Lately I’ve Been Learning to Say Yes Daily

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Eighteen years ago today on a cliff overlooking the San Francisco Bay, a seemingly cool, calm and collected Steve Lind invited me into ever after.

I’m glad I said yes.

What I didn’t realize then that I am learning now is marriage isn’t as much about the initial “Yes!” or “I do,” but more about a daily yes. The purpose of marriage is oneness and every single day is a choice to say yes to that oneness or to something else that has the potential to divide.

Every day I get to choose to say yes to Steve, yes to our marriage and yes to our ever after which helps determine just how “happily” it will be.

Unfortunately, sometimes I say yes to other things. 

I say yes to my iPhone.

I say yes to my boys when they should see my first yes belongs to their dad.

I say yes to work.

I say yes to the tyranny of the urgent.

I say yes to the fear of the future instead of the gift of today.

I say yes to my friends who make it easier when I share my heart with them at times.

Lately, I’ve been learning there is nothing sweeter than oneness when the yes is said emphatically over and over again even when that yes is hard.

Yes, we should go from our community because together we are being called to something new.

Yes to new dreams and vision.

Yes, we should take that job that will require us to walk in faith.

Yes, we will choose to slow down and rest so our family can thrive.

Yes, we will step into the unknown and trust that our very first yes, our yes to God, will help us see abundantly more than we could ask or imagine.

Yes, we will sacrifice and be brave even when it doesn’t make sense.

And even yes to everything mundane. Yes to dishes and cleared kitchen sink. Yes to preferring the other person over self. Yes to the laundry being folded and put away and yes to the grace when it isn’t {most of the time}. Yes to creative meal plans and yes to a few moments of quiet together when the boys are finally in bed or the early hours when they are still sleeping. Yes, to the Adirondacks on the back porch and yes to one more episode of Netflix.

Yes because yes together is way better where ever it may take us than when we are apart.

What have you learned about saying yes in marriage?

 

The Earth is the Lord's

What Would Happen If We Realized Everything Is On Loan?

This passage is often referenced in sermons, teachings and writings about giving. It refers to the fact everything we posses belongs to LORD and was given to us by Him in the first place. It helps to think about this when we are praying for God’s provision and his peace and when it comes to giving away our money or begging God to provide what we need.

Today I thought about how God may want me to approach this truth in other ways as well. When I think about the areas in my life where I struggle with peace and wonder:

What if I really took to heart what I said at the baby dedications of all four of my kids that they do not belong to me? What if every day I looked at them and acknowledged they have always belonged to the LORD and I’m just borrowing them for a few short years with some very long days attached to them? Would I be less worried about their hearts and minds and more trusting in the God who has said he authors and perfects our faith? Would I be less fearful of harm coming their way and more at peace knowing that even if they walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Jesus would be there with his rod and staff to comfort them? {Psalm 23} How would this change the way I love my children?

What if I really believed my husband belonged to the LORD and this marriage was built on borrowed time? Would I take to heart the idea that one should return something in better condition than when they received it? Would I be more apt to pay attention and be more protective of it? {Ephesians 5:21} How would this change the way I love my husband?

What if I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt my mom belongs to the LORD? Would I wake up less worried about my responsibility to care for her knowing He is going to provide everything she needs? Would I be kinder, more gentle and less anxious about the future? {Matthew 6:25-27} How would this change the way I love my mom?

What if I believed my dreams and the things I’m good at are truly gifts that have been given to me by God and for God? Would I be less concerned about what’s next and more likely to stay present in the now? {James 1:17-18} How would this change the way I love others?

Scripture is meant to reach every part of our lives because every word of God drips of his loving kindness and is reflective of who He is. Our goal in approaching scripture is to know God and through our understanding become more reflective of Him. How would this change the way I love God?

Allow me to encourage you today friends by inviting you to inventory those parts of your life where you are not at peace and apply this question to each. What if? What if that thing, that person, that relationship, that situation belonged to God and was authored by him? Would you hold on a little less tightly and give yourself permission to step back and see what He wants you to see?

This is my prayer for all of us today.

May the Lord, in His infinite kindness, grant you the peace of knowing he is with you and for you.

 

The Earth is the Lord's

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Paris and the One Thing ISIS and I Agree On

 

It was reported by CNN when the gunmen stormed into the Bataclan Music Hall in Paris, they were shouting “Allah akbar.”

God is great.

And He certainly is. Although we are not speaking of the same God, this is the one and only thing I can agree on with ISIS.

Lately I’ve been camping in a story about Syria. Not the ones of late but one of long ago in 2 Kings 6. The story is part of the great story of God that continues with Syria, Israel, and us today.

On this mourning after, we might be waking up numb because these news headlines seem to be coming one after another. Or we may have woken up with a significant measure of fear. Or outrage.

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In the story in 2 Kings a young assistant runs to his master, Elisha when he sees the attackers of his day, great in number, with an artillery of horses and chariots encamped around this city.

“What shall we do?”

Isn’t that often our response on days like today? When we see babies washed up on beaches. When we see people in crowded city streets clinging to each other.

Elisha answered him, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

Then, Elisha prayed for his fearful young assistant and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.”

The LORD immediately answered this prayer and opened the eyes of the young man, it says.

“He saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

All along there were these angelic armies that outnumbered those who were coming against them. They were there the whole time but they were invisible to Elisha’s servant until the LORD lifted his eyes to see them.

God never vacates His throne and He never turns His face from those He loves. There is great power in our prayers as we pray against terror, as we pray for protection and peace.

I woke up this morning praying for Paris, praying for Syria, praying for Israel, praying for us to have eyes to see what God is up to, but I was also deeply compelled to pray for ISIS.

I believe we are living in a time when the Church is waking up. The upside of the information age is that we can’t look away at the evil and destruction that is happening in all parts of the world. Rather than be paralyzed by fear or numbed by headlines, we need to be moved by our grief, moved by our rage, moved by our doubts because regardless of what we think and fear God is on the move. We who are part of the subversive Kingdom of God are called to arise and walk in love. We are to walk in love because it is written that this is the best use of our time as the days are evil. {Ephesians 5:16} Walking in love is not exclusive from walking in justice, grace, mercy and forgiveness. Love was poured out in the form of all of that on the cross where Jesus died. The answer to “what shall we do?” is informed by what we know, what we have seen and what we believe about God.

The thing about those men who stormed into public places firing rifles with explosives strapped to themselves is that they too have been terrorized.

Like the child who grows up bullied, abused, tormented and mentally destroyed by an abuser grows up to abuse his own children, so are the terrorists who are victims to their government’s evil ideologies and have been shaped by their practices. They are often people who want to be accepted, valued and belong to a people group and a cause greater than themselves.

Can’t the same be said for you and I?

Let justice have its way. It needs to have its way. People who walk in love, like imitators of God are marked by grace, mercy and forgiveness. We are people who are courageous because courage is what you need when you are called to do justice and love mercy sometimes in the form of prayer and sometimes with your hands and feet. Courage is what you need when you are people called to pray and walk in love especially when you are praying for a clear enemy.

We go to the root of the problem and we courageously pray towards the root of evil and pain and pray for the restorative and redemptive way of Jesus to have it’s way in our times and nations.

Because God so loved the world.

This Perfect Love casts out the fear we are feeling today. Perfect Love regardless of any circumstances be they the hardship in your life or the devastating things happening around the world is greater than what we see with our own eyes. The story in 2 Kings 6 provides a backdrop to the words of John, “for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

May the Jehovah Sabaoth, the great LORD of hosts, the LORD of armies be the fuel of every prayer and may He take every thought of yours captive today and move them towards himself.

 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” {John 16:33}

Oh Hey There Friday Favorites!

*This post contains affiliate links which means if you buy something from Amazon I will make a commission.*

Oh hey, Friday! I am so happy Friday is here because it means a little less driving and little slowing down for the next couple of days. Here’s where grace and thanksgiving was found this week from the frivolous to the very much non-frivolous.

First for the very frivolous. I found a new favorite t-shirt.

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I have not mastered the art of the self-timer on my iphone so forgive the selfie (and the mess behind me). This is a Tresics brand t-shirt I found at Marshalls. I orignially got it in grey for 9.99 and like it so much I went back and bought it in another shade of grey and this blue. It’s soft, flowy and super comfortable and cute while hiding everything it needs to hide.

My new favorite Twitter account to follow is @manwhohasitall. It’s a parody of all the things that are said to women who spend their lives “juggling” motherhood, families and career. If you want to go the extra mile you can get a good laugh with this video from Buzzfeed featuring presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.

All a great segue to the not so frivolous Jen Wilkin who has an tendency to say everything I wish I would have said only better. She has a brilliant mind and is a great leader and teacher of the Word. In her post this week she comments on an open letter written by Jared Mauldin, a senior in mechanical engineering at Eastern Washington University. He talks about the importance of men speaking up for women in ministry. In my own personal experience, few things have been more encouraging than when a man has spoken up for women in leadership. Everyone calm down…we’re not trying to take over, we just want to do our God given part.

We’re getting increasingly less frivolous here friends. My friend Dan Parkins has gone through more trials than many people experience in a lifetime. He has the best way of writing grace and when I read his posts it literally feels like my soul is being watered. Read this post and be moved by his ability to find grace in the daily and go hunt for your own.

Jen Hatmaker wrote this post on the freedom Christ has set us free for, and here I am, finding myself outside of a gate, wondering how I got here and what kept me inside for so long. Things like my ability to really trust God and my view of His greatness compared to my own fears and worries about life come to mind.

Finally, my favorite quote this week is from Ann Voskamp‘s 1000 Gifts Devotional: Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces.

“Life is so urgent in necessitates living slow.”

Let’s go into the weekend remembering weekends were originally designed for selah between weeks of laboring. This time, let us not be trapped by the over workings of our own minds but walk in the freedom already unleashed for us at Calvary and find our rest in the slow savoring of Jesus and those he has around us. I’m praying this as much for me as I am for you. Amen.

What were some of your favorite things this week?

Oh Hey Friday! | Friday Favorites

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What I’m Learning About A House, A Home and the People who Dwell There

When Steve’s grandpa Lind passed away, Grandma Jo started giving away all his belongings within a week. All his clothes, books, etc.

I asked her if she felt like it was too soon and gently suggested she might want to hold on to some things for a little while longer. She looked at me totally convinced and said:

“My memories of Hugh are not tied to his stuff.”

That lesson has served me well through times of grief, the KonMari method of cleaning out my closets and today it comforts the bittersweet final goodbye to a home well loved.

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A home where we broke bread with people around a table made just for us.

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Where several young couples sat on our couch, sharing their dreams of marriage and talking through the preparation for all of it.

A home with a dry and desolate land of a back yard where relationships bloomed and the best talks happened around a fire served with s’mores.

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Where loving and skilled hands built more space for our growing family making the attic the best room in the house.

Where two babies of the four were brought home to complete our family.

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Where two foster kids were brought in until their forever family found them.

Where Easter Eggs were hidden and hunted for along with Heineken for the grown ups.

This house was home not because of how lovely it was but because of the lovely people who came through its doors.

A new friend who experienced a similar road recently said she has discovered “our home is Jesus and a house is simply his provision.”

I’ve been struggling with this because as true as it is, my heart’s desire is to have a home here on earth that is spacious enough for my tribe and the people to share life with. A place where I can put down roots and make it my own. While we have this beautiful rental now, it isn’t ours. But here’s the thing… nothing is really ours and everything, including our dreams need to be held loosely so God can take them and show us what is beyond what we can ask or imagine. Honestly, this is requiring my faith muscles to be built up in ways that  make me sore at times because this whole journey has been about seeing the divine in the day to day and God doing great things with prayers answered differently than I pictured in my finite mind. Surely His ways are not our ways and grace is found in the most unlikely places.

What I’m learning about all of this is even when we uproot and go, even when we say goodbye to what was and look forward to what is next, our roots remain in these.

Faith.

Hope.

Love.

Faith God brought us here to this place without the road being fully clear. Faith he is with us and will never leave us. Hope there is much more and the best days are in front of us. Hope that no matter where we are, we always have Jesus. And the greatest of these is love. We were loved well and loved others well in that little house in San Pedro.

I am confident of this.

The memories I have are not tied to the house itself but to the love that took place in words and deed. In the gatherings in the kitchen where over 3000 dinners were made sometimes with the help of a grill so well worn it didn’t make the journey to Nashville. My memories will always be tied to the people who are still our people and to the God we can point to when we say… look at what He did.

 

Creation Swap

Weekend Reading

As we enter into the weekend, I hope and pray you have time to play, time to rest and time to savor God’s grace in your life!

This week I’ve been enjoying a visit with one of my bests and her baby boy. We’ve had fun exploring Nashville with the boys on Fall Break. In the down time I got to sneak in some good stuff around the web.

Here are a few of my favorite reads from this week. Enjoy!

This one is a great post of moving, change, courage and putting one foot in front of the other at Nesting Place.

Happy Birthday Jamie Wright! Read why 40 is NOT the new 30 and prepare to laugh and relate if you are there.

This post was hilarious and went viral this last week. If you’ve experienced a surge of adult onset Calvinism in yourself or those around you, this will make you laugh and maybe cry just a bit.

My cousin Colleen is a super hero. Her daughter Claire has Rhett’s Syndrome and if you’ve ever struggled with mom guilt, her post on Monday will bring you some comradarie and perspective. Her writing is always raw, deep and profound and it’s these little things she is faithful with that God is doing much with her life AND Claire’s.

One of the most powerful reads on how the church can best serve singles by Lore Ferguson Wilbert. Single people, prepare to be encouraged.

Happy weekend!

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Loved & Called {Lifeway Women’s Blog}

The Lifeway Women’s Blog is a great resource for women, particularly those who serve in leadership. I’m over there today talking about a passage that has spoken loudly to me over the last few years. One that I am still wrestling with in these days as I pray and ponder what might be next for me.

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The Apostle Paul opens his letter to the Romans resolved in what his calling is (Romans 1:1-6) and greets his readers with a powerful statement those of us in leadership can easily let slip by:

“To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Loved by God. Called to be saints.

You see, the truth you are loved comes before the fact you are called.

You can read more by going here.

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Proverbs 2: Praying for our Sons {Day 12}

“So you will walk in the way of the good
    and keep to the paths of the righteous.
For the upright will inhabit the land,
    and those with integrity will remain in it,
but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
    and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.”

{Proverbs 2:20-22}

Our prayers through Proverbs 2 conclude today with the last stanza providing a summery of our prayers. Verse 20 paints a picture of the road we want our kids to journey on. A path where a good God has gone before them, walks with them and gently holds them from behind.  A path that will lead them to righteousness found only in a life with Christ and leads not to a road’s end but to the eternal.

This path not only looks to the possibility of a long and prosperous life on earth but to an inheritance.

Our young men are the beloved of the Most High and He has set a whole entire life before them in which His goal is to always lead them to Himself.

Where I often get stuck is that it is indeed a path and as my son reminded me recently on a hike, there will always be forks in the road. There are temptations all along the way to take a different route that may seem good initially, but in the end it leads to destruction {Proverbs 16:25}. Our sons are humans like us, and as such there will always be the tendency to follow their own immediate understanding {Proverbs 3:5} and to trust the wisdom of their own eyes and not the wisdom of the Lord {Proverbs 3:7}.

Our responsibility as parents is to remain steadfast and trust the God who has authored their journey. The One who holds it in His sovereign and loving hands, and is able to lead them with His promise of working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose {Romans 8:28}. Today let’s pray:

  • For the Author Himself and the path to be clearer and clearer each day to our young men.
  • That God would make this road to righteousness more beautiful and alluring than any other.

“You will make known to me the path of life;

In Your presence is fullness of joy;

In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
 {Proverbs 16:11, NASB}

  • That they would be drawn to the mystery and adventure of trusting God with their lives.
  • For a Holy fear of the Lord to be the beginning of every step of their lives, desiring to love and please God.
  • For us to remain steadfast, hopeful and prayerful in trusting God so we can relinquish control of that which has always belonged to Him.

Because of Jesus, Amen.

Proverbs 2: Praying for our Sons {Day 11}

“So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman,
    from the adulteress with her smooth words,
who forsakes the companion of her youth
    and forgets the covenant of her God;
for her house sinks down to death,
    and her paths to the departed;
none who go to her come back,
    nor do they regain the paths of life.” {Proverbs 2:16-19}

When your babies are born you hear from those who have gone before you all the time about the importance of praying for their future spouse. It seems so far away and then one day your oldest is in High School and has been expressing his keen interest in the opposite sex for quite some time and you find yourself regularly on your knees praying for him.

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You pray for the kinds of young women that capture his eyes and attention.

You are constantly concerned about the temptations out their you know can overcome him.

At times you worry about the precious young women you think may need to be protected from him (just being honest).

And of course his wife. You pray she will be prepared for him and all of you because you and your crazy come with him and you don’t want to be crazy as much as you are praying she is not crazy (again… honesty).

The whole Ashely Madison thing has taken internet accessibility to all things evil when it comes to purity and faithfulness and sexual integrity to a whole new level.  We can’t read the above passage from Proverbs 2 and not recognize all that tempts our young men from the billboards on freeways, to the magazine covers (not even the porn) at Target and one slip up on Google and their eyes are opened to things that can steer their course towards things people spend their lives contending against.

So today as we consider Proverbs 2:16-19 let us pray for our boys…

First and foremost for Jesus to be more lovely than anything and that He captivates the hearts of our young men before anything else does.

For the friendships they have and how they are learning to relate to women.

That they may be drawn to young women who will draw their eyes up to Jesus.

Above all else, they will guard their hearts for everything they do will flow from that place. {Proverbs 4:23} Pray they will desire to live holy lives, withstanding the pressures from those around them that may lead to being made fun of or left out. {2 Timothy 3:12}

For their eyes and ears to be protected from negative music, pornography, anything that objectifies women because garbage in, garbage out.

Of course for their wives… that God will be preparing her, working in her life, making Himself known to her, protecting her from anything that could compromise their oneness in the future.

Finally for ourselves moms… our boys are learning how to love and honor their wives in the ways we interact with them. They are learning and understanding their need to be respected by the ways we interact with them. One day (if not already), we will be someone’s mother-in-law. May God prepare us to love, welcome, encourage her and may we never cease to pray for the soul care of our sons no matter how old they become.

In His strength and great mercy… amen.

Proverbs 2: Praying for Our Sons {Day 10}

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“For wisdom will come into your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
discretion will watch over you,
    understanding will guard you,
delivering you from the way of evil,
    from men of perverted speech,
 who forsake the paths of uprightness
    to walk in the ways of darkness,
who rejoice in doing evil
    and delight in the perverseness of evil,
men whose paths are crooked,
    and who are devious in their ways.” {Proverbs 2:10-15}

In day one of this prayer journey, I mentioned we were moving across the country and my posts would likely not be a consistent… promise kept.  Nevertheless, I hope and pray you have been spurred on to pray for your children through Proverbs 2. Each verse is full of such simple yet profound wisdom and breathes out the heart of every mother I know.

My kids are into their third week of school. Each of them in a new school, in a new city. They have dived into the deep end and I couldn’t be more amazed by their bravery and positive attitudes. They miss their friends in California but are open to new relationships which encourages me to do the same. As I scroll my Instagram feed and see all of your first day of school photos, I know one of the biggest things we worry about as moms is who our kids are drawn to and what friend groups they will connect with. This is why today I think we should pray through not just one verse but five and pray for our kid’s friends and the people they will want to be near and spend time with the most.

Today let’s pray first and foremost again the LORD’S wisdom would be part of who they are… not just something they call upon when needed. May wisdom be rooted so deeply in their hearts that the Spirit of God {not just our concerned voices} would bring conviction and resolve when it comes to moments of peer pressure, deciding if they are going to be who they are or someone else who wants to just fit in.

Let’s give thanks to God who says He will do this!

Let us pray the knowledge of who God is, His word and wisdom would be so pleasant to their souls that it would be more lovely than other things seeking to pull their attention away from Him.

Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
    and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
The wise of heart is called discerning,
    and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it,
    but the instruction of fools is folly.
The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious
    and adds persuasiveness to his lips.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
    sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” {Proverbs 16:20-24, emphasis mine}

Knowing who they are and being resolved about this will lead them to good friends and will help them be good friends.

Let us also pray this wisdom will serve them in discretion and protect them from being followers of the wrong crowd.

That this wisdom will help them flee the temptation to fit in where they don’t.

Let’s pray they surround themselves with kids who speak well, who don’t tear down others with their language but build others up and are encouraging, life giving people.

May our kids be those kids we are all praying for, and may they become and surround themselves with people who point others to Jesus.

Amen.