easy to rest in the fact that my family is safe and continue my life as usual. But the freshness of suffering and the nearness of calamity beg me to feel the pain my surrounding cities are experiencing. All I can think is – there’s too much hurt.

I’m convinced I’ll never fully understand the reason behind such suffering – it’s an age-old question that’s always left people begging for answers. What I can comprehend though, is that there’s too much hurt for me to sit unmoved. If you’re like me and live close to last night’s tornadoes but were kept safe, you most likely feel a call to action. That’s good. That’s what the body of Christ should do. But what about the rest of the suffering and often internal destruction happening every single day? Does it really take homes being destroyed and lives being taken for God’s people to love and serve others? To care about someone else’s well-being other than their own?

There’s too much hurt in the world.

There’s too much hurt to get snappy with the cashier that was rude. There’s too much hurt to throw hand gestures at the car that wouldn’t let me over. There’s too much hurt to stare at my phone while my toddler longs for me to play with him. There’s too much hurt to put my own desire for more, better stuff than to give to those in need. There’s too much hurt to complain about every little thing that doesn’t go according to my plan, to constantly try to prove myself right in an argument, to try to bring more fame to my name than to Jesus, to live my comfy life without ever inviting others in or sending myself and my family out to live and breathe the gospel. There’s too much hurt to pretend that disasters and suffering don’t happen down the street even if they’re not broadcasted on the news. There’s too much hurt to remain heartless and oblivious because it would interfere with my comfort.

Am I advocating that we shouldn’t respond to the recent happenings? Absolutely not. I believe that is our calling and is close to the heart of Christ. What I AM saying is that we are completely missing the call of Jesus if this is the only way we have thought about serving our community and those hurting around us all year. Let this be a reminder that there is weeping surrounding us. Let this be a realization that there are people trapped in their suffering with no idea of the hope and redemption found in Jesus. Pray for the Lord to reveal how he would have you love those around you, and also realize that the answer is sometimes that simple – love those around you. Invite people into your home. Invest in other’s lives. Let go of your comfort, your priorities, and your time and see how Jesus would use you to be his hands and feet. The world is tired of seeing a pompous, heartless mob of Christians who sit haughtily in their church pews and don’t love people – Christians who claim to worship a Jesus who loved the least of these and cared deeply for the suffering, yet are too afraid to disrupt their own schedules and pocketbooks to do the same.

Please, respond to the calamity how you feel led. But don’t stop there. Let’s not turn a blind eye to the world’s hurt once homes are rebuilt and people are clothed. Let’s always be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Jesus and Coffee

7th December 2015

Jesus and coffee. The two (very unequally) most glorious things that also happen to keep me functioning. Pairing them? That’s even better. I’m obsessed with coffee, I’m obsessed with Jesus – done. If I could afford every shirt, sign, mug, sweatshirt, you name it, that had something to do with combining these two, I’d buy them all. I actually can’t tell you the last time I had a quiet time without a cup of joe – why would anyone participate in such madness? One of my favorite things to do is sit quietly (i.e. the kids are asleep/somewhere else) with my Bible, journal, ready-mind and hot Java.

It’s probably safe to say I have a bit of an addiction.

Let me tell you a little secret – the biggest reason I avoid doing things like participating in the Daniel fast, whole 30, or anything that requires me to relinquish coffee is that I CAN’T GIVE UP COFFEE. Trust me, these things will probably make me crazier and scarier, not holier and healthier.

Now, let’s stop and admit together that this is completely absurd. Coffee has become a god in my life. Don’t you kind of want to laugh out loud at that? I truly think my deep draw to all this Jesus and coffee stuff sometimes means I’m worshipping the experience of sitting and (maybe mindlessly and irreverently) reading or journaling in peace and not actually cherishing the time I spend with God. Is coffee bad? Heck. No. What a sinful thought. Is having a quiet time with a cup of coffee bad? Absolutely not. Here’s the bigger issue: comfort and control. What’s more comfy than sitting alone and cozy with a hot coffee? I didn’t sleep last night and I’m utterly exhausted? There’s always coffee! If I’m being honest, sometimes I really am more distracted by drinking from my actual cup than letting Jesus fill my cup.

So what’s the deeper issue behind this silly one? I am (we are?) so overly privileged by our immediate access to anything and everything and so desirous of being in control that it’s clouding  my view of Jesus.

I’m sure you’ve heard me complain about this, so you can 100% know that this is involuntary and not out of righteousness, but my nursing baby has a dairy sensitivity (among other things). Almost everyone I tell that to says, “I don’t think I could ever not eat dairy” – especially when they hear that it’s in FREAKING EVERYTHING. Would I have ever done this willingly? Probably not. But it’s honestly not that bad.

Enter my reading of “7” by Jen Hatmaker. I’m not going to turn this post into a book report, but the short story is that the book begins by her eating only 7 foods for a month as a form of fasting and minimizing. I am terrified to try it. Like dairy isn’t enough, I’d have to sacrifice coffee and SEASONINGS for the love of all things holy. The foods she eats aren’t so bad – it’s mostly what I already eat – but the trimmings and toppings and spices and seasonings are why I love to cook (and eat).

Do I know how many people around the world are lucky to get a cup of water and a minuscule serving of rice for a meal? For a day even? What the heck is wrong with me? Do I need to feel bad and throw out my whole pantry? Not necessarily, but this ridiculous, spoiled mentality that I “couldn’t sacrifice” something like my morning coffee or my garlic salt is utterly stupid. Really.

One of the things I long for this holiday season is to become more aware of my privileges and be willing to let them go if God asks me to. If it’s coffee, so be it. If it’s anything but 7 foods, so be it. If it’s time, money, space, so be it. I want to stop clumping Jesus in with my selfish comforts and see Him for who he really is.

Grace, grace

23rd November 2015

bed
I’ve been desperately wanting (and needing) to spend time with Jesus early in the morning, but this thing ^^^ has been keeping me hostage a bit. Everett also wants to spend time with the whole world early in the morning, so I’ve been mostly waking up to him instead of an alarm for the past um, too long now. I keep telling myself that I’ll change my schedule once the babes are a bit older and sleeping better. I hear other moms talk about how abundantly God gives grace to moms with littles, and I think that’s true and wonderful, but I have to admit I’ve been using it as an excuse to sleep more and not have a quiet time (anyone else guilty? Just me? Okay great). I think to myself, “One day I’ll have beautifully obedient children who sleep in until eight and I’ll wake up at six refreshed and camera-ready with no purple circles under my eyes and ready to love and serve my family – Jesus can wait for that, right?”

This is a big issue. We don’t realize it at first glance, but it is. We’re talking about arguably the most frustrating, tiring, patience-testing phase of our lives and saying that we don’t need Jesus right now. What kind of insanity is this?

Let’s take a look at my morning as a prime example. I set my alarm for 5:40 with great intentions. I was going to cheerfully get up and be a wonderful disciple. And then I didn’t. I picked up my phone (alarm), thought, “oh heck to the no,” and fell back asleep. I woke up again a little after 6, totally amazed that both children were still sleeping, and decided to try again. I got myself breakfast and headed to my cozy little quiet time corner. You know how people in comedies will turn over their hand to check their watch and the drink in their hand spills everywhere because they’re kind of an idiot? That’s me. All the time. Not usually with a watch at least, but I bent over to set my Bible on the couch with a cup full of almond milk in hand and spilled it all over the couch. I then exclaimed some colorful words (like “red! Lavender!” Just kidding), and then got about five minutes of reading in before both kids woke up. So, super productive…go me. I am disciple.

Within the next 30 minutes my husband’s car wouldn’t start, forcing him to take mine and leave me and the sweet, tiny minions confined to the house for the day, had a small sticky hand shoved into my coffee cup twice (I will never understand what possesses my toddler to forcefully dive his fingers into my steaming hot coffee every chance he gets – like, what?! – but I can promise you I will continue to drink the dang thing every time), and had exclaimed “don’t sit on/push/drive the car on/hit/stand on your brother” too, too many times. Clearly we all need Jesus in this house.

Life is always going to be crazy and Jesus has to be a priority. There are lots of folks who swear by being “night-time quiet time” people, and obviously time with God at night is better than no time, but what you do in the morning sets the tone for the entire day. Don’t you want to begin the day saturating your thoughts with the words of God? I know I do! My morning thoughts are usually pretty rough. Like “why the heck is this child up I HATE THE WORLD LET ME SLEEP”…or something like that. The few moments I did spend in Scripture this morning were in Romans 8, which begins with, “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Grace.

THIS is the grace God gives his tired and busy people, not a free pass to avoid spending time with him. Jesus is grace. The Word is grace. How can we expect to find it when we’re not being surrounded by them? I am an unfit, impatient, and self-condemning mom, wife, friend, and servant without the power of Christ, and sacrificing time marinating in his truth sends me further into that sin. His grace carries me away from it. There is abounding grace, and it is found in Jesus. Not extra sleep. Not any other thing that I feel is more important at the time. There is simply no excuse good enough for me (and I’m going to go out on a limb and also say “you” – DON’T HATE ME) to not spend time with God in the morning. Let’s make it a priority, friends. As in, I need someone to commit to this with me so you can verbally kick my behind when I get lazy. Ready, go!