The day home met me in Nebraska

She walked in the room. My eyes met hers, I can’t say who saw who first, but there we were – eyes locked and her gentle wave of acknowledgement. I jumped up from my seat and as quickly as I could, without breaking into a run (like, who am I kidding, right?!), made my way into her arms that were opened wide to draw my weary from travel soul into herself. And there, right on her pretty sweatered shoulder, my heart broke open and poured out of my eyeballs.

Like, really, who hugs someone and just cries all over her? I do. I did. And I will in the future, I’m sure of it. At that moment, she represented everything that was home to me. She was my sister, my connection, my friend, my community.

The oddest thing is that I’ve only actually been in her presence on two occasions – both of which I was a complete wreck and in the weirdest seasons of my life. In the fall of 2013, I signed up for a simulcast IF:Gathering and searched for one close to me, it was her home, in VA. Unfortunately, I ended up having to back out because of a commitment with church. However, we connected over Facebook and realized we had some common friends and lived relatively close to one another and decided to meet for coffee.

Right there, in my messiest season, in the middle of the Starbucks at Target, I blabbered and blabbered about life, church, ministry, kids, pain, joy, and anything else that came up. She received with grace on top of grace many pieces of my undoing. I’ve thought back to that time we had and know that I completely monopolized her time, her heart, and her kindness because she took the time to ask me questions and showed a desire to know me. She really was being Jesus with skin for me that day. I don’t know if she knows that…

Her story is hers to tell and I won’t share that, but I will share that all the failings I ever felt in motherhood and ministry and life were not ones I felt alone. And sometimes, no matter how connected we are or how involved we are, our failures still seem to burrow into our ears during the night when our hearts seem heaviest. Our babes will go through life in this world and succumb to the pitfalls, temptations, and veer their way right off the course we have planned for them. We will all have to figure out how to deal with those things with our family, our history, and our expectations in mind. What works for one family won’t always work for another. And she reminded me of that.

The next time we got the chance to connect was in April 2014 at the Winsome Retreat that she hosts in Pennsylvania. If you are close to there or can get there – GO! I’m telling you, just go. Do it. Be there. While we didn’t have much one-on-one time, she did speak and teach and share her passions and burdens with us.PreApproved

I know I’ll share a lot of things that happened this weekend at the Refresh my Heart conference, but for now, I want to share some things that Kim Hyland (that’s the *her* of whom I speak) spoke about over the weekend. The whole conference was about being “preapproved” by God. Being comfortable with who we are as women and accepting whom God has called each of us to be. One of the things Kim said during her session was “let’s be comfortable with our imperfections.” Right? How many times do we sit in front of the mirror only to turn on ourselves and become our very worst enemy? We would never talk to our friends the way we talk to ourselves.

“Living in the light of the Gospel is redeeming,” she said. When we take our time to come out of our own minds, being tempted by the lies of the enemy, we can see His light and His goodness for us. We don’t have to live in the darkness and the lies and the dimming of our spirit that satan so desperately tries to drown us in. Instead, we see the Light of the Gospel and we choose to walk in it because it’s for our own good—our own redemption.

She goes on to say, “God’s wants to conform me to the image of Jesus and His plan will not be thwarted.” In other words, I can’t UNDO how God has already made me. He has created me and created you and His sole purpose was to make us in His image and for His purpose. His impression of us isn’t going to change based on how we perceive ourselves. We are His perfect design. Kim translated one version of the word abide (menó) in Greek as: to remain as one is, not to become another or different. Christ has called us to remain in Him. We are made to be who we are for the plans He has for us. Not to become like those around us or to fall into the comparison trap or to wish we were more like so and so, or had more like so and so, or were better like so and so. “We are already confirmed by God,” she says and we don’t need to look for our confirmation from any other source.

Friends, there are so many takeaways I want you to have from this post.

One, do not ever discount the impact that one little coffee, with one broken soul, might have in the big scheme of things.

Two, do not discount that friendships can and are made, grown, and will flourish because of social media, annual conferences, blogs, and speaking engagements. It’s confirmed and many of my dearest people are those I met because of virtual opportunities.

Three, you are loved.

Four, you are made by Him, for Him, and because of Him. You are not a mistake. Nothing about you is a mistake.

Five, in case you didn’t see it the first time, you.are.loved. Deeply. Wildly. Over-the-top kinda loved.

Oh, to be loved…

Valentine’s Day.

It used to be cute and fun when my man child was young and we did little valentines that I always forgot about until the last minute. Gimme a break, y’all… this was back in the days before Pinterest and I was a young, dumb, single mom… I forgot these things! So it was fun to do that “oh crap!” scramble to get it all done in time for school in the morning.

Then he grew up. It wasn’t cute and fun anymore. It became stupid. I became cynical. It was a day to honor something I’d never really been able to get my hands on and that pissed me off. Everyone had love and I didn’t! Just a little hyperbole and cynicism to make your day brighter!

One day, though, over the last couple of years and even more so this year, all that just changed.

Yes! We should be falling deeper in love every day.

Yes! We should show the person we love how important and cherished they are every day!-1572956417

Yes! We shouldn’t need a “holiday” for us to be able to express our love.

But, gosh… really? What’s so wrong about having a day to honor love? A day to express our commitment and joy to someone else? Why and how has is become a horrible thing?

We have honorarium days of all sorts. Why should love be shafted?

Also, the more and more I come to realize that I may never have “a love” with which I can spend this day; I’m reminded of all the ways and people to whom I can show love to on this day.

We don’t always understand another person’s tenderness toward this day. Someone who may have a lost love or a divorced love or a widowed love or on and on… that’s where my heart longs to be today.

So what if I don’t “have a love” per se because we all have SOMEONE to love and to whom we can show our love. Christ’s love through us.

Go love someone today. Don’t be stingy with something that was so freely given to you. Don’t be cynical and simple-minded to a day that might be nothing to you. Think about how you can be a blessing, how you can be like Jesus, with skin on, who just wants to show kindness and love to another person.

Today — I love Valentine’s Day!

P.S. I love it most because as I’m getting ready to post this, I get a message, from a sweet sister I barely know in the flesh, but have had the pleasure of knowing her family for years and getting to know her more through social media, send me a sweet encouragement – straight from her mouth, inspired by Christ’s love, and deep into my heart places. I am wildly loved. You are too.

His overwhelming love

Just sit in it. Only for a moment. Steady yourself in the sheer grandeur of it.

He – the Universe Maker, the Creator of the entire world, the One who can breathe out a world filled with land and water, trees and plants, humans and animals – that God… loves us.

He loves you. He loves me. He loves the guy down the road. He loves the woman who has it all together, the one who thinks she has it all together, and the one who doesn’t have a thing together.

He loves.

He doesn’t love us because we do this or that. He just loves us for nothing.b8ea6c2d3ca5f48605cfeac73a79943c

Not one thing can we do, not do, undo, or redo to change His love for us.

Isn’t that the most astonishing thing ever?

We don’t deserve His love. We don’t deserve His mercy. We certainly don’t deserve His grace. Yet, it’s handed to us daily, freely, with no need to repay.

Titus 3:5 (NKJV) Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit

We are the ones Whom He loves.

In the deep belly of our soul, friends, we need to grasp this concept. We need to understand the way He loves us, why He loves us, and then, freely, abundantly, recklessly, without abandon give that love away to those who hunger for it. To those who long to know what this love is. To those who are broken into a million pieces. To those who can’t see the light through the dark.

It looks a million ways – it’s child sponsorship, it’s supporting a missionary (one you know and love and can have relationship with – our missionaries need MORE than just our money – they need our encouragement, love, and constant prayer), it’s feeding someone who is sitting home alone tonight, it’s seeing that woman crying and asking if you can pray with her, it’s seeing the kid who is being bullied and in desperate need of a defender, and on and on and on…

Christ wants us, longs for us, to love in His name. Sometimes it means loving people that we don’t agree with or those with whom we find difficultly understanding. It doesn’t matter.

It does not matter.

He didn’t collect from us a check list prior to handing over His love. He merely gave Himself.

“Holy One, overwhelming my heart with Your love. Yahweh, Yahweh, Faithful God, You’re here to stay.”

His love is here to stay. His love that overwhelms our hearts, to be poured out into others, is for a lifetime.

Go love abundantly in Yahweh’s name… not because of who you are, but because of Who He is in you!

One Word 2014

For the fourth year, I will be participating in OneWord365. I encourage you to check it out.

I wrote a whole post, a couple years ago, about why I don’t do new years resolutions on my old blog and why I’d rather participate in something like One Word.

The premise is easy, pick a word – let that be your focus for the year. Of course, there is more to it, silly! But I don’t want to steal the thunder for the way the creators  explain the whole idea of it – so go read it!

I’ve been praying about my word for a couple months now. I almost have it nailed down. I will post about it once I’m for sure it’s what God is calling me to consider for the year.

One thing that I’ve learned while doing the One Word challenge is that it’s important to have some accountability. We’ve done the One Word challenge as a “thing” for the women’s ministry for the second year, but attendance was low this year and flip floppy… and, not surprisingly, a lot of us struggled with our words. So, that means I need to do better this year. I need to hold more accountability to those whom I ask to be part of this with me. And that means you! If you want to do this challenge, share your word with me. Leave it in the comments, Facebook it to me, email me, tell me when you see me, call me – whatever means is best for you. I want to do a better job helping you be better. And I want you to help me, too. Hold me accountable – okay? Okay.

Now, get to prayin about that word! Tell it to me. Let’s do this thing!

Stuck! – Coming soon!

stuck__92419.1369317995.386.513   Do you ever feel Stuck?

Beginning January 6th, Unfolding Lovely will be hosting this study online. I will create a Facebook page, specifically for us to work through this book together. It will be a secret board, so we won’t have to worry about being intruded on. My desire it to make it as much like a small group experience as possible, but for women I know ALL over the place!

If you’d like more information about the study, please go here to see Jennie’s video. If you would like to participate, please purchase the participant’s book at Amazon. I’m not sure, yet, how long the study will take us, I’m still thinking through the details. I wanted the information to get out as soon as possible, though.

There are short session videos which will be posted on the Facebook page for us to watch as we work through the series together. Since the page will be secret, you’ll have to let me know if you’re interested so I can add you to the page, once it’s created.

I’m SO excited about this opportunity! I hope that you’re able to join me.

Wrapping up November!

ImageI have plenty to be thankful for right now. Though, my slow posts may make it appear that I’m not thankful for much of anything lately!

As November closes the door and opens into December, I am blessed.

Work has been busy; I have a job! Thank You, Lord!

Thanksgiving was busy; I had people to cook for and food to eat! Thank You, Lord!

I’m planning a few events right now; I’m fulfilling a passion! Thank You, Lord!

There are so, so many good things.

I won’t lie, though. It hasn’t all been good. Some of it has been rough. Lonely. Different. Weird. Sad. Painful.

I’ve walked in some of my own brokenness this month, and I’ve also watched brokenness in other people come to a head this month. I’ve had friends face dire situations. I’ve missed people I love. I’ve broken down and lost my spirit.

But here’s the thing… as I stepped back, I was able to see SO clearly! I was able to see God’s hand at work in every.single.situation. I’ve been made whole, not only by my surrender to Christ, but by those whom Christ has given me to hold up my arms when I feel like I can’t do it on my own.

I watched God bring healing to my friends and cover them so fully in prayer! I had a front row seat to seeing true, selfless, godly love for other people!

I don’t know how… but my heart has been so empty this month, but also so full!

I’ve been waiting all day to write this post because I just couldn’t think how I wanted to wrap it up. I don’t think this is exactly what I had in mind – not in the “I wanna be an awesome blogger mind, anyway” – but it is what it is. This is where I am right now.

Full heart. Completely blessed. A little bit broken. A lotta redeemed!