I Heard This Wonderful Quote

Listening to the line-up of speakers through the LiveStream of the IF:Gathering, recently, a theme emerged for me. A heart hears what it’s ready to hear. After 19 years of following after this God I often write of, I was truly ready to hear this one wonderful quote from Jen Hatmaker: “If you believe someone, you begin to believe what they say about you.”

I don’t believe in ghosts. But I believe in the Holy One. And y’all, I felt Him right there, in that moment, staring me down, saying, “GIRL…do you believe what we say about you? Do you really?”

My pen stood still, midair, as I took in the question and hesitantly answered.

Again, I felt that check in my spirit. “If you do, beloved, then live like it!

If you’ve ever been on the edge of some physical place, knowing you needed to jump, but not really wanting to jump just quite yet… yeah, that feeling. It’s scary, daring, terrifying, and exciting.

And, convicting.

Because, I feel like that one quote sums up grace and glory, the law and all of the prophets, too.

I’m ever-so-grateful that God opened my heart to finally hearing. Lord knows He’s been trying to tell me for an awfully long time.

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If God is Who He says He is, then everything He tells me, about who I am, is true.

And what does He tell me? (And, just so you know, He tells you, too.)

When there’s trouble, I have the peace of God that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

In my infinite weakness, He reminds me that I am more than a conqueror through Him Who loves me. (Romans 8:37)

When all I see is my dirt, He declares that I am forgiven of all my sins. (Ephesians 1:7)

For those times when I see how much of a hot mess I am, He comes alongside me and reminds me that I am exactly what He made me, and he created me in Christ Jesus for good works that he planned for me. (Ephesians 2:10)

If I’m feeling unlovable, He whispers that I was chosen by Him, holy, even, and beloved. (Colossians 3:12)

Those are some mighty powerful truths.

Truths that could transform a person. Indeed!

For today, I choose to live like they’re true.

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*If you’d like to check out some of the other impactful quotes from the IF:Gathering, head on over to The Twitter and type in #IfGathering2015.

**Have no idea what I’m talking about, every time I write “If:Gathering”, head over here for more info about them and what they long to accomplish.

I Want The King for My Friend

I’ve been working my way through a book that has done something incredible in my life.

It has dried up my words.

And, honestly? I’m okay with that.

Reading Keep It Shut, by Karen Ehman, has been life-altering. My brain, and by extension, the mouth that’s connected to it, have experienced some blissful radio silence. I’m not even going to try to guess the number of people around me, who also consider this new frequency blissful.

I’m a gap-filler, you see. If there is a lull in conversation, I’m your girl. When the small talk at a party dwindles, I jump right in. In the midst of an awkward situation and not sure what to say next? Count on me!

Usually, these aren’t necessarily bad things.

But sometimes, they aren’t really good things, either.

The abundance of words that accumulates within me doesn’t actually mean that I need to voice every single one of them.

Amen? (Not you, Nana. We all know you’re saying “AMEN!”)

Not much is added to a filling-the-gap moment that is true, noble, right, pure, or lovely. Certainly not much is admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. So, what exactly am I adding to conversations?

That is the ultimate question I’ve been asking myself, lately.

For the first time in probably ever, I see that many of my words aren’t attaching anything of benefit to the discussion. And, that’s not to discount the meaningful chats I have with people I care about. Nor does it mean that I need to throw out the fun back-and-forths I might have with friends and acquaintances.

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It is, however, a fantastic reason to do a lot more pausing before piping up. It’s also a great reason to do a little more listening with those two ears of mine and a lot less talking with that one mouth.

The more listening I do, the more I see what I haven’t seen as my lips were moving. The hurting neighbor. The angry relative. The hesitant friend. There are hearts that I am hearing, that I’ve never even known were trying to talk.

Allow my inner 80’s teen to re-emerge, please? DUDE!

There is no small beauty in a heart that is finally heard.

Don’t we all know this to be true? What relief, what joy, what profound satisfaction in our souls when some beautiful ear finally bends to hear?

Maybe the most amazing thing of all is that as I speak with more grace, which means more listening before speaking, my friendships will deepen. Friends that I long to connect with – deeply hear from and be heard by – will appear.

How do I know?

“Whoever loves pure thoughts and kind words will have even the king as a friend.”

Even The King.

I don’t know about you, but, I want The King for my friend.

Yes indeedy.

Why Are You Looking for Crickets?

Maybe, because you’re hearing them around here, lately?

‘Tis true.

But, for good reason.  (More on that on Wednesday!)

For now, if you’ve been missing me (and really, I’d expect nothing less. JUST KIDDING!), you can find me over at Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies  as part of the Teaching Team for 2015. As we work our way through a study of Keep it Shut by Karen Ehman, you’ll find me over there. A lot. Click here to hop over and check it out.

In the meantime, I wanted to share something amazing that’s happened since my reading of this book.

But, you’ll have to come on back here, on Wednesday, to read about it.

So, see you soon?

I really hope so!

Yes indeedy!

I’m a Big Fat Liar, Too

Every time I say I won’t do something again, like eyeball – or worse, eat – another devil dog, I’m lying. I know it. Sweetman knows it. Even the grocery store cashier knows it. In fact, maybe she knows it most of all. One of those dear souls will half-jokingly ask me if everything’s okay if I haven’t been through with a box of my sweet treats in more than a couple of weeks.

Oh, I say I won’t eat another one again. I may even mean it. The point is, I lie.

And, not just about my eating habits.

Here’s the truth: I’m one hot mess of a human.

I need God.

I need His grace.

I need to keep rubbing shoulders with others who can remind me that I don’t have to keep apologizing over and over and over again for sins of gluttony, slander, covetousness, and the host of other things I constantly find my humanity bumping up against.

Because, Jesus came so that I could keep putting one foot in front of the other.

And trying it all over again with the next breath He gives me.

Jesus came so that I could see, so that you could see, how desperately we humans are in need of grace throughout our days.

All of these thoughts are swirling around me this past week, as news of Brian Williams’ audacity to lie about news he was delivering, to lie to us on national television, is broadcast through every media outlet possible.

As if, there are no other lies on National Television.

Do I even need to go there?

Are we all so righteously living, and grace-less, that we can decide how awful a man is without thought to how thoroughly hypocritical that is?  Aren’t we all staring down the tube of our own RPG’s daily? Even if only in our minds?

He screwed up.

I don’t know about you, but I do this daily.

Hourly.

Yep. I’m a big fat liar, too.

I thank God for the grace to keep trying again.

I’d like to think that we can extend grace beyond where we feel comfortable.

Lord only knows how often it’s done on our behalf.

Yes indeedy.

Cheers to You, Friends!

Over the last decade (and change), since becoming a mother, I have had different friends enter the landscape of my motherhood. Each has contributed something precious and necessary: community, advice, support, assistance, and laughter.

Must. Have. Laughter!

While all of my friends aren’t mothers (hello Jason, Joan, Sarah!!!), I’m focusing in on those fellow mamas today.

Some have come alongside to help me see clearly, when my eyes were too filled with tears to do so on my own. I’m thinking of my sweet friend Ally, who listened as I relayed a devastating fear about Sweetboy, and just held my hand and patiently listened and prayed with me.  And Dana, who hears my deepest anxieties, and prays with me then and there to allay them. They are truly like Job described when he spoke of a friend interceding on behalf of another - “…let him plead with God for a human being, like a person pleads for a friend.” 

Also, I’m thinking of a brave and kind friend, Aimee. We met as part of a weekly playgroup for Sweetgirl when she was a toddler. I was unable to see some obvious developmental needs emerging in her, so focused was I at the time on getting Sweetboy acclimated in our new town. Her words were so kindly spoken at just the right time.

Others have helped lift my eyes to the Right Place, when I forgot to. I think of my bold friend Kim who walked with me through my initial depression diagnosis; and, who weathered a mighty storm, side-by-side with me, with our then shared church family. She truly modeled Proverbs 17:17 – “A friend loves at all times, and a {sister} is born for adversity.”

I have deep thankfulness for my friends Rae, Kristy, and Erin, who push me and encourage me to keep writing and dreaming and become the best little writer that God wants me to be!

And then, there have been the precious few who have provided much-needed comic relief. My fiery-haired friend Erin, quick-witted friend Janet, and round-table friends Monica and Katie . I welcome the bellyaches from All The Laughter, and their cheerful hearts truly do bring a smile to my face. Often!

These are just some of the friends in my life. And, I cherish each one. Speaking with older friends and family members about their own friendships, I see the eternal Truth and Wisdom in these Words:

Two are better than one, because they have good pay for their work. For if one of them falls, the other can help him up. But it is hard for the one who falls when there is no one to lift him up.

Each new friend that God graces me with, online or off, provides more reasons to be grateful. Whether we share a love of God, writing, or eating – whether we’re commiserating over how hard it is to be a parent, spouse, or not eat – having friends to lift me up is truly a gift that I cherish.

And a special shout-out to those of you in this here blogosphere – you hold a special place in my heart. I can’t hardly express how much joy your comments and encouragements bring to my heart.

So…

Cheers to you, my friends! Thank you for being one.

Yes indeedy!

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It’s Okay, Try Again

I’d just had a rotten argument with my husband. One of those oh-so-un-Christ-like moments during our discussion, I chose to assume the worst. It went downhill from there.

As I huffed upstairs to cry on my bed, I realized that once again, I had led with my feelings and not my mind.

Or, the truth.

This always, always gets me into trouble.

How about you?

But, I go back to a tender and beautiful and true comment that The Gammy made to me, recently. We were talking about how our mouths can get us into so very much trouble, how human we really are. She wisely pointed out that we are loved by a God that, when we come to him with tear-stained faces, says, “It’s okay. Try again.”

And He says it with the gentleness of a soft breeze.

He means it with Ultimate Authority.

He is the God of grace, after all.

I clung to that as I sat on the bed and cried my little heart out. And, we are resting in that regarding the uncertainty of fractured relationships.

We long for healing. For Love to win out over the hurt. For understanding and grace and joy to creep back in.

We’ll wait as long as it takes.

Because, doesn’t He?

Let’s Learn to Zip It, Shall We?

My mouth gets me into trouble. Anyone else?

A lot. Tell me I’m not alone, here!

Really, though, it’s a head problem. Can I get an amen?

And, if I’m being completely honest, it’s a heart problem. Oh, yes indeedy.

I’ve always longed to be one of those wise women who say very little. You know the ones… they don’t often speak their mind, but when they do, WHOA NELLY, it’s important! Alas, God apparently thought better of that idea. In fact, I often wonder why He allows me to speak at all!

But, He does. In His completely unfathomable infinite wisdom, He gives me the freedom to speak the words in my head.

Here’s what I’ve found to be true: if I don’t check those words against His Word, what tumbles from my mouth can be a) too much, b) too loud, c) too soon, or d) all of the above.

So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to find out that the next book that Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Studies is going to work through has to do with exactly this issue!

Hallay-glorious-lou-ya!

And, sweet Moses, do I ever need it!

On January 26th, over here, we will begin a study of Keep It Shut by Karen Ehman. The author provides phenomenal insight into “What to say, how to say it, and when to say nothing at all”. (I believe I especially need help with that last one. Also, Sweetman seems a bit too happy that we are studying this particular book.)

I’ve had the privilege of reading Keep It Shut over the last month. There are far too many gems, throughout, to pick just one. (Or, ten!) In fact, there is so much wisdom packed into this book, that I would like to heartily encourage you to pick up a copy and join the study.

You can do that here.

You can buy the book here.

And, if you do decide to join the 20,000 plus people who’ve signed up already, you may just see me hanging around on the Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies blog.

Yes, you might just.

And we can learn to zip it together.

What do you say to that?

(Psst… say yes.)

I hope to see you there!

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