#stopdropandpray

So within the Holy Yoga family (and the world of Instagram) many of my fellow yogis participate in something called #stopdropandyoga. The premise is this: you're tagged. you stop what you're doing. you do some yoga (usually just a pose... we're not like, randomly breaking out into a full Son A or anything). then you snap a photo and share it on Insta... and of course, you tag others to join in on the fun. I love it. I always want to be tagged. I beam with excitement when I do get tagged. But I think many would join me in saying that we don't always just stop what we are doing and do some yoga. I know I think about the pose I want to do, and find a time that is convenient for me to do all of the various steps.

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Now, on to my next thought.

The other day one of my sweet little nephews couldn't be found by his parents. They were at a week long event, with campsites and RVs and all the people. Sweet little 5 year old rascal wasn't in his usual playing spot and so began the prayers.

I texted my closest circle of warriors to pray. I prayed. And I prayed some more.

Then they found him and we all breathed a sigh of relief. And I returned back to the task at hand-vacuuming. 

Did you notice what was not included in the post-finding of said rascal? A prayer of thanksgiving. Isn't that such a sucky thing to realize about yourself?

So I continued to think about this while I vacuumed. Step after step I pushed and I pondered, all the while never heeding the Spirit's direction to turn the damn machine off and say thank you.

Finally, like a silly little child, I did what I should have done 6 minutes earlier. I hit that red button, knelt on those steps, and prayed a prayer of mighty thanksgiving for His mercy and favor on that sweet boy, on our family, and on me in the midst of my disobedience.

As I began to vacuum again I thought, "hey. Why don't we stop, drop and pray?" Because if we are all really honest with ourselves, I think we would find that we pray when it's convenient or when we are in need. And seldom do we come back to thank Him for bending down to listen and respond.

So here's what I propose:

Let's make #stopdropandpray a thing, ok?

If you're tagged, let that be a nudging on your soul. Stop what you're doing, whether at that moment or some time throughout your day, and pray. Literally stop. Drop something if you need to, or better yet, drop to your knees, and then pray. Pray for someone. Pray for something. Pray for the person you tag. Just pray.

Then later, when it's convenient, post a photo of what you prayed for. Then go ahead and tag a few people. People you know or don't know. People who you prayed for. People you know are prayer warriors. Tag away. And make #stopdropandpray a thing. Because how could we not benefit from broadening His kingdom by submitting to the nudging? He's always nudging, and we are [almost] always too busy or distracted to respond.

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So yeah. Make it a thing.

#stopdropandpray 

When You Come Together Changed--A Post About Reuniting

I've been MIA. This post will shed a little light as to why.

He came home. Like, home home. FOR. GOOD.

Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus!

For weeks I had been preparing, cleaning, ready-ing, organizing and anticipating. Then he came home, and since then we've been embracing, unpacking, relaxing, adjusting, moving and just overall figuring this thing out. Because as wonderful and blessed any reunion is, there is always adjustment--and those are the feelings that aren't talked about much.

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Do you know how wonderful it feels when I look over at him and breathe in deeply the truth that we don't have a set number of days? Those moments when I choose to forget all the things and simply embrace the truth of today are invaluable. There isn't much like it, I must say.

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Then there's the moments where my mind begins to gear up for the usual routine (rest, write, blog or practice yoga during naptime; grab a bowl of cereal and netflix to hunker down before bed) and I'm reminded that life has changed. And it hasn't changed in the sense that now we must both revert back to life as it was before our year of separation, but changed as in we have now entered an entirely new land... and I don't know how to begin the journey of exploration.

You see, we've both changed. A lot. Our God brought us each to a new place in our intimacy with Him. Most days I marvel at what He brought us through and how He must've seen it as necessary to bring us through separately. It's a wonderful, glorious blessing. I'm so utterly grateful for His willingness to show us the parts of ourselves that needed to be left behind, and for graciously showing us how to shed those layers and break those chains.

But what do you do when you come back together?

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There has been a lot of pull to go back to those old habits, because they are what we have always known of life together. "Laura and T" life looks like this ______. But there are pieces of that picture of the past that I don't care to bring with us to this new place. With simple, and seemingly harmless habits like eating dinner while watching tv, or baking a batch of cookies and eating a solid half of the batch before they are even fully cooled, comes deeper strongholds and ways of life that I know neither of us want to continue in. In them lies joylessness-- a settling of sorts. And yet, while our desires to make changes now that we know will bring us joy are so present, our minds and bodies seem to want to go into autopilot.

In enters our will.

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The word "will" means, "Diligent purposefullness; determination: an athlete with the will to win." "The mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action."

A mind or body on autopilot doesn't often dance with the will. They seem to keep to their corners of the room. But when I step back and I look at the two, square in the face, I unabashedly choose the will. There is so much more work, humility, face-planting and friction with that choice, but there is also so much reward.

Jeremiah 25 shares the story of Jeremiah trying, yet again, to knock some sense into the people of Judah. For years and years (23 to be exact) he had been trying to get them to turn from their evil ways of worshiping false gods and in doing so be able to live in the bountiful land the Lord had given them.

"Turn now everyone from his evil way and from the evil of your deeds, and dwell on the land which the Lord has given to you and your forefathers forever and ever;" (vs 5)

I taught in my class Saturday that the word "evil" used here doesn't merely represent malignant, wicked things but also means "sad", "unhappy" and  "miserable". The times when I struggle with depression, sorrow and overall listlessness are at their worst when I am living life on autopilot. In this understanding of our present circumstance, that we are on the cusp of choosing a land of bounty at the price of greater effort, or a land of sorrow at the cost of little effort, every day, all day, I will deliberately choose the way of greater effort. I may need to breath heavier and at times might feel the strain in the deepest parts of me crying out for the days of old, I know that truly living and loving doesn't happen comfortably. It takes hard conversations. It takes sore muscles. It takes falling into bed at night because while the day might have taken much from you physically, it has filled your heart to the brim with all the goodness that comes from living it. It might also take laying face to face, heads on pillows, and humbly expressing wrong choices made and attitudes held--and voicing that sometimes living life together is hard and weird and we aren't always very good at it. Do you know how much freedom is held in those honest conversations? Mountains upon mountains.

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I'll take conversations at the dinner table over mindless Netflix binges.

I'll fight for evening family bike rides over cookie baking.

And I'll have the hard conversations, when I feel I've been misunderstood in this mess of figuring out how to live and love together, over closing up inside because "how could we possibly be arguing already?"

Life is arguments and feelings and romance and adventure and nothingness all wrapped up and happening at the same time. It never stops. It's always moving.

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We will change some more, and we will figure out what life looks like then too. But for now, every day is a day of small battles against our flesh so that we may live in this bountiful land God has given. Somewhere we were told that life should be joy-filled and effortless. What I'm realizing is that we need to see the joy in working hard for the life we've been promised. A life of contentment-- a life of completeness in Christ.

So that's what we are doing. And the best part is we are doing it together.

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Lonely So Long- A Rainy Day Post

Husband and wife. Meant to be together. Sometimes when I daydream about our new not-approaching-quickly-enough chapter, or book rather, of life I imagine him by my side always. I think this is due to so many days running solo and so many nights hugging lifeless pillows. But immediately after that thought comes the reality that, well, that's unrealistic.

Here's why:

1. We can't spoon on the couch all day. We'd get fat and our kid would be left to fend for himself. Not a good plan.

2. He needs to work. I need to teach. We need to move and live life separately while still being completely wrapped up in one another.

3. Nature calls. And sometimes it's smelly.

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4. He'd drive me crazy. I'd drive him crazy. In the absolute best sort of way. The way that says I love EVERY. SINGLE. THING. ABOUT. YOU. Which is why I'm ok with telling you that you're being annoying. And also why in the next breath I will lay a big fat kiss on you and go and read by myself, with my heart warm knowing you are just in the other room.

For me, that's the "togetherness" of marriage. That entanglement of heart, mind, body and soul. It's both of our hearts beating in the same rhythm, whether their miles or inches apart. I'm so ready for that.

Today it's rainy. Like really rainy. Like, hydroplaning across the interstate rainy. This doesn't help my mood. We are nearing the end of this season of physical separation and while I could write a book of all the ways God has blessed it and shown His faithfulness, I'd much rather bad-itude my way to the end of July when he's in my arms for good and the big bad military can't take him away anymore. One of the countless gifts I've been given in my marriage to T is the solid belief in the blessedness of marriage. There is nothing more sacred, more intimate, and more humbling than marriage. While raising a kid is a close second, their is nothing harder than marriage. And without a doubt there is nothing worth fighting for more than marriage. It is the picture of our faith. Of our Savior and the love He has for us, His church.

So on this rainy day I'm thinking about togetherness, both in marriage and in faith. Sometimes there are seasons of separation-- reasons why you must go it alone. A woman I very much look up to once taught on Jesus in the garden and how he left the disciples behind because He had to go further into the garden alone. He and His Father had work to do that needed to be between them only. There are reasons, above my realm of understanding, why we needed this season of going alone. Walking separately with our God. I may not know until He can tell me face to face but I choose to accept this time of separation in obedience.

But it is not meant to go on for ever.

This photo was taken by my insanely blessed friend, Jade.

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Do you see what it captures?

Zero distance between he and I. After months of separation, we could finally experience with our lips the closeness that was ever-growing in our hearts.

M. He is a gift we do not deserve. One we'll never deserve. But he is not the focus or the worship of our marriage. We will always love him well by loving each other first. He will be protected and nurtured by the strength and steadfast faith of his parents in their God, and the devotion and care to their union.

Separation. While this photo was taken in a joyful reunion, his uniform serves to represent the uncertainty of the future. The picture that only God can see and understand and know. For some, it may not be a uniform that separates you, but rather a distance of hearts. In the adventure of marriage one thing is certain, there will be times of inseparable closeness, and times of monumental distance. In those seasons of distance, as a partner in that great and blessed adventure, we must choose to fight for togetherness.

We must go to sleep, alone again, choosing to cling to the hope that there will be an evening coming where their eyes will be the last thing we see before we drift off to sleep in a world where everything is right again.

We must open our mouths to have the conversation that will reveal the fragility of our hearts, knowing that our God is the One who heals those wounds, and our partner is the one who needs to see them. That another day of silence is another mile between two hearts that were made to beat as one.

God created a life partner for man because he saw that it was not good for him to be alone. But He didn't just create her out of the dust like man, but from man, from his very being. I didn't come from T's rib. That would've been weird. But I was created for him. I was created because God knew that it would not be good for T to go without me. And because I was created for him, it goes against my purpose to be without him. Guys, this is so much more than lovey feelings in courtship, or hot bods and bedroom fun in your youth. This goes to the deepest parts of ourselves. We are made to be together. To go forward in our work, our parenting, our ministries, with tightly tangled hearts, sometimes physically separated but always close in love.

So fight for it. As I fight to not bad-itude my way to his arms in a month, I encourage you to fight in whatever way you need to for togetherness in your union. It's worth fighting for, because in it we see how we need to fight for closeness with our God. So many things get in the way of our intimacy with our Creator. Where have you stopped fighting? Where have you settled for second best, in both your marriage and your faith? Ask yourself these hard questions because this actually is a really big deal. These are the things life is meant for. Not pretend lives showcased on the internet, but real lives, with warmth in your hearts and laughter on your lips and fingers intertwined at every possible opportunity.

Choose togetherness. Fight for togetherness. Even if that means you have to fight your own self.

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** T and I are huge advocates for marriage, especially in the beginning years. It's awesome and hard and definitely not something you can go at alone. If you are finding you feel alone in your union and don't know what else to do, we encourage you to reach out. Pray with expectation for someone who can help guide you both to a place of reconciliation. God has been faithful to bless us through a few different seasons of support and we've grown in love and intimacy because of it. Find a pastor, a mentor, a friend, to pray with you and help you lift your hands in obedience to God when you feel you can no longer. We can't do this life alone, and we can't be victorious in our marriages on our own. Ask God to bless you and provide aid through your community. He will definitely do so.

Sugar God- Call A Spade A Spade.

Before I sat down to write this, I polished off a little bowl of trail mix. Not so bad, you say? Well noshing on M&Ms before 11am is not exactly a winning way to start my day. Just because there's peanuts and raisins mixed with them doesn't make them any less sinful. Let me just clarify something here- Eating M&Ms is not a sin. I find this topic to be very similar, if not spot on, with Jesus giving perspective to adultery and murder.

We say, "It's not like I killed anybody." He says, "I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder."

We say, "I've never cheated on my spouse." He says, "Don't think you've preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices-- they also corrupt." (verses from Matthew 5 of the Message)

I say, "I only worship the one, true God. I have no other idols before Him." He says, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Mk 8:34)

And to this I ask myself, "How willing am I to die to this desire of my flesh?" Because for me, this is not just a matter of occasional indulgence. This is something that, more often than not, nearly consumes my thoughts, and definitely drives my actions and attitude. So it no longer becomes "sugar" that I need to die to but the idol of self-indulgence. The "right" to call the shots and "satisfy" myself whenever I want.

And that right there, friends, is the unveiling. The moment when something "common" and "not that big of a deal" is seen for what it really is--something that takes the place of worship in my heart and mind.

So, am I willing to die to those yearnings. While the sugar itself may or may not be horrible for me, it's a question of obedience. Will I place Him first before self-satisfaction? Will I believe Him to be of greater worth and satisfaction than that which my mouth can taste?

We are asked to give things up not because we have a power hungry God. We are asked in order that He may see where He can go with us. How far down this God-glorifying life can we travel? Because unless we die to ourselves and our desire to be glorified, He will not be given glory.

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So where do we go from here? This week, check out these verses with me and see what the Spirit has to say about them to you. Because we all know this is bigger than the over-processed white crap in our pantries. As are most things, it's a matter of the heart, and our hearts are deceitful above all things, so they need a good talking-to on the regular.

1. Matthew 7:13-14: Our culture relies heavily on the latest fad diet to get us ripped quick and wafer thin by Sunday. What if, in this, we took the narrow road? What does that idea look like for you? Is cutting out sugar the "narrow" or "wide" road? Does the idea of digging deeper bring about feelings of anxiety or a welcome challenge?

2. 1 John 5:19-21: Take a moment, close your eyes, breath, and whisper to yourself, "I am a child of God." Do this over and over and over... and over. Do this until your mind begins to open up to this holy truth. Then read this passage again. What understanding has He given you regarding this little idol? Ask Him to show you what your body is really yearning for that sweets are simply numbing temporarily. Ask Him what you can do now, today, to keep yourself from the idol and nearer to your King.

3. Mark 8:22-24: Believe your God. Believe that He is for you. Believe that He is more satiating than the most decadent of desserts. Believe that, even if it's every 45 seconds, He will hold your hand as you say "no" over and over and over again. Meditate on this little treasure and as you face the "lions" in your kitchen this week expectantly ask Him to show up and, with dukes raised, help you knock the temptation out. Because He actually does care about these things. These types of things are not below His level of concern. When it comes to His son or daughter, any and every level is of His concern.

I would really love to hear how this goes for you this week, and I will share how it goes for me. And know that, even if tomorrow is another day that includes M&Ms before noon, there is no condemnation there. This is much more than that and He's not interested in shaming for a handful of sweets. He's interested in lifting our eyes so they are fixed on Him and not what's hiding in the cupboard.

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Mama First

photo (5) Can I be a little honest about something? Since Holy Yoga retreat ended at the very beginning of May, my fellow yogi's have been on the fast track to building successful ministries/blogs/businesses/followings... Or at least it has seemed that way... and this leaves me feeling a bit like the kid on the first day of school who realizes she got all of her school supplies wrong and will consequently be light-years behind everyone else for the remainder of all time.

Have I ever told you I can be a bit dramatic?

Ok, really though, not only is it ok and great and totally wonderful that favor is being granted and Truth is being told through these women and men already, it's something that I am so SO for. My real heart, the one that has been redeemed and washed clean by the blood of Jesus, is jumping up and down and cheering each and every individual on because this is what we are here for--This is what He has called us to! My flesh heart, the one that likes to always make everyone else's business in the whole wide world all about "me", says that if I don't get my act together I'm going to be left in the dust.

This week I began a weekly teaching gig on Wednesday mornings; a class that has been on-going for some time, and I am yet another instructor to take it over. It's a good, solid, desired class and I am so honored to be the one to instruct these hearts through the summer months. My "usual" class prep routine ("usual" meaning I've done it a whopping three times) consists of:

1. Pray about my nerves. 2. Pray about the topic to be meditated. 3. Pray about my nerves. 4. Pray about the flow. 5. Pray that the flow is long enough and actually does flow. 6. Go through the flow so that I'm sure it makes sense. 7. Pray for the class. 8. Pray for my nerves. 9. Pray for my nerves some more. 10.Execute class nervously and be amazed at God's provision and the silliness of all the nerves.

I thought I'd have all kinds of time to complete the above routine Tuesday. It turned out that M, and allergies, and laziness and life knew differently. My sweet boy, and myself as well, were pretty down and out with sniffles, sneezes and those dang itchy eyes. Naps were few and disrupted, and alone time was non-existent.

I talked to T late that night (after I thought I had a minute to prep and before M decided he needed to sleep with Mama) and I was explaining to him that I had, "basically nothing ready for my class tomorrow. M just isn't feeling good and has needed to snuggle and be with me a lot today so I'm totally not prepared."

Then T said it. And ever since it's like the scabs have fallen from my eyes.

"Well, you're a mom first, so that's ok."

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Guys. All the other lovely, wonderful, beautiful daughters and sons (who are also moms and dads and laborers) out there making and taking the time to jump on their ministries/businesses/blogs/media blah are so awesome. God has provided them the time and space to do so and that's such a beautiful thing. And He's providing me that too. He provided me materials for that class on that morning, in 20 minutes prior to the class. I've never felt more at home teaching, but that's because it was me, a servant of my King, coming before Him with zero to offer. Just a willing heart and the belief of this Truth:

I'm a daughter of the King. I'm a wife. I'm a mom. I'm a minister for His Kingdom.

And what's neat is that first and last one really encompass the two in the middle. My family is my ministry, and when I nurture it, when I don't try to "keep up with the Joneses", He is actually given more of a chance to radiate His awesomeness.

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So my ministry will be what He makes it.

My son will receive all the snuggles and boog-wipes he needs.

And my heart will rest in peace.

"It is in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for." - Eph. 1:11msg

He has many purposes for me, and in this, "I am a mom first."

Man, what an incredible thing.

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If you're a mama, and you feel the tug that you should be devoting more time to building your social media presence, but doing so will take away from those little ones entrusted to you, then I encourage you to stop in your tracks and evaluate if it's worth it. There will be plenty of time to create a killer etsy shop, or blog your heart out when they are in High School and would prefer you to have your own hobbies. Make them your ministry now. God will bless you, them and your ministry for doing so.

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Six Years Without You

Because of all of the excitement last week, I blew right past a pretty important day of celebration in my little life. It was six years ago that I "went under the knife" and said, "good riddance" to my always-troubling colon. I never had much of a chance to reminisce and soak in all the mercy and faithfulness of my God, but I have been these past couple of days.

 

Guys, God has been incredibly good to me-with and without my colon.

 

I wrote a post last year for my five-year anniversary, and if you wish to learn more about my story I encourage you to read it below. While this may not be a much talked-about subject, it happens to more people than you would think. In this past year God has carried me through a journey of wholeness-to a place where I have learned to not only appreciate this physical being of mine, but to praise Him for it. To love it. To care for it. My God is a God who heals-Mind, body and soul. Hallelujah! All glory to God!

 

Life can flourish, and your body can heal... even if that means your poo will be a little bit different.

 

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Originally posted May 18th, 2013:

This weekend I am reminiscing. Dreaming. Rejoicing. Soaking in His grace. Would you like to know why?

Tomorrow marks the 5 year anniversary of the day my life irreversibly changed forever. On May 19th, 2008 my five year relationship with Ulcerative Colitis officially ended and that lovely little colon of mine was headed for greener pastures… or something like that. For most, it is difficult to empathize with me on this because, well, you just don’t quite get all that this magnificent organ does. For others, like a few of my friends, you know all too well. To say that this is a relatively vital organ is pretty spot on. Is it needed to keep breathing and living? Absolutely not. Is the health and well-being of said organ important for your quality of life? Abso-freaking-lutely. I’m going to be extremely blunt and say that bleeding out of your butt and pooping 20-some times a day is no life. For anyone. I don’t care who you are. And don’t get me started on the pain. Aaaaanyways, I’m saving all that good stuff for the book I’m writing with my girl Katie one day.

This weekend I’m reminiscing on this event specifically.

Fear of the unknown is a b*#@%. But you know what I had? I had my Jesus. Who on earth is able to prepare for an 8 hour surgery that will leave them without an organ that cannot be put back in and NOT have fear? I’m pretty sure no one. THAT is why I can say with absolute confidence that HE is the only reason I made it through. His comfort came to me in this; “I saw the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will You let Your holy one see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence.” (Acts 2:25-28). Sitting here, eyes closed, trying to remember the thoughts, the feelings, the words, I find my brow furrowed. The memory of those moments is painful. Then I remember… After more hours than promised in the pre-op room they finally came for me. As I was rolled away from my parents, and heading for those white doors, every ounce of me began to cry. I don’t mean I sobbed, I mean the tears that fell down my cheeks came from the deepest part of me. The little girl afraid to face this big life on her own. And as quickly as that loneliness came my Savior showed Himself along side me. I began to whisper His words from Acts and as each word came off my lips the tears dried up and I became strong- He made me strong.

I was in surgery for 8 hours. I PRAISE God for nurses. You women and men are angels. Each hand you hold and word you say is what carries us from our fear filled consciousness into a dreamless sleep and I think I can speak for others when I say that you are appreciated to the fullness of the word. I woke up to a very annoying man in the recovery room and an inability to move really, but all I knew was that the damn tube in my nose and down my throat was probably one of the worst things ever. 

I really really woke up a couple of hours later, in my room, to my family. They were the strength I needed to face this day, and the joy and laughter I needed to face my new life. It wasn’t easy learning how to pass food with the new fandangled thing on my side but alas it would be removed a few short months after and life would continue.

The photos above are a testimony to God’s Sovereignty. The life laid before us will never go the way we planned. He is far too creative to let us live life the way we think we should. Why He chose for me to be unique in this way I won’t know until I see Him face to face but I pray, I plead, that He may be glorified in this. His faithfulness is… well, it’s the most beautiful thing we will ever see in this world. To see myself on that day, and to know that He went before me- to my wedding day, to the day I would find out I was pregnant, and to the days I have with the two best men I will ever know- fills me with more joy then I deserve to feel. Really truly…

how great is our God?

I am thankful. I am blessed. It is only because of Christ that I live.

Well, that’s a little of my story. I’m sure you’ll hear more or have already heard some. Just promise me something? Don’t ever take for granted your health. It is not promised to you. It is a gift and should be treated as such.

It's Happening!

It's Happening!

This is happening. Soon. Age us each by nine months and you'll have the same image in your head that I have in mine.

Praise you, Lord! You are so incredibly good!

"My hand will sustain him; surely my arm will strengthen him. The enemy will not get the better of him; the wicked will not oppress him. I will crush his foes before him and strike down his adversaries. My faithful love will be with him, and through My Name his horn will be exalted... He will call out to me, 'You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior'"!!! (Ps. 89)

He has sustained us. He has held us up above the things that wanted to drag us down. He has done the unthinkable and grown our love for one another and for HIM more than we could have imagine.

HE is our Father. Our God. Our Rock. Our Savior!

When They Met Jesus

Well, I am (almost) officially a Holy Yoga Instructor. Once I get that certificate in hand it will really be real. Entering back into "the real world" leaves me, at times, wondering if all of the memories of the past week actually happened. It went by thoroughly and quickly; each moment dripping with meaning. I know that these photos in my mind represent reality because seeping through all of them is one truth: it was there I met Jesus. While that could sound somewhat confusing, seeing as I've written about, talked about and learned about Jesus for years and years (He first ransomed my heart when I was 16), let me clarify. Similar to Mary, or Thomas, or the others who saw Jesus after His resurrection, it wasn't a first meeting. But also similar to them, it was a meeting that would change the way I worship, serve and adore Him forever.

I've been trying to decide what to do next. My days have been full of homework, practice, reading and anticipating since March. Now that's all done and I'm wondering, "what do I do?" I decided, after conversing with my King, that I should spend some time seeing what others did after they met Jesus.

Upon reading the gospels, it doesn't take long to see that Jesus met a lot of people. The proud. The sick. The educated. The lame. The desperate. The "satisfied".

Each had their own responses to Jesus. Each acted or reacted differently. The one similarity is that they all came face to face with the opportunity for change.

The Pharisee's, time and time again, ridiculed, cornered and slandered Jesus. They had the One true Messiah right there with them, and they chose to listen to their educated minds instead of opening their hearts to what God was doing.

The man born blind obeyed, regardless of how ridiculous Jesus' command was. In that obedience he not only witnessed but was a part of an incredible miracle. He didn't laugh at Jesus and tell Him He was nuts. He didn't doubt and tell Jesus He was unable to do as He asked. He got up and went to wash, just as he had been told, believing there was a purpose for it; a purpose that would immensely bless the blind man and wonderfully glorify Jesus.(Jn 9:6-12)

While enjoying their last supper with Jesus, having been explained the events that were to come, the disciples chose to discuss which of them was the best. With the Messiah right there at the table, their focus was still inward. (Lk 21:24)

Jesus, pulling a little child into their circle, sets the disciples straight by stating that unless they become more like-minded with this little child, they will never enter the Kingdom. How uncertain, and possibly anxious, must that child have been, being pulled into the middle of a discussion with Jesus and His disciples? That's like the popular of popular kids choosing him to come and partake in their secret discussions. And yet Jesus used him, the least likely, to educate the ones who were the "chosen". (Mt 18:1)

I have seen myself in all of the above stories. There are so many things I've taken away from them and many other stories of meeting Jesus. Seeing the close-mindedness of the Pharisees, the simple obedience of the blind man, the pride and self-awareness of the disciples and the unknowing use of the child all encourage me and inspire me to heed these examples as I process the last week of my life. There is one person, however, that really brings courage, understanding and hope to my heart.

Peter.

When Jesus asked him to leave his job and all he knew to follow him he obeyed. He earnestly proclaimed to Jesus his undying devotion. Throwing caution to the wind he unabashedly fought to protect Jesus from danger. When cornered by unbelievers, he chose non-confrontation over the truth of his heart and denied his devotion to his King. When he heard Jesus' body was missing he ran to it, and without fear entered in. Jesus appeared to Peter and some of the others while they were out fishing and upon seeing that the Savior was ashore, Peter jumped into the water to run to his Lord. He was given a new start--a clean slate-- and never turned back. He went on to save thousands and proclaim the Messiah Jesus Christ. Peter got to be a part of some incredible things, and like so many before him, he was chosen regardless of being so very far from perfect.

I'm so thankful for Peter. Remembering him reminds me that, even though I've loved and served and proclaimed Jesus for many years, there is grace for all of those moments I chose myself over Jesus. There is mercy for the many times I chose my sin and my idols over my God. That it is more than possible for Jesus to ransom my heart, yet again, and this time for it to "stick".

You see, the reason things haven't stuck in the past has nothing to do with Jesus and everything to do with me. Each and every day that I wake up and take that blessed breath, I have the opportunity to choose life over death. The things I saw, the freedoms I felt, are true and real and good. The realities of my past were washed away long ago, and my heart and mind have finally made the choice: to believe my Savior and to no longer live in the false reality that I am unforgivable.

Isn't it crazy that it's really that "simple"? All I had to do was believe. Really believe.

Believe that Jesus is who He says He is... because either all of scripture is true or none of it is. I can't believe He died and rose from the grave but not believe that it happened to wash me clean.

This is (a bit) of the story of what happened to me when I met Jesus on that mountain.

Like Peter, and countless others, I've chosen to believe the truth of my salvation. I've chosen to grab hold of my Savior and never look back. He is undeniably holy and good. I am ruined for anything other than Him.

From what was: "too fat, never enough, always disappointing, ever-failing, never succeeding."

To what is: "child of God."

Hallelujah!

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Tomorrow's The Beginning

I get to wake up, grab my over-packed bag and head to the place where adventure often begins: the airport. These past few weeks have been especially hectic; this last one the most. But when your life and heart and soul are about to radically change and bring you closer to the living God than you've ever thought possible, it would make sense for the cares of the world to try to draw you back in.

But tomorrow it all begins, and I couldn't be more ready.

I think that maybe many of the events of my life have simply been the paving stones, creating the way to this place of ministry. We can't just arrive at our ministry, we have to be pruned and readied for it. If you know my heart, my struggles and my sins, you know this is a very unlikely and yet perfect ministry for me, because it will always demand I go back to Jesus. Every day. Every moment. In and of myself, I have no capacity to carry this out, which creates in me that much more excitement and anticipation for what He has in store.

The ministry of Holy Yoga is a mighty one. God has done incredible, indescribable works of freedom and victory in and through it.Tomorrow, nearly 130 other souls will gather alongside mine and we will enter into this work with hearts open and bare, waiting for Him to break us down and build us back up more like Him. This is, without a doubt, Kingdom work. I am humbled to be chosen for it.

As time continues and life progresses this next week, would you consider praying over those gathered on that mountain in Arizona? While you may have never attended a holy yoga class, or you may even have a difficult time wrapping your mind around the ministry, I know the desire for wholeness in Christ is mutual, and prayer, regardless of opinions or understandings, is a shared and very powerful practice. If you have been involved in the ministry, even a little, you know how wildly God is working in it. He has now called 130 more people to go out and do His work. Hallelujah!

Family and friends, if you desire, you can take hold of the below photo and use it as a guide for what to pray. I know, in the deepest parts of me, that He has a mighty work for me in this. I desire nothing more than to become less so He can become more in this heart of mine.

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I am so thankful for your love, support, encouragement and faith. We'll see what He has for LuluLuvs after this week is up!

Get ready!

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29 - A Birthday Blog

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I realize 29 is still young; I'm not going to be that woman, but for the baby of the family (by 8 years) it's hard to imagine myself so close to 30. Especially when I'm married to a man who is 4 years younger than me. (Yes, it's true. He's the luckiest of 'em for snagging an older chick.)

I woke up quite early today (4am) and as I laid there my mind began to dutifully travel down the path of birthday drudgery- "Man, you're almost THIRTY!", "You're only going to get fatter and frumpier from here on out.", "You've only got a year or so left before your joints start to ache and you lose your spunk."

Obviously these statements are all absurd, and it took me all of 2 seconds to snap out of it and change course. The truth of my heart is this: the older I get the better I get. Maybe not everyone is like this. I know there are many women who try to hold onto their twenties with all they have, but that's just not me. Thankfully, my husband doesn't mind a woman with little makeup on her face, dirty feet from never wearing shoes and hours spent in the kitchen or craft room home-making like the best of them instead of hours spent pampering herself. The older I get the less I care about myself... but in the absolute best way possible.

Recently I've been contemplating just how much our "self-worth" can't actually be about self at all. I plan on writing about this one day (soon) but today I'd like to put pen to paper some of the things that make me glad about being that much closer to 30. (And no, this is not going to be a "30 is the new 20" thing... honestly, I'm not interested in living my 20's any longer than God intended me to.)

What's So Great About Heading Out Of My 20's:

1. The older I get the more life I've lived. Duh. But in that obvious statement is a very beautiful truth: God has been faithful to me. Part of parenting that terrifies me is the reality that I am NOT guaranteed any number of days with my sweet boy. He belongs to God and each day with him is quite literally a gift. Even the bad days. Similarly, my life and each day of it I've lived has not been guaranteed. It has been a product of His faithful love to me and to those that love me. Above that, I believe He has chosen these days in order that He may complete His work in me, that He decided before the earth was formed. He still has more to do with me... I can't even conceive how awesome that Truth is. So, I'm heading into my 30th year of God choosing to keep me around, choosing to show me who He is, and choosing to bless me and use me and love me immensely. Guys, each one of us should be jaw-droppingly grateful right now for all the days we've lived. How faithful is the God of the universe? Inconceivably faithful.

2. In these 29 years I, like everyone else, have experienced challenge. I've made bad choices. I've chosen myself or the world or idols over my God. And I have an enemy who tries with all his might to wash me in guilt and shame over these experiences. This, again, is something I plan on writing about in the (soonish) future. Again, the Truth here, is that in each of those instances I've been showered with grace, mercy, love and restoration. And in turn God has grown me in wisdom. When I think of this I can't help but look ahead at the next 29 years with anxious anticipation. If each hardship or bad decision has already been washed by His saving grace and will in turn grow me in wisdom and closeness with God, then how could I not be excited for each year He blesses me with?

3. That husband of mine. While he still has some time to camp out in his 20's, I can't help but love "growing older" with him. Knowing that as each year passes I get to fall more in love with him makes my eyes widen in wonder. How is it possible? Knowing that God will use us for His glory makes me never want to leave his side. There is adventure and love and joy and heartache that we can't begin to imagine awaiting us in this future of ours. I absolutely can't wait.

4. Sweet little M. How is it possible for God to love me so much? This child (and I'm sure our future children as well) is a constant reminder of my Lord. In each smile my heart swells at the love lavished on me, and in each tantrum I'm left with nothing but to cry out for the strength to parent from His spirit, not my flesh. If you desire to grow in your faith and love of the Lord, have a child and open yourself up to allow God to use that child. You will be taught things no pastor could ever teach.

5. Something I've struggled with for most of my adolescent and adult life has been friendships--specifically one-sided friendships. In those relationships was a deep-rooted need for affirmation. "If she would just want to be my friend as much as I want to be her friend then that would mean I matter." Sometime this last year I spent a good amount of time thinking about this part of my past and I found myself feeling sad. How many great relationships were overlooked because I was focused on someone else, thinking they were the ones to give me value? As God has graciously opened my heart to see the dark spaces, He has shown me how no human being is able to give me value. Only He can give me value, so even if I were best friends with each of those women I would still be left wanting more. In the not-so-pretty revealing moments of this part of my heart God has been faithful (yet again). He has brought some wonderful women into my life. Our lifestyle has forced us to be away "physically" from many that we love, but I've been blessed to establish some deep and meaningful friendships despite the distance. While I may not get to shop or have coffee and study God's word with my best friends, I always know that they deeply love the Lord and me, and that no matter where life takes us, they are a blessing and never the source of my value. What an awful burden for anyone to have to carry. (I'm glad you ladies don't know who you are otherwise you'd probably feel an immense pressure knowing how much I had riding on our friendship in this anxious heart of mine.)

Those are just some of many reasons why I'm happy to be making my way out of my 20s. I'm grateful beyond words for each and every way He has directed my life thus far, and in that gratitude I can't help but be so joyful as I look to the future.

These days that we celebrate our birth... they are really absolutely not about us. They are 100% about our Maker. It is because of His faithful love that He has chosen this many days for us. Days of love, heartache, loneliness, joy, growth, change, and above all, blessings.

Guys, 29 is so good. Just wait until Taylor Swift is 29; she'll know exactly what I mean and write a catchy song about it. #justyouwait

Day 40: 40 Days of Praise

Really, that's what we've been doing these past 40 days... Praising. One of the (many) definitions of praise is, "the offering of grateful homage in words or song as an act of worship." Our words have been worship to His ears. Today, Caitlin and I really just want to offer Him praise for ALL that He has done, is doing, and will do. I know we all have stories of His gracious handiwork in our lives through this journey, and tonight we just want to share a few of them with you. So as you read of all He has been doing, let your heart rest in His goodness and give Him praise.

[If you read my blog you know I'm all about anonymity and initials so that's what we are sticking to with these]

"Over the past 40 days of praying for my husband I have experienced great blessing in my own heart as well as in my marriage. Through Laura and Caitlin's posts and beautiful prayers and also through my own time with the Lord, God has shown me different areas to be praying for my husband and specific areas of his life to become more in tune with. My husband and I have had growth in our marriage and our communication which as a result has strengthened and deepened our bond." -K "I'm so glad God put the 40 days of prayer in my path. With a husband that is often gone with work I am always seeking ways to pray over him and his safety. What a blessing it was to dedicate 40 days to just that. While praying, a sense of calm was given to me. I was able to give my worries and concerns for my husband over to my Heavenly Father who knows how to love and protect him so much better than I can. I thank Jesus for using these ladies to speak His truth in my prayer life for my beloved. Prayer is powerful, praying for my husband is a joy, thank you Father for the reminder." -L "I am praising God so much in the area of the man I am married to. It started before the 40 day journey... it started 9 years ago when we got married and I started praying more fervently for him. I've prayed for specific things that I have just seen answered recently - the last few months. NINE years of prayer. It would have been so easy to just stop, give up, and say "to heck with it, Lord! There's no fruit!" And I did get discouraged, many times. But I was reminded over and over by the Lord and women like you, that God IS faithful and He is in the business of answering prayers and changing hearts. I FULLY praise Him for all the work He has done in my husband's heart in the last 3 years! -D "I feel as if my husband and I have grown closer. I talked with him last night, asking him if he felt different since I had been praying for him, and he said he feels better at seeing my emotional needs. We struggled with a lot of spiritual warfare during this journey but I know it's because God was working good in us. My hubs even stepped out last night and decided to make a permanent time every night for us to pray together. Praise God for His work in our hearts!" -Caitlin For me, God has been doing the muscle work of digging these roots down deep into the earth. He moved some mountains after I did this last year, and I feel very much that this journey was all about the roots. I've seen a wisdom and a maturity in my husband that I've not seen before. But it's a maturity of steadfastness. His heart is becoming more and more steadfast in his God. His faith is becoming his own. I have shared emotions with him that I would've been insecure to show before now, allowing him the ability to see the rawness of my heart for my God. While being apart makes communication all the more difficult, we've really done all that we can to share what really matters in our hearts, and a lot of the time that is simply Jesus.

The most exciting thing to me about this day is that it is like that last second that your toes are touching the diving board before you spring off into the sky and fly exhilaratingly into the blue below. This is the springboard--just the beginning. Because the reality is, He has always been working for, seeking out and loving on our husbands and us. He has now gotten our attention and removed the scales from our eyes so we can see how He really works.

So wives, joyously leap off that diving board tonight! Lay your head on your pillow KNOWING that YOUR GOD IS NOT FINISHED! Oh praise Him!

Image-1 (18) "For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wastelands." Isaiah 43:19

Peace and joy to all of your sweet, loving hearts tonight. We have been so blessed going through this journey with you. Until next year.

-Laura and Caitlin

*Remember, these prayers will always be available to you. If you ever feel like you would like to repeat this journey PLEASE don't hesitate! Just obey!*

Day 36: Thanks in every moment

20140321-213937.jpg I don't know about you ladies, but my heart is often full of thanksgiving for my husband. Sometimes I cannot believe the blessing my God has gifted me. So tonight, tomorrow, and in every moment, let us lift up our gratitude to our God. -Caitlin

Lord above, Thank you--thank you so much for the blessing of life you have given me. This life and this love is so unfathomable. That you would shower grace on me--a broken sinner-- and redeem me for your good amazes me. Too many times I come before you with wants and requests. Never enough do I simply thank you. And so, as this 40 day journey starts to close, I simply want to thank you for the husband you have placed in my life. Thank you for his love. Thank you for his heart. Thank you for his willingness to lead, to provide, to protect, and to encourage. Thank you for saving him and for leading him to me, that we may wildly show the world your love. Thank you for the good and glorious times we have, and thank you for the obstacles and the grief. Thank you for our times together and our times apart. For you work all things together Lord for your good, and in all of these times I am learning to give thanks. Thank you Lord for every moment we have and will have together. Thank you for us. But above all, thank you for your Son. In His most holy name I pray, Amen

Day 32: Real Rest

20140317-204719.jpg "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest." -Matthew 11:28, MSG

Sometimes friends, we simply need to rest. Maybe that rest comes in the form of binge watching Netflix over a weekend, or taking a vacation. Perhaps it's an evening of riding our bikes, or time curled up reading a book. Or just maybe that rest is a fit of laughter that releases our souls.

You've been there, right? Moved by something someone has said or an action that has happened and you're doubled over in a fit of joy inducing laugher. You can't breathe and your abs ache, but when all is said and done you feel clear in a sense. Relaxed. Rested. Cleansed.

In fact, a bout of laughter is so good for us because it literally releases endorphins (or the happy chemical) causing us to feel a burst of joy and release. In those moments of unstoppable laughter, I often think that is how it feels to rest in God. To be so out of control yet carefree and recovering a part of our life that has been misplaced by the throes of this life. That's what it's like to rest in Him friends and oh do we need it.

May we not only find ourselves resting in Him during this journey, but praying for moments that our husbands can simply get away with Him so they too can feel rested, relaxed, and renewed.

-Caitlin

Heavenly Father, I come before you tonight with thanksgiving that you have chosen each one of us to be yours. You love us so dearly that you sent your Son for us. In our broken, ragged, sin-filled walk you continually offer us Grace because you want us. Lord, in that grace you offer us real rest from this burdened world. You give us a chance to escape with you and recover life. Tonight, God, I pray over my husband for that rest. Wherever he is in his walk, and wherever he is quite literally in his day, bring him that rest. Offer him the chance to sneak away with you so that he may feel cleansed of his work and his day and his struggles and feel renewed in life. For only you can offer it. God, help him to see this road he is on is not in vain, but that you are using it for good and are there to carry the burden when he is ready to let go. Your grace is our rest Lord. May we surrender to you and feel the joy that will follow. In your most Holy name I pray, Amen

Day 30: Fighting the Reflection

20140315-131152.jpg"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." -1 Corinthians 13:12

Yesterday, friends, I talked about grace. I challenged us to humbly bow before the Lord, flee the devil, and quietly say "yes, Lord. I am here."

Wives, can I say I am so proud of you? I am so proud of you following Laura and I on this journey of lifting our husbands up. Of loving them so boldly and desperately that we are humbly coming before our God asking Him to move. You--we--are doing such a brave thing. And today, I feel that we should chase that bravery into prayer and pour out our weaknesses so that we all may know grace. You see, my thoughts come from 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 (MSG):

"My grace is enough: it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations cut me down to size--abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become."

I don't know about you, but I have struggled for so long fearing that I am never good enough. A good enough Christian. A good enough wife. A good enough teacher, or writer, or [enter label here.] I know I'm not the only one with this struggle because in a world that labels us according to our careers, and our money, and our hobbies, and in a world that freely invites us to share our perfect or not-so-perfect lives with everyone--it's hard for anyone to "measure up."

And I wonder, what is this doing to our marriages? For I know my struggles, whether in body image or role, play a part in the beautiful, intimate thing we call marriage. Over the years, I have watched my husband struggle too.

The enemy weasels his way into the smallest of insecurities and uses our big 'ole world of propaganda, and social media, and salary tiers, and even our brothers and sisters to tell us that we aren't good enough. I look at my husband who is a Godly and artistic, passionate, determined, hard-working wonderful man and there are days I see the weight of the world pushing on his shoulders... The enemy whispering in his ear telling him he has failed... He is a failure... He will never measure up... And those lies begin to be the "poor reflection as in the mirror" my husband sees staring back at him. 

The world--the enemy-- telling him he is not good enough.

And then those three little words born of a lie--not good enough-- begin to root themselves into his daily walk. His school. His job. Our marriage. His confidence waning and his spirit shrinking. And if I, too, am carrying the burden of that lie, then the intimacy God wishes for us to experience in His sacred marriage is lost, and we start to focus on the limitations and handicaps in our life: things the enemy uses to tear us apart so that God's work will not be done.

But friends, the redeeming part of this story--my story, my husband's story, your story--is that in our weaknesses GRACE is found.

For we are told that God's grace is enough for us, and that in recognizing our weaknesses we become stronger than we ever thought. In His grace, those thoughts of not good enough are thrown away, unimportant, forgotten because in grace, "we'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us"

We are good.

We are chosen.

We are loved.

We are fully known.

And we measure up in the fullness of His grace to the person HE has created us to be.

Today wives, my prayer is for all of us---for us as women to turn away from the poor reflection in the mirror and understand how loved we are by our God and our husbands. And just as importantly--that our husbands would find strength in their weaknesses. That in those moments of not good enough, they would find strength from Christ to throw off the weight of the world and see themselves as God sees them: His son, destined to be brave and courageous, respected and honored, a wonderful husband and father,loved by their God and loved by us. Fully known growing stronger through their weaknesses.

And above all--good.

-Caitlin

God of grace,

You meet us every moment we come to you offering love and grace to cover our multitude of sins. You willingly fight for us as we battle this world, passing time before we can enter your perfect kingdom. This battle is not easy Lord as the enemy wants for nothing but to sever the ties we have to you. He throws everything he has at us to falter your kingdom work. One of his greatest ways is to skew the reflection we see staring back at us everyday. Lord God, though I struggle with my own insecurities, today I come before you with my husband on my heart. This world so easily will tell him he is not good enough. It will beat him down and burden him with insecurities. But Lord! You see him as good enough! I pray so desperately today that he would see himself as you see him. That in his weakness he will be made strong and that skewed reflection become clear. I ask Father, that my husband begin to understand that your grace truly is enough-- and how you see him is the only way that matters. Please take his burdens from him and the lies born of the reflection. Open his eyes to you, God, and to the image you have of him. May my husband begin to see himself as good, and may my words and love for him do nothing but encourage. I lift these in your most holy name, Amen

Day 20: The Foxes In The Clefts - A Look At Intimacy

Image-1 (5) "Oh get up, dear friend, my fair and beautiful lover- come to me! Come, my shy and modest dove- leave your seclusion, come out in the open. Let me see your face, let me hear your voice. For your voice is soothing and your face is ravishing."

"Then you must protect me from the foxes, foxes on the prowl. Foxes who would like nothing better than to get into our flowering garden." -Song of Solomon 2:13b-15 MSG

Intimacy. At times I find simply saying the word leaves me in an adolescent state, snickering at the very idea of it all. But doesn't that sort of ring true to the female side of intimacy- the timidity and bashfulness so many of us can find ourselves in? I can't begin to figure out why this is, because really, I think there are so many factors that bring so many of us to that place. I do, however, know that there is one common piece here that most of us, if we are honest, have known more intimately than we would want to admit.

There is an epidemic in our society, and I fear for the minds of the sweet young boys in my life who will inevitably be faced with it.

Pornography.

The reasons why pornography truly is a poison in our society are countless, and truly, that is not why I am here today. The heart of my husband is the reason why I am here today, and with regard to this subject I will fight to the bitter end for him.

There are countless ways that pornography, and the sexual ideals of our culture in general, affect intimacy. There is one very specific aspect that I want us to dig into a little bit today, and that is brought up in the above passage in Song of Solomon. Let me just paint a very vague picture of this passage for you. (You can also scroll all the way to the bottom to read it in the Amplified version.)

They have traveled to the mountainside, to the back where they are secluded and alone. (This could be representational of the intimate setting of a marriage relationship. Those spaces in your physical and emotional selves that are just for the two of you.) He is asking her to come out, knowing that she is timid, and show him her beauty. That she does not need to hide, for it is just the two of them, and he desires to delight in her. She responds by saying that "he must protect her". That there are foxes on the hunt to try to destroy their beautiful garden.

Ok, so I don't know about you but we don't live near the mountains, we (thankfully) have no foxes roaming around, and we definitely don't have a garden (even underneath the 4 feet of snow). People, open your hearts to this! Men, you cannot fully understand the vulnerability that is experienced in being asked to let down that veil and let you truly see. It is ugly scary. Please hear me when I say, that this is not because of any one thing you personally have done. This is the fragility of the woman's heart. She desires to be protected; to know that all is safe before she comes out from behind the rocks. And can I just let one fox out of the bag right now?

Your viewing of pornography is like the Daddy fox of the whole bunch.

The time spent adoring the ladies in your wife's Victoria's Secret catalog leaves a trail riddled with fox poo. (By the way ladies, really? Stop getting that catalog and any others sent to your house. If you love their stuff so much go online or to the mall. Please.)

If she, the woman you see with such love in your eyes, were to unveil herself and give you full access to the depths of her being, you wouldn't want anything to do with those nameless faces anyways. Because the beauty that God has placed in there, in that woman who, by someone else's standards may not be much to look at (ahem, check verses 3-4 of chapter 1- this lady wasn't apparently much to look at either), will allow you both to experience an intimacy that you will never be able to describe.

And let me be clear on something here: that intimacy-the tears streaming down your face kind when you experience a taste of eternity- is not because she is so special. She is a human just like you. This dynamic, this relationship, is a tangible example of how we are to approach and experience our God.

We cannot approach the throne of grace with a heart and mind full of filth. As Paul tells us, we are to renew our minds (Ro. 12:2), we are to set our minds on things above, the things of Christ (Col. 3:2) and intimacy with your spouse is not an exception to this! That secret place-where it's just the two of you and God- is holy ground. Do not come to it with dirty feet.

If I were to go about my day, fully aware of the sins being committed, with a heart unwilling to repent and turn away, there is absolutely no way that the King would unveil Himself to give me a glimpse of His heart when I went to Him. It just wouldn't happen. I would not value it- I would trample it underfoot and continue on in my sin. It is when I am willing to run, not walk, myself and my sin to the foot of the cross and unabashedly ask Him to change my course, that He will begin to lift the veil.

Husbands, it is when you are willing to believe, with your entire being, that intimacy with that woman is immeasurably more valuable and beautiful than any other momentary pleasure a nameless woman could give you, that she will come out... and let me tell you, she will radiate. The garden of your marriage, of your union in Christ, will reap an incredible harvest. And as fruit is made to, that harvest will travel out to your children, your grandchildren... in each moment of intimacy, you are building a very counter-cultural legacy that your children will long to follow.

So, my dear wives following on this prayer journey, today we pray against the foxes. We also pray that we would have the faith to come out from the rocks and allow that vulnerability to be filled with the intimacy of the Spirit by the protection of our men. They may need to run back to the cross, time and time again. We may need to allow the Spirit to heal our wounds. And in the end we must both delight in seeing the beauty in two broken people worshiping the creator in this secret place.

-Laura

Lover of our souls,

How gracious you are to have given us a tangible way to work out this relationship with you. God, this is not a friendship or a work relationship-this is intimacy that we share. It is vulnerable and paved with broken pieces of our hearts, but Lord your beauty radiates through it all. I want to pray very specifically for the "garden" of our love. Lord, show him how to protect it. Give him the strength to call a fox a fox and take it captive. Father God, the enemy will continue to unleash these temptations on him as long as we are on this side of heaven, but I beg you, Lord, to grow him in his strength to fight. Let him be defeated no longer, but be willing to rise up against the enemies schemes! The world may say it is not possible to live outside of this temptation but I proclaim in your name, Jesus, that ANYTHING is possible with you. You did not design the intimacy of this marriage to be a place of fear or timidity, so I ask you to work these things out in us that we may find it to be one of the safest places. Give me the strength to love him freely and to be loved freely in return. Lord, in these secluded moments show us your heart. Show us your intimacy. Show us how deeply you love us. There are billions of people coming together daily, but Lord what you have given in the bonds of marriage is so far above what many of them experience, and I praise you for giving us such an incredible gift. Open our eyes to this reality, allowing us to cherish this gift like the most precious of jewels. Broaden our understanding of it's value that we would be like the man who buried the treasure and then spent all he had to buy the whole field! Our marriages are worth all that we have! So show us what needs to go; what needs to be left behind, so that we might grow in our intimacy with you by growing with each other. Thank you for your deep, holy love, Lord.

It is in the mighty name of Jesus Christ I pray these things.

Amen.

If you so desire, as you soak in this word, enjoy this song. Let it bring joy to your heart that He is so beautiful. That your marriage is so beautiful. That your union is so beautiful.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0_rr1APv6M]

 

 

 

Song of Solomon 2:14-15

[So I went with him, and when we were climbing the rocky steps up the hillside, my beloved shepherd said to me] O my dove, [while you are here] in the seclusion of the clefts in the solid rock, in the sheltered and secret place of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. [My heart was touched and I fervently sang to him my desire] Take for us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards [of our love], for our vineyards are in blossom."

Day 19: Holding On To What's Good

Image-1 (4) "Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil." 1 Thessalonians 5:21

Seeing as tomorrow is day 20, and I plan on writing a lengthier post on a specific subject, I thought I'd set the stage a little bit today. I found this verse and as it tugged on my heart I caught myself molding and shaping it into what I wanted it to speak regarding my blog subject. Turns out, no matter how hard you try, God's word is HIS Word. We can't change it to fit our desires, and that, dear friends, gorgeously brings me to the truth He has asked me to share today.

Verses 19-22 in the Message translation give us a better understanding of the true message behind these words of the Apostle Paul's. "Don't suppress the Spirit, and don't stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don't be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what's good. Throw out anything tainted with evil."

For most of us, we live in the land of plenty. Plenty of objects to own, food to consume and soap boxes to stand on. There is no exception to this in the realm of Christianity either. We have a smorgasbord of men and women who are stepping out in faith (I hope) and proclaiming God's truth (I pray). The sad reality is that not all are from the Spirit. Not all are doing the work of the King of Kings. I am not the one to ask who these individuals are, because truly, when it comes down to it God and ONLY God knows. We can read blog after blog and never know the depth (or lack thereof) of a person's heart for the furthering of the kingdom.

As our men lead us, our children, and other believers around them, they need a sensitive spirit. They need a willing ear to hear the nudge of the Father that says, "Check that out." " Bring that against my Word." Or the merciful hands that wrap around them and say, "My child, this IS who I am. Open your eyes to see for the first time." Because wives, this can go either way. We live in a very cynical culture, and I will be the first to admit that I am usually on guard to most everything. I believe that is what we are to be, as Paul instructs us, but there must also be room to admit that we might not have God totally figured out. There just might be sides of Him He hasn't shown us yet because we were too infantile in our mindset to truly see Him.

So today, carry your husband alongside me as I carry mine, and let's ask our gracious Father to immerse their hearts and minds in His wisdom and to grow them in their discernment, that they may lead us down the path of Truth... the one that's a lot less traveled and takes a lot more strength and awareness to continue on.

Peace to you in whatever you are facing today, dear women.

-Laura

Oh Sweet Savior,

Your grace is boundless and your generosity never runs dry. God I am so thankful that you have chosen us for this time and this place, but Lord I recognize the need for discernment here. As in the years past, there are people among us who desire to bear a false witness, who desire to drive others away from you by proclaiming a very false gospel. As you grow my husband in his depth of knowledge of you and his love for you, I ask you to make his spirit sensitive to your truth. Holy Spirit, move in him in each and every instance where he may perceive information incorrectly. Impress on his heart the need to test everything; to bring everything before you, allowing you to open his heart to new sides of you and to dispel anything that is not of you. Make him strong in this, Lord, that he might lead me in the truth, and test my convictions and my knowledge so that I may not be led astray. Create in him a spirit of conviction and remove any timidity in this, that our children may see him as a source of wisdom in their lives; someone who will always bring them to the truth. I pray that this may become a place of intimacy in his relationship with you, creating a special bond between Father and son. Your beauty is incredible and we will never stop being amazed by it. Continue to reveal yourself to both of us, Lord. Open our eyes to new parts of you that we may have never been ready to see before.

Because of your goodness Lord, I pray these things.

Amen.

Day 17: The God Of All Comfort

Image-1 (3) "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Sometimes, being a woman is just plain dumb. Well, the emotional side of being a woman, anyways. I can't help but think that, on my very worst day, T might think the same thing. The emotions of women are dumb sometimes. When I think back to some of my worst days (ahem, the nightmarish months following the birth of our sweet boy) I praise God for showing T how to comfort me through the ways that he himself has been comforted.

Tonight, as I myself wrap up a stellar day of emotional highs and lows, let's pray for our men to have sensitive spirits to our ever-changing emotions. That they would have patience, and know when to speak and when to just listen. And above all of that, to know that this too shall pass. And may we have the sensitivity to show them comfort when it is needed and how it is needed.

Happy Sabbath, dear women. Enjoy some chocolate today in honor of yours truly.

-Laura

Oh Father God,

Your patience is boundless. I can't wrap my mind around it for I have nothing in me that is even worthy of comparison. I am so grateful to you for always showing up to comfort both my husband and myself in our weakest of moments. The doubly beautiful thing about it is that it has allowed us to learn how to then comfort others. Your storehouse never runs dry, you are always there to show us more compassion, more comfort, more patience, more love... allowing us to work beyond ourselves and show those things to others. I pray specifically for that in our marriage today. Please give us both a sensitive heart towards the other. A willingness to put our needs aside for a moment, when the other really just needs a hug. Give each of us the ability to see that those moments where comfort is needed are of much greater value than any task or distraction calling our names. These working-life-out-together moments are what this marriage and this God-glorifying life are all about. Please don't let us forget that. It is when we are able to accept one another in our weakness and show the love that is needed that we give you such glory, which will in turn radiate to those in our lives who will witness our marriage... our relationship... the support that has been foundational because of you. And Lord, even if I'm being irrational in my momentary hormonal hurricane, give him the patience to wait the storm out alongside me, offering your words of kindness and truth that can sometimes stay locked in his heart. Grow and stretch our communication Lord, and open our eyes to see the fruit of it. Thank you for the beautiful, complicated and ever-changing love that we share. May it bring you glory, Lord Jesus.

In your mighty name,

Amen.

Day 15: Relinquish To The Relentless

Image-1 (2)  

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire     and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 12 You will go out in joy     and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.” - Isaiah 55: 8-13

God is God. Period. His will will be accomplished regardless of any of our resistance, timidity or reserve. But how much more of a ride could it be if we were to just relinquish to the One who is unyielding? If we let Him have His way with us? As Isaiah 55 states, His word will not return to him empty. It will accomplish what He desires.

Today, can we pray that our husbands would truly understand what's waiting on the other side of their resistance?The Message paraphrases verse 13 in this: "All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause. No more thistles, but giant sequoias, no more thornbushes, but stately pines..." Choosing to believe that what He has could be and is better than what we have chosen for ourselves will produce a different, more bountiful harvest of joy. Like comparing a thistle to a sequoia- who in their right mind would choose the thistle when there's a sequoia waiting for them?

He is chasing after that man today. He wants his heart, and He will not relent until His plan has been fulfilled. May they see, as vulnerable as it might be, that He will not back down because He loves them that much. He knows what He wants to do in them and through them for His glory and purpose.

May you see that today too, dear sisters. He's after you.

-Laura

Mighty God,

You are my strong tower. There is never a moment where you do not know where I am. Even in my weakest of moments when I want to hide my face from you, I find comfort in knowing your love is relentless even then. Father, you love this man. You unabashedly and adamantly love him. You have his heart and in the end, you will have your way with him. But Lord, I pray that he wouldn't wait until the end, but would rise up and choose to answer your calling. That his life wouldn't be a series of Jonah moment's but of moments where he feebly and boldly stands up and goes forward, knowing full well just who the God is that has called him. That, like young David, his knowledge of your might would leave no room for fear of man. God, while your love is tender and merciful it is also absolutely powerful and absolutely strong. Show him that, Lord. Maybe even for the first time, show him the mighty force that is your love, and that it will never back down, no matter how hard he protests. Show him the joyful procession that awaits him, if he would only choose to join in. Your name is praised today, Lord God! May the reality of your love wash over both of us like the wind and rain of a hurricane.

In your holy name I pray.

Amen

If you'd like a great sound track for your day today check out "Relentless" by Hillsong United found here.

Day 13: A Higher And Deeper Calling

Image-1 (1) "My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body. Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:20-23

I'm feeling a bit amped  and I believe it has to do with one or all of the following: the medium light roast with white chocolate I just drank (mmmm), the excitement and spiritual whirling in my heart about Holy Yoga Instructor Training beginning tomorrow (eeeeeeeek!) OR  the Spirit  flipping the switch to all kinds of light bulbs in my head over the passage on my heart today. Whatever is causing it, I ask for your patience and grace as I share... this girl has got some major excitement happening on this side of the screen.

On the subject of what our lives look like and who we live them for there's one thing that comes to mind, specifically with husbands, and men in general, in mind. Something that irritates me beyond belief are the stereotype actions, responses and attitudes that men buy into in our society.

Don't show too much emotion.

Make a joke at someone else's expense to look tougher.

Keep your thoughts, musings and whispers of your heart to yourself.

In a conflict with your wife? Just don't say anything at all. She's just going off and being a woman.

I realize that men are different than women. The "whispers of the heart" is a bit of a stretch, but I for one will say that the moments when T has shared his heart with me are ones that I keep very close. I go back to them often because I believe that is a major facet of the intimacy that God designed in marriage.

I read Proverbs 4 today and if T were here with me, you better believe I'd be preaching from the mountaintops to him on the whole chapter. Wisdom, wisdom, WISDOM! I won't make you read the entire chapter if you don't have time, but I do encourage it. If you can read it in the amplified version, please do.

Verses 14-16 say, "Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go your way. For they cannot sleep until they do evil, they are robbed of slumber till they make someone fall." The amplified version says, in verse 16, that they cannot sleep until they have caused trouble or vexation. That word means, "the act of annoying, irritating or vexing." Men are so vexing towards one another! I can't help but wonder if this can leave them fearful of stepping out, taking the right path in each moment they are presented the opportunity, and walking away from people who push them into the stereotypical "man" corners.

So today, can we pray for our men's hearts? That they would take and guard wisdom in their hearts with vigilance? Because I know I've seen my man get backed into that corner far too many times, choosing to fall into the stereotype rather than standing up in wisdom and knowing the value that it has for him in this life.

Be blessed today, beautiful daughters.

-Laura

Lord,

Your wisdom is more valuable than the most precious of jewels, which is why the thought of choosing the labels of this world seems so foolish in comparison. I desperately pray your words of Proverbs 4 over him today. Lord, there are men all around him that buy into the lies and the labels... who can't seem to rest until they have caused unrest in his heart and the hearts of others around him. Please, Father, ignite in him the revelation of the value of your wisdom. Allow him insight into the beautiful reality that you have given him another road, a higher road, that he can travel in each and every instance where someone desires to tear him down. Lord, you have given him the tools, so show him how to guard his heart with vigilance and to step out in bravery. It is in these moments that he can actively choose to live out his life in a worthy manner, honoring you with his speech and his actions. Moment by moment, Spirit, remind him that he has been called higher and deeper than cutting words and "manly" power trips. He has been called to kindness, where more power is found than in any snarky retort ever muttered by the lips of the ensnared. Release in him the freedom that can be felt in acknowledging this truth. God you are so good! May we always remember how much more worth is found in you than any of the emptiness this world has to offer us!

For your glory God!

Amen

If you desire to, here is Chapter 4. Let me know if you feel amped after you let the Spirit settle it in your heart, because I know I sure did.

Proverbs 4 (NIV)

Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. 2 I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. 3 For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother. 4 Then he taught me, and he said to me, “Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live. 5 Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. 6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. 7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get[a] wisdom. Though it cost all you have,[b] get understanding. 8 Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. 9 She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.”

10 Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. 11 I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. 12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. 13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. 14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. 15 Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. 16 For they cannot rest until they do evil; they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble. 17 They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. 19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.

20 My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. 21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; 22 for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. 23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. 24 Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. 25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. 26 Give careful thought to the[c] paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. 27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

And in the Amplified to really just hit it home:

Hear, my sons, the instruction of a father, and pay attention in order to gain and to know intelligent discernment, comprehension, and interpretation [of spiritual matters].

2 For I give you good doctrine [what is to be received]; do not forsake my teaching.

3 When I [Solomon] was a son with my father [David], tender and the only son in the sight of my mother [Bathsheba],

4 He taught me and said to me, Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live.

5 Get skillful and godly Wisdom, get understanding (discernment, comprehension, and interpretation); do not forget and do not turn back from the words of my mouth.

6 Forsake not [Wisdom], and she will keep, defend, and protect you; love her, and she will guard you.

7 The beginning of Wisdom is: get Wisdom (skillful and godly Wisdom)! [For skillful and godly Wisdom is the principal thing.] And with all you have gotten, get understanding (discernment, comprehension, and interpretation).

8 Prize Wisdom highly and exalt her, and she will exalt and promote you; she will bring you to honor when you embrace her.

9 She shall give to your head a wreath of gracefulness; a crown of beauty and glory will she deliver to you.

10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings, and the years of your life shall be many.

11 I have taught you in the way of skillful and godly Wisdom [which is comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God]; I have led you in paths of uprightness.

12 When you walk, your steps shall not be hampered [your path will be clear and open]; and when you run, you shall not stumble.

13 Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.

14 Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.

15 Avoid it, do not go on it; turn from it and pass on.

16 For they cannot sleep unless they have caused trouble or vexation; their sleep is taken away unless they have caused someone to fall.

17 For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.

18 But the path of the [uncompromisingly] just and righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines more and more (brighter and clearer) until [it reaches its full strength and glory in] the perfect day [to be prepared].

19 The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.

20 My son, attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings.

21 Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart.

22 For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh.

23 Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.

24 Put away from you false and dishonest speech, and willful and contrary talk put far from you.

25 Let your eyes look right on [with fixed purpose], and let your gaze be straight before you.

26 Consider well the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established and ordered aright.

27 Turn not aside to the right hand or to the left; remove your foot from evil.

Day 9: Awaken Pure Joy In You

Image "And David danced before the Lord with all his might, clad in a linen ephod." 2 Samuel 6:14

Let me just get this out of the way right off the bat: I'm not about to suggest we pray that our husbands dance around in ephods. At least not in front of any other eyes than our own. But I do think we should pray that they would  unashamedly dance. Allow me to elaborate.

Today I found myself listening to some old music that T and I used to enjoy in our youthful courtship days, making silly videos on my so cool macbook, lip-syncing ourselves silly. I like thinking on those memories, how it felt being so young and free of the weight of worry and adulthood and responsibilities. I would not, however, care to go back to that woman, nor would I want T to go back to that man. With trials and hardship comes wisdom and I would take that over macbook lip-sync videos any day.

In reading about David today, I am drawn to the above verse. David had recently conquered Jerusalem,  defeated the Philistines and was now transporting the Ark of the Lord (talk about a high pressure task). Take a minute and think of David in real-life terms, not just a person in a book. He was real; his emotions, levels of stress, and inability to handle said stress well were just like ours are. And yet he, "danced before the Lord with all his might."

Wives, our husbands carry so much in leading, providing, caring and loving. Today, let's pray that the Lord would wake within them and allow them to dance before Him in praise of all He is, all He has done and all He has promised.

Laura

Father in Heaven,

You have placed quite a task before this man, and you have done so knowing full well that He is capable of not only accomplishing it but giving you glory at the same time. Lord, you have placed so much joy inside of us in giving us the Holy Spirit. Please awaken that joy in him. Even in the most stressful of days, let loose the freedom inside of him to sing and dance for you, for himself and just for the pure joy of it. Thank you, that even in the most stressful or uncertain of times, you have not taken your joy from him. You know the plans that you have for him, to prosper him and give him a hope and future, so free him of the chains of worry and show him how to dance. Give him a heart like David, that is unashamed of the joy bursting inside of him because of you. Rid him of the desire to "cover up" with the stereotypes of this world and to vulnerably and unabashedly love you and in turn love me, our family and those around us better. It's in your worthy Name I pray. Amen.

P.S. I highly recommend doing a little dancing of your own to the song "Wake" by Hillsong Young & Free. You can find it on Spotify.