Be Bold

It’s easy to practice a quiet, comfortable faith.  I did this for a long time.  My faith has always been unquestioning and unwavering, but something I kept for myself and by myself.  However, this limited myself and, more importantly, limited God and His ability to use me. God doesn’t call us to this kind of life.

He made the world to be lived in,

   not to be a place of empty chaos.

“I am the Lord,” he says,

   “and there is no other.

I publicly proclaim bold promises.

   I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner.

-Isaiah 45:18b-19a

God does make bold promises.  He promises salvation through his Son.  He promises grace, mercy, compassion, and justice for the poor and the weak.  He promises a season for all things.  He promises us purpose in our lives.  He promises love unending.

fb2f75626a7e8b810041127da64bc9c8This also needs to be true of me.  I believe God calls us to a life of radical love, of bold faith.  How am I being bold for Him?  No life of obscurities and dark corners for me!

My sister, for the last few years, has done something where she picks a word to really focus on for that year.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently and kept thinking about unapologetic.  After really focusing on this verse, though, I have settled on bold.    I want everything I do, everything I say, my way of being, to be a bold statement of who I am through Christ.  My faith needs to be lived, without being made up of chaos.  It needs to bold and not obscure jargon.

by Dan McCaw
by Dan McCaw

We are called to live our lives, live our faith boldly, specifically, intentionally, and out in the world and daylight for others to see and be drawn too.  This can be scary.  It creates a new sense of vulnerability and a sense of responsibility.  Both of which can be daunting.  However, it is immensely powerful.  I have found the more ways I allow my faith to sink in and infiltrate every part of my life, every part of my being, the more I want and the more I am unable to contain it.  While God’s love and mercy does satisfy my soul, I find myself seeking Him even more, wanting him to use and push me even more.  At the end of my life, I don’t want to find myself with my faith in my hands, sitting safely in some dark corner.  I want to know that I acted boldly for God living in the world, but not being of the world.

Lord, let my life be a bold statement of faith and love for you!

-S

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Storms are Just Rain

I’m not like most people I know (I think its becausstorms are raine I’m fairly certain one day I’ll be a mermaid, or was a mermaid…)

Could also be because I think too much, then not at all.

Or feel things so deep and suddenly and have very little practice not showing those feelings (i’m working on this continually)

It could also be that I’m very seldom afraid.

Life stresses me out no doubt. I’m always in a fight to stay present and not jump ahead 10 tomorrows to organize what doesn’t yet exist.

But very little actually scares me. It’s no wonder why either, I have a safety net of rock solid support. And when your foundation is on solid ground the storms of life become just rain.

And me, well I’m a mermaid I don’t mind water. And…

The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else Isaiah 8:11

Honestly I had never read this verse or warning until just recently.

I just knew I was loud and emotional and felt things stronger and differently to me than most people, my family included. Example, I feel with my passions, Shauna feels with compassions. (2 very different things)

I also think with my stomach, so come at me with food and my reaction may differ completely…

But the freedom to think differently, to love differently, to act differently isn’t just in my hard wiring, it’s a warning, a command, from my Lord . And can only be expressed when fear is absent.

Life can be scary and it is certainly full of storms, but in my case the storms are mainly rain because my foundation is solid and I’ve “made the Lord of heavens armies holy in my life. His is the one I should fear. He is the one who should make me tremble…and He will keep me safe” Isaiah 8:13-14

No matter how much it rains. He has equipped me, He gave me my mermaid soul.

So the only one I should fear will keep me safe, the only one the oceans obey is on my side.

There is certainly peace in that.

-J

Taming the Tongue

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue…Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.  And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth.  – James 3:7-10

What I think is most interesting about these verses is the line “curse those who have been made in the image of God.”

James could have easily said “and the next moment curses God.”

taming tongueIt would have made my life easier, I rarely feel like cursing God. I often feel like cursing other people. People made in the image of God.

Every time we curse, hurt, bad mouth, yell….we ARE cursing at God.

We are assaulting His creation and, so assaulting, Him.

That seems big, perhaps even melodramatic, but I can say without a doubt you hurt one of my babes and you directly hurt me…

And since we are all (even the pain in the butt people) children of God…

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Romans 8:16

I’ve always known I was loved and treasured by earthly parents and my heavenly Father. It never sank in how much until I held my babes in my arms and belly. It still overwhelms me that such a love exists.

It’s a big task, I’m still learning to treat those I love well…let alone those I want to curse.

But I’m trying really hard to remember we’re all somebody’s baby…least of all God’s.

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Matthew 25:37-40

-J

5 Things I’ve Learned (and am Still Learning) from my Dad

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June 2015

It is always okay to be silly and you should NEVER take yourself too seriously.

My dad is a goofball who has always delighted in trying to embarass his children.  In doing so, he has never cared how he looks or others perceive him.  He can always make me feel better and lighten the mood.  As someone who is constantly conscious of those around her, this is a hard thing for me to learn.  However, it is really empowering.  When I started teaching, it was one of the most powerful tools I had in my arsenal.  When students saw me not taking myself too seriously, they were more willing to take chances and put themselves out there.  My dad’s way of being allows others to also embrace their inner child, which I have found most people are looking for an excuse to do.

God’s timing is not always our timing (and that’s okay).

This is a hard lesson to learn for anyone.  However, I think I learned from watching my dad that God’s timing is not always ours – and that this is usually for a reason.  Also, God’s timing may not always seem fair and it may not be.  We can work really hard and not be recognized or rewarded.  Everything can line up due to our hard work and diligence and things fall apart.  Everything can go wrong at the exact wrong time.  I’ve learned from my dad it is at these points in time is when character matters.  I’ve learned from my earthly dad that it is okay to look at my heavenly one and say I don’t understand, it’s unfair, and I’m kinda mad about it.  However, I’ve also learned from watching my dad that God will bring it together in the way He has planned…often at moments we didn’t anticipate.  I’ve seen my heavenly father bless my earthly father in many unseen ways – in timing that didn’t seem fair, but ultimately worked out for everyone better.  God really does know more than us (even if we try to argue with Him).

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February 2015

I need to work hard because I am not too good for anything/anyone

My dad always had his priorities straight.  He was always willing to work any job to provide for his family.  I learned early on that working hard was never option.  It might look different in different contexts (from a stay at home mom to fertilizing lawns), but ultimately we had a responsibility to do our best work every day.  When it comes to work, my dad doesn’t have a 75% bone in his body.  He is always 100% in.  I learned this also.  I need to make sure I am doing my best at any job I have; this also means stepping in when it is needed in other areas.  Work ethic does not mean you work hard because you love your job.  It means you work hard when you don’t feel like it; you work hard when you hate your job.  My dad taught me work ethic is about how you present yourself all the time, whether people are noticing or not.

The world needs good leaders – who aren’t afraid to make hard decisions and

June 2012
June 2012

be unpopular at times.

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen this from my dad from being the president of our local school board in a time of required massive cuts to his management style to his parenting.  Good leaders teach people how to do things themselves and then hold those people accountable.  They are also willing to make hard decisions and shoulder the responsibilities of those decisions.  The world has enough yes people; it has enough people willing to settle for good enough.  It needs people who are willing to push forward, to say let’s go for it when others are nervous, to  say no this is what has to happen when others are trying to ignore the writing on the wall.  People won’t always thank you, in fact they may even resent you, but, to be a good leader, you have to look at the big picture and be willing to be the one to make the sacrifices and take the blame to promote the common good.

1935534_942435404754_1645909_nI am (and should be) a confident woman

I am a feminist because of my dad (at least partially due to him).  He not only taught me that I deserved the same as any other person (male or female), but he showed me that I was not limited by my gender.  I had value based on who I was as an individual, not based on who society said I was as a girl or what I should be as a woman.  Too many girls don’t grow up with anyone, let alone a dad, who shows them their inherent value as a human being, not just based on gender based stereotypes.  I was blessed to have a dad who played tea parties and taught me how to shoot a free throw, a dad who learned to braid my hair and played math games in the car with me.  He showed me through his time and love that I could do anything I wanted not despite being a girl, but because of who I am and who God was making me.  It had nothing to do with gender.  He allowed me to develop into the woman I am by encouraging me to ignore any boxes society tried to make for me.  While also telling me I’m beautiful, he tells me how proud he is of me because of my heart, my drive, my work ethic, my accomplishments.  He has taught me to confident, without arrogance, about who I am and the work God is doing in/through me.

My dad is an unbelievable man, the best, strongest man I know.  He walks through life with integrity and his eyes focused on God.  He always speaks in truth, but without judgement.  He embraces life and loves fully.  His energy and enthusiasm are contagious.  He brings me both levity and wisdom.  I couldn’t love my Harley driving, salsa making, goofball of a dad more if I tried.

Happy Father’s Day!

-S

Under Pressure

I’m not particularly into music, the visual arts are more my thing, but I realized today there are no songs that adequately explain the first week a baby is in your arms and no longer physically one with you.
(Although, the theme song for labor with Ainslee Bug was Under Pressure…I’m thanking Happy Feet Two with Nici Bear the day before for that one)

But, there’s no song explaining the ache of dividing time between these two perfect babes instead of one.

There’s not even a song that begins to grasps the ups and downs of marital frustrations that occur when the babes are born and little, toddlers growing and changing.

And there’s certainly no songs for the pain of breastfeeding during week one with a bad latcher and tense momma.

Maybe there’s no songs because there are no words. Just feelings.

And I feel things strong and hard. (And nipple cream only dulls the ache)

And this is new and I’m tired and been tired, and stressed and been stressed. My body and mind and heart are worn out AND overflowing.

And the Oreos are running out. And I go to the farmers market for the fresh chocolate cake.

11407177_10106826640319894_4745784882963912744_n And once again I’m feeling like a failure. Holding on too tight to things I can’t control. Grasping desperately. Grieving the days of mommy and Nici solitude, yet utterly celebrating the beauty of the girl in my arms and our life.

It’s a hard transition I wasn’t expecting or prepared for. It’s ok. People keep telling me this.

Yet there is really only one comfort, He meets me where I’m at. Grace like an avalanche. He gives it freely thank goodness because I’m certainly bad at extending it to myself.

He meets me here. Right where I’m at. Confusion, too strong of feelings even for the songs, He knows this. He knows me.

It’s ok, I’m doing ok, I’m beyond blessed and obsessed with both my babies. But it’s also ok to not know how to do this.

After all, it’s only week one.

– J

Morning by Morning

Summer break officially started for me two weeks ago, which was great timing since we also welcomed Ainslee to the world!  The first weeks off of school are always fun and off setting.  There always seems to be so many hours in a day to do fun things and spread love on those you care about.

However, I also tend to slack off.  Hence, no blogs.  Truth be told, it also meant devotions every fifth day (and I’m being generous there).  I didn’t really spend time building my most important relationship.

On my first day back to it, because everyone else was sleeping and I could find no more excuses, God hit me with this:

2e3a54c0cef9ac554429f49062163586Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding of His will.  – Isaiah 50:4b

My heart’s desire is to know and follow his will.  But, this won’t happen in a flash, but morning by morning – when I make the effort to meet Him where he is waiting, calling my name in love.
So, I return with renewed dedication and spirit to getting closer, loving, praising, and understanding  the one who made me and loves me more than anyone else.

-S

Welcome to the World

I knew you before I formed you in your mothers womb. Before you were born I set you apart

Jeremiah 1:5

photo 3Ainslee Kathleen Rose, my gypsy girl, my mermaid princess.

I’ve thanked God for you everyday since you were just a seed, our tiny bug. And I’ll continue to thank God for you everyday, the good and bad and hard and laughter filled.

Your smile is already made of star beams and sun wishes.

June 7th you made your presence. And the world, my world, has forever shifted on its axis.

God has given me another perfect blessing I don’t deserve and am ill equipped to handle. Thank goodness He will guide me along this journey of motherhood.

He knew you before you were in my womb. He knows you now, He purposefully placed you in MY belly. He choose me to be your momma, He knew our family needed you (and our Nici Bear needed a companion, a fellow adventurer and warrior to take on life with).

My bear and my bug.  Oh how I love you two.photo 2

You were both set apart for magnificence from day one. You will do so many great and wonderful things… And I will be your eternal cheerleader and comfort.

Daily I fail, daily I fall, but my love for you it never falters!

Welcome to the world, welcome to our family gypsy Rose!

Gods got big plans for you!

-J