Friday, December 9, 2011

seek first

The Lord has been talking to me a lot the last few months about seeking His kingdom first. Anxiety about money, and kids, and school, and housework were overtaking my life and stealing my joy, and he whispered to me one day while I was journaling, "Seek first, sweetheart; seek first...remember?" 

"Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Mt. 6:33
In the past, I've taken that verse and have viewed it as a task: "I need to read the bible more. Do more. Be more. Memorize  more."  It resulted in failed attempts and a heart disheartened. I've assumed that seeking His kingdom involved more doing...but I'm starting to think it involves more being. 
What does it mean to seek the kingdom of God? What is His kingdom made of, and how do I seek it? 
It’s a kingdom of Love. It’s an upside down kingdom, where the last is first, and the meek will inherit the earth, and blessed are the peacemakers. Where forgiveness reigns, and grace overflows, and it’s a kingdom of second chances, and third chances, and it’s all under the umbrella of a crazy, heart-overflowing love. A kingdom of peace, and joy, and no stress, and light hearts, and a slowness of living, and a focus on what really matters, and this is the way to joy and happiness and peace in your soul---to seek out this Kingdom. 
This is where Life is, and He showed us how, and when you wrap it up with a ribbon of gratitude, it's a gift to all who behold, but especially to yourself. It’s a kingdom of humility, and mercy, and patience, and kindness, and why do we buy into the lie that we have to live anything BUT this?! 
It’s seeking a Kingdom where Love rules, and mercy and grace are the currency, and we just trade them with each other, and our shortcomings fade away and all that remains is Love. There is no room for heated debate, for arguing about who is greater, but just room to love and be Loved. To learn to live life loved, isn’t that what He showed me 4 years ago

I'm not talking about a watered-down "everything goes, just love people, man" type of Christianity where there are no absolutes or standards. Truth is vital, and He's got a name, and it is the name above all names. I'm just saying I think there is a pipeline of crazy love-grace that we don't even know is available to us, and if we could just tap into it...maybe we could find the kingdom we seek? 
Crazy grace doesn’t mean no boundaries or not taking care of yourself, but it does mean that you pour out grace undeservedly, because that is what Love forgives when people don’t deserve it. To bless when they don’t deserve it, to honor when they are acting dishonorable. Because that’s what You do, Lord, you forgive and bless and honor, not because we’ve earned it, but because we’re loved. We’re yours, and we’re loved, and even the ones that don’t know you, they are LOVED, and You so loved them that you were born into a dirty stable, and lived a scorned life, and crawled up on a tree and died because You Loved, and You Made, and You chose to Forgive, and if we could understand this, we would see...that it’s not about living perfect, and never making mistakes. It’s not about false piety, and doing things right, and appearing all holy and proper. It’s about receiving and giving back a fierce, wild love to the One who Loved enough to be born, and live, and die, so that we might live, and not just forever, but that we would have life abundant here, that we would bring Your kingdom here, right now

So, I am learning to seek first. Learning what His kingdom looks like. It's a process, learning to love like Him. But His grace is abundant, and I am thankful. 
"For God so loved the world...that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not die, but will have life everlasting...John 3:16" 

Thursday, December 8, 2011


A big name store has a new Christmas slogan: REAL JOY. GUARANTEED
As I read it, while strolling through the aisles of new appliances, I had to smile. Really? Can you put a guarantee on something like joy? Joy feels so fleeting. I experience moments of it, but the moments are quickly replaced with the mundane, mechanical numbness of life. 
I lost a great blog post a few weeks ago. Well, to me it was great. Last month, some bloggers with Compassion traveled to Ecuador, and as I read their daily blogs, something in me was changed, and moved. My heart expanded to the bursting point, and I poured it all out...and then lost it. It got erased, deleted, and I tried recovering it, but it was gone; which felt like a big deal to this non-writing girl. My heart was all right there, on the page, and I was so happy to have captured how I felt in words...and then, with an accidental click, it was gone, leaving me under a crushing pile of disappointment.  
Disappointment can steal our joy, and abbreviate our thanks. We are disappointed because our lives didn’t turn out the way we thought they would, or the friendship ended, or the kids are habitually fighting, and the marriage is harder than we thought it would be, and why don't things just go right for once?! 
But what if we took each disappointment as a challenge to give thanks? For what has been appointed to us? 
The blog post was deleted...thank You for making all things new. 
The baby is sick again, I can’t go to bible study...thank You that we have a home to snuggle down in, for healing.
The kids are fighting again...thank You for children, for siblings, for healing words, hugs, and laughter. 
The friendship is over...thank You for years of life-giving fellowship.
Life doesn’t always go the way we expect it to. But the act of giving thanks in all things leads us to a greater end---JOY. Gratitude equals joy, and joy equals contentment, and contentment leads us right back to gratitude, and if I could just capture this, this equation of laying down disappointments and inserting gratitude, I just might find what my soul aches for---lasting, real joy. 

Friday, November 18, 2011


So, the funniest thing has happened. 
I was all excited and nervous to get this blog started. It’s been on my heart all year, so when I finally got the guts up to hit “publish”, it felt like a huge accomplishment. 
And then I sat. And wondered. 
And sat some more. Two weeks more. 
And wondered what I should write about, now that I’m all official and all. I’ve been calling it “writer’s block” which is totally laughable, seeing that I’m not a writer, but just now, as I was pulling into the Target parking lot, I realized what it was. 
I lust after perfection. Knowing in my head that perfection is an illusion, it doesn’t matter. I still crave it, run after it, and try to grab hold of it. 
But it’s like trying to hold just all runs out. Life circumstances, my kids’ attitudes, my husband’s reactions, it all runs out of my cupped hands that are desperately trying to hold it, make it be a certain way and shape and volume. 
If my college roommate were reading this right now, she’d be laughing her head off. My life doesn’t reflect perfection, and our dorm room was living proof of that. I don’t color-code my closet, I’m not naturally organized, I don’t have a spotless home. And those are all things you’d expect from a perfectionist, right?
But there’s this other kind of perfectionist...the kind that thinks, “If I can’t do it perfectly, I’m not gonna do it at all.” My dear friend calls it closet perfectionism. That would be me. So I’m scared to death to keep writing, because what if it’s not...perfect? 
At the end of the day, perfectionism is just another form of insecurity. I don’t want to be imperfect, because then I’ve failed, and if I fail, then people will know that I’m not perfect, and might actually see through my masks, and what if they don’t like what they see?  
What if it’s too much disclosure about myself? Maybe I should let them keep thinking I’ve got it all together. 
What if they don’t like me? Maybe I shouldn't rock the boat quite so much. 
And then the voice of the Lord speaks...
Patient, not perfect. Loving, not perfect. Kind, not perfect. Gracious, not perfect.
He just wants my praise...he just wants me. 
All of us. 
God doesn’t expect perfection...He just wants my heart. 
My life. 
He wants my life to reflect the ways I love, serve, and pour out grace.
So I’m posting this, just to get it off my chest, and to hopefully slay some of the perfection dragon in myself. 
And because I am weary of not being known. 
So to my teeny, tiny little community of readers, please know that my posts here won’t be perfect...they won’t always be wonderfully written. But they will be straight from my heart. 
And, hopefully, from His. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

hooking up the hose

After several suggestions that I start my own blog, I'm doing it. As I sit here and hyperventilate about the fact that my words, my heart, my thoughts, are going to be out there on the internet for anyone to find and critique, I am hesitantly stepping forward, bound by a promise I made to my 9-year old daughter that I would publish this before I went to bed tonight! 
My life is full. I've been married to my high school sweetheart (cue "awww") for 13 years, and we have 4 beautiful, bright kids. Girl, boy, boy, boy. Lots of lightsabers and swords at our house! Our first 3 babies were born within 4 years of each other, but we waited another 4 years for our last. 
I love reading, journaling, good coffee, and heart connections with friends. I love God, and knowing Him is the greatest joy in my life. Since I was a little girl, my dream has been to stay home with my kids, and I've been livin' the dream for almost 10 years now. It's a fun, exhausting, wildly rewarding job, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. 
I'm totally new to this blogging thing. I don't know how to link to a picture, or to another website, or anything. (and what's a linky party?) But I do feel like I have a story to tell, even if only to a few. Where do I start? 
So, the name. I'll start with the name.
We all know the quote, "The grass is greener on the other side of the fence." For a long time, I've believed it. But it's a lie. The grass isn't greener on the other side. 
If you don't water your grass, what do you get?
Dead grass.
If I'm really honest, most of my life I've envied other people's grass, their lives. Insecurity kept me from appreciating what I had, and all I could do was secretly wish I had what "they" had.
"That" husband, or "that" life, or "that" family, or "that" easy baby, or "that" much financial flexibility. 
Or even deeper, I wished for their giftings...their talents...their strengths, that seemed so much "more" than mine. More creative. More organized. More fun. My own grass, my life, dried up and all but died while I wasted time wishing for something other than the life the Lord had given me.
No more.
I am done. Done with dragging through life, unaware of the blessings I've been given. Done with wishing I had someone else's anything. Done with wishing I was like someone else. Done with the ingratitude.
Ingratitude is a lying thief. It's stolen moments and days and years of incredible gifts given. It's kept me busy with comparing (please tell me someone else struggles with this) and judging my life based on those around me, and has ultimately made me unhappy with myself. My life is whizzing by, and I've been sitting in a tollbooth, watching it happen, on a stool of ingratitude. 
The real truth? I am blessed beyond anything I deserve. My life is full of incredible beauty and gifts. And not just my husband, kids, and family, although they're amazing. Not just our health, or our laughter, or anything material that we possess, though it's plentiful. 
Everything. All things in life, the good and the bad. The easy and the hard. Being thankful doesn't mean being thankful only for the good stuff. It means being thankful for it all. 
For the mountain of laundry. 
For the never-ending dishes. 
For the challenges with friends. 
For the temper-tantruming two-year-old. 
Rejoice, pray, and in all things, give thanks...not just in the obvious blessings, but in ALL things...because it's all been through His hands before it hits my plate. 
It feels like I'm just waking up to my my own gifts, to my own unique place in my little world, to the blessings, to the reality that I GET to live this life, I GET to have these kids, this house, this husband...I GET to!!! They are a gift, not a burden! THIS is my life, not the imaginary one I have dreamed up in my head. THIS is my life...this is MY grass. 
Time to hook up the hose. :)