Looking To The Right Or Left | A Blog on Worship & The People Around Us

“My friend, this is what we were designed for. We were made to worship, the only problem is that we often worship those around us more than we worship the One who made us. There’s so much talk about the worship of other things, but maybe we need to start talking about how many of us are worshipping one another?

Through comparison, through envy, through striving to keep up with the Joneses, we are in many ways worshipping each other and they ways we believe we can be satisfied through relationships.”

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P E A C E & loss | A Blog for Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day

It passed without me realizing it, as it usually does. It’s been almost exactly 4 years since we went to that doctors appointment and saw nothing instead of something. I still remember the confusion on Thomas’ face… how do you understand everything and nothing all at the same time?

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I remember this girl above. Newly pregnant and so excited about the things to come. Sometimes I look at her and cringe a bit at the events that are about to unfold. If only she hadn’t gone on that road trip to Chicago. Maybe she wouldn’t have gotten that blood clot that might have caused her miscarriage. The thing with if only statements in that we see things one-sided. Had the events not unfolded as they did, would we have had our sweet Hazel? An answer I’ll never be able to find, but what I do know is that God works everything together for our good. And His. And He wanted Hazel to set her feet on the soil of this earth.

Then last year another loss, one unexpected in so many more ways than just the obvious. The pregnancy was a surprise; the loss left me utterly perplexed. What was it for, Lord? I guess we find those answers along the way, but we can’t let the answers be our destination. Our destination must always be closeness with Christ.


My grief has worn a lot of different shades over these last 4 years, and I imagine it will continue to change in the years to come. The mistake I’ve made is in thinking that I’ve finished grieving, or that I will one day. I’m thinking, today anyways, that if we ever got to a place where we were done grieving the things that cause us pain in this life, then we’d have no need for the peace of Christ.

I forgot I needed it for awhile.

Around Christmas time last year I went to a church service specifically for those grieving the loss of a loved one. I went for my grandma, and I realized not too far into it that I was really there for my babes. I was recognizing the places in me that had yet to accept their swift journey Home. Maybe this was the cause for the anxiety always on the rise inside of me?

My pregnancy with Hazel was full of depression and anxiety, which was odd because I felt the best I’ve ever felt when I carried Malachi. I didn’t know a person could become depressed during pregnancy, and unfortunately I had to learn that in real-time. And then that anxiety never really went away. Like my grief, it just sort of took on another shade, and I learned how to live amongst it. But it was always there, creeping up on me and doing a dang good job of sounding convincing.

Amidst a hurricane of anxiety and fear this week, the Lord kindly called my attention to Philippians 4:6-7:

“Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.”

I don’t know the answer to this anxiety that has come upon me since the loss of our first babe other than it comes when I saturate my life with prayer each. and. every. day. His peace was there in that doctors office. And on that phone call. And in that hospital room. And as we faced one another and soaked our pillows with tears.

What I know is He is good. And that His peace is a promise He will always keep.

There's a peace far beyond all understanding
May it ever set my heart at ease
What anxiety fails to remember is peace is a promise You keep
Peace is a promise You keep

-Peace | Hillsong Young & Free



To that girl down there who was about to enter into a kind of heartbreak she’d never known before, what I know to be true is that God will be faithful. He sees you, He loves you, and He is already working everything out in a way that will leave you feeling the unexplainable peace and contentment that only He can give.

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To every person out there who is living their days as the “1” they refer to in the 1 in 4 who will experience miscarriage or infant loss, your story and their little life, is immeasurably valuable. I’m grateful for a God who is still good, even through life’s greatest hurts.

Reflections From Acts 9 | The Unmentioned Aspects of Conversion

You know that Enneagram train everyone is riding these days? Yep. I’m on it. Maybe it’s because I am unashamedly curious about all the ways I can get better at being Laura, or maybe it’s because I weirdly like having spelled-out before me the areas that I am weak and need improving. Whatever the reason, the Enneagram has me hooked and I want to know everyone’s number and talk about all the ways we can become the best versions of ourselves. (For those dying to know… I’m a 9 ;) )

What’s crazy about the Enneagram is that the belief behind the system is that we take on the version of ourselves that we are as adults when we are children. So it’s not necessarily that we were born this way, but rather that life circumstances and choices forced us to put on a certain self as a coping mechanism or a way of navigating our own little worlds, and thus we became the people we are today.

It’s fascinating to me just how influential our surroundings are in the people we become. Where we lived, who we spent our time with, the kinds of food, music, and activities we consumed—it all weaves together the tapestry that is each individual person.

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Our surroundings shape the pages that write the beginnings of our lives.

I wonder at the details of Paul’s surroundings early on in his life. (Or Saul, rather, at that point in time.) The book of Acts tells us that he was a severe man, with a fiery intentionality for whatever he set out to do. In the case of the early church, Saul set out to persecute and rid the world of all those who claimed to be followers of Jesus Christ.

Later on, after his conversion, he tells us that he was as straight as they came in terms of his Hebrew heritage and way of living. Not only did he dot every “i” and cross every “t”, he did it better than all the rest. So the pride, and social status that fueled his actions was likely of astronomical proportions (Acts 22:1-5).

In his circle, he was doing all the right things.

And then Jesus Christ, the One Saul had devoted all of his time, energy, and resources to slander, intersects his life in a blinding way, and everything in Saul’s life turns upside down.

[You can read the story of the road to Damascus in Acts 9:1-18. What I want to point out are the days following this miraculous conversion.]

Verse 19 of chapter 9 tells us that,

He spent a lot of time with the disciples in Damascus over the next several days.”

As I read that I wondered, what about all the guys he was traveling with, all on their way to persecute believers in Damascus? Paul had made a HUGE decision to follow Jesus. And he didn’t do it privately so that no one in his regular life knew about it. He was baptized and proceeded to then spend all of his time with those he had intended to kill.

What did his friends think? His family? His boss? The other Jewish believers who saw him as a wise and powerful man “on their side”?

He had ditched his comrades and the life he lived before that moment he met Jesus, and the word spread quickly.

At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts 9:20-22 | NIV).

Paul had “everything to lose” and yet he knew that he had, in fact, gained everything the moment he gave his life to Christ. People were dumbfounded that this man was now living for the One with whom he had devoted his life to wiping out. As I read this, I am floored by the reality that we as believers live our lives so ashamed of this incredible gift we have been given. We try to hide from a watching world the eternal life and salvation we have been given through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

There is so much we can learn from Paul—God knew the tenacity with which this man would get after anything he was passionate about, so He made sure Paul would be passionate about His Son.

Couldn’t that be true of you and I, too?

He knows the exact way He wants to use you and your commitment to Christ to influence your surroundings. He knows the head-strong people you work with, or share a family name and genetics with. He knows the story of your past and all the ways people like to define you by it. He knows where you’ve been and He knows where you’re going. And He wants His Name to be what defines your life from here on out.

So don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid of who you were or who they are. Perfect love drives out fear, and His love in you and for you and through you is perfect. He knows how to wash-white your past, He knows how to supply your every present need, and He knows how to lovingly navigate your future, so that His Name would be made great through your passionate love of His Son.

So can you and I be like Paul, and run head-long towards the One from which we have been given true and lasting LIFE? Can we cease caring about how life will go on for those around us, and start leaning in and doing life with those who are devoted to Jesus, trusting that He will use our stories to speak to the hearts of those who have influenced us before we met Christ?

It wasn’t easy for Paul, at first. But he pressed on, and was given an advocate—someone to encourage him, guide him, and support him on his journey towards complete devotion to Christ. RPromise me you’ll read the rest of the story—it can be found here. If you are new to your faith, like Paul was here, find yourself a Barnabas. If you can’t, then pray with boat-loads of faith that God would bring you one. His heart is not for you to do this life of faith alone, so broaden your vantage point and start looking to places you’ve never looked before. I promise you, you’ll find your Barnabas.

What could happen to this lost and lonely world if we all turned and followed like Paul did? Lord, would you do this again in each one of our lives; that Your church would grow and the lost would be found in Jesus.

Giving Myself Up to God's Plan

But that’s not what Jesus says in Mark 8.

Because I don’t want to follow you, or you, or you. I want to follow Jesus. And He makes it pretty clear that if He is to be my Lord, then I need to get over my own ideas about what my life should (or could) look like, and relent to His plan—His way—not because He is a Lord who withholds, but one who gives in abundance. In an age where we follow people all the time, I believe there needs to be a major revival in our understanding of what it is to have a Lord. We need to look at what Jesus is not saying in this verse in Mark 8—He isn’t saying that we get all the benefits of salvation while getting to keep our lives as we think they should be. Give ourselves up to God’s plan. Take up our crosses. Follow HIM. We need to do as the disciples did and throw it all away to go where He is going and do what He is doing.

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Reflections From Mark 5 | That Woman Who Dared To Believe

We're adjusting to a new normal over here these days. With M now away at school most days, I find myself actually free to do some of the things I regularly tuck away in the back of my mind and never find time to dig out again. Really, by "some" things I mean one: writing.

Another activity that's been quietly beckoning my attention again is journaling--the lack of which leaves me feeling embarrassed and exasperated. Who has time to journal? My abide time so easily turns into a quick read (or a long one) without the effort to process and pray through what He showed me. Man, I used to journal all the time, and I can see the shift in my heart and mind because I've neglected to make the effort. Dang.

It's funny, because for whatever reason (or an all too-intentional one) I've had this line from a video at church this last weekend constantly on my mind. Something to the affect of,

"I kept spending time with Jesus, and at first it was difficult and took a lot of effort, and then eventually it became natural and easy to be with Him."

I remember hearing that and thinking, "time with Jesus difficult? Pff! How could time with Jesus be difficult?" And then, not too soon to be embarrassing but soon enough to sting a little, I remembered just how painstakingly difficult it feels for me to journal.

Well geez.

So I guess this is why that line keeps hanging around. I, Laura, admit that it is difficult for me to spend time with Jesus with a pen in my hand and paper on my lap. Can't we just talk about it via my thoughts? That's so much more accessible to me when I've got to deal with H whining at me, demanding more cookies or cereal or Moana.

Turns out, one-sided dialogue via my scrambled thoughts isn't exactly amounting to a real relationship with my Lord. So today, after we sent the big boy off on the bus (which, for those wondering, is getting easier. K, you were all right.), I hunkered down on the couch with my Bible AND my journal, gave H some Sesame Street crackers for breakfast (#winning at this mom thing) and dove back into Mark 5, where I left off yesterday.

I made it a whole 2 verses before I had a thought cross my mind that I just had to journal about. Two pages later, I had processed through this crazy cool revelation of who Christ is. (And if you want, I'll share that one with you.) Then I made it a whole ZERO verses down through that story because the story within the story caused me to stop and write AGAIN (for Pete's sakes, Lord let Hazel be eerily pleased with these crackers and Moana in the background because I can't stop now!). And this is what I want to share with you today.

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We know her. The bleeding woman. This woman, for a long season of my life, gave me so much comfort, because I felt like she would've known my own pain well. She bled for 12 years. I bled for 5. Maybe if she had been sick during our time of medical advancement, she wouldn't have suffered for quite as long. Regardless, she was a woman who had been forced to define her life by her body and how it was failing her. She didn't know how to control it. She spent everything she had to try to fix it. She was cast out because of it. She was a desperate woman, left with an out-of-her-control body, and if I were a betting gal, I'd put money on her slowly losing a grip on the woman she was before this all began.

She was the bleeding woman.

Many of us have our own version of this story. The thing that happened to us that was out of our control, and has therefore become our identity. Disease, abuse, circumstances out of your control, born into a seemingly inescapable world of sin. So much of life is about what's happening around us, and if we don't intentionally find our identity in the One who made us, we will identity with that which is the easiest to claim.

You may come from a family of addicts, but your identity in Christ is that of adopted child of the King.

You may have been wronged physically, emotionally, or verbally, but your identity is one rescued by the One True Victor, Jesus Christ.

You may have a body that seemingly "fails" you every day, resistant to your efforts to find health and answers. But your identity is found in your Heavenly realities--that this life and this body is not your own, but for the telling of the story of the Gospel that says you aren't Home yet, and if this failing body is the vehicle that takes you there, then hallelujah amidst the pain and sorrow.

We all relate to the bleeding woman in some way. Which is why I can't not tell you what He showed me this morning.

Jesus is on His way, with His disciples and a man named Jairus, to see Jairus' daughter. Mark specifically tells us that there were people pressing into Jesus on all sides. And there's this woman, with this faith that could barely be contained inside her weak body, who believes that if she can at least touch His cloak, she will be healed. Scripture tells us in Mark 5:29, "As soon as her fingers brushed His cloak, the bleeding stopped. She could feel that she was whole again."

First of all--brushed His cloak--for goodness sakes she didn't even have to GRAB ONTO His cloak and she was healed. Immediately this disease that not only consumed her body physically, but changed every single aspect of her life, was gone. Amidst a crowd of people all around her, the most incredible thing that would ever happen to her in her lifetime, took place. And here's the clincher:

Had Jesus not stopped and asked a question (one I believe He very well knew the answer to) no one would've known it.

"He stopped. Everyone stopped. He looked around.

'Who just touched My robe?'"

God is omniscient--all-knowing--so this question is really for the benefit of everyone else. In the tizzy of people following Him to watch Him do the thing they had all heard He could do, which was bring someone back from the dead, He caused them all to stop. 

I find what the Disciples did next to be entertaining, mostly because it's what many of us do in the church all the time. Amidst the likely awkward silence, the disciples offer up a little bit of that holy common sense that we are all-too good at giving.

They had to remind Him that the crowd was thick, so obviously someone had touched Him. What's with the question then, boss?

"But Jesus waited" (vs 32)

He didn't answer them. He waited. He looked for her. He knew her, and He waited for her to have the courage to step out and grab hold of that which had been done for her.

"At last, the woman--knowing He was talking about her--pushed forward and dropped to her knees. She was shaking with fear and amazement."

You know that feeling--when the Spirit is like, "Hey, I'm picking you to share. I'm not going to stop tapping your shoulder until you open your mouth and start talking!" Jesus just waited. No amount of common sense observations from His disciples would cause Him to let this moment pass by. This woman needed to proclaim what He had done for her. 

For her benefit and for theirs.

As I journaled through this I wondered 2 things:

1) How many others had received their own silent miracle at the touch of Jesus? Had He not paused, this woman's story would've gone undocumented. So who else received a new life, a new identity, simply at His touch?

2) Had she not voiced her miracle, would she have truly moved forward made-whole? When you find your identity in your circumstances for years on end, how do you suddenly stop slapping that label on yourself? How would she, in a place where physical illness made her unclean and unable to be in certain places and around certain people, have gone on healed and whole, without somehow letting others see it for themselves? I believe Jesus knew this. I believe He knew her propensity to throw that label back on herself, and I believe He knew the likelihood of others continuing to shun her despite this miraculous healing. And so He called her out. He made her talk.

And because of it, countless people have been spurred on to have faith like that of the bleeding woman. I sure wish I knew her name, because even now it seems unfitting to identity her with what no longer suits her.

There are people who are longing for a story of faith to help spur them on in their own journey... dare I say, your story. I believe that Jesus pauses and waits for each of us to open our mouths and to tell those around us of the miracles He is doing in our lives. Where is He showing us our freedom and redemption? Where is He fighting our battles for us? Where is He bringing peace despite our pain?

He waits for you to come forward. And He'll wait as long as it takes.

Verse 34 is the cherry on top, in my opinion: "Daughter, you are well because you dared to believe. Go in peace, and stay well." Oh how He knows our tendency to go backwards, even if it's back into illness or sin. So He sends her off with peace and the command to keep her feet firmly planted on this new ground He has given her.

Phew. What an incredible insight into such a special story. My prayer is that we would never assume we know the stories of Jesus. We just simply don't. God is far too intentional to ever be fully known, even in the retelling of His time here on earth by mere men. 

Go tell your story. Step forward and let the world around you know who this Jesus is that you call your Lord! Let Him get His glory.


Lord, keep my eyes ever-open to who You are. Let me never assume that I know You "well-enough". And give me the courage to come forward in the crowds and tell of what You have done for me.

Going Without: What I Learned From Two Months "Unplugged"

Well, it's November 30th. I told myself (and everyone else) that December 1st was the day. It might seem silly to make any sort of hoopla over coming back to "life" (cue Soul II Soul's "Back To Life") after a two month hiatus but if we are all honest with ourselves, being connected to everyone all the time has truly become our life, and in many ways it's a shame. The other interesting thing about this feeling I feel is that no one is forcing me to plug back in. I could extend this break for many more months or, dare I say it, follow the footsteps of the very few who don't have a social media account of any kind. While there have definitely been thoughts swirling that entertain that end, I've learned a few things that will allow a clearer and healthier perspective on social media as it stands with me, Laura. They may not be revolutionary, and they may be seemingly insignificant, but I find myself treasuring them, holding them close to my heart like rare gems, and it's likely best that they are extended to potentially serve the greater good.

 

What I learned is as follows:

 

Facebook won't let you break up with it:

You know those girls that, after a break up, keep talking as if that conversation just never happened? They make plans for the weekend, they speak of their boyfriend in the present tense as opposed to the past... well, Facebook and that girl have a lot in common. When one ceases to open their facebook app or access it via web browser, facebook begins to email you what others are up to. Comments on photos you are not tagged in, posts regarding people you  don't know, events that quite literally have absolutely nothing to do with you, and facebook thinks it's absolutely imperative that you know about all of it. So they email you. A few times a day. Every day. She won't let you break up with her and it's super obnoxious.

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Being "left out" of all the crazy is wildly liberating:

I had the PRIVILEGE of missing out on allllllllll of the election crazy because accessing social media wasn't an option for me. Did I survive? Yes. Did I still make an informed decision on voting day? Absolutely. Did I do my own research and listen to my own musings on both candidates? Oh Heck Yes. For real people, when the crazy ball starts to roll, just unplug. 

You do not have to sit and stay in the seat of scoffers (Ps. 1:1-3 AMP). 

My day's "insignificant moments" are very, very significant:

One morning I was standing next to the kitchen counter, where #HazieBaby was lounging in her bouncy seat and our eyes locked for what felt like hours. My face began to hurt from smiling and cooing at her endlessly and as the moment dragged on I found myself realizing what I could have (and normally would have) been doing instead of this--mindlessly bouncing her whilst scrolling my feed, getting my morning fix and missing the magic taking place in her eyes. How many of those moments, while not "life-changing", are being missed because something inside of me thinks that life is found "out there" instead of in here, in this very home and with these very people? One of the most powerful things my eyes have been opened to these past months is the magic that is taking place every single day right here under this very roof. Fellowship has happened here, peace has been found here, laughter has been shared over and over and over again, whether with a multitude of friends or simply between two souls in the quiet hours of the night. The insignificant minutes of my day have become the ones that fuel my spirit and remind me of the rich goodness of my God. He is found in the big, triumphant things but He is also found in just as profound of a way in the eyes and the voices of my three loves.

Beautiful community is right outside the door:

I am so immensely blessed to have deep and meaningful relationships with people all over the country. I've learned, however, how to invest in the people who are right here beside me, doing the mom-life, wife-life and ministry-life, and it's been really sweet. Seeing kids play, growing and learning beside one another, and getting to flesh out community here in my own living room has filled me in ways that I didn't even realize needed filling. The people around you are worth taking the time to invest in. God knew what He was doing when He placed you where He did, and turning your eyes to virtual community at the cost of physical is far too high of a price to pay. Dig deep where you are and see your spirit flourish. 

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Meaningful relationships can withstand the miles:

While I've learned how to invest in those around me, I've also grown to appreciate and value the relationships God has given me that are held together by technology. My ministry, my job and many of my soul-friendships are held together and nurtured via text message, social media and phone calls. While it is easy to buy into the lie that those friendships aren't "real" (as I usually hear it), I've learned just how much these women mean to me--how they inspire me, how they encourage me and challenge me and how much my own life is enriched by getting to witness them living theirs. **There is no shortage of people who will suck the life out of you with their social media presence. Cut the cord on that and let the time you do spend scrolling be filled with those who point you towards the beauty, love and grace that is found in this world. There are a lot of them. If you want a list to refer to just check out my instagram account. There are also a multitude of arrows that the enemy will throw when trying to clean up our social media intake--proclaim the name of Jesus over any lie that leaves you feeling "less-than" anyone you are looking at on social media. You are you and she is she. Both beautiful.** Also, on the note of long-distance friendships, make phone calls, send text messages and use as many GIFs as possible. Laughter travels the miles, as do tears. Make the effort. 

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My son's behavior does not improve--but my attitude does:

If you are anything like me, you have had a moment or two (or twenty) where you have barked at your kid because they've done something naughty/annoying/bad while you are on your phone. This, unfortunately, is an all-too common occurrence in our day. Because I wasn't engrossed in a life that wasn't "present" I was able to be engrossed in the life that was. M's behavior did not magically improve, but because I was fully present in our home my response to him was more gracious (still not always as gracious as it could've been). I wasn't distracted. My mind was fully engaged in my job as mom. And I could see how deeply M's little heart needed that from me. 

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It's okay to be in the dark:

Did I have my moments of panic when a friend mentioned something major in their life and I was completely clueless? Absolutely. Did I survive that? Yes. There's nothing wrong with saying, "oh my goodness I had no idea! Tell me about it." Looking or feeling dumb is not nearly as scary and awful as our insecurity leads us to believe. You move on and you build deeper roots in your relationships because the effort to know what is happening in the lives of others leaves them feeling cared for and loved. It's a win-win. 

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My little family is my biggest "thing":

As a follower of Christ I feel this large call on my life to do something big for the Kingdom of God. I often get caught up in the inspirational/writing side of social media and inevitably catch my thoughts lingering around the topics of likes, followers and comments. I've grown, however, to deeply appreciate my impact here in my home. I've learned and lived out the reality that if all I ever did was mother these two beautiful kids and support this incredible man, that would be a full and mighty life lived for God. To give my husband my full and undivided attention is not only an invaluable gift, it's the way of living I committed to when I said, "I do". To dream of the things my children will one day do for the Kingdom of God, and to pray powerful prayers over them, believing in this honorable seat I sit in as their mom, is just the way this role of "mother" was structured when God called me to it. I've learned to refuse to let the outer world get the parts of me that my inner world needs more. They will forever give me a better return on my investment than anyone else ever could because they are the people God placed around me to love me the fiercest and support me the most.

Time allotted for God to move rarely turns out as expected:

I imagined these months to be filled with my own personal blogging and lots and lots of reading. It's been full of big, powerful things--things I didn't even know I needed to walk into in my life--and none of them were blogged about. I had expected some loud and audacious movement from my God for such a bold and selfless step (cue the apathetic applause) but the truth is, stepping away from my false god is not something that should warrant me any sort of applause or pat on the back. It is something that should be done often and done with conviction. He may whisper or He may shout, but the volume to which He responds can never be the motivation. He has been gentle with me--simple, as I put it early on--and yet in that simplicity it has been like the richest and most wonderful of delicacies. 

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Everything you experience can be shared but not everything you experience must be shared with everyone:

Hazie still turned 2 and 3 months old over this time, and I still shared her photo, but it was with those close to me via text message and not with the "masses" that is my social media following. T got his very first piece of police officer apparel and I got to capture that  smile of his in my memory and not on my instagram account. M turned 4 and our house was packed to the gills, and the laughter and bustle of 20 kids in our home was enjoyed and shared with all those present. Each of those moments and all of the feelings I felt so deep within me were still meaningful and powerful and sweet--even if their memory is not forever archived online. I've learned to appreciate photo-taking for the joy of it and for the way it freezes a moment in time forever and not just because it allows people to come to some flighty conclusion of what my life is like. Photography is an incredible gift we have been given, and I will continue to take advantage of every opportunity to freeze in time this beautiful life of mine. I only get one and man, by the grace of God, it's a really good one.  

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Everyone should take some sort of break from social media--this time has been invaluable to me and to my family. I exchanged familiarity and temporary fulfillment for a greater understanding of what my life really is--the four of us wildly chasing after God, loving one another and loving Christ, and deeply grateful for the forgiveness we have been given.  Do you need to take two months off? No. Two months was the time given to me by the Spirit to accomplish what He needed to accomplish in me.  But if you want to be able to grow in your appreciation for the life you are living, then get with God and ask Him what He wants from you.

Then commit.

Let your "no" be "no".

When you mess up repent.

And take your commitment seriously. Because for as seriously as you take your commitment God will seriously do a work in you.

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Here's to prayerfully and slowly entering back in. Holy Spirit, be swift in your conviction, lest I leave behind all the richness You have given me.

Exile

Hey. It's been awhile. Life has been crazy, a little bit disjointed at times, and not-surprisingly covered in the goodness of God. His plan is always so far beyond my realm of understanding and He is so patient with me. I'm so thankful for that. I'm also thankful that He chooses not to let me in on His plans too far in advance. I enjoy being surprised in life, and I also don't have the capacity to not freak when I don't understand where He is going with me.

So it's good.

While I haven't been blogging as much, and I haven't been keeping up with my year of freedom, I've been digging deep into His Word and finding freedoms I didn't know I was in need of. If you aren't aware, I've been contributing over at Brooke Boon's blog and have had the privilege of working more with the ministry of Holy Yoga. There's been a whole lot of busy and it's been really, really good--even if some days I feel I'm not enough for the task. He says I am and for me, that's more than good enough.

I have, however, been feeling the tug to share more of what He's been opening up to me in our time together. So today, that is what I intend to do. While it feels a lot like describing to you each individual piece of gold in a giant treasure cove, it's a task I am more than willing and honored to take on.

So let's get going.

If you know a bit of our story you know that we have had our fair share of tumultuous seasons. Somewhere in my little mind I thought that once we were done with the military we would be done with our problems--at least for awhile. The trouble with circumstantial thinking like that is that we place blame where it doesn't belong, or we look at the problem as just that--a problem--instead of seeing it as a season of refinement or maybe even a saving grace from something that would have left us worse off. T and I are so guilty of blaming everything on the army. And I mean ev-er-y-thing. In hindsight I see God keeping us from things, preparing us for things and sometimes just outright leaving us to our own false gods.

Today I was reading in Jeremiah and came across a slightly (and I mean slightly) paralleled story of the people of Israel and Judah being exiled to Babylon. The land was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar and the people were forced to leave their homeland.  But they did not leave without a promise from their High King.

"'The days are coming', declares the Lord, 'when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their forefathers to possess,' says the Lord."-Jeremiah 30:3 [NIV]

Before we entered into the hard season of military life we knew the promises of our High King. We just chose not to keep them ever on our hearts and minds. We let circumstances take the place of truth and our emotions and understanding followed suit.

Ferguson-57
Ferguson-57

Before we entered into the hard season of loss we knew the promises of our merciful Father. As we wrestled with the loss of our baby we knew that He was still good. That He was still loving. And that He had a better plan somehow, even if it meant we would suffer for a time. Choosing to keep this at the forefront of our minds and hearts carried us through deep grief and physical pain. But hear me when I say that it did not make the "bad" feelings go away. They still came, along with questions and words cried out in anger. So many times I longed for "home"--the place where things felt right and the pain ceased. At the end of each of those days, or even each feeling as it came, was the choice to believe God for His Word. To choose to believe Him instead of our circumstance. To know that "home" was coming.

As I entered into a very difficult season of revelation of sin in my marriage I had a choice:

Mercy or Anger.

Love or Fear.

Jesus or sin.

While this was not a circumstance I would have ever chosen for myself, it was a necessary one. It was necessary for the depth of pain caused by sin to be revealed to my husband. For him to see firsthand what the poison of darkness can do to a marriage--to his marriage. Friends, I clung to the promises of my God like I've never clung before. And you know what? He never let me down. Not once. And He never let my husband down. And because of that He has done a good and miraculous work that will, in turn, never let our children down. We have, by the mercy and grace of God, been taken from that place of exile and my deepest hearts-cry is to never go back.

We can live by our circumstances or we can live by His word.

“‘So do not be afraid, Jacob my servant;do not be dismayed, Israel,’declares the Lord.‘I will surely save you out of a distant place,your descendants from the land of their exile.Jacob will again have peace and security,and no one will make him afraid.I am with you and will save you,’declares the Lord." -Jeremiah 30:10-11 [NIV]

The truth is that our home, the place where we don't need to make the choice between circumstance and Jesus, is awaiting us. He promises that we will return to where He always intended us to be. Our exile is for a time and for His purposes. But it is not our reality--our reality is Jesus and in Jesus is full life, even if our circumstances and our sin say otherwise. We don't deserve this home He has created for us. The stench of our sin in pungent and the affect is widespread. But just as He promised Israel and Judah thousands of years ago, He too promises us, and because of Jesus these promises are ours to take hold of today:

He is with you and will save you.

Peace and security is yours.

He will bring you back home.

If you are in a place of exile today, friend, don't let go of His promise to you. Keep your eyes locked on His. Let your knuckles be white by the strength of your hold on Him. Home is coming. He is the One you worship--not your circumstances.

Walking with you,

laura b
laura b