On Journals

on journals, journaling for husband I love journals.

Leather, pleather, plastic-covered, paper-covered, home made, store bought, etsy shopped, spiral-bound, not-spiral-bound, big, small, thick, thin, pocket, notebook...you name it, I'll write in it.

If I were out of my mind and gave you my journals to sift through, you would find: prayers, letters, day-recaps, tear stains, mascara spots, goals, dreams, secrets, victories, verses.

A lot of my [youth] girls, who are less like kids and more like young ladies, are in the stage of first-boyfriends or dreaming-of-first-boyfriends and thinking of marriage and men and all the things that 15 and 16 year old girls think about. If you know me, you know this makes my heart race and my palms sweat and my head swim with anxious thoughts and BUT WHAT IF's. I did my fair share [read: way too much] of boyfriending and kissing in High School and don't fall for the "gotta try it before you commit" thing.

For four years now I have been sharing with these girls how not-worth-it [I think] it is to date when you think you're ready at 16, how not-worth-it it is to spend your first hand holding with a boy you just met, to not let your lips fall on a guy who you just started dating in high school yesterday. I have been sharing honestly and vulnerable, but also doing my very best to hold my hands open and trust that Jesus is working through them [no matter what] just as He worked and is working through me. My heart and my hope is that I do not come across as a 100-year-old Grama that doesn't know anything [which in my mind, I now know to listen to these 100 year olds] and instead come across as someone that loves them so much that I share what I have learned over these short years of the life I have lived. And what I have learned is this: boyfriending before you leave high school isn't worth the heart ache and distraction. Even if you end up marrying the man, you are going to have to wait years...and if you are choosing to wait to enjoy the thing of sex until marriage, that is a painfully difficult long time to wait. It only gets harder, year by year, month my month, day by day. I promise.

Today I was in TJ MAX looking for a planner for Loren. We decided that if I could find one that he likes, he would start trying to use it and organize his work and meetings better, seeing it all laid out before him, rather than in the tiny glass screen that is his phone. While sifting through the precious things of journals and planners [which were all too girly for my manly husband] a woman, maybe 75, asked me what I do with journals. I said to her, "You know, last week I bought 15 journals and I picked them out so delicately. My husband is a Youth Pastor and I cherish and adore the girls, so I wrote them a little letter inviting them to use the journal specifically to pray for and write letters to their future husband. You know, to try and keep their eyes on Jesus and what He has, rather than chasing around what looks good now." Her eyes started welling with tears, something too familiar to me, so mine did too. She told me that she had lost hope for our kids these days and that this meant so much to her.  She said that she loves journaling, that writing is her thing, that she would be praying for those girls when she journals.

I am wondering if maybe journaling for our future husbands, our current husbands, and maybe even our passed husbands should be more of a norm? And maybe it is, but maybe it isn't. Maybe you have three little ones to chase around and feel overwhelmed at the thought of it. Maybe you aren't married and are nervous to let your heart go there, to hope. 

Maybe if I journaled and prayed and wrote more letters to my Future Husband when I was in high school, I would not have gotten so wrapped up in the midst of numbing one pain with another thing that didn't look like pain [boyfriending and thus, things that follow]. But it is also possible that you are not married or do not plan to ever get married, and that is just as much okay as the former. I told the girls, my girls that are not my girls, that they didn't have to use the journal for that reason, but that was why I had purchased them. I told them that there may be times where they don't want to ever get married, and that is beautifully okay, and they can spend time studying God's word and praying their hearts closer to His, becoming His beloved, regardless. But if they do choose to study what marriage looks like, what their Future Husbands character should reveal, praying for their dailyness and everything...how cool of a gift would it be to give him? How much of a treasure would it be to look back through it with him and see how God worked through your prayers? The prayers you prayed, for him?

If you are part of any sort of youth ministry, I wonder if you might pray about doing this for your girls too? Or something similar, something that fits your girls. I didn't know it was actually that cool until a flood of texts came through the next day sharing that some of them had already written letters and prayed for their Future Husband and how excited they are about them.

I love journals. We have some going for future kids.

Do you journal?

 

On growing old: a letter

lets get wrinky  on growing old  marriage Dear Husband,

When I purchased your wedding band three short years ago, I requested them to etch a few words into the white gold that you would wear for the rest of your life. As I wrote the words I so carefully picked out to place into the ring, the lady across the cold glass counter stared at me. She asked, "Are you sure?"

"Yes." I replied plainly. "Yes, of course I am sure!"

[Let's get wrinkly]

were the words I paid to engrave into that white gold ring.

581568_10151170110369243_408443467_n

Wrinkly is not simply a goal, but a thrilling and frightening dream. A dream that seems so far and yet too near. A supreme dream that seems simple and almost easy, but discretely daunting and serious, extremely. You see my dear, I am honored to grow old with you, to be on your team. I hear that there are hard years, smoother years, sick years and healthy years. I see there is pain and I have seen there is joy - some we have experienced, deeply and unfortunately, but the key part of the beauty is the word, "we." Together. We have many years before us. We are such babies and I cannot imagine with the good Lord Jesus has in store for us.

Sometimes while I am getting my face ready to greet the day, you join me in the tiny space we call our bathroom. You pull me in close, your arms tight around me, and you place your head near my neck so that we are cheek to cheek. We stare into each others eyes through the mirror that coexists as our toothbrush cabinet. And we smile. We sit in that place of togetherness because our hearts reside there, safely. Tucked into the other. Often while we are doing this thing of sticking close and staring at the togetherness, I do my best to soak in the skin that currently protects our bodies - it is soft and smooth, nearly wrinkle-free. There are minor blemishes. I know that too soon, I will stare into that mirror and wonder when those wrinkles arrived. I know that too soon, we will be cheek to cheek and our wrinkles may be overlapping. I will do my best to be okay with this. Because with you, I am growing old.

And those wrinkles will be a trophy proclaiming, "We fought for our marriage. We worked hard and we are where we are, together. We had hard conversations and honestly painful days. We chose one another over self, day after day, we chose love even when we felt far from it. We denied our desires to flirt with others, to see what it would be like to be with someone else. We saw the big picture, instead of just what was before us. We walked through valleys and darkness...and through it all He held us together holding hands. And these wrinkles are our trophy."

love chocolate cherubs

I have agreed, vowed, that marriage is so much more than a piece of paper. I am understanding that life is fragile, even but a vapor  - over these last few months, we have learned that so much deeper. I want to learn these painfully difficult lessons with you nearest to my heart, you holding my hand [wrinkle-free or not], you pulling me close to remind me that you are here and not going anywhere.

I will not imagine growing old and wrinkly with anyone but you. 

I look forward to swallowing our vitamins every morning with each other as a life long routine. You making coffee ever so carefully; me making eggs ever so scrambly. I dare to say we may never live by the world's term of grandly, but I will gladly live plainly by your side, growing  old. Even wrinkly.

With a heart loving yours,

Natalie

button250

This letter is part of The Letter Link-Up. They are written to remember mundane moments that would otherwise slip away, to hold tight to him, and to remember how life looks right now at this very moment with the chance to shed light on your heart. 

Dying to myself in marriage - What?

a blog post on marriage I was recently posed with this question, "How do I share a bed and a bathroom? How do I share my coffee? HOW DO I LIVE WITH A MAN?

The thing I've come back to so many times during our marriage is dying to myself. It is so easy to become pig headed and hurtful, throwing vicious words like daggers and ferocious glares like arrows. When a discussion doesn't go my way, it is often too easy to be stuck up and stubborn, prideful and rude. Thinking my way is best, my way or the highway, doofus.

[Oh the ugliness that ensues when self is in control of me, rather than Spirit]

Over and over again, I must die to myself. I must say, "Self, the world and this marriage does not revolve around you: I know, hard to swallow."

To die to self is to listen and exist where the other is at. Whether that is in joy, in trial, in happiness, in sorrow, in frustrating days and victorious days...go to where they are and be there. Be present, be with, know.

To die to self is to swallow the need to prove oneself right or correct. Is crushing someone's spirit so that you can prove you're better/smarter/cooler/more Awesome in correct-ness really worth it? Is proving yourself right to humiliate someone else satisfying?

To die to self is to ask forgiveness, to admit that you hurt the other person - and that was wrong. That was unloving. That was selfish. Sometimes it takes going into the other room and breathing deeply, asking Jesus to calm your wildly beating heart that is turning hard as stone. For me, it often means asking God to humble me, to soften that stoney heart. Which is painful at times, even humiliating. Because in those moments I am admitting that I was wrong, I am imperfect, I can be mean and cruel and unloving. I am selfish. But in those moments when we are raw and honest and broken and humiliated...then we are dying to self and ready to ask forgiveness. Ready to apologize. Ready for restoration. That is where a relationship can flourish.

dying to self marriage blog post

To die to self is to serve the other, to see them as valuable, important, human. To give 100% and expect 0. What I mean by this is that dying to self means loving unconditionally. Without conditions. Without strings attached. To serve and sacrifice without the, "Only if/because he ______." To serve unconditionally is to surpass human capability and you will need Something, Someone, greater to teach you and give you the will power to do so on a continual basis. That is where it gets hard...the continual part.

To die to self is to acknowledge that you, me, I am not in fact the most important thing for this universe.

I cannot imagine not having Jesus. Not having His guidance, example, and Spirit to strengthen me in these times of self-denial would make it impossible. He is the ultimate sacrificer, the ultimate self-denier, the ultimate giver of self. Only He can give me and you the strength we need to die to ourself and see others as more important, as valuable, as human.

If you find yourself reading this and are an unmarried being, don't disregard. This is for you too. This little reminder is for every human in every relationship.

 

the other morning's sunrise outside of our patio apartment

 

NOTE: I am not saying that you must be a doormat. I also am not talking about abusive relationships. That is completely different. I am talking about two people, committed to one another, and covenanting to sacrifice for and serve one another. Not for their own gain, but out of complete and utter selfless love.

 

When waves come crashing at your feet

a blog post about trials and Jesus Dear girls-

It has been so long since we have met on this space. The days and weeks that have passed since I last wrote to you have held so much life.

Girls. [My whole heart and desire is to show you more of Christ.] I yearn into my bones and back out through my entire existence to point you towards Him, to reveal that He is in fact the very best thing for you, and that you need Him. I don't know how else to put it: without Him, life sucks. Without the Life Source, the Hope, the Joy, the Freedom that only Jesus can give, life isn't all that it can be.

With or without Jesus, you will have trials and troubles, worries and concerns, fears and temptations. Life will still throw itself at you like a whirlwind attempting to drown the joy in your heart, forcing it to disintegrate like sand in your hands. The waves of the ocean may crash and tumble, twisting you all around, banging your precious body on the sandy bottom of the sea. The storms will still show up, tossing your hair up and around, tangling it into a mess of knots attempting to frustrate you.

Without Jesus, crumbling to bits and pieces has never felt so lonely, so desperate, so hopeless.

take heart for i have overcome

With Jesus, crumbling to bits and pieces reminds you that there is Hope for tomorrow, Hope for forever, and Joy amidst the strongest of waves. Amidst whatever waves crashing against your flesh, Jesus is more present than I could ever attempt to explain. Jesus is there and He is close and He is holding your heart. He is safe and secure, He is trustworthy, and He co-suffers with you. Jesus knows, He sees, He loves. He is patient and kind, He understands all, He believes the best for you. Jesus gives you freedom when you accept the Truth that your circumstances do not define you. The truth that when a situation stirs up your world, weighs your soul so heavy you cannot stand, Jesus still defines you as beloved, as His. Jesus gives you worth and meaning and purpose. Jesus remains.

My girls. You may or may not have waves crashing at your feet, threatening the very life you desire, attempting to steal you away into despair. But there will [more than likely] be a day when the waves are too strong for you, too scary, too big. They may not seem fair. And when those waves are threatening your joy and your hope, I pray that you cling to Jesus. I pray you remember that Jesus sees the biggest picture, is piecing together the picture for all of humanity. I pray that you see Him there and you believe that He is for you. I pray and I hope with earnest that you let Him be near you. That you accept the gift of grace and freedom that He so earnestly offers you.

I love you girls. You know that.

But He loves you more than I could ever dream to.

With so much hope,

Natalie

when waves come crashing

A Beautiful Mess at Church.

This last Sunday, I was a mess at church! But a beautiful mess, at that. Those are the best type of messes, the beautiful ones. About half way through the music portion of first service, I broke down weeping. (Last Monday during my minor surgery, there were 3 very amazing men praying together in the hospital's chapel.) We were singing a beautiful song led by our beautifully bald worship leader, Jeff, when I was overwhelmed with thanksgiving for these men. I turned around to see Mark, then Kent, then Mike. As I thanked each one for spending time praying for me, I felt like such a baby. Crying ash (mascara, really), all over them and just blubbering. A pathetic but beautiful mess.

First service ends, second begins. During this wonderful set of songs, a beautiful woman walks up to Pastor Mike and asks if she can dance. Dance! For Jesus! Of course you can dance! Please, by ALL MEANS DANCE YOUR HEART OUT! So she goes over to the back east corner behind the cafe to dance. Not to be a distraction, not to bring attention to herself nor to be holier than thou. But to worship. So, naturally, I began sobbing again. A mess. It is a mystery that my eyes did not fall out. Can you please soak in this beauty? Yes, I am the creepy person who takes photos without asking permission. For now, I dont think its illegal. Sorry.

20131007-170608.jpg

As I stood in the back, or rather slouched, I gazed over the people sitting in the awkwardly reclined chairs (come check them out for yourself).

First, there with the short blonde hair and blue sweater. You cannot see her husband, but he is on her right. This couple has been with us since before the beginning. They have had quite the year. They are so faithful, so loving, so genuine and beautiful (I love the word beautiful). He does our graphic art (is that what its called?) and she helped start up our cafe. They are gifts. As I thought of them and thanked God for them, I let my beautiful mess get messier. There was no fixing this mess.

20131007-170713.jpg

Here below in the back of this blurry photo is a woman with shoulder length hair and a denim shirt. Weekly & behind the scenes she serves our Jesus and her church family. She is a prayer warrior. A single mom who is, to be so honest, incredible. For tear down, she consistently sweeps the building after she takes out all of the dirty trash (as opposed to clean trash?), never complaining. She is so important to us and her faithfulness gets me deep in the gut. I am so appreciative of her example for my life. As I prayed for her and thanked God for her, the mess got ever messier.

20131007-170720.jpg

Still above, see the man up front on stage wearing ear plugs or something? Maybe they are head phones. He is playing the djembe. Maybe it is a cohon. Either way, this man moved his family from a different city to be a key part of this church plant. Of this church family. Of this community. They lived in a camper trailer for months just to be here. To put it simply, he is one of my heroes. He is doing a full time masters program, working full time, and has 3 children and a beautiful wife. He has an over-time life and still gives abundantly to this community. He is an amazing artist, a talented musician, and so much more. Each week, his hug is like a dad's hug to me. As I watched him lead us into worshiping God, my beautifully messy mess was just becoming a disaster on my face. I mean, I think I lost some eye lashes, people.

20131007-170729.jpg

Lastly, this man. Jeff. Our beautifully bald worship leader. Oh the faithfulness of this man. If I could even begin, I would not know where. But, as you know, I was already in shambles. Weeping over the faithfulness of our church family. This community being built here in this city. this beautiful town of Corvallis. And I am so deeply grateful for this generous, humble, loving, and completely accepting man. The people that make up Corvallis Church are more than I could have dreamed. Which MEANS God is so much bigger than I can even believe! People are faithful which means they are humbly committing themselves to a messy group of people. That when the going gets tough and issues arise, they still stick around. Faithfulness is a sure sign of humility. The faithfulness of the people had turned me into a beautiful mess this last Sunday. And I am more than okay with that.

So I ask: who in your life has been faithful? Who, through the yucky and mucky stuff, has stuck around? Who do you need to thank God for, and maybe write a thank you letter to?

My bible study this morning ended with this: "No doubt Gods heroes are those who never forget HIS faithfulness. May we be counted among them."

Recovery Week

(read "so I had surgery" here) I have recovered for the most part! I still can't participate in tickle fights, Indian leg wrestling, or bungee jumping. Nor will I be able to stick my luggage in the overhead department on the plane this Thursday (say whaaaatttt! You read me, I am going to Canada!). BUT! I can slice tomatoes again, make cookies (which I made last night), walk around without breathing like a chain smoker, and I can almost wear normal pants. My stitches are almost healed! I must say though, my belly button looks weird. The other night, I asked Loren how a surgeon would sew a belly button back on. We hadn't seen it yet since it had the steri-strips on. Well today, I took them off. And it looks a little lumpy. It is kind of odd and it was bleeding. (TMI? It's a blog so everything is TMI) Anyways, not sure if I should get that checked out.

Last week, I think my heart did some major hiking through the Cascade mountains. I mean, major. Like sweating bullets, weeping, and jumping through miracles. The Lord Jesus is good and I have nothing else to say. Well, I do, but that is all I should say. One of my closest friends, Heather, literally scrubbed my bathroom. When I say the word "literally," it is because I cannot even believe it. I was blessed so deeply that I can't even put words to it. I should stop typing, because words do not give the love justice that I felt. I could not help but pray favor over her, over and over and over again. Thank you, Jesus. A ridiculous amount of grace happened inside my heart..whatever that means, it is what it is. Jesus did some work and I will give one small glimpse:

Sometimes Jesus smacks ya right in the soul through the unexpected. Through the lady you've known for a month and only seen 3 separate times. The lady who has the busiest of busy lives. Someone you would least expect to even care a centimeter about you.

Her words pierced my being like a jagger. And I say that knowing full well I sound like a drama queen. But it's true: a jagger bringing lots and lots of blood out of my heart only to make it clean. We were simply conversing about whether or not to phone the on-call nurse, asking why it still hurts to breathe. Is it possible I have another PE? Things like that.  I excused it by explaining that I have become an overly cautious & paranoid patient, that it could wait until tomorrow. (Which, I didn't have another blood clot. But, it was a very valid thing to worry about). And these were her 1st words that penetrated my being:

"You are worth loving. You are worth being treated with respect and honor. You are valuable. You are cherished."

I have said these words (and been told these words) to a multitude of girls on so many occasions that I had somehow & impossibly forgotten that they were true for me as well as every other child on this earth. These words that I so often speak so directly into people's hearts, they ring true for me too. And yet, I seem to forget so easily.

She then said, "Natalie (put your name here!) you are allowed to see yourself with those eyes."

This conversation seemed to be coursing on a much deeper level than a simple call to the doc. A level I had no intention of reaching on that night and in that way.

I responded with thanks and: "These are the times Jesus reminds me of His love in the most intimate ways. When I am physically broken and completely weak."

Her 3rd sentence that pierced me was this: "I was much like you. It is hard to wrap your heart around that simple conclusion of self worth and allowing yourself to be weak and vulnerable. It took my body [being physically broken] to turn my silly heart & mind directly towards God."

These things, this pain, is not in vain. From blood clots to surgeries for random unknown benign lumps to wave crashes to ATV accidents to concussions from headbutting a girl (it was an accident) to so many more things...to a week of recovery from a laparoscopy... they were each used to direct my attention to Jesus. To remind me that when I am weak, He is strong. That I am loved, though I can give nothing.

I know there could be worse things happening to me. Far worse. Cancer, paralysis, death, liver failure, all sorts of junk. All sorts. But I wonder, for those people who have it worse or have it the same or simply have a bad day, (we all have those), are you able to rest in His presence? To rest and know that you are wonderfully made? That YOU are worth it. YOU are valuable. YOU are so deeply cherished. I wish I could look in every single persons eyes and tell them this. Let it penetrate their core like it does mine. You must know this. We must tell each other this. This. Is. Truth.

"With no effort or manufacturing of joy, your beautiful presence and beautiful spirit brings the joy of Jesus. It is not by your strength and it is nothing that you have to worry about creating in your own strength." But it only happens when you rest in His love and let that be enough..only when that happens can we be glorifying for God. Even through our sickness and injury, when we are physically broken (I mean downright stuck in bed for a week or even for months) and immune to strength. When we feel as though we literally cannot go on. That is when He can be and will be strong. So let Him be.

This, I am relearning.

https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=e770d99faa&view=att&th=141953f671cc7e52&attid=0.0&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P8TqAnOrNN8mCmYlhLQuWyr&sadet=1381188539994&sads=DIvXA-zHMrouICH8C_BBe70nAw0&sadssc=1

Someone was taking selfies on my phone.

https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=e770d99faa&view=att&th=141953f671cc7e52&attid=0.1&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P8TqAnOrNN8mCmYlhLQuWyr&sadet=1381188568350&sads=FqJlcG7JU-5_7OcZYy78QWsa1nc

I am seriously dreading the death of all of this life and beauty in my home! Thank you, friends!

The Purpose of Marriage.

"What is marriage for? It is for helping each other to become our future glory-selves, the new creations that God will eventually make us.... Within this Christian vision for marriage, here is what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of the person God is creating, and the say, 'I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to His throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, 'I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!'' Each spouse should see the great thing that Jesus is doing in the life of their mate through the Word, the gospel. Each spouse should give him or herself to be a vehicle for that work and envision that day that you will stand together before God, seeing each other presented in spotless beauty & glory.

In this view of marriage, each person says to the other, 'I see all your flaws, imperfections, weaknesses, dependencies. But underneath them all I see growing the person God wants you to be.'

The goal is to see something absolutely ravishing that God is making of the beloved.

When two Christians who fully understand this stand before the minister all decked out in their wedding finery, they realize they're not just playing dress up. What they're saying is that someday they are going to be standing not before the minister but before The Lord. And they will turn to see each other without spot and blemish. And they hope to hear God say, 'Well done, good and faithful servants. Over the years you have lifted one another up to me. You sacrificed for one another. You held one another up with prayer and with thanksgiving. You confronted each other. You rebuked each other. You hugged and loved each other and continually pushed each other toward Me. And now look at you. You're radiant.'

Romance, sex, laughter, and plain fun are the by-products of this process of sanctification, refinement, glorification. However, what keeps your marriage going through the years & years of ordinary life is your commitment to your spouse's holiness. You're committed to his or her beauty, greatness, perfection, honesty, and passion for the things of God. That's your job as a spouse. Any lesser goal than that, any smaller purpose, and you're just playing at being married."

--Tim Keller

This is barely a glimpse of what Keller offers in his book, The Meaning of Marriage. It is deep, profound, challenging, inspiring, and most importantly, gospel-driven. He is amazing. I encourage any and every one to read it. This is the best & only book I'll recommend on marriage (after my whole 13 months of it). But! My pastor & his lovely wife who has been married 20 years also recommends it.

Totally worth the buy.

Sometimes You Need a Blanket-Fort.

IMG_5958 I don't know about you, but sometimes you just need to construct a blanket fort, make some pumpkin pie (paleo of course), and watch Balto. Don't forget the snuggling with your husband part. Some weeks are filled with so many emotions, so much mental-usage, not enough Spirit-filling-up moments, and a whole lot of being awake. And at the end of those weeks, those weeks full of weepy nights, long hours, and self-centered self pity, you just need a blanket fort. It just needs to happen. You should let it happen. Your heart can be filled through such events, if you are truly grateful to Jesus for moments as such: loosen up those tense shoulders, don't think about the mess you are about to make (I lean towards OCD clean), build that fort, eat that food, let the dishes sit, and sleep on the hard ground. Without mom and dad yelling at you to clean it up. Guess what? You can clean it up whenever you want. Which is awesome, I will tell you that much.

I encourage you to do this. Let your childlike passions and dreams come alive, the ones that mom and dad thought were annoying. Allow yourself to jump on the bed. To dance around in your under pants. To fling mashed potatoes against the wall or at your husband's face; I have never done that, but I have been tempted to for a good laugh. Just let it happen. Let your inner child break free once in awhile and relax. That's what we are anyways: a child of God.

Life will go on and you will be blessed.

IMG_5964

Psalm 62

Quietly I waitbefore my great God there, victory generates as I allow Him to permeate my heart. He alone is my rock and salvation separation from Him leads my soul into starvation, for He is my fortress, where I will never be shaken. Oh Lord my God would you dip my heart into your saturation? It is your creation.

Let my entire being all that I am, pause before You, as you restore your creation, pouring out love unfailing for my hope is in You alone. Alone You are on the throne as my foundation my only salvation, my sacred citadel where Your love excels. My victory and honor come from God alone and this has been made known when my sins He atoned.

O my people, trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart to Him, for God is our place to hide.

Psalm 62.

"I AM"

"I AM loveI AM grace. I am joy, the One who has placed before you a race, as I chase after you with arms craving to embrace you."

"I AM your Creator. I made you with perfection just as you are, yet I see self-rejection your dislike toward your body which breaks My heart for you are a reflection of ME. To cast rejection upon yourself is to project it in My direction as well."

"I AM your Friend. Your personal Comforter, the One who will mend, defend, and extend unending love. On Me and Me alone, you can depend. I will not forsake you. Only will I remake you but always for the better. In many ways, you will break but I will be there as your Begetter, comforting you in ways I made you to be comforted. For only I truly know your heart's lullaby. I AM your Friend more than you can comprehend."

"I AM the One you betray. As you go along through your day claiming a display, carrying My name, you bring dishonor to Me, shame. You curse those around you, leading strangers further astray. You choose to disobey creating in Me a deep dismay. On My heart your soul weighs: you are neither hot nor cold, yet just as I have said before out of My mouth I will spit you and from there you will not be restored. Do not forget this Truth: your life is but a vapor."

"I AM the man who stands at your Father's right hand, the man who was scorned wearing a crown of thorns as my Father above mourned. This was the plan since I had been born."

"I AM everlasting casting an invitation into the best eternity without limitation. I can restore any situation which results in a beautiful exultation. Come away with Me get up off your knees & venture with Me oversea and through the trees. I will show you grace embellished as I embrace you with cherished love. Come away today, never to decay.. for into a new creation you are being made."

Neighborhood Children + M&M's.

These are some of my neighborhood orphans. The boys' names are Caleb (orange shirt), who has introduced me to "Landon my brother" (waving in the dark shirt) about sixteen times. And over there in the pink shirt and adorable pig tails, well that is Dora. Her older sister Denise chose her name. 20130906-212255.jpg

Last night as Loren and I were getting into the car to head downtown to the Beanery, I saw Caleb bending over that drain, sticking his fingers into that pile of dirt. And he was definitely eating it.

"Caleb! What are you eating?!" His response as he looked up and sprinted across the parking lot to our car was, "DOG POOP!" He was smiling so big. But as he approached me he asked "Hey. Do you have M&M's?"

20130906-212306.jpg

On the left is Caleb again (quite the littele tyrant) hauling some baby I had never met into my house.  I was looking around just waiting for the cops to show up yelling "stranger danger." The thing about Caleb is that he brings all of the other neighborhood kids to my door and begs for candy. You cannot see, but to the left of that adorably chubby baby are two more girls. Julia and a girl Loren and I refer to as "that one girl." (I should really learn her name).

20130906-212313.jpg

This is Caleb, once again. I had given him some M&M's about 1800 times before this and ran out of them. The day before this photo was taken, I offered him a tomato in replace of M&M's (haha) which he happily took. Biting into it like an apple, he scrunched his face, and then he stated "I dont like potatoes." Oh the joy.

The following day, I arrived home late, was exhausted, and ready for bed. As I got out of the car I dropped all of my groceries because a little tyrant M&M seeking boy was hiding behind my car door and shrieked "DO YOU HAVE M&M'S TODAY?!" I did not, so instead I asked him to help me carry in all my food and I would give him some chocolate chips.

20130906-212347.jpg

About a week ago, these precious rugrats were literally waiting outside of my door for us to get home. It was getting DARK. To the left of the stairs is my door. They had piled up about 300 random balls and 3 bikes.

Chilling M&M-lady got home.

The second we rounded the corner into our hall way, the question was asked. No, stated: "Can we have M&M's." It was music to my ears.

How can you resist a bunch of kids who are always running around the parking lot? All day, all night, literally keeping us up with their screaming games until after 10 pm. I am sure they are orphans -- there are never any parents around. Ever. Not even mentioned. It is odd.

I anticipate the question, "DO you have M&M's?" I love it. I love these kids. I have told Caleb about Jesus and I want to just sit with them in a circle and tell them about Noah and the Ark. I dont know why, I just do. I want to give them yummy food and invite them in to make cookies (is that so illegal?).

But seriously people! Do you have precious children running around your life that need a little extra attention?. Maybe some M&M's? Maybe you can make a mark on these precious, most fragile lives that are so fertile. So ready to have some seeds of Life planted.

Maybe you can be remembered as the neighbor who gave them M&M's and shared the best thing ever shared (Jesus. Love). MAYBE, you can give them Jesus so they can give Jesus to others. IMG_5740

PS. Please note this: tonight I made cookies and they (you can't see them all but there were 5) were literally smashed up against our "drive through window" for an hour. It was great. It made my night. And my soul is being refreshed by these vibrant tyrants.