My Birthday | A Post About Whimsy & My Mid-Thirties

I stood with my back to the counter in our kitchen. My husband, the young one that he is, held out his hands and said with glowing eyes and a wide, w i d e smile, “Laura! You are officially in your mid-thirties!(!!!!!!!!!!!)” My eyes rolled then just as they are now.

Friends, today I turn 34.

Sometimes I think it’s the fact that I cannot imagine myself being “old”, but the truth is, by all life-experience accounts, I’m excited for the growth in wisdom and experience that lies ahead. I’m excited to watch my children grow and to get to participate with them as they walk into the fullness of their creation. I’m excited to get to save for those bucket list moments like bringing our kids to the Black Hills, or getting to finally take that dream trek up the west coast with my 3 favorite people in tow. I’m excited for the day I’ll get to stay up and play games and eat popcorn until midnight with them, and for the mornings us parents can actually leisurely rise because the children are old enough to fend for themselves (and survive).

There’s a lot of really great things to look forward to, and that’s just a morsel of things pertaining to this little family of mine alone. I cannot wait for the friendships that will blossom in the years ahead, the new places we’ll call home one day, the sides of those we know and love that we will come to learn through shared meals and campsites and heartache.

Life is dang beautiful, and I’m putting another tick on the board of years I’ve gotten to experience it.

So what’s with the uneasiness in my belly about turning 34? If I know that I know that I would never trade the wisdom gained to go back a decade, then, what’s behind the resistance to welcome a new year with open arms?

I think it’s whimsy.

When I ask myself why, this is what I come up with. There’s this whimsy about youth—carefree and ready for all that life will hold. Teen years hold within them all of the potential for what you might become. What job you’ll have, where you’ll go to school. Twenties hold within them the excitement of truly entering adulthood. New jobs. New relationships. New homesteads. And for some, commitments that will carry them to the end of their lives. This was true for me and it was exciting, challenging, and beautiful.

But thirties. There’s this air of hunkering down; whether it’s because kids are growing older, or jobs are getting serious and you’re doing things like buying houses and cars that mean you have to keep that job and stay put because everything depends on it.

And hunkering down sounds like the antithesis of whimsy.

So here I sit, in that literal transition from one year to another, wishing I could bend the ear of that little girl who used to put on dance shows in the living room and run with arms flailing across the great big back yard clothed in nothing but a swimsuit and sheer joy. That little girl with big hazel eyes and a boyish haircut who’s favorite thing was using her imagination. Who wrote love letters to Devon Sawa and clung to boy bands like barnacles to a boat.

What would she tell me about today?

I think she’d say that 34 is a number and I actually have the choice to embrace as much whimsy as I’m willing to welcome. I can choose to hunker down and survive or I can choose to embrace each and every opportunity to live in the magic of the life God has given me.

I think she’d tell me to stop being so serious—that we could work on that together. I think she’d tell me to buy a pet bunny and invite it to tea (an activity she hosted often). I think she’d ask me all about the man she’d one day marry—do his eyes sparkle when he looks at us? What does it feel like when he holds our hand? Do we dance together in the kitchen when our favorite song comes on?

Then I think she’d want to know about the kids she always dreamed of—Who are they? Do they look like us? Do we paint with them and explore and have dance parties together? Do they like to dunk Oreos between their pointer and middle or are they sort that hold it with their thumb and pointer finger? Do they love playing grocery store as much as we do? What do their laughs sound like?

I’m so grateful for that girl—little Lulu. She’s a pretty special girl, and I find the older I get, the more I am trying to be like her. While I don’t have the slightest idea of what’s ahead of me in this, my 35th trip around the sun, one thing I do know—for all of my days, I will give Him praise, for He has given me this one, good thing: a life beyond my life, where the beauty of this one will collide with the perfection of the one to come, and I will fully, truly, live.

“As for me, I will wait for the Eternal, even though He feels absent, even though He has hidden His face from the family of Jacob. I will put all hope in Him You see, I and my children whom the Eternal One gave to me, we personify the promise.” -Isaiah 8:17

This verse is my 34. Assurance that the only hope I have is the one I have in my unfailing God, and the complete certainty of this one thing: this life and where He has taken me proves that I, Laura, personify the promise of God.

“The Spirit of the Lord, the Eternal, is on me.
    The Lord has appointed me for a special purpose.
He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to repair broken hearts,
And to declare to those who are held captive and bound in prison,
    “Be free from your imprisonment!”” -Isaiah 61:1

At 34, I am a receiver of good news, bound up, and set free. And fully released to take hold of all of the whimsy I can get my hands on. Hallelujah!

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY to ME! I’m grateful for all of the versions of myself that I have been over these 34 years. Leaning in and learning all that I can from what God has given me so far, knowing full well that what is to come will be sweet and beautiful and full of that heavenly magic that only God can bring.

fullsizeoutput_4679.jpg

Stop & Take It In | A Call To Pause

The best piece of advice I was given before my wedding was to pause and take it all in. To quite literally stop, look around and let my mind take in what was happening at that given moment. I vividly remember sitting at our little head table, looking out over a beautiful, warmly lit ballroom filled with the sounds and sights of significant people in our lives, all gathered to celebrate two lives becoming one. In that moment and in this one today I am grateful for the advice to pause and take it in.

 

IMG_2200.JPG

This morning as I fed Hazel her bottle I found myself mindlessly staring at her eyelashes--taking her in without even realizing I was doing it. I then began to intentionally take in this miracle girl as she dozed off into her beloved and trusty morning rest. My mind then wandered back to my time of worship last Sunday morning. How I had to painstakingly bring myself to sing with i.n.t.e.n.t.i.o.n.a.l.i.t.y. Even with the good and beautiful things, our minds have been made in such a way that they jump right into what is familiar and well practiced without much intention or effort. I can worship my Almighty God and still wander about in my thoughts regarding what I'm wearing or what we are going to do later or the tray of donuts that are always calling my name a mere handful of feet away. To worship Him, really worship with my entire being, required the effort intentionality calls for.

The pause to take all of Him in.

Pausing takes a lot of effort if you really think about it. We are wired to go, go, go. So today I paused and took in my daughter. "She is really mine. She has been given breath and life and a soul that will long for the Savior the same way mine did and still does even now. This life with her is real and happening now and will never happen in this same way again."

As I walked throughout my home, I was acutely aware (as I usually am) of the amount of toys, socks, and randomly misplaced items strewn about each room. Usually this causes me to swing into a flurry of irritability, frustration, and panic while a rain cloud of "should's" begins to pour over me, drowning me in my apparent "failure at life and keeping it all together". But this morning I was given the incredible gift of pause.

There will be a day where there are no toys strewn about.

There will be a day when all the things stay in their place because little hands are now big and responsible and have their own things in their own places.

There will be a day when neither my arms or my provision will be required for that daughter of mine to fall asleep or find the rest she longs for.

There will be a day when that son of mine will help himself to snacks and shows and decisions and mistakes. Neither my ability to create adventure nor my opinion on what is considered adventurous will be required because he will have become a man of his own ideas and faith and living.

4A692FD5-7C8E-4EAF-B13F-F6B2A13A7F92.jpg

So today I took in all the toys, the sounds of his laughter from the other room while he watched Curious George, and each and every demanding and exhausting detail of this current life. Each day I have a choice: wish my life looked easier/prettier/freer or love every single raw and real bit that is now.

I'm pausing today for the days ahead. The days when:

Fake tattoos become real ones

The cries of a bumped noggin become the ones of a broken heart

The nonexistent "me-time" becomes a search for a new passion and purpose in this calling of motherhood

The two little sets of feet crawling about our bed find their own place to land and the two of us that started this thing become "just the two of us" once again.

698D9596-4FCC-49ED-82A3-CBEC387B4073.jpg

 

Can you see the weight of beauty and glory that is this one life we get to live? If you cannot, the best advice I can give you is the same that was given to me at the start of this all.

Pause. Take it in. This thing that is happening is yours.

IMG_2202.JPG

The Day He Asked Me Why | Entering Into Healing

My son has this obsession with Band-aids. I'm going to be honest with you--it drives me completely crazy. There are band-aid wrappers all over the house, and even worse, used band-aids in odd, and questionable places. For every owie, and everything that could maybe, potentially be an owie, a band-aid is a must.


Today I asked myself a couple of times, "why don't you want to get healed?" An interesting observation on my part, because my prayer life would reflect that I do, in fact, seek healing in specific areas of my life, and yet when approached with the opportunity, I hesitate.

Interesting.

Later on I heard that same question but from my Savior. "Why don't you want to get healed?" You see, when I ask it of myself, I do so under the false assumption that I have some sort of control over the matter, which would be the reason why I never actually answered myself in the first place.

But when asked that question from the One who holds within Himself all power to restore and renew, I feel the breath lost from my lungs. There's a gasp in my spirit--like embarrassment mixed with shame mixed with maybe-I-can-pretend-I-didn't-hear-myself-the-first-two-times.

The Savior Jesus wants to know why I don't want what He wants to give to me.


Remember my band-aid obsessed kid? Well, one of the reasons he drives me bonkers with these band-aids is that he will keep them on for. days. I tell him repeatedly, "Malachi, if you do not take it off and let it heal you will get an infection. I don't think you understand what that means--you will have to see the dr and get a shot and it will be so so so so so so bad." (Maybe my tactic isn't the greatest, but I'm grabbing at straws on my best days.) And as I drove home from work today I saw that I am, in fact, worse than my son.

I want my band-aids; my coverings. I want my hope and security in the thing that is hurting in me to be found in something tangible instead of trusting that time and fresh air and healing balm with make it all better. If I cover it up then that must mean it's safe. Phew. Except that that couldn't be further from the truth.

Often times, I will find Malachi with his hand wrapped around the finger of his other hand, strenuously attempting to keep a gross, no-longer-sticky band-aid on. Today I see myself doing the same thing. I've got wounds that have been around for more years than I can recount, and I'm still here, a 32 year old woman of God, working that bandage like it's the day I put it on.

So I guess I might need to give Malachi a little slack seeing as I'm more of a band-aid freak than he is.

As I sit here and ask the Lord, "what do I do with this? How do I get to a place of uncovering so that You can do what You do?" And immediately I'm reminded of a restorative holy yoga class I led last weekend. I asked the women 3 questions and today He asks me the same:

"Is God good?"

"Is God good to me?"

"Is God good at being God?"

It's as if I can see His face, and hear His gentle voice as He whispers over me the very same words I whisper (or shout) over Malachi: "You have to trust Me. I need to be the best Savior that I can be, and that means asking you to do something scary and trusting Me while you do it."

I have to reach my hands out, however shaky they might be, and I need to loose my lips, however much they might quiver, and I need to let Him do what He does. I need to say yes to healing, and believe that even if the other side seems scary and unfamiliar, that He is in that place, too.


I don't have any answers for you and I can't proceed to give you a testimony of received healing. I'm walking this out, today. But I know that His question to me is also His question to you. So, my dear friend, 

"Why don't you want to get healed?"

 

The Last Time

I had a thought yesterday morning whilst putting on my makeup--

when was the last time I did that thing I used to do to my hair?

It was this braid thing and I used to do it all the time and then, for some reason in my subconscious I'm unaware of and unconcerned with, I stopped. This revelation led me to another more serious one, which is usually how revelations go in my brain, and I found myself thinking of all the lasts in life.

The last time I fed M a bottle.

The last time I sat with my parents over a late night bowl of cereal.

The last time I woke up for a midnight feeding.

I'd say with 95% of our lasts in life, we don't know they are happening; which for overly sentimental people like me that's probably a good thing. I then began to think about all of the lasts I have yet to experience, like the last time I'll read to my kids, or the last time I'll send them off to school, or the last time they will sleep under our roof.

It's depressing, I know.

But what about the others lasts? The victorious lasts. The whole-and-free-and-alive lasts.

For all the things we do that don't serve us: what if there was a last-time for those?

The last time I self-sabotaged?

The last time I overate?

The last time I said those words to myself?

The last time I danced that age-old two-step with sin and traded my pretty shoes for hiking ones and trekked a new path towards the things of God and away from the things of my sin and flesh and failure?

There are so many things in our lives with lasts that are long overdue. We keep going back to our sins and our patterns of behavior because they are familiar, and if we are honest, the idea of being done with them is scary. Familiarity is a trusted companion but not always the best one. 

As I continued getting myself ready for the day I wondered at what it would be like to not remember the last time I said those worthless and devaluing words to myself. Or how it would feel to have this life of comparison and "not enough-ness" be but a hazy, distant memory. While I realize that women deal with these lies long into their golden years, I also stand with my two feet firmly planted on the Truth that I have a Father who is in the business of wiping away desolation and bringing life to dry bones. So for me, I long to fight for my golden years to be just that: golden. And with very little memory of the things that plague me today.

Let's fight for some more lasts:

The last bow to failure

The last whisper of defeat

The final act of worship to the deceiver

and lets fight by actively inviting in more firsts.

What firsts do you need to welcome into your life? What new habits, behaviors or thoughts do you need to actively integrate into your mind, heart and body so that you can say goodbye to things that don't serve you?

The first gaze of self-acceptance

The first inhale of pride and love

The first memory made full of love and laughter without a sliver of self-deprecation 

And once they're gone, let's not sit and ponder when the last time was that we _____. It's not worth the mourning. 

 

 

BONUS:

What are the lasts you can't quite remember but you should?

The last time you initiated holding your spouses hand?

The last time you asked someone new to go out for coffee and get to know one another?

The last time you put away all of the to-do's just to play with your kids?

Make a list and then make it right--give yourself a memory to go with each so that when asked the question, you can give an exact answer of when you last did that because you make a point to do it often.

Swapping Trolls For Truth

My heart has been heavy these days. There has been several little troll-like thieves rummaging through my heart and mind, taking the Truth and leaving in it's place little poisonous mines for me to trip, setting off bombs that seem to take me longer to recover from than I'd like to admit.

Troll #1: Comparison.

Troll #2: Doubt.

Troll #3: Defeatism.

If you were a kid in the late 80's/early 90's than you may have had one (or many like me) of these:

download

So cute, right? The little gemstone belly buttons, I mean, come on. That combined with their matching mood-lifting florescent hair is almost enough to make you forget that they are trolls. Weird looking, and really actually creepy, trolls.

Most of the time, as I'm living in little "t" truths, these are the guys managing my mind and heart like a factory. Producing the best of lies so that I might continue my life under the cloak of despair, only living in a sliver of the freedom and redemption that He paid for on Calvary. Because they are cute I don't fight with abandon to get rid of them. But I know they are there and shouldn't be. I know that Truth is being replaced and so I begin to seek it out; to find what has been lost. There's awareness that something is not right.

After piecing together thoughts, Truths and the whispers and booms of the Holy Spirit, it all begins to make sense. Truth, like BIG "T" TRUTH, floods my mind and I immediately feel like this:

 

 (If you watch Sherlock **If you're not you should** then this makes a whole lot of sense to you)

All the clippings, the Truth's, the sightings of reality and original design, coming into alignment. And the trolls are out of the job. They are seen for what they really are. Trolls. Trolls that don't actually have gemstone belly buttons or magical hair. As a matter of fact, their hair is probably the second grossest thing about them.

download (2)

Days and revelations like this are why it is so important for us to have fellowship, discipline and, most importantly, regular time with Jesus. Unless we keep pinning up Truths on the walls of our hearts and minds, those trolls will keep working hard at replacing them with lies. And it's so crucial that we have others that we invite in to pin truths up for us when we can't lift our heads to find see them ourselves.

Mediate. Find a passage or two and med-i-tate. Mull. Chew. Sit with it and feel, smell and taste all that it is.

Want to know what I'm chewing on today?

May He keep us centered and devoted to Him, following the life path He has cleared. -1 Kings 8:58

and

You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. -Acts 2:28

We always want to know what we can do or take to make our life what we want it to be. Just a quick fix, please, Lord. But today, let's slow down, fire the trolls, and meditate on His Truth. Let's begin to build a fortified wall around these sacred places in us. Brick by brick. Truth by Truth.

Remember, again, that the "today" in this journey is just as important as the "one day".

Image-1 (13)

 

When Mom Wants To Create

I've struggled with a lot of aspects of mothering M in his second year of life. There are so many changes in him that it's nearly like learning to mother all over again with each new day. My biggest struggle, however, has not been found in M but in myself.

20140820_101607

I'm a Creative. My mind is always going, about a plethora of things, but there's always something in there longing to be created. Whether it be words written, yarn knitted or fabric sewn, there is forever a list of to-do's going in the "create" side of my brain. And this has been one of the hardest aspects of mothering I've faced yet.

How do I do the thing my heart is yearning to do when it seems to fall quite low on the list of importance. Let me clarify here: it is not low on my list or T's list. It's low on the generalized Mothering To-Do List. That list, from what I've gathered, goes as follows:

  1. Kids
  2. Chores
  3. Food (i.e. making, buying, growing, etc)
  4. Husband
  5. Home-Care (i.e. fixing, painting, beautify-ing, etc.)
  6. Self-Care
  7. Personal Enjoyment (i.e. feeding that creativity monster wreaking havoc on my heart daily.)

Once again let me clarify, this is not my personal list. This is not my wonderful, supportive husband's list. This is the list as I see the world around me. As I feel the looks, hear the comments, read the assumptions and receive the expectations. I have to believe I'm not alone in this.

20140825_191246

I love being a mother. I love being a wife. I will do both of those things better when I can let what the Lord pours into me pour out through the various avenues He has gifted in me. 

The reality is, I have an enemy who wants nothing more than for me to feel shame at even the thought of taking time away from others to feed my creative soul. When I think of stealing an hour to write, I no more than finish that thought and in comes the cloud of shame.

"Who am I to think I deserve an hour to do that when T will be left with the baby?"

"If ever there were a person who should not get time to herself it's me. There are far too many people around me with far too many needs for me to take time away from them just to feed my soul."

The word shame means: a painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, or disgrace.

Isn't that what this comes down to? Unworthiness? As mom, the needs of those in my care are to be met first and foremost. But the trouble here is that I'm not just "mom". Before that I am daughter. 

I am the daughter of the Most High King. I cannot be mom without first living in my role as daughter. While I may feel unworthiness in the eyes of others around me, that's not my Truth. My Truth is that He loves me. He loves me because I love Him. In seeking Him early and diligently I will surely find Him (adapted from Proverbs 8:17). His love gives me worth. His love and favor make those hours alone to be Laura worth fighting for. Because when He sees me He doesn't just see the mom part of me, but all of me, and He never intended for certain parts of me to go into hiding because He has placed others into my care for a season. In drawing near to Him, He draws near to me, supplying me with what I need to be Laura completely: wife, mom, daughter, creative.

20140826_114001

I will never convince other's enough to stop the glares or comments or sighs so that I can freely spend time letting my heart soar. The enemy will always use them to try to get me to believe that this time isn't valuable. Thankfully, my freedom isn't found in anything that is eye-level. I still feel awkward trying to figure out where and how this time fits into life. The biggest area of strain will be in being ok with letting people down. I just might need to write Galatians 1:10 on every visible piece of skin so that no matter where I turn I will be reminded of it's truth.

I am not trying to please man.

I am trying to please my King.

If you struggle with this too, know that you are not alone. Also know that it is so important to value these parts of you. God values them so incredibly much because He Himself placed them there. With each woman who "takes a break" from her interests during her peak mothering years, the Lord is saddened at yet another source of His beauty being stifled. That's what I believe anyways.

Just because we are "mom" doesn't mean our time to pour out our souls isn't important. It is. We need hobbies. We need ways to express all that happens in our beautiful hearts. We need to still run wildly through the fields with our hair blowing crazily every-which way, our hands stretched wide and our eyes gazing towards heaven. Just because we are grown doesn't mean we can't still run wild and free with our King. So if that's through knitting, then be sure to pick up your needles regularly. If it's through quiet coffee time with your weathered Bible, then be sure to plan one night a week alone to hunker down at your favorite spot. And if you're like me, and you just want to write, then join me in sacrificing sleep and waking before the sun. Seek Him early and diligently. Don't let being mom force you into a hiatus you never intended or wanted to take.

20140711_094440

I'm fighting for the wild-haired girl in me who's desperate to run hard towards her King, and you should fight for yours too.

 

Image-1 (13)

29 - A Birthday Blog

20140408-190027.jpg

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 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 11: What Your Life Looks Like

Image-1 "As a prisoner of the Lord, I urge you: Walk as Jesus walked. Live a life that is worthy of the calling he has graciously extended to you." Ephesians 4:1-The Voice

A reality about life and God that I will never understand is that not all will spend eternity in glory with the Lord. There are so many aspects of this that I could get into and begin to ask questions about but that would get me way off the topic at hand... the one on my heart. The fact of the matter is, as we have discussed earlier in this journey, God orchestrated quite a lot to get each of us to this place where we love and worship Him. The clincher is that the degree of which we worship is completely dependent upon us. How much of ourselves that we give to the Lord is our choice, as Caitlin showed us yesterday. But regardless of what and how much we choose to worship the God of the universe, one fact still remains: we have been called. He has anointed us. He has anointed him.  He has placed a seal on my husband, that he may be set apart in this world to do His good work. If your husband is not yet saved, he has still been chosen in that God has placed you very purposefully in his life... To be his help-mate; to show him Jesus. So whether his journey with the Lord has already begun or has yet to, God is at work and desires for all of our lives to be set apart. The way his life, my life, and your life, look to the outsider is each of our own decisions. God will not do the worshiping for us. If he only desired to worship Himself He wouldn't have needed to create us in the first place.

So today, as you pray over him and over yourself, keep this passage in your mind and on your heart: "In the light of all this, here's what I want you to do. While I'm locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk - better yet, run! - on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline - not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences." Ephesians 4:1-3 The Message

-Laura

Father,

We both need you so desperately, whether we choose to recognize that or not. Lord I will never understand why you choose some and not others but I am humbled that you have chosen me and that you have chosen my husband. Lord, let our lives be a worthy sacrifice to you. Father, show him when his life is beginning to go down the path that leads nowhere; when it's beginning to look just like everyone else's. Lord, while I thank you for the tools you've given us in our western Christianity, I pray that his faith, and mine as well, would not depend on jumping from one bible study or small group to another, but that it would be a steady pouring out of ourselves to you. Lord, show him how to display the truth of your character through the way he works out his faith in this life. Spirit, nudge him in the moments when you know a difference in attitude or a little extenstion of grace could reveal your heart through his actions or words. And most of all, Father, deeply implant in his heart and mind the magnitude of the calling you have placed on him. That he is not just another face in a sea of believers but that you have set him apart, and because of that his life aught to look different. As I pray this Lord, I confess the ways that I have not been living in a worthy manner too. Please right me where I am wrong, take my hand and show me how. You are worthy, Jesus, and it's in your name I pray these things. Amen.

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.

Day 7: The Greatest Commandment

20140219-233732.jpg "'Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one: so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.' And here is the second: 'Love others as well as you love yourself. There is no other commandment that ranks with these.'" Mark 12:29-31

There are so many elements of love, and I feel on our human level we are not fully cable of grasping them all in unison, let alone giving them all to one another. But God not only understands them, He's created in each of us an ability to give these things to Him, in whatever form that may look like for us, and in them He is pleased.

The second tidbit in this passage is one to think on for a minute because I think it can get passed over to usually mean one thing. How well does your husband treat himself? Do you think, in those moments within that he is as nice to himself as he may be to others around him? Is it easier for him to show kindness or mercy to others but not to himself? We all have our moments when we doubt ourselves, our worth or our place in this world, but I don't think we spend much time thinking of others in those terms. So as we pray for our husbands to love God richly with their entire beings, let's also pray for them to see the love they can and deserve to give themselves. There is grace in every new day so whether they are on a mountain top or in a valley, God's desire is for them to see the love they can have for themselves. That by leaving behind self doubt and insecurity they could love God fully, with all their passion, prayer, intelligence and energy.

Laura

All deserving God, You have equipped me to be capable of giving you so much, and yet I give you so little of myself. You are a merciful and patient Father, and I come to you today with a heart beating with gratitude. Lord, the pride you have for him will never be comprehended on this side of heaven, but Father, please help him to see the moments where there is room for him to show himself grace. In the moments of disappointment or self doubt show him how to love himself well, the same way you've shown him how to love others well. In this Lord, grant him the passion to love you with all of his heart. Show him how to love you with an undivided soul. Clear his mind of the meaningless clutter and guide him into loving you with all that it is capable of. Father, you have made him strong. Show him what it looks like to love you with the strength of his physical being. Show him where care needs to be taken and where love needs to be shown in the body you have given him. I ask you to do these things in him that he would be able to live a long, passionate, prayerful, intelligent and energetic life for you and for our family. I am filled with such joy knowing that I can expectantly ask you these things because I know you have shown us both how to love you through your Spirit and your Word. Oh Lord how we desire to love you more and more. You are perfection, sweet Father. In the Almighty's name I pray. Amen.

Day 3: Trust In The One Who Answers

Image-1 "I don't fear; I'm confident that help will come to the one anointed by the Eternal: Heaven will respond to his plea; His mighty right hand will win the battle. Many put their trust in chariots, others in horses, but we place our trust in the name of the Eternal One, our True God. Soon our enemies will collapse and fall, never to return home; all the while we will rise and stand firm." (Psalm 20: 6-8)

In an uncertain time, in an uncertain world, we need a God that will answer. We need to know why we choose to place our trust high above the things of this earth. There are millions of distractions daily, tiny little greedy tentacles of a scaly, slimy enemy, vying for our attention. I once heard that the enemy isn't necessarily aiming to turn us 180 degrees away from God, but even just one degree. Just enough to eventually get us off track and our eyes far from Heaven. So today let's pray for our husbands to look intently towards the Lord. To have strength to turn their backs, even if just for today, from the pull of the temporary... the "chariots" and "horses" of our day. That their focus and the depth of their heart could be deeply rooted on the Eternal One. So that, even at the end of today, they will be able to stand firm amongst a sea of souls who have chosen the things that will never love them back.

Be blessed today, wives, for you are so deeply loved by your King.

Laura

Eternal One, Your beauty is matchless. There is not one thing in this entire world that compares to even a glimpse of you. How gracious and loving you are to allow me to know and love you, even in my ever present state of sin. Thank you for promising to listen to my prayers. Thank you for giving me the gift of confidence in your answering. Lord, I carry him to You, knowing that Your love for him far outweighs the love in my heart for him. I pray that You would bring contentment to his heart, allowing him the freedom and desire to turn his back on the things that draw him to this temporary world. Spirit, fill his entire being with such peace and satisfaction in You and all that You have given him that he feels no need for the idols of this place. Open his eyes to all that You are, allowing him to go forward in this day with the confidence that his God is the one true God who tenderly listens to him and fiercely moves for him. God, You are unbelievably good. Please remove the scales from both of our eyes today so that we may see a bit more of who you truly are. We love you, and so long to love you even more. Show us how, Lord Jesus. It's in Your mighty name I pray. Amen.

Day 2: The Lord will hear

  20140217-113756.jpg

As I took a breath this morning waking to a day of new mercies and apart from my husband, I found myself turning to Him. Having a husband in the military, I am no stranger to being apart from the love of my life on earth. But the saving grace of that thought is that apart means nothing to my Father. He will do great things despite time or distance, near or far. He gives us new love every morning.

Last year, I attempted 40 days of prayer for my husband, and I didn't finish. I felt defeated, unworthy, and a failure. After all, as a wife pursuing the great love of Christ, prayer for my husband should come naturally. But it doesn't. At least not for me. So I turn to the word in my bumbling thoughts of prayer, and God answers: "The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer." -Psalm 6:9

My friends-- may I encourage you today as we begin this journey to simply offer your heart to Him, even if your prayers are bumbly? I believe that if we authentically pour out our hearts in love for our husbands to the One who ordained us to be together, He will hear us. He will honor our heart and pour out a beautiful grace upon our marriage. I love The Message translation of this verse as it tells us: "At last God has heard my sobs. My prayers have all been granted, my prayers are answered."

He WILL answer us friends. It may not be in the ways we expect, but our marriage will become beautiful because we will be showing respect to our husbands as God calls His bride to show him.

I encourage you to pour out your hearts today wives, even if you aren't sure how or where to start. Simply start as God will hear and do the rest.

-Caitlin

Marriage Maker, we thank you for a morning of new mercies and a chance to simply come. As I start this journey, please hear my prayer for my husband. God, my heart is so full of love for him, I pray that you will hear the cry that calls to You. Grant him new mercies this day as he moves and breathes, and prepare a way for You to move in him. Thank you Father for this marriage you have given us. May we honor you whether we are near or far from one another. Amen

40 Days of Prayer...

40 days of weak knees and tear stained Bibles... this is what I am hoping for and believing in these next 40 days. God is so awesome. Not the "awesome" you may hear from the mouths of tweens but what you would read from the dusty pages of your Webster's Dictionary (or dictionary.com, either way). Awesome: causing feelings of fear and wonder: causing feelings of awe. Extremely good.

Did you catch that? Extremely good. Man, isn't He?

I can't wait for these next 40 days, and I also hope they pass slowly, that I may soak in the essence of each day. The time spent with my Dad, talking intimately and deeply about His very precious child. I know that He has quite the agenda for it, and so I will strive to leave myself at the door and proceed in the Spirit alone. Laura really has nothing of value to share. She is grumpy and selfish and generally a bit too emotional as a whole. But her God is beautiful, powerful, gentle and so wise. So let those things be what you take from this experience... His goodness and His goodness only.

The God that we kneel to on behalf of our husbands, ourselves, our children, is a mighty God. His name alone has the power to make the ocean rise and fall. So as you go before Him these next 40 days, begin so by making your heart and mind right before Him... by acknowledging that this is not a chore but a privilege. Loving that man, and being entrusted into his care and love is a privilege. Being the one who allows him to feel strong, to feel a need to protect and provide, is a unique and beautiful honor. There is so much beauty in these roles as husband and wife.

image

"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derive it's name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Eph 3:14-19

Let's  back up a bit first to verse 7 where it says, "I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of His power." That man I love was not just born into a Christian home. God purposefully and powerfully worked. He selected him for a purpose and did so with more intention than I could ever begin to wrap my mind around. The man you love isn't yours because you both went to the same University and fell for each other, or because you made some bad decisions in your youth and tried your best to make it right. God powerfully placed you together. He is not a God of chance or lackadaisical effort. He is a God of purpose. You are his wife for a purpose.

These men, they are made in the image of God, which means they have the capacity to experience the same emotions you see God experience in the pages of His Word, as well as the emotions you yourself feel. Granted, some are experienced on a microscopic level compared to ours but they are there nevertheless. So the same difficulty you have relating to the good that you are and that you have been given because of Christ is also present in them as well. Which brings me to this passage from Paul. In order for our men to grasp just how deep the love is of the Father, the Spirit of God must be home in their hearts. I find it of no coincidence that Paul first prays for them to be strengthened, before he speaks of the Spirit dwelling in their hearts. It takes strength to open yourself up to truth. The Spirit residing in their hearts produces what the Voice translation calls "the rich soil where their lives take root."

It's such a domino affect. If we can pray them through this passage, in this order, I believe we will be thoroughly praying them into a place where they could begin to catch a glimpse of the depth of His love. So today, He has made things easy for all of us by giving us His very word to pray. With a few slight textual changes on my part, pray this over your husband and yourself. Let it soak into your soul and then let it soar. Allow this to launch your prayer into whatever you may know he needs specifically. And allow yourself the freedom to allow the Holy Spirit to determine your timeline of prayer... because it could go further than you may have allowed it on your own.

Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your son. Fill his soul with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Liberating King will reside in his heart. May love be the rich soil where his life takes root. May it be the bedrock where his life is founded so that together, with our family, we will have the power to understand that the love of the Liberator is infinitely long, wide, high and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through his entire being. (From Ephesians 3:16-19 in The Voice. Changed for these purposes with an effort to keep the original message.)

In life we are ever surrounded (usually just from ourselves) by the "should" and "shouldn't" but tonight let yourself soak in the good that you are doing as a wife. Your Father is so very proud of you. Even today, in this very moment with the very emotions you're feeling and the sins you're battling. So rest in His gleaming pride for his daughter, while you spend some time praying for the man you both love so dearly.

Laura

Side note: if you are familiar with the yoga posture "Child's Pose" might I recommend a prayer posture for you? Find a quiet space and bring yourself down into child's pose, with your bible placed in front of you. As you stretch your arms out before you, allow your forehead to rest on the Word and your hands to face heaven. With each breath let your body sink deeper as your heart opens wider. And if you're anything like me, you will soon have a very tear stained Word of God beneath you.

Imperfect Obedience

I had a rather random thought earlier about child leashes. You know, the ones that are masked as little critter backpacks but in all actuality are a leash for parents to keep track of their wandering, and likely disobedient, rascals. I truly don't like those things. In my inexperienced parenting mind I think to myself, "Come on, parents. Just teach that kid some obedience and make the effort to keep them with you." Notice how I said my "inexperienced parenting mind". Because I only have one and he is only 15 months... so I still have a lot of realities ahead of me in the world of wrangling little ones.

Recently, M has brought us down some uncharted territory with his behavior and it has forced me to face some parenting and teaching milestones I thought were still a little ways out. How often do I need to go back to the tv, or the computer or the stereo and teach and train him not to touch it? Seemingly often, I guess. For a little person who is constantly wrapped in a diaper, he sure reacts as if he's being tackled by a mugger when I attempt to change the poop nestled in his pants. I find myself exhausted at the end of the day, feeling drained of all patience and wondering if any of these moments are even making a dent. He is a strong-willed little boy.

IMG_3752

God, in His beautiful and albeit comical, timing and sovereignty is showing me just how much M and I have in common in this phase of life. M's outward behaviors are, I'm realizing, the physical manifestations of my spirit, heart and mind. The problem is that obedience is such a legalistic concept to me. I obey because I'm supposed to... because if I don't there is someone (the law, my family, the church, my employer) I am letting down. I do this to the extreme in that I struggle to throw a recyclable item in the trash because I know that, even in that plastic yogurt cup, I am letting the image I have made for myself down... even though no one even knows it happened.

In a mom's facebook group I am a part of, a mom recently asked what it means for you to have your child's heart. This, apparently, comes from a verse in Malachi, basically meaning that your child trusts your guidance so wholeheartedly that even in the moments they don't want to obey or don't understand why they must, they do it because they trust that you know what is best for them. The example given was that when you tell them to obey you and sit down when you ask, they are not still standing up on the inside.

My legalistic view of obedience does not allow me to fully give my heart to God. My obedience is not because I trust Him, in my vulnerability and questioning, to know what is best for me. It is because I have a fear of letting Him down. This creates a relationship that lacks intimacy. And produces minuscule rebellion.

On the other side of the coin lies perfection. The paths this life has taken me down have built up quite a strong demand for perfection. That has not, however, produced in me a person who is excellent at everything she does, but a person who tends to quit a lot of things because, "If I can't do it perfectly I just won't do it." As I walk down this path of learning to be obedient to Christ, I struggle with the journey. I struggle with all of the imperfection that paves the way.

Is it easier for me to just stay in this place? Where I don't live freely, but at least I live in these chains perfectly? The thought of facing, moment after moment, the crossroad of obedience or chains, is exhausting. Thinking of the moments where I will not be strong enough to obey is enough to make me want to run, arms flailing, as far away as I can.

As I examine these realities of my heart I see clearly just how much I am like my son. And just how much more patient my Father is than I. I am the child with the little critter backpack attached to the leash of mercy. His mercy. It keeps me in His reach, so each time I go back to that imperfect place, He trains me. Whether it's by the sting of consequences or the gentle love of His Word, He has mercifully kept me in His reach. When I face my lack of self-discipline, and every fiber in my being wants to just rebel in the simplest of ways (laziness, selfishness, biting words, too much chocolate) He comes back once again to guide me to His perfection.

The height of this lesson for me is found in the imperfection. Before Christ came and rose from the grave, perfect obedience was what was required of those who desired to spend eternity with the King. Your salvation depended on perfect obedience. Then our Savior came, the one true spotless lamb, and knowingly walked up that hill so that you and I would not need to be perfect. So that our obedience could be because He had our hearts. On that day, the requirement for me to be perfect, hung next to Him, never to come down. I am free to say "no" to selfishness, disobedience and sin with my physical body, and also with my heart, knowing that He is more than enough and incomparably better than any and everything I've ever run to before.

He loves me, so He puts the little critter backpack on me and covers me with grace as we face the world, day after day. Beautifully imperfect with no requirement to change that, but to accept His mercy and praise His holy name for being the perfection that I cannot be.

Here are things we will never perfectly be, but can always strive for. They are also things He always is, and will never not be.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (1 Cor 13:4-8)

We will have moments when we don't want to persevere. We will have moments when we might delight in evil. In our sin we may choose to protect ourselves over another. We will never do these things perfectly. We will fail and fail again and fail again... The beauty in this is found in verse 10.

"But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears."

When He returns, our imperfection will disappear for all eternity. When He comes into our sin today, His perfection covers over our imperfection in the form of forgiveness and grace. He will come one day, and we will be those things without putting forth even the slightest effort, because we will be truly and fully made new. Today, I am on my knees in humility, so thankful that He chooses to come to me every day, providing me the grace to be imperfectly obedient.

There is absolutely no such thing as a "Perfect Christian". Unfortunately many people have tried to show themselves as such and it has created a facade that does nothing but fade with each passing day. In this moment I am thankful that He has never expected me to obey Him perfectly, but wants to walk with me, guiding me through the training moments, until the day He returns and wipes away all imperfection.

Man, how He truly and deeply and perfectly loves us. And how graciously He remembers the beautiful moments with His child, and mercifully forgets the sin-filled ones.

IMG_3717

I struggle with Gluttony...

There I said it. Many people will admit openly that they struggle with certain sins or addictions or damaging behaviors. But few will admit to this one. So here I go.

When I say I struggle with gluttony I don't mean to paint a mental picture that resembles this:

Image

 

If that were true, it would be no surprise to anyone who ever went to a restaurant with me that I did indeed have an issue with gluttony... No, what I am referring to closer resembles this:

Image

Relatively healthy looking female, of average size, who can't help but eat an overly large amount of cake, cookie or pastry batter at each and every opportunity. She dips a finger, maybe two when others are within sight, and as soon as they duck out for even a moment, in goes the spatula. Once the contents are emptied into the cake pan and enter the toasty oven, her fingers scrape the sides of that bowl with ferocity and abandon, until every last drop is consumed. The bowl could skip the dishwasher all together and go right back into the cabinet.

This is the glutton that I am. But these behaviors don't happen all day, but do happen at least once every day. They are not because the food in mind is so irresistible that I am paralyzed by their powers of persuasion. This sin comes from a much deeper place.

Origins Of A Sinful Slippery Slope

As a young girl, like most, I slowly developed what has always been coined, "Low Self-Esteem". Biting retorts from angry relatives, mean bullying as a twisted form of flirting from boys on the playground (Seriously boys? Where the heck did you get the idea that teasing a girl would make her like you? Whoever the men were in your life did you no favors teaching you this, whether directly or indirectly. Shame shame.), and beautiful and stylish (and thin) older sisters all played a part in the tapes that began to play in my little brain. Along with this I've always had an adoration for delectable desserts and colorful sweets. When you're pre-puberty this is neither here nor there. Once good 'ol womanhood begins it's journey through your fragile adolescent body, your love for all things sweet begins to do you absolutely no favors. This was the story for me. So as I grew so did my little body. Nothing overly large by any means, but enough that it was noticed by boys and became more and more noticeable by me. I never established a very healthy attitude towards food as a young adult. I never learned (to my recollection) the importance of making wise choices about what I put in my body. I just felt caught between to opposing sides: "be thinner" and "indulge and reward yourself".

As life and womanhood progressed bigger things began to happen. Life happened, without the shelter of youth, and I found myself finding solace in those indulgences. If I couldn't fix the problem I could at least find comfort, even for a moment, in something sweet and satisfying. I guess this is probably a similar feeling to those who struggle with alcohol, or smoking, or maybe even pornography. Finding that escape from all of the troubles life brings with it. At two different times in my life I dabbled in the opposite sin of gluttony: starvation. It didn't do much for me. While I did lose weight, my eyes still saw the fat girl in the mirror. It was never enough. Size 0 jeans  and a bony back were not enough confirmation in my mind when I looked at myself in the mirror. So I ditched that plan, by the never-ending grace of God.

But I never really admitted to myself or anyone around me how I felt about food. Fast forward to my married self, living in a new and very foreign land (Texas) in a new lifestyle (military) with little to no friends. In the loneliness I ate. In the frustration I ate. In the uncertainty I ate. In the insecurity I ate. Not overly excessive amounts, but just enough of all the wrong things. And only because I wanted to punish myself for being myself. As a form of punishment I would eat large quantities (in secret, mind you) of something sugary, fatty and usually chocolate-y because in my mind, I didn't deserve anything better. 

Within the last year, my bondage of gluttony reached it's climax. Earlier this year I knew I needed to get a handle on it. So I read a book called, Made To Crave by Lysa TerKeurst. While this book was definitely encouraging, doing it on my own, with no accountability was not very life-changing. But I believe that this was a time of true revelation for me. This is when I realized what I really wanted freedom from and freedom to do. I wanted overall balance, with food, family and my faith. I believe this was when my new journey began without me even knowing it.

This is still a struggle for me. When I miss T so badly it hurts you can usually find me with a huge cup of hot chocolate piled high with marshmallows. And as soon as those marshmallows get all gooey I suck them down and refill the other half of cocoa with more. I have yet to figure out how to stop in my tracks and make a better choice. Because of this I've decided to begin, what I pray, is a study that will allow the Spirit to truly transform my mind, and in turn my body. A ministry called Revelation Wellness is doing an 8-week online Bible Study called Weigh Less To Feed More. It is a part of a ministry that I will be becoming more involved with (more on that later) called Holy Yoga. My prayer of desperation is to be able to find freedom from the hold that food has on me. I believe our society is overly obsessed with food, and I would really love to develop a strong anti-body to this disease. I don't enjoy thinking about what I will eat for breakfast before I've even gone to bed. I would love to just be able to go to bed. Period.

I pray that as you read these things about me your attitude would not be to judge my craziness but to show grace, and maybe come face to face with some areas of darkness in your own relationship with food. I think if we all got a little bit more comfortable with the idea that we all have bad relationships with food, accepted that reality in one another, and moved forward to encourage better choices in each other, we might have less of a weight and disease epidemic in our country. We live in a society that pressures us to be thin, toned and hot and also offers us chemically enhanced, nutritionally empty and overly starched foods to sustain us in our misery over not being hot. We're all in a hamster wheel and I'm believing God to be big enough to stop it so I can get off. 

So there you have it. If you also struggle with any aspect of food, I pray you are able to find the courage to speak out about it. Even doing that can give you enough freedom to begin down the path of better decisions. If you're interested in doing the study I believe they are still taking students. And if you need someone to walk alongside you as you venture down this dark and dusty road, don't hesitate to ask me. I've been hanging out at the trail head for quite a long time and I'm ready to venture out into the darkness and bring His truth to light the path.