When you desire to be fully Christ’s, body, mind and soul.

I woke up with a day to myself before me. My daughter was with her nama (grandma) and wouldn’t be home until evening.

Immediately, I knew I needed to spend the day alone with God, resting, praying, listening. I needed quiet and slow, allow solitude to nurture me back to health emotionally and physically.

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Not only was I emotionally fried from weeks of walking a new season of life- one full of new work and new burdens that feel far to0 heavy to carry- but also physically fried. I’d hardly eaten in over a month and my lack of health had led to a poor immense system. Now I’m lying in bed weak and unable to do much anything; bone weary, shaky and light headed.

I felt weak emotionally and physically and I knew the place to start with restoration was spiritually; to connect back with the one who made me and knows me intimately, inside and out. 

I began simply by speaking what was on my heart- thanksgiving for all he had been doing and the ways he had prepared me for this exact moment in time, in my life, in history. I no longer doubted myself or Him. His plan was underway and the things he spoke and imprinted on my heart ten years ago, were starting to unfold. This was the beginning and I knew it without question. 

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As fast as the thanksgiving poured out, the worry began. The fears next, but mostly the regret – the guilt that had consumed me for the past month. I lay it all out before God and confessed that while my heart and soul belonged to him, my body- physically- had not yet been redeemed and found home in him.

And like a revelation, I suddenly saw it: for years I have hated my physical body, beating it into submission trying to silence it’s voice. I had shamed her (my body) for not being what I wanted in each moment, whether that’s for vanities sake or the sake of wanting to be and do a million things yesterday. 

And then the vision came.

A picture formed in my mind of me walking- marching actually through life- dragging a dead weight body behind me, limp and dying; like Christ carrying the cross to calvary. Every so often I would turn and beat her, flog this body- my body- with a strap.

The little girl in me recognizes the body as herself and there I am dragging her and beating her for not being good enough, what I need her to be; for not being perfect. 

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While God has changed my heart dramatically in regards to chasing perfect, I realize I’ve applied grace to every area of my life exact the physical.

Somewhere down the line I had divorced my physical body and cast her aside, refusing to see her any longer as important and part of me. I

n her place- one I used to lift up and idolize- I’d replace her with things of holiness and righteousness. Except how can one divorce their physical when it is the temple of The Holy Spirit? The home of the very one to whom my heart belongs?

God knit my body together in my mother’s wombs and then placed his Spirit within me. All of me is of him made in His image;  the spiritual and the physical, the soul and the body. And he declared it good. All good.

While God has healed me of my eating disorder and body image struggles,  I suddenly see in this vision that I’m still hating the work of his hand; his unique masterpiece, my body.

I’ve been blaming her, judging her and shaming her for being so weak and carnal. I used to beat her up for being addicted, trying to hide her brokenness- food, sex, exercise and busyness. And here I am continuing to see her as bad and evil- the enemy -who led me into temptation and into bondage for so much of my life. Who, if i’m not careful, will lead me back there; one who can’t be trusted.

All I’d done is deflect the anger I used to beat my now healed heart up with, to my body.

I’d chosen to forgot about her, declare her good as dead to me and carried on with the rest of my life.

While food, exercise and body image no longer control me, I’ve abandoned all her felt needs along with it- mainly physical rest and proper nutrition.

Sure I eat, but it’s not enough and not what’s best; only what’s easy because I can’t be bothered to care enough. I’ve thrown her scraps as she sits at the masters table.

Sure I rest and have learnt to embrace slow, but I’ve been far more focused on caring for my mind and my spirit than the physical. I haven’t given her enough sleep or physical rest on my sabbath. Like a mom who’s just given birth and heads into the trenches of motherhood; depleted and deprived.

And consequently, like the apps constantly running in the background of my iPhone, my body is no longer working properly. I am malfunctioning and short circuiting.

My lack of heath is effecting every function of my life and being. I need a reset. 

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I turned on worship music- the playlist that somehow always brings me low; low in humility and I palpably feel the presence of my Lord and Saviour. I lay down on the floor and listen and wait. With my eyes closed I begin to feel myself respond.

In my minds eye I can see myself kneeling at the feet of Jesus, gripping his ankles with tears spilling down my face and onto his feet. I’m rocking back and forth, wailing in confession, when a sudden awareness of his love consumes me. I can feel it. And while I rock there telling him of all my wrong and bad, I can sense his acceptance and delight in me. Like he doesn’t see it or he doesn’t care. 

How can he love a wretch like me, I think; a broken, hysterical, mess of a woman like me?! Somehow he loves me and even delights in me regardless. But how and why? I cry in overwhelm now at the love and beauty amidst the ugly and hard. 

Then I see him get low.

He bends down, sits on his heels and facing each other, he throws his arms around me and embraces me in my snotty nose mess. He softly shushes me and tells me it’s ok and together we rock in unison of my wails.

He grabs my shoulders and with my arms pinned to my side, I see him stand me up and walk me to a stage in front of a large ground. He begins to tell the crowd that this here is his beloved, his chosen one, the women he loves completely. This is the woman he wants to spend eternity with in marriage.

The crowd stares in confusion at why such a man would choose a wreck like me. My wails get louder. I can hardly breath I’m crying so hard and I’m gasping for breath.

How? How I think to myself… why would you love this putrid mess? And to choose me? 

In this moment I’m completely undone. Physically and emotionally, I’m undone by this love. And then it hits me, from my head down to my heart: He’s not going anywhere and he’s dead serious.

Jesus loves this mess of a women; this makeup-less, snotty nosed and balling like a baby mess and he’ll continue to choose me and pursue me for the rest of my life. And he’ll keep telling me and showing me until I believe him. Until there’s no shadow of doubt left as to his devotion.

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Photo Credit: Dragonflight Photography

I see my body fall to the ground, completely wrecked my his love and unable to stand any longer – a surrender – a death of sorts. Jesus falls to the ground beside me and puts his hands on my chest.

I see him lay me down and cut horizontally from my chest down to my pubic none. He opens me up and reaches his hands inside me. He cups my heart with his hand I see His love start flowing inside me.

I’m physically gasping out loud now and my physical chest is beating and rising heavily. Something inside me is changing. I sense it’s my heart physically receiving his love. 

He stitches me back up like a surgeon and then runs his finger along the cut. It’s heals instantly and in my minds eye, I see a scar form in its place. I think of my C-Section scar and how the greatest things of love in my life have required surgery.

….Like how something inside me changed and a love I’d never experienced was birthed after having my daughter. My physical body now wears that scar proudly and I sense the same happening here.

God is changing me internally and in receiving his love, a new love is being birthed now; a love that like the love for my daughter, will forever change me.

There will be no going back. I will be made new by this love. 

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Photo Credit: Dragonflight Photography

In my own resurrection, I now see myself rising to heaven; my soul ascending, Jesus lifting it below me.

The sky is moving around me and suddenly I see myself standing in the throne room before God, Jesus presenting me to his father.

“This is my chosen- my beloved- my bride.” I hear him say. “And I want to marry her.”

Now the throne room turns into a wedding and like the infamous first dance, I’m dancing with my Saviour – my now husband.

At first my feet are perched on his and he’s carrying me, swaying me to the music. My head is nestled in the book of his neck and every so often he kisses my forehead.

The music changes and as the pace picks up, I’m realize I’m now dancing on my own two feet. I’m laughing while together Jesus and I twirl and dance before God the Father and a crowd of heavenly witnesses.

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Photo Credit: Ameris

Suddenly I see us lying in bed and the scene turns deeply intimate. Like a bridegroom and his beloved on their first night as man and wife. I witness in my minds eye a joining of two becoming one. And when it’s over, I’m exhausted, lying in a lovers coma. 

Somehow my heart knows what’s just happened:

Jesus has taken me as his own.  

Not just spiritually through my decision to follow Christ…

Not just emotionally in my learning to pray and share my heart with him unashamed…

But physically.

We are now united fully as one.

He mine and me his. 

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Photo Credit: Ameris

“And nothing will ever change that.” I utter out loud.

My flesh – my body – has been redeemed.  God has given me a gift in this vision; this meditative prayer of sorts.

When my mind doubts his love, my heart and body will now remember. I’ll be forever stamped, unable to doubt his love for me. 

And if Jesus loves me this much, I must begin to love me too- fully, wholly, relentlessly- including my body.

 

 

Finding Community I Never Knew Existed

We sat last night just four- three souls and mine- gathered in my tiny living room with candles burning and the lights down low. With music wafting and the sounds of our hearts echoing between each other.

Just four, like we used to be back when it all began three years ago. Back when I opened my door for the very first time, obediently, but not without apprehension.

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Like Abraham, God was calling me to go to a foreign land, to embrace people I didn’t know. People who were very different from me and likely, I never would have chosen for myself.

And yet, there we gathered; four women, all together unlikely as friends but bound by one common thread: a wrestling, a stirring, a longing for more…. For more of Jesus, to know that God was real and to encounter him. We wanted to be transformed by Him.

I’m no pastor, Im no theologian. Heck, I have not a stitch of formal training! But what I did have, and still do, is a heart that follows hard after God and clings passionately to Jesus.

It was enough then and it is enough now.

…Now, as we continue to gather each week as eight, grown from our original four. Some have gone, while others took their place. One had stuck with us the whole way through.

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And while there is so much that could be said for what’s happened in these past three years, I always come back to this:

God is in this, He is with us and His presence shows up each week to meet us … to change us.. to wreck us with his love.

On more than one occasion, we’ve had ladies who have grown up in church confess that they weren’t really “christians” until they came to this group. We’ve had others who refused to put a title to their faith come slowly and sweetly into surrender, now claiming Jesus as their own. We’ve had ladies who do not share our faith come, long to find community.

And here, gathered on my floor, wrapped in blankets on my couch, we’ve all found home for our weary, longing souls.

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I never knew community until I started this group. I never knew sisterly love until these women wrecked my walls….

The walls I used to build to keep people out and show them only what I wanted them to see. The walls that made me feel safe and yet at the same time, all together lonely. The walls that beckoned, “Don’t come in! If you saw what’s inside here you’d never love me and stay.” The walls that eventually formed a prison and locked me away from love, belonging and connection.

But God has done something in this group – in this space when he shows up: He’s given us zero tolerance for surface talk and a hunger for things of the deep.

The things way, way below the surface that rarely ever see the light of day; the thoughts, the fears, the wrestlings we’d rather push away and deny. It’s these things He calls to the surface, week after week after week. And while it’s scary, we discover something afresh each time: love, acceptance and empathy for who we are, whatever we are, exactly where we are in that moment.

No need to fix. No need to blame. No need to Judge one another away.

Only love.

A love that binds us together and builds each other up in Christ. A love that sees beyond the circumstance, beyond our weak and frail limitations. A love that sees past our mistakes and looks fiercely into the eyes of one made right before God. A love that calls each other up, rather than calling each other out-  although theres been a healthy dose of that too, in our midst. And yet, even that, has been a sweet and loving call to action.

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Because here, we are safe. Here we are known. Here we can trust each other with our hearts; every messy, broken, insecure fibre of our beings. And together, we grab hands in seeking Jesus, the only one who can save us, heal us, and transform us.

And oh, that he has done 100 fold. Time and again. In every life that shows up in this home.

Not because of me- it has nothing to do with me- and everything to do with Him.

—//

 

So if you’re longing for community – real community – the kind that grabs hands and sings “cumbiyah” – here you’ll find it. If you long to know Jesus and trust that God is real – here you will discover Him. If you long to love you and embrace yourself freely – here you will find and meet her.

Because whatever it is God knows your longing and it’s his greatest delight to meet it.

Thank you girls, for loving me relentlessly as I’ve fumbled my way through leading you. Thank you Jesus for teaching me grace and humility that’s led me home and to your heart. Thank you God for trusting me and using this broken vessel to bring forth water – water that never runs dry – to be poured out among your children. May your will be done on earth through this life and this group, as it is in Heaven.

Happy 3rd Anniversary, Seeking Grace Small Group! 

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When you need a reminder that prayer works and how best to pray

Line after line I furiously wrote. With a new hunger and passion for the scriptures, my heart beat faster with ever one written.

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“It’s amazing.” I told my husband. ” It’s like I’m reading it with new eyes, as if for the very first time!

…. the very longings of my heart – the things I can’t put words to half the time-  right there for me to read and pray back to him!

And the amazing thing is, it tells me right here that He watches over his word to perform it! That when I pray according to his will,  I can consider it heard and done. Answered now, already and in advance!!”

I am alert and active, watching over My word to perform it. ~ Jeremiah 1:12

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him. ~ 1 John 5:14-15

This isn’t new to me, friend. In truth, I’ve heard those very statement umpteen times before but like a fresh revelation, they’ve finally entered my heart.

Their truth has moved from my head to my heart, where true knowledge and wisdom are learnt and housed; and ultimately lived out of.

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. ~ Luke 6:45

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. ~ Matthew 6:21

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.~ Proverbs 23:7

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Not the first time, I’ve been reading “The Power of a Praying Parent.” Chapter after chapter I’m convinced again of the saving, healing power of prayer.

How prayer is the greatest gift, aside from love, that we can offer our children.

Prayers for love, faith, friendship, purpose, even protection… The one I wrote out and prayed this morning: Psalm 91.

Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.
    I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
    shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
    under them you’re perfectly safe;
    his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
    not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
    not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
    drop like flies right and left,
    no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
    watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God’s your refuge. 

As we walked the trails with friends, I had no idea a lesson was coming; that God would show me just how powerful my prayers really are. And he did in a simple yet profound way.

As the kids frolicked and played, they found their way to a cut-out patch of forest. They stomped and jumped and gigged and laughed.

Until she screamed….

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My girlfriend’s three year old daughter.

A deafening scream that radiated every cell of my being.

We quickly discovered she was stung by a bee and my daughter was still tromping in the area! So caught up in the moment, it took me minutes to pull her out….

and that’s when I saw it; the bee swarming her.

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As we walked home, I couldn’t help but utter thank you’s that she hadn’t been stung also. But it wasn’t until later that I realized the truth.

God had protected her.

It could just have easily been her! She should have been stung too! And yet she wasn’t….

She played in the same area, doing the same things, even stomping around minutes after, while the bee continued to circle her.

But God had protected her, a direct answer to my morning prayer for protection.

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–//

If you haven’t yet read through Stormie Omartian’s “Power of a Praying Wife/Husband/Parent/Woman/Marriage” series, check them out! They take the guesswork out of prayer. If you want to save the cash or prefer to write out your own prayers, just open up The Psalms! 

–//

I do not believe God caused the bee sting to teach me a lesson. I believe he used the situation and brought good out of it.

I say this because in my own faith journey, God’s role in pain and suffering has been a deep and hard wrestle. And it’s taken me a long time to come to a place of peace and confidence in my stance. I want to be sensitive to those who are wrestling with this themselves. I empathize with you and understand. Press on, friend. God will reveal his heart when you seek answers from him directly. 

When you feel scared and you wanna run anywhere but here

We were a mere 24 hours into our trip before the text came in.

“He’s gone.”

…..and then the phone calls one after the other, after the other.

Having left my phone at home to charge, I’d missed ever last one of them.

I was two hours too late. 

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I called him back. “What do you mean he’s gone?! What happened?”

“We were out walking and things were going great! He was off leash for over an hour and then suddenly, he took off… And he was gone.

He ran across the highway and before I could do anything he disappeared. I have no idea where he is! I’m so sorry!”

We had left our city dwelling labradooddle with extended family and while they loved dogs dearly, he didn’t know them too well.

I had told myself countless times he’d be fine, but to be quite honest, I had my suspicions. 

Our dog Guinness was abused and neglected as a pup, and when we got him, his behaviour was nothing short of timid, skittish and afraid. It took us months to get him to come out from behind our feet and even longer to mingle with other people or dogs. But with persistence and a patience love, Guinness transformed into the worlds best dog.

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He was so loyal and well behaved and never did he need a leash. I could leave him outside a store to roam while I picked up groceries. The idea of running away did not allure him because he’d found home and a love he could trust. 

That is until we dropped him off, reminiscent of the times before he’s been neglected and given up by former owners. He knew he was far from home, that we were gone and and he didn’t recognize his new caretakers. And he spooked. 

Not knowing the whole story- that we were only gone a few days and would return to pick him up- he got scared and ran for his life. Except that where he ran was so much worse.

… onto the highway, into the mountains and far off the beaten path! He was out of our will and so far from our plans for him- our plans to protect him and to love him; plans for his good! 

Hours later in the pitch black some family picked him. He was just sitting there exhausted, they said, on the side of the highway, like he’d given up hope all together.

“If we hadn’t stopped, he would never have made it through the night! It’s bear and cougar country on that mountain pass!”

A cuddly, scared, suburban pup; certainly he wouldn’t have made it home… If it wasn’t for that family!

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In his love and mercy, God gave Guinness [our dog] a way out of his own foolishness, and led him back to the safety of our arms. But it wasn’t without a long detour- a 6 hour car ride and an overnight stay in a land and with people he didn’t know; all the while, leashed and restrained – something he wasn’t used to even on his worse days!

And while I sat there shaking my head, I couldn’t help but think of myself;  that I too- perhaps you- have done the very same thing, time and again. 

While I know God loves me and he’ll never forsake me, I don’t always trust his plan. Because let’s be honest, a lot of the time, I can’t quite figure it out! 

In my limited understanding, my fear and my discomfort, I spook and run…. to anywhere but here!

….running in an attempt to take back “control” of my life.

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Like Guinness, when I run from the centre of Gods will, I run head on into the wilderness ; to territory that’s far more dangerous and unknown then where I was!

And yet, the same way God rescued Guinness, our Father rescues us.

Ever faithful in his pursuit of bringing us home, he relentlessly chases after us regardless of where we’ve run. And sure, it’s not alway painless coming home – coming back to the centre of God will and his path for us – and it may require we take the long way home and spend some time in places were uncomfortable…

But eventually we’ll get back. 

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The same way we were coming for Guinness but our return took shy of 12 hours, so too does our walk with God require us to be patient and to trust that he’s working to get us- to save us, to heal us, to change us and our circumstances- even when we can’t see it or feel it. 

Because regardless of the effort and inconvenience we’ve caused God, in spite of our naivety and our tendency to wander,  he always welcomes us home with open arms and a grateful heart…. the same way we welcomed Guinness home.

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He does not look at us disapprovingly, shaming us for our behaviour. He does not question how, after all this time and after all the ways He’s loved us, we’d could still doubt him. He does not get angry at us out of sheer frustration of the inconveniences we’ve caused him. And He doesn’t give up on us, leaving us to fend for ourselves with the bears. 

He cradles us in his arms and rocks us like a baby, for as long as it takes for us to trust again, knowing in our heart that we are indeed safe and loved, unconditionally.

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If you love something let it go. If it comes back it’s forever yours.

‘Cause what stood before was never yours…

 This is the unmaking; beauty in the breaking. Had to loose myself to find out who you are. Before each beginning there must be an ending. Sitting in the rubble I can see the stars. –The Unmaking | Nichole Nordeman

I read it: That my desire to use my gifts for God’s Glory wasn’t enough.

That desire alone isn’t enough, but for years I believed it was.

According to Andrew Murray, in “Abiding in Christ,” in and of itself, our gifts (and our life) are dominated by the flesh; they are steered by our sinful motives. The only way for them to be used for pure good- His good – is for them to be surrendered to him and given back. To lay them down for a time, for God to take back and claim them as his own.

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If indeed God designed for us to use them, he’ll gift them back in his time and in his way, when our faith is more mature; when we’ve become painfully aware of our ever constant need to abide in Christ and be lead by the Holy Spirit; when our grieving of being self-led is stronger than our desire for do our things, our way and in our own strength. 

I thought about it.

There have been countless things I’ve felt God call me to put down; good things even. Things I believe he gave me or wired me for and ways in which I thought I was worshiping and glorifying him!  

… things like my work, my writing, social media, speaking out, running and working out, my weight, appearance, food, friendships, my marriage, my desire to have another child, even reading my bible!

Each of these things he’s called me to surrender over the years- to lay down, give up or let go of.

At the time, I thought for forever, but in reality, it was a season.

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In an act of trust I obeyed, largely without understanding why. That’s no coincidence though. It’s the way of wisdom:

We must first experience and live out truths before we acquire the knowledge and understanding of it.

And I’m beginning to see it now. 

While yes, before God asked me to lay those things down there was much good coming from them. But the truth is, they were still vastly being operated by my selfish motives and vain conceit, even though I didn’t see it. 

Sure I invited God into them, but they weren’t his. They were mine.

I hadn’t yet given them to him to be claimed and cleansed.

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In his mercy, God saved me from myself.  He knew my heart was for him- to be like him and closer to him. And through obedience, he’s taught me things I never knew. And he’s transformed me because of it! 

Slowly but surely he’s given me back the things I laid down but they hold entirely new meaning. I see them differently. And if I’m honest, they somewhat scare me now, because I see how easily it is for my flesh to creep back in and get in the way!

But it’s that fear that keeps me close to The Lord, constantly seeking him and asking for wisdom and discernment; intentionally choosing to stay tethered to Jesus and asking Holy Spirit to lead and guide me in everything I do, say and choose to engage in.

I pray that my spirit will be grieved each time I steer off course or do something that offends him. I want to run back into his loving arms asking for forgiveness and thanking him that he’ll finish the work he’s started in me. 

Because repentance is sweet, friend and conviction is oh, so gentle. It’s like a loving remark that makes you want to do better and be a better person; to correct your wrong immediately! There is no shame in it, nor is there guilt. And when there is, I know it’s not from God.

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But it’s only in my surrender and embracing my flailing, that I’ve discovered that.  I can only say that having walked through it and out the other side- the other side of obedience and laying down the things he’s called me to.

And it’s not something anyone can convince you of, so I won’t even try. 

But I can pray

–// 

Father, you are a good God who relentlessly pursues us with your love,  patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness and discipline. But I confess our eyes are blinded and our hearts hardened. Would you do what only you can do by the power of your Holy Spirit: prepare us and or hearts to receive whatever it is you have for us today. Tune our eyes to see you, our ears to hear you and or hearts to trust you in and out of obedience. Reveal yourself and your will in the ways you know we can’t deny you. Don’t let us miss it and give us the courage to respond! Let your will be done on earth, in our lives, as it is in heaven. 

All the toil
All in vain
Every image of ourselves that we create
Every dream
Built on sand

Let not any passion be for kingdoms we have fashioned in our own name
For our own fame

Let us not be fooled
And let us not be disillusioned
Let our eyes see You clearly

Not to us
But to Your name be glory

-Not to Us | Nichole Nordeman

The secret to living at peace in every moment

He has silenced me like a speechless child, overcome by a reality of her parents love. 

A million miles a minute thoughts pour through my heart, yet not a word can form; only tears… 

And they wash over me like a spring of hope, relief and security. Like a running refugee who just found shelter and news of safety, I savour new realities of who I am and whose I am… and what that tangibly means; what it affords me. 

Where my mind once knew it, my heart now believes it: I’m His, through and through. I belong to God and he delights in me. He doesn’t just love me, he actually likes me!

And the same love that saved me, saves me again and again and it can keep me at peace in every moment.

… if I choose it.

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Like the way I love my daughter relentlessly, unabashedly and ever increasingly and I’m not afraid to show it. I want her to know it in her heart and not just her head!

So I’m certain each day to sing praises and affirmation, regardless of what’s unfolded.

Because I want my words to speak life into every crevice of her being.

In doubt, in fear, shame and insecurity, I want my presence to be the love and safety that washes everything else away. 

…. and I want her to be kept there.

… Her heart to stay there in every minute.

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That’s exactly what God’s been doing and teaching me: that I too, can be kept at peace by his love. If I’ll receive it and choose to be kept there, than I can rest in every moment.

As I surrender my expectations and accept the present, whatever it looks like, he’s washed joy over me relentlessly.

As I’ve laid my heart out before him- confessing all in unbroken conversation– he’s placed unending rest and peace within me. 

As I’ve forfeited my responsibility to make things happen- whether it’s to change, to do, or to correct- he’s left me dumbfounded as he’s made the impossible possible… how the puzzle pieces just fall into place.

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I believed it impossible for most of my life- even my Christian life: that peace could be mine in every moment. And yet

As I’ve learnt to abide, He’s put a stop to my striving, anxiety, shame, fear and negative self talk.

He’s showed me the secret of the Christian life; the key to perfect peace. 

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To abide:

  • To remain and stay connected in the presence of The Father. 

  • To accept all that I am and all that I have in Christ, this moment.

  • To expect Jesus to do the work- all the work– of doing, changing, transforming and keeping [me and others].

  • To surrender to Jesus and to wait.

And as I’ve done that, my heart has been kept at perfect peace; at rest in every moment.

It’s mind boggling! 

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I watched as my husband carried and played with her; as he sung delight over her heart, unreserved in his affection. Never have I experienced such love before.

I longed for it my whole life, looking desperately in wrong places. 

All the while, my Heavenly Father was waiting for me to run to him, so he could give me exactly that and more; so he could overwhelm me with his love and affection.

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And I see it in the way she responds to our affection….

How our love affirms her as she receives it.

How it frees her as she realizes it.

How it transforms her as she experiences it.

How it keeps her as she remembers it. 

 

And we’re far from perfect. How much more the Fathers love for us? 

Because perfect love casts out fear; it binds up the broken heart, it sets us free, so that fully, in every moment, we can live at peace and rest in Him.

But we must first choose to abide in Christ. 

–//

Father God, I surrender myself this very moment to abide, wholly, only and always in Jesus. Thank you that you keep me there and hold me as your own; that each moment I meet you with my acceptance to abide, I am met with your immediate response: your favour, your forgiveness, your love and delight in me… the resulting peace and rest in every moment. I choose to abide in thee. 

When true love requires risk and a sacrifice that feels too hard

We finished watching The Longest Ride and it took everything in me to hold back the tears. It was my second time watching it and twice, I’d read the book; which says a lot. I never read books twice…

But it’s not just the sappy love story that gets me; [albeit that does do my mushy rom-com loving heart good] it’s the story of true love and faith that pulls so strongly at my heart strings.

Because true love requires risk and risk always requires faith…

Faith that what you’re risking is worth the potential of what lies ahead.

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In the story, Sophia gives up her dream job at an art museum in New York City for the chance at love with Luke, a cowboy living in rural North Carolina on a ranch- a lifestyle she doesn’t know the first thingy about. Luke, a professional bull rider, now number one in the world, gives up his career for Sophie because of the danger it puts him in each day.

They gives up everything they know and everything they’ve worked their whole life to achieve, for the potential of a life of love.

Neither of them know what the future holds or how they’re going to make it work. And For Luke, the reality of loosing the family ranch is real with the loss of income from bull riding, but still he does it. 

Fate intervenes and through a series of happenstance, Luke finds himself at an art auction seeking Sophia and bids on a “worthless” painting that lands him the new owner of an entire prestigious art collection worth millions. Luke and Sophia end up using that money to create a life together- to save Luke’s family ranch and to open up an art museum for Sophia to run with pieces that have a story and meaning to her.

Neither of them could have imagined this life for themselves and it FAR surpasses the greatest one they could have built in their own strength!

To me, it could only be divinely orchestrated. 

Because that’s the thing with God: He calls us to lay our life down and surrender everything – our dreams, our work, our plans, our understanding- and instead lean on him. He invites us to trust him because his plans are for our good, always. He tells us that it is his desire to bless his children and to give us abundantly, far greater than we could ever ask or imagine! He promises to give us our hearts desire, if we will seek him first!

But we must be willing to hold nothing back, to trust, and to wait.

He begs us to reach out our palm wide,  holding everything in it – everything we hold dear – loosely; to be willing and ready at any moment to lay it down for love- his love- and to where his love will send us. We must have open and unclenched fists to be ready to receive what’s next.  

I can’t promise to know where he will send us – you or me- but I can promise this:

What’s waiting on the other side of our surrender will far, far outweigh the risk and the sacrifice of what we lay down. 

 Because sometimes when it looks like our world is falling apart, the pieces are just finally falling together. 

And when it feels like we’re giving up everything we have, everything and more is waiting on the other side. 

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His plans are always for good  – the best good – and so I cling to that as I close one chapter of my life and wait patiently for God to write the next.

As I finished my final wedding last night, the echoes of people’s remarks stirred inside me:

“It’s such a shame to see you stop doing this!”

“Why are you retiring? You’re so good at it!”

” Your were made to do this.”

“I don’t understand why you’d give this up, especially at the top of your game.”

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And it’s true. Logically and to the world it doesn’t make sense. In the natural, it doesn’t all together make sense to me either. I asked for confirmation, yet again, on the drive home. “God, affirm that I’m doing the right thing.” This movie was it. 

When I first felt God call me to lay it all down- to close my business- I thought I had heard wrong. It was everything I’d worked towards, more than I’d dreamed off achieving and the thing I’d given the best of me to for nearly a decade! My business was my baby. And I had just hit a point where I felt I could finally celebrate hitting “my pinnacle.” Couldn’t I coast for a time and ride the wave of my success for a while? 

Yes, I could and the choice is mine. But God had made it clear: If I continued down this path, then I would be going it alone; doing it in my own strength. I would be settling for a life that I could build in my own efforts, without God. His anointing had been on my business for a time and he had blessed it immensely, but he was calling me else ware now; where, I had no idea and I still don’t quite know if I’m honest. But I do know this: 

The reward will far outweigh the risk and what’s waiting for me on the other side is SO much greater than anything I’ve even dared to dream before. And I want that… so much more than anything I could muster on my own. 

—-///

 

God, I’m trusting you. I want the story only you can write. I want what you’ve got in store, so I lay it all down. Lead me where my faith is without borders. 

Photo Credit: [Last set] Nadia Hung, Studio Jeanie, Matt Kennedy

When you want to love your life and find happiness that lasts

I caught myself saying it out loud. “What a perfect day.” 

It’s wasn’t anything overly flashy or orchestrated. In fact in had been the complete opposite! But if I’m honest, that’s exactly the way I like it… These days, that is.

Years ago, I craved the monumental moments; the scheduled and fussed over moments. But in the last few years, God has changed this heart so dramatically, I hardly have words to describe it. 

“What did you love about today?” He asked me.  And like breath of habit, I began to count the ways…

A slow morning over French press coffee and cinnamon buns. One so slow that I savoured every last drop and remember precisely where we were sitting and how we were playing together and giggling as a family. 

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Nap time afforded us a moment to connect and remember that before her, we were each others first. Then together as a family, we ventured to the pool for another “first” watching our daughter splash through the pool like an old pro. Watching her delight and squeal brought me more joy and pride than I could contain. And watching him play with her… Well that was simply icing on my mommy heart cake! 

Then there was the stroll to the grocery story and our chalk art on the walk; Our family dinner on the patio and an evening walk to see the ducks swim at sunset. 

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Bedtime cuddles and smooches and prayers for a tired baby; my heart could nearly burst…

So many ordinary moments that make up extraordinary treasures. 

As I scrubbed the dishes, I found myself pouring out thanks to my Father in Heaven. Over and over I kept repeating it out loud: “Thank you, Father. Thank you…” As if the more times I said it, the more he’d understood how utterly dumbfounded I am by his overwhelming gifts to me.

So simple and yet all together profound. 

Because truth is, words fail to express the gratitude I house in my heart for the ways my Lord has blessed me. For the gifts themselves, down to the ways he’s opened the eyes of my heart to see them and receive them in thanks.

Our home, this little town, my family and my friends: this life- my reality-  is more than I ever dreamed of! And a decade ago, I would have wished it away for something else- for something “more.”

I almost missed my life.  I was  too busy chasing the next thing and distracted by my pursuit of becoming. I had never yet arrived, nothing was ever good enough and there was always more to be done. That is until I learnt the art of counting: counting gifts.

In the counting of everyday ordinary moments that I was grateful for, a shift occurred in my eyesight… and eventually in my heart. The day’s turned from exhaustive and laboured, into a treasure hunt for all the good and beautiful. Over and over again, I witnessed an outpouring of Gods love for me personally.

They were always there, I just hadn’t seen them. It wasn’t until I started looking that I truly began to see.

It isn’t what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.

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Too often we become numb to the good right in front of us.

We make statements that “we are blessed,” and “God is good,” but how often do we truly stop and thank God directly?

How often do we truly acknowledge and soak in how lavishly and endlessly we are provided for and how he delivers on his promises to us.

And how often do we give thanks  in every moment- the hard moments- not just the good and easy ones? 

Research shows that those that practice daily gratitude are 25% happier, regardless of any change in their life or circumstance.  And I know in my own life, it was this practice that opened my eyes to truly seeing God alive and active in my life and I found unquenchable joy.
I stopped thinking of God as some “head in the sky” and began to see how he cared about the fabric of my everyday life; that he was a GOD in the details!

Join The Gratitude Challenge, a movement aimed at making gratitude and joy a lifestyle. Because it’s in this lifestyle that we see God’s true character, discover he cares for us personally and come to know that he is good. In experiencing His love, we are transformed!

“People don’t care what you know until they know how much you care.”

Give God the opportunity to show you! You never know what you’ll discover; maybe a life and love beyond belief.

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I double dog dare you: take your life and relationship with Jesus to the next level with the Seeking Grace “Gratitude Challenge Worksheet.”  Or if you prefer, grab a journal and start counting!

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Need more encouragement? Grab a copy of 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. This book helped transform my heart of and gave me a new life.

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When you crave a relationship more than religion and blank days more than to-do’s

As I look back over the last two years, I see the obvious etchings of a new sculpture being crafted from the old; a new woman emerging refined and reshaped from the gentle strokes of a loving creator.

From the pressures of grief, heartache and unhealed pain, his hands have birthed a new creation. Through slow, intentional time together, he’s made me more in his image. And he’s been unhurried and unafraid of how long it’s taken me to see that the chiseling, while painful, has been for my good. 

But what I didn’t see until now was the subplot of this season; the new story being birthed below the surface.

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Where I once longed to do [for him], I now long to be [with him]; to abide in the presence of my Father, my Saviour and my friend, Holy Spirit.

Abide –  connection, dependence, and continuance.

Where I once ran, I now sit- with him and myself in whatever my current state.

Where I once tried to hide, I now readily undress every imperfect part of my emotional soul, longing to be seen and known and loved unconditionally.

Where I once felt unworthy, I now know I’m loved in real time; not in spite of my past, for what I’ve done or even what I dream of doing for his glory, but simply because I am.

Where I once felt rejected, I now feel embraced.

Where I once felt alone, now I’m known intimately, by not only my Father God, but by my husband and my friends.

Where I once pushed away, I now welcome near and where I once wanted more, my quiver feels full.

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Through the forced rhythms of suffering, grace came near and became real; palpable for the very first time.

I have drank of the goodness of mercy, peace and comfort. I have ate of the fruit of patience, gentleness and kindness. And in my unravelling, I’ve found stillness in not just the physical, but in my mind and my heart.

My soul has found rest and joy beyond circumstance.

In the quiet of my closet, the rustle of the trees and the giggle of my daughter, my soul has come home.

Amidst the unhurried moments, I’ve discovered a diamond that was always there – buried beneath the dust of my frantic former life.

Where I once felt chained, I now feel free and where life once felt heavy, it now feels light.

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28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

Where I worshiped the hustle, I now bow before the feet of a saviour- a man who wants my heart, not my hands and all of my attention; more than the works and the words of a woman with something to prove, Jesus wants me near, abiding in the presence of my bridegroom. 

He’s made me Mary, when I once was Martha.

38 Now while they were on their way, Jesus entered a village [called Bethany], and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was continually listening to His teaching. 40 But Martha was very busy and distracted with all of her serving responsibilities; and she approached Him and said, “Lord, is it of no concern to You that my sister has left me to do the serving alone? Tell her to help me and do her part.” 41 But the Lord replied to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part [that which is to her advantage], which will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42

Will we hustle for our worthiness or will we linger a little longer?

Will be perfect the art of religion or will we rest in the connection of relationship?

Will we make him another to- do list or will he be our best friend? 

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One means going and the other means staying, but both require time and intentionality.

The choice is mine…

 

and ultimately yours. 

 

When you’re trying to free your fingers to fly

I had listened to the song a hundred times before, nearly every one ending in a puddle of tears. Visions of the last 16 months with my daughter would flash before my eyes and in mere minutes I’d remember, yet again, how fleeting this life is…

How precious every mundane ordinary moment is a first and a last.

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And how if I’m not careful, I’ll miss the good ones to the countless distractions I let steal my focus on far too many occasions: my phone, chores, worry, negative self talk, plans and projects.

As I sat on the floor with my legs tucked tight to my chest, I could hear the lyrics play through my mind. I ran my fingers over the keyboard and selected the song to play yet again, but this time, something different happened.

I realized the song was being sung to me. It was about me.

And in a brief moment, I realized it was my dad: my Abba Daddy, and how he’s been wanting me to hear these whispers for weeks.

Here’s to you
You were pink or blue
And everything I wanted

Had to crawl before you walked
Before you ran
Before I knew it
You were trying to free your fingers from my hand
‘Cause you could do it on your own now somehow

Won’t you stay here a minute more
I know you want to walk through the door
But it’s all too fast
Let’s make it last a little while
I pointed to the sky and now you wanna fly
I am your biggest fan
I hope you know I am
But do you think you can somehow
Slow down

Someday you’ll understand
You’ll hold a little hand
Ask them if they can

Slow down

– Nicole Nordeman | Slow Down

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While it thrills him to watch me learn and grow; while he delights in my desire to mature in him, it’s this vary moment he enjoys most. He’s not in a hurry to see it pass. He wants to make it last.

There’s a million more minutes to fly, but for right now, won’t I just stay a minute more.

When I’m itching to go, he just wants to grab my hand and slow down.