The letter link up on refreshment

refreshement link up
My dear husband Loren,
This recent job transition has hit me in a way I did not expect. That sunny Saturday you finished your last shift at Trillium Farm Home, I remember rushing home to clean, put on a little make up, fix my hair and be beautiful for you. I prayed for you more that day than I had in too long, I handed you to Jesus all over again, and I was thankful for a fresh new season: hours for full time ministry.We have been waiting for this new season, this change, this chapter of life. The day you no longer have to request Fridays and Saturdays off so that we can take our youth students to retreats. The day you don't have to request an entire month off so that we can be at summer camps, pouring ourselves out into the most beautiful thing: lives. We have been waiting for this time to spend geared towards serving this beautiful church. We have been looking eagerly at this time like it would bring the answer. Answer to what? I am unsure, but surely it would provide something.

It did usher in something; like the clear crisp mornings we have been enjoying this January, your job transition has cleared up our foggy attempt at serving humans after you already spent a full day pouring yourself into dangerous and troubled youth...and it cleared up the weight you feel resting upon your heart. Cleared up as in made known - your calling to serve Corvallis Church was affirmed. As your hours transitioned from the Farm Home to serving this church, it dawned on me that we are a really good team. It became a new time of serving others, inviting in more people, meeting with more beautiful and amazing humans, but forgetting to see one another face to face. Our hearts were not being stitched closer as they once were; we were easily irritated with one another, and that bothered me. It hit me: we must spend sacred time together, just me and you and Jesus, or we will forget we are married and simply exist as a team. It's so easy to live side by side, working together and pouring ourselves out...all the while forgetting to stand soul to soul and see the most important human before our very eyes, forsaking intimacy.

Working together is beautiful and I have no words to explain what an honor it is. It is a rare gift that I don't want to take lightly and it knits us together in unique ways. I cannot imagine spending my time doing anything else right now - sitting side by side with you, praying with a couple or a hurting student or planning youth events and talking about ways others can see Jesus is my favorite thing. I mean that with all that I am. But like the bone chilling crisp air, I was reminded to my core how important time with you is. Time not in front of a screen or planning the next best thing. I want to set my cell phone down while we are together and in the car so I'm not distracted.

 time keller meaning of marraige quote

I crave to spend time face to face, soul to soul; playing games or praying or going on runs or taking walks or dreaming up life or sitting across from one another at a coffee shop...without our computers or books or a list of to-do's. It can be difficult to justify this as good time spent, when it seems we are together so often. But the sticky thing is, we are together with many others, often forsaking those vulnerable and intimacy building moments that are so necessary. So my dear, let us spend time together. Let us go on a date and spend a night away and play games together. Let us protect our marriage.

I'm convinced marriage is more fragile than we can comprehend and I don't want to forsake it. A fragile entity that must be handled with care, vulnerability, humility, integrity. It is a precious gift we should not neglect. So let us continue to chase Him together; let's be married and keep falling in love with one another by choice and out of that may our ministry and life overflow.

Besides. I like who you are. I like your humor and your heart and the crazy way your mind contains vast amounts of random knowledge. I like your smile and your crazy bearded face. I love that you chuckle crack yourself up; I also love that you think I'm funny. I love your heart for people and your desire to reveal Christ in a selfless way. I like you. I want to be with you, I want to know you and be known by you.

With a heart craving yours,

Natalie (runt)

 tim keller quote

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"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."
The Letter Link-up | Mr. Thomas & Me

Pulling my head out & headed to Canada!

nats canada adventures I'm off to Canada.

Last year around this time, I was riding the Bolt Bus from PDX to Seattle to Bellingham to Vancouver BC for $28. I then rode Something from the train station in BC to the airport and flew to Edmonton, AB, snapped this photo(<left) along the way, and was welcomed by this stud and his stunning momma.

That chin, though.

What's in Canada? My college roommate and very dear friend Haley. She has the cutest son who will soon be blowing up my Instagram. Rumor has it, she has a possible trip to Jasper or Banff planned. This girl is the best.

I have been forsaking my Jesus. My sabbath. My day of rest. I am gaining a deeper understanding of why God made "keeping a sabbath day holy, 1 day a week," an actual commandment. It is for our sanity, for our health, for our best well-being. I don't mean resting all day before the TV screen watching television or movies; I have never left the TV screen and felt empowered and rested. My brain is exhausted and stimulated after that. I mean resting in His presence, in His word, in His very real love for me. For you.

I have gotten myself into a a place of busy. Note: I have done this. Not my job(s), not my family, not my church, not my responsibilities. I could blame my hectic and chaotic life on those things, but the reality of the matter is, I said yes. I am the one who piles on All The Things. I choose my calendar just as I choose my attitude. I choose to forsake my Sabbath Mondays and this last Monday I was deeply broken by my decision.

What I had forgotten was that, not only does my sweet time with Jesus mean so much to me and my soul, but it's special to Him too. He longs to spend time with us.

>>See how refreshed I looked after last year's trip? That's what I'm going for. I was in the same boat - coming off of a ridiculous summer, in the middle of a busy fall {HEAR THIS: allllll good things, just a lot of things}, and left for a week to spend Canada Thanksgiving (which is on a Monday in October) with one of my best friends. I needed rest. Rest in Him found in Canada. I needed to forcefully pull myself away. Here in this wonderful and charming and SO JOYOUS photo, I was sitting in the park waiting for the bus in the beautiful city of Vancouver, BC. I was knitting. KNITTING. Simply sitting and knitting. I know. So P31 of me.

My life is no different from yours, or maybe it probably is. But the reality is, you can say yes to things or you can say no. There are some things I think I can't say no to. But really, I can. For instance, it is unhealthy to fill your calendar full of 12 individual coffee dates/hikes/dinner guests/meetings in the time frame of 6 days + regular small groups + services + oh right, computer work, and photography, and studying birth. It is this thing of pride and fear that it boils down to. Every darn time. I wish that it wasn't so, but it so is.

>>I like to think of the money I make in photography and wedding coordinating and pillow making as my "allowance." We are on a very tight budget, and I don't have a steady enough income from these things to impact an area of budget, but it brings me a spending allowance that I did not have. So, I saved my allowance and I am heading to Canada. Thank you, clients! Literally wouldn't be going without you. I know that I won't always be able to simply get on a plane for a week of my choosing and peace out, leaving Loren with a few prepped meals and a long smooch goodbye. But while I can still do this, I best be taking advantage of it.

We all have things pushing at our seams, begging for our attention, filling our calendar. We all live in the world where busy seems to be the norm and what we use to give us value. And that's just the thing, it feels like it devalues me. Stretches me so thin that ME begins to be a non-existent reality. In order to serve others well, we must make time to do things we enjoy. At our leisure. Not squeezed into an hour time slot.

When I bury myself into this lifestyle of scheduling coffee dates two months out (true story, so embarrassing), I become so selfish, so centered on me = bitterness, SO not Natalie. I am not walking in the Spirit of peace that I have access to; I am not choosing to be grateful in the small things; I am not soaking in this truly beautiful and ridiculously privileged life. Because I am go-go-and going and never pausing. And that kills me. It breaks my own heart the state I can put it in -- and I desperately want to pursue His freedom. He is so full of freedom and joy and peace. These things come by slowing down. Pausing. Being still. I am forcing my head out of the calendar and placing it in Canada to breathe and pray and get on my knees. To be still and soak in His goodness.

So. To all humans everywhere:

We are not called or made to live busily.

Our identity does not lie in what we do (or do not do).

We are commanded a day of rest to truly rest in His presence. To be built up, to fight the enemy's lies with His words, to soak in His love and grace and freedom. T0 literally bask in His love for us. Not to sit in front of the computer or television screen. To rest in who He has made us to be.

The world will still go on if you slow down and enjoy life, choosing joy, living slowly. In actual fact, I have experienced it and the world exists as a place of beauty. (Shameless plug, visit my A Life of Joy category)

To the women called into a full time ministry: you cannot do it all. You cannot meet with everyone, you should not meet with everyone; in fact, you we are stealing someone else's chance to serve, love, minister. Take some time, look at your schedule, and pray about what to get rid of. Pray for ways to point people to other women. I have done this 2 times in the last week and it has been a gift to each woman involved. Find something you love, and make a day for it. For me, I love making our home. So I am finding a day of the week set apart to do solely homemaking things; and really seeing it as a priority. Rest in His presence. Every day, have those times of focus with Him. Cry in His presence, sing, dance, rejoice...be YOU.

>>To you women in ministry: I am carefully and prayerfully crafting a new series just for us.  My hope is that you would find encouragement in knowing you are not alone. That we can be honest and transparent and real, that we can love each other with honest vulnerability, and then go out and love our flocks.

I'm off to Canada to spend time praying and evaluating what Jesus has for me. I am discovering (over and over and over again) that selflessly denying my flesh is in the denying of my pride in trying to "do it all." It is saying no, no I cannot do that because I am incapable and I am human and I am fickle and weak. But He, He can do it. And He can do it through someone else.

Also. I already miss my church family and students and most of all my husband, so much. I am so much more a home body than I thought.

PS> on a side note, I seem to bounce between extremes of yes's and no's. If you relate, may I recommend a book? Books are great. Click on it to purchase.

 

A Church that is Blowing My Mind.

What if there was a time and a place that was created simply to be together, to share a meal together? What if there was a place where it was safe to mess up, where it was safe to snort while laughing, and be yourself as "unacceptable" as that may be? What if there was a place where middle schoolers were accepted and loved as humans by the older generation?

Tuesday night youth group rocked my pants off! (If that were true I would be in jail). But seriously, our Young Adult group from Corvallis Church joined our youth group for a potluck and games.

Can I just say that sharing a meal must be the best and most Jesus-y thing ever? Not to be heretical or anything, but in all honesty when we share meals it is like saying, "Hey, let us be friends. Let us commune. We are equals, on a journey at different paces and different stages, challenged with different obstacles. But one thing is for sure, you have a belly and I have a belly and we need food. Wanna eat?"

I will also say that hearing a spark-plug 12 year old girl squeal and squawk can actually make you deaf - I am sure. Especially when it happens every thirty seconds for about 2 and a half hours. It is like having an earthquake within your body and you are unsure if anyone has lived through it. And yet, not one of the adults left, not one complained, not one yelled at the excited middle school girl. No, they loved her. And she thrived with joy. To me, that is a mystery. It is a mystery that a group of 18-29 year olds got to spend the evening with a group of 11-17 year olds, and everyone clearly enjoyed them self. It is a mystery that sharing a meal and simply being together is possibly the most unifying act...but is also the easiest and simplest act in the world. It is a mystery that we played games and they were enjoyed by middle schoolers and career-ers alike.

On a world's standard, this makes no sense.
It makes absolutely no sense to spend time with "lesser than" people -- and in this world, if you are younger then you are lesser.
Jesus. Jesus brings us together when it makes no sense -- Jesus brings joy to the relationship that makes no sense: the man who breathes hunting & outdoors somehow relates with the man who grew up as a city boy and went to Bible College. Jesus is the unifier, the common theme. Jesus brings a middle school girl to heal a broken heart of a 27 year young lady. It makes no sense. But at the same time, it brings all the joy.

I am still processing the beauty & restoration that fellowship, koinonia, brings.